Category Archives: SL Project Updates

SL project updates 7/3: TPVD meeting

Hobbiton, Dragon Island; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrHobbitonblog post

The notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, February 17th, 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

[00:28] The current official viewer pipelines are as follows:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.1.323027, dated January 25, promoted February 3 – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer.
  • RC viewers:
    • Maintenance RC viewer version 5.0.2.323567 dated February 14th – a range of improvements and features
    • Love Me Render RC viewer version Version 5.0.2.323361, dated February 9th – rendering pipeline fixes and improvements
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, dated January 10th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712, dated November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review.
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

[00:38] The 64-bit viewer work is proceeding on three fronts:

  • A major update to process management and how viewer updates to users are handled (which includes the update mechanism recognising which version – 32-bit or 64-bit – should actually be installed on a PC for Windows)
  • Adding 64-bit Havok support for the Mac OS X build, and building the OS X build using Xcode 8
  • A new structure for handling Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) and VLC for media support. This will bring all platform versions of the viewer up to the same VLC version and remove QuickTime support from the OS X build (although some QuickTime media may still play, depending on how VLC picks them up, but the Lab is not explicitly supporting QuickTime).

The next update to the Alex Ivy project viewer will depend on which of these update paths clears QA first, and whether any jointly clear QA close enough to be merged into a single update.

[02:29] Updates to the 360-snapshot viewer remain on hold pending the completion of the 64-bit viewer CEF work.

HTTP Asset Fetching

[03:09] As noted in my Content Creation User Group update, the Lab is commencing work in moving more assets for delivery via HTTP / the Content Delivery Network(s) or CDNs.

This work builds on the undertaken in 2013/14 to move avatar appearance information and texture and mesh assets delivery away from UDP and through the simulator, to faster, more reliable delivery via HTTP / CDNs, and will encompass the following assets: landmarks, gestures, animations, sounds and wearables (system layer clothing).

Vir Linden is leading the work, which should hopefully eventually remove more of the “non-simulation” message handling for assets away from the simulators to more reliable and faster HTTP delivery. This in turn should result in something of a performance boost in simulator performance, particularly for busy regions. Once the work has been completed, it will mean that the UDP message support for these types of asset transfers will be removed from both the simulator and the viewer code.

Voice Updates

[11:55] The next batch of Voice updates is being tested, and there is a problem with position updates not working correctly so that unless you are facing east, voices do not seem to come from the correct direction. Once this particular issue has been fixed, it is anticipated the updates will appear in at least a project viewer, although this may still be a while.

Music Streaming Default Volume

[13:15] The first TPVD meeting for 2017 included a discussion on audio streaming autoplay found in the official viewer, and the problems this can cause new users. As a result of that discussion, the Lab agreed to revisit the default media volume setting in the viewer, but a change has yet to be made.

Region / Estate Ban List

The Estate / region ban list (highlighted)

The Estate / region ban list (highlighted)

[15:38 – 19:42] Currently, the region / estate ban list is confined to a small area within a tab on the estate tools, sharing the space with 3 other lists. It is also non searchable, and when a region – for whatever reason – has a very long ban list, trying to clear the list down based on names / offensives can prove difficult due to the amount of scrolling required to locate, highlight and remove names deemed to no longer be a problem.

The Lab is sympathetic to the issue, and has suggested that rather and a JIRA being filed requesting changes to the current ban list display, a broader discussion is opened between the Lab and TPVs on how best to present the region / estate ban list, etc (e.g. whether they should have their own floater panel / tab within the viewer, with search capabilities, etc). The likely forum for this will be Oz Linden’s Open Source meeting, which takes place on Wednesdays, 07:00 SLT.

E-mail Verification

[23:45] On January 28th, I blogged about verifying e-mail addresses associated with Second Life. The Lab is now working on a number of projects which will require users to have verified e-mail addresses in order to receive information.

Remember: just because you are currently receiving e-mails from Linden Lab does not necessarily mean your e-mail account is verified. You must go through the verification process via your dashboard. Failure to verify your e-mail could eventually result in things like off-line IMs to e-mail failing, merchant notifications failing, etc., and the Lab switches services over to only sending to verified addresses. You many not even be able to request an account password reset if your e-mail address is not verified.

Therefore, if you haven’t already done so, please refer to the blog post linked above, and verify the e-mail address you use with Second Life.

Other Items

Script State Breakage in No-Mod Items

[08:49] A rare, but potentially nasty bug has surface which can result in permanently breakage of scripts in No Mod (/No Copy) objects – see BUG-41379.

