2019 SL User Groups 2/1: Content Creation

Winter's Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrWinter’s Hollowblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, January 10th, 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.

SL Viewer

There are still no updates to the current crop of official viewers in the pipelines, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • 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.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, there have been reports of a hover height / positioning issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. This can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set (BUG-225893).

Current Status

Anchor Linden has found the root cause for the issue, buried in the Bake Service. He has a fix for the problem, and it will be going out as soon as possible after it has been through testing and QA.

Animesh

Animesh and Pathfinding

As noted in my Simulator User Group update, there is increasing interest in Pathfinding now that Animesh is available, and there is a forum discussion going on around the ways and means to move Animesh which encompasses tests with Pathfinding.

Again, the Lab currently aren’t working on Pathfinding, but they are aware of the discussions and following them. In particular, there is interest in hearing back from people who have used Pathfinding sufficiently who could perhaps help define a set of best practices for using the capability / who have used it sufficiently with Animesh to be able to point to deficiencies in the system or could suggest means of improving it.

Animesh Sex?!

Early on in Animesh development a feature request was put forward suggesting a switch be added to the viewer so that if Animesh creators are on a parcel with parcel privacy enabled, they will obey the setting and not be seen from outside of the parcel so long as the root prim remains within the boundary (see BUG-202592). The idea would be to prevent “adult / sex” Animesh from being accidentally seen.

The bug was closed without action, and a suggestion has been made to add a scripted capability to do the same things. This seems to be something of an edge case / overkill, given animated objects of a sexual nature can be seen within a region with privacy enabled, even if the using avatars cannot.

Animesh Marketplace Sub-Categories

  • There are currently no plans to add sub-categories to the Animated Objects category of the Marketplace.
  • If it is  felt there is a name to add further sub-categories, suggestions should be made via the CCUG meetings and also the Web User Group meetings.

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • Graham is continuing the final work on the shaders for things like crepuscular ray support, and Rider is working on a clean-up of the new EEP UI elements.
  • An updated project viewer that includes all of this work is anticipated as being available in week #3 (commencing Monday, January 14th, 2019).
  • Rider will also be updating the EEP LSL documentation in the wiki.
  • Sample settings objects are expected to appear in the viewer library “soon”. These will comprise all of the current default windlight settings found in the official viewer, plus a selection of windlights found in Firestorm.

ARCTan

ARCTan is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both, which it is hoped will also help correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh). This project has been on a slow burn through 2018, but is due to resume in 2019 – although when is still to be determined.

Other Items

  • iOS Client: Mention was made of the preliminary work being carried out to develop an iOS client. For details, please refer to the following blog posts:
  • Wiki updates: these is apparently some issue with the SL wiki which is causing problems with updates to the “official” pages managed by Linden Lab.
  • Mac Retina fixes: there are apparently issues of UI blurring with Mac Retina screens. There are fixes in-hand, but the time frame for deployment is not clear, although a new build of the viewer with Retina support was due to go to the Lab’s QA team on Thursday, January 10th.
  • Next CCUG Meeting: due to the Lab’s internal All Hands meeting (delayed from the start of the month), the next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, 24th January, 2019.

 

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2019 SL User Groups 1/1: Content Creation

Snow Falls; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSnow Falls, November 2018 – blog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, January 3rd, 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.

SL Viewer

Due to the end-of-year / new year break, at the time of writing, the official viewer pipelines remain unchanged from 2018 week #51:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • 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.

Voice Update

There was a back-end update to SL voice on Wednesday, December 26th, 2018.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, there have been reports of a hover height / positioning issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. This can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set (BUG-225893).

Current Status

Anchor Linden has been investigating this, and the current thinking is that it is related to a change made to the Appearance / Bake Service, rather than to a simulator update. However, it is still proving difficult to reproduce 100% of the time, so investigations are still in progress.

