2019 SL User Groups 3/2: TPV Developer Meeting

The Forest - Winter Wonderland; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
The Forest – Winter Wonderland, December 2018 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 18th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps are provided to the major topics of discussion , which will open the video in a new tab for ease of reference.

SL Viewer

[2:40-4:00]

The following viewers updated on Wednesday, December 16th, 2019:

The remainder of the official pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

The EEP viewer is now very close to being promoted to RC status, and if all goes to plan, the simulator EEP support should be going to RC as well very soon.

Viewer Build Process

[4:04-7:24] The Lab is starting on moving their viewer build process to Visual Studio 2017.  This may lead to changes appearing in the build process as this work progresses. So far the work is proceeding smoothly, and is not anticipated as taking too long to complete. After this, the Lab plans to track their build process updates a lot more closely to Visual Studio releases (VS 2019 will be appearing this year).  Mac builds are to OS 10.13, and use Xcode 10.

Linux Viewer Status

[11:40-17:42] A couple of TPV Linux developers have contacted Oz Linden concerning assistance with the Linux build of the viewer. The holiday period, plus the fact Oz was on vacation immediately following it, means he has not followed up on the offers as yet, but will be doing so. It is hoped that this means work on supporting Linux will once again resume soon.

The Lab’s plan had been to provide a basic Debian build for Linux, avoiding the need to rebuild all the libraries for different tarballs. However, but suggestions have been made to consider using snaps / flatpacks instead. Currently the Lab is open to trying to incorporate the progress other have made in supporting Linux, including setting up build environments to support them with the aim of providing a Linux flavour for the viewer once more, with the caveat that any work carried out must not break the build processes for the other platforms.

There are a couple of potential caveats with any Linux viewer build that emerges from this work:

  • It will not have direct Voice support because a) Vivox no longer support Linux; b) changes to the Voice API means older versions of the SLvoice.exe plug-in will not work. (although voice via Wine is possible).
  • It is unlikely to have Havok support. It is felt that the number of Linux user actually employing the official Linux viewer has always been so small that the effort to incorporate the Havok libraries is not seen as worthwhile. This may be revised as work progresses.

Non-HTTP Asset Fetching / UDP Path Deprecation

[7:44-10:36] All asset types are – and have been for some time – fetched via HTTP / the CDN. However, the old UDP message paths for such fetching has remained in place. This is now being deprecated from the simulator code. The patch for this is not ready to go, and should be rolling out across the simulator release channels over the next few weeks, a little later than originally planned.

This means anyone using really old viewers that do now have HTTP asset fetching (notably for the likes of system body parts, system clothing, gesture, animations, sounds, landmarks and textures) will not long be able to obtain responses to asset requests.

[34:52-35:15] The Lab will also consider requests to move other functions away from UDP to other capabilities.

In Brief

  • Reports are increasing on the time it takes mesh attachments (clothing, body parts, to “snap” into place when logging-in or teleporting to a region where there is a number of other avatars.
  • Some Firestorm users are also reporting texture corruption issues linked to the above, which may be linked to Malwarebytes anti-virus software..
  • Firestorm is hoping to move the current version with Animesh support to a “full” release around the end of January, hopefully).
  • Catznip is planning a release without Animesh support, to be followed by a release with optional Animesh release.

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2019 SL User Groups 3/1: Simulator User Group

R.A.H.M.E.N.L.O.S; Inara Pey, November 2018, on Flickr
R.A.H.M.E.N.L.O.S blog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest information and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019.
  • There will be at least one RC channel deployment on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019. This will have extra back-end logging, but nothing visible to users.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing / publishing, there have been no updates to any of the viewers in the current pipelines at the start of the week, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

The hover height / vertical position issue that has seen tiny and very small avatars incorrectly hovering above the ground since November 2018 – see BUG-225893should now hopefully be fixed.

The problem lay within changes made to the back-end Back Service, which manages the overall avatar appearance. The Lab had been working on trying to locate the root cause of the problem for some time, hampered by the fact a consistent reproduction of the issue when tweaking things to see what might be the cause proved difficult.

