2016 viewer release summaries: week 28

Updates for the week ending Sunday, July 17th

This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version: 4.0.6.315555 (dated May 23), promoted July 5th – formerly the Inventory Message RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Bento (avatar skeleton extensions) updated to version 5.0.0.317597 on July 14th – incorporation of final skeleton and slider updates from the test viewer  (download and release notes)

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated to version 1.26.18.15 and the Experimental branch updated to version 1.26.19.17, both on July 16th (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

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Seanchai and Firestorm announce spoken word venture in Second Life

As well as helping incoming new users get started with the viewer and learn the basics of Second Life, the Firstorm Gateway offers them the opportunity to explore many of the activities available in-world - with storytelling, hosted by Seanchai Library, set to become the latest
As well as helping incoming new users get started with the viewer and learn the basics of Second Life, the Firestorm Gateway offers them the opportunity to explore many of the activities available in-world – with storytelling, hosted by Seanchai Library, set to become the latest

On Monday, July 18th, Seanchai Library and the Firestorm team announced a joint venture which will see Voice-based activities take place on the Firestorm Gateway regions as a further step in helping incoming new users understand the breadth and depth of opportunities and activities within the platform.

The new partnership will see the first Voice-based event lead by Seanchai Library take place on August 7th, 2016, when the Firestorm Social Island will be host to the Storyteller’s Sandbox series. Launched during Seanchai Library’s highly successful Crazy Eights season at the Linden Endowment for the Arts, Storyteller’s Sandbox provides a forum for new stories, new storytellers, and new ways to present them.

Caledonia Skytower
Caledonia Skytower

For this inaugural event at Firestorm Social island, veteran Second Life storytellers including Caledonia Skytower, Dubhna Rhiadra and Shandon Loring will be joining forces with voice talents such as Bryn Taleweaver and Hana Hoo, who have only more recently joined the ranks of Second Life storytellers. Together, they will present a mix of original tales and short stories in a showcase of live virtual storytelling.

“We have been brainstorming for a home for this event ever since we closed Crazy Eights,” said Seanchai Lead Caledonia Skytower, announcing the new partnership. “It is a great forum for introducing new voices to the virtual spoken story community. It also provides more experienced voices a chance to explore the incredible possibilities for immersion in a virtual performance experience.  Sets, avatars, effects – there is excellent work being done in all these areas, both from the story-initiated creators, and by visual artists sharing the narratives of their work.”

The new initiative came about as a result of discussions between Caledonia Skytower, another veteran of storytelling in Second Life, R. Crap Mariner – host of the web-based 100 Word Stories Podcast series and Firestorm Project Director Jessica Lyon.

R. Crap Mariner
R. Crap Mariner

“I heard Jessica Lyon in an interview at the 13th Second Life Birthday, and she called for performers and events at Firestorm’s Community Gateway,” Crap explained. “She even invited me to perform there, but my material doesn’t quite fit the G-rating of their regions. I turned to my friend Caledonia Skytower and suggested that we put together a greater Spoken Word Project. We both look forward to bringing workshops and other events that will introduce the new users to spoken word, and introduce spoken word communities to new audiences, members, and participants.”

The Firestorm Community Gateway user base poses a new challenge for the Seanchai storytellers. Most of the audiences they perform before are established Second Life users who are both comfortable with using SL Voice and familiar enough with its foibles to deal with the frustrations it can create. “Firestorm Community Gateway introduces hundreds of new and inexperienced users to Second Life,” Caledonia said. “We’ll find ways to leverage the power of Second Life and the skill of the ever-present and patient Firestorm Support Staff to quickly diagnose and assist these users with Voice so they can enjoy these performances as part of their early Second Life experience.”

The amphitheatre on Firestorm Social Island - one of several venues on the island
The amphitheatre on Firestorm Social Island venue for the Storyteller’s Sandbox series starting on August 7th, 2016

For her part, Jessica Lyon sees the new partnership as a further significant step forward for the Firestorm Gateway project. “We really want to expose new residents to the broad possibilities of all they can be involved with in Second Life: music, role play, art. Of course, spoken word is a part of that,” she said. “Crap and Caledonia complement one another’s skills and are so well-connected in their community. They are the perfect team to be leading this. “I am really excited about what Seanchai Library can bring to our Gateway.”

