Images and words in Second Life

Virtual Rhyming, November 2019

Virtual Rhyming is a small, semi-interactive exhibition of Second Life photography and poetry by Sunset Quinnell and Guerreira Xue (Brazilian social media writer Hilda Milk in the physical world), two friends in both the virtual virtual and physical worlds. It features nine images by Sunset flanked on either side by a poem in both Portuguese and in English by Guerreira.

I took the photos in different locations in Second Life, then sent them to Guerreira so she could see them fresh and be inspired to write about them.

– Sunset Quinnell, describing the process behind the exhibition

Virtual Rhyming, November 2019

The nine images with their accompanying poems are grouped into set of three, with one set focused on NevaCrystall’s Borneo; one set on Kekeland – Bardeco by Terry Fotherington and Bridget Genna and, between them, a triplet of pieces focused on the arts, and featuring pieces by Bryn Oh, Cherry Managa and Kicca Igally and Nessuno Myoo.

The approach of Sunset taking the photos and sending them to Guerreira, rather than them both visiting the locations together, perhaps gives the poems an extra level of sensitivity, approaching as they do each piece not just in terms of interpreting the scene presented, but possibly Sunset’s mood in taking the pictures. Thus, there is something of a personal sensitivity present in both words and images.

Virtual Rhyming, November 2019

For those who are curious, seven the pieces have interactive elements: just click on the sign below them and follow the instructions that come up in local chat (in both Portuguese and English). These offer a mix of activities intended for a little fun, rather than necessarily adding to the interpretation for the image / poem.

SLurl Details

A visit to Fusion in Second Life

Fusion, November 2019 – click on any image for full size

ElizabethNantes has a reputation for producing some eye-catching region designs (see Follow your Bliss in Second Life, March 2016; and Following an Oriental Bliss in Second Life, July 2017). she now has a new design that is elegantly simple yet perfect for keen photographers.

Fusion is a Full region that features an urban setting of distinctly Japanese looks, complete with some stunning wall paintings which are, I believe, also Elizabeth’s own work. Located on a sky platform, the setting is a lot smaller than the area for a region, but there is a lot packed into it to keep visitors engaged.

Fusion, November 2019

Such is the size of build, a blow-by-blow description is perhaps overkill; from the landing point, situated within a concrete block of a building that offers the opportunity to join the local group (L$500 fee, rezzing rights granted), it is easy to find one’s way around the town, given the buildings are set around a series of small roads.

Which is not to say there is nothing to see; this is a place where attention to detail has produced a setting worth taking the time to appreciate.

Fusion, November 2019

Take, for example the marketplace just outside of the landing point building. Offering multiple food outlets, it points the way to a sake bar with adult overtones, but which also offers a place to sit. Eastwards, across a central square bounded on two sides by apartment houses is a school with furnished classrooms, playground and general facilities.

To the west, the town gives way to a ribbon of countryside sitting between buildings and cliff-like surround. This offers a haven of peace from the possible hustle of the city. Water tumbles from the north end of this reach, feeding a stream that flows rapidly south to enter a large pool. With a opportunity to fish and places to sit and appreciate the view. it offers a place of sanctuary typical of many a town or city environment, giving Fusion a further sense of reality.

Fusion, November 2019

With plenty of opportunities for avatar photography, Fusion makes for an engaging visit that does not over-tax one system, but offers opportunities for discovery, all wrapped in a gentle sound scape. Recommended.

SLurl Details

  • Fusion (Fleur de Sel, rated Adult)

 

Sansar: of backpacks and vehicles

Playing with the Backpack in Sansar

On Tuesday, November 19th, the second Sansar R37 point release was made (oddly dated “November 11th” in the release notes), containing the first pass of a much-requested capability. Also on the same day, a short video was dropped on Twitter previewing the first cut towards providing another oft-requested feature at some point in the future.

R37 Release Update 2 – The Backpack

Critiques levelled at Sansar by users and creators is the lack of the ability for using items from their inventory in-world, or to have a means of conveniently carrying multiple items they can then call upon when needed without necessarily having them attached to their avatar all the time.

These requests have typically revolved around the idea of a “backpack” that can be used to store such items (perhaps even collected from within a world, during the course of a quest for example), and from which they can be drawn and used when needed.

