2019 SL User Groups 3/1: Simulator User Group

R.A.H.M.E.N.L.O.S; Inara Pey, November 2018, on Flickr
R.A.H.M.E.N.L.O.S blog post

Server Deployments

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

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019.
  • There will be at least one RC channel deployment on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019. This will have extra back-end logging, but nothing visible to users.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing / publishing, there have been no updates to any of the viewers in the current pipelines at the start of the week, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • 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. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

The hover height / vertical position issue that has seen tiny and very small avatars incorrectly hovering above the ground since November 2018 – see BUG-225893should now hopefully be fixed.

The problem lay within changes made to the back-end Back Service, which manages the overall avatar appearance. The Lab had been working on trying to locate the root cause of the problem for some time, hampered by the fact a consistent reproduction of the issue when tweaking things to see what might be the cause proved difficult.

However, a fix was developed in week #2, and passed to the Lab’s QA team for testing. The fix was deployed on Monday, January 14th, 2019. As per the notes on the update, “any avatars experiencing issues with hover height will need to change outfits in order to help you stand on the ground.

Environment Enhancement Project

It is anticipated that a broader server deployment of EEP (currently on a limited deployment on the Snack channel) will occur in week #4 (commencing Monday, January  21st, 2019). This will hopefully see EEP go RC-wide on the main grid, and will be accompanied by a viewer update with further UI tweaks, bug fixes and (hopefully!) the additional render updates to enable things like crepuscular rays (“God rays”). rider will also be updating the LSL documentation on the SL wiki as it pertains to EEP.

Resources

Other Items

Puppeteering

is a topic that often comes up for discussion. While Animesh has potentially opened the door to better means of controlling NPC, creatures, etc., there are cases where on-the-fly control of your own avatar would be a help  (e.g. having more control over a  hug).

The pupeteering project was originally started to provide such a means of additional animation control. This reached the point where the results would have been confined to the user’s own world view (so not seen by others), but if followed through, it would have also included the network layering so that the result of pupeteered avatars would have been seen by all. However, this work was eventually put aside in 2011.

A more recent project, based on code contributed via the Black Dragon viewer is in progress, but (I believe, as I’ve not looked into it to any great depth) this will be more constrained in scope.

Some at the Lab have been tossing around ideas, but it should be noted these are only ideas, not a project, as Simon Linden mentioned at the meeting:

The hover height is an interesting little AV position mod … we’ve been brainstorming (warning – I think there was beer involved) with ideas like extending that, so for example you could adjust a hand position during a static pose. This is all just playing with ideas, however.

However, any in-depth work on the animation system is liable to require something of a deep dive into the system’s foundations – which probably won’t be easily countenanced at the moment.

In Brief

  • Animesh: Simon indicated there has been further internal discussions on what might be included in any Animesh follow-on project, with feature request BUG-22815 “Much needed Animesh specific constants for llGetObjectDetails()” being looked at in particular. LI for Animesh humans continues to be a concern; while it is noted a “reasonable” Animesh character can be made for around 28 LI, those using Bento can range around the 80-90 LI mark, possibly higher – which could limit their use. These discussions will likely continue through the “regular” forum for Animesh discussion: the Content Creation User Group.
  • OS Updates: work is still progressing on updating the operating system used by LL’s servers. This will not only bring them up to a more up-to-date OS version, but is also seen as foundation work for moving services to the cloud.

 

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2019 SL User Groups 2/1: Simulator User Group

Let It Snow!; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLet It Snow!blog post

Server Deployments

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

  • There was no deployment wo the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019, leaving the channel on server release #18.12.05.522294, comprising a voice service adjustment and internal fixes. However, regions on the channel were restarted in keeping with the Lab’s 14-day restart policy.
  • On Wednesday, January 9th the RC channel updates are slated as being:
    • Magnum and LeTigre are slated for “no roll” and to remain on server release 18#18.12.05.522294, first deployed to it on December 12th, 2018.
    • BlueSteel should be updated on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 with server maintenance package 19#19.01.03.522821, comprising logging improvements, including “logging to gather baseline information on simulator performance in various areas of interest”.
    • Snack should remain on EEP simulator version 18#18.12.14.522551, first deployed on December 17th, 2018.
    • All RC channels should be restarted, again in keeping with LL’s 14-day restart policy.

