Experience Permission System – the next Second Life revolutionary feature

The addition of Mesh was a revolution in SL and many probably haven’t noticed this due to the slower than expected uptake of mesh as a creation tool. Through my own tests and experiments I’m now convinced of how Mesh’s properties will help reduce lag and expand creativity and slowly this is becoming known across the grid.

In 2012 there was nothing I would call revolutionary. Well maybe Direct Delivery could be classed as revolutionary, it freed us from magic boxes and gave a more streamlined system (not to mention on going problems for some). Pathfinding was heralded as the next big feature in SL, but I feel it’s only a small step towards what will truly be the next revolutionary feature to come to Second Life.

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The Experience Permission System that I have mentioned all through 2012.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with SL history, when Rod Humble (Rodvik) arrived he announced near he end of 2011 a project to create tools that allowed more simplified interactivity to be had in Second Life. As an example Linden Realms was announced and I was very impressed with what was experienced. Being auto teleported, having a HUD appear automatically, being killed and teleported to a respawn point. Stepping into a bog and being automatically animated in a slow gooey death! You might read this and think well DUH, isn’t that how things work? Well no.

Second Life has a permissions system in place making sure no one can do things to you that you don’t want. You have to accept an objects request to wear things, be animated or be teleported. These requests appear as a dialogue box with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ buttons that can be lost in the notifications system and definitely will interrupt your immersive experience. These permission requests seemed to be missing at Linden Realms and the resault was a much more engaging natural gaming experience… But how?

Linden Realms uses a new system called the ‘Experience Permission System’ and what it does is request permissions for an experience instead of an object. Each experience has its own code KEY to which you grant permission to be animated, teleported or have things attached. Any object that has this Code Key in its script will automatically be granted your permission as part of the experience. So when you arrive at Linden Realms you somehow grant the Linden Realms experience the permission to teleport you, add a HUD, and animate you. This then allows anything in Linden Realms the same permissions as long as they include the same Code Key you granted perms to. Of course you can also at anytime revoke that experiences permissions if you dont like it…. Still with me?

ralms

Sounds Simple, so where has the experience permissions system gone?

It appeared to be working fine in Linden Realms so why it’s still not released for the rest of the grid over a year later I still don’t know for sure. I was never part of the secret user group who was helping to develop the Advanced Creator Tools but I managed to find some users who were and get a little info on what’s happend. Apparently they all had to sign NDA’s (Non Disclosure Agreement) and all was going well until suddenly Gez Linden who was running the show left. “They fired Gez, and then closed beta group and Aditi testing just died, then they released it (creator tools) with no permission system in place”.

So in July LL released two parts of the new Advanced Creator Tools ‘Teleport Agent’ and ‘Temporary attach’ with the headline ‘FIRST SET’ of Advanced Creator Tools. At the bottom of the post it stated “It’s important to note that Temporary Attachment is NOT forced attachment. We accomplish Temporary Attachment through our Experience Permissions system requiring an opt-in scenario for the recipient.” And since then, no one has heard anything about the Experience Permission System to the point where i started to wonder if it existed at all.

I tried to find out more from two Lindens i knew, and also asked Oz Linden while at one of his Viewer Meetings. None seemed to have any idea where it was, or simply could not talk about it, ‘First rule about Experience Permissions system, is we dont talk about the experience permissions system’.

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EPSIt’s still coming?

Second Life for me is suffering from some odd behaviour, so maybe the Lab is waiting until thats all fixed before releasing the Experience Permissions System. For example there is this odd thing where when you region cross or teleport scripts and avatars seem to arrive at different times causing havoc when an object reacts to wether there is an avatar attached to it. I teleported from Linden Realms back home and instead of the HUD detaching it was still on me long enough for the Experience Permission System to fire off its requests and allowing me a glimpse at how the system works. So it might be that the grid is not yet at a stage the Lab wants it to be when releasing the Experience Permissions System. The lack of word on the subject though is frightfully irritating.

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So why is the Experience Permissions system so important?

