Sansar 2019 Product Meetings week #7 w/audio

Villain Training Facility 23 – Ravioli

The following notes were taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, February 14th. The full video of the meeting is available here.

Following the February 7th Product Meeting, during which Ebbe Altberg indicated that avatar enhancements would be a focus for Sansar development for at least a part of 2019, this meeting focused on the sansar avatar, and upcoming changes.

Note that audio extracts are included below. However, these are not necessarily representative of the chronological run of the meeting; where appropriate, I have attempted to concatenate comments from Lab personnel by topic, in order to hopefully present a more logical follow to statements while (again hopefully) avoiding placing any of the statements out-of-context.

Lab-Driven Improvements

System Avatars

  • The overall style of the avatar is to be revamped as well so that Sansar avatars are generally better looking to start with. This will include numerous updates and the in-house name for the work is “avatar 2.0”.
  • Bone deformations are viewed as a preferable means to adjust avatar features by a simply “tugging” on them rather than having to use sliders all the time (a-la Second Life).
    • There will likely be maps on the body itself which will be click-to-drag, allowing cheeks to be fattened, the collar bones adjusted, etc.
  • Sliders (existing and new) will then be available for more fine-tuning of changes.
  • The deformation / slider updates will likely be made to the avatar face first, then expanded to include the avatar body.
  • A height slider and / or a means of uniform scaling is to be added to allow for taller / smaller avatars.
  • The next release will see the AA/BB bounding box on the avatar adjusted to 90cm all around.

Custom Avatar

  • There will be an immediate push to enhance the capabilities for custom avatars.
  • The first element of this will be to allow clothing – specifically clothing created using Marvelous Designer to be used on custom avatars.
    • This will include the use of a Gizmo-like tool (as seen in the Edit mode for placing and rotating objects in a scene) to help with the rotation and place placement (+scaling) of MD clothing on custom avatars.
    • It is hoped this support will be available in the April release.
  • A question was raised about someone creating an avatar that effectively “takes over” from a system avatar, simply because it is so widely used.
    • The Lab has no problem with this, as long as custom avatars are correctly rigged to the system avatar skeleton.
    • If a custom avatar proves popular enough, the Lab might even consider offering to make is a system avatar.
    • The hope is that creators will offer more non-human custom avatars (see also general comments, below).
  • The Lab is also looking to give custom avatars greater exposure to users coming into Sansar.
    • Many incoming users aren’t even aware that custom avatars are available in Sansar
    • This would be restricted to free custom avatars provided by creators, however,
    • It would be a means for creators to promote their work, and the Lab would provide creators details for those custom avatars featured in the avatar picker.
    • These avatars would be rotated on a regular basis (although the precise time frame as yet to be determined), so as to give participating / selected creators equal exposure over time.

Attachment Points and Accessories

Lab hopes to:

  • Provide more variability in attachments.
  • Make attachment points adjustable (to avoid issues of sunglasses floating above heads on small avatars, etc.).
    • The IU mechanism for doing this has yet to be determined, but might take the form of a Gizmo-like tool (or could be something completely different).
    • This would also be designed to allow attachments to be worn more freely. For example, as well as sunglasses being worn in front of the eyes, they can be positioned by the user as if pushed up on top of the head.
  • Open the attachment system to support custom avatars.
  • Support custom skins as a part of the “avatar 2.0” work, but this will initially be limited to just system avatars.
  • Allow tinting for hair / skins / nails / eyes for the current system avatars, potentially in the next couple of releases.
    • “multi-tints” (e.g blond hair darkening to red tips) will not be supported.
    • This will likely be removed once the “avatar 2.0” work is released, as this will utilise a different skin type utilising sub-surface scattering shaders, and tinting does not work particularly well with this approach.

However, animated attachments are not on the immediate roadmap.

General Discussion

  • The talk of enhancing the avatar system and extending capabilities to custom avatars sparked a discussion on the benefits of keeping to a single “format” of avatar utilising not only the same skeleton, but also the same UV maps, and allowing multiple custom avatars, each with a unique set of uv maps.
    • The former would allow makers of skins, tattoos, make-up, etc., to participate equally in the market without the name to worry about developing for specific avatar models.
    • The latter would potentially offer a wider choice of avatars to users, but makes supporting them with accessories such as skins potentially more complex for both creators and users (vis., the complexity of supporting multiple mesh body types in Second Life).
  • A ground offset capability / means for avatars to wear high heels is not currently on the roadmap.
  • Custom avatars and avatar accessories have an issue when creating the thumbnail image for the Sansar Store (in short: the model has to be uploaded twice). LL are aware this is not a good work flow, and will be looked into.
  • New user process: more outline information was given, including:
    • Offering new users improved options for avatar selection.
    • Accepting or declining until later the tutorial process and quest approach (as per my previous PM notes).
    • Extending the tutorial capability into avatar customisation.
    • Providing MD clothing in the individual avatar inventory to expose it to news users sooner.
  • Improved animations (e.g. the ability for avatars to properly hold a gun, to go through the actions of reloading it, etc.). These are being discussed at the Lab, but no project or time line for their introduction as yet.
  • However, various aspect of game play are to be enhanced over the next couple of releases, including the ability for avatars to jump or crouch, and improvements to Desktop mode (e.g. improved aim / throwing capabilities).
  • A little further out (a few months), the Lab plan to start looking into providing a proper mechanism for avatars to ride vehicles.
  • Avatar inventory – the ability to have some form of inventory an avatar is “carrying” (so they can draw a sword or gun when it is needed, or consult a map, etc.), is being considered.
    • One thing that cannot be supported right now is the ability to swap clothing. This requires the use of the Look Book, and the architecture will not support this.
    • What may be supported, possibly by the end of 2019, is the ability to swap avatars without needing to go to the Look Book (so if you have a fully dressed avatar clothed in A.B,C, and another clothed in X,Y,Z, you can swap between them without having to go to the Look Book, but you won’t be able to swap “jacket A” for “jacket “X” on your current avatar without going to the Look Book).
  • Respawning in an experience at the same point from which we entered Look Book (rather than back at the experience’s main spawn point): this is being worked on, and will be coming SoonTM.

