2022 week #46: CCUG and TPVD meeting summaries

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022 – blog post

The following notes were taken from:

  • My audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at 13:00 SLT.
  • My audio recording and chat log from the Third-Party Viewer Developer (TPVD) meeting held on Friday, November 18th, 2022 at 13:00 SLT. Pantera attended the meeting, but was unfortunately held-up beforehand, so around the first 10 minutes is absent from her video (embedded at the end of this summary).

Both meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and their 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.

Official Viewers Status

[Video: 0:00-2:00]

Available Viewers

The following reflect the list of current official viewers available through Linden Lab.

  • Release viewer: version 6.6.7.576223 – MFA and TOS hotfix viewer – November 1.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance P (Preferences, Position and Paste) RC viewer version 6.6.8.576431 on Monday, November 14.
    • VS  2022 RC viewer, version 6.6.8.576310, issued November 4 – utilises Visual Studio 2022 in the Windows build tool chain.
  • Project viewers:
    • PBR Materials project viewer, version 7.0.0.576331, issued on November 3.
      • This viewer will only function on the following Aditi (beta grid) regions: Materials1; Materials Adult and Rumpus Room 1 through 4.
    • Puppetry project viewer, version 6.6.3.575529,  issued on October 12.
    • Performance Floater / Auto-FPS project viewer, version 6.6.5.575378, October 4.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 6 graphics improvements project viewer 6.6.2.573263, July 21.

General Viewer Notes

  • There is unlikely to be any major changes to the list above in week #47, as this is a short working week for the Lab due to the Thanksgiving holiday (Thursday / Friday).

Github Changeover and Streamlining the Code Contributions Process

Github Work

As previously announced, there is an initiative to improve continuous update integration in the viewer and improve the viewer deployment process.

  • For TPVs and developers, the most visible aspect of this is moving the viewer repositories from BitBucket to Github. This includes the viewer code base and the other public code bases currently in BitBucket (Autobuild, LLCA, etc.).
  • There is still no firm date as to when the actual switch-over to using the new repositories will occur, but the viewer development team is working steadily towards it, and the plan remains to provide plenty of advanced warning to TPVs on when LL plan to cut over to the new repositories before making a clean cut-over.

Status

  • The switch-over to using Github is now slated for “early in the morning” (PST / SLT) on Monday, November 21st, 2022.
  • This means that from the point of switch-over, the Bitbucket repositories will be locked and carry a warning that they are no longer current, and developers / viewer builders should use the GitHub repositories, as directed to in the warning.
  • The master viewer branch is already up-to-date on GitHub as of Friday, November 18th, 2022.
  • Notes on the switch-over were posted to developers on the open-source developers list.
  • There is no plan in place to phase out the Bitbucket repositories immediately, but they may well be removed in time.

PBR: Materials and Reflections

Project Summary

  • To provide support for PBR materials using the core glTF 2.0 specification Section 3.9 and using mikkTSpace tangents, including the ability to have PBR Materials assets which can be applied to surfaces and also traded / sold.
  • To provide support for reflection probes and cubemap reflections.
  • The overall goal is to provide as much support for the glTF 2.0 specification as possible.

Status

  • Please also see previous CCUG meeting summaries for further background on this project.
  • The  viewer is available as a project viewer via the Alternate Viewers page, but will only work on the following regions on Aditi (the Beta grid):  Materials1; Materials Adult and Rumpus Room 1 through 4.
  • The focus is currently on reviewing bugs reported by those testing the viewer, and creators using glTF PBR workflows to create content are encouraged to test out their content on the project viewer to ensure things look as expected when imported into SL.
  • One aspect of SL that does require testing is EEP assets; changes have had to be made to the shaders which mean that commercial EEP settings may not render as expected (things like haze density my  be modified, etc).
    • EEP creators may therefore want to test their settings using the project viewer, and Jira issues – please include “non PBR viewer” shots of how the settings should look and shots taken with the PBR project viewer for easier comparison / understanding of the issues seen.
  • Issues with alpha blending are being investigated – particularly linear space alpha blending and how best to carry forward “pre-PBR” alpha blending, which does not use linear space.
  • It has been reported that the PBR project viewer generating some 10% more CPU temperature and 17% more GPU temperature – this may be the result of the viewer having to work that much harder with PBR in order to maintain frame rates.
  • Reflection probes: concern was again raised over people excessively using probes (e.g. attaching them to all their products / objects they own).
    • Providing a means for users to disable probes attached to objects they purchase has been previously discussed within the project / CCUG meetings.
    • It is hoped the latter (people just randomly setting-up probes all over their house / land) can be mitigated against through a mix of education and explicit warnings / actions in the viewer.
    • Concern was also raised about the potential of localised reflection probes (essentially an invisible prim) could interfere with intended interactions (e.g. a probe enclosing a chair could block people’s ability to sit on the chair). If cases like this are found in testing, a request has been made for bug reports.
    • The PBR viewer does include a Build / Edit option to “ignore invisible prims” so that when building / editing, an attempt to select an object within the volume of a reflection probe prim will ensure the object is selected, not the probe prim, but it is acknowledged that this kind of operation needs to be better integrated with other mouse click options.
  • (TPV Meeting video)
    • It was noted that this project also marks the start of the deprecation (and eventual removal) of some real-time console performance reports, such as Fast Timers.
    • It has been reported that some testing the PBR viewer are finding that within the texture console, Bias is constantly being reported at 5 (which tends to cause texture thrashing in non-PBR viewers). However, within the PBR viewer  a Bias of 5 should indicate that the viewer is swapping – and keeping to – a lower texture resolution, and so should not result in any texture thrashing.

