Lab offers a review of their Second Life year

secondlifeThe end of the year always brings with it reviews of what’s happened during the unfolding 12 months. Some can be lengthy (*coughs at her own 3-part series of late), others brief.

The Lab is no exception to the rule, and in Second Life 2015 Mix – A Greatest Hits Compilation, they offer a thumbnail sketch of some of the more positive developments and events within SL which have marked the year.

Starting with the Project Bento announcement (a project I’ve been able to observe and will be bringing more background on in the future as well as tracking developments through regular project updates), the post provides a grab bag of technical changes to the platform.

These include the arrival of the Viewer-Managed Marketplace, which had its initial main grid beta launch back in April, following a long lead-in over 2014 / early 2015,  with full migration starting in July, in one of the more successful Marketplace updates Second Life has seen. Also getting a mention are the arrival of Chromium Embedded Framework, through the CEF viewer, the notifications updates, and Hover Height, both of which were viewer updates suggested by users. Mention is also made of the 28 simulator updates made through the year,

Away from the technical updates, The blog post refers to the new “Classic” starter avatars, which were introduced in November.

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, the Lab’s dino-ish adventure game gets a mention in the official look back at the year, which i admit to rather enjoying

2015 saw a change in Premium membership perks, as they gradually turned away from the usual (and often basic) gifts and more towards more practical offerings, as the Lab’s blog post mentions. These have included things like the increase in the group membership allowance, and the removal of VAT on membership fees, which gave rise to speculation on what was going on to allow it.

Also getting a mention are the recent changes in land set-up and transfer fees, although how effective this will be is perhaps debatable, as I commented at the time, and also – with regards to grandfathered fees, seemed to have a slight edge of giving with one hand, taking back with the other.

Ending with a look at the Lab’s on-going engagement with the community through in-world meet-ups and other events, and giving a mention to forthcoming capabilities designed to help improve the user experience, such as Avatar Complexity, this may seem a lightweight look back at the year; however, it does constitute a fair round-up of the positives SL has seen internally through 2015.  In the meantime, I’ll be offering my own more extensive review of things – SL, Sansar, VR, et al, as reported through these pages through the year, over the Christmas and New Year period.

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Flash: Lindens and Moles in Winter Wonderland meet-up?

Winter Wonderland village - Linden and Mole meet-up?
Winter Wonderland village – Linden and Mole meet-up?

There are rumours circulating that members of the Lab and a number of moles will be present at the Winter Wonderland, near the landing area and later at the snowball fight arena.

The rumours appear to originate with Patch Linden, who is reported to have been heard whispering:

Today at around 11am SLT we’re going to be doing a Linden/Mole meet and greet in the Winter Wonderland regions near the landing area.  We’ll probably hang out there for a bit handing out gifts and then we’re going to spend the rest of the afternoon in the snowball arena.

So, if you’re looking for something to do, why not hop over to the Winter Wonderland and see if the rumours are true?

SL Project updates: server and Project Bento

Winter Wonderland returns
Winter Wonderland – blog post

Server Deployment – Week 52

On Tuesday, December 22nd, the Main (SLS) channel received the same server maintenance project previously deployed to the three RC channels. This comprises crash and internal simulator fixes; LSL HTTP requests accessing data sources that require non-text Accept headers (such as the Destination Guide); and updates to group member counts to help deal with recent group database issues.

SL Viewer

With the no change window now in effect, no updates are anticipated with any of the current crop of official viewers until after Monday, January 4th, 2016. These are:

  • Release viewer, version: 4.0.0.309247, dated December 17th – formerly the Chromium Embedded Framework RC viewer – release notes
  • Project Azumarill (HTTP updates) RC viewer, version 3.8.7.308134 dated November 25th – release notes
  • Vivox (voice fixes) RC viewer, version 3.8.7.307744, dated November 17th – release notes
  • Quick Graphics (Avatar Complexity and graphics presets) RC viewer, version 3.8.7.306758, dated November 12th – release notes
  • Maintenance RC viewer, version 3.8.7.308556, dated December 3rd – release notes
  • Project Bento (avatar skeleton enhancement) viewer, version 5.0.0.309171, dated December 17th – release notes
  • Oculus Rift project viewer, version 3.7.18.295296, dated October 13th – release notes
  • Obsolete platform viewer (for users of Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7), version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8th – release notes

It is anticipated the HTTP RC viewer and the Vivox RC viewer will be released as a single RC viewer very early in 2016.

