Taking a birds-eye look at Bellisseria

Plane sailing: over the Capitol Springs bridge and a boat passes under it

I decided to take a little time off on Easter Sunday and go for a flight around part of Bellisseria, the new Linden Homes continent, and have another look at it. However, rather than taking a ‘plane or helicopter, I decided to see things in a more leisurely manner, flying my Ask 13 sailplane.

Regular readers will know I picked up one of these sailplanes, made by Rene Underby and based on the Schleicher ASK 13, just over a year ago (see Plane sailing in Second Life: the ReneMarine Ask 13). Since then, I’ve been aloft in it on numerous occasions, both on my own and with Caitlyn. It’s a great way to fly in SL, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has a love of flying in Second Life.

The Winchester: one of the two 2-storey home designs n the Traditional type of Linden Home

However, getting off the ground in the new continent isn’t that easy. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are no airstrips, and sailplanes are not intended to get airborne off of water 🙂 . Fortunately, the Ask 13 comes with its own aerotow, so with a little cheating (rezzing the saiplane on the roof of my houseboat and then calling up the tow plane) I managed to get airborne. Not ideal, but it worked and got me up to an altitude where I could release the tow.

To be honest, I really wasn’t sure how far I’d get; as we all know, region crossings – physical or TP – have been something of a roll of the dice of late, and on a boat trip on Saturday I ended up losing my boat every few region crossings, so that  after the fourth time I ended up dumped and having to re-log, I gave up. However, Sunday’s trip was nothing short of superb.

Over the north-east coastal regions

As my houseboat is down in the south-west of the new continent, I headed east and north, tracking the local thermals and taking time out here and there to grab a snap.

One of the critiques levelled at the land houses in Bellisseria is that they are “cookie cutter”; I’m not sure this is an entirely fair assessment. Sure the select of houses is, at present, limited to four styles in a single theme, and the parcels are all fairly regularly set, but coupled with the general road infrastructure, trees, etc., to me give a feeling of suburbia. And while it may not always be obvious from ground level, the blending of the suburban housing with the coastal areas and the houseboats is actually nicely handled; there’s a good sense of the grasslands giving way to more sandy ground that gently merges into beaches and water.

The Adams, one of the single-storey homes in the Traditional range

I’m not going to cover the houses in great detail here, because Ricco Sanez has written an excellent piece on them, looking at all four styles. What was interesting in passing overhead was being able to see what use people were making of the garden / yard space, including some imaginative use of off-parcel placement of items along some of the waterways. These left me a little curious as to the view the Lab might have of them; from my perspective I felt they added to, rather than detracted from, the general environment.

Airborne also gives you a sense of how much space remains within the continent – and equally – how crowded it might come to feel, depending on the way in which future developments are handled.

Circling a thermal to gain altitude

Overall, my trip by air was fun – very much helped by the fact I managed my tour without getting thrown by a bad region crossing – actually, the second flight I’ve made over the continent since it opened; my first being a powered flight around the coastline and was actually equally successful – up until I hit the dreaded banlines whilst trying to make a water landing.

And landing this time around? Well, that was easy. After running the thermals along the western mountains before turning inland between them, and setting down in one of the undeveloped SSPE regions. Nevertheless (and to repeat my old chestnut) it would be nice to have an inland airstrip or two. These, with the odd park and hiking  / riding trail (if not already a part of the planning) could, as I’ve previously mentioned, add further attractiveness to the inland districts.

Is it a bird…? Is it a …? passing over Belliseria in my Ask 13

 

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The Teegle Animesh horse

Teegle Animesh horse

At the start of April 2019 I reviewed the Water Horse Animesh horse – a horse that, unlike Bento horses, is not limited to having to be worn in order to be ridden – as it has its own skeleton, completely independent of an avatar, an Animesh horse can also be rezzed in-world, where it can wander, or ridden in the style of a vehicle, making it perfect for use both when riding, or as region dĂ©cor.

However, the Water Horse model isn’t the only Animesh horse. Teegle, for example, are currently developing their own horse, which is currently in public beta – and in the interests of comparing the two, I recently picked one up and took it for a test drive. Err, ride.

Currently, the Teegle horse comes in two styles: a paint and a Hanoverian. The former might be seen as more suited to an American style of riding, and the later leaning towards more European riding, but the fact is that as both horses are supplied sans tack, you’re free to decide which you’d like, and then choose your preferred style of tack, or even swap riding tack depending on your mood.

