In a SLARF first, we get to review DERP’s current compliment of avatars, and hopefully, more to come. For their debut review on the site, we focus on their latest avatar; the hyena. Coming in both the striped and the spotted variety, these iconic African animals introduce a new perspective on the species.
Out of the Box:
Script Time with HUD
Script Time without HUD
Avatar Rendering Cost
- Male and Female Shapes with Unisex Skin
- Male and Female Hair Attachments
- Moving Eyes with Tri-Colour Irises
- Custom Eyelid State Slider
- Output Eye Colour Settings to text for saving
- Talking Jaw Function
- Custom Jaw Rotation
- 3 Tongue States (In/Out/At the side)
- Tailwag Toggle (3 Speeds)
- Customisation Hints and Tips Guide
Build and Skin:
As mentioned before, this avatar comes in both the spotted and striped forms, so we cover both varieties in this review. In general, the base textures are exactly the same; particularly in regards to the extremities and the head. What differs between both varieties, is whether stripes or spots take up a majority of the midsection, hips, and forearms. The picture below shows the difference between the two varieties fully. The textures on this avatar are full of shadows, highlights and artistic accents. The result has been an avatar that pops out to the eye wherever it happens to be. However, while much of the body is well detailed, (for example, the back where brush-strokes accentuate the mangy back-mane), I have heard some peers argue that they wished some markings had more sharpness as opposed to fuzziness. This opinion more or less depends on personal opinion than reflects on build quality. The only real criticism that I can afford to the skin is that for males who might use the avatar, there is a good deal of breast-shading that makes male wearers look like they have “man-boobs.”
The foot-paw attachments are a 4-toed mix between paw and foot, with textured paw-pads on the underside. The mix of human and paw features is well accomplished in the footpaw, accented with shiny claws and strong texturing. Near the rear of the leg, the digitigrade legs begin; arching out a fair distance out from behind the body. Where the digi leg meets the top of the foot could have been positioned better, but the actual digitigrade leg is pretty decent, especially from the bend in the leg upwards towards the kneecap. This upper portion of the digitigrade leg is smooth and very rounded, making the top bit look very organic.
Also included with this avatar are thigh attachments for which corresponding stripes or spots can be found. These are intended to give the avatar more dimension and give the appearance of haunches which smooth out the transition from digitigrade leg to body shape. They seem a fair bit bulbous and fatty in comparison with the rest of the avatar despite the intended use. These thigh attachments look strangest on the males, but look better suited for females. For those who wish to go without the thigh prims, DERP has textured the skin beneath the thigh prims, so users can leave out the thigh prims and not sacrifice appearance.
The hand-paw attachments follow suit with the foot-paws, also having 4 digits and claws on the tips. These make a good mix of hand and paw features, meaning that despite the shortness and thickness of the finger-digits, they remain distinctly hand-like in construction. Overall, the handsize is proportionate to the body and arms, making a smooth visual transition with no need for wrist-prims.
Before we go to the head, however, it should be mentioned that this avatar is spiky. All over the avatar you can see prim torus fluff lining joints, the back of the avatar, along the arms, down the back of the thighs and the digitigrade legs. The result has generally been an overall ‘fluffy’ and ‘mangy’ appearance which typifies hyenas. A neat trait of this avatar is that the mane works its way down the back of the body to join with the base of the tail, which, itself is no less scruffy and spiky than the rest of the body. The shape and look of the tail suits the avatar well.
At last, the head. With most of the muzzle and around the eyes encased in dark fur, one of the features that stands out the most is the eyes. Attached to the avatar shape’s eyeballs underneath the head, the DERP hyena has expressive eyes that make for a eye-catching gaze. Along with giving life to the avatar’s facial features, the eyes draw attention to the large, button-like nose on the end of the muzzle. The muzzle itself is well sized and proportional to the head. As a whole, the head takes on a slightly more feral-ish appearance rather than one that is slightly more human-based. Thus, the head is a slight bit wider and the forehead slopes gently into the muzzle. Additionally, despite the darkness of the muzzle textures, there is enough ‘highlighting’ in shades to give the muzzle texture some definition. This results in the muzzle avoiding being a flat and black puddle of pixels.
The interior of the muzzle is well constructed with a plentiful amount of teeth which, by no means looks threatening. The teeth are positioned in the textured gums of the avatar, bordered on the inside by a sculpted tongue. While at first glance, the tongue does not look seemingly too special, when the avatar speaks, the tongue cycles through a number of sculpt textures to produce an animation of tongue movement during speech. While not necessarily ground-breaking, it certainly adds to the avatar. If the user uses the custom jaw rotation slider to open the muzzle to its maximum width, they will see the shape head peeking out at the back of the mouth. This is not a major issue though, one would have to look very hard to see this when the avatar is speaking. As well, users are able to stick their tongue out the front at the side, both for further expression of the face.
Framing the sides of the face, there is again usage of the scruffy fluff prims at the back of the cheeks. Before I forget to mention it; the avatar’s head comes in two forms; with the ears attached to the head, or with ears attached to the shape’s ears. The big difference is that having the ears on different attachment points allows them to twitch around on their own and respond to clicks from other users. Despite the ears being more to the sides of the head, the ears on this avatar retain the familiar shape of a real hyena’s.
Features and Heads-Up Display (HUD):
This avatar is completely controllable through the two very user-friendly and graphical HUDs. While both HUDs are colourful and minimise the amount of text in favour of intuitive graphics and icons, they do not have the option to ‘minimise’ the HUD to the side of the screen. This is not necessary if you have options that are not often used, but useful if you want to quickly access options like tongue state.
The options are as follows:
Hyena HUD v1.0
- Eyelid: Eyelid State Slider, Blink On/Off Toggle
- Jaw: Jaw Width Slider, Muzzle-Talking Function On/Off
- Tongue: In/Out/Side Toggle
- Tail: Wag Toggle On/Off, Wag Speed
Hyena Eye Colour HUD
- Choose the Eye Colours of three parts: Middle, Edge, and Shadow
- Saturation Level slider
- “Automatic” random eye colour generator
- Independent Eye Colour Options
- Export Colour Settings to Text
As mentioned, there is a guide that comes in the notecard which helps users who wish to modify the shape to ensure that the head still works well with the avatar.
This avatar is copiable and modifiable, so it is easy for users to customise the avatar to their heart’s content. The head shape is sized a little larger than what most third-party hairs are made for, and also a little bit wider. However, a little bit of fiddling and resizing should be more than enough to get a third-party hair to fit the head.
DERP seemingly has something to offer from their approach to avatars. Like many creators, already with their second avatar have they defined themselves with a unique style. The hyena exemplifies fluffy manginess while still capturing a cute look on its face. Despite the large thighs and the slight over-emphasis on the chest-textures, the DERP hyena presents itself as a complete, new example of what this new company is able to offer to the Second Life avatar market.