Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

SL project updates week 47/2: TPV Developer meeting

The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 21st, as shown in the video below, and from the Server Beta Meeting held on Thursday November 20th. Where relevant, timestamps are included in the article to allow for referencing to the video. My thanks as always to North for the recording.

SL Viewer

[01:10] RC and project viewers are starting to stack-up once more, and further viewers are on their way. The release channel currently has four RC viewers in it: HTTP Pipeline 3.7.21.296736; Snowstorm 3.7.21.296724; Maintenance 3.7.21.296734, and Attachments 3.7.21.296729.

HTTP Pipeline RC and Texture and Mesh Fetching

The HTTP Pipeline viewer appears to be performing better with the CDN than the current pipeline code for those encountering problems. However, further updates to the RC are likely before it reaches a release status.

[05:23] In general, texture and mesh fetching via the CDN continues to work well for most people, although the Lab are still investigating why it is not working so well for some. The hope is that further improvements will be forthcoming, but at the moment the work is still very much in progress.

Attachments RC Viewer

[07:55] Vir Linden has some further updates for the Attachments RC, which should help improve the predictability of getting the right appearance as you’re going through outfit changes. This work has been tested in a closed test viewer and the results are such that Vir hopes to pull them into the RC version of the viewer as soon as possible.

Benchmark Viewer RC

[02:33] A new Benchmark viewer (removal of the GPU table) should hopefully be released on Monday, November 24th (or shortly thereafter). This includes:

  • Further improvements to how the viewer initials sets graphics preferences for some GPU types
  • Address the crash-on-start-up issue which some users are encountering in the current release viewer (3.7.20.296094), and which appears to be related to the benchmark update.

Viewer Build Tools

[30:19] The Lab is making progress with compiling the viewer using the new build tool chains. The performance issues that resulted when building the Mac viewer (again, see my week 43 report), appear to have been resolved.

The work to build the windows version of the viewer using Visual Studio (VS) 2013 is going “really well”, with the Lab having almost all the packages ready to go – so much so that Oz believes that the Lab will have a version of the viewer built using VS2013 in week 48 (week commencing Monday, November 24th) – although this doesn’t necessarily mean said viewer will be publicly available.

As Microsoft have just issued Visual Studio Community 2013, which allows developers to create applications fro free, so long as they are not intended for commercial gain (and TPVs aren’t built to be sold), it is hoped at TPV developers will in future be able to builder their viewers with exactly the same software as the Lab,

In addition, the Lab is working on an internal wiki page for building with VS2103, which will likely go public when finished to sit alongside the existing wiki page on the new autobuild process.

Viewer-managed Marketplace

The Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) project viewer, version 3.7.21.296858, was released on Friday, November 21st, together with information on the open beta testing for VMM on Aditi. I have provided coverage of this via a separate article in this blog, see:Viewer-managed Marketplace: beta testing and a look at the project viewer.

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Viewer-managed Marketplace: beta testing and a look at the project viewer

In October 2014, I reported on the viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) project, which the lab has been developing for several months.

The aim of the project is to enable merchants to manage the creation and management of Marketplace product listing through the viewer, bypassing the need to use the Merchant Outbox (and have copies of items stored on the Marketplace inventory servers) or using Magic Boxes.

VMM does this by adding a new Marketplace Listing panel to to viewer, of which more below.

On Friday, November 21st, the Lab announced that wider beta testing of VMM is now ready to start on Aditi (the Beta grid). and is inviting merchants to download a new VMM project viewer they can use to test creating and managing product listing through the viewer.

Alongside of the announcement, the Lab also made available:

If you are a merchant and wish to test the VMM functionality, you’ll need to download and install the project viewer, and use one of the following three test regions on Aditi: ACME D; ACME E and ACME F. Using the viewer anywhere else can generate error messages when first logging-in (designed to indicate VMM is not available, and which will not interfere with using the viewer for other activities).

If you’ve never logged-into Aditi, please refer to the instructions on how to do so on the beta grid wiki page.

You may also wish to be logged-in to the Aditi Marketplace place.

When testing VMM, remember that it is not intended to enable all Marketplace-related activities through the viewer. Rather, it is intended to allow merchants to create new Marketplace listings with inventory, associate inventory with an existing Marketplace listing, remove items from a listing and unlist goods entirely. All other Marketplace activities will still have to be carried out within the Marketplace itself.

Also note that at present there is a bug within the Aditi Marketplace that will cause purchases to fail. The Lab is working to address this, and it shouldn’t interfere with testing VMM to create and modify product listings.

The following notes are intended to get you started with the project viewer and beta testing, please refer to the Lab’s VMM FAQ for other pertinent information.

The Marketplace Listings Panel

An active Marketplace Listings panel showing the four tabs used to manage inventory

An active Marketplace Listings panel showing the four tabs used to manage inventory

The heart of the viewer-managed Marketplace is the new new Marketplace Listing panel within the viewer. This will eventually replace the Merchant Outbox,  although both are provided in the project viewer.

