2021 CCUG meeting week #18 summary

Florence at Low Tide, February 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, May 6th, 2021.

These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar and the venue for the CCUG is the Hippotropolis camp fire.

Content-wise, this was a short meeting, many of the usual attendees being absent, perhaps caught out by CCUG meetings over the last few months only taking place every other week, and this one following directly after Week #17’s meeting.

SL Viewer

There have been no further updates to the current crop of official SL viewers since the release of the Project UI viewer (see: Lab issues Project UI viewer aimed at new users), leaving the pipelines for the week as follows:

  • Release viewer: Eau de Vie Maintenance viewer, version 6.4.18.558266, dated April 23rd, promoted April 29th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Project UI viewer, version 6.4.18.558718, issued May 3rd.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 viewer, version 6.4.18.558365, dated April 22nd.
    • Maintenance 2 RC viewer – Fernet, version 6.4.18.558441, dated April 21st.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26th.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22nd, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16th, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • The current RC viewers – LMR 5 and Maintenance 2 – are currently awaiting new versions following their merges with the current release viewer code base. There has been a delay in testing due to members of the the lab’s viewer QA team being on vacation.
  • LMR 5 is now considered “complete”, so following the code merge, should be in a strong position to be promoted as the next de facto release viewer.
  • LMR 6, the next rendering focused viewer is still in development. So far a dozen bugs are being addressed to be a part of this viewer, and more are being added to the list. As such, it’s liable to be a while before this viewer appears as an RC.
  • It is hoped the Apple notifications fix viewer and the updated Voice viewer that helps with expected Voice drop-outs both available in the very near future.

Documentation and Resources

The core of this meeting focused on a a discussion about where “accurate” avatar skeletons can be obtained, as the current resources appear out-of-date (e.g. the Fitted Mesh resource page indicates the skeletons in the supplied link are pre-Bento), whilst the Bento page indicates one skeleton may be “broken”.

Whilst there are alternate reliable sources for skeleton information (e.g. via Machinimatrix), these are not always resources newer users may be comfortable using as they “are not Linden Lab” – even though the people responsible for them worked closely with other users and the Lab on projects such as Bento and helped define the Bento skeleton.

This highlights a particular issue in not having up-to-date “official” resources on matters such as content creation – which may in turn be a contributing factor in the development of poorly-made / poorly-optimised SL content. Two problems here are that:

  • LL  does not have the resources to manage and maintain the entire SL wiki (and in fact there had been murmurs in the past about consideration being given to deprecating the wiki in favour of other sources,   although this is currently not the case).
  • Due to issues of “bot griefing”, access to editing the SL wiki had to be restricted several years ago “pending” improved tools to prevent such events – but this has yet to happen. Therefore, it is much harder for users to help maintain the wiki, as tended to be the case in the past.

In Brief

  • Account / inventory syncing between Agni (the Main grid) and Aditi (the Beta grid) remains broken. No ETA on when this may be resolved, other than “watch the status page“.
  • Date of next meeting: Thursday, May 20th, 2021.

2021 CCUG and TPV Developer meetings week #17 summary

Poison Rouge, February 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, April 29th 2021 at 13:00 SLT, and the TPV Developer’s meeting of Friday, April 30th.

These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar. The venue for the CCUG is the Hippotropolis camp fire, and the TPV Developer meeting is held at the Hippotropolis Theatre.

SL Viewer

The Eau de Vie Maintenance RC viewer version 6.4.18.558266, dated April 23rd, was promoted to de facto viewer release status on Thursday, April 29th.

The remaining viewers in the pipeline comprise:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 viewer, version 6.4.18.558365, dated April 22.
    • Maintenance 2 RC viewer – Fernet, version 6.4.18.558441, dated April 21.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • The Legacy Profiles viewer should be getting an update that will include some cosmetic tweaks to the UI, but will be functionally identical to the current project viewer version.
  • The LMR 5 viewer is being readied for promotion to release status, and work on LMR 6 is continuing.
  • The revised Simple Cache viewer is back with LL’s QA team, and should be re-emerging fairly soon.
  • The improved UI viewer that is primarily intended to help new users looks like it will be issued during summer.
  • A viewer with a fix for the Mac notarisation fix (currently OS X users have to jump through some additional hoops to get the operating system to run the viewer) should be appearing Soon™.
  • Voice viewer: the Lab has been working to try to address the more annoying aspects of voice cutting out when someone is speaking. A viewer with various fixes / tweaks is currently being tested by Lab staff, and may be available for wider use also in a Soon™ time frame.
  • A further viewer in the works will include further updates / fixes for the Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF – used in media playback and streaming into SL).

One of the issues LL are running into is that thanks to the SNAFU following the release and roll-back of the original Simple Cache viewer, there is a growing number of official viewers stacking up waiting to enter the RC and project viewer pipelines.

