SL project updates 2017 12/2: TPV Dev and Content Creation meetings

The Heart of the Seablog post

The notes in this update are taken from the following sources:

  • Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday March 23rd, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT
  • The TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 12:00 noon SLT.

A video of the TPV Developer meeting is included, and timestamps to it are included in the text, where relevant. Notes from the Content Creation User Group appear towards the end of this update.

SL Viewer Pipeline

Maintenance RC Re-issue

On Thursday, March 23rd, the Lab released a new Maintenance RC viewer – version 5.0.5.324882 – to replace the faulty March 16th release.  As such, it includes the same set of updates, and I’ve written an overview of the core changes.

Voice RC

[0:19] The Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.4.324770, has a problem with the SSL Certificate Authorities update included with it. This triggers some code deep within the viewer which should not be triggered. This tends to affect TPVs for than the official viewer (the issue was actually noted by Firestorm). It’s be at least a couple of weeks before this matter is resolved, and until it is, the Voice RC viewer will not be progressing, and the Lab is unlikely to expand the cohort of users running it. Alongside of this, but separate to is, is an issue which is giving the viewer a higher than expected crash rate. which is also being looked into. Additionally, among the updates to this viewer and not included in the release notes, is support for the Opus Interactive Audio Codec, although server-side support is still required. This should eventually see further Voice quality improvements.

64-bit Project Alex Ivy

[3:10] As noted in part 1 of this week’s update, the 64-bit viewer was updated on Friday, March 17th to version 5.1.0.503537. This viewer is showing a significantly lower crash rate, although it does have some other issues. It should have a further update in the next two weeks.

360 Snapshot Viewer

[4:06] It appears unlikely that the 360 snapshot viewer will be update in the next week due to the ongoing work with the 64-bit viewer.

Asset Fetching Via HTTP

Vir Linden has been focused on the viewer side of this work, which will see the remaining inventory asset classes – landmarks, gestures, animations, shapes, sounds and wearables (system layer clothing) – switch from UDP delivery through the simulator to HTTP delivery via the via the Content Delivery Network(s) the Lab uses.

[4:42] The viewer for this work may be appearing in week #13 (week commencing Monday, March 27th). However, this is dependent on some back-end web configuration work being completed so that the required simulator changes can be correctly enabled on the Main grid.

Once these remaining assets have been shifted to delivery to the viewer via HTTP / CDN, the remaining UDP messaging for asset delivery will be turned off on the simulator end. This may be around July / August time (to be confirmed once the HTTP updates have reached release status), and will mean any older viewers still using UDP messaging for asset data fetching will be unable to do so.

New JIRA – Soon

[14:35] There is a new JIRA update coming, in line with recent updates made by Atlassian. It is currently on internal testing at the Lab, but there is no time frame as to when it will make a public appearance.

FMod Studio

[16:00] Around the start of the 64-bit viewer project there was a potential for an open-source contributed project for using Fmod Studio with viewer audio. This is likely to be re-examined, and if found suitable it may be up for adoption. However, given it will require a licence, which is likely to take a while to be processed by the Lab, it will not prevent the 64-bit viewer progressing forward toward release. Instead, the code module will be integrated as and when the licence has been obtained.

Content Creation Meeting Round-up

Animation Transitions: as noted in my March 9th CCUG meeting notes, people have been noting issues with animation playback, some of which appear to be related to llSetAnimationOverride, one of the server-side functions for controlling your animation state (see  BUG-7488 as an example).

Vir has been looking at this, but no definitive cause has been found. One suggestion is that it might be related to  Walk Adjust cutting in, which can occur when transitioning from standing to almost any other state when using llSetAnimationOverride. Although is that some transitional animation, such as a pre-jump or landing might be accidentally set to loop, causing an apparently freeze / lock. Vir will continue to poke at this.

Avatar Rendering Calculations:  work continues on refining the rendering cost calculations for avatars. However, this work is still not ready for shipping. Theses adjustments are twofold: to account for more “recent” changes which have been made since the system was last properly evaluated, and to address known issues in how the calculations are made.

Applying Baked Textures to Mesh Avatars: this is still on the short list, but is not an adopted or active project within the Lab as yet.

