2019 SL User Groups 24/2: Content Creation summary

Yúcale; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrYúcaleblog post

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • A further EEP RC viewer is in the works, but no current ETA.
  • The most recent EEP RC viewer (version 6.4.0.527723, dated June 6th. 2019), has not received a lot of feedback. It’s not clear if this is because issues aren’t being noted or if people aren’t filing them. If you’re using the viewer and see a problem, please raise a bug report, even if you think it may have been raised before.
  • Graham Linden continues to work on the shader / rendering issues.
  • A simulator-side RC update is anticipated for week #25, which will hopefully address some of the region windlight rendering issues currently being seen.
  • Rider has been away from EEP, looking into the issues of simulator  / script performance (again, please refer to my recent Simulator User Group notes).

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

  • As noted in my Simulator User Group update, there was a new BOM RC viewer update on Monday, June 10th, with the release of version 6.3.0.527701.
  • A potential issue has arisen around the new “universal” texture channels (e.g. Left Arm) and how people want them to work. The expectation from the Lab has been that while these might be transparent, there will always be an opaque texture “under” them. However, there have been attempts to either use them with a transparent underlying texture or have them partially transparent (currently, the “universal” channels aren’t recognised / masked by an alpha wearable), and this has led to errors in how the Appearance Service is handling them when compositing / baking (unfortunately, no bug report was reference so I cannot verify the exact issue). It’s currently not clear how this might be resolved if it is an issue.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir has been carrying out further investigation into the mechanism for adding new attributes to objects with a view to trying to make it easier to do so. This might, as an example, make it easier to add new body sliders to the avatar (although there are currently no plans to add sliders to the avatar – this is purely investigative work).
  • In terms of the visual parameters work to allow Animesh objects to be resized:
    • Originally there was going to be the one command to set visual parameters (llSetObjectVisualParams). This was to work on a list basis that alternates between slider ID (or name) and parameter value (e.g. Slider ID A, value for Slider ID A; Slider ID B, value for slider ID B, etc).
    • However, a request has been made to be able to query a set of visual parameters (e.g. llGetObjectVisualParameters), and the logical format for this is for a list of parameter IDs to be supplied, and the corresponding list of values to be returned.
    • This prompts the question of whether llSetObjectVisualParams should use this latter approach.
    • The consensus is to use an approach consistent with the rest of LSL parameter setting.
    • As a side note, it is unlikely manipulating slider values via LSL would be extended for use with avatars, as this could potentially conflict with the back-end system that currently manages the slider mechanism as it affects the avatar.
  • There are a large number (200+) sliders, not all of which affect bone position / scale, which can make it potentially confusing when trying to set values against Animesh objects. To this end, Vir has updated the Bento Skeleton Guide with a list of slider names that actually affect bone position / scale.
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2019 SL User Groups 22/2: Content Creation summary

Copper River; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrFlourishblog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, May 30th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • It has been noted that the current EEP RC viewer – version 6.2.3.527250 – is a “little rough”, with issues around midday light, ambient lighting, water transparency, projected lights, etc. Additional effort is being put into checking code merges to try to avoid similar issues in the future, although viewer updates may be a little slower as a result and involve smaller changes.
  • An updated EEP RC viewer is with the Lab’s QA team that should fix many of the current issues, and should be available soon.
  • Alexa Linden, who a Product Managing EEP, and who spends a good deal of her time in-world both exploring and building, as well as designing environments, is spending more time in checking upcoming EEP builds to help get things back on track.

Non-EEP Viewer Rendering Issues

  • Following the simulator deployments of week #22, there have been a series of reports of windlight settings failing to render correctly in either non-EEP viewers or the EEP RC viewer.
  • The Lab is unable of any simulator changes that would cause this.
  • BUG-226815 outlines one issue, and further bug reports have been requested as the Lab investigate the problem.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

  • A BUG related to the AUX channels showing up black for BOM has resurfaced.
  • An updated viewer with a fix for his issue has been undergoing testing and should be available “soon”.
  • This update also requires an appearance service update as well.
  • It is hoped that the bug fix and viewer update will allow BOM to progress.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Gif showing Vir’s first pass at using LSL to change the shape parameters of an Animesh object. Credit: Vir Linden

    Vir continues to work on adding visual parameter support to allow shape adjustments to be made to Animesh.

