2018 SL project updates 16/2: Content Creator User Group

A rally of (Animesh) raptors on Aditi

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on  Thursday, April 19th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT.  The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni Live streamed the meeting, and his video is embedded at the end of this summary. My thanks to him for providing it. Time stamps are included in the text below to allow easy referencing to the video for details.

Initially, the meeting opened on Aditi at the Animesh test regions.however, Voice issues across the beta grid regions resulted in the meeting decamping to the TPVD amphitheatre on Agni, and these notes reflect the meeting from that point onwards, starting at the 7 minutes 19 seconds point in the video.

Animesh Project

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

Project Viewer

The project viewer with the updated Animesh land impact / tri count formula was released on Monday, April 16th. Version 5.1.4.514468 also brings the viewer to parity with the current release viewer.

Vir’s provides a detailed explanation in the Animesh updated limits and cost formulas forum thread, However, in summary:

  • Animesh attachment limit = 1: only one Animesh object can be attached to an avatar at a time. This is unchanged from the original estimates.
  • Triangle Count Limit = 100,000: an animesh object (linkset) can have at most 100k triangles, where the count is based on the estimated size of the largest LOD (normally this is the high LOD). This includes all mesh triangles, static or rigged.
  • Land Impact: streaming cost = 15.0 + 1.5 * ktris + cost of non rigged prims: for a rigged mesh prim in an animesh linkset, the streaming cost will be 0.0015 * effective_tri_count – that is, 1.5 per thousand triangles. The value for effective_tri_count is derived from the estimated triangle count of the various LODs in the prim as follows:
    • High LOD: all of the estimated triangle count included in the effective_tri_count.
    • Medium LOD, Low LOD and Lowest LOD: the allowed number of triangles can be up to ½ of the LOD above, or 64, whichever is larger (i.e. Medium can be up to ½ of High, or 64, whichever is larger). If there are more triangles than this limit, that excess will be added to the effective_tri_count.
  • These values are also reflected in ARC (avatar rendering cost) calculations for Animesh items.

[7:23-8:43] The viewer also incorporates a change where it will automatically switch to skeleton based rendering for Animesh as soon as it detects the use of an avatar skeleton in an object, rather than waiting until an animation starts playing on an Animesh object in order to make the switch. It is hoped this will avoid issues between an Animesh object’s static and animated states, which can cause visual glitches when the animation based switch is made. It should also avoid potential exploits with people using multiple Animesh objects without necessarily animating them.

[9:13-9:32] It is believed the majority of bugs for Animesh are now in hand, however if any finds specific issues with the new impact calculations or with the latest project viewer in general, they are asked to file a JIRA bug report.

Rigged Mesh Level of Detail / Bounding Box Issues

Beq Janus has reported on issues with rigged mesh LOD issues related to the avatar bounding box. Essentially, attachments on avatars swap their LOD models as if they were scaled to the overall avatar Bounding Box. Some creators, deliberately or otherwise, force the bounding box to be far larger than is required, which then creates problems

For example, if an avatar bounding box is forced to 15 metres on a side, any rigged object worn by that avatar will swap LODs as if it were 15 metres in size, no matter how small, forcing viewers around it to use its highest LOD model unnecessarily (see BUG-214736 for more).

[8:44-9:12]  Graham Linden has been investigating these, as has some proposed changes which he and Vir hope to implement in the near future, the implication being these will be folded into the Animesh viewer.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including:

  • The ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level.
  • New environment asset types (Sky, Water, Days – the latter comprising multiple Sky and Water) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
  • Experience-based environment functions
  • An extended day cycle (e.g a 24/7 cycle) and extended environmental parameters.

This work involves simulator and viewer changes, and includes some infrastructure updates.

Current Status

[10:35-11:05] Rider Linden has been involved in dealing with other issues, which have delayed progress on EEP. He hopes that with this worked cleared, he’ll be able to focus on getting the viewer updates out in a project viewer.

