SL project updates week 5/2: TPV Dev meeting, group chat, VMM

Winter Wonderland - race track, rinks and Ferris Wheel
Linden Lab’s new Winter Wonderland: race track, rinks and Ferris Wheel – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Server Beta User Group (SBUG) meeting held on Thursday, January 28th, 2015, and the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January  30th. A video of the latter is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to both it and the TPV Developer meeting.

Server Deployments Week 5 – Recap

  • On Tuesday, January 27th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to Magnum and LeTigre
  • On Wednesday, January 27th, the RC channels should all receive a new server maintenance package comprising an Experience Keys / Tools related fix, and internal Experience Keys / Tools improvements.

It was stated during the TPV Developer meeting that this update saw the support for the Avatar hover Height (AHH) capability extend to all three RC channels, although no mention of it was made in the release notes.

SL Viewer

Tool Chain Project viewer

The Lab issued a new Tools Update project viewer, version, on Wednesday January 28th. This viewer has been built using the new viewer tool chain for Windows and Mac builds (which includes the upgrade to Visual Studio 2013 for Windows and, Xcode (5 or 6) for Mac, and the use of the  autobuild 1.0 process).

Wiki notes for using the new build tools are in the process of being written / enhanced for self-compilers – please note these are a work in progress. Notes on the new autobuild process can also be found on the wiki.

[06:42] It is anticipated that this viewer will progress through to release candidate status, quite probably in week #6 (week commencing Monday, February 2nd).

Maintenance RC Viewer Issues

Users receiving the Maintentance RC, version, released on Tuesday, January 27th, have reported a series of irritating bugs with the viewer:

  • BUG-8324 (and duplicate BUG-8333) reports the appearance of the term “nolink>” in numerous places within the viewer – such as  toasts and notifications – this issue has been imported by the Lab and a fix is apparently in development
  • BUG-8331 – some links containing the text secondlife or lindenlab incorrectly open a Place Profile in the Places panel when clicked
  • BUG-8328 – very jagged pictures created by the snapshot floater
  • BUG-1028 – the fix for MAINT-2056 “Lots of CURL GET FAILED spam in logs when browsing World Map – Beta viewer only” appears not to have fixed the problem, but rather replaced it with an equally spammy message.

Issues with this viewer can be tracked on the JIRA using this filter.

 Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM)

[00:12] Brooke Linden was at the TPV Developer meeting to provide an update on the state of play with the Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM) work, which has been undergoing some beta testing with the project viewer on Aditi.

As a result of this testing, the Lab has been re-visiting the project viewer and incorporating feedback and observations for improvements into it, and are “really close” to having an updated version of the viewer available. When the appears depends on whether the Lab opt to release the updated viewer for limited beta testing on Aditi, or to wait until they’re ready to go with beta testing on the main grid, which is also not too far over the horizon.

The current plan is for more widespread beta testing to commence some time after February 14th (so as not to clash with any Valentines Day sales and promotions merchants may be running between now and Feb 14th), then run the beta for around a month, possibly longer, depending on feedback / issues. After this, VMM support will be deployed as a production tool, and things will move to a migration period which will also last around a month.

All this is still TBC, but a schedule will be posted (presumably via the Commerce / Merchant’s forum) once the Lab has worked through dates and requirements.

Experience Keys / Tools

[03:50] The Experience Keys / Tools project is currently awaiting some final server-side updates to be fully deployed (see the server release notes above). It is not anticipated that the Experience Tools viewer which is currently in the viewer release channel (version will require any further significant updates, so its promotion to the de facto release viewer is pending the server-side updates.

In the meantime, the Lab has already commenced work on a set of enhancement to the Experience Keys / Tools which will further extend capabilities once they are ready to be deployed.

Avatar Hover Height Project

As noted above, server-side support for the Avatar Hover Height project (see my overview for details) is now on all three RC channels, and the plan is to deploy the server code to the Main channel in week #6 (week commencing Monday, February 2nd). Because of this, the current project viewer (currently version is liable to be superseded by a release candidate viewer following the server-side deployments for that week.

Now in a project viewer (and soon to be a release candidate: Avatar Hover Height provides a means of adjusting your avatar's graphical height above the ground / floor / objects, as seen by yourself and others
Now in a project viewer (and soon to be a release candidate: Avatar Hover Height provides a means of adjusting your avatar’s graphical height above the ground / floor / objects, as seen by yourself and others

[18:00] A couple of small issues have been noted with AHH, and which only occur is very specific instances. One is that if an adjustment leaves your avatar floating more than around 1/2 a metre above the ground, an attempt to sit down can result in your avatar going up. In the other, standing on a prim and lowering your hover height into the prim can result in your avatar’s legs buckling as you slide into the prim. On terrain, where there can be limited physical penetration, this can be expected behaviour; but when occurring on a prim, it is suspected that the system may not be accurately assessing your avatar’s position.

[19:38] There have been one or two points of concern raised about the similarity in the name of this function – Avatar Hover Height – causing people to confuse it with the existing avatar hover slider (which will not be retired or removed from the viewer once AHH is fully deployed, as the two capabilities provide different use case solutions). The concerns are being fed back internally at the Lab, and if a name change is thought to be required, it may be slipped into the upcoming RC rebuild for the viewer, or the Lab may opt to wait and see if any confusion does arise.