 

Support Parkinson’s Awareness Month in Second Life

Courtesy of Creation’s for Parkinson’s/Events for Parkinson’s

April 11th, 2019 is World Parkinson’s Day, intended to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, promoting a greater understanding of this condition and how it can affect a person. To mark it, many countries are marking April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. In Canada and the United States, this is being supported by the Parkinson Society Canada and American Parkinson Disease Association. Other countries around the world are holding more focus events. In the UK, for example, there will be a Parkinson’s Awareness Week (April 10-16th), supported by Parkinson’s UK.

Within Second Life, Creations For Parkinson’s/Events For Parkinson’s have partnered with Miss Globe Universal Charity Foundation to also mark Parkinson’s Awareness Month, with The Oasis, a special event running from April 1st through April 21st, 2019 inclusive.

Right now, through until February 25th, they are seeking merchants and bloggers to support the event, which is described thus:

We plan to provide a beautiful Egyptian themed region for invited brands, bloggers, and guests for a fun shopping experience, music, theatre entertainment, twice the hunts and much more during the wonderful time of the Spring season in the era of Ancient Egypt. We also want to raise more awareness for this amazing charity through education for guests. Lending your support to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, we are forever grateful. 

– From the Creations for Parkinson’s website

Merchants wishing to participate in the Oasis event are asked to  register their interest in participating in the event by completing the Merchant’s Application Form.  Note that details of the four merchant packages and their prices are available on the second page of the application form.

Bloggers wishing to cover the event are asked to complete the Blogger Application Form. Applicants are required to write a minimum of 2 posts covering the event, and posts must be recorded using the event’s blog management reporting system.

Media sponsors wishing to support the event are asked to contact DjRoseAthena, either in-world or via Facebook. If she is not available for those preferring in-world contact, interested parties are asked to contact the event’s co-coordinator, Nola Hellershanks.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition. In Europe, approximately 1.2 million people have their lives impacted by the disease, and in the United States it is the second most common neuorlogical disorder after Alzheimer’s.

“Neurodegnerative” is a term referring to a progressive loss of nerve cells (neurons) and/or their function. Neurodegeneration from Parkinson’s disease can give rise to a wide spectrum of symptoms which vary among sufferers depending on the severity of the disease’s impact, what’s more symptoms can be unpredictable and can vary on a time scale as short as one minute. As the disease progresses, symptoms can worsen; for example, over time a person may not be able to move, speak or swallow. This can often arise 4-8 years after the initial onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The cause of the disease is unknown, and there are no known successful treatments which can delay or stop its progression. To further complicate matters, because of the broad range of symptoms, Parkinson’s may be initially misdiagnosed. In addition, while it is most often seen as a disease affecting people of 50 or older, a form of Parkinson’s disease can strike people at a much younger age, and one in twenty of the 8 million Parkinson’s sufferers worldwide is below the age of 40. Known as Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD), this differers from older onset Parkinson’s, both because genetics appears to play a stronger role in it, and the symptoms may differ, as does response to medication.

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month is intended to raise public awareness of the disease, its impact, and to encourage people to help support those affected by Parkinson’s by encouagring them to donate to organisations carrying out research into finding a cure or adequate treatment for the disease. As noted above, these organisations include the likes of the Parkinson Society Canada, the American Parkinson Disease Association, and Parkinson’s UK.

The Oasis event in April, also as noted above, aims to raised funds to help with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which has to date raised some US $800 million for research initiatives.

2019 SL User Groups 7/2: Content Creation summary

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Trollblog post

Updated, February 16th: the suggestion to make suitable mipmaps available to users when uploading textures (see the end of this summary) has been translated into a feature request by Beq Janus, allowing users to select multiple image resolutions when uploading a texture – see BUG-226352.

The majority of following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, February 14th, 2019 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.

SL Viewer Updates

  • The Bugsplat RC viewer updated to Wednesday, February 13th, to version 6.1.0.524348.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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 viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

  • Anchor Linden has pinned down a couple of further bugs.
  • The hope is that BoM will progress to viewer release candidate (RC) status in the near future, although this is down to internal testing at the Lab.

