Open now on the upper floor of the Visions of Beauty Gallery 2 is an exhibition of physical world art by Kayly Iali, featuring pieces from her sketchbook as well as paintings. Untitled, so far as I could tell, the exhibition includes 11 pen-and-ink architectural sketches, together with a selection of what appear to be pen-and-watercolour paintings, to offer a total of 28 images (including what might be regarded as the “title” image to be appreciated.
I’ve long admired the skill of those who can draw or paint – I lack any such abilities in either sphere – and I also have a love of architecture, so this exhibition really appeals to me. The pen-and-ink drawing, showing specific elements of buildings, coupled with the angle from which they have been captured, are marvellous exercises in art and perspective. They present not just the form of their building subject, but also its very nature; there is a wonderful beauty in the aspects Kayly has chosen to capture, the lines, materials, angles, that each of the buildings see offer here seems to be very much alive.
The breath of life is very much in evidence in the paintings facing the sketches from across the gallery space. These comprise a range of subjects, from people through to architecture by way of nature. Most of these – perhaps because of their use of colour – offer not some much standalone images, as might be said of the pen-and-ink sketches, but vignettes; scenes of broader stories caught within their frames. Just what are Heather and Lucy sketching? What is the raptor trainer telling us about the bird perched on his glove? Where will the story of the woman nursing her child take us?
Capped by a set of four painted architectural pieces that form a natural link between paintings and sketches (which particularly work if visitors follow the tendency to turn to the right at the top of the stairs to the display space), this is a genuinely delightful exhibit. My congratulations, also, to Kayly on her selection to be part of the 2018 (?) Crocker/Kingsley Art Competition – one of 75 artists to be selected out of 1,200 applicants!
When visiting Kayly’s work, do take time as well to enjoy the exhibition of digital geometric art by Giselle Seeker on the ground floor of the gallery building, and more of Sisi Biedermann’s wildlife and fantasy art, some of which I wrote about recently, and which lies on the mid-level of the gallery building.
It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.
Join Seanchai Library and friends aboard one of the most luxurious means of rail travel, the Orient Express, as they continue their investigations into the most disagreeable events that have occurred en route to Paris.
Having been required to return to London from Istanbul post-haste, Hercule Poirot sought passage aboard the most famous train, gaining seat initially in second class, only to be “upgraded” to first class by his friend – and member of the board of directors for Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, the operators of the service – M Bouc. Prior to his “upgrade”, Poirot is accosted by one Samuel Ratchett, an American also travelling on the train, who demands the detective’s aide as he believes his life is in danger. However, Poirot refuses, on account of finding the American a distasteful individual.
Then, on the night after his upgrade to the sleeping berth next to Ratchett’s, he is woken by two events: the first is that the train has become stranded in snow not far from the city of Vinkovci in Yugoslavia. The second is the discovery that Ratchett’s fears about his safety were correct: his has been murdered in his cabin. But who is responsible?
With nowhere to go until assistance for the stricken locomotive arrives, Poirot sets out to discover – did someone board the train in secret to put an end to Ratchett, or was one of his fellow passengers in fact the murderer? And what of Ratchett himself? Was he really all he seemed?
Offered in a special setting, Murder on the Orient Express, one of Agatha Christie’s most popular stories, continues into its second weekend reading!
18:00: Magicland Storytime
When a fortune-teller’s tent appears in the market square of Baltese city, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? If so, how can he find her?
The fortune-teller’s mysterious answer that an elephant – an elephant! – will lead him to his sister, sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. And thus we’re off on a wondrous adventure of the kind only Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo could tell.
In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch, and we are joined in a world of What if? Why not? Could it be?
Join Calaedonia Skytower at the Golden Horseshoe for this most enchanting of stories.
Monday, July 30th 19:00: The Drowning World
They call it the Drowning World; Fluva, a planet on the fringes of the Commonwealth where the rain is – but for one month in the year – maddeningly torrential. For Chief Administrator Lauren Matthias, it is a new posting; one which comes with a major requirement: keeping the indigenous and warlike Sakuntala and immigrant and hard-working Deyzara, from annihilating one another.
