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365 days of SL, just for fun 6

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Jun. 17th, 2013 | 03:14 pm

365 days of SL, just for fun 6:

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The SL10B Community Celebrations for Second Life's 10th birthday began yesterday, and naturally I went and checked it out. :) The flag-raising was scheduled for 1pm SLT, and I wanted to attend that, but before, I wandered around a bit and took a look at various exhibits. huskyteer was on, too, and joined me.

The above screenshot is from a rather cool exhibit built by Dizzy Banjo. It's an immersive piece; visually austere (the walking cupcake is another visitor, BTW, not part of the exhibit) yet appealing for precisely that reason, combining voice recordings made for SL's 10th and 5th birthdays and triggered sounds and weaving them into a soundscape that rather reminded me of Brian Eno's Music for Airports — specifically, part 2/1. Very cool, and I highly suggest visiting it and experiencing it for yourself.

If you do, be sure to turn up your volume a lot, BTW; the sounds are all very quiet, no doubt so as to not disturb passers-by.

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Here are some screenshots from the same; one showing my shadow on the giant bottle next to Dizzy's, two from the inside of the bottle, and another one from the outside. Dizzy told me he'd initially planned to have the entire parcel black, requiring you to navigate by ear alone; it would've been cool, too, but I think the final incarnation of his build works even better.

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After a while, I left again. One rather complex-looking build nearby had a giant hamster wheel, powering the SL grid; of course I had to give it a try, and I gotta say, the running animation used was one of the swaggiest I've ever seen. :)

There was another one near that had a black dome containing giant spinning polyhedra — one at a time, that is, cycling through all sorts of different ones. I'm not so good with polyhedra, and there's a ton of varieties (Platonic, Archimedean, Catalan, Johnson and what have you), but I think the last one above may be a stellated rhombicuboctahedron. (If anyone can easily identify the others, let me know what they are.)

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The flag-raising itself was next; flags were raised in four spots around the estate, but apparently the one I picked was not popular, with almost noone being in attendance. OTOH, I don't think the flag-raising was exactly well-publicized.

Anyhow, the above shots illustrate one fairly deplorable problem with the whole SL10B estate: it's highly complex, visually speaking, AND it was loaded with people; I've got a fairly powerful PC, so lag wasn't a real issue for me, but textures (and, sometimes, geometries) took ages to load, and in several cases never did at all.

This is a problem that SL will have to overcome, I think. It's a little annoying at times even when you're just going to your regular hang-out spots, places that aren't so complex, where there's few people, and where textures etc. should already be cached; visiting the SL10B sims for the first time last night, it was deadly. Just to give you an idea of what we're looking at there, my client was consuming about 2.8 GiB of memory when I left, and had about 12,000 filehandles open (of which it closed more than 10,000 when I met up with friends).

Maybe it's just that technology will have to catch up, but for now I think SL is not even close to being able to live up to its full potential.

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Anyhow, after the flag-raising, I ended up attending one of the first scheduled talks for the day — "Meet the Designer", hosted by Saffia Widdershins and with guests Cain Maven (Maven Homes) and Froukje Hoorenbeek (Dutchie).

It was fascinating, too. I'm not really connected to the business side of SL at all, neither as a designer nor (usually) as a consumer, so hearing these folks talk about their experiences, their concerns, and their wishes was a glimpse into a whole new world.

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And finally, I just wandered around again for a while, but the aforementioned issues with textures not loading (at all or completely) were still present. I tried to take a decent shot of the first build shown above, but the texture around the edge of the parcel never loaded fully (and neither did several others, although it's less obvious); oh well, maybe next time.

I had to check out the colorful object in the background as well, of course. Turns out it was a UFO, attacking a trailer park and setting trailers on fire with its laser bullets, while a robot was rampaging through the local laundromat. :) Quite amusing.

All in all? I'll definitely be back for more, although I may not take screenshots and/or write LJ entries about it all the time. The entire estate will be open for two weeks — after that, the builds will be dismantled, and the sims closed. So if you want to experience it all, do so now. (And if you're saddened by the fact you still won't have time to see it all... keep in mind that life's a buffet, and that the goal is not to trying everything.)

Location: SL10B Enchant (220, 163, 22) (SL10B Enchant #9)

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Comments {5}

Whitefang Greytail

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from: whitefang
date: Jun. 17th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)

Oh cool, looks good.. I will need to go in and have a look :)

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from: schnee
date: Jun. 17th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)

Be sure to! The entire estate's pretty amazing. :)

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(Deleted comment)


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from: schnee
date: Jun. 17th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC)

Perhaps — it's hard for me to gauge.

I have thought this in the past, concerning the viewer; my previous previous computer was pretty much unable to handle second life, with performance usually being measured in seconds per frame rather than vice versa, but I could run e.g. Guild Wars without any major problems. It often made me wonder: is Guild Wars, despite looking quite polished, just that much simpler at its core, or is it optimized where and when and to an extent that Second Life is not? There was also the possibility that SL, by virtue of its generality, might not be able to cut corners and optimize for a specific the same way that Guild Wars, with its predetermined areas, models etc. could. In the end, I attributed SL's comparatively poorer performance to a mixture of all three.

I could well imagine that the same's true for the server code.

Perhaps the fact that the SL servers are all located in the USA plays a role, too. I don't know right now what a typical ping sim time would be for me; last night, it was on the order of 250 ms for the SL10B sims, which I thought was fairly high. GW had European servers for European customers, of course, and I'd be surprised if it didn't make some difference. OTOH, geo-replication in SL would be nigh impossible — it's a non-trivial task even for other databases, and when you've got such a complex system as SL, with regions and avatars moving between them etc., keeping your databases scattered around the globe in sync would be a nightmare. (Not to mention that it would cost a lot of money to have these servers in the first place, money that LL probably doesn't even have.)

I've also noticed that SL rarely seems to even get close to its maximum allowed bandwidth consumption, much less my Internet connection's maximum bandwidth. It's fairly rare to see it exceed 1 Mib/s (I think the maximum I have configured is 10, which is the highest you can set it to in my viewer). It does make you wonder whether the servers are overloaded; and while the hardware's getting better and LL's occasionally rolling out new server classes (I think 801 is the newest), so do they increase the number of regions that will share a server. (AFAIK, the number will also depend on what sort of region you're looking at — Openspace, Homestead or Full, with the former two presumably not being given the same size physical server slice as the latter. But don't quote me on this.)

OTOH, it's also important to note that SL's gotten much better. For instance, just a few years ago, sim crossings, even in quiet regions, often used to painful; these days they usually work with hardly a hitch (I got some sim crossing lag last night, but when you have 30 or 50 or 70 avatars in one region, that's a different situation.)

But yeah, the texture loading... that's definitely something that needs to be worked on, because it often makes it impossible to really appreciate complex builds. I'm not expecting everything to load instantaneously, but it would be nice if SL at least loaded resources as fast as it was allowed to.

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Alice Dryden

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from: huskyteer
date: Jun. 17th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)

I hope we can hang out again soon, somewhere less busy!

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from: schnee
date: Jun. 17th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)

Would be nice, yes! I'm usually on most days, although not as early as yesterday.

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