For the last two years, Linden Lab has run a winter shopping event over the end-of-year holiday period that has been variously called Shop and Drop or Shop ‘Til You Drop. On November 8th, the call was put out to merchants and creators to join this year’s event.
Running from Friday, December 13th, 2019 through to Monday, January 6th, 2020, the shopping will take place across the Lab’s special shopping regions. Past events of this natures have been held through Christmas holidays, as noted, and around other special events, such as the Second Life birthday celebrations, and have proven a popular means for merchants to bring new customers to their brands and stores.
Merchants interested in participating in the event are asked to to offer a discount on some of their items (think Cyber Monday deals!) and provide a small gift to holiday shoppers..
On Thursday, November 7th, Linden Lab deployed the Sansar R37 release, entitled “The Party Won’t Stop Release”. This is a smaller release than the October R36, but includes a series of much-requested updates, including:
Improvements to events management.
Avatar system updates.
Scene creation improvements.
As always, full details of the update can be found in the official release notes. The following is just a summary.
Events are no longer linked to scenes, but to published worlds. When creating an event, a copy of the selected published world and which is visited by those attending the event. However, the original version of the world is added to addendees Codex, allowing them the re-visit the world after the event has concluded and the event version is no longer available, while traffic for the event is added to the original world’s traffic numbers.
R37 adds a new event notification capability to the client. This sends notices to those who have expressed an interest in the event when access is possible to the event version of the world, and when the event starts.
Creators can now link to specific spawn point coordinates – see below for more.
R37 provides support for uploading custom avatars with premorphed skeletons. This allows creators to adjust the bones of the reference base skeleton to make taller or shorter avatars with different bone structures. For best results, the avatar should be in the A pose when modifying. Note that these updates do not include bone rotation or scaling.
The avatar Axis Aligned Bounding Box (AABB) limits have been adjusted:
Max AABB – 2.3m tall, .05m below the ground plane, 1.2m left and right, .4m front, 1.1m back
Min AABB – .9m tall, .25m left and right, .06m front to back
Avatar Editing Freecam
It is now possible to freecam within the Avatar Editor (Look Book). Pressing F4 or clicking the Camera button in the bottom left of the Avatar Editor screen. When active, zooming in/out and panning up / down is possible using the standard camera control keys.
Avatar texture LOD
R37 includes the first release of a new avatar texture LOD system which will adjust avatar visual quality based on certain parameters to maintain product performance.
This will load up to 100MB of texture data per avatar. Any texture data in excess of 100MB will be down-sampled until it falls to 100MB. This means that the visual quality of an avatar may be reduced on some occasions. The limit may be adjusted for large events, which may affect the visual quality of an avatar further.
Scene Editing Improvements
Custom Spawn Points
It is now possible to add spawn points as a component on objects in a scene. This means that specific spawn points within scene other than the primary spawn point can be assigned (so, for example, if a portal is set within a scene to transport avatars to another scene, and can return to that portal rather than the main spawn point in a world when “returning”).
Defined spawn points can also be specified in the URL for a world using the #, allowing users to be directed to a specific spawn point within a world from a web page. For example: atlas.sansar.com/experiences/[creatorname]/[experience]#spawnpointname. See Object Editing for more.
Camera Object Component
The camera can also be added as a component on objects, which can be activated and controlled by scripts. They can be positioned and oriented like any other object in the scene, and can be copied as a reference and pasted on a camera script parameter.
Other Scene Editing Updates
New Grid section under Scene Settings that allows you to enable Snap to Grid on/off and set the snapping distance coordinates. This works with move, rotate, and planar tools.
Texture memory counter added to the Object stats Tool.
The colour picker panel can now be moved around the editor to any desired location on the screen.
Desktop aim improvements: a new “aim at cursor” property (optional) for the Grab Point component. When set, the avatar will hold the object so that it points towards the direction or object the mouse cursor is hovering over. In mouse-look mode, it will point towards wherever the reticle is pointed at.
In-Client Store Updates
The in-client store has been updated to include:
New filters to allow avatar clothing and accessories to filtered by male, female or all genders and / or by Marvelous Designer, Rigged or Static (Accessories).