I made a scary experience called ‘T H E W E L L’. To experience it you had to buy a HUD that would request to auto attach. You had to accept the request by pressing yes in a dialogue box, then you had to walk over to the well and when you got close enough the HUD would rez a new object inside you that triggered a collision effect that would send another request box to teleport down the well (this was to get around the fact Temp Attach HUDS cant be granted permissions to teleport agent, not my rules!). This relied on you seeing and clicking two requests boxes. As easy as that may sound, new people found this difficult. In games you dont get pop up messages to request enter doors or to hit an enemy or to die, IT IS NOT INTUITIVE OF A GAME and wether we like it or not Second Life’s navigation and experience is closer to games than it is to browsing a web page. The Experience Permissions System would do away with needing to accept requests to attach the hud and teleport down the well, it would make the experience so much easier for all to get straight into. Something i hope i will be able to do next halloween in ‘T H E W E L L 2’.

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Loki’s head is full of ideas.

The impact the Experience Permissions System would have on my island is something thats driven me giddy, here are just a few ideas i have waiting in my head.

• Monsters can eat you – . By collision you could be eaten by flesh eating plants and animated to gruesome effect.

• NPC Combat – Goblins could fight back and combined with a HUD you could get damage and die being teleported to a respawn point. You could also regain health by eating Sushi.

• Instances – Things like walking on an unstable roof could cause an instance where you are animated falling through it discovering hidden rooms or accidentally activating evil machines.

• Group activated Instances – One avatar trips a wire which activates a trap that animates anyone within 3 metres to be collected in a big net.

• Cut Scenes – Trigger animations that also control your camera view for a more cinematic encounter as part of a story.

• a Map of the island that teleports with a click anywhere on the island or in store.

• Temp Attach Weapons and armour to help you through certain quests.

• Pathfinding NPC’s that can sneak up and tickle you or give wedgies.

• inventory HUD system – A Mesh object on the ground, but when touched becomes a temp Inventory HUD Icon that when clicked you can choose to drop (detach) and becomes a Mesh Item again on the ground

Making the experiencing of Second Life more fluid, intuitive and immersive via expanded and simplified interaction is why i believe the Experience Permission System will be the next big revolutionary feature of Second Life. We wont see the true benefits of Pathfinder, Teleport agent or Temp Attach until the Lab super charges them with the Experience Permissions System, hopefully we’ll hear something about it soon.

[UPDATE] – Some people have come to me with the belief that the Experience Permission System is a dead project. I for one stubbornly refuse to believe this and will badger the Lab until they say it is so.

2013 here we come! – Loki Predictions For Second Life

[UPDATED] The year 2011 was a year of change for Second Life, mass purge at the Lab, a shift in focus of what Second Life might be and a new CEO to lead it in that focus.

2012 was the first full year of that focus and it brought with it from my perspective two major areas where the Lab concentrated efforts.

One was improvement to overall performance and we had heard this before. This time was different though as the lab’s codenamed Shinning project laid down the foundations for whats to come in 2013. Avatar Skin Baking, Reworked Cache, interest listing and HTTP Libraries all part if LL’s attempt to better performance.

Second area was adding more tools for creating better interactive experiences. Originally touted as Games tools which emphasised Lindens Labs shift in where Second Life should be heading in a post M Linden regime. Pathfinder arrived along with Temp Attach Objects which i have found quite useful in some of my creations but feel these experience tools that where announced end of 2011 have yet to be fully released by the Lab and exploited by SL’s content creators before we see any major impacts in Second Life.

As we head into 2013 there are some thing’s I’m excited about and look forward to getting my hands on. In this Second Age of Second Life things are still in early stages and the best has still yet to come.

 

1. Second Life will finally get the ‘Experience Permissions System.

I bang on and on to my friends about this feature. Promised as part of the Experienced Creator Tools this system allows creators to create a KEY that requests permission to animate, teleport, or attach object to. You assign the key to an experience or game so once someone accepts the requests anything in that experience or game will have permissions to give you a gun, wand, eat you or zap you. This would stream line the process of interacting in Second Life to the point of revolutionising the SL Experience.

