Animesh project viewer arrives in Second Life

On Wednesday, October 18th, Linden Lab announced the release of their much-anticipated Animesh project viewer had been made available, marking the start of public testing for the Animesh project.

For those who have not been following my Content Creation User Group meeting updates, “Animesh” is an amalgam of “ANImated MESH”. The overall goal of the project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, trees with animated branches, etc.

In short, an Animesh object:

  • Can be any rigged / skinned mesh which and contains the necessary animations and controlling scripts in its own inventory  (Contents tab of the Build floater) required for it to animate itself.
  • Can be a single mesh object or a linkset of objects.
  • Has been flagged as and Animesh object in the project viewer, and so has an avatar skeleton associated with it.
  • Uses three new LSL methods to run or stop animations, or check which animations are currently running:
Animesh allows you to take rigged mesh objects, add animations and controlling scripts to them, associate them with an avatar skeleton, and have them run in-world without the need for any supervising viewer / client

The Animesh project has been in development for the last several months, and has involved ongoing discussions and input from content creators at the Content Creation User Group meetings, which are held in-world at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle most Thursdays at 13:00 SLT. As such, the arrival of the project viewer does not mark any kind of official release of the project. Rather, and as noted, it marks the commencement of public testing for what will hopefully become the first release of Animesh functionality.

Currently, testing can only take place on Aditi, the beta grid, where five regions are available with Animesh support enabled. These are: Animesh1, Animesh2, Animesh3, Animesh4, all rated Moderate, and Animesh Adult. Again, please note that Animesh functionality in the project viewer will not work on the Main grid at this time.

Animesh objects are created in-world, not uploaded as such. They must contain the animation(s) they are to run and a controlling script (l), and are enabled via Animated Mesh object in the Build Floater’s Features tab (centre). Note that if you select an unrigged / non-mesh object (or a No modify rigged object), the option will be greyed out and unavailable (right)

An Animesh User Guide is available to help people get started with Animesh, and a forum thread has been set-up for feedback and discussion, while specific bugs or feature request suggestions for the project should be reported via the Second Life JIRA.

Test content is also available to help people get started, if they don’t have suitable content of their own they wish to convert to Animesh objects. The test content can be found here.

In addition, those who test the viewer and Animesh are invited to attend the Content Creation User Group meetings and join discussion on Animesh (and other content related projects), and  / or are welcome to follow my Content Creation User Group meeting updates.

One of the aims in testing Animesh will be to see how many Animesh objects a region and the viewer can comfortably handle without impacting the performance of either

Eventually, Animesh will hopefully support fully fledged non-player character (NPC) creations which can, if required have things like an avatar shape associated with them, use a dedicated, avatar-like inventory, and utilise both the server-side locomotion graph for walking, sitting, etc., and the avatar baking service. However, these capabilities do not form part of the current Animesh project, but will be added as a future project, once other elements which can also help better support NPCs have been put in place (such as an update to the baking service, which forms another project within the Lab).

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SL project updates 42/1: server, viewer

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Islandblog post

Server Deployments for Week #42

As always, please refer to the server release thread for updates and the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, October 17th, the Main (SLS) received the server maintenance package,  17#17.10.06.509394, previously deployed to the Magnum RC channel, comprising “internal fixes”
  • On Wednesday, October 18th, the RC channels should be updated with a new server maintenance package, #17.10.13.509701, also comprising internal fixes.

Neither of these updates should have user-visible changes.

SL Viewer

The former Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.8.329115, was promoted to de facto release status on Friday October 13th., and a new Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.9.329464 was released. Otherwise, the SL viewer pipeline remains unchanged from week #41:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.329552, dated September 1.
    • Wolfpack RC viewer,version  5.0.8.329128, dated September 22 – this viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”.
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.508209, dated September 5.
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Pathfinding Bug (?)

Pathfinding hasn’t been particularly successful since its introduction. However, with work progressing on animated mesh (Animesh – see my Content Creation User Group updates), there has been renewed interest in using Pathfinding alongside of Animesh. However, it has recently been noted that any call to llCreateCharacter on a Full region causes 8-12% performance loss (Homestead regions do not appear to be affected), regardless of whether the region is actively using Pathfinding or not, and / or whatever else is in the script – see BUG-41385.

This appears to be a recent issue, but it is not clear how widespread it might be, as the issue has thus far only been reported in one estate. However, when it does occur,  one character in a region seems to be enough to cause the hit, additional characters don’t cause any significant increase in the loss of performance.

Commenting on the issue at the Simulator User Group, Simon Linden said:

Pathfinding is a big chunk of complex code (that we didn’t write) so I’m sure there’s some significant change between having nothing to do and processing one character. I’ve spent a few days looking into this … Believe me, I’d like to fix it … I’ve tried and couldn’t fix it so far.

 

SL “Moonshine” viewer release

On Friday, October 13th, the Lab promoted their “Moonshine” release viewer, version 5.0.8.329115  to de facto release status. This viewer brings some new options to the official viewer, as well as including a range of improvements and bug fixes.

The code name for the viewer is described thus: “Moonshine was originally a slang term used to describe high-proof distilled spirits usually produced illicitly, without government authorisation. In recent years, however, moonshine has been legalized in various countries and has become a term of art. Legal in the United States since 2010, moonshine is defined as ‘clear, unaged whiskey’. This deploy is filled with a jigger of crash fixes, a splash of translation fixes and a kick that will make you say ‘I can’t feel my face any more!'”

In terms of the updates, probably the most visible is the new Worn tab within the Inventory floater. Those who have used third-party viewers like Firestorm will be familiar with this: it presents a list of items your avatar is currently wearing, defined by the folders in which the items are located.

The new Worn tab on the updated SL viewer

In addition, the scroll zone associated with the inventory floater (and the Marketplace floater) has been improved, and the inventory filter options (My Inventory > Gear menu > Show filters) have two new options:

  • Created by me, Created by others
  • Search by Name, Description, Creator, UUID.

The viewer includes the ability to increase the cache size to up to 9.75 GB in size, and cache performance has been improved. This work is all part of on-going viewer infrastructure work, which with this viewer includes changes to reduce the rate at which log-in retries are attempted.

As I’ve reported in my weekly SL project updates, the rate at which these login retries were being carried out could cause a detrimental impact on services when the grid was experiencing issues; it is an update TPVs have been asked to adopt as soon as they can.

Users of the official viewer can now set the size of their local cache (up to 9.75GB)

Also included in this release as a part of the infrastructure updates is a general clean-up of the log-in code.

In addition to the above, the viewer includes a range of UI behaviour improvements and bug fixes, all of which are listed in the release notes.

Feedback

I’ve not had the opportunity to use this viewer extensively, but performance-wise and in terms of the length of time I have been using it, the performance easily matches previous releases when running on my main system. In terms of the updates, the increased cache size could prove beneficial to those able to take advantage of it, and who use either an SSD or who can make use of a RAM drive on their system.

Overall, another useful viewer update from the Lab, with a good range of resolved issues and fixed bugs.