2018 SL project updates 15/2: TPVD meeting

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of Mayblog post

The majority of these notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 13th 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

The meeting was reduced to under 15 minutes, with extended pauses marking a greater portion of it.

Server Deployments

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

  • The Main (SLS) channel was not updated on Tuesday, April 9th, nor was there a restart.
  • BlueSteel, LeTigre and Magnum are all now on server maintenance package 18#18.03.29.513939 after Magnum was updated on Wednesday, April 11th.

SL Viewer

[0:05-1:32] The Media Update RC viewer, version 5.1.3.513644, dated March 27th, was promoted to de facto release status on Wednesday, April 11th. As a result, the remaining RC viewer were updated to parity on Friday April 13th, as follows:

The remainder of the SL viewer pipelines remain as:

  • 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.

[1:33-1:50] With regards to the 360 snapshot project viewer, this is being routinely updated internally by the Lab to keep pace with release viewer promotions. However, no actual work is being carried out on the 360 snapshot element at the moment. Work will resume in the future.

[1:58-2:29] A new Voice update RC is due in the future at some point, which fixes some issues from the last Voice release. However work on this is currently a “low priority”.

Off-Line and Abuse Reports Capabilities

[2:31-3:30] Two new capabilities are now grid-wide server-side:

  • A new abuse report cap which replaces the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it.  Instead it will request the list of valid categories directly from the simulator.
  • A new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. This cap will allow the viewer to request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP, rather than sending off-lines en masse whether or not the viewer is ready.

Both of these caps require viewer-side updates in order to work. However, there is currently a bug impacting the viewer update for the new off-line IMs capability. In short, if you receive an off-line Friend request, there is no way to accept it with the new capability in place. The abuse report capability appears to be working correctly, so expect both to appear in a viewer update soon.

Friending can be fragile, and the Lab hope to make it more robust over time.

 

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2018 SL project updates 13/4: TPVD meeting

Cuivieenen; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrCuivieenenblog post

The majority of these notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 30th 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

The meeting was reduced to under 15 minutes,with minor topics of discussion taking up the latter half. Please refer to the video for these.

Server Deployment Update

  • The Main (SLS) channel was updated on Tuesday, March 27th, to server release 18#18.03.14.513292, containing the new off-line IM and Abuse Report capabilities (see below).
  • The Magnum and LeTigre RC channels were updated on Wednesday, March 28th with server maintenance package 18#18.03.27.513831, containing internal fixes and the new off-line IM and Abuse Report capabilities (see below).
  • The BlueSteel RC was updated on Thursday, March 29th with server maintenance package 18#18.03.27.513838, comprising internal fixes.

SL Viewers

Viewer Pipeline

Note: At the time of the meeting, the viewer had just been approved for issue, but it wasn’t clear if it would be released before or after the Easter weekend. However, it was in fact issued after the meeting – see below.

[00:24-3:02] At the time of the meeting, the viewer pipelines were as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Off-Line and Abuse Reports Capabilities

[0:44-1:36] Two new capabilities are now grid-wide:

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

However, both require further revision, and they require viewer-side updates as well. These should be appearing in the next Maintenance RC viewer issued by the Lab.

Bakes on Mesh Project Viewer

The Bakes on Mesh project viewer, version 5.1.3.513936, was released on Friday, March 30th after the TPV Developer meeting had concluded.

From the release notes (link above):

Bakes on Mesh is a new feature to allow system avatar baked textures to be shown on mesh attachments. Currently you will need a special project viewer to use it. Bakes on Mesh does not depend on simulator code, so it should work in all regions and all grids.

Basic features

  • Any face of a mesh object can be textured using one of the server baked textures.
  • The corresponding region of the system avatar is hidden if an attached mesh is using a baked texture.

Benefits

  • Avoid the need for appliers -> easier customization workflow
  • Avoid the need for onion avatars -> fewer meshes, fewer textures at display time
  • Avoid the need to sell full-perm meshes. You can customize any mesh you have modify permissions for simply by setting the flags and equipping the appropriate wearables.