The Marketplace Listing panel allows a merchant to carry out a number of Marketplace tasks from within the viewer, such as:  create a new product listing, modify a listing, change the items associated with a listing, etc.

It does this by enabling merchants to directly associate products in their inventory with product item listings on the Marketplace, eliminating the need to either upload copies of products to the Marketplace inventory servers via the Merchant Outbox or, in the case of limited stock No Copy items, having them stored in-world in a Magic Box. When a customer purchases an item listed via VMM, it is delivered to them directly from the Lab’s asset servers.

This does mean that care must be taken when handing product items in inventory in order to avoid occidentally deleting items associated with Marketplace listings. To help with this, the folder associated with the Marketplace Listing panel remain hidden from view (as far as is possible) when working directly in the inventory .

Google Form

The first time you open the Marketplace Listing panel, it may display the following message:

This feature is currently in beta. Please add you name to this Google form if you would like to participate

Should this happen, click on the link to go to the Google form and enter your merchant name (or names). When you relog with the project viewer (and assuming you are in one of the VMM test regions) the Marketplace listing panel will be good to go – see my overview later in this article).

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Rebirth … together!

Open now, and with events running through until the end of November 2014 at LEA 6, under the umbrella of the LEA / UWA Full Sim Art series is Rebirth … together, presented by the 2Lei collaborative.

Now in its fifth year, 2Lei began as a project involving artists, gallery owners, musicians, etc., with the aim of raise awareness and disseminate events related to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which falls on November 25th.

Rebirth ... together: Krikket Blackheart

Rebirth … together: Krikket Blackheart

The installation / event is described by the organisers thus:

This year’s theme is “Rebirth… together!”. We cannot just denounce: we must dare to hope, to dream, to act, to make the dream come true and springboard for new dreams. Dreams in which men and women cooperate together to build a more just, more healthy society, in which violence does not represent the instrument upon which to convey anger, frustration, fear, and aggression.

We wish every woman’s heart beat be as strong as the drum of life. No woman will be forgotten or left behind. The “Rebirth” marks the passage of the works of artists who are exhibiting in these spaces, and the performers who will take turns on stage. The program is rich and detailed, and offers many insights. Now we want to talk about “rebirth”. A rebirth towards a world where people can live, breathe, and dream without the fear of having to defend themselves. We are reborn together in front of each painting, opera, photograph, theater or musical show that a fragment of this kaleidoscope of images, desires, dreams, passions, and every project of rebirth involves. Primarily this involves the denunciation of what is evil, of what is burning, what clip wings, and cuts short lives. Then, after the denunciation, comes the dream: the work, the strength to believe it, and to make it happen together. “TOGETHER” is the keyword of a true renaissance. And we will be the first to give testimony. Men and women who, together, believe in this project and have put in place. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

Rebirth … together features works by artists from across Second Life and the world at large, spread across several gallery areas within the region, both at ground / water level and on floating islands overhead. All offer a mixture of 2D and 3D art, with pieces focusing on the many different ways in which violence against women can take, be it physical, emotional, mental, verbal, etc., some of which are quite striking in context and form. There are also a number of event areas scattered through the installation, which will be active through most of the remaining 10 days of the event.

Rebirth ... together: LookAtMy Back

Rebirth … together: LookAtMy Back

The programme for these events days comprises (all times SLT):

  • Friday, November 21st, 2014:
    • 13:30: “RELIVE” – Art exhibition by various artists (Duna Gant) featuring music by Morlita Quan and Ultraviolet Alter
    • 14:30: – A tour of the 2Lei installation
  • Saturday, November 22nd, 2014:
    • 13:30: SoloDonna even area – Sniper Siemens – Elettra Beardmore
    • 14:45: Music by Andromeda Slade
  • Sunday, November 23rd, 2014:
    • 13:30: Live concert by Musicante Malandrino with a Surprise Guest!
  • Monday, November 24th, 2014:
    • 13:30: L’Arme d’Amour (Viola Tatham, Andromeda Slade) present I Loved Her More Than Her Life, a one-act play written by Cristina Comencini
    • 14:00: Rosanna Tafanelli, Francesco Bonetto, Lapsus Weinstein and Alejandra Balhaus discuss issues of violence against women
  • Tuesday, November 25th, 2014:
    • 13:00: Reading and music by Libriamo Tutti – Imparafacile (Imparafacile group)
    • 14:00: Idee Libere Alternative (Francy Lytton, MarinellaMonti) present a reading of Women in rebirth by J. Folla edited by Margherita Hax, followed by a live concert by Trinity Ermingtrood and then poems by Cordediseta Rosea
    • 15:30: Official closing of the live events for this year’s 2Lei
  • Sunday, November 30th, 2014:
    • 11:00: STAND!  – the SL Fashion World Stand with 2Lei (by Mila Tatham, Aliza Karu, Bodza Blackadder, Absinthe Montenegro)
    • 13:30: Particle Show by Tansee Resident with music by Andromeda Slade
    • 14:30: Break all – together!
Rebirth ... together: Rubin Mayo, stage set for Donna in Rinascita

Rebirth … together: Rubin Mayo, stage set for Donna in Rinascita

Since 2012, 2Lei has offered events throughout the year and has participated in other SL activities with featured art exhibitions. In 2014, for example, 2Lei was represented at the SL11BCC celebrations with works by Paola Mills, and a mesh sculpture composed by Moore Tone, with creative contributions of all 2Lei committee members. Those interested in tracing the history of 2Lei may wish to visit the retrospective display area in the south-east corner of the region.

