Server Deployments – Week 28
As always, please refer to the week’s forum deployment thread for news, updates and feedback.
On Wednesday 10th July, the three RC channels received the following packages:
- LeTigre had Server-side Baking / Appearance code enabled. See my mini-update here
- BlueSteel received a further package of under-the-hood changes related to the experience tools
- Magnum received a server maintenance project intended to fix a couple of pathfinding issues:
- A fix for CHARACTER_STAY_WITHIN_PARCEL defaulting to TRUE if CHARACTER_TYPE is set (BUG-2969)
- A fix for the navmesh bug whereby pathfinding rebakes are continuously triggered if a region has more than one parcel and has no parcel edges above water, then it thinks it needs to rebake (BUG-2975) – see part 2 of my week 26 report.
Week 29 Deployments
While the final arrangements for the week 29 deployments (week commencing Monday July 15th) have yet to be finalised, Maestro Linden indicated at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday July 11th that there is likely to be one new server maintenance package going to an RC channel during that week, This is likely to have:
- Further fixes for various crash modes
- An additional update for pathfinding characters with CHARACTER_STAY_WITHIN_PARCEL=TRUE, which should enable such characters to re-enter their assigned parcel should they accidentally exit it (as a result of being pushed out, for example), rather than getting stuck
- Fixes for issues such as:
- BUG-2931 ‘run_time_permissions no longer triggers in attachments after requesting 0 permissions’
- BUG-969 ‘teleporting breaks collision detection state for volumedetect objects’
Obviously, I’ll have more on the deployments for the week when details have been published by the Lab.
Server-Side Baking / Appearance Deployment
The enabling of SSB/A on LeTigre on Wednesday July 10th proceeded smoothly, and there have been few problems noted. Most testing the capability are reporting it functions smoothly and are seeing improved avatar skin / clothing layer rendering with few periods of extended avatar blurring.
It’s not entirely clear how SSA/B will proceed from here; it appears as if the Lab plans to keep to the cautious approach previously indicated by Nyx Linden rather than rushing forward to enable the capability right across the grid. As such, Log Linden indicated at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday July 11th that either BlueSteel or possibly – given it has a slightly larger number of regions than BlueSteel – Magnum will have SSB/A enabled next.
Log Linden came in for a number of additional questions on the new baking / appearance service during the Server Beta meeting on Thursday July 11th. Although I’ve covered the topics asked about in previous reports, I’ll note them here for ease-of-reference:
- The baking / appearance service is entirely separate from the simulator servers, operating on its own dedicated servers. This means that when the service caches your outfit, it is effectively cached “grid wide” and not the simulator you happen to be on when you update your outfit
- When two avatars are wearing exactly the same outfit, they both use the same copy of the outfit cached on the baking / appearance service. The Lab is aware this will only happen on rare occasions, and will most likely only happen in the case of library avatars
- How long an outfit remains cached on the baking / appearance service depends on how popular it is. So if it is an outfit you are frequently changing into, it is liable to remain cached for longer than an outfit you wear, change out of and then leave it unworn for several days or more
- Outfits which are removed from the baking / appearance cache are not deleted from inventory or anything – it just means that the baking / appearance service no longer has the data for the outfit, and so must wait until the outfit is uploaded from the viewer once more (although this shouldn’t visibly slow down the baking process)
- Rebaking functions differently on SSB/A enabled regions: rather than uploading your appearance from your viewer to the server for distribution to the users around you, using the rebake (CTRL-ALT-R or menu option) causes the viewer to request a fresh download of your cached appearance
- Should the server cached version of your appearance somehow become corrupted, you must add a clothing item in order to force a fresh update of your appearance from your Current Outfit Folder to the baking / appearance service
- When you enter an SSB/A-enabled region for the first time, your own avatar will initially render grey before your skin and clothing layers re-render correctly. This is expected behaviour and due to you switching-over to the new baking / appearance service.
There have been some reports of odd anomalies in LeTigre regions (where SSB/A is enabled). These include:
- A report that if you wear a 50% gray textured skin, you appear invisible to SSA viewers
- Rather than appearing as a cloud in SSB/A-enabled viewers, avatars on non-SSB/A viewer entering LeTigre regions will actually render, but any outfit changes they make won’t render to those using SSB/A-enabled viewers unless they teleport to a non-SSB/A enabled region to change, and then return to LeTigre (something which will obviously not be possible once SSB/A is grid-wide).
One problem which has been confirmed with LeTigre regions is BUG-3203 (Error when adding contents to a notecard and saving). If you create a notecard on a LeTigre region and embed another item within it (another notecard, an LM, a texture), the notecard will not save, but will generate the following error: Unable to upload (asset ID number) due to the following reason: The server is experiencing unexpected difficulties. Please try again later.
Overall, feedback appears to be positive, going on comments in the forum deployment thread and made at the Server Beta UG meeting. Some people have reported performance dips while on LeTigre regions and attributed them to SSB/A, although this may be a placebo effect. There have also been so reports of viewer crashes when trying to walk between a non-Le Tigre region and a LeTigre region.
Most people who have carried out comparative testing between LeTigre regions and regions on other channels are reporting that avatar rendering on Le Tigre is significantly faster, with avatar skins and clothing appearing fully rendered in around 15 seconds in regions with a reasonable number of other avatars, and none of the general fuzziness or “double rebakes” which can be witnessed on the “old” baking process. Some are also reporting that they are seeing some improvements on non-SSB/A regions when using an SSB/A-enabled viewer, although this again may be something of a placebo effect.
My own rather quick-fire tests with the SL viewer 188.8.131.528007, Firestorm 4.4.2 and Exodus 184.108.40.206 beta revealed no discernible issues. The majority of avatars tended to render together with visiting regions with a reasonable number on them. I didn’t notice any clouds around me in the more crowded locations I dropped into and where I did experience performance drops, although I put those down to the fact the locations (a club and a hub) were busy with 15-20 avatars in each and had a lot going on rather than being anything intrinsic to SSB/A, nor did I witness anyone remaining grey for an inordinate amount of time.