But when the vessel used by bio-prospector Shadrach Hasselemoga crashes in Viisiiviisii, an immense, mostly unexplored jungle, and the wettest place on the planet, Matthias must dispatch a team made up of one Sakuntala and one Deyzara on a rescue mission. Can the two form an alliance long enough to both rescue Hasselemoga and survive the deadly jungle?
But as the mission unfolds, Matthias realises something much bigger and darker is occurring on Fluva. A mysterious presence is at work, manipulating events, one which not only puts the lives of the rescue mission at risk, but also her own – and which could ultimately threaten the Commonwealth itself!
Join Gyro Muggins as he reads story #21 in Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth series.
Tuesday, July 31st 1900: Brief Cases
Corwyn Allen dives into Jim Butcher’s 2018 collection of several of his excellent short stories and novellas from the universe of Harry Dresden.
The tales presented here not only offer excellent short narratives that dabble between the scenes of the other novels in the Dresden Universe series, they even encompass what might be Dresden’s greatest challenge…
….Becoming a father.
Wednesday, August 1st 19:00: Mythos
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.
They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.
Through them, you’ll once again fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.
Thursday, August 2nd
14:00: Fireside Tales
Bryn Taleweaver brings ghostly tales to the fireside!
19:00: Weird Westerns: The Banshee Singer and The Magic Grindstone
Shandon Loring reads two tales from Lon Thomas Williams’ collection of Weird Westerns featuring Deputy Marshal Lee Winters. Also presented in Kitely (hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29).
The lowering sun glints off the copper dome of an observatory, skylined to the north of town square. The shutter door is open, cutting a slice of darkness into the curve of the dome, but any telescope that may once have lain within its protection has long since gone.
Seated upon its throne of a high plateau north of the town, the observatory presides over Erebos Harbor, what may have once been a series of impressive terraced gardens set immediately before it. A waterfall tumbles in two deep steps from the high rocks, a sliver of silver against their darker faces, further enticing people to heed the siren call of the high dome and travel north towards it.
I make no apologies for writing about this build by Leaf (Peyton Darmoset) and Julz (Juliette Rainfall) under the dirty.pretty banner, so soon after visiting Cloudbreak (see: An Indonesian Cloudbreak in Second Life). This is because, like the regions of Cloudbreak, Erebos Harbor is an extraordinary build, quite breathtaking in its design and execution, and fully deserving of an article to itself.
It is, in summary, very much a region of three parts. To the south is a small town style layout, complete with fishing docks and a railway siding. To the west sit two humped islands of rock, reached by high bridges, where homes and beaches might be found. Then, to the north, and dominating the setting, sits the imposing bulk of the old observatory.
Despite the boutique cafés with their street side parasols or paved gardens, or the warehouse converted to a music venue, the town has a feeling of perhaps being past its prime. Brickwork is careworn, the streets look a little tired, stores lie empty, packing cases on their bare floors, while the garage space at one end of a set of shops has lost both its roof and upper floor.
To the west, the islands are home to the region’s rental properties – predominantly wooden-build cabins and houses overlooking the surrounding sea and water, or descending to cinder beaches on their west side. The rental properties up on the tops of the islands are relatively easy to identify, but do be aware there are what appear to be a rental down on the beach as well, so do please respect the privacy of the tenants. Another private residence also sits down on the west side of the “mainland”, at the edge of the channel separating it from the outlying islands.
However, it is the observatory that is liable to attract the visitor’s eyes and feet. Impressive from a distance, it is nothing short of stunning when seen up close; Leaf’s vision for the setting is extraordinarily imaginative. While the town below may give hints of having seen better days, this is clearly a place that is well past its prime, and where nature has decided to take up residence – indoors as well as outside. Where the terraced gardens may once have been of a more formal layout, now they are overgrown, any paved paths or lawned walks that may once have connected the stone steps between the different terraces now long gone, replaced with wild grasses or bare ground. In some places, even the stone steps have gone, replaced by wooden walkways and stairs, including those up to the observatory itself.
This is wonderful home build / kitbashed structure by Leaf which deserves to be seen and appreciated in its own right. Some of the walls are crumbling, the observatory dome no longer protects a telescope, while inside, nature has long since taken a hold on things – although a huge and uniquely finished orrery still operates within the foyer space of the planetarium. Outside, there is a wonderful use of décor in the gardens I freely admit to the way Leaf has converted from the wildlife creations of Hannah Kozlowski into the must far-reaching of statues.
