2019 SL User Groups 17/2: Content Creation summary

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandlewoodblog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, April 25th 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.

There was little to report, project-wise, this meeting, with most of the time taken up with a general discussion on avatar complexity, LI, ARCTan, LODs and efficient content. This summary focuses on the project updates that were offered.

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

  • The regressions in environment appearance that have been seen since the Thursday, April 18th roll-backs will hopefully be corrected with the next simulator deployment that has EEP included.
  • Shader issues are continuing to be investigated and resolved as they come in / can be fixed.
    • The next release candidate version of the viewer may address the problems of environments looking unnaturally dark in the EEP viewer.
    • Graham Linden is looking at some updates provided by user Geenz Spad, who initially formulated how materials could be added to Second Life.
  • BUG-226752 “[EEP] Interest Lists Culling – Draw Distance has little effect on scene rendering” – still has yet to be addressed.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding shape support (or similar) to Animesh, specifically on the infrastructure requirements for being able to send slider parameters for Animesh objects to and from the viewer.
  • Some of this involves using the infrastructure developed for EEP.
  • This work is still in its early days.

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 continues to work with some appearance service issues that need to be fixed before the project can progress.

Starter Avatars

As I noted at the time, several of the last batch of Starter Avatars for Second Life, released in January 2019, came sans any form of animation override (see: More Classic starter avatars for Second Life). This has now been addressed, and those avatars that needed them have now been updated with AOs.

Avatar Complexity / Impact – Summary

The subject of avatar complexity and lack of any Land Impact control for avatars formed a major point of general discussion in the meeting. Obviously, there is ARC – and the upcoming ARCTan project that is re-evaluation a range of rendering costs, including in-world objects and avatars. However, unlike LI, avatar rendering costs itself isn’t really an incentive to build efficient worn content for avatars.

However, trying to be more proactive with avatar complexity is difficult. Take the idea of some form of “Avatar Impact” akin to Land Impact:

  • How should it be defined?
  • How should individual attachments be weighted? purely on their in-world LI? Number of vertices? Tri / poly count? A combination?
  • What sort of policy needs to be put in place?
  • What happens if an avatar tries to enter a region / parcel where its “AI” exceeds the land capacity? Should a simplified version of the avatar be allowed?
  • How will a home owner feel if they find they cannot rez a new item of furniture because it would exceed their land capacity because their “AI” is too high?

As such, any such “avatar impact” would require a substantial changes to Second Life – as well as a lot of lead-time and explanation to users. So while not impossible, implementation would have to be weighed carefully. Currently, there are no plans to introduce any such system – and the target remains on being able to move forward with ARCTan.

This led to a broader discussion on complexity, the potential of ARCTan and a slight segue into LOD and auto LOD (again, something that might had some advantages – and disadvantages – but really not now suited to SL).