 

2. Mocap becomes affordable for all.

This isn’t really a feature coming to Second Life, rather a third party technology that could arrive and be adapted to use with SL. Mocap or ‘Motion Capture’ is a technology used to map and record a persons movements digitally giving smooth natural  animations. Currently good Mocap is only available to film productions or AAA game developers. That could change in 2013 as one company suggests it maybe about to release a Mocap solution for gamers and indie developers for low cost. This will certainly allow SL content creators to make very smooth detailed animations for avatars but might also lead the way eventually to Avatars that mimic your movement in real time. (I’m sure this has already been attempted with Knnect hack jobs)

 

3. Skeletal Animations.

At the moment to animate my goblins i must ether use a prim puppeteer or Alpha animate which turns one object invisible while making another object visible, kinda like stop-go motion. Neither of these gives a fluid smooth animation like you would see in games. With the introduction of Mesh we have had the ability to RIG the mesh with a skeleton which when worn moves with our avatars animations. It seems a simple enough idea then to allow us the ability to Rig an object and have it’s skeleton animate from a file placed inside. Well turns out Linden Lab might be considering this for the future, wether this will be in 2013 no one knows but the Lab. Skeletal animations combined with Pathfinding would mean Bad guys and NPC’s to rival gaming platforms.

 

4. Content Creators will have to help newbs and 3DsoftwareShy residents bridge the gap between building with prims and understanding mesh.

It’s like the learning curve has huge potholes in it. The Lab can’t be expected to teach everyone how to 3D Model. Currently you can learn to make efficient Prim objects and in that sense SL is no more different to Patterns. But once you have become experienced in Prims, you have to throw all that experience away if you want to make more professional complex mesh objects. There are tools already out there that kinda bridge that gap like Mesh Studio and i would imagine that more tutorials and tools from content creators will appear to help SL Users bridge the divide between creating Prim objects and Mesh Objects.

 

5. Linden Lab will release an SL iOs app.

I said last year LL would bring out an app but did not specify it being SL related. I’m kinda hoping LL brings out a native iOS app that allows me to get notifications in the notification centre and check my SL feed and browse marketplace. It felt like this is what LL where moving towards when shifting profiles and messaging to be web based and adding direct delivery that does not need you to be logged in to collect purchases. Perhaps with Avatar Baking shifted to server side instead of Viewer side having your avatar displayed in a mobile device might be more possible?

 

6. Groups will be overhauled.

Another HOPE. Groups are important to SL’s community and currently only offer the ability to chat and send notifications (that mostly get lost). My hope is that Groups will be tied in with SLprofile Feeds with options for people to post on a dedicated Groups profile, tagging snapshots and posts to a group making groups much more useful. A bit like that Avatars United web service, i wonder where that went?

 

7. There will be a 64bit viewer and macs will get similar performance to Windows users.

In the last 3 years i’ve had the best of the best with regards to mac hardware and SL performance while good enough to do some awesome things, never seemed capable of displaying whats considered the top end of graphical detail in SL.  In the end all the viewer does is render and project. We build a model and import to Second Life and its up to the viewer to cast the object in light and shadows. No matter what Mac i get, the viewer always seems to break its back when trying to display shadows and light on it. The Graphics Card is powerful enough, MacOS is robust enough…. but the viewer… well it’s a bit old.

That might change in 2013 as Linden Lab finally make the switch from Carbon to Cocoa framework. You see Carbon is an old form of development on a mac which has since been replaced by Cocoa a much more efficient way of doing things. Think of it as switching from Sculpty Prims to Mesh. Because the Mac Viewer is developed with Carbon it can’t have things like support for 64bit or OPenGL higher than 2.1…. bummer… Now that the Lab has started changing the mac viewer to Cocoa the possibility of support for OpenGL 3.2 as well as finally becoming a 64bit app is higher. Wether that would bring a welcomed noticeable difference to the rendering of higher settings on a mac… only the nerds can say :-p

 

8. [UPDATE] Content creators will battle each other to create Avatar 2.0

I thought of this during a discussion on my SLfeed. The Mesh Deformer thats being created to make clothing fit avatars better also could lead to the creation of Mesh Avatars that will deform to every slider the current Avatar 1.0 model does. This means we will be able to make Avatars that replace the current avatar mesh and wear clothes that fit and stretch with them.

 

9. and finally …. Second Life will be released on STEAM.

And it will confuse EVERYONE. Lots of new articles will appear discussing their surprise Second Life still exists while showing 2006 snapshots of avatars in jacuzzis and flying prim cocks. Linden Lab will have no marketing campaign to suggest otherwise.

 

What ever happens, i have plenty i want to do and lots of friends to share it with. And as long as LL dont hike the price of tier, all should be fun and games in 2013.

The First year of the NEW Second Life – what i got right and wrong

photolistSo much has happened in SL this year and i’ve been working harder than ever before.

