2019 Content Creation User Group week #51 summary

Last Dove, November 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, December 19th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

The majority of this meeting was a generic conversation of ideas such as moving Second Life to support PBR, what might be done to improve Pathfinding, etc., none of which are on the road map for Second Life at present; as such these notes keep the the current projects that are in progress at the Lab.

SL Viewer

A new Maintenance viewer, code named Xanté, was released on Thursday, December 19th. Version contains around 30 fixes for reported issues and bugs. All other viewer remain as per my Current Viewer Release List.

With regards to viewers:

  • The Lab’s focus has been on transitioning their Bitbucket viewer build repositories from Mercurial to Git – see my week #50 TPVD meeting notes for more.
  • As well as the current pipelines of viewers, work is also in hand to ensure the viewer is ready to manage Name Changes when that capability is deployed in early 2020.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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 now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).


Current Status

  • Bug fixing continues, notably around alpha rendering issues.
  • The hope is that of the remaining issues, some my be related, and so solving one will help to solve others of a similar nature.


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

  • Vir is working on getting things to a state where he can do so practical testing over the holiday period to ensure the relevant data is being collected. This is dependent on whether he has the time to confirm the internal version of the viewer is logging everything it needs to be logging.
  • The work is still very much focused on the data collection aspect, rather than doing anything with the data that is gathered.
    • The kind of data being gathered includes: what are the graphics and geometric properties of the objects in a scene, what rendering settings are being used, poly count for different LODs with a model, what are the graphics properties in use (materials, texture + texture size, etc.), plus the time required to generate a frame successfully given the work required to render the scene.
  • Once the data has been gathered, the idea is to run the viewer on multiple hardware configurations (GPU, CPU, etc.), and gather data on the the impacts of changes those various properties.
  • The aim is to get a more accurate feel for how performance is impacted, and how significantly changes impact performance (e.g. what’s the impact of enabling Full Bright compared to enabling materials? Which is genuinely better: properly optimised mesh or plain faces with materials or a combination of low-resolution mesh + materials?
  • As well as allowing the complexity calculations for avatar attachments and in-world objects to be better refined, the data gathered might, further down the line in the project, enable LL to make plausible forecasts of what might be seen by way of performance improvements in relation to suggested constraints being put on objects as a part of the creation process.
  • Textures are still proving a problem in terms of measuring impact (e.g. is it more a total threshold limit being hit, rather than the number of textures used within an individual object?).
  • Anther limiting aspect is the number of different bottlenecks users can experience quite outside of the Lab’s control (e.g. their network connection, what else is going on across that connection at the same time, etc)., and bottlenecks within individual systems that can vary.
  • One attempt to improve things that has been made in Firestorm is for the matrix calculations for worn mesh to be cached the the bones to which the mesh has been rigged hasn’t moved between frames. This can save up to 7 sets of calculations for a mesh with 8 faces that the viewer may not actually need to make. This may be contributed to LL for evaluation.

** The next Content Creation User Group Meeting should be on Thursday, January 9th, 2020, but check the wiki page for confirmation **


The Rusty Nail in Second Life

The Rusty Nail, December 2019 – click any image for full size

The Rusty Nail is a new Homestead region designed by BadboyHi offering a mix of photogenic setting open to the public and four rental opportunities for those seeking a Second Life home. We were pointed to it by Shawn Shakespeare, and were also welcomed by BayboyHi (aka Busta), who has been keeping himself busy with a number of designs of late.

For The Rusty Nail, he presents a rugged, hilly island that has a sense of being somewhere in the tropics, although the fauna clearly indicates it is very temperate in climate. The coastal areas to the south-west and along the western side of the region offer shale and muddy flats deeply cut by inlets that are crossed by low wooden bridges and board walks and are home to a smattering of trees and bushes.

The Rusty Nail, December 2019

The landing point is tucked into the south-western corner of these lowlands, where a shack sits on a raised platform over a mud flat, the shale before it presenting space for music and dancing. A path runs eastwards from here, spanning one of the inlets via two of the aforementioned board walks and bridges, a careworn path on the far side of the bridge running up a shallow channel that appears to have at one time been cut into the rocks there by water action. The path ends at the gate of one of the rental properties – so please avoid trespassing further if the house appears to have been rented.

The rentals should be mentioned here as they have clearly been selected with care to match the environment. All four sit on decently-sized parcels and are all unique to one another in style. They are separated such that it’s possible for any occupants to feel as if they are the only ones living on the island. Three of the houses are perched just above the south, east and north coastlines of the island, presenting seaward views, with two having direct private access to the water.  The third sits up and back from the water, with a short finger of public waterfront between it and the sea –  although given the lay of the coast to the west of it, it is unlikely explorers wandering to it will be a problem.

The Rusty Nail, December 2019

The fourth house sits more inland compared to the others, occupying the shoulder of an east side island that affords it good views over the open sea to the south and east, and which is particularly notable for being located above the island’s river valley. The latter is home to a café bar sitting on a deck overlooking the clear waters of a quite broad stream that bubbles up from a pair of springs nestled at the foot of the hills closing off the inland side of the cove, before flowing out to meet the sea.

