Of hellish rides, ashes and potty peas

Seven months ago, on Halloween 2012, MadPea Games opened Carneval, a phan-tastic series of rides, puzzles and games set in a ghostly fun fair which is itself an awesome and atmospheric build, and one presided over by none other than Cthulhu himself.

Now it seems that Cthulhu has had enough of the ghoulish revelry, and has decided to call “time” on the Carneval and the wickedness within. Perhaps it wasn’t wicked enough for his dark heart?

Already, fires are burning within the ground of the carnival, and Cthulhu’s minions are at work destroying parts of the build, and at midday on the 31st, we’re told the zombie hordes will arrive to wreak further mayhem before the entire place is swept away in a 48-hour Demolition Party focused on the Carneval main stage.

The fires are lit and the countdown has begun at Carneval
The fires are lit and the countdown has begun at Carneval

So, if you’ve not had time to visit the Carneval and drink-in the atmosphere (I’m not entirely sure how many of the rides are still operational, if any), you only have a few short hours in which to do so – so hurry; even without the rides being operational, the build alone makes this a worthwhile visit.

Nor is Carneval alone in facing The End. The Lost Treasure of the Inca Warrior is also closing (one that I’ve admittedly not had time to visit) after its own extraordinary run, in what the MadPea team are calling “the end of an era”.

Cthulhu's minions are already at work bringing the Carneval to a suitable end
Cthulhu’s minions are already at work bringing the Carneval to a suitable end

“Is This the End for the Potty Peas and Their Devious Developments?”

Not at all. New games and activities are promised, as the blog post announcing the closures states:

From the ashes and dust rises a brand new MadPea bigger and better than ever before.

Whole new games with immersion never seen before are on their way. We are creating together with the best of the best to take SL by a huge surprise.

To help fund their plans, the MadPea Games team are running a raffle which features a range of special items – some of which are from their well-respected hunts, others of which are one-of-a-kind offers. The raffle items are all on display opposite the Carneval stage, and will remain available through until midnight SLT on June 1st.

And a teaser has already been produced, hinting at what is coming in the future.

In the meantime, and if you’re up for getting some snaps of a truly inventive build and fancy an hour or two listening to music, dancing and blasting seven bells out of a zombie or three, why not grab your camera, put on your dancing shoes and slip into your favourite anti-zombie outfit and pay a last (or first) visit to the Carneval?

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A last chance to weave a Faire tale of your own

Friday May 31st marks the final day for submissions to the Prim Perfect / Fantasy Faire short story competition.

When I started exploring the 2013 Fantasy Faire regions, they struck me as so evocative that there were tales to be told about them – and this thought shaped my writing on the event, causing me to blog a series of vignettes of a traveller’s journey through the regions, rather than produce more review-type articles.

Lotus Valley Dream
Lotus Valley Dream

I wasn’t alone in feeling that there are tales to be told, for the organisers of Fantasy Faire have joined forces with Prim Perfect to present one last challenge for all those who wish to hold on to the magic just a little longer: to write a short story about the Fairelands of between one and three thousands words.

Tales can be set within a single region, or several, or all of them – the choice is yours. The subject matter for your story is also up to you, it can be sad or happy, wise or witty and make readers laugh, cry, gasp, nod with agreement – or do all of these things by turns. The only other stipulations (other than the length!) are that:

  • The region(s) you write about should be identifiable to the reader. There’s no need to explicitly give the name of a region in the story, or give long descriptions to make it clear where your story is set – but you shouldn’t leave the reader wondering “Is this Evensong Woods or is it Titan’s Hollow?”
  • The story must be an original piece, written purely for the competition, and not published elsewhere. By submitting a story, you retain overall copyright, but give us permission to publish the story in electronic format in Prim Perfect and on websites and social media sites belonging to Prim Perfect and Fantasy Faire.

Entries can be in .TXT, DOC or RTF format, and should be submitted via e-mail to: fantasyfaireshortstory@gmail.com.