However, a fix was developed in week #2, and passed to the Lab’s QA team for testing. The fix was deployed on Monday, January 14th, 2019. As per the notes on the update, “any avatars experiencing issues with hover height will need to change outfits in order to help you stand on the ground.

Environment Enhancement Project

It is anticipated that a broader server deployment of EEP (currently on a limited deployment on the Snack channel) will occur in week #4 (commencing Monday, January  21st, 2019). This will hopefully see EEP go RC-wide on the main grid, and will be accompanied by a viewer update with further UI tweaks, bug fixes and (hopefully!) the additional render updates to enable things like crepuscular rays (“God rays”). rider will also be updating the LSL documentation on the SL wiki as it pertains to EEP.

Resources

Other Items

Puppeteering

is a topic that often comes up for discussion. While Animesh has potentially opened the door to better means of controlling NPC, creatures, etc., there are cases where on-the-fly control of your own avatar would be a help  (e.g. having more control over a  hug).

The pupeteering project was originally started to provide such a means of additional animation control. This reached the point where the results would have been confined to the user’s own world view (so not seen by others), but if followed through, it would have also included the network layering so that the result of pupeteered avatars would have been seen by all. However, this work was eventually put aside in 2011.

A more recent project, based on code contributed via the Black Dragon viewer is in progress, but (I believe, as I’ve not looked into it to any great depth) this will be more constrained in scope.

Some at the Lab have been tossing around ideas, but it should be noted these are only ideas, not a project, as Simon Linden mentioned at the meeting:

The hover height is an interesting little AV position mod … we’ve been brainstorming (warning – I think there was beer involved) with ideas like extending that, so for example you could adjust a hand position during a static pose. This is all just playing with ideas, however.

However, any in-depth work on the animation system is liable to require something of a deep dive into the system’s foundations – which probably won’t be easily countenanced at the moment.

In Brief

  • Animesh: Simon indicated there has been further internal discussions on what might be included in any Animesh follow-on project, with feature request BUG-22815 “Much needed Animesh specific constants for llGetObjectDetails()” being looked at in particular. LI for Animesh humans continues to be a concern; while it is noted a “reasonable” Animesh character can be made for around 28 LI, those using Bento can range around the 80-90 LI mark, possibly higher – which could limit their use. These discussions will likely continue through the “regular” forum for Animesh discussion: the Content Creation User Group.
  • OS Updates: work is still progressing on updating the operating system used by LL’s servers. This will not only bring them up to a more up-to-date OS version, but is also seen as foundation work for moving services to the cloud.

 

Revisiting Second Life mobile options

Logos copyright and Trademark Google, Linden Lab and Apple Inc., respectively

With the recent confirmation that Linden Lab is working on an iOS solution for accessing Second Life, there has been renewed interest in what is available – and it struck me that since my initial reviews of mobile clients such as Mobile Grid Client (2011) – and with the exception of Lumiya – I’ve not really updated on those clients that are available.

This being the case, here’s a quick round-up of those mobile (Android and iOS) solutions recorded on the Third Party Viewer Directory. These are not intended to be comprehensive reviews, but will hopefully provide a general overview of the products and their capabilities / status.

Android

Mobile Grid Client

  • Available since: 2010.
  • Last updated: 2016.
  • Text only.
  • Subscription package.
  • OpenSim support: yes.
  • Website.
  • Reviewed:  November 2011.

Mobile Grid Client is the longest running of the Android clients listed on the TPV Directory. A text-only application, it provides a range of options, including OpenSim support – but these are subject to the subscription package taken, one of which must be selected after an initial 14-day trial period.

Mobile Grid Client: inventory options (note some , such as the give / copy options are only available by taking the “Pro” subscription)

The available subscription options  are:

  • “Standard” version: L$250 per month, with a selection of features disabled (e.g. giving inventory to others, creating / copying notecards, changing your active group, paying avatars, OpenSim support).
  • “Pro” version L$450 per month / L$4500 per years, with access to all available features.

Please refer to the Mobile Grid Client licensing page for a breakdown of the application’s features by subscription model.