Animesh

  • The number of Animesh items on the Marketplace is increasing, and “Animesh” is now sufficiently recognised as a search term that using it will turn up relevant results, as well as using the Animated Objects category as a means of filtering.
  • The SL feature roadmap for 2019 is still being discussed, but Vir hopes to be able to put more work into Animesh in order to make Animesh characters easier to customise (e.g. applying a body shape). However, this work will not be appearing on the immediate horizon.

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • Rider Linden is working on updates to the EEP settings tabs for both the Region / Estate floater and the About Land floater (parcel-level controls). These should be appearing in an EEP viewer update “soon”TM.
  • The viewer will hopefully be moving to RC status in the near future. In the meantime, it is hoped that the back-end will be expanded to a to least one further RC soonTM as well.
  • By the time the back-end role-out occurs, support for crepuscular rays should also be available through the viewer.

ARCTan

ARCTan is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both, which it is hoped will also help correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh). This project has been on a slow burn through 2018, but is due to resume in 2019 – although when is still to be determined.

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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 Anchor Linden is still involved in determining and trying to fix the hover height / vertical positioning issue for smaller avatars, BoM is still pretty much on hold.

In Brief

  • Viewer contributions: The Lab have received contributions from the Firestorm Team:
    • Beq Janus has contributed her improvements to the mesh uploader (see my Firestorm 6.0.1 review).
    • Nicky Dasmijn has contributed improvements to the viewer’s search capabilities on preferences and settings.
    • Hopefully, these updates will be appearing in a Maintenance RC viewer at some point in the future.
  • SL 2019 Roadmap: It’s been acknowledged that 2019 is going to be something of a balancing act for Second Life between new features implementation and also all the infrastructure work involved in the transition to the cloud.
  • Baked Mesh “seams” issue: there have been reports of issues with “seam” appearing on meshes using baked textures. This appears to go back to a normal maps related issue (BUG-5975). Within the Lab, it had been thought the problem was the result of the used normal maps being discontinuous, rather than a shader issue. Further investigation will require further examples with “non-broken” normals in order to determine if it is a shader bug.

2018 SL UG updates 51/2: Content Creation Summary

Whirly Fizzle’s EEP Saturn

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, December 20th, 2018 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.

With the Christmas / holiday break now on our doorstep, this was a short meeting.

SL Viewer

There have been two further viewer updates:

  • The Estate Access Management  RC viewer updated to version 6.1.0.522564 on Wednesday, December 19th. See my preview of this viewer here for more information.
  • The Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) project viewer updated to version 6.0.2.522550 on Thursday, December 20th.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, there have been reports of a hover height / positioning issue issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. This can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set (BUG-225893).

Current Status

Anchor Linden has been investigating this, but is hampered by the fact the behaviour cannot be properly reproduced with consistency. This is making a root cause determination difficult. As this work is currently Anchor’s main focus at the moment, it means the Bakes on Mesh project is somewhat on hold.

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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 per the notes above, Bakes on Mesh is “on hold” at present while Anchor is otherwise engaged in bug hunting.
  • There are apparently a couple of issues with BoM still to be ironed out, and there is also an internal wiki issue preventing the Bakes On Mesh documentation being published on the SL wiki.
  • Allowing for the hover height / positioning issue mentioned above and the remaining work on Bakes on Mesh (+ the QA testing), it’s possible it will be a few weeks after the start of 2019 before this project progresses again.

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • This week has seen updates to both the simulator code (available on Aditi for test, and also on limited release on Agni via the Snack RC channel) and, as noted above, to the viewer.
  • It’s hoped that the last of the shader work (e.g. crepuscular rays) will be completed in January.
  • The set agent environment scripted controls (allowing the entire environment for an avatar to be replaced when using an experience) is now in place.
    • Documentation for this will be pushed on the wiki after the holiday break.
  • Rider Linden is working on some further UI clean-up / clarification.

In Brief

  • There has been an issue with joint aliases not being correctly supported (the “avatar_xxx” aliases were not working for all the bones in the skeleton). Vir now has a fix for this, which should be appearing in the relatively near future.
  • Date of next CCUG meeting: Thursday, January 3rd, 2019.

