SL project updates 16 10/1: SL viewer, Aditi inventory, PaleoQuest issues

Asphyxiation Point; Inara Pey, February 2016, on Flickr Asphyxiation Pointblog post

Server Deployments

There are no planned deployments / restarts for week #10.

SL  Viewer

The HTTP  / Vivox RC viewer updated to version on Friday March 4th. This release sees the CURL updated to 7.47.0, together with 10 further fixes and updates over the previous release, included HTTP fixes and fixes with issues within the viewer such as avatar bake fails, viewer crashes, notifications problems, and music stream failures.

The current Maintenance RC viewer updated on Wednesday, March 2nd to version

As noted in my last Project Bento update, the Bento project viewer updated to version, also on Wednesday, March 2nd, and includes a new version of the Bento skeleton with additional bone sets and other revisions.

Aditi Inventory Syncing

Coyot Linden as he once looked (I need to update my images of him!)
Coyot Linden as he once looked (I need to update my images of him!)

As reported by Coyot Linden at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, March 8th, the new process for syncing users’ Aditi (Beta grid) inventories with their Agni (main grid) inventories is in the final stages of QA testing, and should be deployed either later this week or early in week #11.

I’ve covered on this subject a number of times since it was first noted as being in the works in December 2015, but in short.

  • Once in place, the new process will not require users to change their SL passwords in order to trigger their Agni inventory being copied over to Aditi. Instead, anyone logging-in to Aditi will automatically have their inventory copied from Agni to Aditi a part of a new process (run at about 06:00 SLT each day)
  • This will happen each time a persona logs in to Aditi, unless their inventory is already flagged for copying.
  • Instead of overwriting a person’s existing Aditi inventory, the incoming Agni inventory will be merged with their existing Aditi inventory – so items unique to a user’s Aditi inventory will no longer be lost as a result of their Agni inventory overwriting the Aditi inventory

In addition:

  • The process will not duplicate items previously copied to Aditi from Agni; however, if an item is renamed or moved to another inventory folder on Agni, it will be copied to Aditi
  • If an item is deleted from inventory on Aditi, but exists in inventory on Agni, it will be copied to Aditi the next time the process runs for that user
  • Inventory and folder links will also be copied from Agni to Aditi
  • Trash and the Current Outfits folder will be excluded from the copy process (the latter to prevent avatars on Aditi ending up wearing multiple outfits).

Other Items

PaleoQuest Banning Issues

PaleoQuest, the Lab’s dino-related quest game which features Experience Keys and which opened in July 2015, has always had some fairly strict rules on what is and isn’t allowed. However, these rules appear to have been recently updated, with the result that a number of users  have found themselves banned (or in receipt of a ban warning) where no infringements have taken place (see here, here, and here for examples).

One major cause of recent bans seems to be that the game is confusing HUDs worn by a user when trying to enter the game (or even in the middle of playing the game), with an attempt to wear a “fraudulent” game HUD, resulting in the wearer gaining an immediate ban, together with the following notice:


The problem with the bans has been further exacerbated by some who have raised support tickets having their bans reversed with a note that the system will be adjusted, while others appear to have had their tickets summarily closed.

As a result of this, and other issues encountered with the ban system during what is effectively “normal” game play, a bug report as been raised (BUG-11533). Should you find yourself banned from the game or in receipt of ban warnings whilst engaged in “legal” game play, you might want to add the specifics of your situation to the JIRA, and don’t forget to append information about your viewer / system from Help > About (+ viewer logs, if you have them).

The Drax Files 36: creative immersion in Second Life

Sominel Edelman - at work
Sominel Edelman – at work

The Drax Files World Makers show #36, released on Monday, March, 7th, is the second in the slightly shorter running time format of 3.5 minutes. And it is the first, I have to admit, that has struck me as a bit of a curate’s egg.

On the one hand the segment is about the work of landscape creator Sominel Edelman, whose skill in creating sim surrounds and landscaping elements is very much informed by his training as a geographer, and who offers keen insights into Second Life.  On the other we have a piece interspersed with shots focused on the used of VR headsets with only a very tenuous link back to the rest of the narrative within the piece.

Sominel Edelman - in-world
Sominel Edelman – in-world

Sominel’s work is, without a doubt outstanding, and the video serves as a high-level demonstration of the efforts involved in order to produce content that is both highly detailed and optimised for viewer rendering, a useful reminder when the focus on creation can all too often be on the former at the expense of the latter. For Sominel, producing content which both looks good and is optimised at much as possible requires a range of tools: PhotoShop, Blender and custom python scripts to achieve the desire results.