Avatar wearables are baked into six different textures (BAKE_HEAD, BAKE_UPPER, BAKE_LOWER, BAKE_EYES, BAKE_SKIRT, BAKE_HAIR) by the baking service. You can now apply these textures to your avatar’s object attachments’ diffuse texture slot. Right click on the attachment, click edit and from the edit face menu select textures. Click the diffuse texture icon to open up the texture picker. The texture picker has an extra radio button mode called ‘bake’ for selecting server bakes. The ‘bake’ radio button mode has a drop-down for selecting BAKE_HEAD, BAKE_UPPER, BAKE_LOWER, BAKE_EYES, BAKE_SKIRT, BAKE_HAIR server bake textures. When an attachment is using a baked texture, the corresponding base mesh region of the system avatar is hidden.

If a mesh face is set to show a baked texture but is not attached to an avatar, you will see a default baked texture. If you are using an older viewer without bakes on mesh support, then faces set to show baked textures will also display as the default baked texture, and base mesh regions will not be hidden.

Known Issues

Detaching a mesh object that’s using BAKED_HAIR, does not make the base hair region visible. You have to log back in or teleport again. This will be fixed in next release.

A filter for Bakes on Mesh JIRAs has been created by Whirly Fizzle.

 

2018 SL project updates 11/2: TPVD meeting with Ebbe Altberg

Realm Of Light; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Realm Of Lightblog post

Update: the 43-bit viewer KDU issues has been updated based on feedback from Ansariel Hiller.

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 16th 2018. A video of the TPVD meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

This meeting was somewhat extended  – lasting 1 hour 30 minutes – as a result of the presence of Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab’s CEO, who commented on some of the item of discussion that came up at his session at VWBPE 2018 (see my notes and transcript here), as well as more broadly discussing Second Life and Sansar.

SL Viewers

[0:17-2:20] There have been no further updates to the current release, RC and project viewers in week #11, leaving the pipeline as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts :
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

General Notes

  • The Media Update RC viewer is unlikely to be promoted to release status in the immediate future, as it has some Windows 7 update issues which need to be resolved.
  • The Love Me Render viewer is making good progress, although it also has the Windows 7 problem.
    • [7:30-8:30] This viewer also has a KDU issue which can cause the 32-bit version of the viewer to crash when uploading textures larger than 512×512. One workaround for this until fix is obtained – depending on how long that takes – is for an older version of KDU to be used for 32-bit viewer versions.
  • Despite the issues with it (see my update here), the 360-snapshot project viewer is not getting a lot of attention.
  • Animesh project viewer is getting close to a possible RC release and the Animesh project close to a move to the main grid.
  • The Bakes on Mesh viewer has cleared LL’s QA, so a Bakes on Mesh project viewer for use on Aditi should be appearing soon.

New Viewer Caps

[3:51-7:04] The lab is introducing two new viewer caps they’d like TPVs to adopt quickly:

  • One will be used when the viewer first logs-in to read all of the deferred IMs received while the user was off-line, which are being moved from UDP delivery to HTTP in an attempt to overcome issues of off-line IMs failing to show.
  • The second is to read the correct set of abuse report categories from the server, so only valid categories are displayed within the viewer, allowing users to more correctly file ARs, rather than using invalid categories held viewer-side.

 

General Discussion with Ebbe

Highlights only – refer to the video for the full discussion.