Presenting a slightly oriental look, the café is open to visitors and residents of the island and offers a convivial meeting point. A ladder that dips into the waters from the side of the deck suggests swimming in the stream is allowed – a low-slung bridge at the stream’s mouth ensures it is not open to water vehicles – although the water looks a little too cold for casual dipping. Board walks on either side of the cove provide access to two of the rental properties, so again, do be aware of the risk of trespass if exploring beyond the café and its deck.

The Rusty Nail, December 2019

Those venturing to the north-east corner of the island will find another public space. This is home to a copper brazier in which a warm fire is blazing, a semi-circle of trunks converted into seating and a hot chocolate bar enclosing it in the arms of a cosy semi-circle. A deck steps out over another mud flat close by, the height of its legs suggesting the mud beneath it may well be flooded by incoming tides.

For photographers, The Rusty Nail offers a lot to occupy the eye and camera, while those seeking a home may find the size of the properties here (which all appear to be pre-furnished) attractive – rental information and LI allowances can be obtained from the rental boards located in each parcel.

The Rusty Nail, December 2019

SLurl Details

Xiola Linden departing the Lab, but not Second Life

One of Xiola’s many looks. Credit: Strawberry Singh

Over the last 24 hours, the news has been spreading about the upcoming departure of one of Linden Lab’s most popular members of staff: Xiola Linden.

It was Xiola who actually announced she would be leaving Linden Lab at the start of 2020, as she and Strawberry Linden sat down to host the December 18th, 2019 Lab Gab live stream programme.

I managed to miss the show (I confess I wasn’t even aware there was a session scheduled for this week – so shame on me!); however, thanks to You Tube, I’ve embedded the portion of the show where she makes her announcement below, and you can watch the entire segment via the Lab’s You Tube channel.

In breaking the news, Xiola said in part:

Just a little over eight years ago, I think it was, I showed up for my first day at, quote, “the Lab”, and I basically walked into my dream job. It was a place that I had, for a very long time, been a resident of, so to speak, since 2006, I think …

It’s been a job that has really allowed me to grow … and it’s given me a ton of incredible stories of things that you can not only just image, but also realise. And I learned that from the community, to see the way that they continuously adopt the features of the platform and do it in ways that we never expected or would do…

And here we are eight years later, and it’s still my dream job, and I still cannot imagine who I would be and what I would be like without this community and without Second Life and the Lab. That said, the time has come for me to work on some new dreams.

Commenting on her forthcoming departure from the Lab to me personally, Xiola added:

It is one of the hardest decisions I have made, and honestly still does not feel real. It has been a pleasure to serve this community as best I know how, and supporting all the various communities that it is comprised of. I hope to perhaps one day be able to work with so many of the incredible talents and interesting folks that I have gotten to know over the years here.

Born and raised in California’s silicon valley, Xiola naturally immersed her career in technology, working for the likes of Yahoo!, with a particular interest in creative communities. It was a friend’s invitation that she try Second Life that got her started on the platform, and she remains active in-world on her personal account to this day.

Due to this engagement with SL, she became interested in working at Linden Lab and started keeping an eye on the company’s career page in the hopes of being able to apply for a suitable role. Fortunately, a community related post opened in late 2011, and her application was accepted.

Xiola, centre, at the May 2015 Linden Meet-Up

As a part of the Community Team, her first major event was the Second Life Birthday (SLB) celebrations – something she regards as her “SL event boot camp” – helping bring together information on the event as well as helping to organise the festivities.

Since then, over the intervening years, her role has been broad-ranging, encompassing elements of customer support, putting together events like the former Linden Meet-ups, activities like the annual Creepy Crawl and the Meet the Lindens sessions during the SLB celebrations, and moderating Town Hall meetings. She has also been instrumental in building Second Life’s social media presence across various platforms and in revitalising the official SL blogs.

With the arrival of Sansar, she moved over to that platform, taking on the role of Community Manager there, and shouldering the responsibility for building up a weekly social and meetings schedule, getting members of the Sansar team in-world to meet with users and discuss the platform. Once this was ticking along and the Lab could bring in a dedicated Sansar Community Manager, she transitioned back full time to Second Life, where she’s been for almost the past two years.

Throughout all of this, she has acted as strong liaison between the Lab and its user communities, linking them through social events, programmes and activities. Within Second Life, she’s been instrumental in a number of programmes, some of which I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in, the most recent of which has been the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN).

While she is departing Linden Lab on January 3rd, 2020, Xiola has made it clear she’s not leaving Second Life – she fully intends to remain an active resident and user of the platform through her personal account.

Xiola in her role as Community Manager in Sansar (centre left), cooling herself in a portable pool at a time when California was experiencing a heatwave!

On a personal note, what has always struck me about Xiola through a number of years of interaction with her – albeit it at a distance, so to speak, given we’re on different continents –  is that her enthusiasm for both the platform and its users has never waned, and has always been infectious. Simply put, the Lab couldn’t have asked for or sought a better ambassador to help manage and grow their relationship with users over the last 8+ years. Working with her – be it with things like the SLBN or in e-mail exchanges or direct conversation – has always been an absolute pleasure.

So, thank you, Xiola for your work, your enthusiasm and your involvement. Wishing you the very best over the holidays and in the new career. Do stay in contact – even if only in-world!