Screen Space Reflections (SSR)

  • LL does have a “subtle” SSR system working to replace Linden water reflections as currently rendered.
  • There is some further work to be carried out before it is “viewer-ready”, with the focus being on ironing out the bumps and cleaning-up bugs.
  • It was made clear that while this implementation of SSR will be applicable to scenes as a whole, it is not intended to be a replacement for creating mirrors – and so expectations should be set accordingly.

CCUG Meeting Specific Notes

The majority of the meeting was given over to a general discussion, per the cliff-notes below:

  • VR hardware and Second Life:
    • While frame rates are not so much an issue now in broad terms, there is still the need to get a high frame rate on a consistent basis for VR viewing to be enjoyable – and this is still not a giving with SL.
    • However, VR isn’t just about headsets; its about the “full” experience in using a range of associated peripherals: controllers, haptic gloves, the ability to have a “full-body experience” that VR users would want and expect, such as seeing your hand and arm when going to pick something up, being able to grip an object in your hands and feel responses from it when using it (e.g. the strike of a blade against another or a baseball sat against the ball, etc.).
    • The level of support for this more complete sense of immersiveness requires some extensive re-engineering of Second Life (e.g. facilitating a full and proper Inverse Kinematics system  as a single example).
    • The Puppetry project may facilitate some work towards this. However, the focus of this project is not on providing any form of in-depth VR support (it is intended to work with a broader range of peripherals, notably webcams, although use of some VR software support via OpenVR is being considered), being intended for use by as broad a cross-section of SL users as might be interested in it.
    • Another problem is determining what people want from VR; is it purely a mechanism for games, or does it need to be capable of “realistic” social interactions (some do still proclaim games, other demand social capabilities; the truth is probably more a blending of the two, just like life in the physical realm).
  • New users and their experience:
    • Much was made of the need for a completely new avatar system (LL is actually working on a new all-mesh “starter avatar”, but using the existing skeleton) – but overhauling / replacing the current avatar system raises its own compatibility / market issues.
    • A fair point was raised by LL concerning the use of eviction / ban scripts that specifically ban avatars that are less than X days old and / or avatars that do not have Payment Information On File.
      • These tend to get used at event spaces etc., to try to prevent griefers / trolls using throwaway accounts from accessing the space, rather than using other available moderation tools (which, admittedly tend to require human intervention with the right permissions, which might not always be available).
      • The problem here is that often, a “genuine” new user will often sign-up, go through the new user experience, then try to go to a event – only to immediately find they are denied entry or are ejected without warning or explanation, and as a result, they log-out.
      • The need for improved tools to handle griefing and trolling are likely required – but no discussion on what form these might take.
  • Audio: a general conversation on the potential of “full” spatial audio, including directional (e.g. so an audio stream at a disco appears to be coming from the speaker system in the venue) and also sound volumes.
    • Nothing is currently planned for audio in the roadmap, but it was noted that the first test of using volumes (reflection probes) is in Aditi testing, and LL will obviously seeing how well that works.
  • It  was made clear that scripts will “NEVER” be allowed to create new assets (so no ability to generate notecards from a script). One of the reasons cited for this is the cost of storing assets if there is an uncontrolled ability to generate them through scripts (particularly given SL’s asset count is already in the petabytes range in terms of storage).

TPVD Meeting Specific Notes

Atlassian Jira and Bug Reporting

  • Atlassian has announced it will be restructuring how it licenses the Jira bug reporting product from 2024 onwards. Currently, LL can run a public-facing Jira reporting system that effectively allows every Second Life user to create an account on it to view all the public SL bug reports and feature requests.
  • Under the 2024 pricing restructure (which will be pretty much per-account), this will be prohibitively expensive for LL, so they are starting into the process of looking for an alternative means to provide some form of user-facing bug reporting mechanism.
    • one option being considered is to continue to use Jira internally (where the number of licensed accounts can be controlled), and use a different mechanism for public bug reporting, with a bridge between the two.
    • Another is to move away from Jira entirely.
  • No decision has been made as yet, but as Firestorm also use Jira, the suggestion has been made that the two develop a joint plan to resolve the situation in terms of future tools.
  • The topic lead to a general discussion on possible options, but no conclusions drawn – and there is sufficient lead-time on the matter for various options to be looked into, allowing for the time required to transition to any alternate that might be selected / finding the means to keep the wealth of information on the SL Jira available for reference.

General Notes

  • There is a report that Active Voice on at least some viewers is not updating correctly (e.g. following a teleport, and it is proving easier to enable  / disable Voice morphing vie the menu than to disconnect / reconnect Voice in order to correct.
    • The issue here is not so much which is the preferred method to correct the problem, but whether the Active Voice list failing to update is a widespread issue with viewers, and whether it can be reproduced on the official viewer & a bug report raised.
  • Beq Janus has written a post on alpha blending issues (see: Alpha blend issues? Get them sorted – subtitled Making it easier to avoid alpha-clashes with Second Life and OpenSim outfits). Rather than have me  decimate the discussion, please refer to the video fat 35:56 through video end for more.

Next Meetings

  • CCUG: Thursday, December 1st, 2022.
  • TPVD: Friday, December 23rd, 2022.

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