SL SOFTWARE CHANGES
We have recently updated some of our software particularly for line dances since we saw changes in the new SL browsers - or server systems. We of course have no way of knowing which portion of SL is acting differently only that something has changed. Before we get into that ... we should give some clarifiers.
First of all regardless of SL issues we talk about, we are quite amazed at how SL works. Trying to make a 3D world that comes as close as it does to reality is very complex. And we believe that the Lindens do a fine job. And in addition some things it seems will always be an approximation. For example animations themselves are an approximation. Animations are designed for an average size avatar - which of course does not exist. Since avatars come in different sizes, the arms and hands do not always meet and the distances may be off a bit. Yes it will be an approximation. Next SL is open and clear that they do not save all of the animation information that the designers provide - but use only the amount of the animation that they think is needed. So some animations just do not run smooth, and some part of that might be that some of the information is purposely thrown away by what the designer submits by SL in order to save memory space. While I am sure SL tries to not get in the way, I have seen some things that seem jumpier than they should, and also one animation where the feet swayed back and forth even when the animation design did not. The oddest I saw was an animation we made to spin an avatar - and it went in the wrong direction when uploaded. So, yes, some information is going to be thrown away making animations almost always just an approximation.
Adding to the issues above is start up time on animations. We admit that we do not know how often this happens, but it is almost always there the first time a server runs an animation. The animation may stop and start. The animation might not complete itself. And of course whenever SL is confused by what to do with an animation it causes an avatar to sit - even if there are no commands in the software we supply that says to sit. And we have seen this issue not only with our stuff, but also with software done by a number of others. So this is an SL issue and not a supplier issue. Much of this startup stuff does seem to go away the second time the animation is run. However, we admit we do not know if it repeats the next day at startup or with a new person. We have not gone through the possibilities to figure out where this glitch is. But it is there. Also lag time on a sim can be an issue. If these is lag then SL will not do the timing that is designed into the script but it may be later, or perhaps not at all. Lag can be a big problem if too much is running. On the other hand, we have found that if we test something in a quiet part of a sim, it might in fact run so well as to fool us that it might not have issues in more lag. So over time, we are trying things in higher lag areas.
THE NEW PROBLEMS SEEN
We have seen problems recently with new SL software with more issues with rotation, with animations being affected by lag, and sometimes pose balls unexpectedly disappearing. Now we admit that some of these items have had issues before. We have seen issues with SL rotation - but mostly in sim crashes. If a sim crashes, something that used to rotate may not be rotating any more. We have seen that one for years. But recently we have found that almost anything that interferes with an objects rotation, even just examining it or joining a dance, can cause it to stall. So we have tried to add software to our circle dances to at least look for this say every 10 seconds, and if stalled, to restart again. We also have seen pose balls staying invisible. We are going to be honest here - we do not know why. We of course test our products and even try to see what happens when avatars do not leave properly by standing or clicking a dance ball or whatever the right way is. Some avatars can teleport out for example while still dancing. Nothing is stopping that. Or they can quit SL for a while while still dancing. During our tests, our pose / animation balls seem to always see that and correct for it by becoming visible again. So how do dance balls or pose balls become invisible? We do not know since we cannot duplicate it. We suspect it is due to some minor sim crash or the sim software has lag and does not notice the avatar leaving and read the script right. So we have added some software script to look for that also. Some of our dance scripts now check to see if the balls should be visible or not every 30 seconds or less. Some of our line dances will correct now if a person uses one of the visible ones to dance with while yet another one is invisible. In that case, all dance balls are checked when one enters or leaves and should correct.
Please note that these changes have been done already to many of our items, but we are not sure if it has been done for all.
The other issue is actions during large lag. As we say, if SL becomes confused on an animation, it normally has the avatar sit whether or not the designer has a sit command in their software or animation or not. We have seen more negative happenings in animation. Therefore on a number of our dances, we have changed that as well to try and give SL no chance to have the avatar sit down. But lol, yet it still does - but hopefully at fewer times. There of course if nothing else are still the startup issues where the first time SL runs an animation it seems to only play part of it and has the avatar sit for the rest of it.
To an extent, animations will always be an approximation. Also, it should not be surprising to any of us that over time the SL operating system may change just as the Microsoft Windows operating system changes as do other software places. However, at this time we have been doing script a long time in SL, and we also do software in real life as well. As such, we know a lot of what can be done and we ourselves can continue to try and make our items more fool proof, as much as we can, as SL continues to change.
- Hunter Bronet
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