Economic Model

[9:20-14:35]

  • The Lab is looking to try to pivot the SL economic model away from a heavy reliance on land fees, and then in time hopefully reduce the cost of land.
  • This will see a shift from land to revenue generation through fees in other areas.
  • The Lab cannot simply drop land fees and raise fees elsewhere, the two have to be balanced, so while the Lab is hoping to “aggressively” tackle pivoting revenue generation, they will also be cautious in making changes.
    • The hope of reducing land fees can be seen in the reduction in Mainland fees.
    • [10:50 via Oz and Linden] The Mainland price reduction has already seen a significant uptick in interest for abandoned Mainland, with support being “overwhelmed” with requests.
  • There is currently nothing planned for Private region fees, simply because the Lab has to be cautious around revenue.
    • It might be a case of (a) fee increase(s) elsewhere first, followed after a time by consideration of what can be done with Private region fees.
    • It is however, something the Lab would like to do.
    • The steps must be measured not only to safeguard LL’s revenue stream, but also so as not to upset the SL economy.
    • For this reason, the Lab will take a little time to measure the Mainland restructuring before they make other changes, so that they can more accurately measure cause and effect between different types of change.
  • These ideas were also discussed that the VWBPE session with Ebbe – see my transcript notes (with audio from that session) for more.

Sansar

[15:39-18:36] A general overview of Sansar – which is still is  Creator Beta – including the drive this year to gain an audience for Sansar, plus improvements to the VR aspect of the platform. Most of this is covered in my weekly Sansar updates. For Ebbe in particular, the Sansar team is at a point where he feels comfortable pivoting attention away from that platform and back to Second Life, including spending more time in-world.

Sansar and SL

[18:38-22:09]

  • A re-iteration that Sansar was never intended to be a replacement for Second Life.
  • Both products now have completely separate teams working on them
    • At VWBPE 2018, Ebbe indicated that the core SL team – engineering, development, operations, support – is “close to” 100 in number.
  • There is an area of overlap between the two products, but there are also very clear differentiators.
  • Proof that Sansar isn’t a replacement for Sl is the level and speed with which LL has continued to invest in SL (overhauling the viewer and simulator build mechanisms, bringing more performance and stability to the platform) and to add new capabilities (Bento, Animesh, Bakes on Mesh, EEP, rendering enhancements, etc.).

Moving SL to the Cloud

[22:09-32:00]

  • Progress is being made.
  • Experimental regions have been run in the cloud, and they worked.
    • There are a lot of functional limitations that must be addressed before regions users can access can be run in the cloud.
    • The regions did achieve a reasonably high concurrency level (precise number not given).
  • Much of what SL does natively – dynamically spinning-up a new set  of inventory management servers or a new set of log-in services, etc. – is similar in nature to a lot of what cloud service providers do, so a lot of the back-end work involved in moving to the cloud is taking what the Lab have, and adapting it to run within the infrastructure of the cloud.
  • It is a massive engineering undertaking that will take time.
  • Once completed, it is hoped operating SL in the cloud will allow LL to offer benefits to users, which might potentially include:
    • Reduced costs for regions that are spun-down and stored to disk when no-one is using them, should this be explored for Second Life
    • Ability for simulators and services to be more geographically based (e.g. simulators used largely by an audience in South America could be hosted in facilities in South America)
    • Ability to potentially have a broader cross-section of land product based on server types, with a broader range of performance / pricing.
  • It is hoped that, for the most part, users won’t be aware of services being switched from the Lab’s dedicated infrastructure to running within a cloud infrastructure
    • Some non-user facing services are already running in the cloud.
    • The work will be done progressively, and not a “flipping of the switch” for “everything”.
    • There is not end-date for the work. The Lab is approaching it as aggressively as possible, but there are a lot of technical hurdles to be cleared along the way, some of which will only become apparent as attempt are made to shift things and put them into production via the cloud.
    • To deal with potential issues / hurdles, it is possible that further ahead, there is a simulator RC channel “in the cloud”, while others are still running on the Lab’s own infrastructure.
  • Also see Ebbe’s comments from VWBPE 2018.

Upcoming New User Experience

[1:01:23-1:07:11] The Product Team is doing a lot of work with the new user flow, and are getting close to where they can start experimenting with ideas.

Part of this work involves a themed learning island reached via a new user clicking a themed ad which takes them to a themed landing page on the SL website, where they can sign-up, obtain an avatar in keeping with the theme, and are delivered to a learning island that also follows the theme.

This approach will be tested alongside the current on-boarding routes.

