I always look forward to new featrues introduced to Second Life. I suppose that's why I prefer the LL Beta Viewer (you can paste your scoffs and groans here) because I like to see what's new as soon as I can (and I really don't have any beef with the interface, even though I fully agree it could be much improved).
There are some very exciting possibilities in the works, and I'll save my breath for lengthy discussions on those for some other time, including 3D mesh objects, cast shadows and textured projections with juicy shadow play. Those are still on Aditi (test servers that you can actually go to if you care to peek at the possible future) but the main grid did recently see something that got my attention right away, and it was something I wasn't even expecting.
By now, many viewers have released versions that are compatible with physics layers! Phsyics layers? That's what I said. In case you have not experienced these little wonders yet, the SL physics layer is a clothing layer, like the tattoo or alpha layer, that you can generate in inventory and wear.
You can WEAR phsyics? How does THAT work? The physics layer is worn just like you would wear a shirt or socks or undies, only it governs not what your baked textures look like, but how certain parts of your body... um... behave (or, in most cases, misbehave).
Editing the physics layer (if you generate a new one yourself or receive one that is mod-enabled) opens a menu in your inventory full of mysterious new sliders and tabs with labels like "butt drag" and "breast gravity" among others.
Attributes can be set for three main body regions: breasts, belly and butt. I won't go into that much depth concerning each setting, but let's say you have a LOT of control over these parts of your avatar's anatomy. You can set bounce, sway and other motion types for various parts and if you can imagine it in real life, chances are you can create corresponding settings to achieve the desired effect in SL.
The results are surprisingly pleasing! The motion looks great on your avatar if done right. On the same token, it can VERY easily be abused and I can just picture thousands of avatars walking around with ridiculous amounts of bounce, sway and "cleavage" action causing a new wave of SL seasickness. It's still worth having, as so many more will find ways to incorporate the physics into reasonable and tantilizing outfits that enhance the avatar experience.
Having some experience with the phsyics layers now, I have a few basic tips to keep in mind when you are tweaking those levels on your own:
1. First consider your avatar's proportions (pay attention to your shape). Unless you are intentionally going for the cartoon-ish effect of wobbling exaggerations, keep the size and the shape of your av's parts in mind in your design.
2. Next take into stock what your avatar is wearing. If you are wearing a constrictivem tight top, you won't want your mammy friends flopping around like a couple of coffee-riddled frogs. Your skinny jeans will likely take some of the sway out of your bottom too. Likewise, your string bikini will merit a little more generosity on the sliders, wouldn't you agree?
3. Get to know the functions of each slider. The mroe you know what each and every slider does, the better you will be at making your visions a reality and the faster you will be at it. Take the time to experiment and see what sorts of results you get in different areas of the sliders. Also, anatomy behavior will depend on how the sliders are working with one another. Sliding one slider up may change everything you know about another. Get a feel for them all.
4. Know that some slider adjustments will immediately change the shape of your avatar at rest! More gravity and mass may make some parts saggier than you would like. Find ways to balance your settings so that your avatar still looks as "perky" or "dumpy" as you intend. Remember, in some cases, you can edit you mod-enabled shape as well to compensate for some of those slider settings that drag you down more than you like. Still, chances are very good you can get the look you want without sacrificing your shape settings. As I said above, get to know the sliders and practice with all of the adjustments to find your perfect settings!
I am curious to see what comes of the new phsyics added to Second Life. I recently released a free phsyics package to accompany the ~JJ~ Global Proportions shapes, and based on the overwhelming number of people who snapped this up the second it came out, I think there is a hunger for this feature out there on the grid. I can't wait to see more avatars who have adopted this form of expression and I hope to see the feature used more than abused. In the end, it's up to you to make the call.
Have fun and shake what your Lindens gave ya!