Return to The Garden

In November 2012, Salome Strangelove opened The Garden, an absorbing, immersive puzzle which is open to all to try their hand.

I reviewed The Garden as it opened last year, and for a time was a regular player, and also found myself attracted to it purely as a place in which to take pictures. In December 2012, I started working on putting together a video for The Garden, but stopped in early January with the project incomplete. Part of the reason for this is because I can’t actually do decent machinima on my current PC; I lack the skill (and hardware) for decent mouse control of the camera, and the PC / GPU has problems trying to run both FRAPS and SL side-by-side without a horrible loss of frames, even with Draw Distance down low and most bells and whistles turned off.

Anyway, for what it is worth and because I hate leaving things unfinished (they eventually all nag at me for attention), I decided to push the video through and upload it to You Tube.

As to The Garden itself, if you’ve not spent time there, I really do recommend you pay it a visit; it’s a fabulously immersive place in which to spend time – and the puzzle is quite addictive!

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SL10BCC: Celebration’s a-coming: of DJs and triangles …

SL10B-CC_WordPress

We’re still over two months away from the opening day of the tenth anniversary celebration for Second Life – but that doesn’t mean people are sitting around a-waiting. Oh no. We’re already looking for volunteers.

Applications for volunteers, performers and exhibitors open on April 15th, and will remain open until May 20th. As I’ve already looked at this year’s theme and what it could mean to exhibitors, it’s time to hand over to Mistletoe Ethaniel, who has put together a video for all those DJs wishing to spin a spot at the celebration…

As the Prim Reaper has decided to take a break from things this year, The Boys In The Back Room have sought long and hard to find a spokesperson for the event.

… Looks like they’ve succeeded …

Update Your Bookmarks!

As Triangle Head notes, there have been some changes to various URLs for the celebration, so if you’re blogging about the Community Celebration, please make sure you update your links accordingly:

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With thanks to Saffia Widdershins

Down the rabbit hole for Easter

I first came across Ginger Lorakeet’s work at SL9B in 2011, where she had an exhibit on the region of Nove. I find the concept of 3D art in an immersive 3D environment fascinating – so was intrigue to discover Ginger had been selected as one of Artists in Residence for the 4th round of the Linden Endowment for the Arts season of that name – and have been awaiting the opening of her installation.

Putting yo in the frame - Inside Art at LEA23
Putting you in the frame – Inside Art at LEA23

Inside Art opened recently, and is more than worth a visit – not only does the installation feature some of Ginger’s Inside Art pieces for you to enjoy – and be a part of -, it also invites you to follow in Alice’s footsteps, and visit interpretations of scenes from Lewis Caroll’s famous works featuring her adventures. By combining the two, Ginger presents an engaging view of art in Second Life while also allowing visitors to visit some unique takes on Alice’s adventures.

You start standing outside a piece of art which demonstrates a clever use of 3D forced perspective. Nearby is a large magnifying glass – step through it and start your journey!

Inside Art / Alice in Wonderland - LEA23
Inside Art and scenes from Alice’s adventures – LEA23

Rather than presenting “traditional” views of Alice’s tales, however, Ginger has largely opted to go for more unusual interpretations – some of which put you firmly in the role of Alice, particularly after you take a drink from a bottle found along the way, or lick a waiting mushrooms.

Here there is no waiting Queen of Hearts or sleepy attendants at any tea-party (which is not to say the tea party is absent the piece!). However, many of the characters from the stories do appear, if in an unusual guise.

Inside Art - Alice's adventures
Inside Art – a tea party awaits

Scenes are presented to you as you follow a trail through the region, starting with a maze where each turn is worth looking around before you find the exit and move on. Along the way, signs, presented with Carroll-like arrowed hints (“that way”, “wrong way”), ensure you keep to the path (not that it is hard!). As mentioned above, there are also familiar things to pick-up along the way, and which “help” you into the next scene or two. Drink from the bottle before entering one part of the installation, for example, and you’ll appear to share Alice’s experience of shrinking…

Inside Art
Inside Art

This really is a wonderful and whimsical installation which offers those visiting a lot to enjoy as they follow the path to Ginger’s gallery and at the gallery itself, where she presents a number of her works – including some for petites to share – which very firmly put you in the frame of things…

Absolutely worth a visit or two.

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A serene Haven in a beckoning sea

OK. I admit it. I’ll come clean. I’m Honour McMillan’s sekrit stalker. It’s her fault, actually – I know she’ll deny it, but it is. Honest. She keeps pointing to these marvellous places in SL to visit and blogging about them, and I keep reading about them and, well, drooling at her pictures.

Just the other day, she blogged a piece which featured Julala Demina’s The Haven on the Sea of Beckoning. Intrigued by honour’s pictures, I set out to take a look myself.

