It’s a Grimm time of month

Update: Grimm Shores has closed and the region is under new ownership.

I came across an invitation to visit Grimm Shores on the SL viewer MOTD. As it is the Halloween month, and hoping for something perhaps celebratory of the Brothers Grimm, I decided to pop over and take a look.

There are no fairy tales on offer here, but the region is decidedly slanted towards the macabre and the haunting – well in keeping with Halloween feel, and as such makes for an interesting diversion given the time of the year…

Grimm Shores – default Windlight

It’s a wet place, Grimm Shores; rain lashes you from a lurid sky, and the darkened forms of buildings loom around you, standing among scattered, forlorn trees, and between sluggish, unwholesome rivers. The notecard presented to you on arrival provides information on a ghoulish treasure hunt being held throughout the month (the prizes can be found inside waiting skulls!), and gives a hint as to what you might find:

Come walk or ride around in a boat around the entire sim … Walk through the buildings but be careful for what lurks around the corners. Don’t let the Blood scare you off, we haven’t had time to clean it up from last year…

Grimm Shores

Up on a hill, and reached by rickety-looking bridges, sits a Bates Motel-like house, which glowers across the region towards a tall church and tumbledown graveyard. Both house and church have seen better days, as has the blocky form of the asylum, which makes up the third large presence in the region.

Grimm Shores

You can rez a boat at the pier by the arrival point should you wish to cross the river and don’t like the look of the bridges. You could also swim if you want – but I wouldn’t recommend it. Across the water, a low-lying mist hovers over the stunted grass, and small bonfires appear to offer warmth for the weary – but be warned, they are really not what they appear to be…

Grimm Shores – using a foggy Windlight setting

This is definitely not a place for the squeamish, but for those who like their romance a little on the dark side, then the dance systems atop Mount Deathmore and among the gravestones by the church or just outside the decrepit asylum might offer a chance to woo one another…

Grimm Shores

The region lends itself to the photographer’s art, and works marvelously with a number of Windlight presets, although I felt a foggy look worked best for me – or perhaps that’s due to my current state of mind …

There are no active ghouls or ghosts to encounter here, although some of the residents are in something of a state of decay while others do insist on hanging around rather a lot. I also wouldn’t look to the church to give you sanctuary, either, if things get a little too much…

Grimm Shores

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Kitely offer fixed-price worlds from $40 a month

Until now, Kitely, the on-demand virtual world service, has offered worlds (regions) based on a subscription basis, with prices starting from $5 a month, inclusive of two regions and 30 hours a month in-world (additional time can be paid for / covered separately).

From today, however, Kitely are offering regions with unlimited use for a fixed monthly fee, in much the same way as other grid-based virtual worlds offer regions of their own. Kitely’s fees for worlds are :

  • $40 a month for an individual world (1 standard 256mx256m region)
  • $60 a month for 2×2 megaregion (equivalent to 4 standard regions)
  • $80 a month for a 3×3 megaregion (equivalent to 9 standard regions)
  • $100 a month for a 4×4 megaregion (equivalent to 16 standard regions).

Each world type has free unlimited access for visitors and supports up to 100 avatars and 100,000 prims (i.e. the 2×2, 3×3, 4×4 megaregions all support 100 avatars and 100,000 prims, not multiples thereof).

Commenting on the move, Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder and VP of R&D states:

Our virtual worlds run on powerful multi-core, 7.5 GB servers, and each world can support up to 100,000 prims and 100 concurrent users. This means that our 1-Region worlds, which cost $40 / month, are both cheaper and more powerful than equivalent private islands on other grids, which cost up to $75 / month. And if you decide to host larger worlds then the price becomes ridiculously low, costing as little as $6.25 per region for a 16-region world. Remember that these are not regions running on overcrowded or underpowered servers: each of our cloud-based servers hosts between 1 and 4 worlds, depending on the amount of users in the worlds. This means that if your world has enough users inside it then it will get its own dedicated server at no extra cost!

Kitely subscribers can opt to lease a fixed-price region option, should they so wish, without it counting against their free region allowance

This move may wide broaden Kitely’s appeal  among users who wish to have large number of visitors and who don’t wish to have concerns about direct charging for in-world time, etc.

