2019 SL User Groups 37/2: Content Creation summary

Athenaeum, July 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, September 12th 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.

Animesh Follow-On – Project Muscatene

Project Summary

Currently: offer the means to change an Animesh size parameters via LSL.

Current Status

  • The viewer updated to version 6.4.0.530473 on Wednesday, September 11th – however, this is to parity with the EEP RC viewer, rather than any new features being added.
  • Viewer work is currently on the back-burner for now, while Vir is working on ARCTan. As such, it’s likely that the project will proceed with small updates  – such as those in the current project viewer – rather than gathering together a larger number of updates and releasing them together.
  • A potential update still under consideration is to revise the current throttle (limiting Animesh character to updating twice every 10 seconds). This was put in place to prevent people using the system as an alternative means of animation (and potentially thrashing performance)s.
    • Some have done informal testing with up to 20 Animesh characters changing shape under scripted control as fast as the current throttle allows and using 115 parameters, apparently with little performance impact.
  • Animesh objects currently count towards the overall avatar imposter limit – although it is possible these might be split.
    • The “pro” side of this is that Animesh objects have a fairly fixed rendering complexity.
    • The “con” side is how things might change if Animesh characters start having attachments.
    • It would also mean further complexity with graphics settings in the viewer.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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 includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • Work continues on rendering bug fixes.
  • There is still no indication as to when this might be promoted to release status.
  • A lot of EEP documentation is currently in the forum threads. There has been a request to move this to the wiki – or at least is the Knowledge Base, which is current a focus for documentation from the Lab.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

Current Status

  • Progress has now resumed, with Vir working on hooking new data gathering code into the viewer code base to allow more widespread data gathering.
  • The code currently isn’t available in a public viewer repository (in part because it is not ready).
  • It has been suggested that allowing Firestorm to use the code would potentially allow for a broader cross-section of representative data to be gathered. However, the core data gathering code is baked into viewer, and making that alone available for FS to adopt at this point in time could be difficult.
  • There are concerns that major changes in the costs of in-world objects could see an increase in Land Impact values that could in turn see large amounts of content returned.
    • This is something the Lab is concerned about as well, and it has previously been indicated that if this proves to be a significant risk, then steps will be taken to mitigate this – see Project ARCTan in 2018 SL UG updates #7/3: TPV and Web Meetings.
    • It’s been suggested that ARCTan could offer a new “invisible” mesh asset type: anything that is created uploaded after ARCTan is (eventually) deployed must conform to ARCTan; mesh in-world prior to ARCTan is not governed by ARCTan – as was done with Materials. Vir indicated this might be one option, at least during the initial roll-out of ARCTan.
  • There is a lot of chatter / speculation in the forums about what ARCTan “might” or “will” be; Vir’s response to this is again that no decisions have thus far been made by the Lab as the project is still in its early stages. Therefore, people should not put too much stock in forum thread unless it is posted by the Lab.
  • It’s important to note that beyond data gathering, LL haven’t even decided how ambitious the project will be overall.

Bakes on Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos and clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies and heads.

Resources

Current Status

  • There has been extensive discussion on Bakes on Mesh in the forums, including ideas on future extensions, some of which are being pulled in by the Lab for additional consideration (which is not to say they will happen).
  • There is an unofficial list for BoM support (last updated at the end of August) which may help those interested.
  • Cathy Foil has been investigating the local edit issue she reported at the last meeting (see:) wherein odd results when using the appearance editor that correct themselves on exiting the appearance editor and when baked via the Baking Service. In her case, it appears the problem was due to a slip-up at her end of things involving a mesh with different UVs, although a Jira has been filed on a related issue.
  • There is a report that eye textures applied via BoM appear darker than if applied directly to the mesh. A Bug report is to be raised on this.
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2019 SL User Groups week #37/1: Simulator User Group

Natural Falls, July 2019 – blog post

Updated with the full details of the Magnum and LeTigre RC deployments

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for updates.