  • He now has the LSL side of things working “fairly decently” – the command allows users to set individual parameters, and correctly handles vertical height placement, as demonstrated on the right.
    • The LSL capability allows multiple shape parameters to be adjusted.
    • Parameters can be looked up by name or ID, and the command uses ranges for 0 to 1.
    • This allows shape parameters to be adjusted in a similar manner as would be seen when using shape sliders when manually editing an avatar’s shape, albeit with different value ranges (0 to 1 being equitable to 0 to 100 on a slider).
  • In the example clip, right, the LSL is being used to apply settings to the Animesh height, arm length, shoulder width, leg length, etc., simultaneously.
  • It has been suggested having a Get command to obtain parameter settings would be useful, and this may be added.
  • A further question is whether there needs to be a capability to remove parameters (by default an Animesh does not have any visual parameters until they are set – and once set they cannot be removed..
  • Overall, the plan remains to get the capability into a usable state and then provide a project viewer for further testing within test regions.
  • The meeting also included further discussion on allowing Animesh characters to have clothing / outfits in a similar manner to an avatar’s Outfit folder, and to support attachment points.
    • A problem here is that the Outfit Folder runs through the Appearance Service, which would have to be extended to encompass Animesh objects.
    • Similarly, attachment points operate via the concept of avatars having an associated  agent – which Animesh objects currently don’t have.
    • While neither of these have been entirely ruled out, they are considered significant projects which have their own set of implementation issues that would have to be considered.

2019 SL User Groups 21/2: Content Creation summary

NOLA @ Fairhaven; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrNOLA @ Fairhavenblog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, May 23rd 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

  • The Appearance Service change, designed to correctly handle tattoo layer with partial transparency has now passed QA. This corrects a problem where if a tattoo with partial transparency is sent for baking via the new BOM channels without any underlying opaque layer, then the alphas are not correctly resolved.
  • A required simulator change should be deployed “soon”. This includes a means of accessing BOM UUIDs.
    • These were changed in the last back-end update as a result of underlying asset property issues. If there is BOM content using the old UUIDs, this will have to be updated.
    • The simulator update is intended to allow access to the texture UUIDs without having to do so numerically, as is currently the case. This should re-enable the ability to access them via their name abbreviations.
  • The Bakes on Mesh RC viewer updated to version 6.2.3.527418, dated May 23rd.
  • A new bug has been uncovered by the Lab, but at the time of writing, it was unclear if this was related to the Appearance Service or the viewer.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • Graham Linden continues to work on the remaining shader / graphics issues.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding visual parameter support to allow shape adjustments to be made to Animesh.
  • This work has new reached a point where shape updates can be requested, and the messages sent to viewers able to see the Animesh, which then update to display the correct shape.
  • However, there is an issue: the Appearance Service code to set an avatar’s vertical position (and hopefully keep the avatar’s feet on the ground) doesn’t recognise Animesh objects. This therefore needs to be either extended to support Animesh, or emulated purely within the viewer
    • Vir is working to try to emulate the capability within the viewer, but in doing so has uncovered some confusing elements in the way the current code works, which needs to be addressed.
  • It is still likely to be at least two more weeks before the work is suitable to be made available in the project viewer.

In Brief

  • The Teranino viewer, version 6.2.3.527418, introduced  change in how vehicle region crossings are handled.
    • There is now a debug setting that stops movement interpolation by the viewer while the data is passed between regions.
    • How long the pause lasts can be adjusted (the default is 1.00  – which I assume is 1 second, while I assume 0 is no stop.
    • However, there are reports that  if a vehicle is turning or banking, while forward motion stops, the rotation imparts as result of the turn / bank continues (see BUG-226937).
  • There are a couple of viewers in progress that feature open-source contributions. One of these is for profiles behaviour, and the other is related to improvements to the mesh uploader (which I assume is Beq Janus’ excellent work as found in Firestorm).
  • Pivot points with mesh uploads: there has been some viewer-side work to support this, but the work is on hold pending the availability of a resource to work on the required simulator support.
  • Changing animations priorities on-the-fly: this has been a frequent request in the past, intended to allow users to adjust animation priorities rather than having them set at upload.
    • However, the priority assignment capability is deeply baked into the way SL operates, and re-working it to allow on-the-fly changes is seen as a none-trivial project.
    • It is also seen as just one element of the animation system requiring complete overhaul (e.g. there is a need for a pre-load animation capability, a global synch capability, etc.).
    • Any such overhaul brings with it further complications in that it could touch upon the IK system, as such animation system work is not something LL are currently considering, although they have taken a number of Jira feature requests on the subject.