Once the competition has closed (midnight SLT on May 31st), entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges comprising Zander Greene and Elizabeth Tinsley from Fantasy Faire; Saffia Widdershins, Honour Macmillan and Aisling Sinclair from Prim Perfect; Ceejay Writer, Editor in Chief at Penny Gaff Publications and Judi Newall, Librarian.

Results (and winning entries) will appear in the August issue of Prim Perfect magazine.

(view slideshow full-screen)

SL projects update 22 (2): SSB/A issues, materials, server issues

Server Deployments – week 22

The server channel deployments were delayed 24 hours this week due to Monday May 27th being Memorial Day in the USA.  This being the case:

  • On Wednesday 29th May, the Main channel received the server maintenance project previously on Magnum. This includes bug fixes, comprising two for crash modes and one for BUG-2424 (Overriding “Sitting on Ground” animation while sitting on the ground makes “stand up” button disappear). This deployment also included the LSL support to create and parse JSON-formatted strings, which also included the bug fixes for this capability deployed to Magnum in week 21 (see my SL projects update report from week 21). Release notes
  • On Thursday 30th May, the three Release Candidate (RC) channels received the interest list improvement project deployed to LeTigre in week 21. The core change in this update should reduce scene loading time when entering a new region (again, please refer to my week 21 report for background information). Release notes (BlueSteel, but applicable to all three RCs).

Server-side Baking / Appearance

As noted in these pages, the Lab formally announced the forthcoming arrival of SSB/A on May 29th. This has prompted questions of “when?” Again, as I’ve previously reported, the Lab is proceeding cautiously towards a server-side deployment, even though they are encouraging people to swap to a version of their preferred viewer which is SSB/A-enabled sooner rather than later.

Currently, the two regions for TPV testing have been enabled with the new service and TPVs are putting the new capability through its places – and this has already revealed a reason for the Lab’s understandable reluctance to give out firm dates, as a potentially major issue has been identified.

SUN-74, raised on May 29th, shows that if you are wearing a MOD skin, hairbase or eyes and you enter an SSB/A-enabled region using a non-SSB/A enabled viewer, an alert will appear on your screen which, on clearing, is followed by an innocuous-looking prompt.

The alert and prompt which are displayed when using a non-SSB/A enabled viewer when entering an SSB/A-enabled region
The alert and prompt which are displayed when using a non-SSB/A enabled viewer when entering an SSB/A-enabled region (image courtesy of Whirly Fizzle)

Clicking YES in reply to the prompt can result in the currently worn skin / eyes / hairbase to become irreparably corrupted, with a skin turning  a mixture of black / invisible and eyes turning white. Rebaking will not fix the issue. Relogging to an SSB/A-enabled viewer seems to result in the avatar rendering as a cloud, and / or ending up with a default skin and ruthed. Replacing the affected items (skin and/or eyes and/or hairbase, depending on which has / have been corrupted) with others from you inventory will fix the issue, but re-wearing the corrupted item(s) results in the avatar once more appearing corrupted (and again ruthed, if running an SSB/A-enabled viewer).

Whirly Fizzle demonstrates the result of the SUN-74 issue
Whirly Fizzle demonstrates one aspect of the SUN-74 issue – on a non-SSB/A viewer, her MOD skin has turned black / invisible and her MOD eyes have turned white as a result of entering an SSB/A-enabled region and responding with YES to the given prompt.

Continue reading “SL projects update 22 (2): SSB/A issues, materials, server issues”

Solitary wanderings and stray thoughts

Looking  through my SL photography folders, I was surprised to find one for Sea Salts, the home of Nalena Fairey’s Zigana store, which contained a number of images of the region I’d taken in late 2012. Surprised, because while there can be anything up to a couple of weeks between my taking snaps and then blogging about a destination, it’s rare that I allow months to pass.

