SL projects update week 38 (1): server releases, viewer, and more

Server Deployments – Week 38

As always, please refer to the week’s forum deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

Second Life Server (SLS Main) Channel – Tuesday September 17th

The Main channel received the HTTP updates  previously deployed to Magnum in weeks 36 and 37. Overviews of these changes, which will be transparent to users pending viewer-side updates, can be found here and here. These changes introduce new capabilities for mesh fetching operations and should lead improvements in the reliability in viewer / server connectivity when fetching mesh and textures as the viewer-side updates are released.

Release Candidate Channels – Wednesday September 18th

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre should remain on the same maintenance package as week 37, but additionally should receive two updates to the package:
    • A fix for a newly discovered crash mode
    • The HTTP updates deployed to Magnum in weeks 36 and 37 and to the Main channel on Tuesday September 17th.
  • Magnum should receive a new maintenance package which again includes the BlueSteel / LeTigre updates, and includes a number of crash fixes and an update to parcel access priorities “making it so that avatars who are on the ‘allowed’ list can bypass some of the other access restrictions (payment info on file was listed specifically)”

Commenting on the crash mode fixed on BlueSteel  / LeTigre, Andrew Linden said, ” The crash bug I fixed was actually rather rare… a corruption of the terrain data when building packets. Happened maybe… 5 times in three weeks. But we thought maybe it was related to some interest list changes so I looked into it anyway.”

Viewer Updates

Maintenance RC Release

A new RC viewer reached the release channel on Friday September 13th. Second Life RC viewer 3.6.6.280939 includes the following core updates:

  • Automatic avatar render limit and feedback system
  • Support for the additional LSL particle parameters.
    • rendering optimizations
    • avatar render cost information
    • simple impostors
    • graphics pref update
    • new debug setting “RenderAutoMuteRenderCostLimit” sets render cost cut-off point (default 0 = disabled cutoff check)

The new particle options comprise:

  • Glow
  • Ribbon effects
  • Blending options.

The SL wiki includes full details of these new particle parameters.

  • The glow effect basically looks the same as the prim glow setting on prims, adding PSYS_PART_START_GLOW and PSYS_PART_END_GLOW, which take a float in the 0.0 to 1.0 range
  • The particle blending takes 2 parameters, PSYS_PART_BLEND_FUNC_SOURCE and PSYS_PART_BLEND_FUNC_DEST, and each of those takes one of the 8 ‘values’ listed underneath, so there are actually 8*8 = 64 blend options. It exposes OpenGL’s glBlendFunc to LSL, see the glBlendFunc documentation at http://www.opengl.org/sdk/docs/man/xhtml/glBlendFunc.xml
An example of how the now ribbon capabilities might be used in SL, showing the arc of the sword through the air, supplied by Maestro Linden (courtesy of Hollowfear.com)
  • The new ribbon capability should allow for much better particle effects for things like ropes and chains links between objects (amount other things), using a ” go-from” prim/position (the prim centre), and a “go-to” prim/position (defined by PSYS_SRC_TARGET_KEY), the advantage being there would no longer be any gaps in the particle stream. However, there may be times when the ribbon effect may not be facing your camera (so there may be times when you need to reposition your camera in order to see the effect).

Other Viewer Items

Both the Snowstorm contributions  RC (3.6.6.280979) and the Materials RC (3.6.6.280963) were updated on September the 13th and 16th respectively. The stats for the Materials RC has been reportedly good, so this may stand a good chance of being promoted to the de facto release viewer in week 38.

Interest List

Andrew has made a return to working on some interest list issues. “Turns out objects aren’t always loading in the right order when you login or TP to a new region,” he said at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday September 17th. “But I fixed that. And there is a bug where some textures (such as the water) will not show up in a timely manner after you clear your cache, but I *just* finished the fix for that a minute ago.” Commenting on  his work in general, he indicated that anything which may involve interest list changes (including the crash issue mentioned at the top of this report) goes to the top of his list, work-wise.

Other Items

“Pants Flare” Issue

We’ve probably all seen the issue with things like the flared legs on the pants layer of system clothing failing to render correctly in the viewer. It’s an issue which has been around a while. Commenting on the situation at the Content Creation User Group meeting on Monday September 16th, Nyx Linden had this to say:

I’m actually working on it today! It is indeed quite broken – often a combination of texture loading callbacks not getting hit, or the viewer thinking that the callbacks don’t need to fire. there are many moving pieces and any bit that drops the ball can result in non-loaded pants (or beard, or shirt) flare. The area of the flare is part of the texture, so it needs to be applied once the texture is loaded (that’s how the viewer knows how far down your leg the flare should go). So the pants flare issues are being worked on. I have a few different bugs I’m looking at for reproductions, but if anyone has reasonably reliable failure modes, please do file them (more test cases is better!).

When asked what he’s looking for in terms of failure modes, Nyx replied, “failure to load morph masks, or bad artefacts in that area, whether in how you see yourself or how others see you. So pants flare, poofy shirts, beards, etc.” So if you do have an item of clothing which does consistently display the issue, such as pants’ legs failing to flare, please drop a note card to Nyx Linden with the details (item, occurrence, etc).

Avatar 2.0

The idea of having an improved avatar in SL came up for discussion at both the Open-source Dev meeting and the Content Creation meeting, the idea being to have an “improved” avatar which could exist on the grid alongside the existing avatar form, giving users the options of staying with the current avatar or jumping to the new avatar, or gradually transitioning between the two.

Commenting on the idea at the Content Creation UG meeting, Nyx Linden said:

Avatar 2.0: Often discussed (image: T-elos avatar by Utilizator Mode)
Avatar 2.0: Often discussed (image: T-elos avatar by Utilizator Mode)

[The] short answer is that yes, doing a second avatar option is one way to get a better avatar without breaking old content, however, it would be a huge project and would be potentially confusing to users, as all clothing, etc items would have to be clearly marked for if they worked with the new or old avatar.

Also commenting on the idea of a new avatar form in general during the Open-source Dev meeting, Oz Linden said:

It’s not uncommon for us to spend time discussing how we would go about making changes to SL that are really hard, and what those ought to be.   Occasionally, such discussions turn into real projects … With 10 years and counting of history and content, compatibility is one of our biggest constraints.

He went on, “Well, here’s the thing… the avatar is touched in one way or another by a lot of different things. So then think about how you preserve the interface between all of those interactions and the avatar while overhauling the underlying structure of the avatar to allow for major improvements.”

Both Oz and Nyx raise fair points, including the Lab’s hesitancy to do anything which could impact existing content, even inadvertently or through user confusion. As it is, such a project would be one of a huge order of magnitude – one liable to be bigger in scope than SSA. As the Lab also has other irons in the fire with regards to virtual worlds, it is possibly something they’ll continue to shy away from.

One thought on “SL projects update week 38 (1): server releases, viewer, and more

  1. Do you know if there are any having issues with sculpted prims loosing their shape when zooming in and out? And if RenderVolumeLODFactor does not work if set to 16 instead of default 2?

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