The Hamptons in Second Life

The HAmptons; Inara Pey, April 2018, on FlickrThe Hamptons – click any image for full size

A homestead region designed by Haye Von Ayenhaha (Haye Aya), The Hamptons offers a taste of the great outdoors, inspired by Northern East Coast or Western European landscapes. It’s a photogenic location, with a rich mix of landscape, walks, hints of human presence and places for couples to enjoy.

The land is split into three long-fingered rocky islands, linked by high wooden bridges. The western most of these island is where the landing point is located, on the broken courtyard of a former piano factory. It shares the courtyard with the detritus of the factory, a little café-style space, and assorted vehicles. South of this is a private area of the island, with ban lines warning people to keep out – a sign and security orb might be more preferable, but that’s a minor point; the rest of the region is nicely open to exploration.

The HAmptons; Inara Pey, April 2018, on FlickrThe Hamptons

North of the old factory are board walks overlooking the ocean, places to sit and cuddle, and a bridge linking the western island with the middle one of the trio. A second board walk angles away from the bridge, offering a way down into the gorge separating the two islands, where a rowing boat offers another cuddle spot. It’s possible to walk along the edge of the water here – just mind the bushes! – but remember, the south end of the island is off-limits.

The middle island flows around a large rocky spine into which an old mine shift drills its way back to a large cavern. Paths snake around either side of this backbone, the one to the west leading to a little terrace garden connected by wooden steps and low bridge to the private house. The terrace with its green house and potted plants can be visited, but the bridge to the house is again off-limits.  The path on the east side of the island offers views towards the final island in the group, and a board walk build out from the cliffs courtesy of a sturdy scaffold. An old barn sits part-way around the path, and another cuddle spot sits at the end of it.

The HAmptons; Inara Pey, April 2018, on FlickrThe Hamptons

Reached via another bridge, the final island of the three offers a more open-topped plateau than the others, the trees here fewer, allowing for open rugged grass to carpet it under the sky. Again, an arc of board walks offers a view out over the sea to the east, a single wooden stairway leading down to a shoreline platform – note this is signposted as being reserved for women only! There’s a little bit of an oriental theme here – a little Japanese-style structure sits on the plateau while down on the shore of the channel between this and the middle island a larger house is under construction.

An interesting aspect of the region is that Haye has used a number of her own custom mesh builds to fit the design – notably the board walks and steps; this greatly add to the feeling that a good deal of care and attention has gone into the design.

The HAmptons; Inara Pey, April 2018, on FlickrThe Hamptons

The Hamptons is a delightfully uncomplicated region design, very photogenic under a range of windlights, and presenting visitors with a quiet place in which to pass the time. The construction work I spotted suggests the region is still evolving, so don’t be surprised if you find more than I’ve described here.

All told, a very pleasing and relaxing visit.

The HAmptons; Inara Pey, April 2018, on FlickrThe Hamptons

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2018 SL project updates 14/2: CCUG summary

Animesh dragons by Wanders Nowhere and used by Lucia Nightfire as Animesh test models

The following notes are primarily taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on  Thursday, April 5th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. For the purposes of Animesh testing, the meetings have relocated to the Animesh4 region on Aditi, the beta grid – look for the seating area towards the middle of the region. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni Live streamed the meeting, and his video is embedded at the end of this summary. My thanks to him for providing it. Time stamps are included in the text below to allow easy referencing to the video for details. Please note that Vir’s microphone was not behaving during the meeting, causing his voice to drop-out at times, breaking up the context of his conversation (I had the same issue with my audio recording).

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing baking service.

Resources

Current Progress

The project viewer is now available – version 5.1.3.513936, which as noted in previous updates, was released on March 30th. This is the first pass of the viewer, and there is much more work to come.

General Notes from the Meeting

[2:55-04:00] Some mesh body creators are already involved in looking at Bakes on Mesh, and the Lab has been gathering names and details of creators, but there has – as of the time of the meeting – been no direct outreach to any of them. Siddean Munro (Slink) is reported to be “thrilled” with the capability, and sees it as a means to dramatically reduce her workflow.

[4:45-5:55] Status of 1024×1024 support: While the first part of the Bakes on Mesh project was to update the Bake Service to support 1024×1024, currently, these back-end changes have not been deployed, so all Bakes on Mesh testing currently use the existing 512×512 textures supplied by the Bake Service. The deployment has been delayed due to other work being carried out on the Baking Service, but it is hoped it will be deployed in the next few weeks.

[13:26-14:22] It terms of 10242 texture support with the baking services is eye textures. Currently 128×128, these will be increased to 256×256, the pixel density on so small a target compensating for the lower resolution.

When  the increased texture resolution support is deployed, the Lab will also be implementing additional servers to support the additional load on the Baking Service.

[6:01-8:49] Wearable/ Texture Map issues: It’s been noted that the eyelashes are tied to the avatar eyeball texture, not the avatar head, which might cause some issues.

The right / left arm being mirrored in the texture map has also been re-noted. This is prompting some creators to consider re-purposing the system skirt or hair wearable (which are now almost never used) to be assigned to one or other of the arms. This would  allow, for example, a tattoo to appear on one arm only, rather than being mirrored on both arms, as is currently the case on system avatars.