Second Life is not a game for me, i work myself into stress levels rivalling those i had when working for a failing advert agency. But i love it, every moment of it. Im my own boss making what i want for a community that gets excited by every new thing i do and part of that is down to what Linden Lab has created. I thrive on this platform.

Last year i looked back seeing a stagnant Second Life and looked forward to 2012 with optimism. 2012 would be the first full year of what i see as the NEW SECOND LIFE under the leadership of Rodvik and the slim lined Lab. I wrote down a big list of goals that included learning to script better, learning to use blender better, replacing Sculpts with Mesh, creating stories and HUDs and mini games for when the Experience Tools Arrived. Well, most of that list was ticked off by half way through the year, the other half sits waiting for the ‘Experience Permission System’ to be released so i can make mini games and tell stories the way i want to in Second Life. Ive become obsessed with this new permission system (i’ll explain about it in another post). But this did not mean i stopped, i always found something else to do in the mean time because SL is like a huge 3D sketchbook for me.

 

So these are not predictions for next year, but rather a look at what i predicted or wished for this time last year.

1. Content creators will create the biggest and strongest change.

I said something about it being up to the content creators to grasp the new tools LL gave us and create amazing new experiences and stuff. Did this happen….. well, i’d like to say yes, but my gut feeling is that it was no. Perhaps the gap between simple PRIM content creation and the rather complicated MESH is too large for people to adopt and learn. What does not help is the divide that beginning to grow between those who know Mesh is an efficient way to create really great detailed content and those who believe it costs more land impact and lacks features they enjoy when using Sculpty Hacks. Sometimes it feels akin to Climate change denial.

 

2. Market place will become even easier and more efficient.

The new magic-boxless Marketplace allowing anyone to sell their creations on marketplace directly from their inventory. This will hopefully remove dramas…… yeh ok well, for me at least the new delivery system has made things a lot easier but there was a shed load of drama that came with it causing the Commerce team to be seen as… well lets just say i doubt any Linden will admit to being part of the Commerce Team. In the long term though, for those who continue to run a business in SL, Direct Delivery has made a HUGE difference in selling content.

 

3. More land will be used to host games and experiences to subsidise tier costs.

More and more people are realising this i think. I see many places popping up on Destination guide and they are small homesteads that are simply adding some nice things for visitors see and explore then adding items to buy or simply leaving a tip box. To be honest this prediction was made with the understanding that Experience tools would be released wight he ‘Experience Permissions System’ .

 

4. SL feed integrated into other SL features.

I said that LL would expand the SLfeed to include sharing other things across the grid such as Marketplace listings, destination guide listings. Truth is in 2012 Linden Lab pretty much did not touch the SLfeed. Did not even promote the feature. All my friends are on SL feed, probably because i bullied them to use it. It has been one of the most important features in my Second Life and I’m baffled to why its not been expanded to as a tool to bring SL users new and old together in conversation and sharing.

 

5. LL will create a mobile project that allows us to share creative aspects with the mobile world.

i said ‘What i hope is that what ever Rodvik and his team unveil in 2012 it will thrive on the freedom of creativity the current SL users spill out.’ Well i kinda got it right if i spin int :-p. LL released Patterns and creator verse and have some others planned. All of which have nothing to do with the SL platform but do thrive on freedom to create. A few alarmist suggest LL will now be distracted from improving Second Life to which i say poppy-crap!

 

6. Linden lab will fix notifications.

it was a HOPE more than a prediction, and by the end of the year LL released CHUI test viewer which hinted at taking a look at the notifications system later down the road. The notification system bugs the hell out of me. Notifications in SL are important only because there is no alternative to getting information from groups. I could write a whole post just about groups and notifications and the crappy way we are kept informed. i think the summery of the problem is there is no synergy between the various features that produce and receive notification. Well anyways notifications still get dumped in the little crap box of doom.

 

7. Destination guide will have to evolve into something more universal and dynamic.

LL didn’t change anything about Destination Guide from what i could tell.

 

8. Old users will loose out to those who take hold of new features and brave the lag of progress.

see No.1

 

Looking back at 2012 is fun. I built new games and new experiences, Built the SL9B Linden Lab, taught some of my friends how to make mesh, Reabuilt half my island and added some fun new characters, i scared peoples real life dogs with the Well and i rebuilt the Imperial Theatre into something that before this year would have been utterly impossible.