The horse is supplied at two price points, which at the time of writing were: L$1,500 for the No Copy version, and L$4,000 for the copy version (allowing you to rez as many as you like). Again, note that these prices are purely for the horse, no riding tack is included; you can however ride them bareback. Tack will cost an additional L$750, other points worthy of note with the horses at both price points are:

  • You can set them to be ridden by yourself or, when rezzed in-world, by others.
  • When rezzed in-world each horse can carry a rider and up to two passengers.
  • The basic LI for a Teegle horse is 28LI. With riding tackle attached, this rises to 35 LI.
  • The no Copy version come with a guarantee of automatic replacement if lost as a result of a bad region crossing, or broken as a result of incorrect editing. Replacements are delivered via the horse management HUD.
  • Horses can be individually renamed.
  • Retexturing is possible, but requires the purchase of texture packs at L$450, which include skin, mane and eye colour options.
  • The wander option when horse is rezzed in-world, does not require Pathfinding to be enabled within a region.

The HUDs

Two HUDs – both of which are still under development at the time of writing – are supplied with each Teegle Animesh horse.

  • A Management HUD, which:
    • Allows the horse’s gender to be set.
    • Includes a button that provides a chat link to a dedicated web page listing all Teegle pets you may have purchased. The last grind location the animal was recorded as being at, together with the date and time, is listed, allowing you to relocate a “lost” horse. A redeliver option is also provided here as well.
  • A riding HUD, which provides:
    • 4 different click-selectable riding speeds: walk, trot, canter, gallop. Riders can also move between these by tapping the UP arrow key (or W if WASD is set for avatar motion and the horse is being worn).
    • 4 horse animations: spook, (horse jumps sideways nervously and looks around); buck, rear, and reward (rider leans forward and pats the horse).
    • An autowalk function: set the horse walking in a straight line. The rider can look around, take snapshots, etc., or simply steer.
    • Follow (rezzed horse only): the horse will automatically follow the named avatar.
    • Lead (rezzed horse only): lead the horse via the halter when walking.
The Teegle riding HUD. Note the Lead / Follow options are only available when the horse is rezzed in-world

Riding the Horse

Before riding the horse, make sure any AO you have (scripted or client) is turned off to avoid any conflicts. Then either:

  • Add it to your avatar from inventory as a worn attachment.
  • Mouseover the horse in-world, right-click and select Ride.

The first option will add the horse to you, with you in the saddle (if attached to the horse); the second will place you in the saddle (if attached) of a rezzed horse. Note that if worn, you’ll need to the manually attach the riding HUD; if the horse is mounted while rezzed in-world, you’ll be asked if you’d like to accept the HUD, which then attaches automatically (note this is a slightly different HUD to the one in your inventory, as it includes the Lead and Follow options for the rezzed horse).

Movement is via the usual WASD / Arrow keys, with W / Up for forward motion, with double-taps advancing through the four speed options. I was disappointed to note that with the current beta, a quick tap on the Down arrow didn’t step back down through the riding speeds – it was necessary to use the HUD, which I found a little distracting. However, when riding the horse from rezzed, the Down arrow will play a nice backwards walking animation.

Camera-wise, riding the horse from rezzed fixes the camera in a good position above and behind the horse, regardless of any camera offsets you may have set (not something seen with the Water Horse Animesh horse). Riding the horse from worn may leave the camera awkwardly positioned if you use custom camera offsets, the mousewheel and CTRL-Mousewheel generally fix this.

You can lead a Teegle Animesh horse to water…

Passenger Riding

Passengers can ride with you simply by clicking the horse. The rider can then select who “drives” the horse via a left-click to display the menu, and then the Driver option (rider 1= the avatar in the saddle; rider 2 = the passenger directly behind the rider; rider 3 = rearmost passenger). Who has the reins is indicated via local chat. The same menu option is used to take back control.

Riding Permissions

Who can directly ride a Teegle Animesh horse when rezzed in-world is also set via the menu: left-click the horse, then Settings > Driver Perm. At the time of writing, the options were limited to Private (owner only) and Public (anyone), but I understand more granular options will be added.

Other Capabilities  / Options

… and you can have it swim!

As the Teegle Animesh horse is still in development, it is hard to say what else might be included. However, some of the current additional capabilities include:

  • Linden Water swim option: the left-click menu offers a Settings option to have the horse swim in deep enough Linden water, complete with a companion swimming animation for the rider (but not passengers).
  • Flying option: you can set the horse to fly or disable flying (so no accidents when trying to jump an obstacle).
  • Motion function: set the horse to physical (default), so it will respond to objects around it (useful for racing, when wandering in  paddock, etc), or non-physical (useful for things like dressage).
  • Set wander distance via chat.
  • Rename function: Teegle horses can all be given their own name.