The Haven
The Haven

A photographer in both rl and SL, Julala has put together a region where nature and spirituality combine to present the visitor with both a delightful landscape to explore and photograph, and places to simply sit and rest and renew.

This is a place to come to when you want to get away from in-world pressures, be it on your own or with a close friend or loved one. The woodlands, rivers, walks and various points of interest have all been composed with care while retaining a completely natural  – dare I say “harmonious” feel.

The Haven
The Haven

For those looking for a tranquil place to live, Julala offers four modest places to rent – all of which perfectly fit the theme of the region. During my wanderings, I noticed that three are occupied at present, so please be aware of and respect people’s privacy should you visit. Even if you’re not looking for a home, perhaps a rest at the campfire alongside the Romany caravan might be to your liking …

There are lots of little details here which make visiting a pleasure;  lanterns hanging from branches and arches help light the paths at night, the paths themselves blend unobtrusively with their surroundings so as to feel a natural part of the landscape.

The Haven
The Haven

Up on one of the hills you can meditate under an awning, candles flickering around you, the ground lit by lanterns held by carven figures. Down in the valley, a short distance away, you can dance with a partner within stone walls. for the more energetic, there’s always the boathouse where you can rez a rowing boat – although getting around the island takes a little care.

For my part, I loved simply wandering around the island, walking under tree and over bridge and simply playing with my windlight settings and seeing what came forth. There is something very relaxing about simply being on ones own in such a region as this; it’s calming and renewing.

The Haven
The Haven

People sometimes come here looking for answers…..sometimes they find them….sometimes they don’t. 

Sometimes people come here for comfort, reflection or have someone to listen in a safe and peaceful place.  This is more easily found.

So reads the description for The Haven – and it is entirely apt; you may not find the answers you’re seeking when visiting – but you will find somewhere where reflection comes easy and peace presents you with a reason to stay. And that alone makes a visit more than worthwhile.

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The Haven
The Haven

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SL projects update week 13 (2): server releases, HTTP, and viewer notes

Server Deployments Update

On Tuesday March 26th, the SLS (Main) channel received the maintenance package previously deployed to BlueSteel and LeTigre in week 12, which includes a fix for a crash mode  – release notes.

On Wednesday March 27th, the RC channels received the following packages:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre: a new maintenance package, which includes:
  • Magnum: should receive the same update as the Main channel (i.e. the package deployed in week 12 to BlueSteeel and LeTigre), otherwise retaining the updates and fixes deployed to it in week 12 – release notes.

As usual, there is a forum discussion thread for comments / feedback on the deployments.

Some issues have been reported following the Main channel deployment, but nothing which warranted any major action on LL’s part. Some reported noticeable improvements as a result of the pathfinding update.

Week 14 Deployments

While a final decisions has yet to be made on deployments for the week commencing Monday April 1st, Maestro Linden, hosting the  Server Beta group meeting on Thursday March 28th, indicated that the Magnum updates (which are all interest list related and include the vehicle region crossing fix for BUG-1814) is currently his personal favourite to be promoted to the Main channel and BlueSteel / LeTigre in week 14. If this proves to be the case, then he’s liable to have a lot of SL vehicle users very happy with him – myself included!

SL Viewer – CHUI, SSB and More

The SL development viewer moved to release 3.5.1.272979 on Thursday March 28th. As there are no release notes associated with development viewer releases, it is not always easy to determine what a new release contains; however, from tests, it would not appear that the release contains the viewer-side Server-side Baking (SSB) code.

The next major update to the release viewer is slated to be the Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI), which should be arriving “any time now” according the last-known plans from LL.

As previously noted, once CHUI reaches the release viewer, SSB will move to the beta viewer and make an appearance in week 14 – possibly (and coincidentally) on April 1st. Once in the beta viewer, it will remain there for up to four weeks (unless significant bugs are found), and no less than two weeks, prior to it moving to the SL release viewer. It is unlikely that any SSB server-side deployment will commence on the Main grid until after SSB has reached the release viewer – however, this is subject to final planning, and there may be a limited release of the server code while SSB is still in the beta viewer.

Work is still progressing on the materials code, and there is still no date for the release of a project viewer.

HTTP Project

On Wednesday 27th March, Monty Linden sent out an e-mail indicating the current beta testing on Aditi for his new HTTP capabilities will be drawing to a close “shortly”, and that anyone interested in carrying out tests in the three channels should do so sooner rather than later. Precisely when the beta test will close is unclear, but from Monty’s e-mail it would not be unreasonable to assume it will be within a week.

The next stage for this work is for it to progress to a Release Candidate channel – which will seem the “normal” configuration for HTTP services currently on channel DRTSIM-203 on Aditi carried forward to the selected RC channel(s). While there is no date as to when the HTTP work will reach a RC channel, Monty will be looking at the deployment as a more in-depth load test opportunity and seeing how well the new services might scale.

