Sparkys: colour my world

Sparkys - Romy Nayar
Sparkys – Romy Nayar

Now open at MetaLES is Romy Nayar’s brilliant Sparkys, quite possibly the most engaging art installations to be seen in Second Life so far this year – and one quite possibly set to remain so in people’s minds. It’s an immersive, interactive piece which offers charm and fun to visitors – although it’s worthwhile taking your time to explore, or you might miss out on the major interactive element.

Visitors arrive in a land formed of greyscales. Colour seems to by almost entirely absent; tall slits, hinting at something overhead, rise from the surrounding grey/white water lapping at one’s ankles; a single set of step leading upwards to… nowhere, it would seem. However, climb the steps and an elevator will descend, offering you passage upwards to a multi-level town, precariously balanced atop the high stilts.

Sparkys - Romy Nayar
Sparkys – Romy Nayar

Houses, shops, stations, restaurants, parks: all sit at differing heights, all connected by various means: railway train, balloons, rickety-looking walkways, fragile seeming bridges, elevators – all of which make the act of exploring the town a joy in itself. For the daring, there’s even the opportunity to grab hold of the legs of a young man who has invented his own little gyrocopter, and ride with him as he flits back and forth between one house and another, the latter (I’m guessing) that of his log suffering mother, who keeps her attention square on sweeping the front path, rather than offering him encouragement in his madcap adventures.

As you wander this grey world, you’ll likely start to notice that some of the local residents are experimenting with paintbrushes, attempting to add a little colour here and there. This is because one enterprising young man has discovered the titular Sparky’s, bee-like creature that produce paint, which he is collecting, and (again, I’m guessing), his mother is making available to the townsfolk. The problem is, of course, that colour is a new concept here, so the locals aren’t entirely sure what should go where…

Sparkys - Romy Nayar
Sparkys – Romy Nayar

This is where visitors can help. Find your way to the little old lady operating a small market stall, and you can obtain a paint HUD. Join the group listed in the note card accompanying the HUD (just copy / paste the group link into local chat and click on it) and you’ll be able to help paint the world yourself, simply by selecting options in the HUD menu and then going to mouselook and   left-clicking / dragging the cursor.

Get your position and draw distance right, and a lot of fun can be had. don’t worry about spoiling the environment – all the paint is prim-based and will “dissolve” after a while, although if a lot of people are slapping paint around, you might find prim limits are hit and have to wait a while for things to clear.

Sparkys - Romy Nayar
Sparkys – Romy Nayar

All told, Sparkys, as mentioned, is one of the most delightful, engaging and fun installations currently in Second Life, and will be open to explore through March and April. Do take your time when exploring, and be sure to cam around a lot – every platform has a little story to tell (complete with local sounds), which further adds to the delight and fun.

Sparkys - Romy Nayar
Sparkys – Romy Nayar

Related Links

SL project updates week 12/1: server, RTLP, viewer translation tool

Tugby! Rugby with tugboats - blog post
Tugby! Rugby with tugboats – blog post

Server Deployments Week 12

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates and information on the week’s roll-outs.

  • On Tuesday, March 17th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the three RC channels.  This comprises “internal improvements for premium users”
  • On Wednesday, March 18th, all three RC channels should receive the same new server maintenance package, comprising various internal fixes for the simulator code.

Commenting on the RD deployment at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, March 16th, Simon Linden said, “the code going to RC tomorrow doesn’t have anything you will notice, but helps us when we want to make some configuration changes.” Oz Linden followed-up his comment by adding, “that is to say, it allows us to make changes we used to have to roll code to make.”

Other Items

Restore to Last Position (RTLP)

As noted in my last SL projects update report, the Lab is considering deprecating the last of the simulator messaging support for the “restore to last position” (RTLP) functionality, which can still be found in some TPVs and can, albeit with some undesirable results, depending upon how it is used, to restore an item directly from inventory  and return it to its last recorded in-world position, relative to the region in which the user is standing.

Because the Lab are considering the future of the simulator-side support for the capability, and also as I’ve reported, the Firestorm team is seeking use cases from users on how RTLP is useful, in the hope of presenting the Lab with a reasoned argument on why RTLP, or some similar capability should be retained / provided.

Oz Linden - keeping an eye on feedback through the Firestorm blog on "restore to last position"
Oz Linden – keeping an eye on feedback through the Firestorm blog on “restore to last position”

Commenting on the effort, Oz Linden said, “I’ve been following that. some are supportable, other not so much. Very good food for thought, though, and at least as far as I’ve gotten … people are heeding the request to be civil and non-hyperbolic. I really appreciated that.”

Also commenting on RTLP, Simon said, “What I’ve always wondered with that … the viewer really has a lot of info to do this better. It seems like it could record a list of things as they are removed from a region, then later put them back and give you better feedback on what works and what doesn’t.”

A number of possible approaches to handling cases currently managed by RTLP were also raised during the discussion, but these were just ideas, although they were listened to positively by Oz and Simon. However, this does necessarily mean the Lab will not deprecate the simulator support required for RTLP at some point in the future as a part of dealing with inventory loss issues, or that they’ll necessarily replace it with other functionality. But they are listening and reading.