As it had been a while since my last visit, I decided to jump over and take another look. I’m glad I did, as Nalena is re-working the region, and the new layout is already pretty stunning, her store sitting in a beautiful wilderness which is already a photographer’s delight. However, it’s not the region I want to discuss per se; I’ll save that until Sea Salts is nearer to completion. In the meantime, I’m going to go off at a tangent, so please bear with me.

Sea Salts
Sea Salts

I generally prefer to explore Second Life on my own, particularly when it involves a place I might blog about. It’s not that I’m anti-social – I’ll happily shared a visit to somewhere I’ve found with a friend or three; rather it’s because when I go somewhere with a view to blogging about it, I prefer the peace and quiet necessary to capture snaps and to be able to wander for as long as I like, my attention on the world around me.

There are unintended side-effects of exploring this way, however. In my case, it means my mind is sometimes prone to wander, which is not always wise, as I’m not sure it should really be allowed to go anywhere on its own without adult supervision. Which brings me to the point of this missive.

Sea Salts
Sea Salts

In wandering through Sea Salts, I found myself thinking about my “destination” reviews, and wondering about how well they are received. I could potentially run a poll in order to find out, but polls can be terribly artificial, and I’m really not one for them (only ever had the one to date). So, I’m going to take a chance and just throw the question out there: do you enjoy the “destination” reviews I provide and / or would you like to see a wider variety / different approach?

I ask, because the feedback on my profile feed whenever I post about places I visit, the feedback seems to be as consistent as when I post to my feed on other matters I blog about. However, the feedback on the blog articles themselves is somewhat more sporadic.

Compared to items on SL news and / or viewer reviews, the overall level of feedback for destination reviews is a lot lower. Granted, news is bound to generate more commentary, etc., and reviews of things like the viewer tend feedback from people as to their own experiences. But that said, and while I am definitely not using this post to try to garner more page “Likes” appearing on my destination reviews or anything remotely akin to that, it does leave me curious as to whether people enjoy reading my “destination” items, or whether perhaps they come across as the “same ol’, same ol'”?

Sea Salts
Sea Salts

Another reason for asking is that one of my aims in writing about places is that I hope to encourage people to go visit the places I blog about. While I certainly don’t expect people all to go running off and visit places based solely on the words which appear in these pages, it would also be nice to think that one or two at least read these entries and opt to hop over and take a look for themselves…

This doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to stop writing about the places I discover in Second Life which appeal to me. I like sticking my nose into the Destination Guide and seeing what I find, and I still have a list of “recommendations / requests” to work through. But I’m curious as to what people think.

Sea Salts
Sea Salts

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Lab formally announces Server-side baking / appearance

Regulars to this corner of the SL blogsphere know I’ve been covering Project Shining – the various projects the Lab is currently undertaking to improve Second Life on the technical front in order to give us all a (hopefully) better experience.

Part of this work includes Project Sunshine, which is more colloquially know as server-side baking (SSB) or server-side appearance (SSA) or server-side baking/appearance (SSB/A) – the choice is yours, depending on personal preference, and which I’ve covered throughout numerous reports in this blog. The primary aim of project Sunshine is to resolve the issue of avatar bake fail – those situation wherein your avatar (or other avatars) fail to render correctly to either yourself or to others around you.

Today, the Lab itself moved to formally announced the forthcoming arrival of SSB/A with a special blog post of their own on the matter, which includes a short video explaining matters:

As the post indicates, SSB/A is being deployed in three parts:

  • A viewer update  – which is available now for the majority of commonly used SL viewers
  • The deployment of server-side changes, which should be commencing shortly
  • A further viewer-side update once the server deployments are completed.

The server-side deployment will take a while to complete, as the new service will require a degree of testing. As such, it is expected that a number of regions on the main grid will be enabled for SSB/A (if they have not been already), and these will be used to measure performance over a period of time prior to a decision being made on “throwing the switch” to enable the entire grid is SSB/A enabled (the test regions may even be scaled-up over time, depending upon how the initial testing goes.