As well as the Storyteller’s Sandbox series, plans for additional events focused on poetry, writing, and other spoken word and literature opportunities are in development, and I hope to cover all of the activities within this partnership through the pages of this blog.

For those interested in live storytelling can also attend Seanchai Library’s weekly series of events on the Bradley University region and through their website and /or my weekly Seanchai library updates. R. Crap Mariner will continue to produce his daily 100 Word Stories Podcast (link above)and conduct readings in-world at his Clocktree Reading Room.

Exploring Hermoupolis Village in Second Life

Hermoupolis Village; Inara Pey, July 2016, on Flickr Hermoupolis Village – click any image for full size

I first visited Hermoupolis Village by Nitsuko’s Nits’ (putanakio) back towards the start of the year, after finding it in the Destination Guide. At the time, I didn’t get the opportunity to blog about it, so I thought it was about time I put things to rights.

Occupying the east side of a full region, Hermoupolis Village is beautifully photogenic, nestled between rugged peaks on one side, and what might be the tongue of a large lake cutting inland on the other, the green hills of an off-sim surround giving the impression of a rolling landscape on the far side of the water.

Hermoupolis Village; Inara Pey, July 2016, on Flickr Hermoupolis Village

The northern end of the land is dominated by the imposing bulk of a department store, in front of which sits a series of terraces, each one the focus for a sculpture. These are beautifully created by Valtum, with at least two  – the Discobolus of Myron, and the Barberini Faun – being drawn from the physical world. On other side of these terraces, a tram track emerges from a tunnel and winds its way past a town house, the interior of which looks ideal for telling haunted tales, and a small drug store, before running along the water’s edge.

The middle of the land is occupied by a tall town house flanked by two smaller houses, a paved rod looping in front of them. Across this sits an inviting lakeside café bar. Together these form a smooth transition between the more urban look of the department store and its terraces and and distinctly Mediterranean village of the title, sitting to the south.

Hermoupolis Village; Inara Pey, July 2016, on Flickr Hermoupolis Village

Within the village, stone paths wind between the various buildings – which, like all the building here, are open to the public – while an open market offers fresh produce and farm animals wander the grass. For those looking for a place to soak up the sun, the southern end of the village offers a pool and hot hub enclosed with the walls of what appears to have once been an ancient courtyard.

This is a place which is deceptive in its attractions, as there is so much to discover. Each of the houses is individually appointed, inviting exploration. There’s a little Romany camp to be found at the edge of the village, while a little stream running beneath the lee of the jagged peaks running along the west side of the land also invites exploration.

Hermoupolis Village; Inara Pey, July 2016, on Flickr Hermoupolis Village

There are also numerous places encouraging visitors to tarry: the café mentioned above, the pool and its hot tub, benches along the terraces, a small orangery offering cakes and ice cream at the north end of the land – even the verandahs and terraces of the houses themselves.

Nitsuko’s tells me he does change things around from time to time, but prefers not to make huge changes. Doing so tends to offer people reasons to return – quite aside for those making use of the stores – without the heart and look of the land being lost in a major reconstruction.  For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed this long-overdue re-visit, and will be making sure it’s not such a long time between this and the next time I drop in!

Hermoupolis Village; Inara Pey, July 2016, on Flickr Hermoupolis Village

SLurl Details

CtrlAltStudio issues Oculus CV-1 update

CAS-logoOn July 18th, 2016, Strachan Ofarrel (Dave Rowe) released an updated Windows version of his CtrlAltStudio viewer. Version 1.2.6.43412 Alpha use Oculus Rift SDK 1.5.0 and so should support the Oculus CV1, DK2 and DK1.

The release has been made to provide a level of Oculus HMD support in Second Life and OpenSim following the Lab’s decision to withdraw their own project viewer support for the Rift, after significant issues were found with the July update to that viewer.

