At the point of inspiration in Second Life

Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point

A little while ago, I dropped into Inspiration Point and started to grab some snaps. This is a beautifully crafted full region which is home to four stores of varying sizes, and which again amply demonstrates the fact that while the SL Marketplace is a great shopping convenience, it can cause us to miss out on visiting a lot of quite delightful regions.

The stores operating here are House of Fox, Laviere & Tee*fy, The Secret Store, and Kirin, all of which are spread around a cafe sitting towards the centre of the region, and which forms something of a focal / meeting point, which I’ve used here as the default SLurl. All four stores are reasonably separated from one another, and each sits within its own landscaped area, all of which flow together into a whole which in turn both invites visitors to come and spend time exploring, and is itself framed by an offshore sim surround of green hills.

Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point

From the cafe, you can follow the paths leading around the island and find your way to each of the four stores and their surroundings. There are direct teleports available to three of the stores, in the form of the store logos pinned to a noticeboard (which is the technique used at each of the stores), but I really recommend that you ignore them and simply follow your nose, or you’ll risk missing a lot of the touches which make this region a really worthwhile visit – and for which I’m not sure the images here do justice.

As regular readers know, I’ve started having some issues with my current PC. Whether the issues are GPU-related or something more serious is proving a little hard to get sorted out (I’m no expert in these things), so the result is the images here (as with the majority in my recent posts) are not actually snapshots, but screen captures. I’m hoping this will change in the future, now that one or two RL issues have been sorted out, but time will tell on that.

Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point

For the photographer and artist there are a lot of opportunities here for some creative and memorable shots. The default windlight works well, and the region lends itself perfectly to windlight tweakings. All of the stares are themselves photogenic in various ways – but best to obtain prior permission if intending to use them in any form of photo shoot, etc.

There’s a great balance here between open spaces and buildings, and land and water, which gives the region a very harmonious feel. There are also some familiar set-pieces which the keen SL explorer will immediately recognise and which provide a feeling of comfortable familiarity with the reagion: Alex Bader’s Enchanted Tree Tunnel, trees and Boardwalk; Masomaso Quan’s mesh footpaths, Lilith Heart’s flora, and so on.

Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point

With the mix of open spaces, care in the design and water features, it’s pretty obvious why I’m drawn to Inspiration Point. Whether you are window shopping or exploring SL, it is well worth adding to your list of destinations. And of you’re trying to think of a place where you can meet-up with friends, why not try the cafe there? You can meet, chat, shop and explore, all in the one region!

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SL projects update week 26 (3): more viewer, SSB/A and cache

Materials Processing

As reported in part 2 of this update, the release viewer was updated on June 27th with a release containing a number of updates and fixes, including some for materials, such as occlusion culling is less effective than it should be, especially with regards to very large objects; light function sampling being incorrect in advanced lighting model and the legacy Shiny options being overly strong in deferred rendering. The initial fixes for these issues are considered important for TPVs to pick-up when integrating materials into their viewers, while follow-up releases (such as the new 3.6.1277824 beta viewer released on June 25th, being viewed as slightly less important at this time.

Materials continues to be updated and refined, and the Lab is gathering stats on viewer use with ALM enabled
Materials continues to be updated and refined, and the Lab is gathering stats on viewer use with ALM enabled

The latest stats the Lab has on viewers show that some 30% of users are currently running with the Advanced Lighting Model option (ALM – otherwise known as deferred rendering), and are thus able to see materials in use in-world, although the stats also appear to indicate that up to 75% of the user base have hardware capable of running with ALM enabled, “with reasonable performance” in terms of frame rates (e.g. an average somewhat above 10 fps). However, given that fps is a highly subjective measure and somewhat dependent on a range of external factors (such as how many other avatars are in the region with you, whether you are moving around a lot or not, etc), the “YMMV” rule comes into play.

The Lab has already carried out a fair amount of performance tuning with ALM, and at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday June 28th, Oz Linden reported that further work is going on in this area, which will include some profiling of the shaders in order to try to further improve performance.

Currently, and as previously reported in these pages, the Cool VL viewer experimental branch and the Black Dragon 2.2.3 beta both provide materials processing capabilities.

Viewer Release Process and Viewer Updates

The expectation is now that the new viewer release process will come into effect during week 28 (week commencing Monday 8th July). The process is actually ready to go, but as with the server-side of things, the 4th July no change window means that the process cannot be implemented in week 27.

Vivox Update

Once the new process is running, the Vivox update is likely to be one of the first items to go to a viewer release candidate. This update should greatly improve Voice quality within SL. A further Vivox update is liable to follow this at some point.

Interest List Improvements

The viewer-side interest list updates are coming, although the viewer repro has yet to be made public, although again it is anticipated that a project or beta viewer with the updates will be made available after the holiday period, and TPVs will be able to obtain the code.

Viewer Settings

The Lab is moving to eliminate the use of viewer settings files based on channel name. This means that in future, a single SETTINGS.XML file will be used for all versions of an SL viewer which is installed. The code for this is moving towards the release channel of the SL viewer, and the hope is that it will prevent issues of confusion when settings appear to be “wiped out” when using multiple versions of the viewer (e.g. such as moving between the SL release viewer and  the SL development viewer and back a few months ago resulted in people’s toolbar buttons “vanishing” from the release viewer).

Continue reading “SL projects update week 26 (3): more viewer, SSB/A and cache”