RLV/RLVa and Experiences

Most people are familiar with the RLV and RLVa protocols / API functionality that is available in various third-party viewers. Whilst originally developed for more adult-oriented activities in Second life, these API options do have a wide range of other potential uses, some of which might be said to now be matched by Experience functionality (for example: automatic teleports).

While there is currently no specific project in the works to extend Experience functionality, the Lab has actually had internal discussions about the potential to provide various RLV-like options that could help improve Experiences. As such, the suggestion was made that if there are various (and generic, rather than adult-specific) use cases that might be achieved using RLV but would be useful to have as Experience functionality, these are noted in Jira feature requests so that they might be considered in due course.

 

Note: it was brought to my attention that not everyone is aware of the Soon™ joke. It is a play on the use of “Soon™” by Blizzard Entertainment, and the fact that, given LL’s preference not to present what might be taken as “tablets of stone” dates for the delivery of any given feature or bug fix, Oz Linden would refer to upcoming features / capabilities / fixes being available as “Soon”, “Pretty Soon” and “Real Soon / Real Soon Now”, which all become generally defined by the catch-all idea of “Soon™”.

2021 TPV Developer meeting week #15 summary

Centre for Mindfulness, February 2021 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 16th, 2021.

These meetings are generally held every other week.  They are recorded by Pantera Północy, and her video of each meeting is embedded at the end of the report relating to it – my thanks to her for allowing me to do so – and it is used with a transcript of the chat log from the meeting to produce these notes.

SL Viewer

[0:00-3:35]

The current run of official viewers is as follows:

  • Release viewer: Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, version 6.4.17.557391, dated March 24, promoted March 27 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.18.557782, dated April 12.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.18.557797, dated April 7.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • LMR 5 could now be set for promotion in the next week or so. No further active work is being carried out, and the current RC version has an “acceptable” crash rate.
  • Love Me Render 6 (LMR 6) is already in preparation with a further mix of fixes, including some that are EEP related (e.g. rendering the Moon with haze).
  • The current Maintenance RC viewer is also in good shape, and also have a further Maintenance RC rolling along behind it that is getting close to being ready for issuing.
  • The Legacy Profiles project viewer is now on hold pending the outcome of internal discussions related to it. These are related to whether or not there needs to be further UI changes within the viewer or changes made on the web side of things.
  • The Simplified Cache viewer has been overhauled, and should be re-appearing as an RC viewer very soon.
  • A viewer focused on correcting the problems of Apple notifications popping-up when trying to run the viewer on a Mac system is also getting close to appearing as a project viewer.
  • The “518” viewer (the Lab’s internal reference for an in-development viewer project) that has the UI updates specifically geared towards the new user experience changes LL have been working on is liable to be appearing “fairly Soon™”.

Fee Changes, 2FA and Map Tile Generation

[6:05-8:00 for map tile and 2FA / TPV comments]

The recently announced changes to Linden dollar “buy” fees, together with the upcoming (at some point in the future) shift to Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) has apparently given ground to worries it could spell the end of third-party viewers, and an update on map tile generation were all mentioned during the meeting.

All all three have broader interest than represented by those who follow viewer news, I’ve provided a separate summary of all three – please see: Linden Lab: L$ buy fee changes + 2FA and Map tiles news.

In Brief

  • [8:56-most of the rest of the meeting] Object spamming: the issue of widespread IM-to-e-mail spamming by a range of in-world objects (e.g. scanners that record your avatar UUID and then send out IMs on “offers” and “sales”, regardless of whether or not you’ve joined a related group) is a topic that does get periodically raised within the Lab, but tends to get pushed to one side while other issues are dealt with. It is possible something might be done to mitigate the problem, but further time is needed to determine what and how.

2021 CCUG meeting week #15 summary

Where Our Journey Begins, February 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, April 15th. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar, and the venue is the Hippotropolis camp fire.

SL Viewer

The current run of official viewers is as follows:

  • Release viewer: Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, version 6.4.17.557391, dated March 24, promoted March 27 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.18.557782, dated April 12.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.18.557797, dated April 7.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

Graphics Work

LMR 5 may have a further update in the coming week and is now “close” to being ready for promotion as the de facto viewer. Love Me Render 6 (LMR 6) is in preparation with a further mix of fixes, including some that are EEP related (e.g. rendering the Moon with haze).

ARCTan

Summary: An attempt to re-evaluate avatar rendering costs and the cost of in-world scene rendering, with the current focus on avatar rendering cost / impact, with the in-world scene rendering to be tackled at some point in the future.

The UI updates for how avatar complexity information is presented to users now looks as if it will be presented as a project / RC viewer separately to any updates to to the ARC calculations.

