IMVU Content creator hints & tips and
Troubleshooting Blender Cal3D export
Working with IMVU's Previewer tool to produce products made in a variety of ways has its own inherent issues that the content creator or developer needs to be both aware of and work around so that items can be successfully published into the virtual catalogue for sale to the user base. The following is a resource of hints and tips for IMVU developers of all levels.
IMPORTANT NOTE: due to various upgrades and improvements to both IMVU chat and the implementation of "Create Mode" (replacing the "Previewer" - which should no longer be available for use), the following information may be obsolete and/or incorrect.
Create Mode & Cached Files ^
Product assembly in Create Mode tends to generate a lot of data either directly as the Creator works (saving files and projects), or as a result if the Client automatically downloading the appropriate files for derivation - which can amount to a lot of data if the derivation chain in particularly long. Because the Client doe not remove this data automatically (doing so would mean Creators loosing work) over time it builds, where it eventually affects Client performance. When this happens it typically means clearing out the folder where this data is stored.
Design note: the 'Creator Mode Cache' is not the same as the Chat Client Cache discussed below. Although both act as local temporary storage they allow IMVU to perform completely independent functions irrespective of the data held in either location.
To do this find the Clients 'Project Folder' in "[User/Profile] » My Documents » IMVU Projects" and then either delete files associated with older projects (if no longer wanted), or move them to another location to clear the folder.
Design note: make sure the client is shut down and not running in the background when doing this. Additionally, files automatically downloaded by IMVU are referenced by their PID - "Product 123456" for example - if the project needs to be or is edited at some point in the future the Client will download the files again as necessary.
Clearing Chat Client file cache from Settings ^
As briefly noted above, when chatting in IMVU Scene and Avatar data is downloaded and stored locally. Over time this can contain hundreds or thousands of files ranging from a few megabytes, to several gigabytes (if left unchecked). When this happens IMVU can slow down as a result of file checks run by IMVU (checking files against master copies to see if any changes have been made). Periodically this temporary data needs to be removed using "Clear IMVU cache...".
Design note: clearing IMVU's cache removes all temporary files downloaded when the client is used; when next visiting a room, or chatting with someone, previously cached, and now deleted files will be automatically download and stored locally again.
To do this, log in as normal and then in the top-right of the client click "Settings". A new 'page' will open. To the left of the page that appears, click "Advanced" to access the appropriate options, then at the bottom of this section click "Clear IMVU cache and restart client" - the small "Preview" window with the spinning avatar will stop rotating until the process has finished after which time the client will shut down and restart, logging the user back into IMVU.
IMPORTANT NOTE: User Account settings and associated data is NOT lost clearing cache.
Clearing IMVU's temporarily cached files.
Manually clearing IMVU's file cache ^
Occasionally, using the in-client cache-cleaner does not work properly, fails or otherwise incompletes file removal. In such instances the temporary cache can be cleared manually. First locate the local storage folder - being able to do this is dependant on hidden system files and folders being visible - see below for details - for Windows XP this is typically located in;
- C:\Documents and Settings\[User/Profile*]\Application Data\IMVU\HttpCache\
Or in the following location for Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Window 10;
Design note: *where "User/Profile" is the name used to log on to a computer. Note also that Windows XP is no longer officially supported by IMVU.
Once the folder is found, and upon accessing, various "File" files will be visible; these are unassigned file types, that is when double-clicked they won't automatically open into another application (IMVU included), so appear listed in Windows Explorer or similar file browser as simply "File" entries. Cache files can be deleted individually (where Product ID is known) or simply group selected and removed in the same way as ordinary files.
Design note: the following should not be done whilst IMVU is active so shut the application down completely (make sure it is not simply minimised to the TaskBar and/or minimised before attempting the following. Note also the below may cause additional issues due to the security requirements IMVU now has in place.
In doing the above however a number of additional files may need to be removed else IMVU will still reference 'old' data, that is, the data that was just removed. This can cause additional problems so find the following folder (Windows XP);
- C:\Documents and Settings\[User/Profile*]\Application data\IMVU\
Or for Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10;
And either delete or rename the following "*.pickle" files to "*.OLD";
Once done, restart IMVU and log in as normal. IMVU will regenerate the *'pickle files as needed.
Design note: do note however that due to security changes to IMVU removing the above pickle files may cause additional problems requiring the application to be reinstalled..