Other Items

Advanced Creation Tools Permissions

July saw the launch of the first phase of the Advanced Creation Tools, also referred to as experience tools. Following problems with an initial deployment of the tools in June, which resulted them being exploited as a means of griefing, the “first phase” of the release saw the tools implemented with existing permissions system in place, with the intention of updating the permissions system to allow the tools to be more fully used “in the future”.

After hearing that the work on the permissions system was again getting attention having been “stalled” for a time, there has been something of a further absence of news on progress. However, speaking at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday March 28th, Maestro was able to confirm the permissions system is currently on internal testing at LL – so it might be showing-up on Aditi (or in an RC deployment) in the not-so-distant future.

Scripted Avatar Rotation

The subject of scripted avatar rotation has come up for discussion at the last couple of server-related meetings. The idea is to use a scripted object to force the avatar to face a specific direction. It is not a new request, having been the subject of several JIRA in the past, most notably SVC-56, which also provides some suggestions as to how it might be achieved. Being able to turn the avatar to face a specific direction has a number of potential benefits – it could, for example, be used to have an avatar face a rock face which could then be “climbed”, or it could make avatar alignment for hugs / kisses a lot more accurate.

RLV already allows such rotation, although it may not be as accurate as required in some of the potential uses. Some objections to the capability have been put forward in the past – such as the potential for “griefing” others; although “griefing” of the kind envisaged perhaps shouldn’t necessarily prevent the development of such a capability, which would preferably be achieved by means of an attached scripted object, which wshould help minimise the risk of malicious use of the capability.

Andrew Linden, in discussing the idea at the Simulator User Group on March 26th commented:

Avatar rotation by script is actually hard to do. The reason it is so hard is a legacy thing… the protocol is basically set up such that the viewer tells the server where the avatar should be facing, and the server tries very hard to get it there. So in order for the server to turn the avatar, it would have to know when to listen to the viewer and when not; remembering such a state isn’t hard, but figuring out when to transition is hard … what would happen if a “turn the avatar” event was triggered and you started mashing on the keyboard to move the avatar elsewhere… what system should win?

Without committing to anything, Andrew concluded the discussion by saying, “I’ll think more about it. Maybe it’s possible. There must be a clever way. I don’t see it yet.”

Patterns moves to Steam’s Early Access platform

LL logoUpdate, October 9th, 2014: Linden Lab announced that development work on Patterns has been discontinued.

Patterns, Linden Lab’s sandbox building game available for Windows and the Mac, which launched on October 2012 utilising Steam as the initial download mechanism before becoming directly available via the Lab’s own Patterns website, has now moved to the Steam Early Access platform.

Launched on March 21st, Early Access allows users to play games that are currently in development. It initially kicked-off with a total of twelve titles in various stages of development, and which users can purchase and play. In return, developers gain access to community feedback, players can play games in alpha or beta stages, and Steam gets to remain the one-stop shop for digital downloads.

As such, Patterns – which remains in its Genesis Release phase and at the Genesis price of £6.99 ($9.99) – is an ideal candidate for the new Steam service, as it brings the game to the attention of a much wider audience than has perhaps been available to it until now.

Patterns now available as a part of Steam's Early Access platform
Patterns now available as a part of Steam’s Early Access platform

Coming alongside the move, the Patterns Community page on Steam has also been updated with news on the move, commenting in part:

We first launched Patterns as a ‘genesis release’ in October 2012, and we are now happy to make it available to everyone on Steam as part of the Early Access program. We are still very early in the game’s development, but have already made many updates. If you’re interested in seeing how Patterns has grown and improved so far, check out our update history in the News section.

As genesis release users, your feedback will help shape Pattern’s evolution. Please keep the comments, screenshots, videos and your thoughts coming! Know that we are reading and paying attention to your feedback, even if we are not able to respond to every post with a comment.

Since its initial launch, Patterns have continued to be enhanced, with both bug fixes and new features being regularly added to the game – many of the latter in direct response to ideas and input from Genesis users. These new features include additional worlds, more substances for building, more formations, some with new – such a slide, bounce and fly.

More enhancements and capabilities – again, some of which have been user-requested – are due in the future, including a multi-player mode, the ability to build personalised worlds and shared them with other users,

The caption says it all (courtesy Linden Lab)
The caption says it all (courtesy Linden Lab)

Of all the new products launched to date by Linden Lab, Patterns is the one which potentially has the most visible traction  – the Steam / Genesis user community is active, the community pages contain a good mix of discussion, ideas and Q&A, and the game appears to have picked-up a good level of support and enthusiasm from non-SL users – something which could bode well now it is effectively available on a more widespread basis within the Steam community.

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With thanks to Daniel Voyager