Technical Notes

To those of us who have been watching the Second Life blogosphere, the existence of the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), which replaces Windlight, has been well-known for quite a while. After all, it’s been well-documented and extensively written about, and quite a few tutorials exist for it. Furthermore, after Firestorm’s 6.4.13.63251 release (regardless of people’s personal preference, Firestorm is the most popular third-party viewer for SL), practically every SL user now has the user interface to use EEP.

I won’t mince my words: I never liked the way the Sun looked in any of the existing windlights. Historically, the Sun in SL skies has always looked like a hexagon – blurry or relatively sharp. This made shooting sunsets or sunrises in SL a rather unappealing endeavour. Thankfully, EEP has allowed us to use our own textures for the Sun or the Moon. So, not only do we get to have a decent-looking sun in the sky, but also use a custom texture for a unique effect. As far as the Moon is concerned, we can depict a different moon phase simply by using a different texture. Also, EEP gives us the chance to set the duration of the day cycle. In these regards, EEP is considerably more powerful than Windlight’s implementation has been. However, there’s still room for improvement.

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Lumiya Logo

Having reclaimed my fetishes has also encouraged and enabled me to resume my use of RLV restrictions in Second Life. Now, it’s no secret that my main SL viewer on the desktop is Firestorm; however, there are occasions when I simply want to sneak into SL for a bit while I’m on the go. On those occasions, I use my two-years-old Android smartphone and Alina Lyvette’s Lumiya viewer (version 3.4.2, which seems to be the most recent one – please note that the website is now completely empty, save for its banner). Or at least I used to, until this week.

Before anyone says anything, I must point out I’m very much aware of Lumiya’s troubled recent history. Development seems to have stopped altogether way back in 2017, so what new developments it incorporates and implements, and to what extent, is a question that needs answering; in 3D view, animations never worked, and mesh bodies never looked right at all; to top it all off, it was removed from both LL’s Third Party Viewer Directory and Google’s Play Store. I continued to use it, though, because it closely followed my desktop viewer’s inventory folder structure, it was relatively convenient for keeping up with IMs, and SL profiles work pretty much like they do on the desktop. Now, though, I’ve noticed some particularly strange behaviour.

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Ever since Second Life opened its virtual doors way back in 2003, it’s been saddled with one of the many bad decisions that were made by Linden Lab back then: the camera offsets, on which I’ve written quite a few times in the past. I’m certainly not the first SL blogger to write about it: many others came before me, and the first one to do so was Penny Patton, way back in 2011 with her seminal posts “A Matter of Scale” and “A Matter of Perspective” (archived, as some image links are now dead) and the JIRA she had filed. The default camera offsets greatly affect the way we see our virtual environment, the way we move inside it, the way we perceive the space that’s available to us, and the way we build, scale, and shape things – from our avatar shapes to our furniture and builds.

Before I go any further, allow me to demonstrate the default settings and how they affect the way we experience our in-world surroundings:

A view of an outdoors scene with the default camera offsets.
A view of an outdoors scene with the default camera offsets. While it doesn’t obscure your field of view, it feels distant and has serious disadvantages once you go indoors.
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The topic of Second Life’s default camera offset is an old one. The first SL blogger / user who brought it to people’s attention was Penny Patton, with her seminal post “A Matter of Perspective” from as far back as 2011. Ever since then, various other bloggers have written about it, basing their work on her own, hoping to get people to understand how and why the way the way we see the virtual world through the placement and behaviour of our camera affects the way we experience and use it. As a matter of fact, it even has a major impact on the very usefulness of the platform itself. I had written about the issue four years ago, and I have been pestering Oz Linden himself about it in various Open Development User Group meetings, but to no avail; he acknowledges the issue, but he cites the risk of potential complaints about “content breakage” as the main deterrent.

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The updated Bentley, by Luna Fatale. I had the pleasure of contributing to its improvement. Click on any image to go to its full-size version. Links always open in new tabs.

The updated Bentley, by Luna Fatale. I had the pleasure of contributing to its improvement. Click on any image to go to its full-size version. Links always open in new tabs.

I’d stated before that I don’t drive in Second Life, and I usually don’t even incorporate cars as props in my builds and photoshoots. There are many reasons why I typically avoid them like the plague, and I’ll get – once again – into some detail below.

For starters, the vast majority of cars in SL handle like a drunken pig on ice skates. They steer in a completely unrealistic, twitchy and vague manner, not least because of the lack of integration with simulator-style controllers, such as steering wheels or analogue joysticks, that would make in-world cars steer progressively and with the precision and fluidity we’ve come to expect from a real-world vehicle. Also, in-world vehicles are – and will continue to be – plagued by the vagaries of region crossings, which can cause all sorts of trouble, from camera issues to the vehicle continuing its course without its occupants, or even crashes. These issues take much of the enjoyment of going for a ride on an automobile, a motorcycle, a boat, an aeroplane out of the experience. Read Full Article