Fantasy Faire: under the DragonSpire and over the Crimson Field

DragonSpire. The very name caused me to shiver, despite the warm sun on my back. A place of legends dark and old; where people say drows and goblins and dwarves and nixies all dwell together hording the wealth of the unwary and waylaying innocent travellers in the name of the dragon lord.

It was not a place I wanted to pass through, but like it and the lands beyond, I had no choice if I wished to succeed in my quest. For the only way to reach the great hall of the Royales lay through the dark tunnels of DragonSpire and then onward through the ruins of the Crimson Fields. So, with trepidations in my heart, I looked up at the westering sun one last time, adjusted the pack upon my back, and stepped into the winding tunnel which lead down to the realm of the dragon lord…

And drows I did find. And dwarves and nixies and goblins and all. But the tales did not do them, nor their great dragon lord justice. For beneath the barren rock plains of DragonSpire lay a vast kingdom, rich in ores and crystals and where bright, clear waters splashed and feel through channels and falls, joining with the laughter of folk who only waylaid travellers by offering them goods and provisions to buy and offering a warm hearth and filling meal in return for a good tale or two of the goings-on in the world. Even the drows, tall and dark-robed, were fair of heart and generous of soul, offering many a spell and potion to assist a traveller on their way.

DragonSpire
DragonSpire

Unless you have seen the tunnels and caverns of DragonSpire yourself, you cannot imagine the wonders of this underground city, where the sun rarely sunshine, and yet where grow bright flower and fungi, softening the hard walls and adding a natural warmth wherever they grow, and where great crystals are prized not because of their worth, but because of their colour and light.

I should have liked to stay longer with these strange but friend folk of the underground, but my time was short, and I knew I still hade far to go before I would draw nigh to the palaces of Magnificat. So it was, after many a fair trade, well-provisioned for the rest of my journey, I emerged from the caverns of DragonSpire at the very edge of the mountains under which they lay, to find myself on the very edge of the Crimson Fields.

The Crimson Fields! Here it is said that long ago, the last of the line of knightly order, together with his companions, faced down his mortal enemy as both strove to reach and understand the secrets which lay within a great stone tower. Who knows is the legend is true; but a tower does indeed rise from the plains, and is surrounded by the remnants of an ancient city, the buildings all roof-less, with time-eroded stone walls entwined in overgrown rose thorns. Between them and the great tower, and surrounding it on all sides lay a great field of blood-red roses which rippled under the breeze and filled the air with a heady scent.

Crimson Fields
Crimson Fields

In my culture, flowers of red are oft used in remembrance of those who has passed from this life, and so this sea of red, tho it be filled with the cruel tips of thorns ready to snag and cut the unwary, gave me pause to consider all those who had fought their fight against their own mortal enemies within, and who had passed into the next realm. They were the reason for my journey, and the reason so many sought to visit the wonders of Lumenaria, Evensong Woods, Titan’s Hollow, DragonSpire and more.

And so it was that I following the path down from the caves of DragonSpire and onto aged footpaths of this broken and ancient city, joining with others who also tarried here on their own journeys and pilgrimages, and lit a candle to remember those I had lost.

Region designs by Khyle Sion (DragonSpire) and Laufey Markstein (Crimson Fields).

DragonSpire sponsored by: The Arcanum; featuring:Dark Goddess Designs; Curious Kitties;Favourite Genes; Black Veil Outfitters;The Golden Thorn; ~Refined Wild~; and with themed stores: Niekra’s Dreams; Wilds of Organica; Tayren’s Fantasy Fashions; Sparkle Skye Designs; Elvenbreath; Dysfunctional Designs; *.:!Completely oBVious!:.*; Talevin’s Designs; Whatz; Analog Dog Hair.

Crimson Fields sponsored by TRIDENT; featuring: lassitude & ennui; [ContraptioN]; Satyrs Moon; FallnAngel Creations; meadowWorks; Unzipped; and with themed stores:  The Muses; Vengeful Threads; Psst…Here Kitty, Kitty; Kishi Creations; ImpWerks; – NaLa –; MysticHope Design; TempT; The Elegant Goth; De La Soul.

Key of Hope Hunt

Don’t forget – the first part of the Hunt for the Key of Hope has started across all eight of the main themed regions of Fantasy Faire, and the Valley of Ish’Nar will witness the start of the second part of the Hunt from Thursday 25th April. For full details on the hunt, please refer to the Key of Hope Prologue and How to Play pages on the Fantasy Faire website

Total raised to date for RFL: L$4,359,461 (approx. $17,437 USD).

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SL projects update week 17 (1): Server releases, SSB/A, particles

Server Deployments – Week 17

SLS Main Channel

On Tuesday 23rd April, the SLS Main channel received the update package deployed to the three Release Candidate channels in week 16, primarily comprising the new server-side LSL Animation Override capabilities, complete with a fix for BUG 2164, wherein the new capabilities could conflict with built-in animation poses in chairs, etc., as discussed in my week 15 updates.  This deployment additionally includes the slight region performance improvement when there are no pathfinding characters present. Release notes are available.

