The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages for me to look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.
To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers July to December. You can find January to June here.
Linden Lab released an update to the Oculus Rift project viewer. A I subsequently reported (see the article updates), people found it suffered significant issues, and appeared to be a step backwards. The JIRA raised for the viewer quickly grew. With a week, the Lab announced they were suspending work on Oculus Rift support in the viewer. CTRL-ALT-Studio offered to bridge the gap, but only on an interim basis.
Caledonia presented the penultimate part of her series on promoting Second Life events, and Draxtor delved into games in Second Life, through the work of Sergio Delacruz. Meanwhile, I received an invitation to find out more about the Helping Haven Community Gateway, before beaming aboard an avatar-sized replica of the original Starship Enterprise, courtesy of Cathy Foil.
Lumiya 3.0 arrived, with a host of goodies, including a new user interface. Rock Your Rack in support of the US National Breast Cancer Foundation was announced, as was the second fund-raising season for Team Diabetes of SL, while the 5th annual Shivers Unleashed music festival took place. The big news for the month, events-wise, was that PULSE SL, in support of the victims and families of those lost in the Orlando nightclub shooting had raised a staggering L$5.5 million.
Ed Baig from USA Today presented a video spot about project Sansar. A little later, and as I reported, he later gave a matching write-up on the platform. Latter in the month, I looked at articles on Sansar from THE and Techcrunch.
I completed a full redesign of Holly Kai Park, which included the Tiered Garden Wall product by Alex Bader, which was also put to use at home. I finally caught the stunning and award-winning animation The Tyger, by Radheya Jegatheva, son of SL’s own Jayay Zifanwe, on YouTube.
Windlight announced a re-branding to Kultivate, and the Lab blogged about recent SL updates and I added some additional info and links to more in-depth coverage in this blog, which included a look at the new Gaming Islands, designed to introduce users to Skill Gaming in SL.
Firestorm updated with Jelly Dolls (or Avatar Complexity to give the formal name for the capability), and I revisited Hitomi Tiponi’s work producing the Starlight UI Skins and goodies for the official viewer from the Lab. The latter announced the new Marketplace search, so long in beta, was finally live. I also picked up on Strawberry Singh’s request to highlight the issue of SL Marketplace full permissions goods scams.
Thanks to bots discovering it, the SL wiki went into lock-down for the second time in recent years, and while the Lab indicated they hoped to have things sorted “soon”, it remains locked as we reach the end of the year. More woes hit SL in August, and April Linden explained why.
I produced the second in my Sansar Summaries, rounding-up all the news and information on the platform I’d been able to cull from the Lab, the media and other sources. August saw the Lab announce the first batch of Sansar Creator Preview invitations had been issued. However, what interested me more was the announcement indicated that “Sansar” was now officially the platform’s title – the “project” having been dropped.
The Lab released a new set of classic “starter” avatars with a fantasy theme and Stand Up to Cancer returned to Second Life. Window 10 OpenGL were proving a PITA for some users, after a cumulative update by Microsoft at the end of August. Cale returned for the final part of her series on promoting events in Second Life, while Trek for a Cure said “Happy Birthday Stark Trek!”
On the art front came sad news that the University of Western Australia might be scaling back its operations in SL. On a brighter note, Project Bento reached RC status and the Visual Outfits Browser moved to release status, both of which were followed by the Lab issuing an update on forthcoming updates to the viewer. With Halloween on the horizon, they also invited users to submit suitable photos for a special Halloween advertising campaign, and later in the month invited venues to be a part of their Halloween event.
Project Espeon promised a new scripted sit capability for Experiences, and Lumiya for Android updated with improved graphics handling and more, while VWBPE put out a call for paper for the 2017 conference.
With the confirmation that Sansar is indeed being called “Sansar”, I re-examined the name.
Rock Your Rack took place in aid of the US National Breast Cancer Foundation, while Scare Me Silly raised funds for the American Diabetic Association. Nicky Perian announces Kokua viewer is forking between Second Life and OpenSim development, maintaining two separate versions while Lumiya added Google Drive support. AMD and Nvidia release new drivers to resolve Windows 10 / OpenGL woes, which had been affecting gamers and SL users around the world.
I also delved into 360 photography in SL with the Illiastra Panoramic Camera, the LOL Camera Panoramic and the VR Photosphere. In the middle of this comes word the Lab are working on their own 360-degree solution. And as 360-degree imagery was the theme of the month, Drax took us on and 360-degree film trip to Second Life. Staying with SL photography, I re-visited the ReShade pre-processing software – but still haven’t been able to really use it in anger.
Sansar and Virtual Worlds
Rowland Manthorpe produced a fascinating piece for Wired encompassing Sansar and High Fidelity – and a whole lot more, which I couldn’t help but delve into. The WSJ:D event gave us another look at Sansar.
