The Machinima effect take two and adding some Steam to the mix

In launching The Drax Files recently, Draxtor Despres has caused some bloggers to re-open the question of promoting of Second Life through the use of machinima, with Ciaran Laval in particular asking could LL follow Draxtor’s lead and can resident-made machinima be used to promote Second Life?

These questions were actually the focus of some thought on my part back in 2011, when – having been prompted by a tweet from Crap Mariner, I mused on advertising SL: the machinima effect, and it seems worthwhile both revisiting those thoughts and updating them with a few further ideas and thoughts.

The video that prompted my original post on the subject may not be focused on Second Life, but it is ample proof of how machinima can be used to promote a product. What’s more it is fun.

Back in 2011, it prompted Crap to tweet: Linden Lab needs to make some ads like this for Second Life – something which caused me to reply: Or #LL should work with the machinima folk for suitable ads: say a competition; top 3 promoted on YT,, etc., which inturn prompted my original post on this idea,

Today, as Ciaran points out, and as I’ve covered for the last few years in this blog (albeit haphazardly), the University of Western Australia holds an annual MachinimUWA Challenge, which this year sees a prize pool of L$1.1 million for machinima makers submitting entries on the theme of “Reflections”.

MachinimUWA VI: showing the potential for machinima as a promotional tool

What makes MachinimUWA particularly relevant to this discussion is that not only does it showcase machinima as an art form, it actually promotes the University of Western Australia. The promotion may actually be very low-key, and a somewhat secondary consideration in terms of storytelling for those entering the competition, but it is there. This year, for example, entrants are required to film in “At least one of the 3 major spaces of Reflection at UWA … (The Reflection Pond, The Sunken Gardens, The Somerville Auditorium).” With the rules going on to note that entrants “may choose to film in any other area of the campus …  or … include all 3 locations.” Thus, the UWA’s in-world facilities form the nucleus of the competition in terms of providing the backdrop for whatever stories entrants opt to tell.

Continue reading “The Machinima effect take two and adding some Steam to the mix”

SL projects updates: week 10 (1): server, materials and SSB

Server Deployments Week 10

A full set of server deployments this week.

On Tuesday March 5th, the Second Life Server (SLS) channel received the server maintenance project that was deployed to all three RC channels in week 9. This update only contains a fix to a single crash mode.

On Wednesday March 6th, the three Release Candidate channel should receive the following code deployments:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre: a new server maintenance project, which fixes a fairly common crash mode, together with Baker Linden’s large (as in file size) object rezzing project aimed at improving simulator performance (see below)
  • Magnum: a new server maintenance project, which includes a mix of bug fixes and stability improvements. Specific fixes mentioned in the release notes are:
    • BUG-1612: region Owners and estate managers finding they are unable to teleport back to their region after disabling direct teleports to the region
    • SVC-8019: region visibility delays following region restarts. This may help with the problem of diagonally adjacent regions failing to render
    • VWR-786: if a friend does not have ‘See my online status’ permission, they will now see “User is not online ..” message following IM or inventory offer.

Large Object Rezzing Project

Baker Linden has been looking to improve how objects with large file sizes are handled by the simulator software when being rezzed. He describes the work thus, “What I’ve been working on is hopefully significantly decreasing lag spikes when rezzing large, complex objects [such as those with lots of scripts]. Large does not necessarily imply size, but size of the files being read. When an object is rezzing, we have to parse the object / mesh files and create our in-world objects with that data.”

Until now, reading and parsing of any files related to objects which require rezzing has been on the main thread. When several such objects requiring rezzing at the same time, the simulator stalls. Baker has been moving the reading / parsing operation to a background thread in the expectation that this will prevent the simulator being choked.

The key point about this work is that it is specifically aimed at preventing the simulator processes from choking and a region stalling when there are a number of large object files being read / parsed, not at actually “speeding up” the physical rezzing process. As such, it is unlikely that objects will appear any faster in people’s in-world view as a result of this work. However, what it does mean is that the simulator code will be better able to handle rezzing multiple “large file” objects without the attendant region lagging which can occur as a result of the simulator being unable to process messages from viewers and other simulators, etc.

Materials Processing

In my last update on this work, I reported that the Lab believed they had one more issue to resolve with the materials processing project, after which the way should be clear for a project viewer to be made publicly available. At the time, it wasn’t clear exactly what the problem might be. However, on Monday March 4th, I was able to ask Oz about the problem, and it appears that it is with the project viewer itself.

“We’ve got a viewer, but it’s so crashy, and the crashes are mostly in material property editing, that I don’t want to distribute it yet…. I’m concerned that doing so would result in a lot of broken content lying around,” Oz informed me.

Materials processing: viewer issues delaying project viewer release (image courtesy of Geenz Spad)
Materials processing: viewer issues delaying project viewer release (image courtesy of Geenz Spad) – click to enlarge

I asked Oz if the crash problems were related to physically applying maps to objects and / or object faces. He confirmed that this is indeed the case – and that the latest (non-public) version of the project viewer can crash if even the parameters for maps applied to an object / object face are modified. However, he went on to say, “Hopefully we’ll get the worst of the crashes dealt with soon, and then we can start giving it to a wider audience. We’ve already solved a bunch of them, but it’s not quite ready for even open alpha testing.”

So, for those who commented on the lack of any update following my last SL project update from week 9, I’m afraid the situation still appears to be one of, “Hurry up and wait.”

Continue reading “SL projects updates: week 10 (1): server, materials and SSB”