2018 SL UG updates 50/2: Content Creation Summary

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlandsblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 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.

SL Viewer Updates

The Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.0.1.522263, was promoted to release status on December 13th.

New Project Work

Vir Linden is now looking at a number of areas that might spin-out into a new project, although it is currently not clear what that project might be. The areas he is reviewing are:

  • Animesh follow-on – this may include avatar shape support  (which would allow more fully-rounded NPCs), and also more attachment-like behaviour for Animesh attachments.
    • Shapes are viewed as potentially being the easier of the two to handle, although will require additional work on the appearance messaging.
  • Mesh uploader improvements.
  • General viewer bugs.

Beq Janus has also been examining the mesh uploader and making improvements tied to the upcoming Firestorm Animesh release, and Vir is interested in the potential for some or all of these to be contributed to Linden Lab.

Beq’s updates to the mesh uploader include a better (and resizeable) preview window, a new costs breakdown panel, and more.

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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 per my Current Viewer Releases page, the project viewer was merged with the Animesh release viewer (and at the time of writing was at release 6.0.1.522127, dated December 7th, 2018).

Anchor is currently engaged in investigating the hover height issue that can leave avatars of “non-normal height” (notably, but not exclusively, small avatars) floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set. This appears to have been introduced as  a result of a simulator update (See BUG-225893 “Hover height on assets has changed somehow” for more).

Left Channels

There appears to be some confusion over the left texture channels introduced with Bakes On Mesh. Essentially, these are unassigned channels, designed to work as the creator wants them to work. The assumption is that they would be used in a manner consistent with the use of the right arm / foot channels, but they are not populated by default. There has been a request to auto-populate them with the standard skin textures, but this is viewed as a possible update for any follow-on to the current Bakes on Mesh work.

Documentation

A wiki page explaining Bakes on Mesh is under construction, but not yet ready for public consumption.

Future Work

Nothing has been decided upon in regards to any Bakes on Mesh follow-on. Requests have been made to allow UUID based texture application via the Bake Service (to enable support for existing clothing layers designed to be applied via a scripted applier system). It’s not been determined if this will be done, or whether an alternative route will be taken, such as defining a new class of wearable. There should, however, be a LSL change to allow textures to be identified and used by name (although this may not have been deployed at the time of writing).

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

Rider finalising work on the last of the SL functions for EEP support: llSetAgentEnvironment. This allows the environment parameters as applied to individual agents (avatars) within an experience (so if part of the experience requires the environment to be foggy at a certain point, avatars in the experience will have their view become foggy – but visitors who have not allowed the experience to control their avatar (e.g. because they are just observing) will not be similarly affected).

This support will hopefully be in the next set of simulator updates (currently still only available on the Snack RC channel). Once this work has been completed, Rider will be focusing on the viewer once more. The other anticipated aspect of simulator work – crepuscular rays – is “still coming”.

Complexity Calculations, Project ARCTan

There have been rumours that there may be a new function added to the Bake Service to handle complexity calculations. Vir indicated that while there has been some discussion on how and where to run the calculations (which will all be revised as a part of Project ARCTan), no decision has been made as to whether there will be changes to where the calculations are performed.

In Brief

  • The Firestorm Animesh release is currently with the preview group (I’ve been using it for the last couple of weeks in different iterations), and may go to a broader “public beta” release before being formally issued. If the “public beta” happens, the fully release for the update will likely occur early in 2019.
  • In my previous CCUG update, I reference the changes made to the rate to updates made to the rate of rendering cost calculations. This was due to Animesh having unintended consequences (such as repeatedly showing the complexity alert dialogue (e.g “You may not be visible to X %age of avatars”). During the Firestorm 6.0.1 beta testing, this change resulted in complaints from content creators, leading to a decision to back it out of the upcoming Firestorm release.

