Music and experimentation in Second Life

nnoiz Papp in the flesh
nnoiz Papp in the flesh

Drax Files: World Makers 43, released on Wednesday, February 1st, takes us back to the world of music in Second Life; specifically that of nnoiz Papp. As someone who has a deep appreciation of classical music, and who very much enjoys music with an electronic flavour and can wrap itself around Middle Eastern and Far Eastern themes and ideas, I have to say that the piece came as something of an eye-opener to me, as I’ve somehow managed to miss nnoiz’s music thus far – but having seen the segment, it is something I’m liable to be keeping an eye out for in the future.

nnoiz’s life very much revolves around music. His physical work has him providing sound and music for the animated television series, Sendung mit der Maus  (The Show with the Mouse), which has been running since 1971,  and is Germany’s longest-running animated children’s show. With a strong educational leaning, it has won 75 awards over the years. and has drastically altered perceptions around the value of television as a tool for learning with youngsters in Germany. nnoiz first became involved in it in 1984, and also works on the spin-off series Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten (The Show with the Elephant), aimed at pre-school youngsters, which launched in 2007 – the year he also got involved in Second Life.

Nnoiz Papp in the pixels
Nnoiz Papp in the pixels

In-world, he is able to bring together an engaging mix of classical-based, electronically inspired music which he describes as organic. It’s a description I’d agree with, intertwining contemporary, electronic / industrial beats with the more assured, mature influences of classical pieces and middle-eastern influence to produce something entirely harmonic, pleasing to the ear and very much alive.

nnoiz is very much an experimentalist within music – and Second Life is perhaps an ideal environment for such experimentation. Not only does it offer the chance to reach a global audience through in-world concerts and gigs, it is also a unique environment in which music and sound can be played with physically.

The original plug & play - nnoiz working at his modular synthesisers
The original plug & play – nnoiz working at his modular synthesisers

In his liner notes, Drax draws a line between nnoiz’s work at that of Wendy Carlos, and it is not in any way a stretch. For me, on hearing the excerpts of nnoiz’s music, together with learning about his work with modular synthesisers – something which carried me back to reading about and listening to the late Isao Tomita. Again, both men share similar ground in the avant-garde of music, whilst remaining true to some of the great composers of the past (I particularly enjoyed catching J.S. Bach woven into one of nnoiz’s pieces, Bach also being a favourite with Tomita).

This is a World Makers piece which largely speaks for itself – although non-German speakers should ensure they have subtitles enabled when watching! – and as such, extensive commentary from me risks adding hyperbole to what really is an excellent piece.

nnoiz's other alter-ego (who shares billing with nooiz): The Singing Cat
nnoiz’s other alter-ego (who shares billing with nooiz): The Singing Cat

That said, and in case you do find dealing with sub-titles a little difficult, I do urge you do watch the segment through to the end. From the 3:45 mark nnoiz offers some pithy insights into clichéd views on Second Life, included the tired old (and wholly incorrect) view that you “cannot” understand Second Life without entering into its smuttier side. As nnoiz points out, it is possible to visit a city and entirely its seedier side, unless that is your intention for visiting – which is something else entirely. So the idea that SL is “all about the sex”, or any exploration of SL “must” include sex, is a very erroneous position to take.

As this segment of World Makers again demonstrates, SL is so rich and vibrant a melting pot of experiences, ideas, explorations and opportunities, that someone entering it doesn’t necessarily have to jump into its “dirty corners” in order to fully and roundly appreciate it.

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SL project updates 2017-5/1: server, viewer

Sol Farm, Story of Infinite; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrSol Farmblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server update thread for the latest information.

  • There was no deployment for the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, January 31st, although the regions on that channel were restarted in keeping with the Lab’s policy of restarting regions every 2 weeks, regardless as to whether there is an accompanying deployment.
  • On Wednesday, February 1st, all three RC channels should receive the same new server maintenance package. This includes a follow-up to fix BUG-3286 “Can’t move object” fail notifications, which was partially fixed in an earlier deployment. This release should also see some improvement  in off-line IM and group notice delivery.

SL Viewer

The Maintenance viewer RC was updated on Monday, January 29th to version 5.0.1.323027 (dated January 25th). Otherwise, all other viewers in the current pipelines remain unchanged from the end of week #4:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.0.321958, dated December 1st, promoted December 5th, 2016 – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, dated January 10th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712, dated November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review – still pending completion of work on the 64-bit viewer, and no updates expected in the immediate future
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Non-Player Characters

There has been an ongoing debate about implementing non-player characters (NPCs) in the form of “created agents” or “scripted agents” (essentially avatars), which can exist in-world without the need for a controlling viewer / client. See feature request BUG-11368 for more.

NPCs are not new to SL, and it had been hoped that Pathfinding (introduced in 2012) would lead to an uptick in their use. However, Pathfinding has never really received widespread acceptance / use, and still carried with it many of the limitations in using “bot” based NPCs – such as the need for each bot to have a direct connection to a managing viewer / client.

Scripted agents, by virtue of using the existing avatar system, coupled with being a new class of object would overcome many of the limitations and issues with the current approach to NPCs and other creature creations. However, implementing such a system is seen as a major undertaking, and one with some major hurdles to clear were it to become a project.

If agents (avatars) were to be used, for example, how can they be kept “alive” when there is no controlling client / viewer connected to them? At the very least a new class of hybrid avatar / object would need to be developed (complete with inventory support). If these agents are to be used to provide things like animals – horses, etc., – there is then potentially the problem of how to change the system so that one avatar can ride another (e.g. your avatar on the NPC horse avatar), and so on.

Currently, there is no planned project to take-on NPCs of this kind – but they are a repeated topic of conversation at Simulator User Group meetings, and it is an idea some at the Lab have been mulling over.

Next Meeting

Due to scheduling conflicts, the next Simulator User Group meeting will be on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017.