The Drax Files 42: creativity and remembrance in Second Life

Jaimy Hancroft and two of her father's creation: a warnamandal, and on the wall behind her, a mirror painted by Mario
Jaimy Hancroft and two of her father’s creation: a swarmandal, and on the wall behind her, a mirror painted by Mario

Dangarnon, The Spires of Andolys, Hope’s Horizon – for anyone who loves Relay for Life of Second Life, these are the names of places which brought to life the three ems, each of them being mythical, mystical and magical. They are also places designed by sisters Jaimy Hancroft and Eowyn Swords, who together form Death Row Designs (DRD), featured in The Drax Files World Makers #42, released on Friday, December 16th.

For those who don’t attend Fantasy Faire, Jaimy, Eowyn and DRD are perhaps better know through their participation in gacha (or gatcha if you prefer) events, such as The Arcade. Through these, their items have also gained popularity in public and role-play regions. Their broken Ferris wheel, for example, can frequently be found as one travels across the grid looking for places to explore.

The DRD Arctic Express
The DRD Arctic Express

Gacha events are loved by some and a total mystery to others. Entire events are devoted to them – The Arcade, mentioned above, being perhaps the most popular / prominent.  However, for those unfamiliar with the The Drax Files World Makers #42 provides a solid introduction during its first half. But this isn’t the heart of the DRD story; that belongs firmly to the second half of the segment, in which Jaimy shares the origins of her creativity with us, which is deeply rooted in the memory of her father, Mario, and his creative influence over her.

“He could fix anything,” Jaimy says of him. “He did woodwork, he built [musical] instruments, he painted landscapes. And he also recreated famous paintings, but in miniature just with only one hair of a brush and a magnifying glass. He was the first one of us, I think, to be in Second Life.”

The Disney-like Spires of Andolys, Fantasy Faire 2015
The Disney-like Spires of Andolys, Fantasy Faire 2015

Jaimy’s own artistic talent revealed itself from an early age through art, but under her mother’s encouragement, directed her talent into cuisine, attending culinary school. As she notes, as a means of artistic expression, it is somewhat akin to other creative endeavours, taking as it does,raw ingredients to create something unique.

But it is Mario’s influence that has had the greatest impact on Jaimy’s and Eowyn’s work in Second Life, and is honoured in many ways through the goods they produce. It is also the reason they have been so deeply involved in Fantasy Faire and RFL of SL – perhaps most memorably in 2014, when Jaimy built Hope’s Horizon, inspired by Tolkien’s great city of Minas Tirith, for that year’s Fantasy Faire.

“He was a major Lord of the Rings fan,” Jaimy noted at the time, “and this was my chance to do something great to make him proud.” Anyone who visited Hope’s Horizon will acknowledge that it was inspirational in its scope, and a fabulous tribute to her father.

The citadel at the top of Hope's Horizon, built by Jaimy for the 2014 Fantasy Faire, and in memory of her late father
The citadel at the top of Hope’s Horizon, built by Jaimy for the 2014 Fantasy Faire, and in memory of her late father

It would perhaps have been nice to catch more of a glimpse of the path  Jaimy took to move from cuisine to Second Life and digital creativity, but this is really a very minor niggle. What we have here is a poignant story, told honestly and from the heart, without any overlay of pathos, told honestly and openly.

Presented in this way, the segment stands as a further tribute to Mario, as well as giving us a glimpse into Jaimy’s own warm nature and the creativity she shares with her sister. As such, it really doesn’t need a lengthy written exposition; it speaks clearly and eloquently for itself and is a fitting piece for the time of year, and with which to see out 2016.

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Of snowball fights and premium discounts in Second Life

Winter Wonderland - the snowball fight Arena awaits
Winter Wonderland – the snowball fight Arena awaits

The Lab has been awash with blog posts this last week. There was news of  a new Marketplace promotion – the 12 Days Of Savings, which launched on Wednesday, December 14th and runs through to December 25th. It sees the Lab hook-up with selected content creators to offer up to 70% off selected goods for the period.

That was followed by the announcement of the Jolly Holiday Crawl, and a chance to meeting Linden staff as they hop across wintry regions before retiring to Winter Wonderland for the time-honoured residents vs Lab snowball fight.