Rigging Animated Attachments to the Skeleton: there are issues trying to rig animated attachment to the avatar skeleton (e.g. a set of nunchaku or a gun that twirls before being holstered). While they may work OK using a specific avatar shape, problems can occur should the shape be changed (e.g. the nachaku  / gun no longer accurately positions relative to the hand). Medhue Simoni suggests items like this might be rigged and animated to the relevant attachment point instead.

NPCs / Animated Objects: this is still not a formal project at the Lab, but there has been some discussion on the potential feature set, were it to become a project.

Scripted method to position bones: see BUG11407. VIr’s concern with this approach would be the level of complexity / risk of conflicts with animations / need to expand the scripting capabilities on the back-end in order to make full scripted positions of bones useful. However, within the meeting, it was seen as being more useful in being able to fine tune poses for things like photography (e.g. to prevent hands vanishing into breasts or thighs), and thus supplant something like Anypose. As a result, Vir’s agreed to look at tools like Anypose and have a fresh look at the JIRA.

Other Items

Bento Ridable Horse

Strawberry Singh has all the information on a new Bento Rideable horse, which has a release had of Saturday, March 25th. As the name implies, this is a horse which makes full used of the Bento skeleton extensions (so when worn, it is an extension of your avatar).  Berry has produced a tidy video on the horse, and I’ll finish this update by embedding it – read Berry’s blog post for the specifics.

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Beaming into the 2017 Second Life Sci-Fi Convention

2017 SL Science Fiction Convention – “Life

The 2017 Second Life Science Fiction Convention touched-down safely on the main grid on Friday, March 24th, ready to embark Second Life residents on flights of intergalactic adventure and fancy which will continue through until April 2nd, 2017.

Active across six elemental themed regions, the convention this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. Once again, it presents the best in Second Life science-fiction related role-play, with some of the top sci-fi role-play groups, content creators and designers represented  within the regions, all bound together in the aim of raising funds for Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society.

2017 SL Science Fiction Convention – “Fire

As well as the role-play group, designers, visiting folk, and intriguing region layouts, the event features a range of entertainment and presentations. So much is going on through the week in fact, that the best way of staying up-to-date on things is to check the convention’s event calendar. This can also be found at strategic points scattered throughout all of the convention’s regions on browsable display boards, so keeping up-to-speed on where to go and what to see is pretty easy.

A full list of exhibitors for the event is also available, tidily broken down by region, with each of the main landing points for the six regions also listed. For ease of reference in general hopping around, these are:

2017 SL Science Fiction Convention -“Water

Note that all of the regions are rated Moderate. For intra-region getting around, there is a monorail systems and a network of stargates – although these didn’t appear to be working on my visit (possibly one of the Energy Lifeforms of M4C-862 was getting up to mischief…). Also, when visiting the landing points, keep an eye out for the free Sci-Fi Con 2017 outfits by Design’s Designs, which can be obtained for the exceptionally most fee of L$2, and which comes in both Fitmesh and standard mesh sizes.

I confess, I didn’t fully get the elemental theme with the convention; I’d have expected “Air” to be – well, in the air, rather than on a hill, and “Water” to perhaps be more aquatic. But this is a minor quibble in the scheme of things, as there is a lot to see, and I did particularly enjoy poking around the cityscape of “Water”. To escape the worst of the inevitable lag, you might want to disable shadows if you usually run with them enabled and drop your draw distance down if you normally have it set to a couple of hundred metres or more, other than for when taking photos.

So, as I’m prone to say when previewing this event: whatever your interest in science fiction, be sure to set your phaser on fun and head back to the future with a visit to the SL Sci-Fi convention. So say we all!

Related Links

Sniper’s Second Life 1999 – 2017: The Story

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story

“The initial project, ‘The Little Prince’, would take a long time,” Sniper Siemens explains in introducing Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story, which is now open through until the end of June 2017. “For my health and work reasons, I could not make it this year. I apologise for the inconvenience.”

Frankly, I don’t think an apology is warranted; if anything, Sniper’s look at the entire history of Second Life from 1999 through to the present should be a permanent, living installation in Second Life (although Sniper may well shoot me for saying so!).