As someone who has a love of the far east and spent time growing up in Hong Kong, I was pleased to find a region celebrating the Moon Festival. I was also happy to see the continuance of Stories at the Park after our rebuild hiatus, and to have Seanchai Library join us for a special Halloween event. While at home, we moved into a new and utterly charming cottage designed by Domineaux Prospero.
The Lab announced new land capacity / LI / prim allowances for Second Life regions, starting with the Mainland, then before the month was out, Private regions.In celebration of the increased allowances, I paid a visit to the source of all prims before taking on a pilgrimage of the prim.
November was the National Diabetes Month in Second Life, and also saw the launch of Horizons, a Premium-only community concept and a new multi-region, Experience-led game open to all. Having picked up on these projects earlier in the year, I was granted early access to both, and give insight in both the Horizons community concept and the adventure quest. Unfortunately, a long-standing issue within SL meant that some found themselves unable to complete the quest, prompting some hurried but lengthy investigations which led to an initial fix, with a more permanent fix coming down the pipe in due course. Out of curiosity, Whirly Fizzle and I tracked the Horizon’s land auctions, with a preliminary look at how things were going after the first week.
Grumpity Linden started a new semi-regular official blog update on web and back-end services updates, while Alina continued to add to Lumiya, introducing Google Cardboard support for those wanting a VR style experience in SL
There was a flurry of concern about the continued ability of Radegast, the lightweight Second Life / OpenSimulator client to continue to serve those with disabilities as widely as it has done in the past, and Beq Janus explained in a Guest Writer column.
Mont Saint Michel made a return to Second Life, apparently under Linden Lab management.
Sansar and Other Worlds
Sansar put in an appearance at the 2016 Web Summit, and a couple of things caught my eye. The OpenSimulator Community Conference registrations opened. After reading Beq’s piece, Cinder Roxley stepped in to help get things fixed.
I was pleased to be able to write about the further successes for young film-maker Radheya Jegatheva, the son of SL’s Jayjay Zifanwe, who beat an Academy award winner to claim the juried best film award at the Port Shorts Film Festival. At home, further tinkering on the island took place, and a family of ducks moved it, courtesy of TLC (who later supplied our fish). I also succumbed to getting YABA (“yet another bloody aeroplane”!), the DSA Aerohawk.
Linden Lab announced the Skill Gaming applications will re-open in 2017, and the month saw Project Bento officially go live, with the promotion of the Bento viewer to release status. The latter prompted Catznip viewer to update, followed a little later by Firestorm, with Kokua and Restrained Love also joining the ranks of Bento ready viewers (Cool VL and Black Dragon having already adopted the code in preparation for the Lab’s release). Such was the demand for Firestorm there was an impact on their servers, something which the Lab stepped in to help resolve.
Full private region owners gained the option to upgrade their regions to 30,000 Land Capacity / LI / Prims (however you prefer to refer to it). Billing and trading limits in Second Life were adjusted, while after bumping into Dee Linden whilst taking photos, she pointed me towards the new Portal Parks which were in the process of opening.
To round-out the year, I look back over 2016 and many of the more notable technical updates to the platform.
Events-wise, Team Diabetes of SL held their Winter Showcase in aid of the American Diabetes Association, Seanchai Library staged The Dickens Project in an expanded setting, courtesy of Kultivate Magazine, and I was granted a preview. The RFL Xmas Expo took place, Byn opened The Hand and, while there has once again been a myriad of art events throughout 2016, I couldn’t help but recommend three installations which should not be missed / should be revisited, particularly as two of them are set to close at the start of 2017. Sadly, A Petrovsky Flux vanished from Second Life.
December also seemed to become the month I caught-up on role-play developments in Second Life as Caitlyn and I visited the fascinating 1920 New York Project, explored the stunning region of Yhorm and I actually got quite into blasting zombies.
Sansar, VR etc., and Otherworlds
Both GamesBeat and Engadget looked at Sansar, and I caught one or two potential tidbits from their pieces.
The 2016 OpenSimulator Community Conference took place.
As I’d not covered much on VR, AR / MR during the past few months, I did a quick catch-up on those players who interest me. After one negative article on Magic Leap prompted speculation that the bubble with that system had been burst, I attempted to look at both sides of the matter, examining the negative and the not so negative reports from those who have spent time with the company.
Inara reached her tenth anniversary in Second Life (I’m technically approaching 11 years overall); rather than give some kind of blow-by-blow (and potentially dull) look at All That Has Changed in that time – which can really be summarised in two words: “A Lot”, I just jotted down a few thoughts. I also got to play with the CLSA Navion which was generosity donated as a Firestorm Christmas gift to their users.
The Other Bits
And throughout the year I attempted to keep people informed on the state of assorted SL technical projects, including both Avatar Complexity and Project Bento, as well are reporting on viewer news via the fortnightly (for the most part ) TPV Developer meetings. And of course my Space Sunday reports continued, looking at things literally out of this world 🙂 .