2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 2

A look back through this blog's 2016 coverage
A look back through this blog’s 2016 coverage

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.

July

Holy Kai Park got a complete make-over during July and August
Holy Kai Park got a complete makeover

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.

Sansar

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.

Personal

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.

August Travels August Art Reviews
Hide and Seek in Second Life Cica’s Them in Second Life
The Rains of Castamere  in Second Life Bailywick Gallery: images by the sea in Second Life
Mystical Eclectica in Second Life Behind the Curtain in Second Life
Getting prehistoric in Second Life Kultivate summer art show in Second Life
Nouvelles Adventures in Second Life Storm Septimus: Invictus in Second Life
A pocket planetarium in Second Life I New Fractal Insanity in Second Life
West of the Rain in Second Life Wildstar Beaumont’s Sailing in Second Life
Binemust in Second Life Rain songs and cipherscapes in Second Life
Byrd Island in Second Life A visit to Cica’s Library in Second Life
A Chinese Garden in Second Life Immaculate perceptions and reflections in Second Life
 Arranmore in Second Life Peace is a Choice: expressions of art in Second Life
 Astralia in Second Life
 Visiting Crystal Gardens in Second Life

August

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.

Sansar

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.

July Travels July Art Reviews
A walk through Legacy Ridge in Second Life Mac Kanashimi’s Snarl in Second Life
All the fun of the fair in Second Life Inked art and bodies in Second Life
When Pink Floyd eats your sim in Second Life All_Most Real in Second Life
Bridgewood Barrow: a cosy corner of Second Life Beautiful Bizarre: art and emotions in Second Life
Exploring Hermoupolis Village in Second Life Art, women and war in Second Life
A return to Hestium in Second Life Giovanna’s Last Harbour in Second Life
Of time in Elysium City in Second Life Creative Inhalations in Second Life
A Beautiful Four Seasons in Second Life The Vordun: a new art experience in Second Life
Preiddeu Asswn: immersive education in Second Life Mandala Art in Second Life
The Magnificent Artistry of Peter Vos in Second Life
Giovanna’s Soul of Colours: a Magic Flute in Second Life
A Watercolour Wander in Second Life
Cotswold Gallery in Second Life

September

The Morgan avatar, one of the two "magic" themed avatars, and her familiar, Theo
The Lab introduced a further set of “starter” avatars for people signing-up to Second Life. I had a play

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.

Sansar

With the confirmation that Sansar is indeed being called “Sansar”, I re-examined the name.

Personal

We re-opened holly Kai Park with a new exhibition, and the Park was selected as an Editor’s Pick in the Destination Guide.

September Travels September Art Reviews
Previewing Pandora Resort Life in Second Life A surreal Cube lands in Second Life
A frosted Vintage Romance in Second Life The Mask Collection in Second Life
Yasminia: pastoral peace in Second Life All Is quiet Now in Second Life
Peacehaven – a new beginning in Second Life Submerged in Second Life
Revisiting Roche in Second Life Windlight Gallery Fellows: September / October
Revenland: fantasy / medieval role-play in Second Life Soul of Avatar in Second Life
A vacation at Pandora Resort in Second Life Awakening in Second Life
A return to The Shire in Second Life DixMix Gallery in Second Life
Discovering an old friend for the first time in Second Life Artifacs in Second Life
The Red Gallery: supporting diabetes research in Second Life

October

A Painter's Link, Salomon Beach; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Will 360-degree photography be a thing in SL for 2017? I tested some options (click to open and play as a 360-image)

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.

After the news of the possible loss of three of the UWA regions, it’s announced they’ve been given a stay of execution. However, Mont Saint Michel vanished from Second Life – for a time.

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.

Personal

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.

October Travels October Art Reviews
Visiting spooky Neverland in Second Life Nessuno and Kicca in Second Life
Autumn walks all start with a smile in Second Life The Chamer Society’s artistic expression in Second Life
Venta Silurium in Second Life Tone and Ambience in Second Life
TaKe Heart in Second Life A Woman in Red and Furillen Yours in Second Life
Visiting The Fallen in Second Life A Metaphorical Tumour in Second Life
A Shattered Masquerade in Second Life Giovanna’s Monochrome in Second Life
The Summer and Winter Winds of Second Life Opening November’s Art at the Park in Second Life
The Haunting Beauty of Everwinter in Second Life

November

The Prim Rig, ANWR Channel
The Prim Rig, ANWR Channel – I finally visited in November, to mark the LI allowance increase

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.

Personal

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.

November Travels November Art Reviews
A taste of Dystopia in Second Life The Softie Gallery in Second Life
A mystical Telrunya in Second Life Overviews at Dathuil in Second Life
Women of Science in Second Life Everything is Lit in Second Life
Knightfall in Second Life Baroque Dreams in Second Life
A Winter Trace in Second Life Always Closer in Second Life
The whimsy of WeeVille in Second Life From Here On There Be Dragons in Second Life
Wintertime at the Mill in Second Life Stories at the Park for November in Second Life
A journey to Let it Snow! in Second Life Fingers and Maloe at DixMix Gallery in Second Life
Ashimi: oriental neon in Second Life

December

The fascinating 1920 New York Project, previewed in December
The fascinating 1920 New York Project, which I previewed in December

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.

Staying with viewers and clients, Cinder Roxley indicated she hopes to be able to continue to maintain Radegast, while Alina continued to stun with Lumiya by introducing Voice support.

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.

Yhorm, NeoShoda; Inara Pey, December 2016, on FlickrYhorm, NeoShoda: the amazing build for the City of Vyhorm Caitlyn and I toured in December

Personal

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.

December Travels December Art Reviews
Rosemoor’s winter in Second Life Artful Expressions in Second Life
Walking La Digue du Braek in Second Life December’s Art at the Park in Second Life
Winter’s wonder at Luane’s worlds in Second Life StormEye in Second Life
Fris’ Land: a little treat in Second Life Giovanna’s sky harbour in Second Life
LHOOQ: coastal scenes in Second Life LeMelon and Desy at Ayuda Virtual in Second Life
Exploring Mineral Ridge in Second Life OpeRaAnxiEty in Second Life
A trio to Alki’s North Pole in Second Life Cerebral Frame in Second Life
Boarding the Arctic Express in Second Life Blue Oranage: where music and art meet in Second Life
Resting in Fall Trace in Second Life Body Talk in Second Life
A winter’s Magical Mystery in Second Life At the Bridge with Terrygold in Second Life
Namaste: serenity and contemplation in Second Life An Abstract Line in Second Life
A Painter’s Link in Second Life A Winter’s Tale in Second Life
Silvermoon’s snowy magic in Second Life Artifacs in Second Life
Winter Flakes in Second Life Saturation in Second Life
A Million Freckles in Second Life

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 🙂 .

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