Cool VL Viewer gains mesh support

Fresh on the heels of Astra 1.5.10.(2) gaining mesh rendering support, Henri Beauchamp has issued an experimental release of the Cool VL Viewer, also with mesh rendering support.

As with all versions of the Cool VL Viewer, the experimental release requires Snowglobe 1.4.2 to be installed first, with the CL VL package then installed over it. This is smooth enough, taking just a few seconds to complete. Once installed, the Viewer can be loaded using the Cool VL Viewer icon not the Snowglobe icon.

Given it is one of the longest-running TPVs in SL, Cool VL Viewer comes with  everything you’d expect of a TPV, and I’m not going to repeat the impressive list of features here – as this item is about the mesh rendering (although I should point out the release also includes full support for dynamic lighting and shadows).

As with Astra 1.5.10.(2), I used the SL mesh sandboxes to test the Viewer and took a look around – starting with Don Linden’s familiar examples and Oskar Linden’s black duck in the background.

Mesh samples in Cool VL Viewer

As can be seen, they all rendered well in Cool VL Viewer for me, although there is an issue that Henri is aware of at present. Sometimes mesh objects get stuck in the lowest level of detail (LOD) setting, causing them to appear semi-rendered. In the case of in-world objects, a quick right-click fixes this.

Mesh objects LOD issue – right-click on the object to resolve

Sadly, the same solution doesn’t work on mesh clothing worn by others, which may also get stuck in the lowest LOD rendering. However, as this is only an experimental issues of the Cool VL Viewer, things should hopefully improve as the code is refined.

There is currently no upload option for mesh at present, so those wishing to upload will have to use either the official Viewer 3 or Kirstenlee’s S21 (build 9 and above); this is currently a fact of life for the majority of third-party Viewers, although the situation may obviously change in the future.

If I’m honest, the LOD issue was not something I encountered in testing Astra 1.5.10.(2) and mesh at the sandboxes – but Cool VL Viewer does score over Astra 1.5.10.(2) in that it is a recognised Second Life Viewer with a pedigree people know and love; this is liable to make this version very popular, and any bugs in the current release are, as mentioned above, bound to be worked out.

Cool VL Viewer also scores over Astra 1.5.10.(2) at present in that it is also available as a Linux download.

So if you are a confirmed V1.x user, either on SL or OpenSim, and want to see mesh, why not give it a go? Just please bear in mind that it is currently experimental, as as such, may be subject to stability issues, so don’t get mad with Henri if it does!

The Links

Astra – a Viewer 1-based TPV with mesh rendering

Updated August 31st: Those working on Astra 1.5.10.(2) have asked me to point out that this release is still experimental, and can be unstable at times – see comments at the end of this piece.

Viewer 1.x and mesh are not things we’re used to seeing together where Second Life is concerned. However, with mesh also making its presence felt in OpenSim, it was likely that code to render mesh in a Viewer 1.x TPV would come about at some point.

Astra Viewer is an open source Viewer linked to Astra Grid / Aurora-Sim out of Pleiades Consulting of Canada. The current release, 1.0.0 is available from the Astra Viewer website. However, there is a 1.5.10 release for Windows that can be obtained from the Aurora-Sim repository that is of interest because it can render mesh objects.

It’s unclear as to how widely available this release of Astra is supposed to be; I e-mailed the individual listed as a the main coder for the version several days ago as to use, etc, but have so far failed to receive any reply. However, news of its availability is spreading through Twitter.

Astra 1.5.10 does have almost everything you’d expect from a V1.x-TPV: client-side AO, RLV/a support (accessed from the Advanced menu, a-la Imprudence), radar, V1 avatar physics, V1 shadow rendering, etc. But it’s the mesh rendering that is of interest, and it’s good.

As mesh support is (for me at least), hard to find out in OpenSim land*, I admit that I *did* sneak into Second Life using Astra in order to test it. I’m not sure if this was entirely against the rules – SL is included in Astra’s Grid Manager, but I have no idea if Astra has been self-certified under the requirements of Linden Lab’s Thirf-Party Viewer Policy. It doesn’t appear on the TPV Directory – but this actually isn’t necessarily indicative of non-certification, as certified Viewer do not have to be listed in the Directory.

Leaving that aside, I have to say, the code works fine, as the image below shows.

Two of Claudia222 Jewell’s magnificent mesh sculptures rendered in Astra.

There’s no upload option in the Viewer at present, tho. Whether this will be added in time, I have no idea.

Another view of one of Claudia222’s creations, captured in the Asta Viewer.

Overall, Astra is pretty much what you’d expect from a 1.x Viewer. The Grid Manager selection is short (defaults to AnSky Grid on initial start-up), but adding new grids follows the usual format, and as such, isn’t a hurdle to overcome.

As I said above, it’s not clear if the Viewer has been self-certified for SL use (I’ve e-mailed the perople developing it, but haven’t heard back as yet), but given the amount of resistance to the likes of Viewer “3” within Second Life, the existence of the code to render mesh objects in the 1.x Viewer is liableto be of keen interest of 1.x TPV developers.

In the meantime, those on Windows wishing to try out Astra 1.5.10.(2) on suitable OpenSim grids can find it here.

* Francogrid and OSGrid have mesh-enabled regions.

(With thanks to Latif Khalifa).

Re-entering the RedZone: the JLU

Controversy has recently been growing (yet again) around the so-called Justice League Unlimited within SL. This is a group of self-styled “law-enforcers” that has long been active in-world, supposedly protecting the innocent against dirty wrong-doers, with their avatars garbed in comic book superhero outfits.

Leaving aside their explicit violation of a certain comic book publisher’s IP rights – this group has long had a less than stellar reputation, and is not above overlooking inconveniences to their “duty” such as the Second Life Terms of Service. Evidence is now emerging that the JLU are (again / continuing to be) involved in RedZone-like data-gathering – and going a lot further in the process by attempting to put together dossiers on anyone in-world they consider a “threat”.

Avril Korman has written an excellent piece on the JLU’s activities, and it is a recommended read. For those that feel the same level of concern for the JLU’s activities as they did with RedZone, there is also an on-line petition aimed at Linden Lab to have the JLU’s activities properly scrutinised. You may also wish to consider adding your own e-signature.

Additional Reading

Update – 2nd September