Interesting tidbits:

  • The lab spent over a year building a “fairly sophisticated” tracking system to gather data on new users and see how they are doing, i order to try to learn more about on-boarding / retention.
  • The Lab’s data / testing suggests new user retention is no better in welcome areas with greeters, than for those without greeters.
  • A test the Lab carried out using a (non-public) browser-based means of accessing Second Life from sign-up (no need to download the viewer) also did not achieve better retention than the “traditional” sign-up and download route.

Other Items

  • [32:10-34:07] Mirrors in SL: the inevitable discussion – and no, mirrors aren’t in Sansar!
  • [34:08-37:08] SL and VR: re-cap of why the VR viewer was dropped from Second Life – unable to maintain the comfort-level VR frame rates (90 fps). Also segues into a discussion of the Sansar / SL Edit mode differences (also see Ebbe’s comments from VWBPE 2018).
    • [37:10-37:40] Sansar benefits to SL: Oz confirms that some of the rendering work with the atmospheric shaders to improve SL’s appearance is leveraging lessons learned with Sansar.
  • [38:35-43:50] Texture caching: the project to improve the viewer’s texture caching is still very active, and once completed, the Lab plain to look at other aspects of how the viewer caches data.
  • [44:17-47:09] Linux Viewer: no real change from my last update.
    • TPV have the same problem as LL re: Linux developers.
    • LL would like to see more from the Linux community get involved.
    • Suggestion is for Linux users to try running the Windows viewer under Wine.
  • [47:10-49:25] OpenGL and GPU/CPU divide: discussion on updating SL’s OpenGL version, which is already under consideration at the Lab. Broadens into a discussion of modifying SL’s rendering capabilities to make more use of more GPU shader capabilities for calculation (rather than being reliant on the CPU), and the risks (to users) this entails (as many SL users don’t use more modern hardware with GPUs capable of taking the load).
  • [51:58-59:58] Community Gateways: Discussion on the Community Gateway programme and attracting users. Includes mention of partners, Place Pages, etc. Ideas raised seen as something that could be put to the SL Marketing team under Brett Linden.
  • [1:12:52-1:14:14] Feature Requests: when filing a Feature Request JIRA, it is better to keep the request focused on a single idea which can be easily digested. Multiple ideas should be submitted via separate JIRAs so that meaning don’t become confused / the JIRA becomes to complicated to understand, etc. Multiple JIRAs around related ideas can also be related via identifier.

2018 SL project updates 9/2: TPV Developer Meeting

Cece's Secret; Inara Pey, January 2018, on Flickr Cece’s Secretblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 2nd 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion. Not this was a foreshortened meeting (20 minutes), with some lengthy periods of silence.

SL Viewers

[1:27-2:53]

  • The Nalewka Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.1.2.512803 (dated February 23rd) was promoted to de facto release status on Thursday, March 1st, 2018.
  • The Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513005 on Friday, March 2nd, which incorporates KDU and other security improves and (I believe) brings it to parity with the new release viewer.

All other official viewers in the pipe remain as per the start of the week:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Media Update RC viewer, version 5.1.2.512574, February 15.
  • 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.

An update to the Media update RC is anticipated to bring it to parity with the new release viewer, and a new update to the 360-snapshot viewer is also anticipated, which hopefully addresses the fuzziness / resolution issues inherent in the current version (see my hands-on overview – link above – for more on this).

Upcoming Viewers

Maintenance Viewer

[3:00-3:09] A new Maintenance RC view should be appearing in week #10 (week commencing Monday, March 5th, 2018).

Bakes on Mesh Project Viewer

[3:10-4:30] A Bakes on Mesh project viewer, suitable for use with Bakes on Mesh test regions on Aditi is with th Lab’s QA team, and may be appearing in week #10.

Bakes on Mesh is a project to extend the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. It does so by allowing the faces on a mesh body / head to be defined in terms that the Baking Service can understand, allowing system layers to be applied to those faces, using 1024×1024 textures (rather than the 512×512 currently used by the Baking Service).