Scattered across the observatory’s terraces are numerous places to sit, whether by oneself or with friends, and to enjoy a cuddle with a loved one. These include, for the daredevils out there, a bed-like platform suspended over the waterfalls tumbling down the sheer rock face to a pool below. Those seeking a less risky pursuit than leaping down to the platform can enjoy the open-air movie theatre sitting in the lee of the plateau’s west side.
There are a host of little treats to be found throughout Erebos Harbor, indoors and out, so exploration is highly recommended – keeping in mind the private residences to the west of the region. Photographs are welcome at the dirty.pretty Flickr group, and rezzing rights can be obtained by joining the dirty.pretty in-world group. As noted above, this is a truly exceptional region in terms of design and settings, and absolutely not one to be missed.
Note: due to transitional issues, a temporary GTFO forum has been set-up for users. This currently supersedes the web addresses in this article.
Get the Freight Out (GTFO) is a popular in-world game among many vehicle users. HUD-based, it allows players to “haul” cargo from by land, sea or air, point-to-point across the mainland continents of Second life, and over their connected waterways and seas (e.g. Blake Sea). In doing so, players can earn in-game (and non-redeemable) “Goal dollars” – G$ and game experience points which allow them to “level up” through GTFO.
Since its launch, the game has grown to encompass, at the time of writing, over 280 different land, sea and air vehicles, and has over 300 “hubs”- the points at which players use to collect / deliver their cargoes – scattered around the Mainland continents of the grid, presenting players with multiple opportunities for collecting and delivering cargoes, with more being added all the time.
In fact, such is the popularity of the game that many vehicle creators are offering suitable vehicles with GTFO support out-of-the-box; no need to convert them for game use, all that’s needed is the game HUD. There’s even a “trial” HUD available for a refundable L$1 for those wishing to try the game; this offers all the features of the “full” HUD, but is limited in how far a player can level-up. All experience points and Goal Dollars earned while using it remain valid should the player go on to purchase the “full” game HUD (L$699).
Originally created and run by Rez Gray, the game changed hands early in 2018, when Rez and Cinn Bouchard (cinnamonmousse) reached an agreement for him to sell her GTFO, including the core assets of the system – the databases, LSL and PHP coding – together with the in-world assets such as the game HUD, GTFO dock system, groups, etc, together with the rights to expand the game in certain directions. Since then Cinn and her in-world business partner, Syler Avon (Jaiden Nexen), have been working with a small supportive group of people for the last several months to overhaul GTFO without changing any of the established game mechanics.
That work is about to come to fruition, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cinn and Syler at the new GTFO in-world headquarters to discuss all that’s been going on since the purchase of the game, and what players and those interested in GTFO can expect to see in the very near future. However, we started the discussion on how they came to be involved in GTFO in the first place, with Cinn providing the background.
We found out about GTFO accidentally after I introduced Syler to sailing in SL. In mid-2017, we got some coastal mainland just off Blake Sea and built a house with a marina with room for all our boats, and we started noticing people arriving in the marina and then leaving, and I got a little nervous about what was going on. So Syler went to ask some of them what was going on, and they said they were loading and offloading cargo for the game, and that’s how we first heard about it.
– Cinn Bouchard on how she and Syler Avon became involved in GTFO
Curiosities piqued, Cinn and Syler sought out Rez Gray to find out more. At the time, Rez was – as Cinn put it – “up to his eyeballs” in trying to run and expand GTFO and handle other projects. As a result, they threw themselves in trying to help him with moving things forward. In particular, Cinn, using her background in programming, web design, and coding, became very heavily involved in the game’s back-end support: working on the database alongside Rez, learning how things worked, adding hub locations and vehicles to the games, etc. Syler, went out and placed dock systems, talked to new hub providers, and in group chat, finding out what people were interested in seeing with the system, and growing the sense of community among players.
Over time, Cinn and Syler built a small team of helpers, which they informally called the GTFO Ops Team, who gradually took on more of the general running of the game. A major contributor to the team was Keif Denimore, who overhauled the processes for adding new GTFO hubs and new vehicle APIs (used to identify vehicles and their freight capabilities) to the system. Eventually, with Rez keen to pursue other projects, the arrangement was reached that allowed the game to be transferred to Cinn’s ownership.
