FIXED: Nvidia drivers correct SL rendering issues

Nvidia have issued driver updates that appear to fix the rendering artefacts reported with GeForce driver version 516.40 (+ others).

The issue has been primarily reported against Windows and some Linux flavours, when running the viewer with Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled. It would result in some objects to flashing or blinking in and out, or rings and lines to be displayed across in-world objects (as shown in the image below).

Image showing some of the artefacts created during scene rendering following an update to the Nivida 516.40 driver – now fixed in driver version 516.59

According to Techpowerup.com, the new Windows 516.59 (Windows) drivers contain the following fixes:

  • [Red Dead Redemption][Vulkan]: Some objects may flicker when player is indoors.
  • [OpenGL] Minecraft Java Edition may display artefacts when using Optifine shaders.
  • OpenGL] Artifacts may appear in Second Life when connecting using third party viewers.
  • [Neverwinter Nights] Light sources not rendering correctly.
  • [Vulkan] Path of Exile displays flashing black textures.
  • [G-SYNC] Games may stutter when bringing up the Xbox app overlay.
  • [UE5] General UE5 stability improvements.

(my emphasis on the Second life bug).

Users Ven Banana ((VenKellie) and Wurfi informed me of the driver release after installing and testing it for the fix – my thanks to them for doing so.

In addition driver version 515.57 has the fix for Linux.

Beq Janus, who originally reported to issue via the Nvidia forums, has also confirmed the issue as fixed.

The drivers can be downloaded via the link on the Techpower.up release notes page (linked to above), or directly from the Nvidia drivers page.

Lab announces updated Event region products + pricing

via Linden Lab

On May 2nd, 2022, Linden Lab initially announced the release of a new region product, the Event region type (see the official blog post Event Regions).

Leveraging the additional capabilities available through AWS, this new product was intended specifically for hosting large-scale events. At the time the product was introduced, it was noted by many (including myself), that the initial pricing seemed a little high.

Since the initial introduction of the product, the Lab has been able to learn a lot more about how best to leverage it and looked at offering capabilities more reflected of the needs of event organisers and at prices better suited to their potential use.

As a result of this, late on Thursday, June 23rd, the Lab issued a blog post announcing updates to Event region products – which are new split between Event Pro and Event Elite, each with its own price-point.

Event Elite is considered the “all-inclusive” product, and Event Pro the “a-la carte” variant.  The table below provides the prices and capabilities associated with both.

Event Pro Event Elite
Monthly fee¹ US $449 US $599
Avatar Capacity 175 175
20%+ Script performance improvement Yes Yes
Extended chat range (upon request)² Yes Yes
Land Capacity 20,000 30,000
Increase to 30K Land Capacity US $30/mo n/a
Rollback service (with 48 hr of request)³ US $25 per request Free
Region cloning4 US $50 per request Free
White-glove concierge support n/a Free

Table Notes:

  1. There are no set-up fees applied to Event Pro or Event Elite regions.
  2. Everyone on the region to see and participate in Nearby Chat if desired.
  3. If you make a mistake with region content, or want to restore a previous build, you can request to roll the region back to a specific time.
  4. The region must have 100% original content.

How to Order an Event Region (Elite or Pro)

  • Submit a request via the SL support ticket system.
  • Select Land & Region > Region Purchase
  • Note that you may order multiple Event regions on the same support ticket

Private Region Rollback Service

In addition to the above, the post from the Lab indicates that the US $25 region roll-back service is now also available to all private region owners (another they remain at Linden Lab’s discretion and are not guaranteed).

Feedback

In my original post on the May launch of Event regions, I noted a feeling that while the “introductory offer” price of US $599 sounded reasonable, the (then) proposed increase to US $899 at the end of the “introductory period” was more than a little steep, and could put people off the use of such regions. As such, this restructuring of prices is to be welcomed, and makes a lot of sense. It would still be nice to see these products offered on more of a pro-rata basis, but overall, this is a welcome move by LL.

