How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

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Coey
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How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by Coey » Tue Jun 26, 2018 06:44

I've been playing Minetest for a bit now, and I'm a little confused. How would I go about having a skin in this game? Is there even a way to just pick a skin and have it be used on each server I go to, or is it something I need mods for? I replaced the character.png file with my skin and it worked on my own offline games, but on other servers it was still the default skin. I'm assuming that replacing this file makes it so my skin is the default skin on my own servers? Are full on Minetest-wide player skins just not implemented yet or am I just going about it the wrong way? I've been struggling with this for a few hours as I was determined to sort this out, but there's a slight lack of info on things relating to skins and I'm not exactly sure how to go about this. I've come here as my last resort. Thanks for the help in advance!
 

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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by ChimneySwift » Tue Jun 26, 2018 07:06

Skins are server-specific.

Due to Minetest's lack of a central player database, there isn't really a reasonable way to have multiple skins.

The way skins work at the moment is that when a user joins/leaves, they are assigned a player model, by default the "default" mod will set the texture (aka skin) of that model to the Sam (default) skin, stored on the server.

In order to have custom skins, a mod would need to override this behavior by setting the texture of the player model to that of whichever skin the player chooses (which would also be stored on the server). The trouble with this method is that every single skin and custom skin needs to be sent to the clients via the media download when a client first joins (after which these files are stored in cache) as there is currently no way for a client to send a skin to the server.

The closest you could get to getting a global custom skin is to place your skin (64×32px BTW) in a texture pack (folder) in your client's textures directory with the name "character.png". Doing this will change the texture of the default skin - but only on your client (others will not be able to see the change).

Many servers offer the ability to request a custom skin if you are a regular player also, however there is usually some kind of requirement in order to keep the number of skins on the server down.
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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by Coey » Tue Jun 26, 2018 18:12

Oh, thanks! So the default mod is something people run on their servers, and that sets my skin to the default? And in order to override it the server owner would have to install the mod, and there's not much of a way to have one that's visible to everyone on my own end? That's really helpful and saves me a ton of time; thank you for that. There are a few features I'm waiting for in Minetest and I guess this is one of them, then; at least some way to be able to use a skin.

I can make it just using the default character skin or whatever the server I'm on has available. If it'd be a strain to servers then I can completely understand not having it in as the system is now, and I can wait pretty patiently for it. I appreciate the lack of centralization; that kind of stuff can be a big annoyance in other games when you can't simply work around an issue or something.

Thanks for the help, ChimneySwift.
 

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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by ChimneySwift » Tue Jun 26, 2018 22:21

Yeah, I doubt we'll ever have a central player database, or at least one that's at all required. That kind of thing goes against the open source nature of the project.

In future, I can see a client being able to send a skin to a server, and the server distributing it to the clients when they're sent data about that player. Not sure if that's even planned at the moment though, I can imagine it would be considered low-priority.
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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by hajo » Wed Jun 27, 2018 06:46

ChimneySwift wrote:I can see a client being able to send a skin to a server,
and the server distributing it to the clients

This might be possible technically, but is vulnerable to abuse, eg.
* sending many / big skins --> causing more network-traffic / lag / fill up space on server
* maybe 'bad' skins can cause crashes / stackoverflow / trojans
* also, automatic distribution of copyrighted / objectionable / offensive art

I would advise to stay with a manual / moderated approach,
such as 'admin adds skins from regular players to server'.

But maybe we can have a setting 'name of prefered skin',
and that gets selected if that skin is available on the server ?
 

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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by ChimneySwift » Wed Jun 27, 2018 07:58

hajo wrote:This might be possible technically, but is vulnerable to abuse, eg.
* sending many / big skins --> causing more network-traffic / lag / fill up space on server
* maybe 'bad' skins can cause crashes / stackoverflow / trojans
* also, automatic distribution of copyrighted / objectionable / offensive art

This is true, there are many vulnerabilities with this approach, some of which would be difficult to solve, however since the skins would be sent to the server the the server sends them to the clients, there are a number of ways in which most of these problems could be resolved:

  • Skin dimension limit, has to be 32×64 otherwise default is used. This greatly limits the ability to even create questionable art, let alone in skin format.
  • File size limit, skins are small, so the upload can be canceled and default used if the client tries to send more than say 10KB
  • Don't cache skins on the server (store in memory and remove when the player logs off)

A simple disclaimer/statement saying that the client is responsible for the skin that the send to the server, and any further distribution of that skin from the server could "resolve" copyright issues. Since this is handled server-side, an additional privilege could also be added which is required to use a custom skin/skin set by a server mod.

As for bad images, it's fairly limited as to what can be done through this method, and I would think fairly difficult to do in the first place, and would require the client to be susceptible to these attacks. If it is susceptible, a client could get infected just as easily from textures loaded on a server. Granted, this isn't exactly a solution and I don't really have one for this particular case :P
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Coey
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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by Coey » Wed Jun 27, 2018 19:21

I think just having a toggle in the server options to let players use their own skins or not would work out. I don't mind "offensive" skins as if something is truly abhorrent they can just get banned from the server for it, and while it's personal preference, that level of freedom leading to a bit of chaos has always been part of the fun of Minecraft-like games for me. The concept of trojans being in skins is a problem though, yeah. It seems like it could be pretty dangerous and some kind of way of going around this would probably have to be done; there's seeing something offensive and then there's having actual damage done to your computer.
 

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Re: How do skins work? Can I use one in all servers?

by ChimneySwift » Wed Jun 27, 2018 22:43

Agreed. There are many things that would need to be considered. A privilege and those limitations would provide a decent amount of flexibility. You can choose not to have the skin priv in basic_privs and only grant to regular/valuable players, for example.
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