Troubleshooting Blender Cal3D Exporting ^
To troubleshoot Cal3D export issues first run through the following checklist;
IMVU furniture template file shown in Blender 2.49
Bone names are case sensitive so make sure you parent bones together using the correct spelling;
The Armature name can be anything but it's best to call it something clear for reference
Meshes and other objects need to be Parented to the Armature not the bone;
Vertex groups applied to a mesh need to be 'weighted' to the skeleton.Room (or a specific) bone of the scenes Armature (names are case sensitive);
Use the appropriate version of Python per the version of Blender being used - Python 2.5.4 for Blender versions 2.45 to .249 for example.
After updating or amending a mesh, if it disappears when being re-parented, first save a version of the current file (don't save over an existing file but create a new instance - this prevents the loss of recent changes). Once done close and restart Blender - this clears data temporarily held in memory. Reload the file just saved and delete the Armature causing the problem. Once removed add a new one back into the Scene and re-parent the mesh to it. This problem can happen for a variety of reasons, usually however, it occurs when editing or using 'old' *.blend data across Blender versions (using a file created in Blender 2.36 in Blender 2.45 for instance).
Cal3D exporter in Blender 2.49
Failing the above, look to Blender 'Console' to see if any error messages are being reported. for example the following generally means that one or more vertexes from a Vertex Group applied to a mesh object has not been weighted to a bone in the Armature. Or that one or more vertices has not been assigned to a Vertex Group. So looking back to the checklist it can be seen that this needs to be fixed by assigning the stray vertices to a Vertex Group.
"A vertex of object '[named export item]' has no influences.
(This occurs on objects placed in an invisible layer, you can fix it by using a single layer)"
Once the appropriate 'fix' has been applied, re-export the files and assemble in Create Mode as normal. For a guide to getting started making content for IMVU click here.
Blender Console where Python version used and export error messages appear
'Orphaned' data in Blender files that can't be removed ^
Sometimes when working with Blender a file can get unexpectedly large even though there may be very little visible in the form of mesh, objects and other data in the Scene. This is likely due to the presence of "orphaned" (or 'dead') data blocks in the *.blend file. Blender works, in affect, by creating a database of objects that can then be referred to arbitrarily. This allows for 'instancing' for example, referencing the exact same "datablock" for the general structure of an element leaving only positional information to be localised (relative to that instance rather than the actual object). However, in doing this data can become 'unattached' or decoupled when a reference is removed (using the aforementioned example, duplicating an object around a Scene and then deleting those at a later point might leave the original object datablock in the file whilst removing the instances from the Scene). When this happens the original datablock remains in the file even though it's not being used. Normally, simply reopening the saved file is enough to remove this data. However, this does not always work. In such instances the following should be tried.
Append or Link browser in Blender 2.49 showing available file that can be appended to the open file (note "Append" button along the bottom of the browser listing)
First, in the old problematic file, select each Object in turn and note its 'name' - under "Link and Materials" in "Editing" Properties (F9), note the reference shown in the "OB:" property, "cube.003" for example. Next, create a brand new *.blend and save it (restarting Blender beforehand is advisable to ensure no temporary data is still being held in memory). With the new file open, click "File » Append or Link". The "File Browser" will open. Here browse to the previously broke file and click to select it. Rather than 'opening' the file as would normally be done, this 'drills-down' into the file structure revealing several 'folder' references - "Action", "Armature", "Image" and so on. Click "Objects". Again this will expand the selected folder, listing its contents in the Browser. Look down the list and select the Objects that should have been in the new project file before the problem occurred. Once done, make sure the "Append" button is 'on' (selected - positioned in the Browser 'Header) then click "Load Library" (or "Append Library") top-left to load the selected data in to the new file - Objects will likely appear in the same Layer or Layers they were originally on so it may appear as though nothing was done. If this happens simply Shift-click the Layer buttons in the 3DView Header to view. Find and move objects where necessary. Save once done.
Importing 3D models in to Blender ^
It's not generally possible to import the XMF mesh file used by IMVU into Blender, so once a product has been created any further work needs to be done at source, not output (the exported file). Typically, if wanting to load a mesh in to Blender which originates elsewhere it will need to be in a compatible format, usually OBJ, DXF, 3DS etc. To open such files they need to be imported using an "Import" filter. For example. With Blender open click "File » Import » [file type]"; importing an OBJ file would mean "File » Import » Wavefront (obj)...". This opens "File Browse". Browse to, select the file to import and then click "Import a Wavefront OBJ" button top-left. A dialogue box will appear with a number of options - whether this appears, and the options available, depends on the format being imported into Blender - set the appropriate properties and click "Import"/"OK". Blender will then parse the file and once done, drop it into the Scene ready for use - this can mean it being used as a reference or as part of an IMVU project.