2019 SL User Groups 20/2: Content Creation summary

Grauland; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGrauland – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, May 16th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

New Viewer Release Notes Pages

The Lab’s RC viewer releases / updates all have shiny new viewer release notes pages on the web. These move the notes away from the old wiki pages, and into a new format that provides:

  • The release notes can be accessed via a new home page, with links to recent SL viewer releases – that is, the current RC viewers.
  • The release notes for a specific viewer, with new icon links to its respective download versions (Windows 64 / 32-bit and Mac OS).
  • There are also links to support information: a new Repositories overview page; an explanation of the viewer version numbering system; a link to the Viewer Support Policy.
  • A significant change is that many of the Jira links in a release page reference the public Jira bug reports, rather than the Lab’s internal MAINT clones. This should make specific bugs addressed in an update more visible to interested users.
  • These pages can also (for the time being at least) be accessed from the existing Alternate Viewers wiki page, when clicking on the release notes link for a specific RC viewer.

 

The new format viewer release notes pages for SL release candidate viewers (using the EEP viewer as an example)

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • The EEP viewer updated to version 6.2.3.527250 on Thursday, May 16th. This update should include a number of bug fixes and shader updates that will hopefully improve things “considerably”.
  • Graham Linden continues to work on the remaining shader / graphics issues.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding visual parameter support to allow shape adjustments to be made to Animesh.
  • This work has new reached a point of being able to store visual parameter information relating to Animesh objects, and to be able to send it to viewers.
  • The next stage of the work is to get to get the viewer to understand what it is supposed to do with these messages.
  • Vir hopes to have an internal prototype for this running in the next few days. If successful, this should pave the way towards a project viewer being made available down the road.
    • It will initially focus on using list-based LSL input to set individual shape parameters.
      • These will probably be throttled to prevent over-use (e.g. to prevent the capability being used as a high performance cost alternative to animation).
    • Once this is working that shapes can potentially be added for manipulation.
    • Obviously, this will require simulator updates to be able to support the LSL commands, as well as the updates required for the new message types, etc.

Animesh as NPCs

  • There has been a lot of forum discussion on using Animesh as non-player characters (NPCs).
  • A limitation here is that a decent-looking NPC, suitably clothed and ready for use can too often have a huge LI (into the 100s).
    • Part of the problem is that until Animesh,  is there was no real incentive to optimise rigged mesh, as being worn by an avatar, it never really had a “Land Impact” per se, and a lot of clothing has an “insane” triangle count (e.g. 21,000 for a tank top).
    • As Animesh calculations do try to allow  for the cost of rigged mesh, such high triangle counts are (simply put) converted in LI, driving up the LI for any Animesh character on which it is used.
  • It is hoped that as the ARCTan project comes to pass, it will offer some form of incentive that will encourage those clothing makers who may not consider optimisations to do so, which will help improve things for both Animesh using wearables and also help reduce some of the performance overhead overly complex avatars can cause.
  • Another alternative would be to (at some point) extend Bakes on Mesh to include Animesh objects, allowing them to be clothed using system layers.
  • In the meantime, the suggestions is that those wishing to create NPCs perhaps consider doing so entirely in Blender (or similar), and not rely on using clothing and attachments that might be available in-world as a means of clothing / equipping them.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

  • There is a simulator change pending. This includes a means of accessing BOM UUIDs.
    • These were changed in the last back-end update as a result of underlying asset property issues. If there is BOM content using the old UUIDs, this will have to be updated.
    • The simulator update is intended to allow access to the texture UUIDs without having to do so numerically, as is currently the case. This should re-enable the ability to access them via their name abbreviations.
  • There is also a further Appearance Service change pending, designed to correctly handle tattoo layer with partial transparency (currently, if a tattoo with partial transparency is sent for baking via the new BOM channels without any underlying opaque layer, then the alphas are not correctly resolved).