SL Viewer Support Removed

On September 27th, Kitely ceased supporting the Second Life viewer for accessing their worlds. This move is somewhat inevitable where OpenSim is concerned, following Linden Lab’s decision to enter into a Havok sub-licence arrangement, a move which subsequently saw the -loginURI capability disabled within the SL viewer.

SL projects update: week 40 / 1

Update 3rd October: The RC roll-outs were somewhat different than indicated by Simon. Magnum apparently received the back-end configuration work for new and future hardware, and BlueSteel received the maintenance update. The Group Services code & maintenance release was targeted at LeTigre, however a showstopper issue means that these regions are now in a state of flux. A comment from Oskar Linden reads: “LeTigre regions exhibited issues that necessitated a rollback. The regions were rolled forward and are on the same code that is on BlueSteel. Affected regions are getting a simstate rollback” . 

Server Deploys

There was no main channel roll-out this week, as expected, following the cancellation of last week’s RC channel deploys.

Wednesday 3rd October will see the three RC channel deploys originally planned for last week:

  • Back-end configuration work designed to help SL run better on new and future hardware – this should be deployed to BlueSteel
  • A maintenance release, which includes has Baker Linden’s Group Services project – this will be deployed to Magnum
  • The third is described by Simon Linden as being, “Very similar to what we have today, with a fix for some future compatibility coming down the pipe. It’s nothing really exciting, but required so things won’t break.” – this should be deployed to LeTigre.

The order of the releases is not clear at the time of writing, and is based on Simon Linden’s comments at the Simulator User Group.Confirmation / updates to the plan should be made available via the Server Deployment thread in the forums.

SL Viewer Releases

Things remain slow due to on-going crash / possible memory leak issues, as reported in my last mini-update.

Group Services Project

The Group Services project is an attempt to improve the management and editing of large SL groups by replacing the current UDP-based service (which has capacity issues with the size of group lists it can comfortably handle) with a new HTTP-based service. The project viewer for this is already available (for Windows, Linux and OSX.). It had been hoped that the viewer code might reach a 3.4.2 beta release during this week, however due to continuing issues with the current beta viewer code, this now seems unlikely.

The initial server code for this will be deployed to the Magnum RC channel, as mentioned above, on Wednesday 3rd October.

Materials Processing

The final feature set for the first release of materials processing is now more-or-less complete, and it should hopefully be announced nearer the time for beta testing. A number of regions on Aditi have been prepared for beta testing, and details on these will be released when the initial project viewer is ready for release.

Options to be used by Normal and Specular Maps, which will need to be provisioned in the Build floater

The initial feature set will include the ability to set parameters (rotation, offset, etc.), for normal and specular maps as well as diffuse (texture) maps. Oz originally hinted this was the aim a few weeks ago, although Geenz indicated it was only hoped these capabilities would be included, rather than it being definite at that time. This means that the build floater for the project viewer will be somewhat different from most people who build are familiar with, as it must include a number of additional options (see right). However, what is being considered is not a complete rebuild of the Build floater.

Commenting on this aspect of the work at the Content Creators’ Improvement Informal User Group, Oz Linden said, “We’ve got a strawman design in internal review… will have a version to look at soon, I think.”

The design has had input from a number of builders. Some of these are from within LL, some of them users, and will probably be left unchanged until further experience is gained in its use. Whether this means the viewer remaining unchanged between the beta programme and the release of materials processing on Agni, or whether changes are made between the beta and the release, remains to be seen. As Oz went on to comment, “It’s a very difficult problem, and we tried to meet three sometimes-conflicting goals: do what needs to be done; keep things familiar; make the things you have to change better in the process. I think we did pretty well…”

Obviously, TPVs will have access to the build UI code once it is available in LL’s accessible repositories, and they’ll doubtless look at the code in terms of how best to integrate it into the look and feel of their own viewers.

There are still no firm dates for the project in terms of beta commencement, etc., but Oz reiterated that the project will follow the familiar course, with an Aditi beta, followed by a release to one of the RC channels on Agni, prior to an eventual full roll-out.

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With thanks to JayR for the simulator UG meeting transcript.