The beauty of Sominel’s work is that it can add to our sense of immersion in a place. Sim surrounds provide the means by which we can extend our vision of our world beyond the limitations of a 256×256 metre piece of virtual real estate bounded by water. As such, they have become an important part of the second life ecosystem, something very much reflected in their popularity among users interested in many different in-world activities, as he notes.

"Second life made it possible for me to explore my creativity. It's an amazing thing to discover that."
“Second life made it possible for me to explore my creativity. It’s an amazing thing to discover that.”

However, it is in his views on Second life and its community (in the broadest sense of that word) of users one find the heart of this piece. “Selling my landscapes is enough to sustain my family and my house and my living situation,” he notes. “But while the financial aspect is certainly not insignificant, it’s an amazing thing that [being] logged into Second Life gives me a true feeling of being a part of this environment, and I think I know why that is.

“I’ve played some other computer games, but it was all about consuming the path they had chosen for me. Second life made it possible for me to explore my creativity. It’s an amazing thing to discover that.”

This, I think, is the point Drax is trying to make through the inclusion of the Oculus Rift HMD shots: the idea that Second Life is so rich, immersive and boundless, that it doesn’t actually need headsets and hand controllers to come alive for someone – which any SL user will acknowledge as being true enough, and it is a point that’s important to remember as the tech world at large continues to focus on VR as if it is the only way of going about things.

The problem here is that by including the footage, and in particular by bookending the segment with shots of donning and doffing a HMD, the message is undermined, if not subliminally reversed in the minds of those untutored in Second Life, suggesting that a headset is integral to the experience.

True, there is the comment from Sominel, prompted by Drax,  that such devices aren’t vital. But even this begs the question, “so why include shots of headsets in the first place?” They certainly don’t add anything substantive to the rest of the narrative; the story could be told as effectively without them – which should really be the acid test on whether or not to include them.

Sominel 's store in-world
Sominel ‘s store in-world

Hence why I say I found the piece to be a curate’s egg. On the one hand, there is a clear message that Second Life is first and foremost about the people using it, and everything else is secondary. On the other, almost a third of the video footage is informed by shots involving a specific piece of technology (HMDs), which I cannot help feel erodes the more pertinent message.


Skip Staheli at The Living Room

Skip Staheli at The Living Room
Skip Staheli at The Living Room

Skip Staheli is a photographer who needs no introduction. His avatar studies are legendary in Second Life – and with good reason. He composes some of the best on the grid, often mixing elements of both digital and physical worlds to produce stunning images. He’s now the featured artist at The Living Room through until March 29th.

“For my  Second Life work I use PhotoShop CS6 and plug-ins like FilterForge and Alien Skin,” Skip says of his technique. “But I would be nowhere without my Bamboo drawing tablet; a lot of my work is drawn by hand. For two years I’ve taken art classes and draw with pencils and charcoal. Second Life showed me how much I could enjoy drawing,  and if not for it, I probably wouldn’t have learned about my creative side.”

Skip Staheli at The Living Room
Skip Staheli at The Living Room

From starting out taking shots of friends for fun, Skip’s reputation quickly grew to the point where he is very much in demand. So much so, that his PA, Delinda Dench, has closed his appointment book until June so that he’s not completely overloaded.

For the Living Room exhibition, he’s displaying over 20 pieces, across the three floors of the gallery space, all of which amply demonstrate the breadth and depth of his skill. From portraits to action poses to fantasy, all of the pictures present Skip’s signature attention to detail and his ability to frame a story in a single frame.

Skip Staheli at The Living Room
Skip Staheli at The Living Room

The exhibition comes at the first anniversary of The Living Room opening its doors, and as such, Skip is a superb choice of artist to be displaying there. Over the course of the past 12 months I’ve had immense pleasure in reporting on each exhibit Owl, Daallee and Nora have staged, and have witnessed some wonderful talents there (some of whom I’m hoping to “steal” and have exhibit at Holly Kai Park!). And on occasion of their anniversary, I’d like to pass on my congratulations to them, and my hope that it is the first of many.

Skip’s exhibition officially opens at 20:00 SLT on Tuesday, March 8th with music from the Vinnie Show, and will run through until 20:00 SLT on Tuesday, March 29th, when there will be  closing party with Aminius Writer.

Skip Staheli at The Living Room
Skip Staheli at The Living Room

The mid-month music party for March will take place on Thursday, March 17th, with Whirligig Rutabaga taking to The Living Room stage at 17:00 SLT, followed at 18:00 SLT by Oblee. And given this is the anniversary month, Owl, Daallee and Nora are promising more surprises as well – so make sure you get to the parties and keep an eye out for news from The Living Room!

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