2018 SL UG updates 48/2: Content Creation Summary

The EEP sky over Hippotropolis,designed by Whirly Fizzle. Credit: Whirly Fizzle

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 29th, 2018 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.

Animesh

Avatar Rendering Cost Calculations Adjustment

An upcoming change that should be appearing at some point in a Maintenance RC viewer will see the avatar  rendering cost calculations adjusted in respect to Animesh.

The updates for the calculations were made more frequent in the Animesh viewer (now the release viewer), with the intention of now accurately handling the rendering load with Animesh objects attached to an avatar.

However, there are some types of attachment that make frequent updates to prim properties, and when these are combined with the Animesh-related complexity calculations, it can trigger unintended side-effects (such as repeatedly showing the complexity alert dialogue (e.g “You may not be visible to X %age of avatars”).

The  update will throttle the number updates to try to prevent the alert being displayed with every single change, no matter how small, to the complexity cost (significant changes will still generate the alert). It is also hoped the update will address the issue of the complexity alert dialogue being triggered simply by using CTRL-ALT-T.

Silas Merlin has provided a free, Full Permissions Animesh creation that can be used as an example of making / converting rigged mash for Animesh use

Possible Rate limits?

Even with the above change, there is still concerns over code that frequently changes prim parameters, because of the additional load it places on the graphics pipeline in calculating / handling the updates. The engineering team is therefore discussing potential rate limits being imposed on such updates in the future – however, this is not something that will be implemented in the short-term, but is something that will be considered over time, most likely as a part of the ARCTan projects as a whole.

Firestorm Animesh Support

A limited beta test version of Firestorm should be available very soon. Depending on how well this performs in testing, a public beta should follow, paving the way for a release in the near future. This update will primarily focus on Animesh integration, but will include some other updates and feature improvements, including significant improvements to the mesh uploader by Beq Janus – as she demonstrates in the video below.

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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

At the time of writing, a new version of the Bakes on Mesh project viewer was about to undergo QA testing with the Lab, as is expected to appear either on Friday, November 30th, or in the early part of week #49.

This is currently being considered as the “feature complete” version of the viewer, and Oz Linden requested that creators wishing to leverage BoM to please put it to the test to see if there are any serious bugs / issues that need to be addressed.

Depending on the level of feedback gained, and the type of feedback (positive / negative)  it is possible the viewer could quickly progress to release candidate (RC) status and perhaps even to release. However, without feedback, the Lab will not be able to fully assess its suitable for RC, etc., promotion.

For testing, note that the back-end support for BoM (which has recently received a “significant” performance update) is now grid-wide on Agni (the Main grid).

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

Rider continues work on the last of the SL functions for EEP support: llSetAgentEnvironment. This allows the environment parameters as applied to individual agents (avatars) within an experience (so if part of the experience requires the environment to be foggy at a certain point, avatars in the experience will have their view become foggy – but visitors who have not allowed the experience to control their avatar (e.g. because they are just observing) will not be similarly affected).

This should be the last of the server-side updates for EEP, allowing Rider to re-focus his attention on the viewer, including updating the experience dialogue to inform users their environment may be modified (where applicable). It’ also hoped that when ready, the next update to the viewer will have more / the rest of the EEP shader updates included.

SL Permissions System

Sansar uses a “supply chain” permissions system. In short, this allows creators to offer goods that can be purchased by others, modified and resold at a higher price, with the original creator receiving a “commission” on each sale, based on the original item’s sale price.

This has generated some interest among content creators engaged in both Second Life and Sansar in seeing a similar system introduced here – or perhaps in extending the Full Permissions option to additionally limit the further resale of unmodified Full Permission items.

However, any changes to the permissions system can have significant impact, and as such, are not something the Lab is liable to approach lightly or tackle in the short-term (or, as Vir Linden puts it, tends to have Lab engineers hiding under the furniture at the thought of changes! 🙂 ).

