Meraki Islands in Second Life

Meraki Islands; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Meraki Islands – click on any image for full size

Meraki Islands, on the homestead region of Felicitie Isle, is a group build by Nïc H Bour (NicBor) and Busta (BadboyHi). It is currently home to Etnia, the store operated by Mika Whitesong-Holloway (Mika Whitesong), and offers visitors a perfectly landscaped environment to explore and appreciate.

It was actually Busta’s involvement in the design which encouraged me to visit. He was responsible for the enchanting Yasminia, which Caitlyn and I visited in 2016 and 2017, so I was keen to discover what Meraki Islands had to offer.

Meraki Islands; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Meraki Islands

Predominantly flat, the landscape has a wonderful wetland feel to it, water cutting channels through the northern side of the region, seemingly at random, trees and bushes offering shade. A single  table of rock rises from the south-east corner of the region, a crown of silver birch trees on its top surrounding the walls of Etnia, reached by a single stepped footpath winding up the side of the platform.

A broad strip of land runs west from this, separating the wetlands on the north side of the region from the open waters south of it, before turning north to where a farmhouse sits slightly elevated above a flagged courtyard with a pair of houses on one side. Unfurnished, those look out across the wetlands, in the middle of which sits an out warehouse building, re-purposed as a simply furnished cosy spot.

Meraki Islands; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Meraki Islands

The warehouse and houses aren’t the only structures; there is a second farmhouse on the south finger of land, while scattered around the water channels are old walls, a disused greenhouse, a folly and bridges offering routes over the water and between the many fingers of land between the narrow channels. One of these bridge leads eastwards to the neighbouring region, which at the time of my visit was still being designed – again by Busta, suggesting a reason to return for a future visit.

If this all sounds simple in design, it’s because it is – and in being so, it is also elegant and highly photogenic. There is a sense of serenity about the region which not only encourages exploration, but gives people plenty of reasons to stay. Scattered over the waters are rowing boats offering gently rocking places to sit and appreciate the setting, while the coastal and inland paths offer further places for couples to sit.

Meraki Islands; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Meraki Islands

A further charm with the region is that it looks out over its neighbours to the west and north. This gives Meraki Islands a sense of place in the world – although be aware that the neighbouring regions are private homes and not open to the general public. There are other points of attraction as well such as the avenue of trees bent over the channel running around the foot of the south-eastern plateau.

In all, this is a veritable tour de force of region design. Simple yet elegant, subtle in touch. The measure of care taken with the build is exquisite, the presentation wholly natural from the cut of the waterways in the wetlands through the selection of the trees – particularly the weeping willows – to the dressing of things such as the steps up to the store.

Meraki Islands; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Meraki Islands

Definitely not something to be missed.

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2018 Sansar Product Meetings week #5: Find and Connect

David Hall’s Dwarven Fortress – setting for the Friday afternoon Product Meeting

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings held at 9:30am and 4:00pm PST on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat, and there is currently no set agenda. The official meeting notes are published in the week following each pair of meetings, while venues change each week, and are listed in the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections.

Meeting Changes

Up until now, the Product Meetings have been free-form, general Q&A sessions, largely guided by whoever from the Lab’s Sansar team has been able to join each meeting. In the future, there is liable to be more of a roadmap to meetings, with advanced notice being given on specific subject matter experts from the Lab who will be attending each meeting, to allow for more focused discussions on topics, with Q&A on the specific subjects being covered. These changes may start with week #6 (commencing Monday, February 5th, 2018), or shortly thereafter.

Free Creator Subscription Period Ends

On Thursday, February 1st, 2018, the “Free Creator Preview” period closed for Sansar users. The announcement was made via e-mail, and means those not on a subscription plan have been downgraded to the Free account status, and limited to just three experiences.

Those who have created more experiences under the Preview period are able to save the scenes for all there experiences, allowing them to swap between published experiences, but can only have three published for public access at any one time. Specific issues with changes required by the ending of the Preview period should be raised with support. Details on Sansar subscription packages for those wanting to have more than three active experiences can be found here.

Find and Connect Release

The January 2018 Sansar release, previously referred to as”Release 17″, now called Find and Connect, was deployed on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. The release notes are available on the Sansar website – please refer to these for a complete breakdown of the release contents, particularly fixes and known issues. The following is a summary of the major updates and initial feeback.

Atlas

The Client Atlas now includes a popularity search option and a concurrency indicator for experiences.

  • When selected from the sort drop-down menu (see below), the Popularity option orders the listed experiences in a tab by current real-time use, so those with avatars actually visiting them will be listed first.
  • Experiences with avatars in them have a concurrency indicator in the top left corner of their thumbnail image. This is a near real-time indicator that the experience is in use at the time it is seen in the Atlas.
Client Atlas: popularity in sort drop-down (circled, right), and the concurrency indicators (highlighted in the top three thumbnails) available for all experiences with avatars in them on all tabs

Note: while listed in the Find and Connect release notes, these two updates were actually released on January 22nd, 2018.

Event times in the Atlas (client and web) are now displayed in local time, and no longer only in PST. So if you are on the East Coast, the time will be displayed in EST / EDT; in the UK the time will display in BST or GMT, etc.

Experience Loading Progress Indicators

Indirectly linked to the Atlas, and in response to numerous requests, the splash screens for experiences now display a progress bar and status notices on the condition of the loading process (e.g.  “loading scene resources”, “loading avatar”, etc.).

This is a first pass at offering a progress bar, and the hope is it can be further refined to be more informative, particularly as the load process can seem to pause whilst loading an uncached experience. Ideas being considered are a percentage count, a count of assets loaded (e.g. 23 out of 96 or something), but no decisions at this time, as any count – percent, assets, etc., can still be subject to pauses which can give the appearance that the load has stalled.

Experience splash screen with progress bar and status notices

Audio

  • Live Streaming: live video streaming from Twitch and YouTube.
  • Multiple sound streams: multiple sound streams can be attached to a scene with easy changing between channels, and labels can be assigned to each.
  • Multiple audio emitters: sound streams or a media stream’s sound can be played across multiple emitters in your scene.
  • Play media stream sounds in the background: audio output of media streams can be channelled to play globally in an experience.

Avatar And Clothing

  • The avatar rest pose in Desktop Mode has been revised, as the “looking over each shoulder” action recently introduced didn’t find favour. Instead, the avatar moves in a more subtle and natural manner.
  • The underwear skinning for the female avatar has been revised to reduce the areas covered by the bra and (hopefully) make it easier for clothing creators to produce designs such as backless gowns, etc. This should not affect already uploaded clothing.
  • The knowledge base documentation previously stated that hair should not be more than 5,000 triangles. This should have been 8,000 triangles and has now been amended.
  • The Lookbook has received a lot of optimisation and intelligent caching to reduce load times.
  • Marvelous Design updates:
    • Marvelous Designer creator resources updated, and creators are encouraged to update to the latest skeleton to ensure all new clothing will upload to Sansar. This should not affect existing clothing in Sansar / the Sansar Store.
    • Cloth simulation is a lot smoother in the Lookbook.
    • The latest MD update allows users to use UV maps on the UV guide and fixes issues with exporting clothing to .SAMD. See here for more.
  • Known Issue: following the update, all “ear” attachments vanished from Lookbook (avatar app). This is being looked into.
  • Known issue: avatar head movement in VR mode is constrained (e.g. the head will turn more in one direction than the other). There is a fix for this that didn’t make the cut for this release.

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