Adding Tack and Other Options

Riding tack by Teegle is easy to attach to the horse:

  • Rez both horse and tack in world.
  • With neither selected, right-click on the tack and selected edit.
  • Press and hold the SHIFT key and then left-click on the horse to additionally select it.
  • Click the Link button in the edit floater (arrowed, below).
  • The tack will correctly orient itself and attach to the horse, as seen in the inset image, below.
Adding options such as riding tack – use the Link option in the Edit menu (arrowed)

To remove an attached item (e.g the saddle or entire riding tack):

  • Rez your horse in-world.
  • Left-click the horse for the menu.
  • Click Unlink to display the Unlink menu.
  • Use the numbered buttons to unlink the required items.
  • Move your horse away from the unlinked objects and then delete them.
Removing items – use the Unlink option in the horse’s menu

Continue reading “The Teegle Animesh horse”

2019 SL User Groups 16/2: Content Creation summary

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurchblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, April 16th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

  • The Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.2.0.526190, dated April 12th, 2019 was promoted to the de facto release viewer on Wednesday, April 17th. See my EAM overview for more information.
  • The Teranino Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.2.1.526357 on April 18th.

All other SL viewers in the pipelines remain unchanged:

  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

The bug stomping continues.

Animesh Follow-On

Vir is now looking at adding shape support (or similar) to Animesh, which Vir sees as possibly being approached in a couple of ways:

  • To make Animesh objects behave as much as possible like avatars. This might be done by issuing a command to load a given shape into an Animesh, or just have a similar appearance resolution to avatars, which would allow associations with body parts for any attachments contained within the Animesh’s contents.
    • Advantage: either route offers the closest compatibility to the way in which avatars work, making it easy to port stuff over from using with avatars to using with Animesh (e.g. Animesh NPCs).
    • Disadvantages:
      • This is a much more complex project to implement as it requires substantial changes to the Bake Service, which can be a performance bottleneck. So a concern is that adding Animesh support to the Bake Service could have a further adverse impact on its general performance.
      • While applying a body shape could be done via the simulator (avoiding the Bake Service), but this again involves added complexity in the amount of asset information fetching the Simulator already has to do.
  • An alternative approach would be to offer a more granular control, using LSL to set the values usually set by shape sliders.
    • Advantages: It can reduce the complexity by allowing s subset of slider changes to be replicated via LSL (e.g. face, hands, etc), rather than trying to have the entire slider system replicated.
    • Disadvantages: This doesn’t give the same level of compatibility to the way avatars work, and if all the sliders were required, it would add considerable additional work with LSL calls for the 130+ sliders.

Which approach should be taken is down to whatever the most common use-case for customising Animesh might be (a likely topic for discussion). Currently, either approach will require additional server / viewer messaging, so Vir is looking at that.

There are also questions on what else might be preferable to add to Animesh (e.g. extending Bakes on Mesh to support Animesh, adding attachments support, etc), and the relative priorities people place against the various options as to any order as to how things might be tackled (would applying shapes be sufficient? Should it be shapes then another requirement, or is there another requirement that should take priority over shape support?).

Attachments are an issue in themselves; as Animesh doesn’t have an associated agent, there are no attachment tables for it to use, making basic attachment to s specified point difficult. Also, avatar attachments are effectively individual linksets applied to a common root – the avatar.

However, as an Animesh object is a single linkset, adding attachment to one object is more akin “merging” the attachment’s linkset into that of the Animesh, making them one continuous linkset. This clearly add complications; for example, how do you identify all the parts of the attachment to remove them when detaching, and how do you ensure they detach as a single object, rather than a coalesced group of unlinked items?.

One potential solution might be to have a means by which individual prims within the Animesh linkset can be flagged with an associated joint within the skeleton, thus allowing attachments to be made to that joint, and somehow “faking” the fact that the attachment linkset is not part of the Animesh linkset.

Exactly how this would work in practice still has to be properly determined, together with an mechanism for handling local position and the attachment’s position and rotation offsets. It is further unclear at present whether this approach might required support from and additional viewer UI element or could be controlled entirely through LSL.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024Ă—1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

Anchor Linden is dealing with issues related to handling alpha layers in the new baking channels – with dome of them not getting correctly baked, and which may need some fixes in the baking process. BUG-226599 is also being looked at; although a feature request, it might actually be the result of an underpinning bug.

