Second Life: Next Generation Platform Update-VI 2015

I started this series with:

This seventh article in the series is about what I gleaned about the types of users the Lindens see using their new product from the speech at VWBRE 2015 that touched on the coming Next Generation Platform (NGP).

the wale

the wale – Immersiva by Bryn Oh – “Imogen and the pigeons” – opens January 13th by WuWai Chun (Somewhere in Second Life), on Flickr

Changes in Content

From Ebbe Altberg’s, Linden Lab CEO, statements we can see that how content is made for NGP is going to be similar to Second Life’s. It’s not clear to me but this may be a hint that we will also have prims in NGP. Voxels are mentioned. So, the basic ‘prim’ for NGP, if we have prims, is likely to be different from prims we have in Second Life. I mean we may have a cube. But, how the cube works or is technically represented is probably going to be different.

I think NGP prims, whether voxel-based or something else, are going to be what the novice user in NGP needs to get started building. So, I think prims are almost a requirement. But, the Lindens may surprise us. Cloud Party has some pretty interesting ways of building what I’ll call mesh primitives. The Lab may come up with something easy and fun. May be we’ll see prims that hook together like they did in Patterns.

It is definitely clear that we will be using a verity 3D modeling tools and importing mesh creations into NGP. I expect the differences between NGP and SL to be in the attributes of the mesh we import. Otherwise, mesh is mesh.

We are already seeing mesh in SL change. An RC Viewer is coming that will allow us to have more faces on mesh items. The current limit is 8. That is not enough for something like the Slink body that has dozens of areas they need to be made transparent. As SL is now Slink must resort to some work-around to accomplish their task. Those work-around methods usually make the viewer work harder to render the mesh body avatars. So, I expect NGP to be a bit more efficient in this area.

I suspect this change will be reflected in NGP. But, did it originate in SL or in the design of NGP? We can’t know unless someone at the Lab tells us.

Ebbe also talked about the avatar skeleton they will be using in NGP. That skeleton is going to be much more complex than the skeleton we have in Second Life. That’s a good thing.

While not as clear in what he said, I think he was also suggesting that there may be a way to improve the skeleton in Second Life too. So, is this one of the big projects Oz and Simon Linden have hinted about? We don’t know. But, it is one of the things SL creative types have been asking for and that change would touch many aspects of SL and most of its users, a prime criteria for projects in SL.

I am guessing that skeletons in NGP will be more like they were in Cloud Party. That would suggest that we’re also going to have many more animation options. If you animate objects in Blender, you know that there are numerous animation features that do not import into Second Life. Since Ebbe is designing NGP for content creators and plans to provide better support for professional tools, I think we can anticipate having more of the animation features that we see in the 3D modeling tools.

No one has given any hint of how sound will be handled in NGP. What would make it better?

The only thing I know of is the often requested feature to pre-load sounds before they have to be played. May be letter sound linking, longer clips, possible links to external sounds…

Gestures, will we still have them? I expect we will have some way to animate the avatar on demand, like wave a hand, flip a bird, draw a weapon…

I think there is a good chance we will be able to use shape morphs. They are used in SL to make the avatar smile, frown, etc. It is a way to warp the mesh without using bones and animations. But, in SL we can only activate the built in morphs. In NGP we may be able to build out own and control them. But, that is speculation.

Summary

NGP is a 3D virtual world. These worlds are not radically changing. They are more polished, efficient, faster rendering, better detailed… But, they are all mesh objects, texture images, and scripted things. What can change?

HyFy is going for big changes. But, much of their change is in developing different ways to do things similar to other VW’s but faster and cheaper.

Will Voxels make a big difference? Until we see some voxel modeling tools that can build things as nice as Blender built things, I doubt we can tell. When I look at voxel editors the results look like Minecraft. That won’t fly for NGP.

While I think we have more certainties as to what content we will have, we still don’t have definitive answers to most questions about NPG content.

4 thoughts on “Second Life: Next Generation Platform Update-VI 2015

  1. I’ve been following these series you made about the ‘new’ Sl with great interest! It’s great that you made everything that has been said about it, understandable!
    Thank you very much!

  2. No one has given any hint of how sound will be handled in NGP. What would make it better?

    The only thing I know of is the often requested feature to pre-load sounds before they have to be played. May be letter sound linking, longer clips, possible links to external sounds…

    And pitch please!

    Some time ago i got from your blog (i think) that it was being studied to be added on SL. I guess that either it fell down the priorities or is being developed at turtle pace.

    It would let us make nice features, like more realistic engine sounds, among other things.

    • Pitch control would allow some interesting illusions.

      Features go on a list. Every so often they redo the priorities of each item on the list. A number of factors influence what item gets what priority. As time passes and problems are encountered, causing some projects to stop, or problems are solved allowing some high priority project waiting on it to take precedence. Its sort of a… just because they start work it does not mean they will follow through and finish.

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