Since taking the game on, the team has been focused on three areas: providing a more robust and capable back-end to the game, complete with a new website; to prepare the way for adding new in-game activities such as smuggling, and adding support for space vehicles; and to expand GTFO’s in-world presence and establish new partnerships. In addition, and as a related project, the GTFO team have been working to expand a more defined sense of community among GTFO players, and present opportunities for informal role-play alongside of the game.
One of the things we decided in taking on GTFO was to keep the game play going as it had been. We didn’t want to cause any major disruptions to people’s enjoyment, so we’ve had a slow transition over to new back-end infrastructure that will allow us to both run the game as people expect it, and expand it a lot more.
– Cinn Bouchard on some of the core decisions made in taking over GTFO
Critical to the initial transition was Ven (VenKellie), as Cinn noted. “His expertise with servers has been invaluable, and helped us move forward in ways I’d only hoped to one day achieve. We’re now developing everything on a cloud-based infrastructure, and we’ve completely overhauled the game on the back-end.” One of the major outcomes of this is a general move away from HUD-centric LSL processing, in favour of back-end processing.
The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, July 26th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.
Note that the audio presented here may not be in the exact order of discussion during the meeting; as subjects were at times returned to following their initial discussion, I have attempted to bring together key points of discussion by topic / subject matter. Also, please note that audio drop-out when Vir is speaking appears to be an ongoing Voice issue.
The goal of this 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, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.
The Animesh viewer updated to version 18.104.22.1688080, which appeared in the pipeline on Wednesday, July 25th. It comes with the following notes:
It has a fix for a bug that caused rigged meshes to fail to display intermittently [BUG-225063]. There is a significant change to orientation handling for Animesh objects in this build. If you make an Animesh object from a linkset that contains a rigged mesh as the root object, then the rotation for the object will be corrected to try to make the rigged display line up with the physics representation (correction is based on the bind shape matrix). This will change the behavior of some existing content – for example, the gift raptors on Agni are now rotated 90 degrees. Content that uses a non-rigged object as the root should be unaffected by this change. LOD calculations for Animesh objects now use the dynamically updated bounding box, so they should be more accurate and consistent.
The rotation fix does have an impact on some content, which can end up moving “sideways” compared to the expected direction.
Additional Work for Animesh to reach RC Status
Server-side: Vir is currently trying to track done the cause of some server issues which are probably the result of the simulator having to “remember” a lot more information with Animesh, and failing to do so properly, which can impact things like streaming costs.
Viewer-side: still some outstanding work to be done with getting LODs to behave / display consistently.
Both of these are seen as requiring resolution before the Animesh viewer moves to release candidate status.
Future Animesh Work
There has been some discussion about possible follow-on projects for Animesh, but no final details on what will be in the mix has been made.
Animesh customisation, including assignment of a body shape is considered to be “high” on the list of follow-ups. However, no decisions have been made on whether:
It will include LSL support for customisation.
It will add body shape support (and the use of the body sliders for customisation.
It might include an extension to Bakes on Mesh for Animesh.
Animesh and Scale Animation
Scale animation is something that has been requested since Bento. However, the problem here is the SL animation format doesn’t have any notion of scale animations, so in order for support to be added, the entire animation system would require an overhaul.
Another issue, as found with Bento, is that things can become tricky (if not confusing for some) when animations and sliders are both controlling the same thing – as would be the case with scale animations (although this was eventually done with bone translations).
BUG-225153 “Animesh issue: Multiple faces don’t work – Reverts back to one texture when animation played”: this does not appear to have been reproduced by others, and it is unclear whether it is an issue, or something specific to the user.
BUG-225158 “[ANIMESH ] Inconsistent default graphics settings with relation to current mainstream viewer as well as ‘recommended settings’ button”: this appears to be a change in how graphics settings are detected in the viewer in general, rather than specific to Animesh. further testing / investigation is required.
Bakes On Mesh
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 Bake Service.
Still with the Lab’s QA team, and the viewer is internally flagged for product reviews, so a project viewer update could be appearing soonTM. This should include a number of bug fixes that have been worked on recently.