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday 24th April, the RC channels should receive the following updates:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre: should gain a new project which brings preliminary server-side support for experience permissions – release notes
  • Magnum: should gain a new server maintenance project.  This update brings some new minor features to LSL, and fixes some crash modes – release notes

So the long-awaited experience tools / advanced content creation tools permissioning system looks to be finally on its way, a little under a year since an exploit caused them to be withdrawn after their initial deployment.

Viewer Updates

Development Viewer Updates

The SL development viewer has been through a rapid series of updates over the last few days of week 16 and the start of week 17, with version 3.5.2.2744 released on Monday April 22nd. While release notes are not available, it is thought it includes (among other things), the fix for music stuttering every few seconds when using FMOD EX, as submitted to LL by Latif Khalifa  (see OPEN-173).

Particle Project Viewer Soon (?)

It appears a new particle project viewer may be on the horizon in the near future. If it does appear, it is likely to be primarily aimed at testing a new capability to help deal with griefing attacks which use particle emitters. Speaking at the Simulator User Group meeting, Simon Linden said:

We’re doing some testing and may get a project viewer out, which would allow you to test it and (I believe) let other viewers check out the source code. This is right-click on a particle, and it kills the generator … We’ve tossed around a few ideas about blocking particles in other ways but definitely want to get these first steps out the door.

This sparked further discussion on ways and means to help stop particle griefing, which has been on the increase across the Mainland of late. However, given that particles are a viewer-side effect, “stopping” them is actually easier said than done from a server-side perspective. One idea which gained some interest, if it is feasible, would be a block of any particle emitters belonging to an avatar banned from a region / parcel.

In the meantime there are means of stopping the viewer from rendering all particles – such as CTRL – Alt – Shift – +, or going to Preferences > Graphics > and dropping the Particle Count slider to zero. These again only work in your own world view, and while not always ideal, do present an option.

Asked if such a particle project viewer might include the new LSL particle capabilities already deployed server-side, Simon could only say, “Hopefully yes … I’ve been working on getting that chunk of code solid for the last few days. Unfortunately it’s pretty easy to crash at this point and so it’s not ready for consumption.”

The particle ribbon effect  is a particle which repeats the texture horizontally, and can follow the object creating them, which offers a lot of potential uses, as which forms a part of the new particle capabilities – soon to be seen within a project viewer? – Time will tell.

Server-side Baking / Appearance

The viewer-side code for SSB/A is starting to appear in more TPVs:

  • Cool Viewer has had SSB/A support in the “Experimental” branch for a while, and this moved to the “Stable” and “Legacy” versions on April 20th – see the Cool VL website and release notes
  • Singularity released version 1.8.0 with SSB/A support on April 21st, which I’ve reviewed
  • Firestorm released version 4.4.0 with SSB/A support on April 22nd, which I’ve reviewed
  • Kukua has had an experimental / development version since the start of April (version 3.5.1) which also incorporates SSB/A.

The status of the SL beta viewer with the SSB/A code will take place around the middle of week 17, when a decision taken as to whether to incorporate the code into the SL release viewer or run a further beta release. The expectation is that the code will move to the release channel unless a last-minute significant issue is found within the code which prompts a further run in beta.

Assuming the code does make it to the release channel, it is likely that a release viewer will appear early in week 18 rather than late week 17, due to the time required to test and QA a build.

SUN-72 – Fix Submitted

One issue which is known to exist within the current beta release of the SSB/A viewer code and which has caused considerable problems is SUN-72 – if you have inventory items with special characters (including the likes of asterisks) in their names, they will fail to load. Similarly the use of accented characters (e.g. such as René) in things like chat log path names, the logs are not saved.

Nicky Dasmijn of the Firestorm team developed a patch for this specific problem which is already incorporated into the recent Firestorm 4.4.0 release, and which has been contributed to, and accepted by, the Lab for integration into the SSB viewer code. Hopefully, it should be appearing in the next SSB viewer release, whether beta of SL release viewer.

Sun-38 – Avatar / z-offset

As noted in my last major update on SSB/A, the ability to offset an avatar’s height on-the-fly to accommodate various animations (e.g. kneeling), or to adjust an avatar’s height when sitting / walking of floors, etc., and which will effectively be “broken” as reported in  SUN-38, remains an issue for many.

While the Lab have produced an alternative approach which addresses some issues around avatar height offset using new appearance sliders, and which Nyx Linden and others have been continuing to tweak, there is no solution on the horizon for maintaining any form of on-the-fly adjustment; nor does the proposed solution work with no-mod shapes, as noted when I first  reported on the “fix”.

During the Content Creation User Group meeting on Monday, April 22nd, a request was made for the Lab to not shut-down the existing baking service until such time as  SUN-28 is “solved”, which prompted Nyx to comment:

SUN-38 is not currently considered a blocking issue for our initial release. It’s on our list to investigate, but we don’t have a patch or update immediately. There is a new hover parameter, which should work for attachments that affect your avatar, but the bug reported is also discussing the need to adjust the offset on the fly without changing wearables. Having both the new and the old system enabled is not an option … We are investigating options, but it is not a hard requirement for the initial release.

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