SL Viewer

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • 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.

Pathfinding Revisited?

Pathfinding is a capability deployed to Second Life in 2012. For those unfamiliar with it, pathfinding was intended to provide a means to allow a range of automated characters – people, animals, monsters, mobile objects (“mobs”) to be created and set into motion within Second Life with greater ease than had been possible.

Using various tools and LSL commands, together with the “navmesh”- a representation of a region’s geometry generated and used by the Havok physics engine to determine paths for pathfinding characters – these characters would be able to navigate their way around obstacles, follow roads, climb inclines, etc. Yoy can read more about it in my 2012 Pathfinding overview.

Unfortunately, and due to a number of reasons – not all of which were entirely fair – Pathfinding never really gained significant use (in fact, many region holders disabled the capability out of fear concerning performance issues.

With the arrival of Animesh, however, there is potentially a new opportunity for Pathfinding to find a use. However, in the time that’s elapsed since the original deployment, there are things that need to be looked at – the wiki documentation, for example, appears to be somewhat out-of-date (and was always a little confusing). Also,Pathfinding itself can also be somewhat unpredictable, while some of the capabilities could possibly do with update.

Whether or not Pathfinding will be revisited by the Lab or not is currently an open question; however it has been a topic that has been raised at a number of user group meetings (Simulator can Content Creation), so it is something the Lab is aware of as being of potential interest to users / creators.

A look at key Second Life updates in 2018

2018 in review

Each year through this blog I attempt to track news about, and changes to, Second Life, as driven by by Linden Lab. On the technical side, this is do through my weekly SL project summaries, which summarise the various in-world meetings the Lab holds each week / month, and the rest is done through various means, such as attending public meetings and Q&A sessions, tracking the official SL blog etc.

Given this has been in some ways a busy and ambitious year for LL and Second Life, I thought it might be interesting to look back over the major changes and technical projects that have come to pass, and some of those still on the horizon.

Land

2018 saw some significant moves on the virtual land front.

  • On Wednesday, March 14th, LL announced an immediate reduction in Mainland tier costs of 10%.
  • At the same time, they also announced the amount of “free” tier granted to Premium members would increase from 512 sq metres to 1024 sq metres.
  • On July 2nd, 2018, private region fees dropped by up to 15%.

At the time of the Mainland restructure, and while welcoming it, I was a little dubious on how it would be received, simply because obtaining Mainland parcels could be something of a hassle. Well, it turned out the Lab had also thought of that, trimming back on the overhead involved in obtaining abandoned land and making it a simple ticket request.

The revised Mainland tier rates introduced in March 2018 (courtesy of Linden Lab)

Result: what has reported to be, and continues to be, a positive response to the change – although just how big is a little hard to judge at this point in time. The last date for which we have figures via Tyche Shepherd’s Grid Survey (January 11th, 2017), abandoned land accounted for around 21% of the Mainland. As (I believe) Tyche updates this figure annually, it’ll be interesting to see how things have changed come early 2019.

First announced in an official blog post on June 20th, The private tier pricing adjustments met with a mixed response, with some in the land rental business claiming they were being somehow being “gouged” on the basis that grandfathered regions were being excluded from the new pricing structure.

New Private region pricing structure, introduced from July 2nd, 2018 (courtesy of Linden Lab)

As I noted when the price adjustment came into effect, such claims were somewhat nonsensical. For one thing, grandfathered regions remain either US $54 per month (Full regions) or US $14 per month (Homestead)cheaper than the new rates. Further, while there was an up-front fee for converting regions to grandfathered status in the 2016 “buy down” offer, more than enough time had elapsed for those costs to be recouped in tier savings. For another, those best placed to capitalise on any surge in interest in holding / renting land as a result of the restructuring would actually be land rental businesses.