  • On Tuesday, September 10th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 2019-08-29T20:20:39.530516 – comprising “simulator component of deploy tooling and process improvements”, and previously deployed to the main RC channels in week #36.
    • This is the update that doesn’t report channel names to the viewer, so Help > About will always report the channel to be “Second Life Server” (SLS) regardless of the channel the region you are on is assigned to.
    • There is a race condition that can cause double rolls of a deployment some 2 or so hours apart. The Lab is aware of the issue and investigating the cause.
  • One Wednesday, September 11th, the main RC channels will be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel was updated with server release 2019-09-06T18:49:52.530700, containing the simulator-side script usage improvements.
    • Magnum and LeTigre were updated with server release 2019-09-06T22:03:53.530715, containing the fix  to address most cases of experience-enabled scripts losing association with their experience.

SL Viewer

The Umeshu Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.3.1.530559 and dated September 5th, has been promoted to de facto release status. At the time of writing, the rest of the current official viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscatene (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.530100, August 19.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, June 5. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – 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.

In Brief

  • Group Chat: there are some reports that group chat has been improved over the last couple of weeks with less drop-outs and issues, although conversations arrived with the original post missing still appears to be an issue.
    • Oz Linden acknowledged the Lab is still tweaking on things to try and brig about improvements.
    • Simon Linden indicated that it is one of those problems where running the service on more capable hardware doesn’t always improve things – as the Lab found out in tests earlier in the year.
  • Sound file duration: a good while ago, the viewer had a change to allow 30-second sound files. However, it has been awaiting a server-side update to support it. When asked about the status of the update, Oz Linden replied:

Can’t predict now when the 30 second sound limit will happen, but it’s part of a high priority bundle of stuff, so Pretty Soon™

 

2019 SL User Groups 36/2: TPVD meeting

Lost Lagoon, July 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on September 6th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to Pantera for recording and providing it.

This was a meeting with a lot of text chat that didn’t generate a meaningful discussion. Therefore, only key points are recorded below.

SL Viewer News

[0:19-3:10]

The Umeshu maintenance RC updated to version 6.3.1.530559 on September 5th. All other viewers remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.0.530115, formerly the Bakes on Mesh RC viewer, promoted August 26th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscatene (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.530100, August 19.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, June 5. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – 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.

Brief Notes on Viewers

  • The Umeshu RC maintenance viewer will likely be promoted to release status in week #37 (commencing Monday, September 9th).
  • The voice viewer is still in progress, but has yet to surface as a publicly-available viewer.
  • Snapshot project viewer:
    • There are allegedly titling issues when taken very high resolution images with ALM and SSAO enabled.
    • There are also HUD appearance issues with hi-res snapshot and the option to include HUDs in images enabled, as per BUG-227587.
  • [3:33-4:30] EEP has further fixes on the rendering front, which are with the Lab’s QA team, so an updated to the RC viewer can be anticipated in the next week or so. This is unlikely to be the last RC update. However, if anyone testing the viewer has issues they are not aware of having been reported, they are asked to ensure they raise a bug report.

ARCTan

[3:10-3:33]

Project Summary

An attempt re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

Current Status

  • More focus is being put into this project, but there is still a fair amount of “catch-up” to do.
  • Current focus remains on data gathering.
  • It will still be some time before users start to see anything visible surfacing for this work.

In Brief

Group Related

  • [5:35-7:10] Recent tweaks to improve group chat lag has resulted in some issues for group chat moderation. LL is aware of the problems and a fix is in the works.
    • In the meantime, LL continue to carry out careful experiments and adjustments to the group chat system to try to make it more responsive.
  • [12:00-22:00] – largely text chat
    • BUG-10804 – Group Role count inaccuracies: this is a long-running issue with groups with more than 5,000 members, one outcome of which means it’s not always possible to see who is assigned to specialist roles within a group, as they are not listed – and it is impossible to remove roles from users (where they no longer require them) if the user isn’t listed.
    • BUG-11269 – group profile shows an incorrect membership number.
    • Part of the comments were around removing inactive accounts – however, the Lab is loathe to do this, due to the number of users who leave SL and return with a request the LL reactivate their account.