In Brief

  • A reminder that if there are specific improvements people wish to see with Second Life, feature request Jira are the best way to bring them to the attention of the Lab.
  • Vir Linden is currently working on a set of under-the-hood inventory improvements. After this, he will likely work on various “low hanging fruit” fixes within the viewer, etc.
  • The texture caching project is currently gated by the work on the rendering side of EEP, however, TPVs are advised not to make any significant changes to how they handle texture caching because of the Lab’s own project.
  • The code for Linden Realms is to be open-sourced – read here for more.
  • The next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, December 13th, 2018.

2018 SL UG updates 46/2: content Creation Summary

Animesh is live!

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 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.

Animesh

Animesh is now officially released. Blog posts:

This means that the Animesh code will now be merged with all current RC and project viewers in the coming days /  weeks. Firestorm support for Animesh will be coming soon, as is the other case for TPVs that have not already started making releases with Animesh support.

Resources

To help people get started with Animesh, there is already a range of available resources, including:

Discussion

  • Concern has been raised about the 2 Animesh attachment option for Premium members impacting performance at major events given the lack of “public” testing of the ability (which had always stated as being one Animesh attachment per avatar across the board).
    • Interestingly, when the one Animesh attachment per avatar was first set, it was seen as too limiting, with some wanting as many as five per avatar.
  • The tri count cap remains unchanged at 100K per Animesh.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

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 which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes a new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow).

Resources

Current Status

  • There are a couple of blockers that have come up on the next viewer update, and which are currently being worked on, and should hopefully be cleared by the end of the week.
  • The first scripted functionality for EEP is now available: llGetEnvironment. This:
    • Returns a list containing the current environment values for the parcel and region as a list of attributes.
    • Takes a list of attributes to retrieve in parameters and returns them in the order requested.
  • llGetTimeOfDay has also been revised in line with EEP.
  • Graham Linden is continuing to work on the rendering side, including crepuscular rays. He is however, also engaged in other work related to viewer rendering (such as project ARCTan).
    • As a part of Graham’s work, there is a further update to the EEP sky settings that will allow the atmospheric settings to be altered

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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 required Bake Service update (which in part allows the support of 1024×1024 textures) was deployed in week #46.
  • Anchor Linden is now working on updates to the viewer, which is considered to be the only blocker to Bakes on Mesh going live.
  • Additional channels have been added to the Bake Service already which include the left arm and left leg. A request following this update was to allow upper and lower body skin textures to these channels – this will not be a part of the initial Bakes on Mesh release.
  • It has yet to be tested, but as Animesh objects do not have the necessary shape support for the Bake Service to use, it is thought BoM will not work (or at least not work as anticipated) with Animesh attachments on an avatar.

Normal and Specular Maps Support Experiment

As noted in the project summary above, Bakes on Mesh will not by default support normal and specular maps when released.

However, in week #45, Cathy Foil suggested it might be possible to allow Bakes on Mesh to indirectly support normal and specular maps using a combination of three additional bake channels within the Bake Service and a scripted “applier” option, similar to current skin and clothing applier mechanisms.

Since that time, she’s been carrying out tests using the existing three Aux Bake Service channels, added to the system as a part of Bakes on Mesh. While the approach appears to work with normal maps, there are a number of questions relating to alpha blending, deriving specularity (normal maps use the alpha channels for specular power in the SL materials setup), etc. These would require more in-depth testing through a suitable viewer, and as such, this isn’t seen as a viable approach at this point in time.

New Projects

No decisions have been made as to what user-visible projects will come next.

  • There is an infrastructure related project for inventory, but this shouldn’t have user-visible impact.
  • Project ARCTan (avatar and object complexity calculation improvements) has been on hold, awaiting resources, which are now becoming available.
  • There are a mix of options in the pot for Animesh and BoM follow-ups, but any follow-on work hasn’t been officially defined.
  • There are a number of other potential projects the Lab isn’t ready to announce as moving forward just yet.

Next Meeting

The next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, November 29th, 2018.