What the frak is currently going on at the Lab & Second Life

It’s almost time to start reflecting on the past year with predictions of whats to come next year. And while Daniel Voyager has his out nice and early, Im not ready to publish my predictions just yet.

instead I’m looking at what the frak is currently going on at the Lab and Second Life. While most of us in SL are just going on with our usual virtual mischief roleplaying, holding events, building stuff and blogging gossip, Linden Lab more quieter than ever grind on with updating and improving the platform.

Unless you read the right blogs though you would be fooled into thinking Linden Lab do nothing at all, that they spend all their time building patterns and mucking about on iPad shared creative concepts. Occasionally we get at least once a month a blog post but the fact is LL it seems is quite shy.

Perhaps they are just fed up of the negative feed back which always outweighs the positives and this has lead to us having to dig real deep to find out what LL are doing. If you are truly interested in whats going on and want to give constructive feedback there are User Groups. I just read the some times daily write ups from Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah who go out of their way to report on the many User Group Meetings.

The Jira is also another way to find out whats going on. Once simply a place to rant about things that go wrong, it has become a more moderated constructive tool in helping the Lab track issues and ideas and bugs. Recently the Lab locked down the Jira in what seemed to me an attempt to curb the amount of spammy trolling hate. Now they are slowly opening up the Jira again to those proven to be constructive.

So what has Linden Lab been up to for us this year? this was a question a friend of mine asked while i was complaining about Creator Tools not being fully released after a year. So i laughed and said.

Advanced Creator Tools
Pathfinding
Mesh Deformer
CHUI (Communications Hub User Interface
Expanding to STEAM
• Interest Listing & Cache improvements (part of Shining Project)
• Server side Skin Baking (part of Shining Project)
• Moving to HTTP Library (part of Shining Project)
Direct Delivery & Merchant outbox
SL Materials mapping
• Expanded Large Group Functions
• Fixes and improvements to current features such as Mesh, the SL feed

Ok so perhaps LL have been rather busy after all, and these are only the projects i know about. There was trouble wit grid around September, i think when schedules clashed with major bugs and everything waiting to be added got pushed back while the troubles are resolved.

When looking at the list of projects and get an idea of the scope of stuff thats been and being done i understand that some projects get put on the back burner and even further back when things start to go wrong. Perhaps my creator tools are an unfortunate casualty of this, i just need to find the right pathway to communicate with the lab and find out so i can share with the rest of you 🙂

Starting again – The Imperial Theatre

It’s been around for ages, a run down old theatre made with prims and a sprinkle of sculpts. Steeped in historical role-play stories and the stage for many murder mysteries it has in recent years been left to crumble. If it was a real world building it would by now have been listed as a place of historical significance.

So now im finally turning the attention of my new found mesh skills to rebuilding the old theatre and going back to my original ideas to see if time has allowed me to build stuff i could not back in 2006.

With the benefits of Mesh i maybe able to save on Land impact, currently the theatre is about 95 Li but that does not include the beds in the attic. Making savings on bunk beds will have to be done after the new theatre is built and of course the amount of extra ‘STUFF’ i can put on the plot depends on how much land impact is used at the end of the day.

Overall efficiency for the region is a certainty, by Mesh’s very nature it should relieve Babbage Square of some display cost load. Currently the Theatre has a whopping 65540 Display cost, 70 Download cost and 81 server cost. It will be interesting to see whats calculated for the new mesh theatre.

using ‘more info’ in build window is useful for viewing the DNA of an object

Which this project im interested in using better UV mapping techniques where by you can edit the UV mapping in such a way that you can use the same area of a texture to display in different parts of the Mesh thus recycling parts of a texture for grater detail.

Something i am having to think about though is how much physical detail to use on the building. I’m aware that there is a project underway to add materials lighting  effects to Second Life. What this would mean is i could create a flat surface on a wall saving display cost on the amount of detail used to display the mesh detail. I then use materials lighting feature to give the impression of fine detail using types of texture called Normal and Specular Maps. So i am considering building with this new feature addition in mind, but the way things seem to work, i’ll probably be only just adding Specular maps to the theatre december 2013.

So here we go, first things first, getting measurements … never used to do this, but since working in blender you can’t build to fit in SL by eye site i have to take measurements to reproduce in blender. How times have changed.