SL projects update 19 (3): server, pathfinding, materials & more

Server Deployments – Week 19

The week 19 server deployments went ahead as scheduled and as outlined in an earlier part of this report, to wit:

SLS (Main) Channel

On Tuesday May 7th, the Main channel received the maintenance package which has been running on Magnum. This project brings some new minor features to LSL, and fixes some crash modes and well as additional LSL HTTP support, as well as the previously rolled-back new AO capabilities.

In addition, this package included an additional update which was not documented in the release notes until after the deployment had been made: “Fixed a bug: ‘Orientation data for landing point is disregarded during teleport’.

This fix means that when teleporting to a place which has a defined landing point, you will arrive facing the direct determined by that landing point, rather than arbitrarily facing east. To complement this fix, there is an upcoming viewer update which will show the heading of a parcel’s landing point on the map – but no details on when that update is liable to appear.

Pointing out the fix at the Server Beta meeting, Maestro Linden added, “There’s an exception for cases in which if you have a beacon set, where you’ll face the beacon position instead. I think this is a bug.”

This lead to a discussion on the exception, in which the wider consensus appeared to be that having an avatar facing the beacon (when set) on arrival might be the preferable to automatically having the avatar facing the direction imposed by the landing point. However, this would mean people using a beacon would arrive at the landing point facing a direction other than the land owner intended, prompting Voidpointer Linden to comment, “Yeah, seems like we would only want to have you face the beacon when going to a landing point if it’s in the same region, maybe?”

It’s currently unclear as to whether the feedback from the meeting will mean this exception is allowed to continue, or whether there will be further tweaking with the landing point code in the future,

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday May 8th, all three Release Candidate channels (BlueSteel, LeTigre and Magnum) received server-side support for experience permissions which was running on BlueSteel in week 18. The update, as usual, will also include the changes which are going to the Main channel on May 7th, which included the new AO capabilities – release notes (BlueSteel).

SL Viewer Updates

Beta Viewer

The beta viewer as we currently know it received what might by its final update prior to the new viewer release processing coming into effect. Version 3.5.2.275565 was released on May 9th, and the release notes provide details on changes.

Materials Processing Project Viewer

A new version of the Materials Processing viewer – 3.5.2.275470 – was released on May 8th, based on the 3.5.2 viewer code. The release also appears to include a fix for MATBUG-38 (“Material with normal map but no specular map is always specular with no adjustment possible”), and which I’d described in week 18.

MATBUG-38. appears to have been fixed in Material Processing project viewer 3.5.2
MATBUG-38. appears to have been fixed in Material Processing project viewer 3.5.2.275470, May 8th 2013.

The release may also include a fix for MATBUG-16 (Changing one material, or setting causes another material texture to be lost), which I’d previously noted in week 16.

Whether this latter issue is fixed is hard to judge, as it was somewhat intermittent to start with. and there have been reports that it was already less noticeable with the previous release of the viewer. However, at the time of writing, the bugs remain marked as Unresolved / Incomplete in the public JIRA (but could have been updated in LL’s internal JIRA).

I can say that I’ve so far been unable to reproduce either bug using the new release, having carried out a number of individual tests.

New Pathfinding Capability

Back at the start of 2013, in week 1 to be precise, I reported on a new pathfinding capability designed to keep characters within the parcel in which they were started. This capability takes the form of a new parameter called STAY_WITHIN_PARCEL, which can sent for llCreateCharacter or llUpdateCharacter, and it is now approaching a point where it can be released.

Speaking at the Server Beta meeting on the new parameter, Voidpointer Linden said:

The pathfinding feature to limit a character to their starting parcel is finished and in testing. I don’t know if testing will find flaws or when it will be out, but it’s as ready as I know how to make it currently. If the param is set the character will be limited to moving within the parcel they start in. If the param is not set (or set to FALSE), then there is no limitation on movement.

It was a fun feature to work on actually. Took longer than expected because I had to redo the way that the navmeshes are created with respect to parcels. Oh, there was one other side effect too – a good one. When this goes live, anytime you change parcel entry permissions, it won’t require a navmesh rebake any more.

Voidpointer Linden, who explains his appearance as a colony of bats as being, "because a void pointer is formless and malleable :)"
Voidpointer Linden, who explains his appearance as a colony of bats as being, “because a void pointer is formless and malleable :)”

Voidpointer added: “When agents try to cross a parcel boundary, whether or not they have stay within parcel, they will check the entry permissions, just like before.” There’s currently no timescale as to when the capability will be deployed to the grid – a lot will depend on how the testing goes.

Baker Linden – Bug Stomper!

Baker Linden: stompin' dem bugs
Baker Linden: stompin’ dem bugs

Baker Linden gave a little more information on the bugs he’s continuing to hunt down and stomp whilst on his way to working on creating a group na capability as a response to (JIRA VWR-29337.

In addition to working to fix a problem with searching people when using the choose resident floater and another where some times you can’t unmute an object or person in your mute list, as noted in previous updates, he’s now looking into preventing the use of leading spaces in display names, as per JIRA SVC-8127.

Leading spaces are widely considered to be a nuisance because they enable people to include them in their display name, simply to have it listed at the top of other People lists (e.g. in the Friends and Nearby tabs).

Baker is working on a server-side update to prevent the use of leading spaces. “It will automatically trim all leading and ending spaces in the display name once it’s fixed,” he informed the Server Beta meeting on Thursday May 9th. “So if you provide a DN with all spaces, it’ll act as though you didn’t specify a display name, and will (most likely) use your current name, or it will not create one for you … I’ll treat it as though no display name was entered.”

He does promise to get to the group ban work soon, however. Particularly as members of the Server Beta meeting are now bribing him with offers of milk and cookies once he does!

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3 thoughts on “SL projects update 19 (3): server, pathfinding, materials & more

  1. One other thing in the new server releases (apparently all of them) is a major reduction in pathfinding overhead for regions with no pathfinding characters. I’m seeing a drop from 3 or more msec to 0.001 msec for this “AI Step Time” overhead. It even opened up some Spare Time on one sim that was perpetually on the edge of dilation. It’s a pretty big win, so I’m surprised the Lab hasn’t made more noise about it. (On the other hand, it makes more obvious the performance impact of having pathfinding characters on a sim, so maybe it’s not so encouraging to the wider use of that feature.)

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    1. There was a performance tweak specific to pathfinding & regions with no characters made recently; it may well have been rolled back due to the recent issues and has now been redeployed.

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  2. Things are indeed improving, and at a pretty decent rate. There are some obvious lumps in the road along the way. I feel things will be rather excellent once the dust settles, and everything is established. The materials project in general is good enough that I live on that viewer now, I can’t go back. I even found peace with CHUI as it can pretty much mimic the old chat system (just with a tiny ‘toast’ window). Even with the mass of major server updates I have noticed some issues, but major improvements as well. There are so many new things to play with too, and more comming. Overall I don’t think I can find many negative things to say.

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