2018 SL project updates 17/4: TPVD meeting

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh – blog post

The majority of these notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 27th 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

Once again, this was a short meeting, but one with extended periods of silence; hence some of the gaps in the time stamps below. There’s also a conversation on the forthcoming Bid A Linden Bald event, as part of the Relay Rockers annual

SL Viewer

[0:07-0:36] The Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 5.1.4.514788 on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, and the Ouzo Maintenance RC updated to version 5.1.4.514802 on Friday, April 27th. Both of these RC viewers have had “significantly higher” crash rates than the default viewer, so the Lab will be watching to see what happens with the two updates, and with the crash rate for either is reduced as a result of their release.

Otherwise the viewer pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 5.1.3.513644, dated March 27, promoted April 13 – formerly the media update RC.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.

[0:39-1:24] The 360 snapshot viewer remains “on hold”, receiving updates to maintain parity with release viewer, but otherwise not receiving any significant work on its key features at this point in time. Work will resume in the future as the specialist resources become available. Both the Animesh and Bakes on Mesh viewers are referred to in the meeting as being “close to coming over to Agni”, although this only hold true for the Animesh project viewer, as the Bakes On Mesh viewer should work on the Main grid already (albeit with the Bake Service’s current 512×512 texture support, as the support for 1024×1024 textures has yet to be deployed).

Viewer Texture Cache Work

[1:46-2:14] The Lab continues to work on the viewer texture cache, and it is hoped that the latest attempt will lead to a “big improvement” in how textures are handled. Currently this code is not available for public consumption, but the hope is that there will be a project viewer with the code available “pretty soon”.

Updated Estate Management Tools

[19:30-20:10] Work is again progressing on enhancing the Estate Management tools in the viewer (e.g. refining ban list management capabilities, etc.). It is hoped that a project viewer will be emerging in the next few weeks. The viewer updates themselves are largely done, and things are awaiting server-side support.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including:

  • The ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level.
  • New environment asset types (Sky, Water, Days – the latter comprising multiple Sky and Water) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
  • Scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[11:39-12:38] Rider Linden has been engaged in some other work for most of the past month, but is now largely back working on the project. It is now a focus for the Lab going forward, with the hope that Rider will not be diverted into other work at EEP’s expense. Some test regions for EEP are also being prepared on Aditi.

Other Items

Testing Viewer Options and the Shared Experience

[5:00-5:45] TPVs sometimes introduce features and options which might be considered as breaking the “shared experience”. The question was therefore asked if allowing people to test / play with new rendering options – as developed by a TPV rather than Linden Lab – might be considered as breaking the shared experience. Oz Linden offered a response which provided some guidance on similar kinds of updates:

I think the best I can give you in terms of a general answer is if it’s the sort of thing that’s going to cause a merchant to include a note card with a product that says, “to see this product correctly, you have to run this viewer with that option turned on”, that’s a sign you’re breaking the shared experience … On the other hand, if you want to experiment with something that you’re then going to contribute upstream [i.e. to the Lab for inclusion in the base viewer code (which is used by all TPVs)] that’s a different problem altogether.

Catznip Displacement Maps Experiements

The question itself was prompted by Kitty Barnett of Catznip, who is working on using displacement maps in the viewer, as well as some other normal mapping tweaks.

Displacement maps, currently being experimented with by Kitty Barnett, can add further depth to surfaces. For example: top left – a prim wall with a brick texture; top right: a prim wall with a texture and normal map applied, as we’re used to seeing in Second Life – some depth is added to the cement grouting between the bricks etc. Bottom centre: the same prim wall with the same texture added, but now using a displacement map: note the greater apparent depth between bricks and cement grouting, etc (highlighted). However, such a capability will have a Land Impact cost.

It would seem that if successful, this work will be contributed to Linden Lab for evaluation and consideration. It’s important to note that Catznip’s work is in the early stages, more work is required on level of detail impact / modelling / potential Land Impact costs, etc., for which Catznip may look to the Lab for assistance.

[6:26-6:46] In the meantime, Oz Linden reiterated that, quite aside of the Environmental Enhancement Project (EPP – see above), the Lab is working on a number of other environmental (render-side) improvements. Previous discussions on rendering improvements have indicated that Graham Linden is already working on a series of environment updates alongside the EEP work being carried out by Rider Linden, which appears to include support for Godrays, potential pre-baking of some environment effects, etc. It’s not clear from Oz’s comments whether he is referring to this work, or something further downstream.

Natty Linden’s Marketplace Job Ad

[16:37-17:00] Natty Linden posted a Marketplace listing for a job at Linden Lab. While offering a little fun, the listing has a serious edge: there is an open Marketplace web developer post at present. As such, Natty’s listing is a further way of reaching those already engaged in Second Life who may have the requisite skills sets, who live in the right location and who may be interested in joining the Lab (which frequently does employ Second Life users – as seen with the likes of Patch Linden, Xiola Linden, and Rider Linden, to name but three of the more well-known resident hires made by the Lab over the years, and who work in different areas within the SL team).

 

 

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