Second Life Premium Plus launches + some notes; updated

via Linden Lab

On Thursday, June 23rd, Linden Lab officially launched the new Premium Plus subscription package (or membership package, if you prefer), offering a new range of benefits and bonuses to those who wish to avail themselves of them. Some of the benefits come into effect immediately for those taking out a Premium Plus subscription, and others will be deployed in the near future, with further benefits also being added over time.

Alongside the announcement (but not linked to it at the time of writing this) this Lab released a FAQ page on Premium Plus.

What is Premium Plus?

  • Premium Plus is a new subscription package that increases the benefits and options to those taking it above those offered within the Premium package, as well as sharing some benefits in common with Premium.
  • It does not replace Premium, which continues as a subscription package for anyone who prefers it.
  • It does not change the Premium subscription package in any way, all benefits found within that package remain “as is” with the launch of Premium Plus.
  • It is open to any Second Life user – you do not have to be / become a Premium subscriber before becoming a Premium Plus subscriber.
  • It brings the total number of options for using Second Life to three: Basic, Premium and Premium Plus.

Premium Plus Benefits Comparison with Premium

The following as a complete a list of Premium and Premium Plus benefits I have been able to assemble based on available information, and should hopefully provide a direct comparison be tween the two. It may be subject to update.

Note that √ in any field means an unchanged benefit from Premium to Premium Plus.

Benefit Premium Premium Plus
45-day L$ Sign-up  Bonus¹ L$1000 L$3000
Weekly L$ Stipend² L$300 L$650
Free Tier³ 1024 sq m 2048 sq m
Linden Home Option4 Up to 1024 sq m Up to 2048 sq m
Group Slots 70 140
Off-Line Message Cap 80 160
Upload Fees (textures, animations, sounds) L$10 per item Free
Name Changes (+VAT if applicable) $39 $155
Event Listing Fees Single: L$10; Recurring L$50 Free
Group Creation Fee L$100 L$10
Land Experiences (Experience Keys) 1 2
Voice Morphing
Animesh Attachments 2
Support Live Chat Live Chat + toll-free ‘phone (International: use Skye or similar)
90-day transaction History
Premium Gifts √ + Premium Plus exclusives
Premium Sandbox Access √ + Premium Plus Sandboxes
Preferential Access to High-Volume Events

Table Notes:

  1. The 45-day sign-up bonus is open to both Basic and Premium membership upgrading the Premium Plus.
    • Note this is a first-time sign-up bonus only, it will not apply if you downgrade and then re-up later.
  2. The Premium Plus Stipend – L$650 is a flat rate; there is no upward adjustment for those currently receiving Grandfathered stipends of L$400 or L$500.
    • However, the Grandfathered status will be re-applied if the subscription is subsequently downgraded to Premium.
  3. Free tier can be used against Mainland land holdings; or against a Premium Plus Linden Home (coming soon); or a mix of Linden Home and Mainland land.
  4. Linden Homes:
    • Only one Linden Home can be held per account (Premium or Premium Plus).
    • The new Premium Plus Linden Homes will hopefully start to be deployed in late 2022.
    • Once available, 2048 sq m Linden Homes will have their own themes / styles, and the 2048 sq m parcels may in the future be able to leverage versions of the Premium Linden Homes for those who would like a smaller house and more yard / water space.
    • Premium Plus members will be able to go via Land Support to request they are given a specific Linden Home parcel this is not currently part of the automatic Linden Home assignment system (i.e. being handled by the Linden Homes ordering web page).
    • Update: Patch Linden, Meet the Moles [video 37:31-39:08]: Premium Plus homes are to have completely new ground-up themes / implementation, rather than being pre-planned (as per the Premium home themes).
  5. Name Changes:
    • Premium Plus subscribers can change their name for US $15, but this has to be done via an Account Issue support ticket (subtype Change Account Details).
    • The first name remains free form, but the Last Name must be from the current Last Names list.