However, as Strachan states in his blog post on the release, the CtrlAltStudio Windows update is presented “as is”, and still utilises the Firestorm 4.6.9 code-base, which is itself running well behind current releases, and therefore lacks functionality users might otherwise be familiar with in more recent versions of the SL viewer. This means CtrlAltStudio doesn’t support recent HTTP updates, inventory improvements or the TLS 1.2 update (so the built-in web browser will not work with things like Marketplace transactions when using the built-in browser).

Stratchan also warns that it is unlikely that users will get the level of recommended frame rates for CV1 use (which is something the Lab were stating prior to the release of their update), although he notes – again as did the Lab – that the experience should be enough to get a feel for what user-generated VWs are like in immersive VR.

Windows CtrlAltStudio users should be able to install this version over the 1.2.5 Alpha and 1.2.4 Alpha versions if they have either already installed. Those with older versions of the viewer should carry out a clean install (and can always back up and restore their settings before / after doing so). Note that if you install over the top of a previous version you may need to press the “Reset” button next to the “UI depth” Display Output option.

To overcome issues of the viewer failing to recognise very high perfromance GPUs, CtrlAltStudio 1.2.6.43412 includes and Enable All GPU Features option to force enable all graphics settings (e.g. Basic Shaders, etc.)
To overcome issues of the viewer failing to recognise very high performance GPUs, CtrlAltStudio 1.2.6.43412 includes and Enable All GPU Features option to force enable all graphics settings (e.g. Basic Shaders, etc.)

The full set of updates in this release are given as:

  • Updated to Oculus Rift SDK 1.5.0 so that the viewer works with the Oculus runtimes supporting the CV1 as well as the DK2.
  • Fixed the “UI depth” display setting to work for both DK2s and CV1s.
  • Added an “FOV multiplier” display setting that decreases or increases the field of view with respect to the Rift-recommended value.
  • Added a “Pixel density” display setting that decreases or increases the number of pixels rendered in the process of calculating the Rift display output.
  • Removed the following display options which are no longer available in the Rift SDK: “Low persistence”, “Dynamic prediction”.
  • Fixed crash at start-up if Rift display output is enabled but no Rift is connected and turned on.
  • Updated the GPU table.
  • Added an “Enable All GPU Features” display setting that enables all graphics settings that may otherwise be limited if a new, high performance GPU is not listed in the GPU table.
  • Added a “Combine Xbox One triggers” joystick setting that combines the left and right trigger values of the Xbox One controller into a single value like the Xbox 360 controller outputs, thus letting the triggers be used to fly up and down.

It is worth noting that when in Riftlook mode, the cursor is only visible in the left eye. This is intended behaviour, allowing the cursor to hover over UI elements and in-world objects correctly without having to use additional and complex code to calculate what relative depth should be used to place the cursor in a stereo rendering.

Release 1.2.6.43412 also includes a new FOV Multiplier and Pixel Density display settings to adjust the displayed field of view and number of pixels rendered in the Rift images. Depending on your graphics card capabilities, these may provide improved visuals when adjusted upwards (at the cost of FPS). Reducing the settings will improve FPS. Both require a viewer restart after adjustment
Release 1.2.6.43412 also includes a new FOV Multiplier and Pixel Density display settings to adjust the displayed field of view and number of pixels rendered in the Rift images. Depending on your graphics card capabilities, these may provide improved visuals when adjusted upwards (at the cost of FPS). Reducing the settings will improve FPS. Both require a viewer restart after adjustment

Ai Austin has provided a blog post on his experiences in using this viewer, and I would recommend it for further reading, particularly in you are new to using the Rift with Second Life, as Ai provides point-by-point sets on getting started.

An interesting broader note in Ai’s post is with regards to using the HTC Vive with CtrlAltStudio – a questions which has been raised a a couple of “Meet the Lindens” sessions. In this regards, Ai:

Some users have reported that the CtrlAltViewer set to use the Oculus Rift works with the HTC Vive using LibreVR/Revive. This is a compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK and OpenVR. It allows you to play Oculus games on your HTC Vive.

Related Links