A little rock climbing in Second Life

Rock climbing / free climbing in Second Life

A while back Yasmin (YouAintSeenMe) mentioned to me that she was considering a rock climbing system for Second Life. Being one who doesn’t particularly handle looking over the edge of extreme tall / high things in the physical world, it struck me that a) rock climbing would not be my first recreational pursuit, and b) but why not have a go in Second Life where bones don’t get broken?

So, armed with a follow-up note card from Yasmin on the subject, I toddled off to try out a climb she’s set-up on the west face of Nitida Ridge, Heterocera.

Nitida Ridge – 100m of cliffs to climb!

Here, at the foot of the ridge, sits a little base camp established by Yasmin, with tents, food and a warm fire. Close by is a sign that both introduces the climb(s) up the rock face and provides visitors with the necessary kit when touched. The latter is free, and comprises:

  • An abseil harness (worn invisibly, just ADD to attach to the stomach attach point); information on the climbing HUD, a note card on the routes up the cliffs – direct or extended; and an image of the cliffs overlaid with the routes up (green) and abseil descents (red).
  • The climbing HUD – clicking the sign will cause a pop-up asking for this to be attached so your avatar can be animated during a climb.
Starting my climb

The HUD attaches towards the lower right of your screen by default – although obviously can be repositioned.  It is colour-coded as follows: Blue (generally the default) = ready; Green  = active climb located / engaged; red = disabled. In addition, touch the HUD brings up a dialogue box. There are a handful of points to be remembered when climbing, and with the HUD in particular:

  • It is still an in-development system, so not all features may be present and the occasional bug might try to put you off your climb.
  • Not all the options on the dialogue box may be fully functional at present.
  • The ones you are most likely to want to use are the climbing speeds (Faster / Slower) and the avatar position options (In  / Out) – the latter to move your avatar either further away from the rock face (so you’re not up to your elbows inside the rock, for example, or climbing air).
Taking a breather and a look around at 170 metres above sea level and …. Eeep! It’s a long way down!

Climbing is a matter of finding the first pitch along the foot of the ridge. To do this, it is suggested that you examine the image of the ridge and then zoom out with your camera and align things visually. This can be a little difficult (but then, it’s not like people hang signs on rock faces that say, “Start Your Climb Here!” – you pick your start point by eyeballing the best spot to make an ascent), so for those who may get frustrated in trying to work out where to start, there is a direct SLurl link.

When you’ve found the correct point, the HUD will try green to indicate you can start to climb. Use the Up arrow key to climb – turning off any AO system can be an advantage here to prevent conflicts. When pressed, your avatar will start what is effectively a solo free climb. Releasing the key will pause you, but shouldn’t cause any backsliding.

Taking a rest in a bivvy and inset, where it sits on the climb….

The nature of SL may mean at times you might get stuck. Should this happen, release the Up key and they resume. Similarly, you may “slip” and assume your default falling pose – again, releasing the Up key should revert your avatar to the “rest” pose. Also, sometimes using the Left / Right arrow keys can help a little – but take care. Left / Right can help you crab diagonally sideways in the climb, but use one of them too much and you’ll leave the “climbing path” – your HUD will turn blue and you’ll take a fall!

After the first 15 metre climb to a very broad ledge, you’ll have a choice: the direct route, or along the “bivvy” (bivouac) route. The latter is the more challenging, and requires you channel your inner Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible 2) for some diagonal climbing across the rock face to reach various ledges – including one with the tent, allowing you a little respite from the exertions of climbing – and additional vertical ascents.

Abseiling down the Nitida Ridge (note ropes added in post-processing so I don’t look like I’m simply sitting in mid-air!

The direct route is just that – straight up the cliff, using a natural fold in the rock, just as a real climber would. I admit to having a little trouble at the top of this – the climb animation refused to release, so I’d reach the top, fall back a couple of metres and resume climbing, reach the top, fall back… A double-click TP resolved this.

For those prone to a little daring-do, the Nitida Ridge climbs also include a couple of high lines (shown in blue on the climb image), where a little tightrope walking can be, um, enjoyed, using Yasmin’s tightrope kit.

Of course, getting up a climb is half the story – there is also getting back down. For this, Yasmin has included abseil options. Just find the anchor points located at various places on the cliff face (again, use the supplied image to help in locating them). Each is a square metal plate fixed to the rock with a carabiner hanging from it. Touch the carabiner and you’ll abseil neatly down the rock face.

Ropes for abseiling are invisible (a particle system would likely complicate matters), but the animations are fun to watch, and in keeping with climbing (I assume at least, not being an expert in any way whatsoever!) the shorter descents are more hand-over-hand.

This system is  – as noted – still somewhat in development, but it is simple and clean – and works. Obviously, you can add to the feel of climbing by dressing appropriately if you wish – I was tempted to add either a rucksack as a climbing backpack, or at least a bum bag to double as a chalk bag, but in the end just opted to get on with it.

Yasmin offers a number of alternate possible climbs within the HUD instructions note card, but as the HUD appears to be temp attach, you’ll need to keep it in place in order to try them, or return to Nitida Ridge to affix a new one before visiting an alternate climb. Overall, however, the Nitida Ridge climb is the most well-rounded in terms of climbs and features.