Design note: generally speaking OBJ, DXF or 3DS files are the most cross-compatible formats to use when translating data from one application to another. In Blender this means using the as "Wavefront (.obj)", "AutoDesk DXF (.dxf)" and/or "3D Studio (.3ds)" import options. Bear in mind that models may need to undergo optimisation whereby they are made more 'friendly' towards IMVU. This often means reducing poly-count - a typically furniture item should contain 1000 triangles, a chair for instance can be as low as a few hundred triangles; a room no more than 5000 triangles. Reduction and optimisation's of this nature should be regarded as an essential part of the process and should not be skipped, avoidance results in excessive strain on IMVU rendering engine when display a scene full of items and avatars so the less complex individual items are the better.
Important: IMVUs default scale, the size objects appear to be in the 3D View, is approximately 100x LARGER than Blenders. Always start a project by opening the appropriate template for the product type being made to ensure everything is the correct size relative to IMVU, else scene "Scale" and "Clip" values will need to be increased to properly view view content (press "N" to access "View" properties, adjust "Scale:" under "Display", and "Start:" and "End:" under "Clipping").
Setting and options available when importing OBJ mesh made in another 3D application into Blender
Windows and Hidden Files and Folders ^
Its common that, getting further into Content Creation for IMVU, that access to deeper aspects of Windows is required, likely because of the nature in which the application works by storing files and folder in so-called 'protected' areas of the Operating System. Normally these are not accessible but it may be required. This is done by deactivating Windows 'protection', largely just hiding the respective files and folders for genera; use as opposed to blocking or necessarily encrypting access.
Turning ON/OFF certain Folder Options to disable 'Hidden Files and Folders' in Windows
To gain access (the following usually needs to be done from an 'Administrator' profile, one with full privileges and access rights over the computer, not a 'User'), open "Windows Explorer" ([Start button] » Computer). From the "Tools" menu select "Folder Options" (if "Tools" is not visible click "Organize » Layout » Menu Bar") to access the folder options dialogue window. Click the tab marked "View". In the "Advanced settings:" area a list of options with checkboxes to their left appears, scroll down the list finding and toggling the following options on/off - turn ON (check the box) "Hidden files and folders" and "Show hidden files and folders" (a warning may appear, click "OK" or "Continue"), and turn OFF "Hide extensions for known file types". Click "Apply" and then "OK" to close the dialogue. Looking through Windows Explorer again if upon doing the above the files, folders or directory's needing to be access for IMVU are still hidden, go back into "Folder Options" find the following and turn it ON; "Hide Protected operating system files (Recommended)" (another warning may appear, click "OK" or "Continue" where necessary).
Design note: in doing the above is should be born in mind that this will make each and every single file and folder on a computer visible and hence, accessible. So, if this is being done on a 'shared' computer (more than one person is using it) be aware of the associated and potential system stability/security issues of opening up a computer and it's file system in this way..
Once all the above is done any scripts, cache or other 'hidden' files IMVU creates will be accessible.
Windows and Blender's "scripts" folder location ^
During the installation of Blender 3D onto a computer running Microsoft's Windows 'Vista' operating system, a number of options appear in terms of where applications files are stored for use, up until recently everything was usually stored in the same place. Recently however, the installation has changed to take into account Vista's more secure 'profile' usage; this means that for most installations of Blender after v2.45, the default location for the "scripts" folder has been moved from the 'program' directory (usually "Program Files") in to the 'user profile' directory for Windows VISTA users.
This is usually located at the following;
- C:\Users\[profile-name]\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\.blender\scripts\
Although the actual path may vary slightly the "scripts" folder should be found inside the "Users" directory - "[profile name]" is the name giving to the profile you log into when booting up the computer. Note that this may be a hidden system folder so it might not be visible by default, in which case it's visibility has to be activated by doing the following
Note that the following usually needs to be done from the main 'Administration' profile and not a 'limited' users;
Open Windows Explorer (Start » Computer).
In the "Tools" menu select "Folder Options..." (if the "Tools" menu is not visible, click the "Organize" button and select "Layout » Menu Bar").
Click on the "View" tab to open that 'page'.
In the filed where the list of check boxes are find the "Hidden files and folders" entry and 'check' (tick) "Show hidden files and folders". A warning may appear, "OK" or "continue" the process to enable hidden folders.
Additionally find "Hide extensions for known file types" and un-check (un-tick) that option.
Click the "OK" button to enable.
If on doing the above the file, folder or directory is still hidden, go back into Folder Options and find the following;
Please note that doing this will make all and every single file and folder on a computer visible and hence, accessible, so if this is being done on a 'shared' computer (more than one person is using it) create a password protected profile that only you have access to so safe guard the files and prevent critical files from being deleted by users that don't know what they are doing.
Once all the above is done the "scripts" directory should be visible and accessible.