The Jolly Holiday Crawl will start at 1:00 SLT on Monday, December 19th, and conclude at :12:00 SLT at the Winter Wonderland, ready for the snowball engagement at Winter Wonderland, which will continue through to 14:00 SLT (officially!). There’s a special gift on offer for those taking part, and the itinerary reads as follows (all times SLT):

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

To coincide with the above, and the opening of the all new Portal Parks (see my post here for more), the Lab officially announced the re-opening of Winter Wonderland on Thursday, December 15th, together with an end-of-year Premium Membership discount drive.

The five regions of Winter Wonderland offer the Village of Lights (with the main landing point), the snow track for snowboard and snowmobiles (rezzers at the starting point), the skating rinks, Ferris wheel, walks in the snow, and – of course – the snowball fight arena.

The Premium Membership discount is this time in respect of the Quarterly  Billing plan, and relates to 50% off your first payment under that plan.  (all subsequent payments will be at the standard rate), and provides all the usual Premium perks. In addition, new and existing Premium members can claim yet another premium gift, which this time also includes a Premium Badge which unlocks exclusive options at Winter Wonderland (e.g. upgrading snowball weapons in the snowball arena).

For those who are interested in the Premium Membership offer, it expires on January 2nd 2017, at 08:00 SLT – be sure to read the small print on both the official blog post and the Premium sign-up page.

SL project updates 2016 50/2: re-caps and Content Creation UG

Fris' Land, Liebe; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Fris’ Land, Liebeblog post

Server Deployments – Recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates and information.

  • On Tuesday, December 13th, the Main (SLS) channel received the same server maintenance package, as deployed to the RC channels in week #49. This includes the following feature requests: BUG-6377 – llGetObjectDetails(id,[OBJECT_ATTACHED_SLOTS_AVAILABLE])  and BUG-40871 – llGetEnv() constant “region_object_bonus”.
  • On Wednesday, December 14th, all three RC channels received the same new server maintenance package, comprising improved internal server logging.

SL Viewer

The official viewers list remains unchanged from earlier in the week:

  • Current release viewer, version 5.0.0.321958, dated December 1, promoted December 5 – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.1.322219, dated December 9th
  • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712, dated November 23rd.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

No Change Window

A reminder that the end-of-year No Change window comes into effect from Friday, December 16th. There will be no further planned server deployments or official viewer promotions after that date, through until Monday, January 2nd, 2017.

Content Creation User Group

On Thursday, December 15th, the Project Bento User Group officially morphed into the Content Creators User Group (thus in a way  also now standing as a revamp of Nyx Linden’s old group).

Meetings will continue to take place at 13:00 SLT on Thursdays, at the Hippotropolis camp fire circle, with the exceptions of Thursday, December 29th and Thursday, January 5th. Anything related to Bento remains on topic for the group, but things of general interest to content creators are also open for discussion.

New Bento Issues

Bento is generating considerable interest among users – as witnessed by the release of Firestorm 5.0.1, when demand overwhelmed the Firestorm servers, and additional mirror services had to be set-up, with assistance from the Lab in doing so. However, some further issues have been identified as a result of Bento reaching a broader audience:

  • BUG-41063 – [Bento] Some Fitted Mesh No Longer Fits on Bento Avatars
  • BUG-41048 – [Bento] When wearing some Bento content, all walking animations freeze

The first of these bugs has been accepted by the Lab and is being investigated. The second appears to be most notably related to animations using the Bento wing bones, which appear to be overriding animation walks, causing an avatar to slide along the ground, rather than walking.

The issue particularly seems to impact walk animation using the llSetAnimationOverride capability, while older ZHAO systems (which tend to use the llPlayAnimation capability, appear to be unaffected. This may be due to the manner in which the latter handle start / stop animations calls, which is successfully preventing the issue manifesting with them.

The underlying cause is thought to be a possible animation priority setting / conflict or possibly the result of the wing bone animations having bone positions being set for all other, but not rotation data – but further investigation is required. Vir has taken samples of items which can cause the issue (again, notably, but not necessarily limited to, wings), and is going to have a poke at them to see if he can see what is going on.

Elsewhere, creators are waiting on Avastar to update, and Damien Fate has a rather neat HUD to help animate Bento hands and fingers. It’s unlisted, so I’m linking to it, rather than sharing it via embedding.

Fun Fact

The new Linden Lab portal parks have a LI capacity of 45,000 (with thanks to Cube Republic and Arton Rotaru for the pointers).

Portal Park LI capacity
Portal Park LI capacity