Continue reading “2018 SL project updates 16/2: Content Creator User Group”

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Out of Here in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

“My images don’t have a bar code, from time to time they scream. Today is the first day of peace though,” Nevereux notes in her Preview to Out of HereNitroglobus Roof Gallery, an exhibition of her work now on display at , curated by Dido Haas. An evocative artist whom I’ve admired through these pages on a number of occasions,  Nevereux offers sixteen images which, as show notes in a mere general introduction to the exhibition, form something of a reflective, emotional journey.

Out of here is despair converted into media with intrinsic meaning and no pretenses,” she sates, “… it’s a spiritual thing, the individual perception of feelings after breakup. We seek in our beliefs sensory encounters, something beyond the words uttered. The words may reverberate subtlety, but the raw feelings, truth, irony and an imaginative point of view wrestle us each moment to create image after image.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

And so we are presented with images of raw emotional depth, each one presenting not a narrative or idea, but a feeling; a response; a desire. All but one are really presented as standalone moments; flashes of an emotional state, a state with which, in all likelihood we can each identify. The exception is Adieux. Beta version, seen at the end of this piece, which conveys emotions through words as well as by image.

Love and loss obviously result in darker feelings – emptiness, loneliness, despair, hurt, and so on. This is certainly the case with the majority of the pieces offered here – but that shouldn’t be taken to mean these are in any way bleak images. Entirely the reverse, in fact. As noted above, these are images that are powerfully and evocatively familiar in their interpretation; so much so that rather than sinking us into bleaker thoughts, they offer a journey – possibly cathartic – through feelings and responses. Some may even offer more than one potential interpretation.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

Take Every Song Is A Lament (above, left), for example. Clearly, the title reflects how songs can feel to us when a relationship ends;  that sense of loss, not just of love and companionship – but also a of oneself. This is beautifully framed by the image itself – a body partially dissolved into a trail of feathers leading to an escaping bird. But so to, is there an alternative here: that need to escape; a wish not to feel the hurt and upset evoked by song, and to simply escape.

Similarly, and alongside of Every Song Is A Lament, is Going from Belonging 2 B Longing. Again, the title and the image perfectly convey the idea that there comes a time when a relationship ends – for whatever reason – when we a deeply aware of that shift in state: for a couple (or family) or an individual; we feel more a shadow than a presence. But again, perhaps, there is an alternative metaphor here: when a relationship ends, we are often surrounded by support; and as well-meaning as that support might be, we nevertheless feel apart from it, rather than a part of it. We simply want to fade away and escape it all.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

An open display of images reflecting inner thoughts and feelings, Out of Here is an expressive exhibition, one not to be missed.

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Fantasy Faire: your shorthand guide to 2018

Fantasy Faire 2018: Aetherea (Alia Baroque)

The largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life, Fantasy Faire, opened its gates to 2018 on Thursday, April 19th, and will remain open through until  Sunday, April 29th, 2018 inclusive. It brings together fantasy enthusiasts, creators, performers and designers for eleven days of commerce, special events, and live music concerts, with special emphasis on fund-raising for Relay for Life of Second Life.

This year marks the Faire’s 10th anniversary, and presents 15 regions (including the entertainment and Quest regions) to be explored and enjoyed, and a packed programme of activities and events. It also marks the start of a new chapter in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) work.

For the first time, fund-raisers are allowed to earmark donations for a special project they have chosen to support – and Fantasy Faire is the flagship event to launch this new approach within virtual worlds. As I was able to report earlier in April, all funds raised during Fantasy Faire 2018 will go towards to development and operation of a new Hope Hostel to care for cancer patients and their care givers, at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya.

Fantasy Faire 2018: Falls of Hope (Sweetgwendoline Bailey/Eldowyn Inshan)

Once again, the Faireland regions offer an impressive range of realms and ideas, from what might be regarded as “traditional” fantasy – we have a former realm of elves for example, in The Bazaar Dungeon, while The Pools of Ethuil echo elven tree-homes – through to and almost science fiction edge to things with Erstwhile, a grand spaceport sitting within the bowl of a flooded crater, great trading space vessels docked along its elevated rim.  Elsewhere there are echoes of past Fantasy Faire events. Atherea, for example has a faint visual echo of 2012’s The Tides and a thematic reflection of 2013’s Magnificat.