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The Drax Files 24: let the virtual world be our stage

ART-logoThe 24th instalment of The Drax Files takes to the boards to bring us a story of the theatre, performing arts, Shakespeare, plays, stage adaptations and more, as offered to the virtual community through the remarkable folk at the Avatar Repertory Theatre (ART), the oldest and longest-running live theatre company in Second Life – and probably the metaverse as a whole, as we currently regard it today.

Storytelling has been a central part of humanity’s development since pre-historic times, and has fulfilled many role: as a means of preserving history, educating the young, providing cultural structure through mythological / religious tales, and, of course, as a source of entertainment.

As such, it’s really no surprise that theatre is an art form which we have brought with us into the virtual realms. Like the spoken word, as exemplified by the likes of the Seanchai Library, or the use of film to provide machinima and episodic series like The Blackened Mirror, live theatre is presented with many opportunities and advantages within virtual environments which are not so readily available in the physical world.

For one thing, virtual environments offer any incredibly cost-effective means of presenting a stage production. Where else, for example, can a repertory company with an interest in Shakespeare establish its own reproduction of London’s Globe Theatre in which to stage their performances? How else could they recreate scenes for a production that can completely surround and immerse the audience itself?

The Avatar Repertory Theatre Company's reproduction of the Globe Theatre in Second Life

The Avatar Repertory Theatre Company’s reproduction of the Globe Theatre in Second Life

Then there’s the fact that the virtual medium has such a global reach, couple with a unique way of bringing people together. No longer is a company’s members or its audience constrained by geographic location, virtual reality truly makes a theatre production a world-spanning event.

These points are beautifully and engagingly made by MadameThespian Underhill, an actor / director with ART, and an actor in the physical world. Not that ART is made up entirely of professionals; another great power of the virtual is the way in which it forms a melting pot of creative talent, everyone working together equally to present a production to a live audience.

Through Madame Thespian’s eyes and words, we’re given an insight into the creative and technical complexities in bringing together a virtual world production which, as well as potentially offering greater immersive richness for the audience, present broader technical challenges for all involved – the actors, the backstage staff, the musicians, and so on. Actors, for example must bring together voice acting talents and controlled pupeetering of their avatars; gestures must be developed and tested, musicians must work to produce suitable pieces which can be pre-recorded and then added-in to productions at the required points, and so on and so forth.

Madame Thespian Underhill: "When people ask 'what's the purpose of doing theatre in virtual reality?' Well, we as human beings relate to each other by telling stories ... this is another avenue that has been opened-up to live storytelling

Madame Thespian Underhill: “When people ask ‘what’s the purpose of doing theatre in virtual reality?’ Well, we as human beings relate to each other by telling stories … this is another avenue that has been opened-up to live storytelling”

The virtual realm perhaps offers one of the richest environments in which technologies such as facial expression translation, motion capture, immersive headsets and so on all have a real and far-reaching use. In short, it’s an ideal testing-ground for such capabilities, as Madame Thespian notes towards the end of the video.

More than that, taken together, live theatre and these emerging technologies offer audiences something even more unique and not so easy to be translated into the physical world – they could potentially become part of a production, fully immersed in what is happening, and even – to a degree – participating in in as extras. The Basilique Performing Arts Company, for example (the subject of the Drax Files #18), used scripted pupeetering and custom-made avatars  to make the audience of Paradise Lost an integral part of the story.

There’s also a very human dimension here as well, growing out of the freedom of expression virtual environments like Second Life give to all of us.  “I’m ageing out of most Shakespearian roles,” Madame Thespian notes. She continues:

But then again, in Second Life, I don’t have that problem, because we have these avatars that we can make look like anything we want them to be. That levels the playing field when we interact with each other. The value for older people, not only for actors, is wonderful! The ability to be able to, from your home,  interact with other people from all over the world of other ages. You are being judged by what you say … the pure essence of who you are.

And that’s a powerful thought on which to close.

If you’d like to see the Avatar Repertory Theatre live, in addition to their scheduled productions, they offer an ongoing series entitled Plays Around, a kind of “open workshop in which the company performs a ser­ies of staged read­ings, mon­o­logues, drama and im­prov­is­ation. Generally held at the company’s theatre, Plays Around takes place on Fridays at 17:00SLT, and members of the public are invited to come along and watch.

Coinciding wit the release of The Drax Files World Makers on Friday, November 21st, the ART company is hosting a special Plays Around event, Shakespeare By Request, which you can read about here.

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