In addition, Anchor Linden has been adding new LSL constants for the various Bake Channel textures, so that if someone wants to use LSL to change a particular face on a mesh object to use Bakes on Mesh, they will be able to do that using a constant.
A reminder for those trying to test Bakes on Mesh: the capability requires server-side support, which has not been deployed to Agni (the Main grid), but is only available on Aditi (the Beta grid) on the Bakes on Mesh test regions.
To prevent confusion, it’s been suggested the Bakes on Mesh viewer is blocked from accessing Agni until such time as the server-side support has been deployed.
Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)
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 that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
Day assets can include four Sky “tracks” defined by height: ground level (which includes altitudes up to 1,000m) and (optionally) 1,000m and above; 2,000m and above and 3,000m and above, plus a Water “track”.
Experience-based environment functions
An extended day cycle (e.g a 24/7 cycle) and extended environmental parameters.
There are no EEP parameters for manipulating the SL wind.
EPP will also include some rendering enhancements and new shaders as well (being developed by Graham Linden), which will allow for effects such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”)
These will be an atmospheric effect, not any kind of object or asset or XML handler.
The new LSL functions for finding the time of day according to the position of the windlight Sun or Moon have been completed,and are more accurate than the current options.
Rider Linden has been working on the viewer UI (presumably as a result of QA feedback). It is thought that a first cut project viewer is not that far away from appearance publicly.
However, as EEP requires additional back-en changes which have yet to be deployed to Agni, it is likely that when the project viewer does appear, initially, it will only work on Aditi (the beta grid).
Rider has also been teasing people with EEP-related images on the forums!
BUG-225157 “[RC BlueSteel 18.07.17.517953] Adjusting specular horizontal offset also adjusts specular vertical offset on BlueSteel regions only”: this has been imported into the Lab’s internal JIRA and may be receiving attention.
Increase to maximum prim size: the current prim size limit in SL is 64m on a side. There have been calls to increase this to allow bigger meshes to be imported (e.g. large land forms for landscaping a region).
There are no plans to increase this limit in the immediate future, and it’s been pointed out that increasing the size could be somewhat self-defeating in that it results in a loss of vertex position resolution (vertex space being limited to 64K), which could result in odd artefacts occurring in uploaded models, and, as Elizabeth Jarvinen (polysail) succinctly put it, “your vertex positions will wobble like nuts at high altitudes”.
Next Meeting: due to the Lab’s start-of-month internal meeting and vacations, the next CCUG meeting will most likely be on Thursday, August 16th – check the wiki page to confirm nearer the time.
An artist / illustrator in the physical world, LuAnne focuses on fantasy and nature art as her core themes, and she has brought her art into Second Life for a broader audience to appreciate and enjoy – and I am, for one, pleased that she has. On display are 18 pieces of her work, all of which are available for purchase at a very modest price, which perfectly exemplify her expressions of both fantasy and nature.
These really are delightful pieces, each an individual study, rather than a scene or setting. Everyone of them is captivating to the eye, with most rich in colour, adding to their natural depth and beauty.
Some of the pieces, while individual studies, suggest they are part of a broader narrative, enticing the eye and imagination to consider what the story might be. Others, such as the charming and attractive Colours of Winter (right) simply stand on their own, inviting appreciation purely in their own right, without the need for thoughts of wider story.
What is also special about this exhibition is the fact the LuAnne provides insight into how she produces her art.
My method of painting is a mix of traditional and digital, which is painted in Photoshop and Corel Painter. The line work is drawn for each painting, then is scanned into Photoshop, where it is painted digitally in a traditional manner using a Wacom Cintiq painting and drawing tablet.
– LuAnne Anatine describing her technique
We often talk in terms of virtual environments like Second life presenting artists with a means by which they might reach much broader audiences their work might otherwise attract, but it is also fair to say the reverse is also true.
By visiting exhibitions like Whimsy and Fantasy, we are given an opportunity to discover and enjoy the work of artists and talents whom we might otherwise never get to appreciate in the physical world. Hence why I tend to find exhibitions like this one a very valid field of virtual world art and expression, and always encourage others to take the time to visit.
“Art is an incredible joy for me,” LuAnne states. “It’s my link to the universal river that connects us all.” By displaying and offering her art in-world, she presents us with the opportunity to connect with her as well.