You can find the background notes on all the 2018 Faireland regions here, or by visiting their individual pages on the Fantasy Faire website.

Fantasy Faire 2018: The Halls of Story (Elicio Ember)

Of course, as well as all the best in fantasy shopping, Fantasy Faire offers just about something for everyone. There’s  the Literary Festival, which is based at The Halls of Story and which I previewed earlier in April. There is also the Fantasy Faire Quest. Then there are the auctions. The silent auction runs throughout the Faire and there will be details available shortly, while the Live Auction will take place on the final day of the Faire again, watch the Faire’s website for details and a chance to own one or more extremely rare items from this year’s event!

Role-Play! Once again there will be numerous opportunities for role-play within the Fairelands. Three groups are offering themed role-play, weaving tales and offering anyone with an interest with the chance to participate.

But that’s not all! In addition to these three, there is a new role-play feature for Fantasy Faire 2018. The denizens of Luth will have opened an embassy in the land of Severina, where they will be holding a regular series of Meet’n’Greets offering fairelanders can meet their representatives and learn more about their stories.

Also new to Fantasy Faire 2018 is table-top gaming! prospective GMs have the opportunity to host a game session (or two), all while raising funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

Fantasy Faire 2018: The Willows of Nienna (Kilik Lekvoda)

And, of course, there will be the popular role-play classes, this year located at Falls of Hope. See the class schedule for more.

Performance and Art: there is a full programme of art and performance events, to be found at The Story Well and Astrid’s Nemeton. Some 37 artists are exhibiting their images at Fantasy Faire 2018, and there will be a range of performances by some of the top dance troupes from across Second Life, including Misfit Dance, the Avilion MerBallet company, the Changhigh Sisters, DRUM, Luxe Girls and more. See the Performance events list for more, including dates and times.

The Fairelands Players are also back again for 2018, presenting two of Shakespeare’s plays:

As with every Fantasy Faire, there will be parties, music and dances throughout – see the Fairechylde listing and event schedule for more. And don’t forget the two special parties for 2018:

Keep Abreast of all things Fantasy Faire – music, auctions, literary, performance, and of course the infamous Jail and Bail rounds – through the Fantasy Faire Website, the Fantasy Faire 2018 events calendar and Fantasy Faire radio.

And start your Fairelands journey at the Fairelands Junction.

Fantasy Faire 2018: Erstwhile (Marcus Inkpen/Sharni Azalee)

Fantasy Faire 2018 SLurls

Shopping:

Events and Performance:

  • Fairelands Junction – Portals and Memorial Area.
  • Ardessa (Éclair Martinek) – Fairelands Quest.
  • Astrid’s Nemeton (lrriven) – The RFL One Team & Second Performance Stage.
  • The Halls of Story (Elicio Ember) – Literary Festival, “Live at the FaireChylde” dance parties and Worldling Collection 2018.
  • The Story Well (Haveit Neox & Lilia Artis) – Main Performance Stage & Fantasy Faire Art Gallery.

Come see the superheroes of Second Life Dance: The Monarchs!

Superheroes Poster 006

Hi there! It’s your Dance Correspondent, R. Crap Mariner.

There’s big productions, and then there’s really really big productions. Monarchs puts together a few shows a year that are really big, people line up for hours to get into the sim early, and their upcoming Superheroes show is shaping up to be another feast for all senses.

Here’s the show announcement:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO!
It’s dates and times for The Monarchs’ upcoming sim-wide production of SUPERHEROES.

Join us on a mad dash into the world of ultimate good and evil where superheroes always prevail – even if it means destroying a vehicle, a building, a city…or two.

April 20th 9pm // 21st 3pm // 27th 9pm // 28th 3pm

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Monarchs/151/209/453

~ Monarchs

That’s the TL;DR, but I want to know more. Who are the Monarchs? What makes them different from the other dance groups out there? What does it take to put together one of their productions?