The R37 Release Update 2 offers the first pass at trying to address at least some of the functionality for such a “backpack”. However, rather than being an item worn directly by the avatar, the Backpack takes the form of a new UI element that is only active in worlds where its use has been allowed. With this initial release, the Backpack comes with 6 items:

  • 3 items that automatically attach to the avatar (right hand): two light wands and a light disc / frisbee
  • 3 dynamic objects that can be dropped in-world, picked up, pushed around, etc: a die, a beach ball, a balloon.

It is used by clicking on the UI button, then clicking on the the required item’s image. Those that can be worn are attached directly to the avatar; those that can be dropped in-world spawn directly in front of the avatar. All six items can be be thrown, pushed, dropped or picked up, and can also (with this release at least) be “shared” between avatars: if avatar A drops a ball in world, Avatar B can push it around or pick it up.

The Sansar Backpack UI element and the initial 6 default items within it

These objects are perhaps not intended to be useful (although the light wands and disc would likely find use when dancing), but appear to be geared more towards simple demonstrations of what the Backpack can initially do.

Further key points with the Backpack are:

  • With this initial release, the Backpack has been enabled throughout all public worlds in Sansar by default. World creators can opt to disable (or re-enable) it via Scene Settings → Backpack → Item Source setting.
  • There is currently no means to “return” an item to the Backpack – items can only be spawned / dropped in a world.
  • Concerns have been raised over the impact (visual / performance) in having Backpack items littering a scene. However, a time-out of approximately 4 minutes is enforced on items spawn (either in-world or held by an avatar) is enforced.
  • As per the week #46 Product Meeting, a future iteration on the Back will allow world creators to define a list of objects that can be spawned within their world(s).

Other Items in the Update

In addition to the Backpack, the R37 Update 2 introduces Valve Index Headset and Controller tracking (finger tracking is not yet supported). There has also been a minor tweak the to Nexus teleport portal seen in the Home Space, and a number of bug fixes – see the release notes for more.

Vehicles in Sansar

Another long-time request for Sansar has been the ability for avatars to correctly operate (“drive”, etc.) vehicles. Again, it is a capability that Linden Lab has indicated it is a capability they would like to introduce to Sansar at some point.

During the week #46 Sansar Product Meeting, it was indicated that the Sansar team were experimenting with the idea of “jointing” or “sticking” avatars to dynamic objects such as vehicles, and on November 19th, a video showing some of this experimentation was tweeted via the @SansarOfficial Twitter feed, and is reproduced below (note that this video is looped).

This doesn’t necessarily mean the drivable vehicles are about to become a “thing” with Sansar – the video seems to indicate the system is still very rough around the edges and in need of further refinement – but it does show that vehicles (at least land vehicles) could be something Sansar may be on the way to getting.

The R37 Update 2 point release and the video might go some small way to countering some of the perception that, as a result of the switch in focus to live events, LL are “pausing” Sansar development in other areas – although admittedly, it will only be through the course of further major releases to the platform that we’ll really have insight into how LL will continue to enhance the platform with significant capabilities and options beyond supporting “live” virtual events.

2019 Simulator User Group week #47 summary

Gentle Breezes, October 2019 – blog post

Updates, November 20th, 2019:

  • Regarding BUG-227179 “All off-line inventory offers from scripted objects are STILL lost”. As per the notes below, this was believed fixed in the Wassail RC viewer. Testing has confirmed the issue hasn’t been fixed, and can be more confusing  – see BUG-227901.
  • Following the discussion about the error message, “Wire Chewed By Rabbit”, April Linden offered the following explanation via the forums:

/me raises her paw!

Soooo, uh, I was working on some server code a few years ago, and figured “no one’s gonna see this anyhow, so I’m gonna have some fun with it!” hehehe. 😝

You never know where the GridBuns might be lurking…!

Although she admits why the error surfaced with regards to Singularity is a bit of a mystery.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • There was no update to the Main SLS channel on Tuesday, November 19th, leaving it on server release 2019-11-01T18:02:37.532376, previously deployed to an RC and comprising: internal script improvements. internal logging changes and improvements to simulator state saves, which should make rolls smoother.
  • On Wednesday, November 20th, there will be a maintenance update to RC servers: 2019-11-15T21:13:13.532828, comprising:
    • Improves crash detection during shut-down
    • Fixes some race conditions with LSL scripts that could cause them to handle the same event more than once during a roll.
    • Includes updates to improve simulator security.