Premium Plus Fees Compared to Premium

All prices US dollars – see the section below for upgrading from Premium to Premium Plus.

Premium Premium Plus
Monthly Billing¹ $11:99 $29.99²
Quarterly Billing¹ ³ $32.97 Not available
Annual Billing4 $99.00 $249

Table Notes

  1. Monthly and Quarterly billing are subject to VAT where applicable.
  2. Those taking a Premium Plus subscription in the first 30 days following the launch will be charged $24.99 for their first month and $29.99 thereafter.
  3. Quarterly Premium billing is only available to those who were on the billing plan prior to it being discontinued on June 24th, 2019.
  4. Annual billing is VAT exempt in those countries that normally charge VAT.

Upgrading from Premium to Premium Plus

Premium subscribers can upgrade to Premium Plus before their current subscription expires on prorate basis. So, an annual Premium membership that has 30 days remaining before renewal. This value is equivalent to $8.10 of the $99.00 Annual Premium membership they originally paid for. This would be credited towards the initial Premium Plus membership payment at the time of upgrade, either Monthly or annual.

Note that if the credit to be applied towards proration is larger than the value of the Premium Plus membership being upgraded to, Linden Lab will extend the renewal date for the Premium Plus membership to account for the additional value.

Personal Thoughts

Patch Linden’s initial (and incomplete) outline of Premium Plus during his Meet the Lindens session as SL19B did not garner a good response within the forums, largely on the basis of pricing. And, in fairness there are reasons to feel the offering is over-priced; but equally, there are cases where it may be viewed favourably.

Take the free tier offering, for example:

  • For those seeking modest mainland space or wanting to put the tier to Group use, an outlay of US $249 a year doesn’t come off well against promoting an alt account to Premium and paying a total of US $198 a year for the same free tier.
  • For someone (like myself)  who has both a Premium account + a modest amount of privately rented land (at US $10.50 a week), or someone on Basic paying (say) $15-20 a week for a moderate parcel, it is possible that – once available – the Premium Plus Linden Home with their double Land Capacity and fewer-per-region density over Premium Homes might be an attractive proposition.

Similarly, while the rest of the benefits look to be middling – I personally have little need for 70 Group slot, let alone 140! – others might will be appealing, such as the $15 Name Change fee, particularly among those who swap back and forth between names almost monthly (and there are some – I know a few!). However and overall, whether people find the offer in keeping with Brad Oberwager’s “give two dollars of value, but only charge a dollar” philosophy or not, is liable to be hotly debated.

For my part, would I move from Premium to Premium Plus? Quite possibly; as noted above, depending on how Premium Plus Linden Homes regions are presented (e.g. themes, water access), then there is an attraction for me in upping to Premium Plus and dropping the $530+ a year I spend on renting a small private island.

Second Life: Nvidia Driver 516.40 Issues

Update: June 28th, 2022: this issue has been resolved with the release of driver version 516.59 – see: FIXED: Nvidia 516.59 drivers correct SL rendering issues.

Update: the issues described blow have also been noted on Nvidia drivers 512.95 and 515.48. If you encounter similar issues please check for driver version (go to Help → About in the viewer and then look for the line “OpenGL Version: X.X.X NVIDIA YYY.YY”,  where Nvidia YYY.YY is your installed driver); if you note a different driver to 51.6.40, please consider adding a note to the two official Jira linked to below, and in a comment on Beq’s NvidIa forum report, so other can see potentially affected drivers. Thanks. 

It is being reported that the latest Nvidia driver version 516.40, issued on June 15th, 2022, is causing issues for Second Life Users running either Windows or Linux who have updated to use it. As a result, the general advice is not to update to this driver for the time being.