In Brief

  • Feature request BUG-227670 “Official Viewer: New default of 32m DD on installation when low end GPU detected” – this was put forward to help those logging-in to Second Life for the first time and arriving at a gateways only to encounter loading delays.
    • While accepted, it has the problem that a 32m draw distance is less that the potential size of a linkset, and so may cause issues of its own (what should be drawn within the linkset if it extends beyond the viewer’s 32m cut-off?).
  • Creator  owner permissions issues: it appears that some are seeing various losses of permissions on items that have created / owned (e.g. a full permission object of their own becoming No Mod or No Copy after being rezzed in-world.
    • This is a long-term (12+ years – see VWR-16097 and SVC-6185 for example), hard-to-reproduce issue that some are reportedly seeing re-surface.
    • It can sometimes be down to a single linked item in a complex build randomly changing its permission, requiring a careful comb-through of the entire linkset.
    • It appears to happen more frequently to objects located within high traffic regions and where there can be a noticeable delay (e.g. between pulling an object from inventory and in-world, or taking it from a scene back into inventory), which may point to a simulator / viewer race condition.
    • An updated bug report of the issues being encountered has been requested.

Date of Next Meeting

Thursday, April 29th, 2021.

2021 CCUG meeting week #13 summary

MARFA, January 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, April 1st. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar, and the venue is the Hippotropolis camp fire.

SL Viewer

On Thursday, April 1st the Custom Key Mapping viewer version 6.4.17.557391 was promoted to de facto viewer release status.

The rest of the official viewers remain as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.17.557412, dated March 25.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated February 23.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

Graphics Work

The graphic team is addressing crashes relating to older hardware using Intel Graphics drivers. These are proving difficult to track down as almost nothing is reported on where in the viewer the issue causing the crash occurred. In the meantime, those on systems using older Intel HD graphics drivers are encouraged to update to more recent versions.

Project Muscadine (Animesh Follow-On)

Project Summary

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

Current Status

On semi-permanent hold and unlikely to resume in the near future.

  • The initial project viewer had some significant issues, which have not as yet been addressed.
  • More particularly, as this was a test project prior to the work in transitioning the simulator software to the cloud, the necessary support code was never made a part of the core simulator core build, and so would require engineering time to be updated and integrated into the post-transition simulator code, and this is not something that is currently under consideration.
  • However, the hope is to at least get the LSL extensions work that has been done thus far into the simulator and the viewer updated “at some point”.

ARCTan

Summary: An attempt to re-evaluate avatar rendering costs and the cost of in-world scene rendering, with the current focus on avatar rendering cost / impact, with the in-world scene rendering to be tackled at some point in the future.

  • The updated Jelly Dolls rendering is seen as the first phase of the avatar work, even though it was more of a side project when initiated..
  • The next stage is to improve how Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) information is presented to users, together with improved performance controls within the UI.
  • Once the UI updates have been made, the updated ARC calculation code can be integrated into the viewer – although these new calculations remain dependant on a Bake Service fix that has been awaiting the cloud migration work to complete before being scheduled for implementation.
  • The hope is to get through this work Soon™.

In Brief

Proposals for New Forms of Avatar Customisation / Skeleton Deformation

Two proposals have been put forward to allow for a more “dynamic” approach to customising the avatar skeleton on the part of the user.

BUG-230428 “Interpolate between poses/animations via script” presents the idea for allowing pairs of scripted animation to act on the skeleton in such a way that when used, they present a UI slider element the user can adjust to define how the two animations interact with one another. As cited in the feature request, this could be used to combine walking animations so as to produce a unique walk / stride for an avatar. Currently, the idea has been accepted for consideration as possible future work.

BUG-230430 “Ability to interpolate between mesh skeleton offsets/deforms” presents the idea for users to gain a greater degree of avatar customisation by being able to deform the avatar skeleton using dynamic sliders.

  • Currently, the avatar skeleton can be deformed in two ways: via joint offsets and via animations. These are particularly (but not exclusively) used to force the avatar skeleton to adopt the shape required by a non-humanoid mesh avatar – such as a dog or elephant, etc. These are more-or-less “permanent” deformations, in that as long as the offsets are applied  / animations are running, the avatar skeleton will be deformed, and the user has no real control over the deformation.
  • BUG-230430 proposes a number of ideas (of decreasing complexity as thoughts are better crystallised) for presenting the means for the user to be able to use and adjust / interpolate different groups of offsets or animations (with the bias shifting towards the latter) by means of a set of sliders that are made available as the groups are applied to the avatar.
  • There are numerous complexities involved in the approaches suggested  (e.g. animation priorities when running multiple other animations through AOs; predictability of results in running multiple animations and possible offsets where timing / relationships can be user-adjusted; added UI complexity; viewer / server / viewer synchronisation,  etc.). As such this request is currently set to “needs more information” should animators  / avatar creators wish to add thoughts.

