A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Out on the Calas horse trails, Caitlyn leading the way

I’m not a horse owner, but riding is something I’ve had the good fortunate to enjoy from time to time, and on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s also something I’ve occasionally enjoyed in Second Life, although I’m now long past the point, land-wise, where keeping a horse in-world makes a lot of sense. So, in the latter regard, my riding enjoyment is restricted to taking the opportunity in those regions where riding options are offered.

One such location is Calas Galadhon Park, which offers for Teegle and Breeder’s Choice horses and, since March of 2017, the Water Horse Bento horse. Although Ty Tenk of Calas dropped me a line about the Bento horses when they were added, we weren’t in a position to try things then, and to be honest, it just slipped my mind). However, the news that there’s a new Coast Trail for horse riding through the Calas regions gave Caitlyn and I just the excuse to hop over and try things out.

The Water Horse Bento horse makes for a very natural feeling ride, while the Coast Trail at Calas still takes you through the redwood forest

The new Coast Trail forms a circular route around several of the Calas regions. It nominally starts at the bridge linking Dimirill Dale to Calas Galadhon, then runs around the lake at Calas Galadhon and up through the redwood forest of Mirromere, before curving around the cliffs of the Misty Mountains and dropping down into the islands of Long Lake. From there it arcs down through Belegear, touches the Grey Havens, and so returns to Dimrill Dale. Along the way, it offers some stunning views over the Calas park lands and waters.

As we were commencing our ride further south, at the Bento horse giver in Glanduin, (another horse giver can be found at Mirromere), Caitlyn and I opted to start our ride from there – and do things “backwards”, looping up through Dimrill Dale to Belegear, and then swinging through Long Lake and down through the Misty Mountains and Mirromere, to reach Calas Galadhon.

The Coast Ride takes you through the wilds of Calas Galadhon Park, and past some of its picturesque landmarks, such as the Greek Village, a reminder of “old Armenelos”

The Water Horse giver is easy to use, with the instructions clearly visible on the sign. Follow them, and you really can’t go wrong. The supplied horse is provided as a temp attachment (so nothing in your inventory), and is a demo version with about an hour’s duration, after which it will be removed / deleted. As it is a demo version, I can’t offer a comprehensive review  of it here; but what I can say is that as a Bento extension to the avatar skeleton, the horse handles very naturally (just remember to turn off your AO!), and you do get the four motion speeds – walk, trot, canter and gallop. Given the lay of the land at Calas, there are plenty of opportunities to try all of them.

Being a demo with an hour’s duration, the horse provided by the giver isn’t as fully featured as the actual Water Horse Bento horses, so I can’t offer a review here. What I can say, however, is that it is more than enough to give you a basic feel for riding the horse, and to demonstrate just how well the horse works as an extension to your avatar. You do get the four speed options – walk, trot, canter and gallop, and the Calas trails provide plenty of places where each can be tired.

Trotting across a bridge

The trails through Calas are a joy to ride – whichever horse system you have / use – and are fairly clearly signposted throughout. As the newest, the  Coast Trail is beautifully picturesque, particularly if you tackle it clockwise, as we did. To do this, follow the track up from the horse giver and through the farm and across the covered bridge. Then follow the trail under the rock arch, and then bear left before the next bridge, following the water’s edge westwards towards the Grey Heavens, and over the marshes to Belegear’s slender peninsula.

Going around the trail this way really opens out the park’s fabulous beauty from the start, leaving the lakeside buildings of Calas Galadhon itself until last, where a well-deserved drink can be had. The hour-long duration of the demo Water Horse means there is plenty of time to take the trail without having to unduly hurry.

Resting in the saddle near the cliffs of the Misty Mountains

I’ve always enjoyed Calas Galadhon, whether on horseback or foot, and the new Coast Trail is a delight, bringing home the natural beauty of the parklands, whether riding a Bento horse or any other horse type available from the rezzers in the regions (and if you’re a member of the Calas group, yo can always hop along and ride your own, if you haven’t already).

My only regret with our little foray is that as my video software still isn’t playing nice with the viewer at times, leaving me unable to record our meanderings. Fortunately, Ty made this point moot, having produced his own video highlighting both the Water Horse Bento horse and the riding trails of Calas. So I’ll leave you with that instead 🙂 .

SLurls and Links

All Calas Galadhon regions are rated Moderate.

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Viewer updates: Kokua 5.0.6 for Second Life and RLV 2.9.21.3

In week #21, both the Kokua viewer for Second Life and the Restrained Love viewer updated to achieve parity with the current SL viewer release (version 5.0.5.326444 at the time of writing).

Kokua for Second Life updated to version 5.0.6.41208 (release notes) on Friday, May 26th, 2017, while the Restrained Love updating to version 2.9.21.3 (release notes) on Thursday, May 25th.

As the core changes to both viewers are more-or-less the same in terms of their parity with the official viewer, this review provides a combined recap of these updates for both viewers, from the oldest to most recent. Kokua users please note that the documented changes do not necessarily apply to the Kokua OpenSim version.

Custom Folders for Uploads

Kokua 5.0.6.41208 for Second Life and Restrained Love 2.9.21.3 users can now select the inventory folders into which uploads – images / textures, sounds, animations and mesh models –  are saved by default (rather than having all textures + images go to Textures for example).

To set a custom folder for an upload type:

  • Go to Inventory and right-click on the desired folder.
  • Select Use As Default For. This opens a sub-menu of upload types (shown on the right).
  • Click on the type of upload you wish to always save to that folder.

Note that this only applies to uploads: images / textures, mesh models, etc., received via transfer or will still go to the their “default” system folders (so a texture received via transfer will still go to Textures, for example).