An SLS deployment had been planned for the Main channel, however, at the meeting, Simon Linden noted:

We didn’t have an update this morning as we found an issue preventing the RC code from going forward. It isn’t anything visible or buggy from your point of view, but was about some internal data routing. To be on the safe side, we decided to get that sorted out first.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the current SL viewer pipelines, leaving them as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.4.532299, formerly the Ordered Shutdown RC viewer, dated November 4, – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.532780, November 15.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.531949, October 28.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.

In Brief

  • Simulator Deployments Causing Script Issues? -There have been reports that recent simulator deployments are causing running scripts to be reset when regions come back up, rather than  being restored to their previous state. Potential issues linked to this – impacting breedables – are indicated as being BUG-227688 and BUG-227897. As far as the  Lab is aware, there have been no back-end changes that would cause such script issues.
  • BUG-227179 “All off-line inventory offers from scripted objects are STILL lost” – it is believed that a fix for this is in the Wassail release candidate viewer (if not recorded in the release notes) – tests are being made to verify whether this is the case or not.
  • Error message: “Wire Chewed By Rabbit” in log files following log-in with missing textures / time-outs – this appears to be an issue specific to the Singularity viewer, and believed fixed in the most recent nightly / alpha / beta builds. If you are on Singularity and encounter it when examining your viewer log files as a result of texture load issues, please file a report with the Singularity team.

Tivoli Cloud VR: building on High Fidelity

via Tivoli Cloud VR

Hello! We’re building a spatialised metaverse from a volcanic island!

So reads the title of an introductory blog post for an upcoming new VR social environment called Tivoli Cloud VR that reader and friend Thoys Pan nudged me about (I had actually seen and post in passing over the weekend, but Thoy’s nudge prompted me to take a closer look).

Of course, it can seem as if “VR virtual worlds” are popping up all over the place, whether then aim to be spaces as Second Life users might recognise them, or “VR social environments” or hybrid attempts to lean towards the idea of a “metaverse” centred around gaming engines.

However, what makes Tivoli Cloud VR potentially interesting is that it is (at least in part) leveraging High Fidelity’s open-source architecture. The company has also been founded by Caitlyn Meeks, the former Community Manager / chief evangelist at High Fidelity, and Maki Deprez, a former freelance developer at High Fidelity.

As I reported at the time, as a company, High Fidelity somewhat abruptly turned away from developing an open-source, content creation / public space provisioning area with its platform, to focus sole on software / platform development that leans towards more business-based applications (see: High Fidelity changes direction: the reality of VR worlds today (& tomorrow?) – April 2019 – and High Fidelity changes direction (2) – May 2019).

Caitlyn Meeks (l) and Maki Deprez

That change in direction saw the virtual world code for High Fidelity being fully open-sourced for others to take up and run with. It also saw a series of lay-offs in the company, Caitlyn and Maki being two of them.

Nevertheless, both maintained a firm belief in the potential of the platform, so they put their heads together to try to figure out how they might continue with the vision embedded at the heart of High Fidelity: that of building a globe-spanning, fully spatialised virtual world.

We’re building a spatialized metaverse on the architectural foundations first laid by the open-source virtual reality company, High Fidelity. We believe this architecture, and its future progeny, will become the foundation of the spatial networking metaverse we’ve all been waiting for.

In this and future blog posts, we’ll explain why we believe this is the way to go. We’ll talk about the features and functionality we’re adding and changing in our distribution. And we’ll discuss our philosophical differences on important matters like user experience, product design, community support, and commerce.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

This is something of an ambitious goal; High Fidelity raised around US $70 million in inward investment and was – as the blog post notes, headed-up by “known” individuals with a major technology track record, but it couldn’t bring things together; Linden Lab is similarly having issues finding the best placement for Sansar.

However, in reading the Tivoli Cloud VR post, it’s hard not to get the impression that  – finances allowing – Caitlyn and Maki aren’t in a hurry to make a major impression on the marketplace. Rather, they are all too aware of the state of VR take-up (which they charmingly  – and not inaccurately, perhaps – refer to as entering it’s “winter” now the initial over-expectation aspect of the hype-cycle has passed), and so are prepared to work towards VR’s Slope of Enlightenment “springtime” in stages. Thus, this initial blog post might be regarded as planting the public seeds in preparation for a hopeful springtime bloom.

There’s a rich amount of thinking evident in the post, including observations why game engines might not be best suited for metaverse building, and offers an insight into what made working at High Fidelity so engaging. It also explores some of the challenges those trying to build any form of “metaverse” face – as well as being brutally honest about the challenges Tivoli Cloud VR itself faces.