Following the April 11th CCUG, Cathy Foil carried out further tests to apply materials to a Bakes of Mesh surface. This involves using a script to take the UUID for one of the new universal bake channels (e.g.BAKED_ AUX1), and pointing it to a normal map (shown in the place holder normal map image “BAKED AUX1 IMG”, right), then wearing a universal wearable that uses the same bake channel. This results in the normal map then being applied to the desired face, as show in the image of the normal map in the Edit floater (arrowed on the right, above). This approach also appeared to allow a layering of normals on a face. However, the method is not currently seen as a recommended approach to materials with BoM, and probably won’t be treated as a supported technique.

 

 

The art at Fantasy Faire 2019

Fantasy Faire 2019: 2D art at Fairelands Junction

Sl photography is a popular subject – as any casual glance through Flickr with the search tags of “virtual worlds”, “SL” “Second Life” and similar will reveal. There are many styles and subject matter of SL photography to be sure, but it not unreasonable to say that fantasy art is one of the more popular fields of endeavour, be it through avatar studies or the recording of the many fantasy environments that have graced the platform over the years.

It’s therefore fitting that Fantasy Faire embraces this wellspring of individual creativity each year by offering Second Life photographers and artists the opportunity to display their work. And one again, Fantasy Faire 2019 offers two gallery spaces where art can be appreciated.

Fantasy Faire 2019: 2D art at Genesia

The first can be found at Fairelands Junction, and is itself in two parts: the image gallery, located in the ruined structure that houses the Fairelands portals, and the Worldlings display, located in the rock formation upon which the ruins sit. The second gallery can be found within the Genesia Arts and Performance region.

Forty 2D artists are presented within both the gallery spaces, and as with previous years, the focus for art is on avatars and fantasy, with the official blog noting:

The galleries focus on various fantasy avatars within Second Life, celebrating the freedom from the mundane, showing how in here you can be whatever you wish to be, your true self.

The focus continues to be variety in fantasy forms, inspiration in character creation and talent in photographic arts.

Fantasy Faire 2019: The Call of the Forest by Aleriah

A full list of the artists participating in the exhibition can be found in the link above, so I won’t repeat the list here. However, what I will say is that the art is remarkable for its richness of imagination and presentation. Many pieces are obviously influenced by popular fantasy genres – there are a number that clearly draw from the Likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and G.R.R. Martin, for example. This isn’t a critique, as it is always interesting to see people put their own slant on popular fantasy; but for me the magic of many of the pieces is in their depiction of settings entirely born from the imaginations of their creators – such as with The Call of the Forest, by Aleriah (shown above).

The art at Genesia is displayed within yet another remarkable region setting by Haveit Neox & Lilia Artis, as the Art and Performance region at this years Faire. This stands as a work of art in of itself, and should be explored for its incredible creativity, both above and below the water, and the way it offers a link to past Fantasy Faires in its overall design.

Fantasy Faire: Genesia

The gallery space for Genesia sits on the outer path of the region, with art displayed on rock walls or held aloft by elephants and stork-like birds, the path leading the way around to the main performance area.

Meanwhile, the 3D Worldlings art can be found, as noted, in Faireland Junction. Described as the “Fairelands That Could Be”, the Worldings are seven realms-as-dioramas suggesting possible Fairelands as imagined by their creators: Kerryth Tarantal, Faust Steamer, Colemarie Soleil, Bonny Greenwood, Ameshin Yossarian, Bee Dumpling and Beryl.

Fantasy Faire 2019: Worlding by Faust Steamer

These dioramas – at least one of which is interactive – offer windows into the imaginations of the Fairelands (and region) creators behind them. Whether any of them might be expanded out to become a full Fairelands setting in the future is open to question; but I admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing Faust Steamer’s idea (above) fleshed out and given form!

Fantasy Faire 2019: Wrong Direction by Sugarfairy88

I often am prone to comment with these art exhibitions that when it comes to the 2D art – and allowing for the subject being that of fantasy avatars – it’s a shame that the net isn’t cast a little wider to more generally encompass fantasy settings in Second Life; there are, after all, a fair few. There is also as vast catalogue of images of past Fantasy Faires – so it would be nice to see some broader celebration of fantasy art that can be created within SL beyond a purely avatar focus.

Nevertheless, given how easily an art exhibition can be overlooked with so much else occurring at Fantasy Faire, I do very much recommend that anyone who enjoys Second Life art and photography stop by the galleries at Fairelands Junction and Genesia.

SLurl Details

Linux OS update to servers a cause of SL TP issues?