2019 SL User Groups 19/2: Content Creation summary

Ukivok; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUkivokblog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, May 9th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • The next viewer RC update is “close”. This should:
    • Include a batch of shader updates that will hopefully improve things “considerably”.
    • Be merged to the current LL release viewer (version 6.2.1.526845 at the time of writing, promoted May 7th).
  • An issue of late has been that of new bugs popping up as existing ones are dealt with.
  • A recently noticed issue has been with day cycles – cloud scrolling across the sky will suddenly “hiccup” slightly in their motion, rather than scrolling smoothly throughout.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding shape support (or similar) to Animesh, specifically on the infrastructure requirements for being able to send slider parameters for Animesh objects to and from the viewer.
  • No decision has as yet been made to whether to offer full body shape support or to use individual parameters, but the underpinning infrastructure requirements for both are more-or-less the same.
  • The focus is therefore on developing the infrastructure (messaging, etc), to a point where both can be tested as a decision made on the basis of that testing.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

  • There is a simulator change pending. This includes a means of accessing BOM UUIDs.
    • These were changed in the last back-end update as a result of underlying asset property issues. If there is BOM content using the old UUIDs, this will have to be updated.
    • The simulator update is intended to allow access to the texture UUIDs without having to do so numerically, as is currently the case. This should re-enable the ability to access them via their name abbreviations.
  • There is also a further Appearance Service change pending, deigned to correctly handle tattoo layer with partial transparency (currently, if a tattoo with partial transparency is sent for baking via the new BOM channels without any underlying opaque layer, then the alphas are not correctly resolved). This is with the Lab’s QA team.
  • There are no BOM-specific updates pending to the RC viewer, but this will, as per the Lab’s viewer release policy, be updated to maintain parity with the latest release version of the viewer (6.2.1.526845) at the time of writing.
  • Given the overall status of BOM and EEP, it would appear likely that BOM could be promoted ahead of EEP as a released project and viewer.

2019 SL User Groups 17/2: Content Creation summary

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandlewoodblog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, April 25th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

There was little to report, project-wise, this meeting, with most of the time taken up with a general discussion on avatar complexity, LI, ARCTan, LODs and efficient content. This summary focuses on the project updates that were offered.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

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

Resources

Current Status

  • The regressions in environment appearance that have been seen since the Thursday, April 18th roll-backs will hopefully be corrected with the next simulator deployment that has EEP included.
  • Shader issues are continuing to be investigated and resolved as they come in / can be fixed.
    • The next release candidate version of the viewer may address the problems of environments looking unnaturally dark in the EEP viewer.
    • Graham Linden is looking at some updates provided by user Geenz Spad, who initially formulated how materials could be added to Second Life.
  • BUG-226752 “[EEP] Interest Lists Culling – Draw Distance has little effect on scene rendering” – still has yet to be addressed.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding shape support (or similar) to Animesh, specifically on the infrastructure requirements for being able to send slider parameters for Animesh objects to and from the viewer.
  • Some of this involves using the infrastructure developed for EEP.
  • This work is still in its early days.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

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

Resources

Current Status

Anchor Linden continues to work with some appearance service issues that need to be fixed before the project can progress.

Starter Avatars

As I noted at the time, several of the last batch of Starter Avatars for Second Life, released in January 2019, came sans any form of animation override (see: More Classic starter avatars for Second Life). This has now been addressed, and those avatars that needed them have now been updated with AOs.

Avatar Complexity / Impact – Summary

The subject of avatar complexity and lack of any Land Impact control for avatars formed a major point of general discussion in the meeting. Obviously, there is ARC – and the upcoming ARCTan project that is re-evaluation a range of rendering costs, including in-world objects and avatars. However, unlike LI, avatar rendering costs itself isn’t really an incentive to build efficient worn content for avatars.

However, trying to be more proactive with avatar complexity is difficult. Take the idea of some form of “Avatar Impact” akin to Land Impact:

  • How should it be defined?
  • How should individual attachments be weighted? purely on their in-world LI? Number of vertices? Tri / poly count? A combination?
  • What sort of policy needs to be put in place?
  • What happens if an avatar tries to enter a region / parcel where its “AI” exceeds the land capacity? Should a simplified version of the avatar be allowed?
  • How will a home owner feel if they find they cannot rez a new item of furniture because it would exceed their land capacity because their “AI” is too high?

As such, any such “avatar impact” would require a substantial changes to Second Life – as well as a lot of lead-time and explanation to users. So while not impossible, implementation would have to be weighed carefully. Currently, there are no plans to introduce any such system – and the target remains on being able to move forward with ARCTan.

This led to a broader discussion on complexity, the potential of ARCTan and a slight segue into LOD and auto LOD (again, something that might had some advantages – and disadvantages – but really not now suited to SL).