I know I want to know. So, let’s go exploring, shall we?

LET’S BEGIN

I sent Diiar Von Shippe a list of questions. She’s one of the leaders of Monarchs. Despite all the craziness of putting together costumes and sets and dance acts and coordinating all of the performers, she still had the time to answer them for me.

So if I were to say “I teleported over into the landing area of Monarchs and met with Diiar and we sat down and…” like I usually do

Monarchs for blog post

I’d be lying. This was me being lazy and not really having a true conversation, so why try to hide it, right? I sent her a list of questions, and she answered them beautifully. My faux-journalist heart wept.

Still she was nice enough to answer these, and I’m very grateful for that, and I hope this gives you some insight into the journey Diiar has taken in Second Life and Dance Performance. (As opposed to the road to burnout and misery I’ve been crawling down. Anybody have a bottle of something?)

Besides, her answers were just so… beautiful, I couldn’t bring myself to edit this down and chop it up. (Okay, I’m lying again. I’m lazy.)

Questions in bold, comments in italics, and she’s in plain text.

Let’s roll.

Tell me about yourself, Diiar.

My name is Diiar Vader Shippe, I am co-owner of The Monarchs dance troupe along with Royal Shippe. I’m also a manager, choreographer, dancer, poster-maker, story-writer, alleged slave driver, part-time workaholic, epic rant writer and much more – though none of that is as interesting as this.

I spend my days nagging at people (mostly Royal), sneaking out to listen to some of SL’s live singers perform – a fairly (re)newed interest of mine – or attending to this distracting little thing called Real Life.

(This is where I’d raise an eyebrow at slave-driver and count the number of exits available to me. Because the last thing I want to do is end up enslaved to a dance performance group and doing their bidding, right?)

How did you get your start in Second Life?

I had to take a class at college some 5-ish years ago where we, at one point, discussed on-line communities. Naturally Second Life came up. Now, my teacher made it sound like a dripping hub of malcontent, pervy freaks – so naturally I had to make an account and go check it out…

I was surprised to find that in between all the specimens that proved my teacher’s case were some real characters and some interesting souls and so…I stuck around.

(Please do not undersell the malcontents and pervy freaks. We have our time to shine, too.)

What got you into dance in Second Life?

After about 6 months of general depravity,

(… awesome!)

I found myself at a dance show at Ellie’s. It was much like the ones you find weekly across the grid these days. Smaller perhaps than most – it never seemed like a long show and I think more burlesque-y for sure than Monarchs is. And I remember they had a great host – I forgot her name, but I’m sure people that went there will remember her. I always thought she had a great style and I took a lot from that when I started hosting a show myself a bit later on.

But I saw absolutely no appeal in it. On the other hand, my company did, and before long I was suckered into their plans to open a theatre of their own.

(This is one of my big fears… getting suckered into building my own dance performance theatre. I’ve already got an almost-always empty venue for my storytelling. God help me if I ever put together an almost-always empty dance performance venue. Thank goodness I’ve used up most of my remaining space on an almost-always empty art gallery.)

That’s where I started – as a hostess. Before long though I had the urge to try my own hand at creating a performance and though I didn’t know how to build (like at all), I had my, embarrassing, début back in 2013. It wasn’t until my 3rd set I finally thought I was onto something and from that point, it’s been a slow, but steady journey to where I am today.

(I’ve noticed that a lot of people have mentioned Ellie’s. I should probably hunt her down and find out what the history is there. After a vacation, I think.)

And then came Monarchs, right?

We have to go about 3 years up in time before Monarchs starts taking shape. And then you have to add Royal Shippe and Myth Raven – my better and worse half in SL respectively, hah!

(For the record, I am my own worse half. Which makes for one and a half me. Maybe I need to redo the math.)