It’s important to note that the project viewer (with simulator-side support) is only the first phase of this project (essentially providing the 1024×1024 texture support), and there will still be much more to be done after the project viewer has been made available. Please refer to my Bakes on Mesh updates, which form a part of my weekly Content Creation User Group updates, for more specific information on this project.

Animesh Update

[7:56-9:06 – with audio break-up] The current focus remains:

  • Viewer-side bug fixes.
  • Performance profiling for Animesh complexity and LI costs.

The next step is to deploy updated simulator code in support of the limits so it can be put to the test.

DDoS Attack

[10:38-11:00] Some have experienced audio stream issues since the widespread amplified,UDP-based Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against memcached servers which took place across the Internet on Monday, February 26th / Tuesday, February 27th (memcached is a distributed memory caching system and is used to speed up dynamic database-driven websites and Internet-facing services by caching data and objects in RAM). As audio streams is handled by separate services (e.g. Shoutcast). It is possible they may have been suffering after-effects of the attack.

[11:05-11:56] The Lab has little to add to the blog post published by April Linden on the situation, other than they continue to harden systems and services. Overall, Second Life can come under frequent DDoS attack, but it myriad of parts are generally robust enough to withstand such attacks without them reaching the point of impacting users.

Off-Line IM Delivery Failures on Logging-in

[5:10-7:00] A project has been initiated to try to resolve problems with the viewer failing to receive all off-line IMs when a use logs in.

The cause appears to be that when a user logs-in, the simulator floods the viewer with UDP messages for the off-line IMs either before the viewer is ready to handle them, or as such a rate, messages are dropped.

To correct this, the Lab is making an API change in the simulator “in the next couple of weeks” and will be introducing a new viewer cap. Together, these will allow the viewer to indicate when it is ready to receive and handle off-line IMs, and ensure that the simulator correctly packages the messages for delivery, rather than simply sending a flood of items to the viewer.

These updates will hopefully be made available in a manner which allows TPVs to merge them relatively easily, rather than forming one part of a huge number of changes to the viewer.

In Brief

  • [4:35-4:53] Viewer Texture Memory Use: the Lab still plans to look at the question of texture memory use within the viewer, although it is noted this is turning into a “bit of a minefield”.
  • [12:02-13:05] Dullahan Linux: there have been requests for the Lab to provide a Linux Dulllahan build of the viewer (see this repository). Callum Linden has confirmed he’ll try to put further work into this before moving on to a new project, to at least leave it in a state others with more knowledge of Linux might be able to use.
  • [15:35-15:48] Disabling UDP inventory messaging: this is still being targeted for summer 2018, but there is currently no confirmed date.

2018 SL project updates 7/3: TPV and Web Meetings

Neverfar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrNeverfarblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting and the Web User Group meeting, both held on Friday, February 16th 2018. A video of the TPVD meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

SL Viewer

[0:55-3:02] The Media Update RC viewer version updated to version 5.1.2.512574 on February 15th, and the Nalewka Maintenance viewer updated to version 5.1.2.512522 on February 14th, bringing both into line with the current release viewer (currently version 5.1.1.512121, at the time of writing, formerly the Voice RC viewer).

The rest of the SL viewer pipeline remains as:

  • Current Release version  5.1.1.512121, dated January 26, promoted February 7 – formerly the Voice Maintenance RC.
  • 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.

Note that the voice package in the SL release viewer will not work with older versions of the viewer. A further voice SDK update for Mac systems is also due from Vivox.

Updates should be forthcoming soon on the Animesh and 360-snapshot viewer.

Viewer with 1024 Support for Avatar Textures

[4:33-7:05] A project viewer for handling 1024×1024 wearables should be appearing “soon”, as a prelude to the Bakes on Mesh project (see my Content Creation User Group (CCUG) updates for more on this project). This will have an impact on the avatar rendering cost for system avatars making use of 1024×1024 textures and wearables.

Linux and the Viewer

Also see week #50 2017 and #week 46 2017 TPVD updates.