Essentially, if an avatar is force teleported home (e.g. as a result of encountering an in-world security system), and their home location is unavailable that the time of their teleport (e.g. it is being restarted or off-line), they will be logged out. On re-logging, scripts in attachments are no longer functional, as they’ve been set to not running.

If the attachments have modify permissions, the scripts can be reset / set back to running. However, with No Mod items, the scripts are permanently broken. Providing the item is Copy, and the original is still in inventory, then it should be possible to “fix” the problem by using a new copy of the item. However, if the item in No Copy as well as No Mod, then it is effectively broken.

The Lab has accepted the bug and will be investigating.

Lab Holiday

[14:46] Note that Monday, February 20th is a holiday at Linden Lab (Presidents Day in the USA). Operations and support will be running as usual.

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SL project updates 2017-7/2: Content Creation User Group w/audio + HTTP assets

The Content Creation User Group has re-formed out of the Bento User Group, and is held at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. Imp costumes entirely optional :D .

The Content Creation User Group has re-formed out of the Bento User Group, and is held at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. Imp costumes entirely optional 😀 .

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday February 16th, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Core Topics

  • HTTP asset fetching
  • Potential project: animated objects

HTTP Asset Fetching

In 2013 / 2014, the Lab made a huge change to how avatar appearance information and texture and mesh assets are delivered to users, shifting them away from UDP (User Datagram Protocol) delivery through the simulators, to HTTP via Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – see my past reports on the HTTP updates. and CDN work.

As was indicated at several TPV Developer meetings recently (see here for an example), the Lab has been looking to move more asset types for delivery over the CDN, and this work has now started, with a focus on animations and sounds. This should see improvements in both the speed and reliability of assets, which should be particularly beneficial to animations.

The work is in the early stages, and progress will be tracked through my SL project updates.

Potential Project: Animated Objects

A topic of common conversation at various user group meetings is that of animated objects – e.g. objects which can be animated but which are not necessarily part of the base avatar mesh, and / or things like non-player characters (NPCs).

Decent NPC a possible future project? Lab wants feedback on use-cases for animation objects

Decent NPC a possible future project? Lab wants feedback on use-cases for animation objects

While it is still very speculative, the Lab is considering how this might be done and what sort of applications people would use such a capability for. One idea has already been extensively documented – “created agents”, which are avatars which do not necessarily have a connection to a viewer in order to operate – see feature request BUG-11368.

The main aim would be to use the same base avatar skeleton for this work, as well as it being compatible with existing rigged objects, rather than introducing something like custom skeletons (seen as a much bigger project). A lot would also depend up things like performance impact (if the simulator is operating a certain volume of NPCs or ridable objects, for example, then these could impact on resources which might otherwise be used by avatars, etc).

One potential way of achieving desired results would be to animate rigged meshes using the avatar skeleton, but without necessarily having the actual avatar base mesh underpinning it. For example, when we use a mesh body for our avatars, we use the base avatar, but hide it with an alpha mask, with the avatar skeleton animating the worn mesh. With an animated object utilising the skeleton, there is no real need to have the underpinning base avatar, as it would in theory never be seen.

One issue is that many mesh models are multiple parts, therefore some means would be required to control them, and this could be lost without the base avatar, together with the ability to attach static objects to something like an NPC. Hence the idea put forward in BUG-11368; the “created agent” would effectively be a special object class, providing the means for multiple animated meshes to operate in concert.

It is unlikely that the bone limit for a given object would be raised to accommodate animated objects, as this is pretty much a limit imposed by people’s graphics cards. During testing, the Lab found that if too many joints are defined for a single object, some graphics cards are unable to render the object correctly. This impact has actually already been seen with some Bento content (FIRE-20763).

Other aspects which would have to be considered are things like Land Impact. Avatars don’t have a land impact, but that may have to change in the case of animated, avatar-like objects – again, seen the performance concerns above. There are also some concerns over possible griefing vectors.

Performance-wise a potential benefit would be animated objects would not require alpha swapping, which requires a fairly hefty performance hit – but this could be countered to a degree (and depending on where you are and how animated objects are used) but the volume of animated objects around you.

Right now the idea is still being discussed internally at the Lab – there is no defined project. However, if you have views on things, attending the Content Creation meetings would be a good place to get them heard.