High lines offer the opportunity for some tightrope walking …

You still wouldn’t get me hanging off the side of a cliff at the end of a length of rope in the physical world, but within Second Life, free climbing / rock climbing like this is fun, and Yasmin has put together an excellent package that can be enjoyed individually or with friends. The kit isn’t (yet?) commercially available as it is in development (a further reason to try it at Nitida Ridge!), but I would suggest that if / when it is made commercially available, anyone with reasonable cliffs and highlands (say 15m or greater), it could be an attractive addition as an activity.

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2019 SL User Groups 30/3: TPVD Meeting and Singularity

Summer Edge; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrSummer Edge, June 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, July 26th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to Pantera for recording and providing it. The key points of discussion are provided below with time stamps to the relevant points in the video, which will open in a separate tab when clicked.

This was a short meeting with text chat around animation systems and options – please refer to the video for details.

SL Viewer

[0:00-1:48]

There have been no changes through the week with regards to the viewer pipelines. With the SL Feature Summit in week #31, it likely means there will be no updates then, either.

  • Current Release version 6.2.3.527758, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer promoted June 18th – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, June 5th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, promoted to release status 29th November 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Both Love Me Render and Rakes On Mesh are considered as being “very close” to promotion. However, as noted in my notes from the Content Creation meeting, BOM is going to be going through a QA review at the Lab, so Love Me Render might be the nearer of the two in terms of suitability for promotion.

SL Feature Summit

[1:51-2:00]

As noted, there is a SL Feature Summit in week 31, so there will also be no simulator releases next week.

Other Topics

UDP Messaging – Further Deprecation

[22:29-23:48]  There are still “a couple” of inventory-related UDP operations that need to be deprecated. This will not be a short-term change, however, as the corresponding HTTP operations handling has yet to be written. Once they have been, the UDP operations will be removed from the official viewer. Time – measured in months – will be allowed for TPVs to adopt the HTTP before the UDP is deprecated on the back end.

In Brief

  • [3:10-5:50] Can we have more than two shadow casting projectors? Short answer: not without measuring performance impact. Long answer: no further rendering type changes are up for consideration until after Love Me Render, EEP and BOM have been released. See also STORM-2147.
  • [4:04-4:17] OS X and OpenGL deprecation: the lab is still investigating options for Mac support after Apple deprecates OpenGL support.
  • [9:38-10:45] BUG-227350 – a feature request to allow LSL scripted toggling of voice on / off, which could be useful for guest-moderate talks, etc., when a land owner isn’t present – has been accepted by the Lab for consideration, but with the caveat the potential for abuse may prevent it being implemented. However, it stands as a good example of how to submit a feature request.

Singularity News

[16:59-17:33] Singularity was one of the viewers affected by the majority of UDP asset messaging paths being deprecated and removed from the back-endcode recently. While there are Singularity nightly builds to overcome the issue, there has yet to be an official full release – although this is being worked on. Commenting at the TPVD meeting, Inusaito Kanya stated:

We’re nearing release very soon, the build directed to on our site right now is http://links.singularityviewer.org/?to=nightly because we really don’t want anyone getting the UDP assets. We have Linux ready mostly and we’re working on a couple last minute fixes here and there but otherwise we should be good. Mostly graphics fixes and last minute UI touches[ still to be done].

 

Art, nature, and stories in Second Life

Ani’s Gallery: Anibrm Jung

Ani (Anibrm Jung) is an award-winning photographer in the physical world who has been active in Second Life since 2006. Based in the Netherlands, Ani has specialised in photographing nature, many of her images captured from her own garden, and all of them recorded using only natural light, with everything framed directly through the viewfinder, and with no subsequent cropping or image manipulation.

I’ve written about her photography on numerous occasions in this blog (see in particular, The art of nature in Second Life (2016) and A return to the Art of Nature in Second Life (2017)), as I’ve always found her photography absorbing and engaging.

Ani’s Gallery: Anibrm Jung

More recently, Ani had turned her attention to photography within Second life, where she has brought her eye for detail and composition fully to bear to create some of the most engaging studies of Second Life art, landscapes and avatars.

A selection of Ani’s art can be seen, appreciated and purchased through her new gallery, Ani’s Gallery and Home to Sibelius, and she recently invited me to pay a visit to view the gallery, which also includes an exhibition by another of my favourite artists, Cybele Moon.

Ani’s Gallery: Anibrm Jung

The gallery – located in a skybox – offers several spaces for exhibitions, with Ani’s work occupying the lower floor, and the guest exhibition space on the upper level.  The landing point sits within the lower level, in a hall that serves both as an exhibition space and as a reception foyer. This area has a focus on Ani’s physical world photography, which is as bewitching as ever, and includes several pieces captured from within Second Life, thus presenting an eye-catching mix.

The neighbouring hall focuses almost entirely on Ani’s Second Life photography which – as noted, includes the same richness of focus and attention to composition, angle, tone and detail that marks these pieces completely captivating – and don’t miss her cat photos, either! Upstairs, Cybele presents Travels Songs and Stories, another completing enthralling exhibition of her exceptional digital art which also can so marvellously combine the realms of the physical and the virtual – and which should never be missed.

Ani’s Gallery: Cybele Moon

Two remarkable artists together in a single gallery marks Ani’s Gallery a worthy destination for any lover of the arts and artistic expression in Second life.

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