A taste of Andalusia in Second Life

La Frontera; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrLa Frontera – click any image for full size

La Frontera, a homestead region designed by Zaffy Bailey (zaffin) and Pete (PeteSunny), opened its doors to the public recently, offering an opportunity for visitors to spend a little time in a setting inspired by Spain’s autonomous region of Andalusia.

Focusing on a terraced village setting among the steps of high, sandy hills, the region presents a simple, elegant setting visitors are invited to explore and photograph – there is an invitation to upload images to the region’s Flickr group – and to enjoy the general relaxed ambience of the village and the beach below.

La Frontera; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrLa Frontera

The little village is split into two by the steps of the hill, with the landing point set in the terraza of the large part. As befitting the location, the building here are adobe-fronted, with some offering a nod towards Moorish architecture again in keeping with the inspiration for the region, while others are perhaps a little more Tuscan in styling. Bicycles are racked to one side of the fountained square, but to be honest, the cobbled and stone-stepped paths winding between and down from the village’s buildings are better followed on foot.

There are several of these paths, ranging from simple dirt tracks cut into a hill, others ancient stone steps, carefully cut and placed and suggestive that there may once have been something far older than the current houses sitting upon the hill, and still others rough stones loosely planted in the sandy soil. Each offers a route of exploration, either up or down from the terraza, making any exploration a matter of following where your muse leads.

La Frontera; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrLa Frontera

Nor are the paths alone in finding a path down the hillside; a stream, rising up above the village, tumbles by way of falls, channel and sloping path down to where the sea awaits (a second waterfall drops more directly to the sea on the north side of the island). With its rushing, turbulent water crossed here and there by bridge and steps, the fast-placed stream may have, over time, played a role in helping to separate a low-lying sandbank from the rest of the land.

The home of scrub grass, a scattering of trees, wild flowers and tall reeds, the semi-circular sandbar offers a beach where a tan can be gained, and the skin cooled by either a dip is the sea or in the pools to be found on the sun-dried earth of the bank.  It is connected to the rest of the land by two humpbacked bridges that stand almost guard-like, one either flank of what might have once been a walled orangery. This appears to have once been a part of a larger formal garden, although only the flagstones of a terrace and a central water feature now remains.

La Frontera; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrLa Frontera

A wooden board walk also spans the arc of water separating the sand bar from the rest of the land. Follow this and it will take you to the near-hidden secret of the region: and underground music venue. Located inside a high-ceilinged cavern, this offers plenty of space for those wishing to dance. Zaffy tells me the plan is to make this the venue Whether this will be a “formal” venue for dancing / music is unclear to me; during my visit, Zaffy was either engaged in building or AFK, as my enquiry went unanswered.

Throughout the region are plenty of opportunities to sit and appreciate the setting, from the beach, through the gardens up to the village – including up on some of the roof tops and verandahs, all the way to the highest peaks (or higher still in the case of the windmill standing well above the land to the north-east). There is also a subtle sound scape to add aural depth to the region as one wanders the paths and trails.

La Frontera; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrLa Frontera

Offering uncluttered charm, plenty of opportunities for photography and perfectly suited to being seen under a variety of warmer windlight settings, La Frontera is a delight to visit, and a reminder to those of us sitting on the cusp of winter that warmer days and days in the Sun really aren’t that far away.

SLurl Details

With thanks to Shakespeare for the pointer!

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2018 SL UG updates 43/2: CCUG summary

Alexa Linden’s Funky Love EEP sky

Animesh

Project Summary

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.

Resources

Current Status

Land Impact: a simulator bug has been found that is being fixed. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied. This LI is an aggregate value for Animesh skeletons during testing Animesh performance for a defined set of test Animesh objects across a range of systems.

This has led to some alarmist blog posts about prim returns, following a (somewhat sensationalist) forum post on Animesh being delayed by 2 weeks (itself guesswork) on the matter. Given that Animesh hasn’t reached release status, and there are few (if any) commercially-available Animesh objects at present, it’s not unfair to say both the blog posts and the forum thread are something of an over-reaction.