[9:52-11:05] In order for this to work, the textures would need to be uploaded as a skirt or system hair. Basically, the system wearables act as containers of the textures, so if you want to apply a texture to a specific body region (as supported by the viewer / Bakes on Mesh), you can assign it to that wearable (e.g. the texture can be applied to the undershirt, shirt or jacket wearable to be applied to the upper body, or to the skin wearable to be applied to the entire body).

Cathy foil also gave feedback on using Bakes on Mesh to apply system eye textures to mesh eyes.

[8:53-9:49] Will the baked texture slots be expanded in to future? (there are currently 6 slots: BAKE_HEAD, BAKE_UPPER, BAKE_LOWER, BAKE_EYES, BAKE_SKIRT, BAKE_HAIR.) Possibly, but not being considered with Bakes on Mesh at present. Currently, the bake texture slots are tied to the supported wearable textures. Adding more slots  would require defining the underpinning data to be stored in the additional slots (i.e. define additional wearables).

[12:10-12:36] One thing to remember is that if an alpha layer in used to hide your system avatar (or a major part of it), it will be baked as well, and if that bake is applied to a mesh, it can end up masking more of the mesh than intended, due to the extent of the alpha.

[14:42-17:02] Hiding the base avatar: a means to hide the system avatar without having to use an alpha mask has long been a request, raised again during the Bakes on Mesh project. No decision has been made on if this will be done or how. One approach might be to make a further change to the Bake Service so it ignores the base avatar; another might be it use an unassigned texture slot to “hide” the avatar from the Bake Service – this has the advantage of not requiring a change to the Bake Service.

[17:29-25:00] A general discussion on how a more flexible use of Bakes on Mesh might be achieved – such as re-purposing rarely used texture slots, or extending the Bake Service itself.

  • Re-purposing texture can be done with care – such as using the skirt or system hair as described above to give individual texture for the arms.
  • Further extensions to the Bake Service itself – e.g. additional bake slots beyond the current 6  are unlikely to form a part of this project, but might be considered for any follow-on that comes after it.

The Lab also have some concerns about opening-up the Bake Service further include the potential for performance hits, possible abuse.

Cathy Foil demonstrates Bakes on Mesh. Left: she is wearing a mesh body with system layer clothing applied to it, as seen through the Bakes on Mesh viewer. Currently, only those using the Bakes on Mesh project viewer will still mesh bakes in this way. Right: until the Bakes on Mesh code is incorporated in all viewers, those running viewers without the code will see avatars using Bakes on Mesh with place holder textures on place of the baked texture.

[25:09-27:35] Extending the Bake Service to support materials: this is a complex step to take, which may not even be properly defined. Maps (diffuse (texture), normal and specular) all have to be defined by layer and brought together properly in a composite bake in such a way to ensure normal and specular maps from one layer are correctly associated with the diffuse map from that layer, so they aren’t displayed over another layer. As such, materials support will only be considered as a potential element for a follow-on project to the current Bakes on Mesh work. See also BUG-214631 for a proposal on how materials support might work.

[33:37-34:11 and 36:40-37:20] Bakes on Mesh for HUDs / Bakes and Textures: conversation on bakes on mesh and HUDs, expansion on Bakes on Mesh vs. appliers, and texture and Bake UUIDs. In short: Bakes on Mesh can also be applied to HUDs, which could help reduce the number of textures commonly found in them (a single composite rather than multiple textures). Complexity of HUDs might also be reduced, simply because the texture applying elements may no longer be required as textures will come via the Bake Service – although applier HUDs for materials will still be required.

Some are concerned allowing bakes on HUDs increases the risk of texture theft (by allowing the textures to be screen capped, for example). However given this can be done anyway, simply by displaying a texture on a cube and then attaching the cube to the screen as a “HUD”, it’s hard to see what the fear really is (it’s also not the most efficient way of wrongly getting a texture out of SL).

[42:40-44:13] Fewer textures: the general hope with Bakes on Mesh is that over time, it will allow mesh bodies  / heads to be less onion layer complex, and also reduce the number of different textures being applied, by allowing layers (e.g. skin, make-up, tattoo, etc.), to be composited down to a single baked texture.

[44:26-45:52] Wearables cap: a reminder that up to 60 wearables can be applied to a single avatar in any combination of layers, and the order in which they are displayed corresponds to the individual layers (e.g. undershirt, shirt, jacket), and the order in which multiple items in those layers are worn. See this 2015 project update for more on the global wearable allowance.

[47:17-47:32] Can local textures be used with Bakes on Mesh? No. local textures are just that, local to a user’s system; they are not transmitted to LL’s servers, and therefore, they cannot be baked.

[48:10-49:00] Bakes on Mesh and Edit Appearance:  it’s been noted that mesh bakes don’t update with changes made in the Edit Appearance mode (see BUG-216014). This is because Edit Appearance is local changes within the viewer, usually applied to the system avatar. Bakes on Mesh require the data to be sent to the baking service, composited, and applied – which only happens on exiting Edit Appearance. Vir has indicated it might be possible to add the logic required to have the appearance editor update in real-time when using mesh bakes.

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