Saturday, 5 July 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Gryphon

You all know I love dragons most; but I have a secondary spot for gryphons in my heart. I think it's the combination of big cat and eagle, both beautiful, magnificent predators, coupled with my love of chimaeras. (A dolphin is also a beautiful, magnificent predator, but a half cat, half dolphin would... well okay, I had to go and google this and I did find quite a fine fish specimen, but I prefer the aerial mix.)

I have found many fine dragon avatars on SL but for some reason, never until now did I find a satisfactory gryphon. They were all too cartoony or too chunky for my tastes. Seawolf, the makers of the sim-sized sculpt-prim dragons (I have one of the smaller versions) have done a gryphon, and done it proud. 

Soaring: Seawolf Adult Gryphon v1.2 (L$2400)
A friend had one and when I saw it, I just had to get it. The beast has interchangeable parts so you can make it the standard eagle-cat (as in the first two images), eagle-wolf or eagle-horse (hippogriff) or simply a normal big cat or wolf, with or without wings. It has very smooth, natural looking walk, run and flight motion and lots of small detail such as talkjaw, twitchy ears and idle scratching. It also has the most complex HUD I have ever seen, with several coat texture changes, eye, ear and muzzle shapes, a huge range of cool animations (chase tail, pounce, rear etc.), sounds, even hand positioning for a bipedal furry variant I didn't try out.

Nesting (nest included)

Hippogriff! (Rear hooves and horse tail; note the long ears)

Winged panther

Wolf, drinking at neighbour's waterfall (land owned by a wolf pack...)
It is gorgeous but it has a couple of issues. For one, every time you change between poses - standing to sitting or flying - the legs and wings switch out to a second set, with a script to turn the unused set invisible. This is standard practice with this kind of avatar, because you can't animate prims the way you can the default (human) SL skeleton. The problem with the gryphon is that it uses sculpts, and the load on my graphics card each time it switches is pretty intense; and I have a good computer. I get graphics lag - parts not switching out properly and leaving untidy feathers sticking out where they shouldn't be, or missing bits of limbs. I know it isn't the scripts because other observers see differently. This is obviously not ideal, but I haven't checked it since raising the LOD above 4, which might help; and it's possible I could do with a new fan for my graphics card. 

A second, more minor issue is that every time I play the sounds, there is a distinctive button click before each vocalisation, which rather spoils the effect. Not sure what is causing that but I think it may be a recording artefact they missed. I need to do a bit more experimentation and then get in touch with the creators to see if they have any advice. But on the whole I am still very happy with my gryphon and the high, but fair, price I paid for it (nearly $10 real money). I just hope any update fixes come free..!

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