The goal for a Linux flavour of the viewer is for the Lab to provide a basic Debian build of the viewer, without additional libraries so as to allow TPVs to add the dependencies they require for their flavour of Linux build. Once this has been achieved – with the help of open-source contributions – the Lab will then maintain the Linux build, with the caveat that it will only be subject to cursory QA, and will continue to look to the Linux community for contributed updates and fixes.

[15:44-20:40] The repository for Linux contributions is awaiting update to the current viewer release and needs to be publicly made available. A skeleton build process of the Debian package is available, but again has yet to be made visible.Both of these should happen in the next few weeks.

Several of the libraries which will be used in the build are seen as “problematic” and requiring patches, etc.Until this work has been done, the Lab can’t supply the build process.

One of the problems in seeking contributions is that Linux developers appear to be in short supply – the Lab doesn’t have any Linux resource in-house for the viewer, and some TPVs are finding it similarly difficult to find a resource they can use, and who can provide contributions to the Lab. The flip side of this is the Lab is not seeking contributions that provide a “complete” solution for a Linux build; they would rather people work on specific aspects of the viewer, the only criteria being that:

  • Contributions are in line with the Lab supporting a basic Debian package build process.
  • Contributions do not require changes to the build process which could break the Windows or Mac build process.

Project Arctan

Note: some of the following also appears in my week #7 CCUG meeting update.

[12:01-15:40 and 24:55-28:23] Project Arctan is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs, and hopefully make them more reflective of the actual cost of rendering objects and avatars and also remove some of disincentives for making optimised content.

  • This work is still in its preliminary stages, focusing on how best to gather the required data.
  • For avatar complexity, it will include evaluating the cost of avatars and their attachments (tri counts, textures, use of alpha layers, skeletal animations used, etc), with a view to adjusting the avatar rendering cost weightings – with the caveat that even when made more reflective of the actual cost of avatar rendering, people will still see some variation in the ARC information displayed by their viewer as a result of using different GPU cards, and how well different cards handle things like alpha masking and / or alpha blending.
  • For Land Impact: LI will be scrutinised as well, to take into consideration texture cost. However, as LI changes could be disruptive (e.g. unexpected objects returns), any new LI calculations will be run alongside the current calculations, to allow LL gather data on if and  how many parcels will be pushed over their LI capacity were the new calculations to be applied (and thus force object returns) and by how much. They then might increase region land capacity to compensate as far as possible. Then, for those who still exceed their limit, there will be a period of grace when they can consolidate and bring their LI use within the limit of the revised calculations before the latter are enforced.

As Animesh will likely be released before Project Arctan is complete, this means Animesh will be released with an initial land impact calculation assigned to it for objects, which may then be revised once Arctan is finalised.

Project Arctan – Oz and Vir Linden discuss (CCUG and TPVD meetings)

Note again: this work is just re-starting, and there will be no immediate or sudden changes made to either ARC or Land Impact.

Other TPVD Items In Brief

Deprecating UDP Messaging for Asset Fetching And Further Inventory Improvements

[7:24-11:05] The Lab is looking to remove the remaining UDP code for all assets now fetched via HTTP and the CDNs from the simulator code, most likely in the June-August time frame. Once this has happened, any old viewer versions not using the latest HTTP asset fetching code will be unable to retrieve inventory assets.   A version of the updated simulator code will be made available on Aditi, likely in the spring of 2018, so TPVs can double-check asset fetching.

A further general clean-up of inventory messaging should follow this work to improve inventory handling and robustness. This will include a clean-up on UDP inventory management paths and the remove of multiple ways of manipulating inventor, and may be a multi-round effort of work.

Abuse Reporting Capability

[39:30-42:26] A new cap is being introduced to the viewer to return the currently accepted Abuse Report categories. This is a change, once available, TPV well be asked to adopt quickly, as it should help smooth the initial triaging of ARs, by reducing the amount of time spent trying to marry old / no longer valid AR categories with valid options, etc. (or risking ARs being closed on account of a filing that appears non-actionable).  For information on how ARs are handled and should be filed, please see: Raising Abuse Reports in Second Life.

