Category Archives: V4-Style

Alchemy 5.0.0: Bento beta

Alchemy-logoOn Sunday, January 8th, the Alchemy team released a beta version of Alchemy 5.0.0, the first update to the viewer to include support for Project Bento and Avatar Complexity (although no Graphics Presets).

As well as Bento support, version 5.0.0.40120 includes several updates specifically aimed at those with estate management responsibilities, plus a range of bug fixes and improvements from both Linden Lab and the Alchemy Team. In addition, this release includes work that is ongoing to reorganise the UI.

The following is intended to be a general overview of the more visible updates to Alchemy 5.0.0, and a summary of some of the bug fixes.

Project Bento

As almost everyone in SL must be by now aware, Project Bento introduces an enhanced avatar skeleton offering greatly improved support for mesh avatars and rigged mesh attachments. It also includes a set of new attachment points to work with the new joints, although the overall limit of the number of attachments you can wear at any one time remains 38 (including HUDs).

Most of all of this work is entirely under-the-hood. However, there are two additions to the avatar right-click context menu for both your own and other avatars: Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations which should be noted. In Alchemy 5.0.0, they can be found in the Appearance sub-menu of the right-click avatar context menu.

They have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

Further information on Bento (if needed) can be found via the following links:

Avatar Complexity

To be honest, I thought this had been part of Alchemy already, but looking through my past reviews and Alchemy’s release notes, I can’t find evidence of it being mentioned, and the 4.0.0.37571 release doesn’t include the Avatar Complexity options. Anyway, assuming I’m not going bonkers and thus repeating myself, here’s a rapid breakdown – please refer to my Avatar Complexity release article for in-depth info, if required.

, Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), is in short a means to reduce the rendering load placed on your computer in having to render all the avatars around you in detail. Instead, you can set a rendering limit (aka Maximum Complexity) in the viewer. Any avatar exceeding this limit won’t be rendered in full – unless you opt otherwise – but will instead be rendered as a solid colour (aka Jelly Doll).

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load on your system

With Alchemy, this means that The Preferences > Graphics tab adopts the official viewer’s approach, displaying frequently used options within it, and moving the more advanced options to a separate Advanced Graphics Preferences floater.

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings.... button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings…. button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

Avatar Complexity includes some additional capabilities / options

  • Every time you change your appearance, and thus your avatar complexity, your current complexity value will be briefly displayed in the top right corner of the viewer window
  • You can display information on your own and other avatar’s complexity by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D to display it, if required) and selecting Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity Information
  • Your own avatar will always be fully rendered in your own view
  • Maximum Complexity has a No Limit setting. It is not recommended you use this. If you wish to avoid seeing the vast majority of avatars around you as Jelly Dolls, set the slider to a high value. Setting it to No Limit can leave you vulnerable to graphics crashers.
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

You can also alter how you see other avatars around you without altering your Maximum complexity setting. To this, right-click on an avatar to display the context menu. Go to Visibility to display the sub-menu. This has three options:

  • Render Normally – will render the avatar in accordance with your Maximum Complexity setting
  • Render Fully – will render them fully, no matter what your complexity setting
  • Do Not Render – will render them as a grey 3D imposter, no matter what your complexity setting.

Not that Render Fully and Do not Render only apply to your current session. If you re-log the avatar in question will once again be rendered in accordance with your Maximum Complexity settings.

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Kokua and Restrained Love go Bento in Second Life

Project Bento - now a part of the Kokua Second Life viewer and the Restrained love Viewer

Project Bento – now a part of the Kokua Second Life viewer and the Restrained Love Viewer

Kokua and Restrained Life have become the latest viewers to update to v5.x status, with release of versions support the Project Bento code.

Kokua 5.0.0

Kokua 5.0.0..40327 for Second Life (release notes) appeared on Saturday, December 17th, bringing with it Bento rendering support, plus additional fixes and improvements:

  • FMOD Ex audio streaming libraries updated to version 4.44.64.
  • Avatar texture display now works.
  • Pie menu updates.
  • Pie menu “Sit here” response no longer ignores llSetSitText(string), and should now display the defined scripted target prompt (e.g. “Ride” or “Fly”, etc., rather than “Sit Here”).

Just in case there is anyone who missed it, Project Bento adds numerous new bones to the avatar skeleton to improve and enhance support mesh avatars (Bento does not work with the Second Life system avatar). This makes it easier to create and animate things like additional wings and limbs, and offers the opportunity for greater facial animations with mesh heads and faces, and even finger manipulation on mesh hands.

As with all Bento viewers, the visible viewer update is to the avatar menus (both right-click context and pie menu in the case of Kokua), where the Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton with animation options can be found.