Inventory

  • [7:20-7:55] BUG-227179 – off-line inventory offers from scripted objects are lost. This is awaiting resources to be worked on.

Lab blogs on experience scripts issue fix / workaround

Update, September 11th, 2019: The fixes for this issue have been deployed to regions on the LeTigre and Magnum RC channels in server deployment 2019-09-06T22:03:53.530715. Those wishing to test the fixes, and whose regions / experiences are not on either of these channels can file a support ticket to have their region moved. Use Help > About in the viewer to check the simulator version number running for your experience.

In my last few Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting updates, I’ve references issues being encountered by experience creators since a recent server-side deployment.

In short, in the last couple of weeks, any scripts compiled to an experience have failed to recompile. The finger had been pointed at server deployment 19.08.06.529800 being at fault.

However, the Lab has been engaged in fault-finding and attempts at rectifying the problem, and their work has revealed that the fault does not lie with any particularly server release, as an official blog post issued on Thursday, September 5th explains:

We have traced the problem to a loss of data in one of our internal systems. 

This data loss was due to human error rather than any change to server software. Why do we think this is good news? Because we can now easily prevent it from happening in the future. 

We have engaged in a first pass of recovery efforts which have yielded the restoration of the experience association for a number of scripts, and we are testing a server-based fix which will automatically correct most others. That fix is working its way through QA, and we will highlight this in the server release notes when it becomes available.

For those who have been impacted by the issue, the blog provides a set of step to take to correct matters should they not wish to wait for the back-end fix:

  1. Open the script in an object in-world or attached to you .
  2. Make sure the bottom widgets have your experience selected.
  3. Save.

These step should be enough to get experience enabled scripts running again.

2019 SL User Groups week #36/1: Simulator User Group

Carolina, July 2019 – blog post

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for updates.

Apparently, as a result of Labor Day in the USA and the threat of hurricane Dorrian, there was no SLS (Main) channel deployment on Tuesday, September 2nd.

As a result, on Wednesday, September 4th, there will be deployments across the entire grid – the SLS (Main) and the primary RC channels. The order of deployments will be the SLS (Main) channel, starting 30 minutes ahead of the usual time. Once completed, and providing there are no issues, it will be followed by the RC deployments.

  • The SLS (Main) channel is to be updated with server maintenance package 19#19.08.23.530380, comprising maintenance fixes and Log improvements, and previously deployed to the Magnum and LeTigre RC channels.
  • The three main RC channels (Magnum, LeTigre and BlueSteel) will all be updated with the same server maintenance package – 2019-08-29T20:20:39.530516 – comprising “simulator component of deploy tooling and process improvements”. This update sees the introduction of the new Simulator release notes pages (see below).

There will also be a small move of more regions (around 100) to the Cake RC channel on Thursday, September 5th. This will be a further expansion for the script usage improvements. People wishing to test these updates can put in a ticket to have their region moved to Cake – but should note that updates to that channel do not necessarily follow the same weekly schedule as the main RCs.

Release Notes

In May 2019, the viewer release notes moved to a new series of web pages (see: New SL viewer release notes pages: an overview). The RC deployments scheduled for Wednesday, September 4th will see the all release notes for the RC channels move to these pages as well. This means:

  • The there is a new link for simulator release notes on the main About Release Notes page.
  • This link leads to a list of recent simulator releases notes.
  • The release notes themselves have a new “more specific” version number system – as witnessed with the simulator release for the RC channels noted above.

It has been promised that these pages will be “more informative” with release information. This appears to take the form of Jira report reference numbers.