Performance Impact: (see BUG-225584 and forum thread). This is related to the new dynamic bound box used with Animesh. Beq Janus from the Firestorm team has been involved in investigations as to the degree of potential impact, and has discovered a potential baseline performance impact of around 8-10% between an Animesh-capable and non-Animesh viewer, regardless of the presence of Animesh.

The latest update to the Animesh viewer (version 6.0.0.520636 at the time of writing), should mitigate a lot of the performance impact resulting from the dynamic bounding box.

Animesh vs. Avatars: while there will be a baseline impact for Animesh objects, this should be less than the baseline impact seen with avatars, which not only have a skeleton, they also have a shape and appearance elements associated with them. The the complexity of a mesh body to an avatar (with a baselines of around 400 faces, plus mesh clothing, attachments, etc., and avatars tend to be a lot more complex than most considered Animesh should be.

Animesh follow-up: there has been a lot of talk about a follow-up project for Animesh since the project started. These include adding a body shape (allowing Animesh humanoid objects to gain slider support), which is viewed by the Lab as being possibly the preferred follow-on project, although it is acknowledged given the wide variety of arbitrary mesh forms that could be converted to Animesh, slider use might be limited. However, it is unlikely any follow-on project will be an immediate follow-on to the current work, as there are several other projects currently in the pipeline awaiting attention.

Animesh attachments: another long-term request has been to attach objects to Animesh creations. A problem here is that attachments are managed by the simulator-side avatar agent – and Animesh objects do not have an avatar agent associated with them, so they don’t have the back-end support for tracking attachments. This is an issue that needs to be solved before attachments on Animesh can be handled – and even then, there is the question for potential performance impact. Various alternative ideas have been suggested to allow for attachment support n Animesh, but these may also have their own issues, and are unlikely to be adopted.

Animesh “assembling” issue?: we’re all familiar with the way mesh bodies “assemble” when logging-in / teleporting to an occupied region: the various mesh elements stack-up, usually at their default attach points, while some may appear offset or oversized, then the position, rigging, LOD, etc., data is received by the viewer and things “assemble” into an avatar. This behaviour can occur with multi-part Animesh objects as well, and there is a report that sometimes the Animesh “assembling” can leaves parts floating around for up to a minute before “snapping into place”.  Thus far, the problem has only manifested with one creator using the pre-release of the Firestorm Animesh viewer, so it’s not clear whether there is an underpinning issue with Animesh or not.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. Uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and which can additionally be used in experiences. A new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow). The ability to change the Sun and Moon and cloud textures with custom textures.

Resources

Current Status

As per my week #43 SUG update, a simulator update has been updated to fix the issue of racing skies when EEP-enabled regions are seen on non-EEP viewers. In addition, Rider is working on the first pass of the LSL support for EEP.

Bakes On Mesh

Work is continuing with fixing the Bake Service issues. however, as Anchor Linden, the lead for the project, is on vacation, this work will likely remain open until his return.

Other Items

  • Animations: there have been multiple requests for improvements to the animation system, including: allowing animation constraints to be set; extending the .ANIM format, animations by .DAE file and support for animation scaling. The Lab is aware of the requests being made, although not formal project has been defined at this point.
  • Morph Targets: there have been requests to allow morph targets within the avatar shape so that the shape sliders can be manipulated via LSL (so an avatar “gorging” itself at a scripted meal gets fatter, as a simple visual example). There are concerns that opening the body shape parameters to LSL manipulation could result in over-use and performance impact (e.g. rapid LSL adjustments to “animate” an avatar rather than using an actual animation), but some ability to allow morph targets is seen as potentially “interesting” – although this is not to say it will become a project.
  • Date of next meeting: due to the start-of-month internal meeting at LL, the next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, November 8th, 2018.