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – Project Shining: the start of the ongoing work to massively overhaul SL’s technical capabilities

Before I get into the Story of Second Life, let’s take a look at the story of the story of Second Life. The installation originally began in July 2014 as Second Life History, a relatively modest but informative installation, complete with humorous touches which continue to mark these exhibitions. In February 2015, Sniper returned with The Greatest Story Ever Told, expanding on the original idea, offering more information, a new presentation layout and lots of new little characters to show you each of the many notable events throughout Second Life’s history (and that of its precursor, LindenWorld).

For this latest installation, Sniper builds on the 2015 design, bringing it bang up-to-date with everything that’s happened since that installation was exhibited, with a look at things like  Bento, the starter avatar updates, improvement to Sl web properties such as the Community platform, etc., and a tongue-in-cheek “look” through the gates at Sansar.

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Storyremembering Lumiere Noir, one of the many residents who did so much to empower all of us in our time in-world

From the landing point / information point, visitors progress along a footpath passing through the years sequentially, from 1999, with the originals of Linden Research and The Rig, progressing through LindenWorld, Primitars, early experiments with AI creatures, to the birth of Second Life. From there, major notable events, positive and negative (depending on your perspective if you were around at the time). All are marvellously presented, with a great balance between information – presented via static information boards,  interactive elements, and in-world videos.

As well as walking around the installation, visitors can opt to take a train ride through the exhibits. A Canopied station forms part of the landing point. Simply touch the rezzer to generate a car, jump in and touch the car to start your ride. You can stop along the way at any time to take a closer look at exhibits by touching the car once more – just make sure you cam over to them, don’t get out of the car or you’ll have it de-rez on you! A further touch of the car will resume your journey, while barriers at certain points also encourage you to stop in case you risk missing something. With a change of train half-way around, this is a really charming way to see the exhibition (rail traffic allowing!) – kudos to Sniper for including it.

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – Bento in images and videos

Journey’s end for Second Life 1999 /2017 – The Story is a shady park alongside of the cheeky “look” at Sansar. However, this isn’t the end of the installation. A teleport station will take you on to a look at the History of Burning Life, (or Burn 2 as we now know it).  This can also be toured by rail car – just follow the path to the right as you exit the main landing area and before you enter “1999”.

I am an unabashed fan of Second Life’s history (and I’m flattered to have played a very small and indirect role in this exhibit), so cannot recommend this installation highly enough anyone wishing to gain a rounded understanding on Second Life, Linden Lab and Burning Life / Burn 2. It really is a pleasure to visit, marvellously informative without ever drowning you in a flood of information, and rich in gentle touches and delightful flicks of humour. I also couldn’t help be notice the layout of the exhibit seems to include a fair amount of space for future expansion as well 🙂 .

Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story – the central Burn 2 exhibition

Second Life 199 / 2017 – The Story is an absolute delight, and as noted, will remain open through until the end of June 2017. Be sure not to miss it!

SLurl Details

Video by Sniper Siemens

Second Life Maintenance RC: Avatar Rendering updates and more

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, Linden Lab issued a new Maintenance release candidate viewer – 5.0.4.324882 – featuring a number of bug fixes and improvements.The viewer was actually a replacement for an earlier Maintenance RC, version 5.0.4.324646, which was withdrawn after it was noted it lacked some of the expected improved functionality.

In particular, this RC viewer brings some additional options for managing Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), gives us a new option for checking the Grid Status page and offers a number of other nice nips-and-tucks to the viewer, as well as resolving a series of bugs.

As is my usual approach the following is not intended as an in-depth review of the RC, but is intended to highlight the core changes.

Avatar Complexity Rendering Updates

The re-named avatar complexity rendering options in their new sub-menu

There are several improvements to avatar complexity, which are outlined below.

The Options for how you render an avatar have been updated to Default (i.e. in accordance with your avatar complexity threshold setting); Always (i.e. always render the selected avatar) or Never (i.e. permanently render them as a grey imposter). These options have also been moved to a sub-menu on the right-click Avatar context menu (shown on the right).

Also, and following Firestorm’s lead, whatever setting you select for an avatar will now persist across all log-ins for the viewer, until either reset or your settings are cleared by a clean install or similar.

