UPDATE (March 2023) – This post is now over three years old. BoM (Bakes on Mesh) is now what many (if not most) Second Life residents are using to customise their avatars. References made in this post to ‘skin appliers’ are mostly obsolete, but skin appliers do still exist on the grid, so I won’t be removing these references. The general principles of how Omega works are still the same, but – since I’m referring readers to this post in a new tutorial, I wanted to issue this caveat at the top of this post.
Welcome to the first in a series of bite sized tutorials, each of which will cover a specific aspect of avatar customisation within Second Life. As with all of my posts, these are written primarily for male avatars, so any mesh bodies and heads, etc mentioned will be those specifically for men, but the basic principles will be the same no matter your avatar’s gender. All that will differ is the capabilities of your own preferred mesh body parts and their HUDs.
As usual, I will be writing with newbies in mind, but you don’t have to be a newbie to have questions that you feel awkward about asking. I’ll try to go as in-depth as I can, and cover all those ‘obvious questions’ that everyone feels they should know (but might not).
In this post you’ll see several words used that you may or may not be familiar with. So here’s a quick glossary before we dive in:
- HUD: This is an object that you add from your inventory. It will place a clickable HUD (Heads Up Display) onto your screen.
- Applier: This is a HUD that can be clicked to apply (hence the name) textures to your mesh body parts. These textures can be anything from skins to hairbases to makeup to eyes, etc.
Now on with the post.
We’ll begin with a word that you’ve probably seen plastered all over Marketplace, or been told that you need to use if you have a mesh body, or seen advertised next to a mesh head: OMEGA.
What is Omega?
Omega is a product created by Chellynne Bailey of the Omega Systems store. While it’s a brand in its own right, Omega is not the name of an actual skin or makeup etc applier; rather it’s a cross-brand ‘translator’ that allows you to use any appliers created using its scripts on any brand of mesh body part, as long as you have the corresponding Omega HUD.
That made no sense whatsoever, Skell…
Yeah, tell me about it. I’ve been trying for months to come up with an equivalent RL analogy for what Omega is. It’s “sort of like” generic medicine instead of Advil; it’s “sort of like” buying unbranded printer ink refills instead of Hewlett Packard branded refills, etc. In all honestly, the best thing I can do is guide you through how to use it, and that way it should make sense a bit better.
The two types of Omega HUD
Omega comes in two flavours: installer and relay. They act as follows:
- an installer is a HUD that needs to be worn just once and clicked. It will install Omega compatibility into the relevant mesh body part that it’s for, and you can then remove the HUD. (Obviously, you need to be wearing that mesh body part while clicking!) You will only need to re-wear the installer HUD if you either redeliver a fresh copy of the mesh body part, or make a copy of it, or if it’s updated, so hang on to the HUD
- a relay is a HUD that you need to wear every time you want to make use of Omega capabilities on your mesh body parts. This HUD acts a bit like a remote controller, telling the body part which of the textures in the applier HUD needs to be worn
Omega HUDs are brand-specific
Omega is not a single “buy one and it works on everything” HUD. Each Omega installer or relay is coded to work specifically with a certain mesh body part brand. So, for example, if you have a Catwa mesh head and a Belleza mesh body then—in order to use, let’s say, an Omega skin on them—you will need the Omega HUDs for Catwa and Belleza.
So why would I want this?
Let’s say that you have a Lelutka mesh head and a Belleza mesh body. You’ve found a great skin that has a Lelutka head applier, but the store only has body appliers for Signature. Well you’d be out of luck, because Signature body appliers won’t apply to your Belleza body. But next to the Signature body appliers they also have Omega body appliers, and that means you’re in luck. With the Omega installer HUD for Belleza you’ll be able to wear that Omega body applier.
Now let’s move on a few months, and you’ve decided to change your mesh body. You’re now wearing the Signature body, so you might think Oh, I’ll go back to the store and buy the Signature body appliers. Nuh-uh. You don’t need to pay the full cost for the Signature body appliers; you just need the (much cheaper!) Signature Omega installer HUD, and you’ll be able to wear the Omega body appliers that you bought previously.
This cross-brand ability is the beauty of Omega: it saves you money by allowing you—for the much lower cost of a small HUD—to wear the same appliers on multiple brands of mesh body part, and this makes it incredibly versatile.
Let’s look at another example: you have a GA.EG mesh head and you want to buy some facial hair. While GA.EG is a fairly large brand in Second Life, it doesn’t have anywhere near as many brand-specific appliers created for it as the bigger brands such as Catwa and Lelutka, so your choice would appear to be far more limited, right?
Not so. Pick up the GA.EG Omega HUD (this one’s a relay, so you’ll need to wear it each time you want to put any Omega applier on your GA.EG head) and start hunting for Omega applier facial hair. The market is now wide open to you, as there are many more creators including Omega facial hair appliers than there are GA.EG-specific appliers.
As before, let’s move on a few months and you’ve decided to change to a Catwa mesh head. You now know what to do in order to keep wearing that great Omega facial hair that you bought for your old GA.EG head, right? Yep: just pick up the Omega relay for Catwa and wear it while applying that facial hair.
Does Omega have any limitations?
Yes, one or two. There are a few brands of mesh body parts that don’t have any Omega support, mainly because they stick to their own proprietary method of applying textures. To find out if your mesh body part brand is supported, search for the brand name at the Omega Systems Marketplace store. Make sure you look for the brand name and not the body name. For Signature’s Gianni body you need to search for Signature, and for Belleza’s Jake body you need to search for Belleza, etc.
Another limitation is that I wouldn’t really recommend it for skin appliers that go on your head, unless the applier states that it works best on a specific brand of head and you happen to have that brand. Each brand of mesh head differs in the way that its texture mapping goes onto the 3D shape of the mesh, and creators will usually map to the mesh head brand that they use. An Omega head applier that was originally mapped to a LAQ head would probably not look 100% right on a Lelutka head. The texture of the upper lip might go outside (or inside) the 3D shape of the mesh, the eye creases might not sit correctly, etc.
Mesh heads are more complex than mesh bodies, so the only issue you might have with Omega body appliers might be a slight offset in the placement of nipples, for example. Much less noticeable than lips and eyes (unless you have people regularly ogling your nips, in which case I say more power to you..!) So I would recommend Omega for any skin appliers for your body, as well as any ‘accessory’ appliers, such as facial hair, scars, freckles, eyes, makeup, hairbases, etc.
Where to buy Omega
Omega HUDs can be purchased from the Omega Solutions Marketplace store. However, here they do cost more than at the inworld store, where they’re even cheaper if you’re a member of the inworld group. You can redeliver any Omega purchase—be it from the inworld store or from Marketplace—at the redelivery terminal in the lobby of the inworld store. This is extremely useful when there are updates to the HUDs.
For much more in-depth information about Omega, visit their website: http://slpoweredbyomega.com/
2 thoughts on “Noob Dude: Bite Sized Tutorials Part 1 – Omega: What It Is & How It Works”
I found you after reading your fantastic shut down of a rando on a Sl forum. Thank you so much for putting this together. Things have changed MASSIVELY since last I was on SL, and I really want to do things *right*, especially since that doesn’t come cheap.
So, your style guides will be instrumental to making sure I don’t make any bone-head decisions.
Thanks, Gil! Hopefully they’ll prove useful. I’ve been a bit slow in updating for the past few months, but should be back up to full steam soon ;-)
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