Dining out in Second Life

The Grove Country Club Estates is an upmarket residential estate in SL covering (at the time of writing) some ten regions which have all been painstakingly landscaped and which mix residential parcels with parks, roads and waterways. To the north of the estate is Patch Thibaud’s clifftop house of Majesterium, which is also open to the public.

As a residential estate, this is not my usual choice for a destination review per se, and this article isn’t intended to be such. However, I have to admit I do find the estate attractive and do like to occasionally walk the parks and wander along the roads, always taking care to observe the privacy of the residents (you can actually hire a bicycle from the welcome area when visiting).

del Vino
del Vino

One part of the estate to which I’m particularly drawn in Casablanca Bay South. Mostly water, this region has a hook-like sandy prominence jutting out into the sea, upon which sits the most attractive tapas and wine bar I’ve come across in SL.

If I’m honest, I’m not actually a great one for the idea of dining in any form in SL, and none of my homes in-world have every had a kitchen or dining area. However, as a means of providing a social venus where friends (and strangers) can meet and sit and chat, restaurants in SL offer perhaps a preferable venue to pitching-up at a club, etc. In fact, I met one of my longest-known in-world acquaintances at a restaurant, many years ago, and I can still remember simply sitting and chatting with him to the point where the wee small hours of the morning were fast on their way towards growing up…

del Vino
del Vino

Del Vino, designed by Coralie Bilasimo has a certain chic and a Mediterranean charm about it which makes it and instant delight – and probably a place that, where it to exist in real life, I’d be dining at quite regularly (and my waistline resenting me even more as a result…).

The Mediterranean touch is not by accident; the entire estate is intended to evoke a Mediterranean feel, and incorporates both Tuscan and Andalusian elements, and as one of the community’s builders, Coralie has had a hand in shaping the overall theme and bringing it to the fore through works such as del Vino.

del Vino
del Vino

Downstairs is a vaulted room offering party dining space around a simple wooden table, while upstairs is a more intimate dining area, with smaller tables for up to four and a banquet table out on the verandah overlooking the beach. The interior design is by Emery Milneaux, one of the estate’s co-owners, and fits the style and design of the building perfectly.

This is an exquisite build, where charm, chic, landscaping and an eye for detail and interior design come together to produce a truly memorable location within SL. I’m also pretty sure it’s one the images here do less than justice. If you are into SL building design and architecture – or simply want a marvellous place to meet with a friend or two and sit and chat, del Vino is absolutely worth the visit. And for those with a romantic bent, why not take a stroll along the beach afterwards, or perhaps along the jetties of the marina just to the north?

Casablanca Bay
Casablanca Bay

Related Links

(view slideshow full-screen)

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Imprudence catch-up

imprudenceI’ve been meaning to run a catch-up on Imprudence since mid-April; my apologies to Onefang Rejected and crew for not doing so sooner.

My last report on Imprudence, back at the end of February, made mention of the fact that Onefang, who had been working on the Meta-Impy viewer (itself forked from Imprudence 1.4.0), had come forward with a stated goal of continuing Imprudence’s development and joined the Kokua / Imprudence team. After that, things went quiet as far as the rest of the world was concerned. However, this didn’t mean nothing was being done.

Recent Updates

In April 2013, the team released first experimental version of Imprudence 1.4, referred to as 1.4.0.3 exp 0, the first major release of the 1.4.0 code which had been in beta status for a very long time.

The update included a lot of under-the-hood work with many bug fixes from numerous contributors, improvements to the build processes, code clean-ups, the removal of the Google translate option, updates to the grid list, port of inventory category capability from Cool VL viewer, addition of a MOAP radar, and security improvements to the storage of users’ passwords.

This was followed almost exactly a month later, in May 2013, by a further release – referred to as 1.4.0.3 experimental 1, and which included further fixes and updates which built on the work released in 1.4.0.3 experimental 0.

With both releases, Onefang took time out to address a range of questions on Imprudence, and roughly outline what the team hope to achieve. His comments were caveated by noting two important points:

  • There is a fair amount of catching-up to do, and it will take time for the team to get there, so people shouldn’t expect everything to be done at once
  • The team is small, and all of them volunteer to do the work. As such, it has to be slotted-in between real life obligations, etc. Therefore, progress may be subject to interruption, and users were (and are) asked to bear this in mind.

Looking Ahead

In terms of bringing Imprudence in-line with some of the major updates other viewers have / are seeing, Onefang had the following to say (as noted in his replies to comments following the 1.4.0.3 exp 0 release – scroll down to read all of his replies in full). There are no time scales attached to any of the following because, again, the team are working on a volunteer basis and are subject to RL interruptions and obligations which may impact progress in one or more areas.

MOAP (Media on a Prim)

Robin Cornelius provided the team with the MOAP radar functionality, and subsequently with a working patch which includes most of what is required to get MOAP working in Imprudence, so the team hope to have this working “soon”.

Mesh Rendering

Currently, imprudence uses the “old” rendering code which cannot render mesh objects (boxes, cylinders and weird shapes result). Replacing this code is a major task and will take time to complete. As such, the aim for the time being is to catch-up on other code elements and come back and address the issue of render code update / replacement for a later date.