Opinion

In 2011, this was a reasonable application, given what was available at the time. Today, however, and even allowing for the subscription payments being non-recurring (so opting out is easy at the end of a subscription period), when compared to Lumiya (below), Mobile Grid Client is notably over-priced, even at the “Standard” subscription model.

Lumiya

  • Available since: 2012.
  • Last updated: October 2017.
  • Text  and graphical.
  • Single payment.
  • OpenSim support: yes.
  • Website
  • Reviewed:  March 2012-January 2017.

First released in 2012, Lumiya was, up until the start of 2017, routinely updated to keep pace with the latest viewer releases from Linden Lab as well as to provide bug fixing issues with various android platforms.

This application has such a well-rounded suite of capabilities, including plug-ins for voice and improved rendering (both available for free), that it pretty much matches the “full” viewer in features and functions, up to and including Bento support (January, 2017). It even has VR (Cardboard) support!

Lumiya even support HUD use in its 3D world view

Initially text-only when first introduced, Lumiya quickly progressed to basic graphical rendering prior to maturing into a very capable graphical client with continued improvements to the graphical UI to allow for better, easier and more comprehensive in-world interactions. For those who use it, Lumiya also respects RLV / RLVa

Opinion

Lumiya is the Rolls Royce of mobile Second Life / OpenSim clients, although development work seems to have frozen. There have been recent issues for some with the use of voice in recent months.

Even for occasional text use, inventory management, etc., this is the go-to Android client, while the 3D world rendering adds a whole now level to mobile SL / OpenSim use. True, the graphics are not as crisp and fresh as the “full” viewer, but considering everything Lumiya is packing into a hand-held device and it has not been developed within major financial input and technical support, it is not to be dismissed on that basis.

Very much the standard-bearer for what can be developed by way of mobile SL / OpenSim applications using Android.

LittleSight

  • Available since: 2012.
  • Last updated: October 2016.
  • Text  and graphical.
  • Single payment.
  • OpenSim support: No.
  • Google Play web page
  • Reviewed:  July 2012.

Appearing around the same time as Lumiya, LittleSight provides basic text chat and IM capabilities to users – albeit with ads displayed periodically. Additional capabilities, such as teleporting, and the removal of the ads can be had on payment of a small fee.

LittleSight: free for basic messaging. What to teleport / get rid of ads? Pay the fee – or just get Lumiya: you still pay, but you get way more bang for your bucks
Opinion

The most limited of the three Android clients, and one with reported issues for users trying to log-in with the latest version. While I encountered no problems myself with logged-in on re-installing LittleSight on my tablet device, I did find the map failed to render, but that seemed to be the only issue.

Given the need for payment, and the sheer volume of capabilities presented in Lumiya, unless the latter expressly will on work on a particular device, it is hard to see why anyone would opt to use LittleSight. You may not need all the tools available in Lumiya, but having them available just in case is not necessarily a bad thing.

Continue reading “Revisiting Second Life mobile options”

2019 viewer release summaries: week #2

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, January 13th

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5th, promoted December 13th. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

2019 SL User Groups 2/1: Content Creation

Winter's Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrWinter’s Hollowblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, January 10th, 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

There are still no updates to the current crop of official viewers in the pipelines, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, there have been reports of a hover height / positioning issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. This can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set (BUG-225893).

Current Status

Anchor Linden has found the root cause for the issue, buried in the Bake Service. He has a fix for the problem, and it will be going out as soon as possible after it has been through testing and QA.

Animesh

Animesh and Pathfinding

As noted in my Simulator User Group update, there is increasing interest in Pathfinding now that Animesh is available, and there is a forum discussion going on around the ways and means to move Animesh which encompasses tests with Pathfinding.

Again, the Lab currently aren’t working on Pathfinding, but they are aware of the discussions and following them. In particular, there is interest in hearing back from people who have used Pathfinding sufficiently who could perhaps help define a set of best practices for using the capability / who have used it sufficiently with Animesh to be able to point to deficiencies in the system or could suggest means of improving it.

Animesh Sex?!

Early on in Animesh development a feature request was put forward suggesting a switch be added to the viewer so that if Animesh creators are on a parcel with parcel privacy enabled, they will obey the setting and not be seen from outside of the parcel so long as the root prim remains within the boundary (see BUG-202592). The idea would be to prevent “adult / sex” Animesh from being accidentally seen.

