The Forest Beyond in Second Life

The Forest Beyond
The Forest Beyond

In the latter half of 2017, Ceakay Ballyhoo presented A Watercolour Wander, an exploration of a landscape rendered as a watercolour painting, complete with its own story (read more about it here). It was an imaginative approach to art and storytelling which at the time attracted Seanchai Library’s Caledonia Skytower to present readings of the story during walking tours of the installation.

Given that this melding of art and tale worked so well, little wonder that Ceakay has continued to explore the idea, and recently opened a follow-up environment and story, The Forest Beyond. Only in this case, rather than wandering a landscape rendered as a painting, visitors are invited to explore a painting rendered as a landscape.

The Forest Beyond
The Forest Beyond

Located on Ceakay’s own region, The Forest Beyond reunites us with Ceakay’s little girl from the first story – whose name, we learn, is Elle. As she drifts off to sleep, her eyes are drawn to a new painting on her bedroom wall, a Christmas present depicting mushrooms with faces under their broad, spotted tops, sitting under a starry sky, the warm glow of lights or a fire emanating from the entrance of a cave beyond them – and thus she falls asleep, and into the painting itself, wherein lies an adventure – which visitors are invited to share as they follow a path through the region and the painting.

A story is provided to help people along the way, and can be read in one of two ways: by visiting Ceakay’s blog, or by touching the little story stones located alongside each major scene of Elle’s dream to receive a note card. But be warned – there is more than just one story to be found here!

The Forest Beyond
The Forest Beyond

“The painting was made in autumn 2016. It was part of a small exposition at my gallery,” Ceakay (CK for short) explains. “[Then I]  started to try to make a hollow hill sculpt and once she accomplished that, [I] decided on making a world behind the painting.  The story developed as the build was progressing, fitting the separate textures and sculpts together as a whole.”

“Not all the creatures and trees or scenes have been included in the story of the Little Girl and the Forest Beyond,” she continues, referencing the additional scenes to be found in the forest. “The ones that have are certain to have unmentioned stories to their lives yet, the one that aren’t are waiting for people to add their own stories to them.”

The Forest Beyond
The Forest Beyond

And therein lies an invitation. If you enjoy creative writing, CK invites you to visit the forest and write your own short story or poem or song about what captures your imagination there – look for the reflections in the lake as an example of some of the things not featured in Elle’s story.Sorties submitted to CK via note card or e-mail by February 12th, 2017, could stand to win a L$500 prize!  To help get imaginations turning, there are several spots just off the main path offering places to sit and think, or to simply spend a little time relaxing.

This is another enchanting installation by CK. When visiting, do please consider a donation towards the upkeep of the region, and if you enjoy the story, memorabilia – models of the characters, paintings of the scenes, etc., can be purchased from the little shop area at the end of the trail.

SLurl Details

SL project updates 2017-2/1: 64-bit viewer and Monday Blues

Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrNagare no Shimajima, Restless Timesblog post

Server Deployments

There are no planned deployments for the week. However, all servers on the three RC regions will be subject to a rolling restart. This is in accordance with the Lab’s new policy of restarting channels every fortnight, whether or not there is an associated deployment. As the Main (SLS) channel underwent a restart on Tuesday, January third, server on this channel were not restarted this week.

SL Viewer

Project Alex Ivy

The 64-bit versions of the official viewer arrived in project viewer form on Tuesday, January 10th, under the code name Project Alex Ivy – which I take to be a reference to 64 (LXIV being 64 in Roman numerals, hence aLeX IVy).

The viewer, version, has been built using the newly updated and upgraded libraries and build process the Lab has been putting together, which will also be used for 32-bit Windows builds. Thus, the project viewer is available in three flavours:

  • 64-bit Mac
  • 64-bit Windows
  • 32-bit Windows.

There is no Linux viewer as yet, but the Lab has indicated it is their intention to provide one, although TPVs and open-source contributors are likely to still be asked to help with its ongoing support.

Additionally, the following points, as specified in the release notes, should be underlined (although please ensure you read the release notes in full if you intend to try this viewer:

  • The Mac build has several known limitations:
    • There is currently no Mac Havok build,so pathfinding paths cannot be visualised, and it may not be possible to upload mesh assets.
    • Video media using QuickTime does not play.
  • The 64-bit version will not run on Windows 10 systems with Intel HD 2000/3000 GPUs and may not run on other systems that do not have GPUs explicitly supporting Windows 10.

These shortfalls will be addressed as the viewer progresses through the project and release candidate phases to release status in the next weeks / months. Once released, it will signal the end of the 32-bit MAC version of the viewer (and possibly the 32-bit Linux version). The Windows version will continue to be available as a 32-bit build as well as having the new 64-build available.

Also, note that this viewer doesn’t include any functional updates / changes to the existing viewer.

Remaining Viewers Pipelines

Outside of the 64-bit project viewer, the various viewer pipelines remain as my last SL project update:

  • Current Release version:, dated December 1st, promoted December 5th – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer
  • Maintenance RC viewer, version, dated December 21st – some 42 fixes and improvements + Bento support
  • 360-degree snapshot project viewer, version, dated November 23rd – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Monday Outage

On Monday, January 9th, many users were hit with significant issues, with many finding themselves unable to log-in, or being disconnected from the simulators and unable to log back in. On Tuesday, January 10th, April Linden from the Ops team posted another of her excellent post-mortem blog posts on what happened, and I recommend it as a worthwhile and informative read.

In essence a failure within a third-party provider used by the Lab failed to trigger the expected automatic switch-over of connections for all users accessing Second Life through that provider. As a result, those users were disconnected from the service, and due to the volume of people trying to re-connect, couple (I assume with those simply trying to log in, unaware of problems) generated a backlog, forcing the Lab to bring additional log-in servers on-line.

Once again, April does an excellent job in explaining things – revealing more of the complexities of SL in the process (which, as I’ve oft said in the past, goes well beyond just the simulator servers), and also offers apologies for the Monday problems.