New User Experience

As I’ve reported elsewhere in these pages, considerable effort is being applied to the new user experience and on-boards of new users. Some of the work is approaching the point where it should be surfacing in a few months time. Elements of the work have included:

  • Analysing the hardware incoming new users have by logging non-intrusive stats through the viewer.  This is indicating that the majority of incoming new users have hardware of much lower specification than might be thought.
  • Work on simplifying / improving elements of the viewer UI, and looking at the potential of removing settings that are rarely, if ever used.
    • In a sampling of 10,000 individual user sessions it was found that over 700 of the 1,500 non-intrusive visible settings (i.e. settings that do give rise to privacy concerns if logged) the Lab now log in the official viewer, were never actually used by any user. This raises the question, would any of those 700 be missed if removed?
    • This does not mean those settings *will* be removed, and the Lab are aware their data doesn’t include TPV users, as third-party have yet to adopt the logging code – although the Lab would be happy to work with them on this.
  • Updating the learning and social islands incoming users encounter.
  • Performance updates. This includes considering ways users can be made aware of controls they can adjust / turn off to improve frame rates; possibly introducing a means to have the viewer adjust itself to optimise frame rates, etc.

General Notes

  • Feature request BUG-230429 “Morph Targets/Shape keys on Mesh” has been accepted by the Lab for consideration as a possible future project.
  • There was more discussion on the animation system, with views fairly split.
    • Some see the animations system   and formats as being “too old” and needing replacement; others see the BVH format as being extraordinarily flexible in the way it allows control of individual joints when compared to other systems / engines.
    • Some would like to see a better internal engine with greater support for inverse kinematics, etc., but a concern here is potential knock-on effect / scope (how would such a system relate to the existing animation system? Would it require broader changes to the avatar system? Could it result in existing content breakage? And so on).
  • There was further discussion of whether or not a system like Marvelous Designer could be incorporated into Second Life as a means to provide a better means of adjusting / fitting clothing to an avatar.
  • Neither a complete overall of the animation system or the adoption of a Marvelous Designer like cloth / clothing system is currently under consideration.

Date of Next Meetings

Content Creation: Thursday, April 15th, 2021.

2021 CCUG and TPV Developer meetings week #11 summary

Osta Nimosa – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, March 18th 2021 at 13:00 SLT, and Pantera’s video recording of the TPV Developer’s meeting of Friday, March 19th, a copy of which is embedded at the end of this article.

These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar. The venue for the CCUG is the Hippotropolis camp fire, and the TPV Developer meeting is held at the Hippotropolis Theatre.

SL Viewer

There have been no changes to the current pipeline of SL viewers since the update to the Key Mappings viewer at the start of the week. This leaves the pipelines as follows:

  • Release viewer: version 6.4.13.555567 (Jelly Doll improvements) originally promoted February 17th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.17.556726, dated March 15.
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.14.556149, dated March 4.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated 23, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

Viewer Status

  • The Simple Cache viewer is being updated and will re-enter circulation as a new RC viewer. Depending on the outcome of further testing this man or may not be the next viewer promoted to release status.
  • The other RC viewer with the potential to be promoted is the Key Mappings Viewer.
  • LMR 5 has encountered some additional crash issues  centred on Intel GPU drivers, and so is unlikely to be in line for promotion at present.

Graphics Work

The graphic team is addressing bugs relating to lighting underwater and to the Moon haze. This work, together with the LMR 5 issues mean Euclid Linden’s work to separate out UI rendering from scene rendering is currently on hold.

ARCTan

Summary: An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering either in the viewer. 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).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split between viewer renderings focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity. This will be followed in the future by work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.

This project has reached a point where consideration needs to be given to how performance controls that can leverage the avatar-related ARCTan data can be implemented. However, this work is waiting on Steeltoe Linden.

In Brief

  • There was more general discussion on improved avatar scaling  – uniform / proportional scaling, etc. However, as has been pointed out in the past, the general design of the avatar skeleton, coupled with the morphing capabilities (sliders) do not make uniform scaling easy to implement.
    • One of the calls for making such scaling possible is to allow users scale down their avatars so that regions feel much “bigger”  and thus can present larger settings. However, this view ignores the fact that there are other practical constraints on the region and the underpinning simulator that mean just because avatars are smaller, “more” can be packed into a given space.
  • The majority of the meeting was general spitballing on options for revising the avatar per above, requests to implement Marvelous Designer, providing morph targets, and so on. However, none of the chat related to projects the Lab are currently working on or plan to implement in the foreseeable future.
  • The TPV Developer meeting amounted to some 6 minutes of discussion, ergo no timestamps to the video.

Date of Next Meetings

  • Content Creation: Thursday, April 1st, 2021.
  • TPVD: Friday, April 2nd, 20221.