Finally, the viewer gets two new options for Avatar Complexity, located on the Preferences > Graphics tab. The first is a check box, Always Render Friends, which is pretty much self-explanatory: when checked your friends will always fully render, regardless of your Avatar Complexity threshold.

Graphics > Preferences: the new Avatar Complexity options

The second is an Exceptions button, which adds a further level of complexity control for how other avatars – including your Friends – are rendered in your view.

Using Avatar Rendering Exceptions

Clicking the Exceptions button opens a new floater, Avatar Render Settings, shown below left. This comprises a people filter for the list of names recorded on the floater (which is obviously blank when first opened), together with a + (add) button.

The Avatar Complexity Exceptions floaters

Clicking + will display a pop-up with two options:

  • Always Render A Resident
  • Never Render a Resident

Clicking on either of these will open the Choose Resident floater, shown above right. You can then use the Search, or Friends or Near Me tabs to select an avatar or avatars, adding them to the list on the floater. Clicking OK will add them to the Avatar Render Settings panel. The avatars will also be rendered in accordance with whichever option you used to launch the selection process (Always render or Never render).

Changing the Avatar Complexity setting for an avatar listed in your Exceptions floater – not Default will remove them from the list, as they will be rendered as per your Avatar Complexity setting

You can also update how any avatar in your Exceptions list is displayed.

To do this, simply open the list floater via Preferences > Graphics > Exceptions, locate the name of the avatar in question (use the filter if you have a lot of avatars in your exceptions), and right-click on the avatar’s name.

This displays a sub-menu of rendering options, with the currently selected option indicated by a tick. Click on either of the other two options to change it. Note that “Default” will remove the avatar’s name for your exceptions list and display them in-world in accordance with your overall Avatar Rendering Complexity setting.

Grid Status Display Toolbar Button

Maintenance RC 5.0.4.324882 adds a new Grid Status toolbar button to the viewer. This can be accessed via Me -> Toolbar or by right-clicking your toolbar to select Toolbar Buttons. Either of these routes will open your Toolbox floater. You can then drag the Grid Status button to the toolbar location of your choice (left, right or bottom of your screen) where it will be displayed.

The new Grid Status button

Clicking on the button will open the Grid Status page in the viewer’s built-in browser, regardless of your Preferences setting for how web content is to be displayed.

Other Improvements

In addition to the above, this RC viewer also includes the following improvements:

  • Inventory Offer messages now display the name of the object being offered to another avatar
  • Library items can now be worn via a right-click context menu, and not just drag & drop
  • The Snapshot floater will now remember what you did last, and open with that mode next time (until you next relog)
  • You can now see and change the type of block (Voice / Text / Particles) from within the block list in People floater
  • LLTextBox message lines will extend along with the length of the message now.

Bug Fixes

The release notes provides the following list of bug fixes with this release:

  • Some builds wouldn’t link to release notes. Now they do.
  • Other minor UI tweaks and adjustments
  • Removed several instances of legacy People API usage, thanks to Ansariel Hiller.
  • Inventory floater was missing UI for spawning new Inventory floaters. So now you can do it even if you don’t know the Ctrl+*Shift*+*I* shortcut.
  • Build floater used to hide behind other floaters due to wrong Z-priority. Not no more!
  • Appearance editor didn’t “Save as” as well as it should have, but now does.
  • Avatar animations wouldn’t play after several operations with editing and wearing objects, but do now.
  • Closing inventory window used to leave an orphaned context menu.
  • Active listings folder stayed active after everything was cut from it. We don’t need that confusion.
  • Teleport offers and Eject messages will show complete name when that’s what you’ve chose to see.
  • You can now remove friends even when you’re in a Groups floater looking at Members list.

Feedback

I’ve not driven this viewer for more than an hour thus far, so cannot give any feedback on performance / stability. In terms of the improved features, making Avatar Complexity settings persist between log-ins is a welcome addition to the viewer. Both the Always Render Friends check box and the Exceptions options are also nice additions. .

The Grid Status button is also a handy addition, and should provide help for those of us wanting to know what is going on with the grid (when suspecting something might be wrong), but who get a little annoyed at having to manually visit the grid status page in order to do so.