Environment Enhancement Project

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. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • On the simulator side, EEP is now on the BlueSteel and LeTigre channels (representing roughly 20% of the main grid).
  • There is “one last” major issue with the current viewer code to be resolved. This is related to experiences, and Rider Linden believes he has a fix for the problem.
    • It is therefore hoped the EEP viewer will move to RC status very soon.
    • The next update to the viewer should include fixes for BUG-226249.
  • There have been some changes to the data returns by llGetenvironment, and further changes will be made in the coming week. These changes will be reflected in the wiki documentation.
  • There is also a bug that can cause avatar tags to be corrupted in certain EEP environments, as demonstrated by Whirly Fizzle (below).
Whirly Fizzle demonstrates the corrupt avatar tags that can occur under certain EEP environments. Credit: Whirly Fizzle
  • This pass of EEP will not, as previously reported, include Godrays at this point in time. It is hoped these will be added in the future – although when in the future is not clear.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir has some prototype hooks in the code that allow body parts in the inventory of an Animesh to be used to customise the skeleton of the Animesh. This doesn’t (as yet) include any communications from the viewer to the simulator, which s the next thing Vir will be examining.
    • This next part of the work may possibly hampered by the fact there is an “embarrassingly large” number of ways to transmitting object information between the viewer and the simulator.  None of them are particularly comprehensive, making it harder to determine how best to add messaging specific to Animesh.
    • As a result Vir is also looking at a means of rationalising things to make it easier to add object information communications to the system beyond Animesh.
  • There have been requests to provide a means to obtain things like the tri count for Animesh. Vir believes it might be easier to add the means to obtain streaming cost, etc., (as this information is already supplied for in-world objects), and / or to give a more straightforward means of indicating whether something can be linked into an Aminesh object or not.
    • Tri counts are being required so creators can check whether or not linking objects together for an Animesh will take them over the tri count limit for Animesh.
    • A problem here is that the simulator doesn’t have the full tri count information for any mesh object, only an estimate to assist in making LI calculations; so using LSL to extract the information could require more in the way of back-end work to expose the required information obtained from the viewer.
    • There is also a risk that as time goes on, the rules regarding what is allowed for Animesh might change – including the tri count. Any such change could therefore invalidate the accuracy of scripts with a hard-coded tri count limit.
  • A request as also been made to enable / disable Animesh via LSL. This is currently not on the cards, unless a compelling use-case can be defined.
    • A suggestion has been that using LSL to disable Animesh could help reduce LI when Animesh objects don’t need to be animated. However, due to the fact Animesh is rendered differently to static objects, this would likely not work in the way people imagine.
  • Vir still hopes to re-work Reset Skeleton a system command so that anyone triggering a reset of their avatar skeleton when they see it deformed can send that update to all other viewers in the scene perform a reset for that skeleton, rather than users having to manually select and reset the affected avatar.
    • If this is done, it is unlikely to include any LSL support, due to the risk of it being over-used in scripts, with the potential for performance hits.
  • Another request is to have a viewer-side option to reset Animesh skeletons. This is viewed as a good idea, as there is already a debug setting (DebugAnimatedObject – set to True) for this, which could be better exposed, although it doesn’t work with Animesh objects attached to avatars.

Texture Resampling

Thanks to a somewhat confused blog post at New World Notes, there has been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about a “debug setting that miraculously improves texture quality”. In actual fact, there is no such thing – as Beq Janus explains in her own blog (see: Compression depression – Tales of the Unexpected) and in the forums (see bi-curious? You should be – or why your assumed wisdom may not be correct).

As Beq correctly points out, there is no “magic” debug setting to improve the resolution or quality of all textures, and Second Life cannot displayed textures with a resolution greater than 1024×1024.

What Beq did confirm is (as per their descriptions) the referenced debugs can be used to upload textures much larger than 1024×1024 Second Life. However, such textures will be resampled to 1024×1024. The particularly interesting thing here is that in resizing such images, the viewer uses bilinear resampling which – contrary to perceived wisdom pointing to bicubic resampling – can actually result in far better quality in the finished 1024×1024 texture.

Beq’s forum post and (particularly) her blog post explains what appears to be happening – and how direct resizing very high-resolution images using bilinear resampling to 1024×1204 prior to upload will also result in better quality textures with viewed in-world.

Does this mean that the upload texture size limit should be increased? Well, no. The crucial part of this is that the different is only seen with 1024×1024 textures – which have issues in terms of the amount of memory they eat, and in the fact they are already drastically over-used. As such, increasing the allowed upload resolution prior to resampling might further elevate the use of 1024×1024 textures.

In the meantime, the forum post has triggered some interesting discussion around bilinear and bicubic resampling, and where each might be preferable to use, and how bilinear could benefit the production of seamless normal maps.

A further suggestion resulting from these discussions (or the resurgence of a suggestion) is to make all the mipmaps for an uploaded textures available, rather than the just the level selected at upload (so, for a 1024×1024, the 512×512, 256×26 and 128×128 mipmaps are also made available to the user, allowing them to experiment and see how the different resolutions work on surfaces.  A feature request Jira has been requested for this idea.