Server-side baking: find out what it is and why you'll need to update your viewer if
Server-side baking / appearance: must viewers should (or will shortly) support SSB/A – make sure you update to a current release of your preferred viewer to avoid seeing grey avatars as the server-side of the new capability is deployed in the coming weeks.

As you won’t be able to tell which regions are using the new SSB/A service and which are using the existing avatar baking service, it is important that you make sure you are using a viewer which supports both capabilities – otherwise you might find yourself encountering grey avatars in increasing numbers. This means updating to a viewer which has the SSB/A code; at the time of writing, these are:

Doubtless, Catznip (R8 with SSB/A has been in development for a while), Dolphin and Exodus will have SSB/A-capable viewers out shortly as well.

Those wishing to obtain a further overview on SSB/A and also on the most recent updates out of LL on the server-side deployment plans are welcome to refer to the following reports from this blog:

A visit to old Italy and more

I didn’t intend to make another visit to Mediterranean inspired destination so soon, but today’s rolling restart decided to chase me around SL a bit (notice how that tend to happen? You teleport someplace only for the Restart notice to pop-up and you randomly pick another place, and *poof* up pops the notice again within minutes of your arrival?).

No? Oh well. Such is the life of a Pey …

FuriZona - LaPerla
FuriZona – LaPerla

Anyway, given I was hopping around and avoiding restarts, I ended up at FuriZona, Home to LaPerla and Port Mo Chalmaig, two complementary builds by Addy Hax and Maryjane Riddler respectively.

If I’m honest, the region had been on my list of places to visit, as LaPerla features in the Photogenic Spots of the Destination Guide; however, given Honour McMillan recently blogged about the region, and I’m trying to avoid giving her the impression I’m stalking her (I leave that to Crap to take care of :)), I’ve been shying away from dropping-in. But Peys can’t be choosers, as the saying goes.

FuriZona - LaPerla
FuriZona – LaPerla

LaPerla is billed as a tribute to the real-world town of Tropea, nestled towards the toe of Italy’s “boot”, and a part of the build recreates the cliff-perched nature of Tropea, with a church and houses surrounding a square, with steps leading down to waterfront and the rest of the town, which is reached by crossing a stone bridge.

Head north after crossing the bridge and you’ll skirt the town and reach a stretch of open countryside which sits between LaPerla and Port Mo Chalmaig (and which forms a part of the latter). This is altogether a more rural environment compared to the town, with grassy walks, various little clusters of houses and shops, and a beautiful little fishing port.

FuriZona -
FuriZona -Port Mo Chalmaig

The two builds are very different in architectural style, yet they blend together into a unique whole, each with its own character and attractions. In LaPerla, one can roam the narrow streets, encounter little shows and scenes which make photography here very attractive. The local cinema offers movies and a place to meet friends, and there as plenty of places to watch the world go by. Within Port Mo Chalmaig’s rural setting you’ll find a forest walk, a pub, and live music venue within the grounds of an old fort / castle built into the side of a hill and the fishing village on the north coast.

Both LaPerla and Port Mo Chalmaig are testament to what can be achieved within a region when using the right mix of mesh and prim builds; the extent of the builds and the level of detail is incredible and really draws the explorer in.

FuriZona - Port Mo Chalmaig
FuriZona – Port Mo Chalmaig

Did I mention the region is also the home of two major stores as well? To the east of LaPerla one can find Savy Sands’ Macho main store, while just along the coast sits Dreamland Designs, Venora Magic’s store. Taken with the smaller shops scattered through the region, these make FuriZona and interesting destination for the confirmed window-shopper!

Given everything which has been packed into FuriZona, there is a lot to see and do, and wandering the streets and footpaths can be a delight. Just mind the odd local or two who might have had one (or two) over the eight …

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(view slideshow full-screen)