A little more Isla Pey: chapel ruins and old pianos

The Chapel Ruins by Marcus Inkpen of The Looking Glass, seated within our “southern island”

It’s been ten months since I bored you with writing about Isla Pey, and at that time I said there probably wouldn’t be any more major changes – and that’s largely been the case. However, over the last couple of months we’ve been re-adding one or two elements of old ruins to the place (a familiar theme with me) – although outside of a couple of walls slipped into the gardens behind the house, nothing really seemed to fit, despite the “south island” screaming to have something placed in it. The towers and walls of previous layouts just didn’t work.

However, a design I’ve admired since it was first released, and which has increasingly been finding its way as a “regular” prop for region designs, is The Looking Glass Chapel Ruins by Marcus Inkpen. Available through The Looking Glass in-world store, this is a truly magnificent piece – and thanks to a combination of size, depth of foundations and luck, it happened to be the *perfect* fit for the land with very little need for anything to be moved or altered – all that was really required was establishing a path to it and around one side of it.

An overhead view of the chapel, with some of my modifications, and a sculpture from Mistero Hifeng

At 66 LI by default, the Chapel Ruins are finely detailed, offering the floor, and broken walls of a single room chapel with the broken square of a tower rising to one side of it, the walls and stairway of which abruptly end just above head height. The windows are without glass, the doors have long gone, and ivy is laying claims to the walls, with fallen stones scattered inside and out. It is, in a word, utterly eye-catching and a worthy centrepiece to any region requiring quality ruins.

Of course, me being who I am, I couldn’t leave it entirely untouched, so a couple of the walls saw some minor alterations (well, one fairly major in that an entire wall section was swapped for another). I also took the opportunity to install some decidedly non-period lighting, together with some additional foliage (pushing the LI to 70) – and then hit a problem.

A view from off-shore

What to do with interior space? Having the ruins really – if I say so myself – set the southern island perfectly; but the rectangle of empty stone floor did look odd – and for over a week nothing came to mind, other than dropping an old piano into it. Which, to be honest, I wanted to shy away from, given such items have also seemed to become de rigueur in a lot of region designs (and I should know- they’ve tended to be de rigueur in my region snapshots of late!).

Fortunately, the answer came in another visit to The Looking Glass. Across the store hall from the vendor for the Chapel Ruins sits a collection called the Our Place To Dream collection, and elements of this collection – notably the wall and the blanket – looked like they might fit with the chapel. And they did.

The “finished” space in the Chapel, with the Our Place to Dream Ruined Wall and Blanket (L) and the Nutmeg Distressed Grand Piano.

With a little modification, the wall offered a fitting suggesting of stonework from the broken wall of the chapel gathered together to form a cosy little space for the blanket, particularly when a DIGS cheeseboard together  with some candles and wines glasses and bottle from various sources were added to make things even cosier. Which just left the rest of the floor space to deal with. A couple of statues by Mistero Hifeng and Silas Merlin helped; but in the end – well I had to give in to instinct and pick up the Nutmeg Distressed Grand Piano.

So, we now have our own ruined chapel, together with a little cosy spot for dancing, sitting and – with the aid of a picnic set, an outdoor corner to share with friends.

The chapel and the house in the background

The last couple of months have also seen some changes to the house itself – not too much, just some trimming and realignment here and there to give it more of its own look whilst also retaining most of the classic Fallingwater lines. Most of all, it’s given us space for a proper dining area – something I’ve never really seen the point of in SL until I moved into my Linden houseboat 🙂 .

I’m not going to wibble on about the house – but I will say that if you’re looking for a nice-looking, functional (as in animated) kitchen with plenty of options, you might want to take a look at the Olivia Kitchen by: Czikitka.

A visit to VUK in Second Life

VUK, September 2019 – click any image for full size

In August we received an invitation from Jacky Macpherson to visit VUK, the Homestead region for the VUK store. Designed by Jacky along with Terry Fotherington and Ines Lauria, the region has been going through a period of development and refinement; on our first visit, there was a small island on its eastern side providing a private space, presumably for region holder and VUK store owner Mr. Vuk. However, on returning in mid-September, this small island had been removed – although it was still showing on the map, suggesting the smaller island has only recently been removed, and ban lines were still in place around the parcel.

The departure of this island (which may only be temporary) means the majority of the region is given over to a single large and rocky island surrounded by a single beach and foreshore. Rising like the shell of a tortoise, the crown of the hill is the location for the VUK store. However, this is no gleaming or fancy store; the location is clearly a former industrial area, and the store sits within the remnants of what looks to have been a factory building. Its roof gone, the walls broken and windows without glass, the building is a place where nature is slowly proclaiming her returning place inside.

VUK, September 2019

Outside of the factory walls is further detritus of human life: the piled ruins of cars and trucks, one of which looks to have become a makeshift shelter for someone. A path winds down the western cliffs from the store to reach what appears to be a once-tidal bay the sea has deserted. The hulk of a fishing boat lies toppled on the grey shore, apparently abandoned well before  the sea deserted the shingle, leaving it to become a backdrop for a makeshift bar and DJ area.

More flotsam and jetsam is littered across the bay – a half-buried container, the wreck of an ancient jeep, a shanty hut and makeshift seating area, all watched over by the bulk of a rusting cable car station brooding under the plaintive cry of gulls and assorted critters. However, it’s unlikely the cars that may have once run along the cables to and from the tower ever carried tourists; more likely they carried material for the hilltop factory.