Other Items

Applying Baked Textures to Mesh Avatars

Still under consideration is a project to allow baked textures to be applied directly to mesh avatars (see here for more). This is still under consideration, but has yet to be formally adopted by the Lab as a project.

Modelling for Efficient Rendering

The subject of efficiency and LODs was the focus of an extended conversation. As I reported in my last Content Creation UG meeting report, Medhue Simoni has been producing a series on the use of Level of Detail (LOD) to help with generating rendering efficient models in Second Life. All three parts of the series are now available on his YouTube channel, and he and I will be discussing them in this blog in the very near future.

SL project updates 2017-7/1: server, viewer, “blue world” bug fix

Anduril, Anduril; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrAndurilblog post

Server Deployments

In short, there are no deployments scheduled for this week. The Main (SLS) channel will remain on release 17#17.01.27.323172.

While there had been an RC release planned, it apparently didn’t clear QA in time, so all three RC channels will remain on 17#17.01.27.323172 as  well.  However, all three channels will be restarted on Wednesday, February 15th, in keeping with the Lab’s policy or restarting channels every two weeks, whether or not there is an associated deployment.

SL Viewer

The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.2.323567 on Tuesday, February 14th.  As reviewed in this blog, this viewer includes a number of updates and new features, including the ability to select your own preferred folders for uploading image, animations, sounds and mesh models.

Outside of this update, the viewer pipelines remain as per the end of week #6:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.1.323027, dated January 25, promoted February 3 – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer.
  • RC viewers:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer version Version 5.0.2.323361, dated February 9th – rendering pipeline fixes and improvements
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, released on January 10
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712 on November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review.
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Nvidia Driver 64-bit Viewer “Blue World” Bug

As I reported in week #4, Nvidia’s release of their 378.49 driver on January 24th resulted in many 64-bit viewer users (TPVs and the Lab’s own Alex Ivy 64-bit project viewer) seeing their Second Life world view turn decidedly blue when running with Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) disabled.

The Nvidia 378.66 driver should fix the

The Nvidia 378.66 driver should fix the “blue world” issue for those using 64-bit viewers with ALM disabled

On February 14th, Nvidia release the 378.66 driver package, and this reportedly fixes the SL issues.

SL project updates 2017-6/2: recap and Love Me Render viewer

Server Deployments – Recap

  • On Tuesday, February 7th, the Main (SLS) channel received the same server maintenance package a deployed to the three RC channel in week #5.
  • There was no planned deployment to the three RC channels for the week.

SL Viewer

Love Me Render

On Thursday, February 9th, the Lab released the first of the new branch of release candidate viewers focusing entirely on fixes an improvements for the viewer’s rendering system. To distinguish it from the current Maintenance RC viewer, the rendering RC has been called (for this release, at least) Love Me Render.

Version 5.0.2.323361 comprises a handful of updates – but as the Lab notes, changes to the viewer’s rendering system can be a little scary, and things can easily go wrong, so huge lists of updates for this type of viewer may not be common. This first round of updates comprises:

  • An improvement to mesh LOD calculation (account for CTRL+0).
  • A fix for a mesh avatar deformation issue, which was due to bounding box / LOD swaps.
  • A fix for the issue where some mesh becomes invisible when camming. This was due to an earlier fix for another issue (non-public JIRA MAINT-6125).
  • A fix for the bug where setting one avatar to Do Not Render (right-click avatar context menu) caused all avatars to become imposters.

The last item above is related to the Avatar Complexity code, which gets which also gets what might be the most important change in terms of rendering / performance. With this viewer, agents (avatars) which are rendered as “Jelly Dolls” should now have any attachments they are wearing render at 0 LOD.

This change is designed to prevent attachments with high render LOD from being loaded into memory, thus further deterring worn graphics crashers. Note that in order for this improvement to work, you must leave the debug setting   RenderAutoMuteByteLimit at its default of 0.

Remaining Pipelines

The rest of the official viewers list remains as per the start of the week:

  • Current Release version: 5.0.1.323027, dated January 25, promoted February 3 – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer.
  • RC viewers:
    • Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.0.2.323359 released on February 3 – new features, improvements and bug fixes
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, released on January 10
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712 on November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review.
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Where Is Everybody?

Regular attendees of in-world meetings cannot help but have noticed that the majority of meetings this week were cancelled, mostly due to scheduling conflicts with internal meetings at the Lab. Normal service resumes in week #7 (commencing Monday, February 13th). As the cancellations for this week included the TPVD meeting for this week, this will also now take place on Friday, February 17th, 2017.