Return of the Haunted Tour in Second Life

"It's here!" - The Haunted Halloween Tour 2015
“It’s here!” – The Haunted Halloween Tour 2015

Launched alongside the October 2015 Premium Membership offer, but available to all SL users, is the return of the Haunted Halloween Tour, which can be accessed via the Portal Parks.

In 2014, the tour was offered as both a demonstration of Experience Keys, and the Oculus Rift project viewer. This year the Oculus aspect is pushed to one side (although this is still very much a first-person ride), which is hardly surprising given the headset won’t reach “mass market” status until 2016, and the Rift project viewer is lacking behind a lot of the viewer feature set.

We're all probably familiar with Experiences by now, but do remind you need to grant permissions to the Tour in order to enter it. These are revoked on your departure
We’re all probably familiar with Experiences by now, but do remind you need to grant permissions to the Tour in order to enter it. These are revoked on your departure

On arrival at a portal park, walk through the gate marked Halloween and follow the path up to the red door of the house. Here you’ll receive a note card offering general advice for enjoying the tour, of which disabling any  AO you may use is probably the most important, together with making sure you have ALM enabled in your graphics Preferences.

You’ll also be asked to allow the Tour to take control of certain aspects of your viewer (e.g your camera , etc – see right).

This is – as I’m sure most people are aware by now – how Experiences such as this work, and you should grant the request in order to proceed. Any permissions granted will be revoked as soon as you depart the Tour; however, should you return, you won’t have to grant permission again, unless you remove the Tour from you list of allowed Experiences.

Once you have granted permission, you’ll be transported to a Tour region, and asked to take a seat in your coffin to start the ride. As you sit, your view will change to first person / Mouselook – should your camera fail to adjust itself, tap the ESC key a couple of times. While you can control your camera to look around, the ride is best enjoyed by allowing the Tour to control all camera movement.

Elements of the ride will be familiar to those who tried it in 2014
Elements of the ride will be familiar to those who tried it in 2014

I’m not going to say much about the ride itself – it’s there to be enjoyed after all. However, if you took the ride in 2014, you’ll find much at the start that is very familiar (aka largely unchanged)). However, the latter part of the tour has been extensively revised, offering something of a lean towards a certain 1980s film series which recently had something of a reboot.  I will say that in terms of decor, excellent use is made of materials once again, and of projected lighting. One word of warning I do have is not to stand up during the ride unless you mean to, as you’ll be automatically teleported back to a portal park (as you will be at the end of the Tour).

At around 12 minutes in length, the Haunted Tour 2015 is about half as long again as the 2014 version; which is a pretty long time to be passive in SL when you think about it. If you didn’t partake of the original, then it’s certainly worth the time if you’re looking for a little light Halloween fun. If you did take the 2014 ride, you could well find yourself experiencing deja-vu during the first (roughly) two-thirds of the ride – which is not necessarily to say you shouldn’t give it a go, if you’re so inclined.

however, there are new elements to be discovered as well
However, there are new elements to be discovered as well

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SL project updates 43/2: TPV Developer meeting

Belleck House; Inara Pey, Oct 2015, on FlickrBelleck House, Oct 2015 (Flickr) – blog post

The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer (TPVD) meeting held on Friday, October 23rd, 2015. A video of the meeting is included at the end of this report, and time stamps to it are provided. My thanks as always to North for the video recording and providing it for embedding.

Deploys for Week #43  – Recap

There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, October 20th. On Wednesday, October 21st, all three RCs should receive the same new server maintenance package, which include server-side improvements for delivering group notice attachments, together with some simulator crash fixes and code to prevent the uploading of “hacked” mesh content (e.g. mesh items which show a LI of 1 no matter what their actual complexity, or which spoof a creator’s name).

SL Viewers

[00:00] There have been no further updates to the SL viewer currently at RC or project status since the update to the Quick Graphics RC, which I covered in part 1 of this week’s report.

It still appears as if the next RC that will be promoted to a de facto release status will be the Notifications RC viewer (currently version 3.8.6.305981), although this won’t be confirmed until the start of week #44.

[00:37] As previously noted, the Quick Graphics and HTTP viewers still have some problems which need to be addressed before either one can proceed forward to release status. So except to see further RC updates to both of these in due course.

[00:54] The Chromium Embedded Framework project viewer is getting some good public testing, and is expected to get some “fairly frequent” updates.

[01:05] The Oculus Rift viewer currently isn’t being worked on, as attention is focused on the other viewers in the various pipelines. However, it is hoped work will resume “pretty soon”.

[01:20] There are further bug fixes and updates in progress, including some fixes for some minor regressions in the current release viewer, and these are getting fast-tracked and will be appearing in a further Maintenance RC in due course.

[15:00] It is likely that when the next release viewer promotion takes place (Notifications viewer), the Lab will block a series of much older versions of their viewer, but not the Obsolete Platforms viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, which they still plan to have available until such time as it simply stops working – although it should be remembered this viewer is already regarded as unsupported by the Lab.

Grid Status Page RSS Feed

[01:58]  In week #31 I reported that the Lab are working to update the Grid Status page RSS feed from RSS version 1 to RSS version 2. As existing web pages, etc., using the feed may need to be adjusted to accept the updated feed format, a proxy URL (http://beta.status.secondlifegrid.net/feed) has been available for testing purposes. It now appears that the switch will be thrown very soon to make the new version 2 RSS feed the default.

Inventory Updates

[02:15] As per  the Lab’s recent SL improvements blog post, the first set of viewer-side updates aimed at improving inventory reliability are being queued up ready to appear in the project viewer. however, these are unlikely to appear before the HTTP updates currently in RC reach a release status. Once the viewer-side changes appear, the Lab will start work on deprecating the outdated inventory messages which are no longer required on the simulator side.

Server-side Upload Checks  for Assets

[02:50] As a part of their overall work in trying to improve reliability within second Life, the Lab is looking to add further server-side checks to ensure viewers aren’t attempting to do anything the simulators aren’t equipped to handle, or which may cause unintended issues or outcomes, etc., for users.

This work will see the introduction of further validation checking on various asset types at upload. An example of this might be checks to ensure animations are what they say they are, further checking of mesh uploads to ensure they can be rendered correctly, etc.

[08:00] In particular with mesh, a simulator check is to be introduced to prevent the upload of mesh items weighted to all attachment points. There has been a viewer-side check designed to prevent such mesh items from being uploaded, which will in future be enforced simulator side. Existing content weighted in this way should not be “broken”, appearance-wise; but the simulator check will ensure such meshes cannot be uploaded (see FIRE-17144 for further details).

Attachment Point Validation

[04:20] Alongside the above, the Lab will be looking to introduce simulator-side attachment point validation checks. Right now, it is possible to have the viewer attach items to an avatar using points with are not correctly defined on the avatar skeleton.  This can result in other viewers showing the item randomly attached to the avatar (or possibly floating nearby – for those with long memories, think of the Emerald “attachment tail” which multiple attachments were introduced on that viewer without adequate simulator support).

To prevent this, the Lab are looking to enforce the recognised attachment points simulator-side, so that any attachments using an incorrect attach point will be mapped to a defined attachment point, and moved there. This work will be carried out incrementally, and will initially offer the changes to Aditi to allow for testing.

Other Items

Firestorm is now in Feature Freeze in preparation for the next release, which is now undergoing testing. Assuming no major blockers are uncovered, the next release should be available in November. This will be up-to-date with the Lab’s current release viewer (3.8.5.305531 – Maintenance release), and may included some additional items cherry-picked from upstream of that release. However, it is unlikely to have the new notifications updates, HTTP, Quick Graphics, etc.