The bug was closed without action, and a suggestion has been made to add a scripted capability to do the same things. This seems to be something of an edge case / overkill, given animated objects of a sexual nature can be seen within a region with privacy enabled, even if the using avatars cannot.

Animesh Marketplace Sub-Categories

  • There are currently no plans to add sub-categories to the Animated Objects category of the Marketplace.
  • If it is  felt there is a name to add further sub-categories, suggestions should be made via the CCUG meetings and also the Web User Group meetings.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • Graham is continuing the final work on the shaders for things like crepuscular ray support, and Rider is working on a clean-up of the new EEP UI elements.
  • An updated project viewer that includes all of this work is anticipated as being available in week #3 (commencing Monday, January 14th, 2019).
  • Rider will also be updating the EEP LSL documentation in the wiki.
  • Sample settings objects are expected to appear in the viewer library “soon”. These will comprise all of the current default windlight settings found in the official viewer, plus a selection of windlights found in Firestorm.

ARCTan

ARCTan is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both, which it is hoped will also help correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh). This project has been on a slow burn through 2018, but is due to resume in 2019 – although when is still to be determined.

Other Items

  • iOS Client: Mention was made of the preliminary work being carried out to develop an iOS client. For details, please refer to the following blog posts:
  • Wiki updates: these is apparently some issue with the SL wiki which is causing problems with updates to the “official” pages managed by Linden Lab.
  • Mac Retina fixes: there are apparently issues of UI blurring with Mac Retina screens. There are fixes in-hand, but the time frame for deployment is not clear, although a new build of the viewer with Retina support was due to go to the Lab’s QA team on Thursday, January 10th.
  • Next CCUG Meeting: due to the Lab’s internal All Hands meeting (delayed from the start of the month), the next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, 24th January, 2019.

 

2019 SL User Groups 2/1: Simulator User Group

Let It Snow!; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLet It Snow!blog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates and information.

  • There was no deployment wo the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019, leaving the channel on server release #18.12.05.522294, comprising a voice service adjustment and internal fixes. However, regions on the channel were restarted in keeping with the Lab’s 14-day restart policy.
  • On Wednesday, January 9th the RC channel updates are slated as being:
    • Magnum and LeTigre are slated for “no roll” and to remain on server release 18#18.12.05.522294, first deployed to it on December 12th, 2018.
    • BlueSteel should be updated on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 with server maintenance package 19#19.01.03.522821, comprising logging improvements, including “logging to gather baseline information on simulator performance in various areas of interest”.
    • Snack should remain on EEP simulator version 18#18.12.14.522551, first deployed on December 17th, 2018.
    • All RC channels should be restarted, again in keeping with LL’s 14-day restart policy.

SL Viewer

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Pathfinding Revisited?

Pathfinding is a capability deployed to Second Life in 2012. For those unfamiliar with it, pathfinding was intended to provide a means to allow a range of automated characters – people, animals, monsters, mobile objects (“mobs”) to be created and set into motion within Second Life with greater ease than had been possible.

Using various tools and LSL commands, together with the “navmesh”- a representation of a region’s geometry generated and used by the Havok physics engine to determine paths for pathfinding characters – these characters would be able to navigate their way around obstacles, follow roads, climb inclines, etc. Yoy can read more about it in my 2012 Pathfinding overview.

Unfortunately, and due to a number of reasons – not all of which were entirely fair – Pathfinding never really gained significant use (in fact, many region holders disabled the capability out of fear concerning performance issues.

With the arrival of Animesh, however, there is potentially a new opportunity for Pathfinding to find a use. However, in the time that’s elapsed since the original deployment, there are things that need to be looked at – the wiki documentation, for example, appears to be somewhat out-of-date (and was always a little confusing). Also,Pathfinding itself can also be somewhat unpredictable, while some of the capabilities could possibly do with update.

Whether or not Pathfinding will be revisited by the Lab or not is currently an open question; however it has been a topic that has been raised at a number of user group meetings (Simulator can Content Creation), so it is something the Lab is aware of as being of potential interest to users / creators.