However, Onefang has been experimenting with code that bypasses the bulk of the old render code for meshes, and steps in at the last moment to add the mesh after the rest of the render is done. This approach has worked well as a proof-of-concept, and he hopes that if it can be shown to work “for real”, it will offer a possible interim capability for Imprudence to render mesh until such time as the rendering code can be properly overhauled / replaced.

Imprudence and mesh
Imprudence doesn’t currently support mesh rendering, as shown above with the LAQ mesh cottage (see inset for how it should look). BUT, while it may take a while for comprehensive mesh rendering support to be implemented, Onefang Rejected is looking at an interim solution which may allow Imprudence users to correctly view mesh objects in-world

Second Life Server-side Baking / Appearance

The team plan to make Imprudence SSB/A compatible in the future. This will not happen prior to SSB/A going live across the SL main grid (Agni), nor is it likely to happen any time immediately after LL have deployed SSB/A. However, Imprudence will be looking to support it as and when they can.

Grey people will be the order of the day for Imprudence users on Second Life once SSB/A is deployed - at least until the Imprudence team get SSB/A support implement, which they are looking to do in the future
Grey people will be the order of the day for Imprudence users on Second Life once SSB/A is deployed – at least until the Imprudence team get SSB/A support implement, which they are looking to do in the future

Materials Processing

Again, earmarked for inclusion in Imprudence, but not necessarily on the immediate horizon.

Other Things on the List

Obviously, the above is not the extent of the team’s plans, but tends to represent the items they are most asked about. Overall, the “to do” list includes a lot of work and covers things such a multiple attachment support, pathfinding support (NPC support for OpenSim), avatar physics, parcel privacy support, scripting additions, RLV/a updates, HTTP updates, and more.

Progress on Imprudence can be tracked through the project issue tracker.

Patience, Young Padawan!

Imprudence remains a popular viewer, and runs well on OpenSim. That OneFang and the team are committed to keeping the viewer going and bring it up-to-par with other viewers and both with OpenSim and Second Life is to be highly commended. It may take a while for some of the updates to reach the light of day, so some patience may be in order for those who’d like to continue / resume using it with SL in particular.

Related Links

SL projects update week 27: SSB/A, general news and discussions

Apologies for the late-running of this update. I started drafting it earlier in the week and, um, forgot about it.

Week 27 Server Deployments

Just a reminder that due to the Independence Day code freeze for week 27, and the fact that the Lab is closed on Thursday 4th, Friday 5th July for a long weekend, there were no server deployments this week.

Server-side Baking / Appearance

Deployment / enabling should be commencing in week 28, most likely starting on the 9th July. To help spread the message, the Lab has once again blogged on the deployment of the new service, referring to it by the official title of Project Sunshine (which is a part of the Shining Project) and again included their video explaining what is going to be happening.

The majority of maintained viewers provided by both Linden Lab and third-party viewer developers are already ready for the new service, with only Dolphin, Exodus and Imprudence being without support. Hopefully, both Dolphin and Exodus will update shortly, but it will be some time before Imprudence is in a position to adopt SSB/A – the team has a fair amount of catching-up to do.

So, to borrow from the Lab. If you’re not already running an SSB/A capability viewer: “Don’t be cloudy and grey – enjoy Sunshine today” – and update your viewer!

SL Viewer News

A further SL beta viewer release was made on Tuesday July 2nd  – version 3.6.2.278133 – with (among other things) further materials fixes, as listed in the release notes.

In other updates:

  • The Lab has made a viewer repo public which contains various bug fixes and updates made available in the beta maintenance viewer. These include items such as the additional fixes for high-resolution snapshots (to prevent things like black rectangles appearing in very high resolution images). Expect to see them filtering through into TPV soon, and for the fixes themselves to start the SL release viewer possibly sooner.
  • The “project interesting” viewer which contains viewer-side updates to complement various server-side interest list project updates is still undergoing work to fix all the blocker bugs which are currently preventing it from being made public.

In terms of the latter, Andrew Linden reports that he is looking to gather data which will allow for performance comparisons with things like scene loading pre- and post “project interesting”, to see help measure the improvements in the HTTP texture download changes implemented by Monty Linden.

Other Items

What is a Reasonable FPS Rate?

In the last part of my week 26 update, I reported that the Lab has statistics which show that around 50% of users are running viewers with the Advanced Lighting Model option (“ALM” – formerly the Lighting and Shadows option and also referred to as “deferred rendering”) active, and that they further had data to suggest that up to 75% of users have hardware capable of running with ALM enabled “with reasonable performance” in terms of frame rates (e.g. an average somewhat above 10 fps).

At the time I reported this, I noted that:

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.

That the term “reasonable performance” is so nebulous sparked a debate during the Simulator User Group meeting as to what might be regarded as “reasonable” frame rates for a viewer running with ALM enabled (although not necessarily with any lighting & shadows options set). The broad consensus of opinion was that a rate of around 20-30 fps would be considered “reasonable”.

Part of the concern here is that while ALM is required in order to be able to render materials effects, LL might be overly optimistic in determining which cards have ALM enabled by default, which may in turn have an additional impact on new user retention due to people logging-in to SL and experiencing extremely low frame rates and not having any understanding on how to improve their experience.

Continue reading “SL projects update week 27: SSB/A, general news and discussions”