Monday, August 14, 2017

Sansar award

Lady Carmagnolle with Virginia and Fern in the background
I am pleased to have won the award in Best Visual Design for my artwork in Linden Labs new virtual space called Sansar .
The artwork that won is entitled "A night at the Ballet" which essentially is every character from all my various stories put together into one room where they are watching a ballet.  Upon the stage is the dancer while off to the side are the other ballet performers who are captivated by something on the screen of a cell phone rather than that which surrounds them.  For me it was
Left is 26 tines, Rabbicorn, The Daughter of gears, Milkdrop and Lady Carmagnolle
enjoyable to imagine the various characters I have created then to juxtapose them against one another to see how each personality might conflict or compliment one another.   For example, how might Anna from Anna's many murders react to meeting Mr Zippers from the Singularity of Kumiko, or lonely Fern from Lobby Cam meeting Virginia and all her life history
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After I take down Hand, which should be in a few weeks, then I will explore single recreations of some of my characters such as from 26 tines and Lady Carmagnolle. 
left: Willow, Juniper, Flutter and Birdy

     Sansar currently is a bit laggy and takes time to load, so this creation was built around making the work accessible.  The areas are shrouded in darkness and in most cases your computer only has to render objects in the light, as I don't place any objects in the darkness.  An object in the darkness, even if you can't see it, still needs to be rendered.  I have
Left: The Dancer and the cell phone dancers
also given no physical shape to all the objects, meaning you can walk through them as though they are ghosts.  When you give an object a physical shape processing power is used to calculate how that object should react to other things in the scene, such as avatars or another physical object... setting them phantom means physics do not need to be calculated.  Another important thing is keeping texture size fairly low. One of the current trends in Second Life is people assembling sims out of gacha items.  Gacha items are usually quite lovely and make for nice additions to a sim.. however most creators of these items want them to look their best naturally, because they wish to sell them, so they are often 1024 texture size.  Textures usually are saved at sizes from 256, 512 and 1024, though you can also have models set lower.  So imagine if you had four objects at 256 they would add up to one object at 1024 etc.  Think of it as details.. you computer has to compute and render each texture, so if you have a region with ten objects all at 1024 texture size it would add up to 10,240.  Ten objects at 256 is 2560.  That is quite the rendering savings if done at 256.. so now imagine a sim full of thousands of objects all 1024... terrible lag.  It is when you combine a bunch of things such as textures with inefficient models and too much or inefficient scripts that it adds up to lag.  So a well planned sim might be assembled where essentially the focal points of a room or region are 1024 (though they probably could be 512).. like a letter on a table with a few objects around it.. that is important for the narrative and should be clear because people will inspect the scene to a greater degree than perhaps another area in the narrative. While objects that are barely noticed .. like, for example, a ceiling fan they could be 256 or 512.   Especially if it is spinning and you don't have time to see its texture well.  So essential elements can be high resolution texture with fringe elements being low res as opposed to every object high resolution in a scene.  To check the textures on your land simply go to (on firestorm) developer tab at top right.. (if you don't have that tab showing just press ctrl alt and Q and it will appear)   Developer - render metadata - texture size.  This will show you the texture size of everything around you.  If you see a white napkin with just a hint of a texture and it is 1024, then take it and burn that bugger in a fire.  Throw it away!  An object with 512 instead of 1024 in most cases looks almost identical to one with 1024 in SL.  When it goes down to 256 it can be a bit blurry in some cases so you decide what is important.. but for a napkin? well for the sake of lag it is better to use 256. 
Left: Gretchen, Teddy, Elliot Amber, Rabbicorn, The Daughter
Anyway, I got on a rant there.  So I have read a fair amount of reviews for Sansar lately and most are fairly negative, which is a bit perplexing to me.  Granted Sansar has a long way to go, there are plenty of improvements needed.  But to me, slagging it now is kind of like hearing a child sing while playing and saying "God that is not as good as the Rolling Stones.. they should stop singing!" or making a cake and putting the flour in a bowl only to have someone beside you say.. "That is just flour in a bowl!  That is the worst
chocolate cake ever!".  Hey I am not f-ing done you pantload!  Sansar is beta.  It opened a week ago.  What you see today will not be the same Sansar in a year (if it lasts), exactly how SL was when it opened and then as it grew.  Do you know it used to cost money for each TP in Second Life when it opened?   A lot of it is testing what works right now and they are constantly collecting feedback as to what people would like added or improved.  Hey WTF! this old image of early Second life shows a continent named.... Sansara?!  I am not sure how old this picture is but it is before islands I think.  Probably 2003.
Old second life



















The way I currently see Sansar in relation to Second Life is more of a fancy spot to visit.  So imagine hanging out with friends at a home in SL and saying "Oh hey lets go over to see that experience in Sansar"  maybe it is an interactive movie or whatever... and then after going to Sansar and having some fun you return home to SL to chat about it.   You live in SL and go out to dinner or a movie in Sansar.  The problem with Sansar, for me, is that I don't know how to script in C#.  I also don't know any programmers who do.  So my current works look nice... but are static and not interactive.  What Sansar should work on next is to have some kind of scripting database where you can take scripts you need to use.  Such as opening doors or whatever... and the directions to use these scripts have to be explained simply.  Essentially you should be able to drag a script into an object and then edit variables in the script.  Sansar needs plenty of things, I know.  Avatar customization is pretty important ... an avatar is often an extension of the person using it.. so they must be able to create an identity and look that they cherish.  Right now the avatars are very basic and everyone looks the same.  But I have faith that all these things will come over time, and because they don't exist perfectly now does not, to me, mean that Linden Labs are "idiots" as some suggest, but rather that they are at the beginning of a process. 

To visit "An evening at the Ballet" in Sansar click this
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