The folders set for uploads can be reviewed via the new Preferences > Uploads tab.

The new options shown for selecting a default destination folder for uploads (left), and the new Upload panel in Preferences, which lists the locations (right) – via Kokua, click for full size, if required

Block List Tally and Grid Status Button

Kokua 5.0.6.41208 and Restrained Love 2.9.21.3 now have display a tally of those blocked in the viewer (People Floater > Blocked), and include the Grid Status button which can be added to any toolbar position in the viewer window, providing direct access to Second Life grid status updates, which are displayed in the viewer’s built-in browser.

Avatar Complexity Rendering Updates

These releases of Kokua and Restrained Love include a number of improvements to avatar complexity rendering. Full details of these changes can be found in Second Life Maintenance RC: Avatar Rendering updates and more, and are summarised here.

  • The Options for how another avatar is rendered are now 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.
  • Following Firestorm’s lead, adjusted settings for avatar rendering will now persist across log-ins for the viewer, until either reset or your settings are cleared by a clean install or similar.
  • There are 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, friends will always fully render, regardless of the viewer’s Avatar Complexity threshold.
    • The second is an Exceptions button, which adds a further level of control for how other avatars – including friends – are rendered by the viewer.
Left: the new render options sub-menu in the Avatar context menu (seen when right-clicking on another avatar). Right: the new Preferences > Graphics tab options for avatar rendering (see below for the exceptions button). Images via Kokua – click for full size, if required

Note that Kokua’s pie menu does not display the “Default” option correctly when used on other avatars. Instead, the option is labelled as “>”. As per Nicky’s comment below, this is now fixed.

Rendering Exceptions

The Exceptions button described above enables named avatars to be either fully or never rendered by the viewer, regardless of any other avatar rendering settings. It comprises two new floaters: the exceptions list (Avatar Render Settings, below left) and the search floater (Choose Resident, below right), accessed by clicking the “+” button on the exceptions list and then selecting whether you want to always or never render the avatar you’re about to choose.

Rendering Exceptions allows you to select individual avatars (e.g. from those close to you or your friends list or via search) you always / never want to render, regardless of your other avatar complexity settings. Via Restrained Love Viewer.

It is possible to update how an avatar in the exceptions list is displayed by right-clicking on the avatar’s name and selecting the required option (Default, Always, Never) from the displayed drop-down list.  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.

Changing how an avatar in the exceptions list is rendered. Via Restrained Love Viewer

Continue reading “Viewer updates: Kokua 5.0.6 for Second Life and RLV 2.9.21.3”

Flash Back / Flash Forward in Second Life

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Open from Monday, May 29th through until Monday, July 31st, 2017 at Split Screen’s temporary home*, is Giovanna Cerise’s newest installation, Flash Back / Flash Forward. This is a complex piece, rooted in both the artist’s own perceptions of creativity and in the notion  – or perhaps that should be the temporal nature – of time as we generally tend to perceive it.

The core of the installation is a large, fractured structure. This seems to rise in multi-faceted tiers into the sky, but contains only a single level, reached via teleport – the large daisy at the base of the structure and a short walk from the landing point.  This level is divided into disparate rooms and corridors to present something of a maze in which none of the spaces are connected to its neighbours but must be reached by passing through the walls themselves. within some of the spaces can be found certain artefacts  –   a suitcase and oversized key, an easel, a hat and rose, images –  which we are left to interpret for ourselves.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

There is no set root through these spaces, although a list of SLurls those containing objects is supplied in the descriptive note card. Instead, visitors are encouraged to wander. In doing so, moving through the room and along the corridors becomes something of an optical experience. Scenes flicker in and out of our perception, colours flick and change – white, red, white – perspectives shift; self-awareness fluctuates as our avatars flips through different states. sometimes solid, other times an outline reflecting the shapes and images contained within walls, sometimes a shadow.

It’s a slightly confusing, perhaps disconcerting effect, heightened by the longer one walks through the installation, as images and colours and outlines flicker in and out of existence or flip from one to another before our eyes, become discrete moments in time revealed only to us in our passing. And time – as noted, is the core of things here.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Flash Back / Flash Forward is an examination of time at both the micro and the macro levels. On the micro, is an attempt to encapsulate the artist’s relationship with her work, from initial concept through development, to its completion, as seen trough the lens of time. The artist can only exist in the present, thus the development of a piece of art becomes an exercise in reflection and projection: the initial idea is reflected in the mirror of construction, which serves to project the work into the future, to its final state. There can be no viewpoint from outside the linear nature of time; no real ability of see the work as a fluid whole, from start to finish.

At the macro level, Flash Back / Flash Forward reminds us that our entire life is spent in “the present” – but “the present” is personal to each of us, an elusive, undefined space through which we each travel, sometimes overlapping with the space occupied by others. It is a space into which the past can intrude via memories which flicker, appear, vanish or even morph from point to point as our present is influenced by mood, desire, understanding, and so on. And always, the shifting nature of our present foreshadows what is yet to be, but never allows us to experience it until “the future” is our “present”.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

And so everything might be said to be chaotic, hence the form of the build and the random tumble of sights as we move through it. But within the chaos of the present are oases of calm; moments forever caught in time – and thus, the rooms Giovanna presents for us to find: The Dream; The Point of View; The Desire; The Lighteness; The Bird; The Impossible Choice.

This is a fascinating, intriguing installation, one which may require a careful reading of the supplied nots to fully grasp, but which is nevertheless beautifully executed.

SLurl Details

*For more on Split Screen’s situation, please read Split Screen Loses Its Home.