Reset Skeleton options on Kokua 5.0.0 on the right-click context menus for other avatars (l) and your own avatar (r). With the pie menus they can be found under More > More > Reset (other avatars) and Appearance > Reset on your own avatar

Reset Skeleton options on Kokua 5.0.0 on the right-click context menus for other avatars (l) and your own avatar (r). With the pie menus they can be found under More > More > Reset (other avatars) and Appearance > Reset on your own avatar

These options have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else. This problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations being intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time as well, which may cause an avatar to deform.

Restrained Love Viewer

Restrained Love Viewer 2.9.21 (release notes), released on Friday December 16th,  brings Bento support to that viewer as well. As with Kokua and other Bento capable viewers, this also sees the Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton with Animations options added to the right-click avatar context menus as the most visible sign of Bento support (outside of Bento meshes rendering correctly!).

In addition the update includes a minor change to RLV, with the “?” symbol no longer being used to identify a cheat inside emotes, as some emotes may end with genuine questions.

Additional Links

Firestorm 5.0.1: mirror sites now available

firestorm-logoFurther to my recent report, the Firestorm mirror download sites are now available, and Firestorm’s primary server has been stabilised.

With the assistance of Linden Lab, through the work of Second Life Technical Director Oz Linden and his team, one of these sites is hosted via Linden Lab, the other is a service established by the Firestorm team. All links are provided below.

Commenting on the Lab’s offer of support with the issue, Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead said, “Ever since Ebbe Linden came into power we have seen huge advancements in not just features, functionality and improvements in Second Life, but also in customer relations and collaboration with their user-base.”

She continued, “Yesterday we found ourselves in a real crunch with this Bento release due to demand, and staff at Linden Lab really stepped up to help us out. They very quickly offered to set-up a mirror host, and provide downloads on their server. Even the Grid Status page was updated to point to the links!

“We thought the demand for this Firestorm update was unprecedented, but Linden jumping to help out a third-party viewer in this big of a way has absolutely been more so. If this doesn’t demonstrate to everyone just how dedicated Linden Lab is to its customers, then perhaps nothing will.

“Thank you Oz, Grumpity, April, Steven, Landon, Derrick, Alexa and all the other Lindens who were involved in this effort. You guys really came through for us and your customers!”

With the provisioning of the mirror sites and with the main Firestorm server now stabilised, hopefully the worst of the crisis is over, and Firestorm users will be able to access the new release through either the main download link, or through the mirror site links, given below. However, Jessica and the team still ask that people not all rush at once and tempt fate!

I’d also like to add my thanks to Oz, Grumpity and the team at the Lab for stepping in and providing this support.

Mirror Download Links

Please ensure you download Firestorm 5.0.1 only from the Firestorm main download page, or via the links given below.  No guarantee of security can be made if using any other download location when obtaining the viewer.

Linden Lab Hosted

Firestorm Mirrors

Firestorm 5.0.1 demand: “please be patient”

firestorm-logoUpdate, 11:23 SLT, Wednesday, December 14th: The mirror sites are now available – the links are available here.

On Tuesday, December 13th, Firestorm released the much-anticipated Bento update, Firestorm 5.0.1 – which you can read about here.

HOWEVER, such has been the demand for the update, the Firestorm servers have been overloaded, a situation which has left Firestorm without the ability to  provide their download and web services.

“This is an unprecedented situation for us,” Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead informed me. “While we have had download problems in the past, we’ve never seen demand on this scale before. It’s repeatedly taken all our servers off-line with the load.”

Because of the demand is preventing people from even accessing the Firestorm web services – the blog, JIRA, etc., – the Firestorm team is asking that people hold-off if they cannot obtain a download or access the Firestorm website, and not to keep repeatedly trying.

Jessica added, “Please, just be patient. Our servers need the breathing space. We are working on adding additional capacity to meet the demand trough mirror sites, but this does take time.  When we have these up and running, we’ll let people know through the in-world Firestorm support groups and social media.”

In the meantime, and in an attempt to alleviate the lack of downloads, some people have placed the Firestorm 5.0.1 installers on cloud servers, dropboxes, and other network file sources. While the effort to help meet the download demand is appreciated, the Firestorm team ask that people do not do this, but to wait until Firestorm’s own mirrors are up and running.

“With the best will in the world, not all networked download sites are secure, and there is a chance that by going to some, users could inadvertently expose themselves to the risk of viruses or Trojans,” Jessica said. “At the end of the day, we can only guarantee our download service and its mirrors are secure, and we’d prefer that people wait a little while, rather than expose themselves to any such risk.

“Again, we will notify people via the in-world support groups as the situation improves, and also via Twitter and any other medium we can use.”