For the longest time, we were joking about how nice it would be having our own troupe where we could set the agenda and where we could do things the way we thought they ought to be done. Now, before I go on, I want to make it clear that we didn’t (and still don’t) think our way is the one and only right way, and in many things, we’re still trying to find a way that makes sense. Personally, I think as long as you have something unique to offer there’s room for a new perspective. We wanted a troupe that focused heavily on quality over quantity, and one where you could never be quite sure what you’d be getting, other than a spectacle and a performance.

(SPOILER ALERT: Monarchs creates excellent spectacles and performances. Just wanted to you to know.)

Just before our début show Myth had to poof to RL and with that we also took a step away from solo dances and the naughtier stuff – which quite naturally gave way to the size shows you see us doing today.

It’s quite a way from joking about it to actually doing it, and I’ve forgotten what the deciding factor was in the end. In any case, Monarchs was born in the spring of 2016. And in the time since then, we’ve gathered together a small but fun group of people that can carry the ambition and continuously put up with our unreasonable antics. And a growing fan base of what I personally believe to be among the most patient people in all of SL, waiting months in silence for us to finish anything new for them.

(On top of that, we’re also the most patient because we get to the sim hours in advance and wait because it always fills up quickly. So, I’m a total idiot for doing this article because now you know they exist and you’ll be fighting for those few seats, too. Remember what Blaze said about being very sad if you miss Cirque? Well, you’ll be sad if you miss Monarchs, too.)

Continue reading “Come see the superheroes of Second Life Dance: The Monarchs!”

2018 SL project updates 16/1: Simulator User Group

La Virevolte; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrLa Virevolteblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • On Tuesday, April 17th, 2018, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with server maintenance package 18#18.03.29.513939, previously deployed to the RC channels and containing internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, April 18th, 2018, the major RC channels, BlueSteel, Magnum and LeTigre should all be updated with the same server maintenance package 18#18.04.09.514272, containing internal fixes and a fix for BUG-214702.

SL Viewer

With the exception Animesh project viewer (see below), there have been no updates to the current SL viewers thus far in week #16, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.1.3.513644, dated March 27, promoted April 13 – formerly the media update RC – NEW
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • 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.

Animesh Project Viewer Update

The Animesh project viewer updated on Monday, April 16th. Version 5.1.4.514468 brings the viewer to parity with the current release viewer. In addition this viewer has revised streaming cost/land impact formula for Animesh objects, which are also reflected in ARC (avatar rendering cost) calculations for Animesh items.

In summary, the updates are:

  • Animesh attachment limit = 1: only one Animesh object can be attached to an avatar at a time. This is unchanged from the original estimates.
  • Triangle Count Limit = 100,000: an animesh object (linkset) can have at most 100k triangles, where the count is based on the estimated size of the largest LOD (normally this is the high LOD). This includes all mesh triangles, static or rigged.
  • Land Impact: streaming cost = 15.0 + 1.5 * ktris + cost of non rigged prims: for a rigged mesh prim in an animesh linkset, the streaming cost will be 0.0015 * effective_tri_count – that is, 1.5 per thousand triangles. The value for effective_tri_count is derived from the estimated triangle count of the various LODs in the prim as follows:
    • High LOD: all of the estimated triangle count included in the effective_tri_count.
    • Medium LOD, Low LOD and Lowest LOD: the allowed number of triangles can be up to ½ of the LOD above, or 64, whichever is larger (i.e. Medium can be up to ½ of High, or 64, whichever is larger). If there are more triangles than this limit, that excess will be added to the effective_tri_count.

See Vir’s explanation in the Animesh updated limits and cost formulas forum thread for a complete explanation of these limits and how they have been arrived at.

An important point to note is that these formulas only apply to Animesh; there is a second, and longer-term project – ARCTan – a re-evaluation of all object and avatar rendering costs (and which may see further changes to Animesh calaculations). It is hoped that overall, ARCTan  will improve viewer-side performance and provide creators with positive incentives to build more performant content.

You can find out more on ARTan in this blog post and this blog post in this blog.