Clickable item tags, allowing you to look at a filtered list based on that tag.
Creator names are now clickable and will take you to the creator’s store.
New copy URL button on the item details page to enables you to share direct URLs to specific store items.
This option is not available in the client for items that are hidden. Creators who are interested in grabbing a hidden item’s link may do so on web from the manage listings page.
Pasting item links in nearby or direct chat will open the item in the store.
Resale information and price are now exposed in the item details page.
Hyperlinks within store listing description will resolve into clickable links. [IN CLIENT ONLY].
Valid experience links can be visited to and from within the description itself.
Product listing links will open within client itself.
External links will open in browser.
R37 includes an extensive list of script system updates, including the camera and spawn point updates noted above. Please refer to the release notes for details.
With R37, it is now possible to abandon quests you are no longer interested in.
Open the Quest panel.
Click on the quest you wish to abandon.
Click the Abandon Quest button on the Quest Info tab of the panel.
We first visited Elvion, designed by BoZanoNL in February 2019, back when it was a quarter Homestead region. As I noted in Elvion: an elven sanctuary in Second Life, back then it offered the look and feel of a elven sanctuary, steeped in mystic magic and with little places for visitors to sit and spend time. More recently, the setting has moved to occupy a complete Homestead region, and in doing so has obviously expanded.
The move and expansion has perhaps lost some of the more “elven” elements from the former. However, the move has allowed for the creation of a more extensive, open landscape, rich for exploration, still with numerous places in which people are welcome to spend time.
Set under a bright sky suggestive of a crisp spring or autumn day, the region is largely open, rolling grassland, cut on its south side by a mountain range running west to east, largely separated from the rest of the region by a narrow water channel with its head as set of waterfalls at its western end. When seen from the north side of the region, these mountains give it added depth, assisted by a line of low hills running through the lowlands that naturally break the line of the mountains and make them appear further away.
The landing point for the region sits to the north-east on the grasslands. It sits along a cart track that runs part-way through the region, curling around the hills to curve north and east across the grasslands, two bridges allowing it passage over a bubbling brook until it meets the region’s hills and they turn north. It is at the landing point that visitors can review the region’s rules and can see that this is a horse-riding friendly region (for those with a wearable Animesh horse, or can join the region’s group for a L$500 and rezzing rights).
A further mark of the former Elvion was the wildlife – deer, herons, even bird calls, etc., – and this is very much carried over with the new setting, with horses joining the mix. All of the visible animals and birds are scattered across the region in a manner that makes coming across them both a natural experience when exploring and also opens up opportunities for photography.
As noted above, some of the more “elven” elements present in the former quarter homestead region space are now absent; however, there are some ornate arches to the south of the region tucked among the mountains there, but otherwise, the pavilions found in the former design are absent.
This doesn’t mean the region is bereft of structures, however. Towards the head of the waterfall-fed channel, for example, is a large cabin. Elsewhere there is a gazebo sitting amidst cherry blossoms that add to the more springtime feel to the region, and there are numerous hints of ruins to be found – one close to the landing point – all of which offer cuddle spots.
When wandering the region, and despite the lack of clear elven influences, I was still put in mind of scenes from Middle Earth – the mountains, when seen from a distance to me offered a hint of Tolkien’s Misty Mountains as perhaps seen from Rhudaur, while – and albeit it somewhere else in Middle Earth entirely – the cabin, put me in mind of Beorn’s house (if without the associated gardens of the latter).
Like the cabin, the various ruins offer places for people to sit and talk and cuddle. Other sitting / cuddle points await discovery, including a wheelbarrow, a shoreline hut, the aforementioned gazebo, and various wooden decks. These all encourage people to spend time in the region, as does the potential for photography – landscape and avatar studies.
Rounded-out by a corner woodland setting with ruins of its own, the expanded Elvion offers a lot to visitors, making it an ideal an pleasing visit that build on the former quarter-region setting. I will confess that I did have some performance issues with shadows enabled whilst riding my Animesh horse, but just disabling shadows for the ride solved that problem, and the issue didn’t otherwise spoil my explorations on foot.