Continue reading “SL project updates week 5/2: TPV Dev meeting, group chat, VMM”

Getting Buried with MadPea

Buried (MadPea publicity shot)
Buried (MadPea publicity shot)

At 12:00 noon SLT on Sunday, February 1st, 2015, MadPea’s latest grid-wide challenge, Buried launches. Their first major event of the new year, Buried contains all that people have come to love about MadPea’s games: mystery, clue-solving, immersive interaction, and fun. Buried offer all this  – and a lot more, as I found out, when I was, with a small number of other bloggers, invited to preview the game on Friday, January 30th.

Keen MadPea players are probably already aware of elements within the challenge: in keeping with the most popular MadPea games, it is focused on unravelling the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, and contains MadPea’s trademark blend of grid-wide vendor locations (25 in all), rewards, and the introduction of geocaching as a part of the gameplay structure.


Once formally opened, Buried will run for a period of two months, a time frame which reflects the slow burn nature of the  challenge – and I’m intentionally using that word repeatedly. Buried isn’t a hunt, it isn’t even in quite the same vein as MadPea’s  recent mystery adventures such as Blood Letters or the very popular Room 326 / Mad City events involving the Silent Peacock Hotel. It really is an immersive narrative, focused on the missing character, Lilyanna Morano.

Players will begin their investigations at a holiday location amidst a small cluster of remote islands. Here they must uncover the first clues to set them on their way. The aim here is not simply to get people into the “hunt” aspects of the challenge; it is, like the opening chapter of a book or the initial opening of a film or story-arc television series, about setting the scene and establishing the characters.

“What we want to do when the player first comes here is that they well feel the story, and they will really get into who the main character is,” Kiana Writer, who heads-up MadPea and is responsible for writing the Buried story and who took a hand in the opening region’s design, explains. “Who Lily is, how she lives, what she does. So we tried to leave a lot of little clues about her personality to find. They can actually take a boat to and from every island and explore each of them.”

The mysterious C-Me corporation appear to be playing a game of their own - but to what end?
The mysterious C-Me corporation appear to be playing a game of their own – but to what end?

Part of these explorations involve finding the essential element to the challenge activating the game HUD. This is supplied when players arrive on the main holiday island, but will not activate until such time as the first clue has been solved.

Once activated, the HUD reveals the geocaching nature of the game, and introduces you to the other “character” within it – that of the C-Me Corporation.

C-Me is the entity behind the new approach to geocaching Lilyanna was researching at the time of her disappearance – and they would seem to have a very twisted take on the technology.

Exhibiting something of a Mission: Impossible flair for theatrics, C-Me appear to be using geocaching to play a game of their own. snaring people entering their sphere of influence, and then toying with them and sending them hither and thither in the search for C-Me capsules.

But did they arrange for Lilyanna to vanish, or were their machinations merely the catalyst for her causing her own disappearance? The only way to find out is to enter into their game…

Also, should you participate in the challenge, do make sure you have both local sounds and the music stream active when exploring the islands; a considerable amount of work has gone into these not just visually, but audibly as well. Seeing and hearing the environment really is the only way to truly experience it. Do note, also, that because of the slow burn nature of the challenge, the number of people able to access the “holiday island” location is limited to a maximum of 20 at any given time – so patience is also very much part of this challenge.

“Gameplay and immersion is important to us with this game,” Axiomatic Clarity, the man responsible for the overall look and feel to the regions, and who designed the game HUD, explained. “We’ve put a lot of work into the usability of this build. We want people to be able to explore and discover the secrets and clues, and we’ve put in a lot of atmospheric elements, the lighting, the sounds.”

Buried: Lilyanna house
Buried: Lilyanna house

Exploration of the locations on the island is essential; it’s only through investigating Lily herself – the house she’d rented in order to write-up her research, the surrounding islands, and so on, that players will uncover the necessary clues that will both lead them to Lily’s hidden tablet, together with the means to access it once found in order to transfer the data it contains to their own (HUD) tablet. This in turn will draw them into C-Me’s mysterious game, and thus start them on their grid-wide journey of discovery.

I’m not going to give too much more away on the game itself. What I will say is that anyone who enjoys MadPea’s  narrative-lead adventures is bound to enjoy Buried, which will run for around two months following the opening on February 1st. The opening itself will be preceded by a launch party at !Exodus! Rock Club, starting at 10:00 SLT on Sunday, February 1st.

Buried (MadPea publicity shot)
Buried (MadPea publicity shot)

Putting something like buried together is a huge undertaking, as well as Kiana and Axiomatic, bringing the game together has involved the skills of some 20 people from across the globe, testament to both MadPea’s extraordinary reach and desire to bring compelling, immersive activities to Second Life, and to the platform’s own inherent abiliity to host such activities. That both succeed so well is exemplified by the eagerness with which each new game from the company is awaited by MadPea fans and players.

For my part, and while only exposed to a small part of Buried, I found myself entirely drawn into the concept and execution of the challenge. The gameplay in the opening “chapter” on the island where everything kicks-off is completely immersive and requires a level of engagement which encourages the player to seek out more – not because there are prizes from some 25 vendors to be obtained, but because there is a real challenge involved here; you’re seeking to find – possibly rescue (who knows?) a missing person and get to the bottom of just what C-Me is really all about; rewards gathered along the way are actually quite secondary. As such, Buried marvellously builds on the successes of recent events such as the aforementioned Blood Letters and Room 326 stories – and offers an intriguing stepping stone towards MadPea’s upcoming (and completely stunning) UNIA.

Note that SLurls for Buried will be available when the game officially launches. With thanks to Kess and Kiana for arranging the preview and the invitation to attend.