Environment Enhancement Project: a primer

The Environment Enhancement Project introduces an entirely new way to create and use environment settings for the appearance of the sky, day cycles and Linden Water, within the viewer. Among other things, EEP capabilities include the means to apply environment settings to individual parcels, allows them to the sold and bought, enable day cycles that can last up to 168 hours, and permit the use of custom Sun / Moon textures, as seen here, with settings by default automatically to all viewers they affect.

The Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) is a set of environmental enhancements designed to replace windlight XML settings to control the water and sky environments seen in Second Life, and provides a wide range of additional / new capabilities for region holders, parcel holders and general users. It represents a fundamental shift in how environment settings are used and applied.

Many have already gained familiarity with EEP whilst it has been in development, using both the original project viewer and iterations of the release candidate viewer. However, given it is such a fundamental shift in how environment settings are created and used, I have attempted to break things down into more easily digestible pieces through the use of this EEP primer, and a more comprehensive EEP tutorial.

  • This primer is designed to provide an overview of the basic EEP capabilities and options from the point-of user of someone wishing to use them.
  • The EEP Tutorial is intended to provide a comprehensive breakdown of EEP capabilities, including how to create new EEP sky, water and day settings for personal use or which can be given or sold to others.

You can use either this primer or the tutorial to better understand EEP (the information here is also presented in the tutorial, which also explores the various floaters and options in greater depth).

For official information on EEP, please refer to the Environment Enhancement Project SL wiki page.

Note: at the time of writing this piece, the official Second Life viewer – version 6.4.0.540188, dated April 15th (or later) to see / use EEP capabilities. However, TPVs will be releasing version supporting EEP in due course.

EEP allows you to have a little fun, if you wish. Credit: Bellimora

EEP Basic Concepts and Terminology

In brief EEP:

  • Uses environment objects that you can keep in your inventory and / or share with others – including selling (subject to the SL permissions system) via in-world stores and on the Marketplace.
  • Provides parcel-level control of environments.
  • Allows up to four different, independently controlled sky layers.
  • Allows custom textures for the Sun, Moon and clouds.
  • Provides an extended day cycle of up to 168 hours (thus allowing a 7-day, 24-hour day / night cycle to be defined, for example).
  • Means that as environments settings are simulator-side, and so by default are automatically seen by anyone using any EEP enabled viewer on entering the region / estate / parcel.
  • Still allows the use of “personal” settings seen only be the use applying them, for the purposes of photography, machinima, etc.

Terminology

EEP uses some key terminology that should be understood.

  • Settings: used to define the environment you see. There are three settings types:
    • Sky: define the atmosphere and lighting for a day (or night); the movement, density, etc., of the clouds; and the appearance of the Sun and / or the Moon (which remain in a fixed point in the sky).
    • Water: define the appearance of Linden Water (prim or mesh animated water is not affected): water colour and reflection; wave movement; amount of light refraction, etc.
    • Day Cycles: collections of Sky and Water settings that are combined to present a dynamically changing environment over a user-defined time period representative of a “day” (by default this is set to the legacy Second Life day / night cycle of 4 hours, but can be extended out to represent physical world time periods of up to one week).
    • Note that Sky and Water settings are referred to as Fixed Environments.
  • EEP assets: physical “containers” for storing EEP settings. These are inventory items that by default, are stored in the new Settings folder in your inventory (see below), they are split into three types:
    • Sky – Sky settings. Icon: a blue sky with clouds.
    • Water – Water settings. Icon: a water droplet.
    • Day Cycle – for Day Cycles. Icon: a split Sun / Moon.
    • EEP assets (permissions allowing) can be exchanged, given away, and / or sold through a store or via the Marketplace.

Note that EEP settings are:

  • Created or edited using their corresponding EEP asset (e.g. to create Sky settings, you use the Sky asset type).
    • New EEP assets can be created directly from inventory, just like any other system inventory asset type (notecard, clothing item, gesture, script, body part).
    • Creating / editing EEP assets and settings is covered in depth in my EEP tutorial.
  • By default stored within a new system folder in inventory – the Settings folder. This folder may be hidden until such time as an EEP asset is created.
By default, EEP assets are stored and created in the Settings folder in your inventory (l). If you want, you can manually sub-divide your settings into suitable folders for easier tracking (r)

EEP Permissions

There are a few notes on permissions associated with EEP settings / assets.

  • Copy/no-copy: EEP settings assets may never be marked no-copy. A person who owns a setting object may always make a copy of it in their inventory.
  • Transfer/no-transfer: the no-transfer permission is persistent. If you import any no-transfer day or water setting into a day cycle, that day cycle will also become no-transfer. Once saved, this change cannot be undone.
  • Modify/no-modify: these permissions behave as normal.

EEP Library Assets

EEP includes a collection of Sky, Water and Day Cycles, together with a set of textures that can be used for clouds and / or to replace the Sun and Moon, etc.

  • These are located in Inventory (CTRL-I) → Library → Environments.
  • They can be used in one of two ways:
    • Unmodified, directly from Library → Environments.
    • By copying them to your inventory (e.g. to your own Settings folder, if it is visible through the creation of an EEP asset; if not, any other folder can be used), where they will become modifiable, allowing you to adjust them / use them to create your own settings.
    • See my EEP Tutorial for editing / modifying EEP assets and settings.

Differences to Windlight

Some of the key differences between EEP and windlight are:

  • EEP settings are stored in inventory assets, not as XML files saved to your computer.
  • Because they are server-side, EEP settings are by default seen by any viewer affected by the. This can mean:
    • Parcel owners using a specific set of environment settings no longer have to request visitors manually switch to them.
    • Settings are no longer dependent on visitors to a parcel with a custom environment having the precise windlight XML file stored on their computer.
  • EEP setting do not require any external storage (e.g. Dropbox) in order to be shared with other users, if they are to be given away.

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