I’m not caught up on my blog reading, so I totally missed the intrigue related to Cubesque. Apparently the Lindens organized a contest that gave clues to the new prim type that will soon be available to us in Second Life.

But with the (rather obtuse) announcement on the Linden blog, let me try and see if I understand what this means to us in-world.

Sculpted prim mushrooms, by Qarl Linden

Using one of the 3D modeling tools on the market (such as Maya, Blender, zBrush) you can now build a 3D object in a dedicated application, and then export the description of that object as a 64×64 RGB texture, where each color channel represents a given point’s location as an X, Y or Z coordinate. When applied to a more regular polygonal prim, this normal mapping as it’s known in the industry, allows you to render more complex surface details than actually exist on the polygonal (read: prim) structure of the object.

By loading this texture into SL, you should then be able to create a replica of the rendered 3D object in world.

Of course, I could be wholly wrong in how I’m describing this concept here, as it’s the condensation of *several whole minutes* of research on my part (please correct me in comments if I’m totally off-base here). But what my eyes tell me from looking at the image above is that much more complex objects, with more organic or natural shapes, will suddenly become available to us.

I was thinking today how many oldbies have a huge head start on us, because of the time they’ve had to gain expertise in the tools and/or which we use to make SL work well (for example, tortured prims for jewelry or detailed texturing using Photoshop). The addition of this new prim type means that there’s a new, open playing field for first movers to learn and dominate a new market; while existing 3D artists will surely have a lead, there’s definitely an opportunity for anyone with enough dedication to learn and stake a claim to this new, exciting technique.

Update: D’oh. Video always makes everything clearer. And I think it seems that my interpretation is correct.🙂