As it stands, and again using Tyche Shepherd’s grid survey, the restructuring may resulted in a very small increase in region numbers during 2018. However, I’ll have more on that when Tyche publishes her end-of-year report.

Fee Changes

Alongside the private region fee changes, the Lab also announced an increase in the cost of Linden Dollar purchases by US 0.50 per transaction. While in keeping with the goal of trying to shift the balance of the Lab’s revenue generation away from virtual land, the increase did cause a degree of upset, being the third such in around 15 months (the last being November 2017, when the cost per transaction rose by US 0.39).

This change particularly hit those who prefer to buy small quantities of L$ at a time. While it was pointed out that the impact could be somewhat mitigated through the purchase of larger L$ amounts over fewer periods – providing people’s available disposable income allowed them to make larger, if more infrequent L$ purchases. As it is, how the fee change may have impacted people’s buying / spending habits is a little hard to quantify.

Technical Updates

It may sound odd, but of the four major user-visible technical changes planned for 2018, three were actually established in 2017, with only one actually being delivered before the end of the year.

Animesh

The delivered project was of course Animesh – the ability to use the avatar skeleton to animate rigged mesh objects in a similar manner to animation an avatar (through scripted animations running the skeleton). I’m not going to dive deeply into Animesh, given it has been covered extensively in my Content Creation User Group summaries, and I also gave an overview when it was officially released in November, complete with resource links. Currently, the majority of Animesh creations that are surfacing appear to be basic NPC characters and pets / animals.

Bakes On Mesh

Bakes On Mesh (BoM) is a project extending the current avatar Appearance / Bake Services to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to worn mesh faces in a manner similar to how they were for system avatars.  It was first announced in May 2017.

Vir Linden’s original announcement of Bakes on Mesh in May 2017

BoM touches multiple Second Life services: viewer, simulator, appearance and bake, as such it is a complicated piece of work.

The first part of the process was to update the Bake Service to support 1024×1024 textures, in order to allow wearables to match the quality of textures applied to mesh faces by applier systems. After that, the service needed to be able to recognise how to handle wearables when applying them to mesh faces. The simulator also required updates to recognise things like BoM messages, and obviously the viewer and its UI also required updates.

Cathy Foil introduces Bakes on Mesh (April 2018)

As it stands, the vast majority of the work has been completed. A project viewer has been issued, and the support services updated while the simulator code is grid-wide. However, there are still some issues to be ironed-out viewer-side; currently, the viewer lead, Anchor Linden, is leading work to resolve a positioning issue with small mesh avatars, so BoM is, for the present “on hold”.

It should be noted that the Lab do not see BoM as being designed to replace mesh applier systems, but rather as an alternative. However, it is also seen as potentially a means to reduce the overall complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads, which may have an impact on applier systems / how they function in future. Also:

  • 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.
  • It also will not provide a means of applying wearables via script + UUID.
  • Either of these options might be considered in some future BoM extension.

Continue reading “A look at key Second Life updates in 2018”

2018 SL UG updates 51/1: Simulator User Group

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritteblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • On Tuesday, December 18th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server maintenance package 18#18.12.05.522294, comprising a voice service adjustment and internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, December 19th, the three main RC channels should be updated with server maintenance package 8#18.12.03.522210, comprising a further voice service adjustment.
  • Also on Wednesday, December 19th, the Snack channel should be updated with a new EEP simulator update, 18#18.12.14.522551.

SL Viewer

There have been two viewer updates to start the week, bringing two of the viewers up to parity with the current release viewer (formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer). These are:

  • The Bugsplat RC viewer, which updated to version 6.1.0.522614. 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, which updated to version 6.0.2.522531.

The remaining viewers in the pipeline remain (at the time of writing) unchanged from the end of week #50.

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5th, promoted December 13th. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28th.
  • Project viewers:
    • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 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 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Last Name Changes – Supporting External Databases

A number of creators and others utilise external databases that use their own log-in authentication process bases on their customers’ Second Life names. Concern has therefore been raised as to how they’ll be able track changes to users’ lasts names once the ability for them to be changed has been re-introduced, with requests for LL to offer some kind of RSS feed providing name change updates.