In summary:

  • The issues are apparent when running the viewer with Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled.
  • They can cause objects to flash or blink in and out, or can display rings or lines across in-world objects (as shown in the image below).
Image showing some of the artefacts created during scene rendering following an update to the Nivida 516.40 driver. Image courtesy of ermanart / BUG-232264

The following bug reports provide further information on the problems reported thus far:

  • Firestorm:
    • FIRE-31746 – “Updated nVidia Drivers now ambient occlusion causes graphic issues”.
    • FIRE-31747 – “Graphical Glitch that’s too distracting to ignore”.
  • Official Jira:
    • BUG-232264 – “Nvidia driver update causes rough lines in Second Life rendering”.
    • BUG-232268 – “NVidia driver 516.40 causes visual issues on latest viewers with ALM enabled”

In addition, Beq Janus of the Firestorm team has reported the issue via the Nvidia forums – see: Driver 516.40 Causing visual artefacts on Windows and Linux for Second Life viewers (OpenGL).

For those who have updated to driver 516.40, two courses of action are currently available to try to correct:

  • Minimum: disable ALM (Preferences → Graphics → uncheck Advanced Lighting Model. Note that this may not work when under Linden Water in Second Life, per BUG-232268 (above).
  • Recommended: revert to an earlier driver version or use the Nvidia Studio Drivers instead.

Again, please note that the issues are driver-related, and so not something either Linden Lab nor TPVs can address themselves.

Visiting the Sakura Linden Home regions in Second Life

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

On Monday, May 16th, just a month after their preview, Linden Lab released the Sakura Linden Homes theme for Premium subscribers. Thanks to the prior April preview, I’ve already offered something of an overview and thoughts on the house designs within Linden Homes: Asian theme in Second Life, so what follows is a very brief recap on them, followed by more of a look at the Sakura regions as a whole, and my thoughts on now having seen the regions.

Overall, the theme is offered with both 1024 sq m and 512 sq m parcels, with a total of 8 house designs split between 4 styles (each style having two versions, one with multiple rooms, the other with fewer rooms and something of a more open-plan feel). Some of the designs are specific to the 1024 sq m parcel size, but the smaller designs are available on both 1024 and 512 sq m parcels.

Sakura Linden Homes Theme with Mount Soji on the horizon

The houses are predominantly single-floor units, with only the Himawari / Haibisukasu (available on both 512 sq and 1024 sq m parcels) and the Kaneshon / Kuchinashi (available on 1024 sq m parcels only) having upper floors.

By default the outer walls of all the designs have been given stucco / plaster finish, and all have the typical steep tiled roofs we in the west identify with this style of house. The majority of doors are of the sliding variety, either fully glazed and set between glazed window panels, or for a degree of privacy between rooms, may be opaquely screened. I assume they include the same decorating options found in the more recent Linden home releases.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

I confess that on first seeing the house designs, I couldn’t help be feel the variants with multiple rooms tended to feel as if their interior spaces were a little cramped and in places awkward. Some of the designs still leave me felling that way, but I confess to have changed my mind somewhat on others – the Shion, for example, with its central “courtyard” potentially offers a lot of opportunities for the imaginative interior designer.

The Sakura regions offer a mix of roads and waterways running through the regions, with the houses arranged in informal “blocks” between them such that the majority of properties either face onto either a road or waterway (and in some cases both), even if they don’t provide fully open access to due to a strip / belt of intervening protected land. The roads are similar in nature to those within the Newbrooke theme regions and cross the waterways using relatively low bridges (compared to some other bridge designs seen across Bellisseria), potentially limiting the waterways to smaller water vehicles – which as actually no bad thing; who really wants a honking great cruiser crowding its way inland?

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

As I noted with my preview piece, the waterways all have their own footpaths running alongside them, giving them something of a canal-like feel and offering the opportunity for waterside walks. Garden spaces both on land and on the water in places), ponds and copses help to break up the houses and provide a sense of space, while both roads and waterways have periodic rez zones for vehicles. A nice touch with some of the roads is that, rather than ending short of a waterway, they actually slope down into the water quite handy if you have an amphibious road vehicle or wish to drive your boat to the water on a trailer!

