I confess that when the invitation to visit the exhibition at The 22 ArtSpace, the boutique gallery operated by Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand in Bellisseria, which opened on April 1st, 2022, my mind immediately leapt to thoughts of the Scorsese comedy drama starring Ellen Burstyn.
However. whilst somewhat similarly titled, the ArtSpace exhibition, Alice (Mostly) Doesn’t Live Here has nothing to do with Scorsese’s Alice Docesn’t Live Here Anymore, but instead takes its inspiration from the poetic writings of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who better known by his pen-name of Lewis Carroll gave birth to a pair of literary classics – books that have proven enduringly popular in Second Life, simply because of their marvellous dive into the world of literary nonsense and adventure.
The exhibition features one or two images by Randy and Ricco, together with Boudicca Amat, Whiskey Monday and Trinity Yazimoto, that have been drawn from a pre-defined list of Carroll’s poems, with the poem itself offered alongside each picture.
Within the 22 ArtSpace house, which has been redressed by Ricco and Randy to suggest the kind of living spaces in which Carroll may well have penned his works, this is a light-hearted and engaging little exhibition that presents a treat for those – like me – who enjoy the author’s broad wit and observations.
Offered without pretence or metaphor or allegory – but occasionally with a moral -, these are pictures and poems intended to raise a smile and offer light reflection. And, truth be told, they succeed in both! And while they may not be within the main pictures on display, neither Mr. Carroll not Miss A. Liddell pass entirely without mention!
The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, March 31st 2022 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and their respective dates and times can be obtained from the SL Public Calendar.
This is a summary of the key topics discussed in the meeting and is not intended to be a full transcript.
Current SL viewer pipelines:
Release viewer: version version 18.104.22.1688554 – formerly the Maintenance J&K RC viewer, promoted Monday, February 28 – No Change
Performance Improvements RC viewer version 22.214.171.1249349, dated March 14.
Lao-Lao Maintenance RC viewer, version 126.96.36.1999191, issued on March 11.
Performance Floater project viewer, version 188.8.131.529531, March 18.
Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version 184.108.40.2066858, dated January 5, issued after January 10.
Legacy Profiles viewer, version 220.127.116.110519, dated October 26, 2020.
Copy / Paste viewer, version 18.104.22.1683365, dated December 9, 2019.
General Viewer Notes
There is a general request out that people try the Performance Improvements RC viewer even if they are not in the cohort to auto-receive it as a viewer update.
Additional Materials Support – CCUG Meeting
LL are actively considering expanding the SL materials system to handle materials surfaces (imported in glTF format).
The initial idea is that when done, it will result in a “materials asset” containing all the settings that can be stored in inventory and re-used on object faces.
The primary motivators for this are a) to help people who are creating content in the likes of Substance 3D Painter, so that then can import and then adjust the parameters are required; and b) to act as a foundational step as SL moves towards supporting PBR, as PBR will require additional texture channels, etc., and LL believe this approach offers a means to start holing that additional information.
However, as assets, materials, while copyable / reusable, would not initially be editable in-world when in use.
To start this off, LL are looking to:
Better understand “typical” workflows used by content creators (notably the specific tools creators would like to see supported), and how they might better support those workflows.
Gain feedback on how creators might want to use an expanded materials system.
It is felt that to be of value, the entire SL reflection model would require an extensive overhaul to better support specularity handling. However, LL are still determining overall support for materials, and have suggested specularity could be handled in one of two ways:
The glTF could be adapted to the existing SL texture entry parameter;
Or (seen as preferable) add glTF support to the render engine for materials exactly as they come out of Substance 3D Painter and similar tools, allowing reflection models produced within them to be properly represented.
Support for the latter is already available within the viewer, but is not currently readily accessible for use.
Some form of user group may well be established to help manage discussions going forward and help understand how different tools implement glTF and how creators utilise those tools.
Provision of materials support for Bakes on Mesh is not a part of this work.
A lot of general discussion on a number of topics, none of which is currently the focus of any Lab project, including:
“Flexi-mesh”: .a frequent request to have mesh react to physics in the same manner as flexiprims.
Technically this could be made possible by treating the flexiprim physics as part of the skeleton rather than as just a primitive path.
However, there is a real risk that were this to be done, it would break existing flexiprim content.
Currently, there are no plans to touch the flexiprim code; or offer support for “flexi-mesh”. However, if a well-conceived feature request on the subject is submitted, then it might be something that the Lab could look at in the future to see how it might be addressed.
Physics enhancements (e.g. altering the rate at which an avatar sinks in Linden Water so as to be more realistic) – no plans at present to touch the physics system.
There has been a request to completely overhaul the mesh importer to provide a much better means of previewing models prior to upload (e.g. see things like lighting effects, how textures appear, etc.).