Web User Group

The following notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, February 16th, 2018. These meetings are chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Meeting Changes

  • Going forward, the Web User Group will meet MONTHLY and on a WEDNESDAY, possibly at 13:00 SLT.
  • Notice of each meeting will appear on the Web forum section and on the Web User Group wiki page a couple of days ahead of each meeting.

Marketplace

  • Marketplace updates:
    • Updates are being planned, and the Lab is keen to receive ideas (even if they cannot necessarily be implemented).
      • Suggestions for improvements / new features should be made via the Second Life JIRA under the Project type BUG Project, and then selecting the Issue Type New Feature Request.
      • Bugs and issues should be raised using the  Project type BUG Project, and Issue Type Bug.
    • Variant of items in a single listing (e.g. different colours for a dress) are being considered as a possible part of the Marketplace updates.
    • Ideas for discouraging “false” listings, etc., are being considered by the Lab, but there is an understandable  reluctance to openly discuss measures until options are better defined, in order to prevent incorrect assumptions and rumours from spreading.
  • Flagging content and “policing” the Marketplace: requests have been made for more flexibly means to flag / report content / stores on the Marketplace, and the Lab is again considering options.
    • One suggest put froward by users is for merchants to be able to police the MP, the level of trust in their reports being based on the number of valid reports they file. The Lab is reticent to allow user-based moderation, as this can become subject of subjective feelings, personal disputes, etc.
  • As part of the overall Marketplace road map, the Lab is considering offering some form of Marketplace-focused benefits for creators and merchant who are / opt to up to a Premium account.
  • Marketplace featured items: a question was asked about how featured items are selected for display on the Marketplace. There is a section in each item’s listing page which can be used to have it displayed on the Marketplace page, a category landing page, etc., for a fee. Those items actually displayed on a page are then rotated by criteria by the Marketing team.
  • Recent issues at Hippo Technologies have seen Hippo legacy web services go off-line with a decision to step back from continued support. This promoted questions about enforced removal of no longer functional products from the Marketplace. This is something the Lab is reticent to do (there’s a risk of functional goods being removed in error, etc.), and would prefer creators to take the responsibility to unlist goods that no longer function. However, this specific matter is being taken back to the office for discussion.

Destination Guide

  • Places to be included in the Destination Guide can be submitted via the Destination Guide application form. General information on the DG, including submissions can be found here.

2018 SL project updates 4/2: TPV Developer meeting

La Vie; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrLa Vieblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 26th 2018. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

Viewer Pipeline

[0:00-1:25] The Voice RC viewer updated to version 5.1.1.512121 on January 26th, bringing it to parity with the Alex Ivy release viewer. The reaming viewers in LL’s pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 5.1.0.511732, dated January 9th, promoted January 17th. Formerly the Alex Ivy Maintenance RC – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Nalewka Maintenance viewer version 5.1.1.511871, January 17th.
  • 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.

Forthcoming Updates

  • The Voice RC is the next in line for promotion to release status, and this could happen in week #5 (commencing Monday, January 29th, 2018).
  • The Animesh and Project Render project viewers both have new updates in QA.
  • There is a new project viewer for media handling (with updates to the latest version of the Chrome Embedded Framework) also due to be made available.
  • A further 64-bit update is in the works.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including:

  • The ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level.
  • New environment asset types (Sky, Water, Days – the latter comprising multiple Sky and Water) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others.
  • Scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[12:25-15:43] Rider Linden now has a test simulator on Aditi where he is able to successfully apply windlights at the parcel level. The work will now allow windlight settings to be applied by height above ground, but this will likely be fixed ranges defined on the simulator rather than allowing completely arbitrary heights for different windlight settings, as can be done viewer-side with some TPVs at present.