However, the most attractive parts of the Sakura theme come in the presence of Mount Soji and the Shobu community centre and surrounding gardens.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre railway station, May 2022
Mount Soji, seen in most of the images here, is a four-region snow-capped peak that bears something of a resemblance to Mount Fuji. It’s defined as a park, but could perhaps do with a little more flora around its lower slopes (LI allowing) – which I hope will come, as it does make for an eye-catching backdrop, one that is quite unique among the Linden Homes regions.

Shobu, meanwhile, is perhaps the most attractive community centre yet provided for a Linden Homes theme – and I’m speaking as someone who really likes the Fantasy theme community centre. It presents a marvellous mix of gardens, waterways, footpaths (complete with Torii gates), places to sit, places to meditate, water gardens and features, trees, and its own railway station (although the tracks don’t, as yet, run very far).

Sakura Linden Homes, May 2022

Within all this, the community centre itself sits as a grand, modern take on a feudal palace of old, complete with its own waterway sitting within cloister-like covered walkways. Shoji-style lanterns light the large, airy rooms inside the centre whilst stairways within either wing of the centre provide access to two rooftop spaces.

Approachable by road or water (or, eventually, I assume, rail), it’s a superbly considered design; the surrounding gardens offering an engaging series of walks. And, having been built as a part of the initial development of the theme, it very much sits at the heart of it, rather than feeling a little pushed to one side, as has been the case with the community centres for some Linden Home themes.

Sakura Linden Homes – Shobu Community Centre, May 2022

Taken as a whole, the Sakura theme – allowing for the caveat on room sizes in some of the designs (which in fairness applies to some of the other themes, such as Newbrooke and Victorian, IMHO) – is one of the more visually engaging and attractive Linden Home environments, particularly with this initial release built around Mount Soji and the Shobu Community Centre. So much so, that I’m actually tempted to make the jump from Newbrooke!

SLurl Details

Lab extends MFA to the official viewer for Second Life

via Linden Lab

In September 2021, Linden Lab introduced Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) as an opt-in service to provide additional account security to users who wish to use it.

The implementation was promised to be the first pass at MFA within Second Life and its services, and the capability would be extended and enhanced over time.

On May 4th, 2022, and as part of extending the current MFA implementation, the Lab announced that MFA is now officially a part of the Second Life Viewer (SLV), with the promotion of the MFA RC viewer to de facto release (and download) status.

This means:

  • Anyone who has opted-in to MFA will be required to provide an authentication token the first time they log-in to Second Life using this viewer.
  • The token is requested after the user name and password have been entered, and should be generated using the preferred authentication app before being entered into the field shown below.
The MFA token prompt, displayed after entering your user name and password into the viewer
  • Once a valid token has been entered, clicking Continue will complete the log-in process.

Important Notes

  • Once a token has been entered into the viewer, it will remain valid for 30 days – so you do not have to provide a token every time you log-in to the viewer.
    • However, after 30 days, the token will expire, and the viewer will once again prompt you for a new token when logging-in.
  • Some authenticators generate their token as 2 groups of 3 digits (e.g. XXX  YYY). Where this is the case, you can enter the code with or without the space.
  • Third Party Viewers (TPVs): MFA does not currently extend to TPVs, so if you are a TPV user and have opted-in to MFA, this functionality will only apply to you after your preferred viewer has updated to the MFA viewer code base.
    • Linden Lab is allowing all TPVs a “grace” period to adopt the MFA code.
  • Again, if you have not opted to enable MFA on your Second Life account, logging-in to Second Life, regardless of the viewer you use, will not change.
  • You can also disable MFA on your account and viewer log-ins by opting-out (Account → Multi-Factor Authentication, entering a code from your app and clicking on the Remove MFA button).

Additional Information