We’re not a big company by any means, we’re just a plucky little startup who wants a metaverse. We haven’t got money to make sexy videos, our shares are currently worth way less than penny stock, we’re not going to have a flashy “initial land offering” on a blockchain. In fact, we’re going to stay away from using the blockchain for now.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

All of which sounds somewhat daunting, but it’s clear Tivoli Cloud VR has more than just moxie and an idea to build on foundations laid by High Fidelity; they have a vision that means that have the support of a bank, and technology services:

We do have is more than enough server resources, donated to us by Amazon, Google and Digital Ocean via the WXR Accelerator and First Republic Bank. What we do have is a ground-breaking open-source metaverse engine, seven years in the making.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

This latter statement points to a potential difference in approach to forming a “metaverse” platform: High Fidelity sought to leverage servers running across multiple hardware environments from high-end servers down to users’ own computers and mobile devices. Tivoli, at least to start with, looks as if it will be focused more on using cloud technology (hence the “Cloud” in the company’s name as well).

It’s too early to focus on the platform itself in terms of pictures, etc., – although I understand that when available, the client will allow access for desktop users as well as VR users. However, providing the company can meet the challenges it has set for itself, it will be interesting to follow their development, and I certainly wish Caitlyn and Maki the best in their endeavours.

Oh, and the volcano reference? That’s related to the fact that Tivoli Cloud VR is headquartered both in San Francisco, California, and in Adeje, on the south-western part of the volcano island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, and well within sight of  Pico del Teide, the island’s volanic peak.

No Violence! the 2Lei 10th edition in Second Life

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Hilany Schofield

November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and since 2010, the day has been marked in Second Life by the collaborative arts group, 2Lei.

They do so by bringing together artists, galleries, event organisers, musicians and speakers in a multi-faceted, art-centric season intended to focus on the levels of physical, sexual and psychological violence that are specifically directed towards women and girls around the globe, and raise awareness of the need to put an end to what is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Layachi Ihnen

Some of the facts surrounding violence against women are horrifying:

  • 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
  • Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
  • Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and often in force / arranged marriages, including in countries such as the United States where between 2000 and 2010, more than 167,000 children — almost all of them girls, some as young 12 — were married in 38 states, mostly to men 18 or older.
  • 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.

In the past, the 2Lei exhibitions for November had tended to be focused on a full region installation at the Linden Endowment for the Arts. However, this year, 2Lei is presenting a range of exhibitions across the grid – something that is allowing a far greater cross-section of artists to participate. In all, seven separate galleries are hosting 2Lei exhibitions, featuring around fifty 2D and 3D artists.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Theda Tammas

Listing all fifty participating artists here would be somewhat tedious for those reading this article. Fortunately, the event is supported by detailed note cards, one of which provides a breakdown of artists by location, and which includes landmarks both to each of the participating galleries and directly to individual art displays.

To further assist getting around, 2Lei provide a teleport HUD that will page you through galleries and artists. Clicking on the HUD when displaying a specific artist / gallery will open the World Map, allowing you to teleport directly to them. Both the HUD and the note card of locations / artists makes visits to exhibits through the various locations exceptionally easy.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Desy Magic

Also provided is a note card listing all of the associated events throughout November and December, which includes music events, special openings of specific exhibitions, plus talks and discussions on the subject of violence against women and girls. These will take place at Black Label Exhibition Corner and urban city as follows (all times SLT):

  • Tuesday, November 19th, 22.00 – 01.00: Meeting with Flavia Solo, author of From Dream to Fear, with Arcantes Moyet and Jos Bookmite.
  • Thursday, November 21st 22.00 – 01.00: Red code and feminicide crime – Word to the lawyer, with Rosanna Zabelin and Ortensia Zahm
  • Monday, November 25th 22.00 – 01.00: – The work of anti-violence centres, a meeting featuring Grazia Rossi with Ortensia Zahm and Kristine Blackadder.

The overall length of the 2019 2Lei No Violence season means that there is plenty of time to visit all of the participating gallery spaces and witnessing the art and / or joining with events. With all things being equal, I hope to return to some of the exhibitions over the duration of season and provide a more detailed look at them.

In the meantime, I do urge people to take the time to appreciate the extraordinary art on offer, and absorb the messages against violence they contain.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Glitterprincess Destiny

SLurls and Additional Links