Viewer Texture Cache

As noted in several of my TPV Developer meeting updates, Linden Lab are trying to improve viewer caching – starting with the texture cache. Commenting on the work, Oz Linden said, “We’re experimenting with a number of different changes. Some that you might think (I did) would make things better turned out not to, but we’re making progress.” It’s not clear if / when any project viewer utilising any new texture caching capability will be available for general use.

LlRequestUserKey and LlNameToKey

The Lab has released two new LSL functions: llRequestUserKey and llNameToKey, both of which are in connection to the upcoming return of Last Names (see this blog post and this blog post for more):

  • llRequestUserKey:
    • Requests the Agent ID for the agent identified by name from the dataserver. The name given may be either the current name of an avatar or a historical name that has been used in the past. If no agent can be found with the supplied name this function returns the value NULL_KEY.
    • It returns a handle (a key) that can be used to identify the request when the dataserver event is raised.
    • Note that agent being searched for with this function does not need to be signed on to Second Life.
    • See the llRequestRequestUserKey wiki page for more.
  • llNameToKey:
    • Returns a key the Agent ID for the named agent in the region. If there is no agent with the specified name currently signed onto the region, this function returns the value NULL_KEY. Names are always provided in the form “First[ Last]” or “first[.last]” (first name with an optional last name.)
    • If the last name is omitted a last name of “Resident” is assumed. Case is not considered when resolving agent names.
    • Uses a different mechanism to look up agent information to the older llKey2Name().
    • See the llNameToKey wiki page for more.

Kokua: new faces, the future and release 5.1.3.43129/43130

In March I reported that Chorazin Allen, had joined the Kokua viewer development team. He volunteered after Nicky Perian’s decision to step back from day-to-day management of the project, announced in October 2017 to allow him to enjoy more of his retirement, failed to elicit hoped-for volunteers to take over the general management of the project.

Chorazin, although he modestly describes his C++ coding skills as “rusty” (causing him to initially hold back from volunteering sooner), has considerable experience in project management, software development and build experience coupled with many years of experience of in-world LSL scripting and working with RLV/RLVa.

Since joining Kokua, he has been getting familiar with the rest of the Kokua team, and together they have been working on updates to the Second Life viewer to bring it up to parity with the current Linden Lab code base, including full integration with the Alex Ivy 64-bit code. I’ve been tracking these updates – made through the projects Sourceforge pages, rather than being “official” releases, for the past few weeks via my Current Viewer Releases page and my weekly viewer release summaries.

Kokua: The Future

On April 15th, this work reached a point where the team were ready to resume making formal Kokua releases, and to publish a blog post outlining the viewer’s future development. I strongly urge all Kokua users to read this post in full, and am only bullet-pointing the key elements here:

  • Until such time as an OpenSim developer can join the project, Kokua will only be actively maintained for use with Second Life.
  • Kokua for Second Life will be developed as a 64-bit bit viewer only, offering both RLV and non-RLV variants.
    • The Windows and Mac versions will be actively maintained, based on Linden Lab’s  Alex Ivy 64-bit code base.
    • Effort will also be put towards a 64-bit Linux flavour of the viewer based on the Lab’s Alex Ivy code. However, this will doubtless be dependent on the Lab’s broader attempts to work with the Linux community to develop a 64-bit Linux viewer.
  • In keeping with a request from Linden Lab, the major version numbers for Kokua releases will reflect the Lab code base release they are based on. So, for example Kokua 5.1.3.xxxxx indicates it is based on the Lab’s 5.1.3 code base.
  • Legacy 32-bit versions of Kokua will remain available via the download page, but will not be actively maintained.
  • The Kokua group within Second Life is the preferred medium for user-to-user support and will also be used for group notices about new versions or other significant developments. All other channels of outward  communication (IRC, Twitter, etc), have been discontinued.
  • The Kokua wiki will continue to be used for viewer release notes (as seen in the viewer when a new version is launched) and for the summary of current versions and download sites.
  • The preferred method of inward  communication to the team is via a ticket raised in Sourceforge against the Kokua Project.