So again, if you do have a good, concise use case for RTLP which hasn’t so far been reported on the Firestorm blog post’s comments (not here!), do make sure you hop over there and write it up.

Viewer Translation Tool Issue

Nalates Urriah reports that the translation option within the SL viewer (and used by TPVs) is effectively broken for those wishing to use it for the first time (see: BUG-8794 “The Bing API used by the viewer is depreciated [sic]”).

This isn’t an issue within the viewer per se; rather it is a result of the older Bing translation tool WPI / widget having been deprecated by Microsoft, and the means to access it removed from the web page to which users are directed on clicking the Bing API link within Preferences > Chat  > Translation in the viewer.

However, this isn’t a matter of the Lab simply correcting the link used within the viewer; deprecating the “old” translation service means that any keys obtained by following links to the “new” service will not verify through the API currently used by the viewer, thus preventing the Bing translation service being used.

Microsoft have deprecated the existing Bing translation API / widget with the result that new translation keys will not work within the translation function in the viewer (official and those TPVs using the Lab's translate options)
Microsoft have deprecated the existing Bing translation API / widget with the result that new translation keys will not work within the translation function in the viewer (official and those TPVs using the Lab’s translate options)

However, as noted in both the notes from Microsoft, and in comments accompanying BUG-8794, existing verification key previously obtained using the “old” Bing API are still supported, and will still work; thus, this issue only impacts those trying to obtain a new key. As this matter has just been reported, there is no word from the Lab on how it might be handled.

Moving islands: the movie

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant, 2013/14, curated by Eupalinos Ugajin
Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant,conceived and curated by Eupalinos Ugajin, 2013/14
From late 2013 through early 2014, LEA 20 played host to Moving Islands [Rafts], a collaborative art installation, conceived and organised by Eupalinos Ugajin, and which involved more than than 24 artists from across SL.

The task set for each participating artist was to create a piece that freely interprets the central theme of moving islands or rafts.  Derek Michelson provided assistance with scripting and Takio Ra with sounds. The result was a collection of remarkable pieces which were eclectic, quirky, fun, different, provocative, interactive, and more, and which grew and changed through the run of the installation, as Eupa invited different artists to add works, swapped things around, and so on.

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant in 2013/14, curated by Eupalinos Ugajin; seen here: Maya Paris' contribution
Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant, conceived and curated by Eupalinos Ugajin, 2013/14
Indeed such was the depth of the installation,  which also enfolded a further collaboration between Eupa and Ole Etzel entitled In The Belly of The Whale, I don’t think my coverage of Moving Islands [Rafts] really did justice to it.

This being the case, I was delighted when Eupa tapped me in-world to let me know there’s now an official video of the project available. I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it here – but do be sure to watch it in all it glory of Eupa’s channel as well. At just under 22.5 minutes in length, it is not short, but like the installation itself, it is an absolute delight to watch, complete with quirky sound track and sound effects which perfectly match to tone and feel of the actual installation.

Ruins: “The Ruined City”

Ruins, Wondering Dew; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Ruins (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Ruins is Cica Ghost’s newest build. It presents a wonderfully evocative scene, with the broken shells of buildings rising like the battlements of an ancient castle from a mottled scrub land. It’s an enthralling, enigmatic build which, for me, bought to mind an old Anglo Saxon poem, The Ruined City, which I offer here in modern verse, accompanied by images of Cica’s work.

The Ruined City

Wondrously wrought and fair its wall of stone,
Shattered by Fate! The castles rent asunder,
The work of giants moldered away!
Its roofs are breaking and falling; its towers crumble
In ruin.

Plundered those walls with grated doors —
Their mortar white with frost. Its battered ramparts
are shorn away and ruined, all undermined
By eating age.

Ruins, Wondering Dew; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Ruins (Flickr)

The mighty men that built it,
Departed hence, undone by death, are held
Fast in the earth’s embrace. Tight is the clutch
Of the grave, while overhead of living men
A hundred generations pass away.

Long this red wall, now mossy gray, withstood,
While kingdom followed kingdom in the land,
Unshaken beneath the storms of heaven — yet now
Its towering gate hath fallen. . . .

Ruins, Wondering Dew; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Ruins (Flickr)

Radiant the mead-halls in that city bright,
Yea, many were its baths. High rose its wealth
Of hornèd pinnacles, while loud within
Was heard the joyous revelry of men —
Till mighty Fate came with her sudden change!

Wide-wasting was the battle where they fell.
Plague-laden days upon the city came;
Death snatched away that mighty host of men….

Ruins, Wondering Dew; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Ruins (Flickr)

There in the olden time full many a thane,
Shining with gold, all gloriously adorned,
Haughty in heart, rejoiced when hot with wine;
Upon him gleamed his armour, and he gazed
On gold and silver and all precious gems;
On riches and on wealth and treasured jewels,
A radiant city in a kingdom wide.

There stood the courts of stone. Hot within,
The stream flowed with its mighty surge. The wall
Surrounded all with its bright bosom; there
The baths stood, hot within its heart. . . .

Ruins, Wondering Dew; Inara Pey, March 2015, on Flickr Ruins (Flickr)

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