VUK, September 2019

It is this element of careworn age and of life having largely moved on from the setting that gives the region its considerable character – and offers a lot of discover.

From the bay on the west side, it is possible to circumnavigate the lower reach of the island. This will take you past more of the island’s little scenes and points of interest: camps, the wreck of a windmill, and old pier that also appears to have been long deserted by the sea, and which has now become a kind of sun deck and open-air seating area  (complete with a neat little working racing car set!).

VUK, September 2019

Up on the hill, the factory is surrounded by trees, grass and more signs of former working spaces. But just beyond them, and accessible from the beach below as well, is the remains of a children’s playground. It sits at odds with the more industrial aspects of the island, but at the same time its aged and rusted condition fits right in with the overall theme.

All of this makes for an engaging visit quite apart from the opportunity to check the VUK brand. For those who like to explore together  I recommend heading down to the south side of the island and the deck area mentioned above: there’s a couples walker awaiting you. Also when when visiting, do make sure you have local sounds on so you can appreciate the region’s excellent sound scape.

VUK, September 2019

SLurl Details

  • VUK (VUK, rated Moderate)

2019 SL User Groups 38/2: Content Creation summary

Grauland, July 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, September 19th 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.


Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

Current Status

  • An unexpected / unintended side-effect of Bakes On Mesh is the baseline avatar rendering cost has gone up by 1,000. This is due to the additional channels being added in support of BOM (so a basic, naked system avatar will have a complexity of 2,000 instead of 1,000). Vir is going to correct this.
  • Just as a reminder: there is no certainty as to how ARCTan will work – the Lab is focused purely on data gathering at this point, not on implementation. As such it is far too early to discuss policy, rules, implementation, etc.
  • One aspect that is being considered is to provide a set of in-world tools and / or example models to allow creators better understand what ARCTan might be doing and how it could affect their work. Again, this could only be done when LL is in a position to start moving forward with ARCTan.

Should Existing In-World Content Be Excluded?

One area of discussion on ARCTan has been the matter of existing in-world content: should it be subject to the new ARCTan calculations (whatever they might be) or excluded?

  • Arguments for excluding existing in-world content include:
    • Less risk of upset if changing values sees an increase in the land impact of items, prompting confusion among users (“why is my 16 LI bed now 26 LI?”).
    • Reduction in the possible large-scale return off objects by parcels / regions where ARCTan changes take them over their limit.
    • “Easier” to implement, as new costs only apply to “new” content.
    • Less work for content creators in updating their documentation (note cards, MP listings, vendor boards, etc.) to correctly reflect the “new” LI values for their goods that are changed as a result of ARCTan.
    • Reduces the risk of “permanent” content breakage in instances where the LI for objects rises to impact user’s ability to have them in-world, and the creator is no longer active to provide better optimised updates.
  • Arguments against excluding existing in-world content include:
    • Potentially limits the purpose of ARCTan in educating users about using decently optimised content.
    • Introduces questions on how new limited should be applied. On upload? On rezzing?
    • If on rezzing, user confusion may not be negated (“when I rezzed this bed last week it was only 16 LI; now when I rez it, it is 26 LI! Why?!)
    • ARCTan will not be an overnight implementation. LL plan to try to work with creators and users to provided information on changes, and work as far as possible to minimise the risk of content return.
  • The idea of excluding existing content has not been ruled out. But again, until the Lab have baselined their data, carried out experiments and tests in order to see the likely impact of various adjustments to the calculations / costs and investigated what can be done to mitigate some of them (e.g. increase the land capacity of regions), nothing can be decided one way or the other.

Core Content Projects Summary

  • Animesh Follow-On – Project Muscadine: effectively on hold while Vir focuses on ARCTan.
  • EEP: work continuing on rendering bug fixes, with additional resources being added to the project.

General Notes

  • Avatar Impostering
    • Concern has been raised over the complexity handling on Animesh with impostering. Currently, Animesh objects are handled the same as avatars. However, as they are a lot less complex, there is an argument to say Animesh should be handled differently to avatars when impostering.
    • This is being taken into consideration, with the possible introduction of a “max Animesh” setting for the purposes of impostering Animesh.
    • Whether or not this will affect the current baseline for impostering avatars is unclear; the work is still only at the point of discussion.
  • Mesh uploader:
    • There are reports of a rise in issues when uploading mesh models – failure to complete the upload, coupled with the production of hard-to-decipher “mav” errors.
      • So far as the Lab is aware, nothing has changed within the viewer or on the simulator side that might be causing the problems. Those encountering such problems are asked to file a Jira, preferably with  viewer log files.
      • There is a viewer with improvements to the mesh uploader in development. This may not resolve the issues, but it should offer improved feedback and messaging during the upload process.
      • It’s been suggested that the problem could be due to recent updates to Blender in saving .DAE files.
    • Many 3D tools are moving to use / support the glTF file format, which is currently subject to much discussion / criticism. Linden Lab has no plans to support the format at this point in time.
    • A few months ago, it was indicated that custom origin point (pivot point) for meshes would be implemented. This work is currently awaiting some back-end changes. As such, until these changes are made, the work is on hold.