Time at 2019-XS in Second Life

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS – click any image for full size

On the advice of a number of people – starting with Annie Brightstar – we recently visited 2019-XS, defined as “a sci-fi sim in Second Life with a cyberpunk feel, inspired by films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and Neuromancer.”

Designed by Hera (zee9), the region has an adult edge to the role-play, and is intended as an extension to her previous (and now departed) build Drune. I’ve not seen that design, but will say that while compact, 2019-XS has a certain ambience that is hard to define, but has seen me make three visits to it in order to fully appreciate the ambience and setting.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

While the region is described as being inspired by the likes of The Fifth Element and Blade Runner, the setting feels more potentially “sci-fi / dystopian generic” than these films would suggest. This is not to demean the region in any way; rather it’s an acknowledgement that it has a broader feel to it than a narrow focus on a specific film or films.

For example, while the design has a vertical feel to it, with a street level and upper walkways, all with plenty of neon on display, the overall feel is perhaps too Asian, too industrial / metallic too clean to perhaps fit it fully into the streets of the 2019 Los Angeles witnessed in Blade Runner. Then the narrowness of the streets, the cluttering of their canyon-like forms and lack of aerial traffic doesn’t entirely sit with a Fifth Element vibe.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

Nevertheless, there are motifs from both films. There are buildings that have an older, stone-built look that echoes places like the Bradbury building as imagined in Blade Runner, for example. There are also the spinner-like vehicles (both commissioned and decommissioned), while the elevated walkways between the buildings offer a suggestion of a crowded city, again a-la Blade Runner and the TV Series Total Recall 2070 that took many of its visual cues from the film.

That said, were I to point to a particular film influence on the setting, I would sway towards Neuromancer. Whilst never made (the film is still characterised as In Development by IMDB), the concept art from that production offers takes that do reflect the setting within 2019-XS. But even then, I’d suggest that the region be allowed to stand on its own, free from any frame of reference that could lead to specific preconceptions.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

The main streets are laid out simply enough – but in doing so, they hide the complexity of the setting. There are back alleys to be found; stairs and elevators to the upper levels, while private clubs lie behind heavy doors or at the bottom of outdoors steps leading down to a basement level. On the upper levels can be found more eateries, small apartments and hallways.

Role-play is, I believe, of a free-form nature; but again, be aware that there is a lean towards more sexual play, so the setting might not please everyone. For photographers, there are numerous opportunities to take photos – both avatar studies or cityscapes. There is also a Flickr group where images can be displayed, and which also includes pictures from the earlier Drune.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

For those seeking an urban, sci-fi setting to explore and photograph, and allowing for the sexual element, 2019-XS may well be well worth a visit.

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2019 SL User Groups 3/2: TPV Developer Meeting

The Forest - Winter Wonderland; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
The Forest – Winter Wonderland, December 2018 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 18th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps are provided to the major topics of discussion , which will open the video in a new tab for ease of reference.

SL Viewer

[2:40-4:00]

The following viewers updated on Wednesday, December 16th, 2019:

The remainder of the official pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. 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.

The EEP viewer is now very close to being promoted to RC status, and if all goes to plan, the simulator EEP support should be going to RC as well very soon.

Viewer Build Process

[4:04-7:24] The Lab is starting on moving their viewer build process to Visual Studio 2017.  This may lead to changes appearing in the build process as this work progresses. So far the work is proceeding smoothly, and is not anticipated as taking too long to complete. After this, the Lab plans to track their build process updates a lot more closely to Visual Studio releases (VS 2019 will be appearing this year).  Mac builds are to OS 10.13, and use Xcode 10.

Linux Viewer Status

[11:40-17:42] A couple of TPV Linux developers have contacted Oz Linden concerning assistance with the Linux build of the viewer. The holiday period, plus the fact Oz was on vacation immediately following it, means he has not followed up on the offers as yet, but will be doing so. It is hoped that this means work on supporting Linux will once again resume soon.

The Lab’s plan had been to provide a basic Debian build for Linux, avoiding the need to rebuild all the libraries for different tarballs. However, but suggestions have been made to consider using snaps / flatpacks instead. Currently the Lab is open to trying to incorporate the progress other have made in supporting Linux, including setting up build environments to support them with the aim of providing a Linux flavour for the viewer once more, with the caveat that any work carried out must not break the build processes for the other platforms.

There are a couple of potential caveats with any Linux viewer build that emerges from this work:

  • It will not have direct Voice support because a) Vivox no longer support Linux; b) changes to the Voice API means older versions of the SLvoice.exe plug-in will not work. (although voice via Wine is possible).
  • It is unlikely to have Havok support. It is felt that the number of Linux user actually employing the official Linux viewer has always been so small that the effort to incorporate the Havok libraries is not seen as worthwhile. This may be revised as work progresses.

Non-HTTP Asset Fetching / UDP Path Deprecation

[7:44-10:36] All asset types are – and have been for some time – fetched via HTTP / the CDN. However, the old UDP message paths for such fetching has remained in place. This is now being deprecated from the simulator code. The patch for this is not ready to go, and should be rolling out across the simulator release channels over the next few weeks, a little later than originally planned.

This means anyone using really old viewers that do not have HTTP asset fetching (notably for the likes of system body parts, system clothing, gesture, animations, sounds, landmarks and textures) will no longer be able to obtain responses to asset requests.

[34:52-35:15] The Lab will also consider requests to move other functions away from UDP to other capabilities.

In Brief

  • Reports are increasing on the time it takes mesh attachments (clothing, body parts, to “snap” into place when logging-in or teleporting to a region where there is a number of other avatars.
  • Some Firestorm users are also reporting texture corruption issues linked to the above, which may be linked to Malwarebytes anti-virus software..
  • Firestorm is hoping to move the current version with Animesh support to a “full” release around the end of January, hopefully).
  • Catznip is planning a release without Animesh support, to be followed by a release with optional Animesh release.