Doing so is seen as assisting workflows by allowing models to be previewed without the need to log-in to the beta grid (for free uploads), easing the workflow when working on the Main grid.
Again, shy of a detailed feature request, there are no plans to overhaul the mesh importer in a dramatic way.
BUG-231985 “LL Incoming Damage Cap” is a new feature request to make the SL damage system more flexible to creators of combat, etc., environments / games when damage is a factor (e.g. by allowing a max damage per hit cap to be set for a region / parcel, so that players aren’t automatically “dead” on the first hit).
Setting animation priority via script: frequently requested, but not yet on the roadmap, although LL are aware of the popularity of the request.
On Thursday, March 31st, 2022 Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations and a member of the company’s management team, attended the 2022 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference in the first of three special events featuring representative from Linden Lab.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.
This is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
Timestamps are included to allow a direct jump to a subject / comment.
On the Passing of Ebbe Altberg and the CEO Position
Brad Oberwager noted the dynamic between Grumpity Linden (VP of Product), Brett Linden (VP of Marketing), Patch and now Mojo Linden (VP of Engineering), and decided to work with them as a management team, rather than bringing in a new VP.
Grown out of the need to properly regulate money handling and the operation of a virtual currency, Tilia has grown into a product set in its own right.
It still plays a central role with Second Life in terms of handling fiat money and transferring Linden Dollars to fiat money amounts.
However, it is a separate entity, and specialises in all regulatory and compliance matters in dealing with fiat money transactions. As such it free the SL management team to focus on Second Life and its services for users.
Starting work of new “event” regions capable of running with 100-150 avatars within them, with a hoped-for target of 200.
These regions have had some testing at various shopping events, and work is continuing to test and compare these environments.
Seen as offering a route to true auditorium-style events as well as supporting shopping style events.
Things like cost and additional features for this product have yet to be determined, so these regions are not generally available at this time.
There are still issues to be resolved. For example, tests revealed that if a region took more than around 175 avatars, the memory use within the simulator / server the region was on would start to exponentially rise with each additional avatar.
These regions might possibly be available to support RFL events.
[Video 47:46-48:22] Once available, these “event” regions will be offered to educators at the current educational discount.
[Video 49:40-51:21] These new “event” regions will not see any increase in either region size or in Land Capacity limits. Should Land Capacity ever change, it will be globally scaled for products.
A lot of the work in leveraging AWS and developing the new “event” region product have both led to the discovery of additional areas where work needs to be carried out, and this is an ongoing process.
The breadth of product offerings provided by AWS are constantly being analysed to see if they might be leveraged for use by Second Life.
However, some of this might be limited, or required more engineering work. For example, text-to-speech / real-time translation are options AWS can provide, but leveraging them would require extensive viewer-side engineering to leverage what are essentially server-based tools.
[Video: 44:21-47:21] Two major efforts at the moment are geared at growing the user base. These comprise:
A further redesign of the new user on-boarding process and new user experience, part of which can be seen with the revamp of the welcome islands launched in 2021.
A review of the avatar system / avatars supplied by LL for new users.
For those who use the RegAPI, these changes will, it is hoped, “revolutionise” bringing users in SL.
These are both part and parcel of an overall drive to increase the Second Life user base over the next few years (Patch’s personal target being to double the number of active avatars in-world).
A benefit here of being on AWS is that Second Life is now entirely “elastic” and can group as required.
Mobile / lightweight strategies are still very much part of the work that is on-going at the Lab.
The dedicated Mobile offering (initially iOS) is still very much a focus.
A streaming option is also being considered – but streaming is very much a moving target in terms of technology and capabilities, so this is very much a longer-term project. However:
It potentially offers a higher-fidelity experience with graphics, etc.
It is in active development and experimentation.
Costs will be a factor, however, and such a service is unlikely to be something that would be folded-in to, say, some Premium subscription, simply because stream costs are so variable in terms of data load, etc.
[Video 42:59-44:20] It is hoped that in offering a mobile solution, LL will be able to increase SL’s exposure to audiences and help grow the user base.
Front-line support has been increased by 4 people.
A new scripted support bot has been deployed that utilises AI to tackle support questions, rather than operating programmatically.
Can understand plain English questions and leverages the Knowledge Base.
Can carry out basic support functions, such as restarting a region on receipt of a recognised request.
Also includes (or will include as the capability is being developed) to help with things like filing Abuse Reports.
New support options are being introduced (notably as a part of Premium Plus, but no specifics).
[Video: 39:24-42:57] On Meta and virtual spaces: Meta has put a huge spotlight on the metaverse business. Feels that at the end of the day, Meta will be just one of a number of virtual worlds / environments, and that others like Second Life can benefit out of the “all boats rise” adage.
Some passing mention of Premium Plus but no real specifics worth noting.