Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eye on the Blog: "Check Out the Latest Improvements to Second Life"

In their latest blog entry, the Lindens talk about what they've been working on lately, "We (both the Lindens and some hard-working open source contributors) have been busy making improvements to Second Life, and now is a good time to let you know about some new things you’ll soon be able to enjoy. These changes include improving the way your avatar interacts with surfaces inworld, giving you more tools for managing your preferences for notifications and graphics settings, as well as improvements to make life easier for mesh creators and merchants."

What they talk about the most is a problem most of us have had, when an avatar appears to be floating a few inches off the ground, or the feet seem sunken into the ground like a plush carpet, or what they call "Hover Height." They begin by explaining why this has been a problem.

One of the surprisingly difficult things to do in a virtual world is to make things come to rest in a natural-looking way. Keeping feet on the ground when standing and the right body parts on furniture seems obvious, but getting an avatar to "just touch" without either floating above or penetrating into the adjacent surface can be computationally quite expensive. To avoid some of that expense, Second Life has always used approximations, which rely on some simplifying assumptions about the avatar shape and size. Those assumptions are adjusted by a number of factors including several of your shape parameter choices, values included in attachments you are wearing, and active animations. As we've all seen, sometimes these things combine to leave you floating above or sinking into the surface on which intuitively you should be resting. This is because the adjustments come from many sources and sometime interact in unexpected ways. Because they have not always been applied in exactly the same order, even if you wear the same set of attachments in the same setting you could sometimes get different results.

The Lab explained they've been working on the problem and making tests with an experimental "Project Hoverheight Viewer," "This viewer, and some accompanying server changes, improve things in two ways: the order in which we make adjustments to your vertical position has been made more stable -- combining the same set of attachments and animations should now always produce the same vertical offset: even if it's not perfect, it will at least be predictable."

Users can make adjustments as it's still not perfect, which are visible to both the one adjusting and those around him/her. It's also notable the Lab gives credit to Team Firestorm, "This new feature was inspired by a proposal from the Firestorm viewer team, and they've been helping with testing it."

There were other improvements mentioned. The Lab stated an upcoming viewer release will offer different types of notifications for different kinds of notices, such as money transactions, group invites, inventory items received, etc. They announced they're upgrading mesh import support due to problems with uploading larger and more complicated works. It currently can be seen in the "Project Importer Viewer," but should soon be available in future viewer release, including being able to see how one's model is being processed. The Lab also promises "in the next couple of months" that merchants will be able to make changes in their Marketplace page through the viewer. For those whom keep fiddling with their graphics between crowded events, going about lightly populated areas, and taking scenic pictures, one will be able to save separate sets of settings and name them. Linden Lab says, "All of these changes, along with other fixes and small improvements, should reach the default Viewer over the next several weeks."

For the blog post in full, Click Here.

Bixyl Shuftan

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