Kokua 5.1.3.43129/43130

The formal release the release of Kokua’s Alex Ivy based 64-bit viewer for Windows and Mac, offers the viewer in both RLV (5.1.3.129) and non-RLV (5.1.3.43130) variants on both platforms. It brings with it a full parity with the Second Life viewer up to and including (at the time of writing) the current official release viewer, 5.1.3.51364, formerly the Media Update RC viewer. The RLV version of the viewer also gains parity with RLV 2.9.23.0.

Performance Feedback Capabilities

The core element of the updates made by the Kokua team comprise new performance and information feedback capabilities, including the ability to report on changes in the number of scripts in a region, changes in the server channel with changes of region.

All of the new settings can be found in two new Preferences tabs: Preferences > Kokua > Performance 1 and Preferences > Kokua  > Performance 2:

  • Performance 1 deals with notifications on entering a new region and agent (avatar) and script notifications, which must be enabled on a group basis – agent and / or script notifications, and then individual options within group set as required.
  • Performance 2 provides notifications on Frame Timing and Basic Performance.

In addition, it should be noted that:

  • Performance 2 also includes a check box to display the information from these features either as a notification in the top right of the viewer window and in chat history, or have them only displayed in chat history.
  • All of the options have default values which are intended to be representative of fairly average performance. If you aren’t familiar with what they do, it is probably preferable that you don’t randomly enabling them, as you could end up  swamped in notifications and feedback.
  • It is important to not that any changes made relate what is reported by the viewer and when – changing these values does not change actual simulator performance.
The new Preferences > Kukua Performance 1 tab, allowing users to set notifications for region, agent (avatar) and script notifications.

Some of these options mirror similar capabilities found in other TPVs – such as reporting a change in the server channel when moving between regions; others may be of more benefit to region holders and their estate managers than they are for general consumption. The idea with them is not to simply turn everything on, but to select those options which might be of specific interest.

For example, while knowing how many avatars (agents) are in a region might be of use to some users when hopping about Second Life, information on how the physics  simulation is performing or on overall timing information within a region, together with the active object count and script count is only likely to be of interest to those managing a region. Similarly, enabling the Physics time section of the frame monitoring options in the Performance 2 tab could help creators monitor vehicle performance during testing (e.g. on region crossings.

The new Preferences > Kokua > Performance 2 tab, providing Frame Timing and Basic Performance notifications

For a more rounded examination on how these options might be used, please refer to the Kokua release notes, which provide a range of examples of now the tabs might be used. It should also be notes that general “real-time” monitoring of the options provided can also be done via the Statistics (CTRL-SHIFT-1) and Scene Load Statistics (CTRl-SHIFT-2) floaters. Finally, those particularly interested in learning more about the viewer’s statistics reporting abilities and on tuning viewer performance should refer to the Viewer Statistics wiki page, and the Viewer Performance Knowledge Base article respectively.

Feedback

While the lack of OpenSim maintenance for Kokua – at least until such time as an OpenSim developer volunteers to work with the team, as noted – will probably be lamented in some quarters, the “return” of mainstream release announcements of Kokua, together with information how the viewer’s development will proceed into the foreseeable future is to be welcomed.

That Kokua is only being maintained on Windows 64-bit might cause frustration for some. However, given that systems capable of running 64-bit Windows (e.g. supplied with more that 4Gb of RAM) are far more prevalent on the marketplace; ergo, the decision to focus the team’s limited resources on providing support for the one flavour of Windows  makes sense.

It’s hard to judge how well the two new Performance tabs will be utilised. Aso noted, for the likes of those engaged in region management, or scripting, they could potentially be very useful. For others, the tabs might rarely see the light of day. But that’s what TPVs are about – providing choice for users.

I’ve not had an opportunity to run Kokus 5.1.3 hard, having only spent part of a morning bouncing around SL with it. However, in that time I found it to be (as usual) robust and providing frame rates and general experience with the official viewer and – on a frame rate basis – somewhat above that managed by Firestorm on the basis of very rough-and-ready “like for like” testing across some of my preferred regions where things like agent numbers., etc tend to remain constant.

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