General Discussions

Level of Detail / RenderVolumeLODFactor

[4:17-5:21] The latest Firestorm release, 5.0.11.53634, has altered the behaviour of the debug RenderVolumeLODFactor so that changes with set it to any value higher than 4.00 will not persist across log-ins (see my Firestorm release overview here for more). The Lab is now considering implementing a similar change within the official viewer.

Land Impact / Avatar Complexity Calculations

[5:33-5:52] I’ve referred to this project a number of times, which is intended to gather more representative data on the actual cost of rendering object in-world and the cost of rendering avatars and their attachments, with a view to revisiting the formulas used in calculating them, to see if anything can be done to make the calculations more representative of the “real” rendering costs (allowing for issues such as the potential to break content). It is currently hoped that the Lab will have enough data on this in the next for weeks to start carrying these investigations forward.

[27:13-28:12] One of the reasons often cited for creating one very detailed level of detail (LOD) model and a very low LOD model, rather than a number of LOD models (high, medium, low and lowest), is that the latter can penalise the finished model’s overall Land Impact (LI). This is something the Lab is going to be looking at in order to try to remove / reduce disincentives to making optimised content for SL as a part of this work.

[28:35-30:25] These updates are likely to affect the LI of existing and rezzed content. However, they will not be made in Q1 of 2018. Instead, the Lab plan to carry out simulator-side testing to ensure whatever changes that are decided upon cause as little disruption as possible, and will offer a strategy to help people transition to the new system to try to avoid any unnecessary item returns, show the revised formula run the risk of some content being returned when implemented (this might even comprise an increase in land capacity, if the difference between the “old” and “new” LI calculations aren’t too big). Improved tools for understanding LI are also planned as part of this work.

[31:08-31:47] To help people understand LI, content building, etc., Oz Linden has been trying to get more of the Lab’s own documentation on design and building to where it can be seen in public. This also extends to making more of the Lab’s own scripts being made available for public viewing.

Camera Presets Project

[7:09-8:00] Jonathan Yap is moving ahead with his camera presets project (see here and STORM-2145). This will most likely include Penny Patton’s recommendations for improved camera placement as one of the default sets of camera presets.

AIS Project

[8:51-10:28] The Lab is initiating a further Advanced Inventory System (AIS) project. this project will initially be focused on bug fixes, then will include looking for opportunities to deprecate old UDP-based inventory operations in favour of AIS – this work will likely take several months to complete, once started. Once any patches related to this have been made available to TPVs (with time given for them to be implemented), inventory UDP messaging will be turned off at the simulator end.

Texture Rendering and Caching

[16:05-17:15] Kitty Barnett has been looking at texture fetching/decoding and has noted some issues around discard levels in the viewer. Oz Linden would like to learn more on this.

In the meantime, the Lab’s own attempt to re-work how texturing caching works in the viewer hasn’t produced the results LL had hoped (e.g. improving the amount of textures which can be loaded per second). However, tests will continue in the hope that improvements can be gained. If the work is successful, then the Lab will look towards improving object caching as well.

Inventory Folders and Load Times

[18:52-20:50] Inventory and folders:  the recent change (current SL maintenance RC viewer and Firestorm 5.0.11) to include folders in the total inventory count has raised concerns about increasing inventory load times.

The Lab’s rule-of-thumb remains one of balance:

  • Individual folders with tens of thousands of item in them (object, links, sub-folders) – including trash – can cause the inventory load process to freeze, due to the way folders are individually loaded at log-in. Therefore, these are best avoided.
  • Conversely, having an individual folder for every single item – or just very small number of items can cause lots of little fetches that don’t achieve very much.

Therefore, somewhere between these two extremes is preferable.

Other Items

  • A resource has been made available to update the wiki documentation on the new viewer log-in screen widget.
  • There is liable to be something of a focus on the render pipe (there’s already the rendering project viewer in the pipeline), as a resource with SL rendering expertise has returned to the fold from Sansar.

Next TPVD Meeting

[1:35-2:05] The next Third-Party Developer meeting is set for Friday, February 16th, 2018 (although in theory this should be a date for the Web User Group meeting, which usually alternates with the TPVD meeting).