Twelve years in Second Life

At home

Twelve years ago on December 5th, 2006, I decided to give Second Life a second chance, creating Inara Pey in the process. At the time I never expected to actually still engaged in the platform 12 months on from that date, let alone twelve years – but here I am. Not bad for someone who was at one time considering hanging up her Second Life boots (so to speak) on reaching 10 years.

So why am I still here?

I can probably sum that up in three words: fun, discovery, and freedom. Fun, because – as well all know – Second Life has an awful lot to offer, from playing games through learning to role-play, to doing things we cannot (or would not) do in the physical world. For me, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s the ability to do things like skydiving, or to enjoy flying whenever I want (or the expense of actually owning / leasing a plane or obtaining my PPL!) or to get out on the water under sail or power.

Black Bayou Lake; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrThe ability to explore so many fabulous places, like  Black Bayou Lake, is one of the reasons I continue to enjoy Second Life 

Discovery, because Second Life is always evolving. Not just technically – although this year, with the “15 reasons” roadmap, there’s hopefully ample evidence of this – but also in terms of how regions are always in flux. Yes, it is sad when places vanish, and the shrinkage of the last few years has been of fiscal concern (although not necessarily indicative of any large-scale loss of users): but when it comes to publicly accessible regions, things are surprisingly stable – as fast as one popular place vanishes, another pops up elsewhere.

Twelve years – and counting!

Freedom, in that Second Life allows us to meeting, mingle with, get to know, spend time with, people from all over the world, most of whom we’d probably never likely meet in the physical world. This obviously feeds back into both the fun and the discovery elements, as sharing with friends adds depth to everything we do.

There’s also the aspect that our avatars allow us to be who we wish to be, as well as potentially allowing us to extend ourselves in ways that may not be otherwise expressed. I’m actually a lousy formalised role-player, for example; finding a character inside of myself, one I can maintain and live through with personality aspects perhaps foreign to my own, is something I’ve never managed to comfortably achieve. It’s probably the biggest reason my first attempt with Second Life “failed”;  I came with preconceptions of dropping into role-play (historical or sci-fi or something on those lines), but never really found anything in which I felt “at home”.

As “me” (or “me through Inara”, so to speak) I’ve found a greater range of freedom than might otherwise have been the case: the freedom to share friendships that can be in some respects transient, but because of the nature of Second Life, allow a lot more depth to be plumbed, and genuine connections to be forged.

I’d be a fool if I denied blogging had played a role in my continuance with Second Life. I actually started in 2007, but it wasn’t until I relocated the blog to WordPress in 2009 and really set out trying to learn more about how rich and complex the platform is, both in terms of use and technicality, that I felt I’d really found my niche.

I’m genuinely not a technical person, so discovering all that goes on “behind the scenes”, so to speak have been a constant – and still evolving – learning experience for me. It has also taught me a lot about the platform in general – the users, the places, the art – all of which have expanded my horizons, helped grow my understanding of a range of topics and taught me lessons in appreciation and thinking.  I may not get things right all the time – but that’s part of the fun and discovery.

Looking ahead, there’s liable to be a lot more to write about – be it technical with the move to the cloud, the return of last names, the arrival of EEP, the potential of Animesh products, or as a result of having yet more places to explore, art to appreciate and things to try. So hopefully, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to continue to experience Second Life and report on it.

Thank you to all of you who continue to read this blog, who support me through Twitter and Plurk; you as much as anything keep me engaged in Second Life. And my thanks once again to Caitlyn and all my friends who continue to make my explorations and time in SL fun.

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Sansar launches on Steam

Sansar on Steam. Courtesy of Linden Lab

As anticipated following last week’s community feedback hour / product meeting, Sanar has officially launched on Steam – although at the time of writing, there has been no official press release on the Lab’s corporate site.

Instead, the announcement came via a Sansar blog post, and a tweet via the official Sansar Twitter account.

As of today, December 5th, we are officially live on Steam!

We wanted to give a huge thank you to our current community who have been so supportive, and to extend a warm “Welcome” to all our new community members joining us from Steam!

You can find us on Steam as an Early Access Game, where we’re free to download. Even better, you’ll get to enjoy all the benefits of Steam as a social platform for gamers including full access to our Steam Community Hub!

– From the Sansar blog post announcing the launch

As the blog post notes, Sansar is being made available on Steam’s early access programme – a move the Lab hopes will help Steam users’ expectations regarding the platform and the fact it is still in development.