Project Bento

Commenting on the video at the last Simulator User Group meeting for 2015, Simon Linden said, “that video is cool :)”!

Bone Translation and Rotation

As reported in my week 51 project updates, I reported how the Lab was asking for more detailed feedback on specific requirements animators and creators felt they might need with the Bento skeleton. The comment, made by Oz Linden, came after Vir Linden responded to feedback relating to bone translation through animations, rather than relying purely on  rotation with the facial bones (as is currently the case).

These comments have led to more comprehensive feedback through the Bento discussion forum thread, including two videos by Raz Welles, and animated GIF examples from others, demonstrating the need for translation as well as rotation to achieve various results with facial expressions. However, the Lab would still prefer specific examples to be reported in detail (e.g. on the JIRA), with the appropriate files supplied, as Oz Linden again notes on the forum. He goes on to point out as well, that it isn’t just “new stuff” the Lab is looking to offer through Bento:

I’ve seen a number of posts here that include some variation on “we have always had to do XYZ this way because of the SOMETHING bug, and so we can’t do SO-AND-SO” (for example, joint offsets not loading correctly). If there are existing issues that are directly related to Bento (like joint offsets not loading correctly), we’d like to get them fixed so that we can get some of these obstacles out of the way. So, if you’ve got one, please describe it (see previous paragraph – concrete examples we can experiment with) by filing a BUG in JIRA (put [Bento] in the Summary). References to long-standing issues are ok; we’re not only trying to do new things, we’re trying fix at least some old ones too.

Other Bento Bits

The Project Bento Skeleton Guide is now available on the SL wiki.

Some attending the Simulator User Group meetings have expressed a hope that Bento might offer (or pave the way for) animated objects which could use the skeleton. This would provide a means to provide NPCs and creatures which are not necessarily reliant on bots (see SH-2642 as a rough example of this kind of suggestion as well). responding to this at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, December 22nd, Oz said:

Skeletons for non-avatar objects are out of scope for this round. It’s an obvious improvement that would be good to do someday; whether and when is not currently knowable.

Asked if filing a feature request would be appropriate, he added, “I’m pretty sure we’ve got several variations on that request, but one more certainly won’t hurt.”

Overall the Bento discussion is healthy, although how it all translates into actionable items with regards to the new avatar skeleton extensions remains to be seen. As the Lab has indicated, hopefully there will still be plenty of opportunity to put forward and test further ideas, examples and suggestions during the first part of the New Year to help improve what is currently being offered.

Object_Rezzer_Key

Object_Rezzer_Key is a new parameter which is to be added to llGetObjectDetails()  early in the New Year. It will allow a rezzed object to find the key of its parent rezzer, then use llRegionSayTo() to chat back to that parent. It’s an option which has come up for discussion at User Group meetings a number of times, and at the meeting on Tuesday, December 22nd, Simon Linden indicated that it is something he is currently working on.

The parameter will only work with new objects within a region (existing objects will return a null_key when queried), but it should work after restarts and region crossings (incl. teleports), and with objects which are initially attached and then dropped. Full details will be available when the parameter is officially added to llGetObjectDetails() – Simon offered this news at the User Group meeting by way of being a small gift to those who have been requesting it.

Further Scripting Options for Experiences?

Another set of requests frequently put forward is for further scripted capabilities to be added to Experiences – such as more permissions, camera function additions / fixes further attach / detach / switch object options and an increase in memory for compiling Experience scripts. On these, Simon would only say that he has been looking into increasing script memory for Experience, “and ran into a really sticky problem … how to deal with it when the object goes outside the experience… how it should behave when you go outside the experience area.”

Oz Linden also stated, “Without trying to guess which changes we might make (because I have no idea yet), it has been noted that Experiences gives us some more latitude to provide script capabilities we would not have before because of griefing potential.”

So, it will be interesting to see what might lie in store for Experiences once the Lab are willing to reveal more about what they have planned, and what actually made it into those plans.