4th Annual Machinima Expo

The 4th annual Machinima Expo will be taking place over the coming weekend, 18th-20th November, in both Second Life and on the web.

Showcasing the winners of this year’s Machinima Expo competition, the event will be presenting a packed schedule of films over the weekend, which you can watch either in-world with friends, or view via the Machinima Expo website. Entries for the competition were not restricted to Second Life, but were open to “footage captured from a real-time 3D engine and includes video games and software designed to create machinima”  (including worlds such as World of Warcraft and games such as The Sims), so should make for interesting viewing (although which environments, etc., the inidividual films were made in is not always clear when reading the programme schedule).

Films will be shown at a number of venues in-world, and will be accompanied by specific in-world only activities as well. The venues are:

  • UCSVille – The Expo Hub – billed as “the trade show floor” of the Expo featuring galleries, vendor booths and teleporters to the other Expo locations, and with help staff on hand, making it a good place to start your Expo explorations
  • UWA Theater  – billed as “the best place to begin if you’re wanting to watch the live programming or screen the selected films in world”, sitting as it does on the corner of 4 regions

Additionally, there are two special venues for the event:

Check the Machinima Expo website for the programme schedule and a list of films being screened.

Viewer 3: further releases

Viewer 3.2 continues with almost weekly releases. The 3.2.1 (244864) release went public of the 15th November brings the release viewer almost up-to-par with things recently seen in the Beta and Development Viewers, namely:

  • Chat translation options – in time for the Google free API end-of-line, although the debate over Bing fees is liable to continue
  • Destination Guide open by default
  • New Neck and Centre attachment points.

However, there is still no revised snapshot floater.

The Viewer also includes a number of crash and performance fixes, together with a bag full of minor bug fixes and corrections.

In the Development branch, the Viewer reaches 3.2.4 (245302). There are no obvious release notes with the Development version (empty wiki page), and no obvious UI updates. I assume the release carries more in the way of bug fixes, etc.

Performance-wise,  the new releases (3.2.1 & 3.2.4) offer something of a performance boost on my usual hardware set-up: Viewer frame rates are constant in the mid-30s when on sims with a handful of others but still falls on its bum when shadows, etc., are enabled (to roughly 1/2 the frame rates of Firestorm, and roughly 1/3 those of Exodus). This gives rise to noticeable “stutter” when panning the camera particularly.

Both the new release and the latest Development versions continue to run significantly better in Linden Home regions than Firestorm (again on my set-up). I’ve yet to encounter a single disconnect in these regions when using the official Viewer, whereas, as I’ve mentioned, disconnects and crashes are a fact-of-life when running Firestorm in many of these regions. Frame rates for the 3.2.1 while in Linden Home regions were also significantly better than with the 3.2.0 release of the viewer – 18-20 fps, rather than single digits sitting around the 3-5 fps mark.

I’m not sure where the OpenGL fixes stand – it is hard to get along to Viewer meetings; there is a “dedicated” development stream for fixes to this issue, but I have no idea if these fixes are making their way back to the main Development -> Beta -> Release flow.

The Viewer installer and executable still have yet to be corrected: as far they are concerned, people are still installing and running “Viewer 2”. Tateru Nino raised this point recently (and tbh, I hadn’t actually noticed until she did). I don’t find it an irritant myself, but it is mildly amusing.

The mouse movement / click-to-move reversal is still there however. For those unfamiliar with the problem: up until now (unless using the Basic Viewer mode), you could steer your avatar using the forward / back keys and by pressing and holding the left mouse button with the pointer over your avatar; moving the mouse left / right would move your avatar in the appropriate direction.

With SINGLE CLICK ON LAND set to MOVE TO CLICKED POINT sees this reversed – move the mouse to the right, and your avatar moves left.  There’s a JIRA out to request a fix to issue.

Beta-wise, no changes have been made, and the release number remains as per last week.

Overall, 3.2.4 (Development) looks pretty stable, fast and comfortable to use. As I’m not affected by the OpenGL issue, I’m completely unable to comment on how it fairs on impacted graphics cards, and will have to leave that up to someone else. Otherwise, and pending the official release of the OpenGL fixes, these releases may indicate the “radical” element of the Viewer UI change is coming to an end, and it’ll be more a case of polishing things in terms of small enhancements and bug fixes.

And on that subject, if anyone from LL is still reading this blog – there are a few JIRAs on the new UI besides the one linked to above. You might want to point your colleagues towards :).