The link to the simulator release notes is now live on the About Release Notes page – click for full size, if required

SL Viewer

At the time of writing, there have been no updates to the current list of existing official viewers, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.0.530115, formerly the Bakes on Mesh RC viewer, promoted August 26th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscatene (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.530100, August 19.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, June 5. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – 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.

In Brief

  • “[Second Life: Failed to grant capabilities”] – this is an error people have been seeing recently. It generally occurs as a result of a general failure to set up communication between your viewer and a region when moving into that region.
    • When first connecting to a region, the viewer asks for – and  should receive – a set of “capabilities” – URLs where the viewer can connect and get or send info.
    • If this fails, it’s unlikely the viewer will be able to work with the region. The most effective way to deal with this is have the region restarted – so if you’re not the region holder, please drop them a line to let them know the region needs restarting or file a support ticket. If you are the region holder and you cannot restart the region or the issue is not resolved following a restart, please file a support ticket.
  • LL continues to investigate the issue whereby any scripts compiled to an experience prior to simulator version 19.08.06.529800 will not recompile on 19.08.06.529800 or later. In fact, Simon Linden was working on the issue while attending the meeting). The root cause does not appear to be within the updated server code, and for now, the only solution appears to be recompiling everything in the experience – which is acknowledged as being less than optimal.

2019 SL User Groups 35/2: Content Creation summary

(fae forest), July 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, August 29th 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.

Bakes on Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies and heads. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the Bake Service to support 1024×1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

  • BoM is now live. See:
  • There are some local edit issues  – some already noted in the viewer release notes – that can produce odd results when using the appearance editor which correct themselves on exiting the appearance editor and when baked via the Baking Service.
Cathy Foil has noted this glitch than can occur with Baked_Lower wearables on BOM: when editing locally in the appearance editor, the leg does not appear to be masked correctly by the wearable (which is also incomplete at the waist). Once baked, however, the wearable appears correctly applied and in full (r). Credit: Cathy Foil.
  • Some of these local edit issues may not be specific to Bakes on Mesh, but may be more noticeable as a result of BoM, and the Lab is looking to resolve them.

Animesh Follow-On – Project Muscatene

Project Summary

Currently: offer the means to change an Animesh size parameters via LSL.

Current Status

  • The simulator support on Aditi (the beta grid) – DRTSIM-421 (region Bakes on Mesh) has been updated, but there are no feature changes within it.
  • The project viewer has been merged with Bakes on Mesh (as the release viewer) and is passing through the Lab’s QA, and so should be appearing soon.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

Current Status

  • Work has now resumed.
  • First part of this is to continue data-gathering and look at re-aligning some figures based on the changes made for Animesh.
  • Thus far, the project primarily comprises enhanced logging to assist the Lab in data collection, allowing information on the overall cost of a specific avatar or in-world object to be gathered.
  • Once enough data has been gathered across a broader enough spectrum of content to give the Lab confidence they have a good understanding of things, then work can start on adjusting the cost calculations for rendering, etc.
  • It’s important to note that any user-viewable changes as a result of ARCTan are still some way off, and the Lab will be staging things to let users know what is happening when, and what it is likely to impact.
  • There was a lot of general conversation towards the end of the meeting on what people hope ARCTan will do (e.g. forcing creators to make proper use of avatar LODs, etc.).

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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 includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • Work continues on rendering bug fixes.
  • The number of remaining issues is “trending downwards”.

Misc. Items

  • The upcoming Voice RC (or project) viewer mentioned at the last TPVD meeting still has a couple of issues preventing it from surfacing in the Alternative Viewers page.
  • The Umeshu Maintenance viewer (currently version 6.3.1.530411, merged with Bakes on Mesh) could be promoted to de facto release status as early as week #36 (commencing Monday, September 2nd), in a break from the Lab’s preferred 2-week gap between release promotions.
  • Date of next meeting: Thursday, September 12th, 2019.