As we’re all (probably painfully) aware, the last few months have seen Second Life plague by region crossing issues, with users frequently disconnected (with teleports – being the most common form of region crossing – in particular being affected). One of the pains in dealing with these issues has been identifying the root cause – with most thinking being around it being a timing issue with communications between the region receiving and incoming avatar and the user’s viewer.

However, speaking at the Content Creation User Group meeting on Thursday, April 18th, Vir Linden indicated that the problem might be related to the server Linux operating system update the Lab recently rolled out.

That update – was initially deployed to a small cluster of regions on a release candidate channel called Cake, and it has been reported by those using Cake regions for testing in April, that it was those regions that first demonstrated the teleport issues – although at the time, they were thought to be local connection issues, rather than indicative of a deeper potential issue.

Commenting on the situation at the CCUG meeting, Vir said:

We’ve been having some issues on the simulator side where people tend to get disconnected during teleports … it’s been common enough that shows up as a significant blip on our stats … and that issue seems to have come along … basically when we upgraded the version of Linux that we’re using on our simulators. so we’ve had to do some roll-backs there, just to try to get that issue to go away.

[But] that pushes out the time-line for [deploying] all the things that are based on … the later version [of Linux] that we’re trying to update to … Hopefully we can get those out soon, but I can’t tell you anything about the time-line.

This might explain the scheduled maintenance witnessed on April 18th, with large number of regions going off-line and restarted. If this is the reason, whether it does see a reduction in the teleport issues with those regions rolled-back remains to be seen. But if data does indicate the region crossing issues have been reduced, then this can only be good news and potentially worth the disruption of the maintenance and restarts.

In the meantime, the audio of Vir’s comments is provided below.

 

Lab looking to meet Linden Homes houseboat demands?

The new Linden Home houseboats have proven exceptionally popular – so popular that demand has exceed supply

With most of with eyes fixed on Fantasy Faire (you can catch my own shorthand guide if the mood takes you). Daniel Voyager was looking in another direction, and tweeted an interesting find.

It seems the Lab and the Linden Department of Public Works could be busy working to address the demand for more houseboats within the new Linden Homes continent, with Daniel identifying a new 48-region SSP development being put together south of the original SSP development area.

There has been no official word on whether the new regions are being developed in response to the demand for houseboats, but certainly, that demand has been strong enough to warrant this, with repeated disappointment being voiced over the fact the houseboats initially made available were very rapidly snapped up. As such, it seem a reasonable deduction to see this latest SSP development as a move to meet at least some of this demand.

The new SSP regions under development appear geared towards providing more space for the Linden Homes houseboats

The new regions form a series of sandbars with extensive moorings of the same general type seen within the new Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria, strongly suggesting they will provide space for more of the new houseboats (see right). Some of the waterways between the sand bars look to be a little too narrow to fit houseboats and piers – perhaps these are intended for use by float planes and the like, if not to form a natural break to prevent the regions from feeling overcrowded.

There is no available date on when the new regions might be added to Bellisseria – again assuming the intent of their development is to meet demand. Nevertheless, it does bring with it a couple of questions.

The first is: where might the new development sit in relation to Bellisseria’s existing land mass? While I have nothing more to go on than instinct, my own thoughts are the area to the south and east of Bellesseria would seem the most likely. There is plenty of space for further regions to be dropped in there (south of the lower eastern tip of the continent), whilst still leaving room for the “unfinished” line down the east side of the continent’s western “finger” without causing any feeling of crowding. Or perhaps the new regions will eventually be placed to the south of that western finger, although that might put them a little too close to the channel running to Jeogeot (unless they are linked directly to it).

The second question is more intrinsic to Bellesseria as a whole. while houses along the cost are being picked up – they did so after the houseboats had gone. So, simply provisioning more houseboats possibly runs the risk of the continent’s inland areas remaining under-populated unless they are made more inviting.

Is the slow initial take-up of houses simply that the initial selection wasn’t seen as attractive enough, or was it down to something more fundamental? A lack of ability to link them to the continent’s road structure, for example or – as I noted in Making a (Linden) houseboat a home – is it the general lack of additional amenities people might appreciate having, such as a few airstrips scattered around to offer people the attraction of being able to rez and fly their light ‘planes off of the grass. Or perhaps some of the houses along the rivers could have small boat access to the water (although this could create issues of its own).

Time will tell on both of these questions, but in the meantime – and again assuming the move is to address the demand – the potential of more houseboats becoming available in the (hopefully!) not too distant future could well be as welcome as the recent moves by the Lab to deal with issues of banlines across the new region.