The Sansar page on Steam Early Access

The Sansar page on Steam includes a promotional video and a series of images from Sansar. In addition, and to underline the platform’s status, there is also a Q&A element, which addresses a number of questions, including:

Why Early Access?

“Sansar is a place where you can hang out with friends, play games, explore new worlds, and share incredible creations, but we can’t do that without you! Being in Early Access is important to us to make sure we’re hearing directly from the community on what you’d like to see and do in Sansar. Come join us!”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We plan on staying in Early Access until Sansar is the very best it can be. We’re constantly making improvements, and we’re eager for your feedback.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“We want Sansar to be the place where people can connect with communities and celebrate what they love through immersive virtual experiences, interactive events, customizable avatars, and easy creation. That’s why we plan to develop even more features around socialization, interactivity, personalization, and creation – elements that enrich the social experiences our platform enables. Plans will change based on your feedback, and we’re always listening and learning.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“Right now, Sansar lets you host and attend virtual events, play games, explore user-created experiences, and buy and sell merchandise in the Sansar Store. Meet friends for a watch party and tailgate. Buy clothing and accessories for your avatars, or objects for the virtual experiences you build.”

The sansar.com log-in page now allows web log-ins using Steam account credentials (l). Sansar and Steam integration allows logging-in to Sansar using a user’s Steam credentials (r)

The launch blog post also has some important words for existing Sansar users (or those who have already created a Sansar account). these include:

  • Existing users can still access Sansar directly from their downloaded version of the client, and use all the capabilities with it, including creating new accounts; they do not have to use Steam to log-in.
  • However:
    • Existing Sansar users with a Steam account can add Sansar to their Steam account and launch it from there it they wish
    • Or if they are logged into Steam and opt  to launch Sansar via Steam, they will be prompted to log-in to Sansar with the account of their choice (Sansar, Steam or Twitch).
  • There will be no direct merging of Sansar and Steam accounts (“at this time”).
  • User with an existing Sansar account can continue purchasing Sansar Dollars using the payment information they have on file with Linden Lab.
    • However, users signing-up for Sansar via Steam must use their Steam Wallet to purchase Sansar Dollars.

The Sansar website gives full details on how to integrate Steam and Sansar accounts to get the most out of both. Once integrated, it is possible to access the Sansar Community on Steam directly through the Sansar client:

Accessing the Sansar community on Steam through the Sansar client (Shift-Tab) – requires Sansar / Steam integration for existing Sansar users / download of the Sansar client via Steam for Steam users

It will be interesting to see how this all goes for the Lab. Several years ago, there was an attempt to add Second Life to Steam, which didn’t go so well. However, the Lab believe they have learned some important lessons as a result of that process,  and the Sansar presentation through Steam does appear to be somewhat more integrated.

2018 SL UG updates 49/1: Simulator User Group

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entranceblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for updates.

  • There was no SLS (Main) channel deployment on Tuesday, December 4th, leaving that channel on server release 18#18.11.09.521593, previously deployed to the RC channels and comprising internal fixes. However, in keeping with the 14-day restart roll, all SLS regions should have been restarted.
  • The main RC channels should all be receiving an update, comprising further internal fixes (see below for more), however the release number was not available at the time of writing.
  • It’s not clear if the Snack RC (EEP) will be updated.

Mesh Logging

Part of the RC update includes the removal of a lot of mesh-related logging that had been required during testing, but has been surplus to requirements. However, as the code was never removed, it resulted in a lot of unnecessary logging as mesh became more popular.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the official viewers at the start of the week, leaving the current pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.0.520636, dated October 18, promoted November 14. Formerly the Animesh RC viewer – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.1.521759, November 20.
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.0.1.521757, November 15.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • 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.

Hover Height Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, people have been reporting hover height issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. Essentially, the issue can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set. See BUG-225893 “Hover height on assets has changed somehow” for more.

Linden Lab is aware of the problem, but a fix has yet to make it to a simulator update.

Region Crossings

There is new viewer-side code coming for region crossings. It is intended to limit how far the viewer predicts motion when crossing into another region, with the hope that it should reduce some of the visual rubber-banding. The viewer commit is available, but it has yet to reach a project or RC viewer. It is believed there are a couple of potential issues with the code as provided that could see vehicles slipping sideways along a region crossing if they approach it at an angle. These concerns have been passed back to those working on the code.

Aditi Voice Issues

This has been a problem for some time – unfortunately, there’s no fix in sight as yet.