Lab Gab 23 summary: meet the EEP team!

via Linden Lab

The 23rd edition of Lab Gab live streamed on Friday, April 24, featuring Rider Linden, Ptolemy Linden and Euclid Linden, who between them form the core team behind the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), officially released by Linden Lab on Monday, April 20th.

The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and is embedded at the end of this article. The following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions asked.

Rider Linden is a Senior Software Engineer who has been with Linden Lab for just over five years – although his familiarity with Second Life goes back beyond that, as he is one of the many personnel LL have recruited from the ranks of Second Life users. He was responsible for initially defining the EEP project. He then went on to develop the viewer controls for EEP, taking considerable feedback from users along the way, as well as working with the rendering team during the project’s development. More recently, he has transitioned over the the simulator team, working on that side of the SL and routinely attending the Simulator User Group meetings.

Ptolemy Linden and Euclid Linden are more recent hires at the Lab, both are working on the rendering side of Second Life. Both have been Lindens for around 6-7 months, and have really cut their teeth as Lindens whilst working on EEP. Neither was a resident prior to joining the Lab, and both are now looking forward to tackling more graphics-related work within the viewer.

Euclid, Rider and Ptolemy Linden will be joined Strawberry Linden to discuss EEP

What Is EEP?

EEP is a set of environmental enhancements for Second Life that supersede th use of Windlight XML files. The primary aim of the project was to make lighting / atmospheric / water environments easier to create and use within Second Life and extend the ability to customise them to the parcel level. 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.
  • Provides additional LSL controls for environments.

EEP Q&A

Unresolved Issues

EEP was promoted to release status with 75 issues on the viewer listed as “unresolved” (viewer version 6.4.0.540188). Will LL continue to work to resolve these?

  • LL was focused on clearing what were considered to be major / severe issues with the system before releasing.
  • Remaining issues are viewed as annoyance / edge cases rather than things that prevent EEP from being used. These will be cleared up as time allows, but not within what might be considered a dedicated EEP project at this point in time.
  • The exception to this will be any issue which proves to be a continuing problem for users in trying to use EEP, and which becomes a source of widespread forum complaint and / or the subject of bug reports.

Can the EEP UI Elements be Reduced in Size?

Several of the EEP UI elements take up a lot of screen real estate. Can these be reduced in size in future viewers / altered so that they can be resized by users?

  • There is a wider project at the Lab to revisit a lot of the viewer UI.
  • The EEP UI elements will like fall under this work.

Can EEP Settings be Applied via a Drop-down List, Rather than Attached?

  • No, as they are contained in inventory assets.
  • However, there is another broader than EEP project to look at inventory in general, and providing the means for users to preview EEP items which may, as it matures, help.

Does EEP Affect Teleports / Region Crossings?

(Asked as a result of the April 21st issues, which were not EEP related, but part of wider Internet issues within the United States).

  • Not at all.
  • The simulators have been supporting EEP for over a year thus far.
  • The additional data carried through  TP  / region crossing due to an applied EEP asset is minimal.
  • Transitions in EEP are handle very fast, and shouldn’t interfere with physical region crossings in vehicles [it has been noted at Simulator User Group meeting that if you are travelling fast enough to pass from region to region to region before EEP can fully transition from the first the the second environment, it will skip the second and go directly to rendering the third].

Further Information on EEP

Does EEP Work on TPVs?

  • As the code is adopted by them, yes.

Will In-World Objects Need Updating to Look Right Under EEP?

  • A lot of time has been spent by the Lab trying to ensure that EEP renders objects as closely as possible to how they look under Windlight.
  • It’s note entirely one-to-one in all situations, and there may be some subtle differences. However, the hope is that for the majority of objects, EEP shouldn’t present a significantly different look.
  • If there are significant breakages in how some object look, the request is for creators to raise a bug report JIRA on them (and provide a sample to the Lab, if possible / requested).

How Can EEP Settings / Object be Created? Can they be Sold?

  • EEP settings / assets can be created in inventory with EEP-enabled viewers and experimented with.
    • For EEP viewer, the Library includes a group of settings (Library → Environments) that can be copied to Inventory and then edited and experimented with / used.
Creating a new EEP asset via the + button (1) or via right-clicking on the Settings folder and the selecting the required asset type from the create menu > My Settings option (2)

Can I Use My Old Windlights with EEP?

  • Windlight settings cannot be used directly with EEP. Windlight used XML files external to the viewer; EEP uses settings contained with SL inventory assets.
  • Windlight settings can be imported into EEP however.
Use the Import button in the edit floater to open a file picker and select the windlight to be imported

Will There Be More Rendering / Graphics Improvements for SL?

  • Rendering enhancement are on-going (e.g. via the Love Me Render project, which periodically releases RC viewers with rendering updates and fixes).
  • Id there is something specific you would like to see, please raise a feature request for consideration.

WILL SL Ever Have A New Rendering Engine?

  • Second Life cannot really adopt a commercial rendering engine, as the platform is too highly adopted to the user-generated content in-world.
  • However, as noted, it is actively being worked on for improvements, and this includes removing legacy code where it is no longer required.
    • An example of this is the EEP viewer code removes the ability to turn off the basic shaders in the viewer.
  • There are certain imperatives that are driving some system changes related to the rendering engine – such as Apple discontinuing support for OpenGL.
  • Trying to re-engineer SL to use a commercial engine also simply doesn’t make sense, as it would mean “throwing away” all that has been developed so far and practically re-engineering SL from the ground up.

 

2 thoughts on “Lab Gab 23 summary: meet the EEP team!

  1. A lot of people (especially content developers) seem to be under impressed with the implementation of EEP. Me amongst them. The cloud textures I make, which look cool in Windlight, are nowhere near as nice in EEP. It was supposed to improve things, but in a lot of ways it is not as good…

    This is the stuff I have for SL at present, for those not familiar. The links in the sales blurbs show a bunch of photos and videos of Windlight in action. I have made a lot of them free now, due to EEP.
    https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/204498

    Like

    1. Hi Stevie,

      As an aside, I’ve actually reviewed your windlight work here: Clouds and windlight skies by Stevie Davros.

      EEP makes some fundamental changes to how environments are rendered compared to Windlight (completely different shaders) which can have an impact. Certainly where the cloud effects are a part of the .XML, the results can be mixed (I’m disappointed that one of my own .XMLs that I routinely use is really flat when it comes to cloud rendering).

      Dedicated .TGA cloud textures tend to come out pretty much unchanged, as per these comparisons using you JulietSet .TGA and ~Clouds_JulietSet_Blue_Day .XML in both Firestorm release and Firestorm EEP pre-release: Test Image 1 and Test Image 2.

      (Obviously, for the EEP version of FS, the .XML has been imported, and the TGA resized to 1024×1024 and uploaded). Other than a rotation of the cloud .TGA that perhaps makes the faint “tiling” artefact present in both versions of the viewer perhaps a little more prominent in the EEP version, I’m not seeing too much difference.

      In terms of .TGA files, however, one thing I have noticed is that the cloud sliders in EEP viewers can produce much more pronounced changes to clouds (particularly the new Variance slider) which can, even with slight changes, make complex cloud images – like JulietSet – look something of a mess.

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