However,Oz indicated this would not likely be the case, noting:

I don’t think that keeping current with a feed would really work, and it could easily be misused. Don’t store names – store IDs (agent UUIDs). IDs will never change [So] just have them enter name, then internally translate to the UUID. The translation will always be correct whether they use a current name or an old one. We will not be providing a feed or any way to look them up in bulk.

– Oz Linden

No Change Window

Due to the Christmas and New Year holiday period, there will be a No Change window in effect from close of business on Friday, December 21st, 2018 through until at least Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019. During this time there will be no planned updates or releases for the SL simulators or the official viewer.

The next Simulator User Group meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 8th, at the usual time of 12:00 noon.

2018 SL UG updates 50/1: Simulator User Group

Cold Ash; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrCold Ashblog post

There was no Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018. Notes are therefore a little on the light side.

Server Deployments

As always, please check with the server deployment thread for updates and latest news.

  • On Tuesday, December 11th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server maintenance package 18#18.12.04.522206, previously deployed to all three main RC channels, and comprising region stability improvements; simhost deployment improvements and logging improvements.
    • Part of this update includes the removal of a lot of mesh-related logging that had been required during testing, but has been surplus to requirements. However, as the code was never removed, it resulted in a lot of unnecessary logging as mesh became more popular.
  • On Wednesday, 12th December the RC channels should be updated with server maintenance package 18#18.12.07.522390, comprising voice service adjustments.
  • The Snack channel, home to the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), received a further simulator update, version 18#18.12.07.522390.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing, there have been no updates to the current batch of official viewers, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.0.520636, dated October 18, promoted November 14. Formerly the Animesh RC viewer – no change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.1.522045, December 6.
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.0.1.522263, December 5.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. 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.
  • 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.

2018 SL UG updates 49/2: mini-update

The Peak; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrThe Peakblog post

Server Deployments

As per part 1 of this week’s updates, the RC channel were all updated on Wednesday, December 5th, with simulator maintenance package 18#18.12.04.522206, comprising:

  • Region stability improvements.
  • Simhost deployment improvements.
  • Logging improvements.

The Snack channel for the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) was updated the same day to version 18.11.30.522125.

SL Viewer

There have been three updates to SL viewers during the week:

  • The Spotykach Maintenance RC updated to version 6.0.1.522263 on December 5th.
  • The Love Me Render RC updated to version 6.0.1.522045 on December 6th.
  • The Bake on Mesh project viewer updated to version 6.0.1.522127 on December 7th.

At the time of writing, the remaining viewers in the pipeline remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.0.520636, dated October 18, promoted November 14. Formerly the Animesh RC viewer..
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. 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.
  • 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.

End of Year Promotions

At the previous TPV developer meeting, it had been suggested that the Lab would try to promote two viewers to release status before the end of 2018. Given the Lab prefers to have at least two weeks between promotions and the No Change window comes into effect from Friday, December 21st, this would appear to be a bit of squeeze. Currently the front-runners for promotion have been given as the Spotykach Maintenance RC, the BugSplat RC or – on an outside chance – the Bakes on Mesh project viewer.

Remaining Published User Group Meetings for 2018

  • Simulator User Group: Tuesday, December 11th and Tuesday December 18th, 2018, 12:00 noon SLT.
  • Governance User Group: Tuesday, December 11th, 2018, at 13:00 SLT.
  • Open-Source Development User Group: Wednesday, 12th and Wednesday, December 19th 2018, 15:00 SLT*.
  • Content Creation User Group: Thursday, December 13th and Thursday, December 20th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT.
  • Server Beta User Group: Thursday, December 13th and Thursday, December 20th, 2018 at 07:00 SLT*.
  • Web User Group: Wednesday, December 19th, at 12:00 noon SLT.
  • Concierge and Land User Group: Thursday, December 20th, 2018, at 12:00pm SLT.
  • TPV Developer Meeting: Friday, December 21st, 2018 at 12:00 noon SLT.

* Subject to confirmation.

See the SL User Groups panel on the right for details of meeting locations. via their wiki pages.