November 26, 2013

Weird transparency / alpha bug in Second Life

Second Life citizen, Tempus Heart, read an article on my blog that I wrote a long time ago about alpha channels, alpha sorting and transparency. He was experiencing odd behavior with some of his own creations where the alpha channel, instead of rendering at some % transparency, would go completely black. So, thinking I was an expert on the subject (big mistake LOL), he contacted me in-world.

After finally understanding what he was talking about and doing some of my own tests, I've confirmed that there's some sort of bug present in Second Life's rendering that's causing textures with very light transparency (say 10%) to lose that transparency and go completely black. But ONLY in the presence of 100% transparent pixels! Talk about esoteric.

To illustrate the problem, I put three boxes with different transparency texture samples in front of plywood cylinders with a dark blue solid background behind the whole mess. The textures on the prims were done in Photoshop as solid black layer shapes with each "band" having its own layer opacity setting and saved as PNG files. (Click on the image to see full size.)

The top box illustrates the problem. There are three bands in the box. From left to right they should be 100% black, 0% black (100% transparent) and 90% black (10% transparent). As you can see, the 90% band has gone completely black.

Now if we take away the 0% black (100% transparent)  band (2nd box), the 90% black band renders correctly.

Just for reference, I've added a stepped box at the bottom with bands ranging from 0% black to 100% black showing that with multiple transparencies, the box renders correctly.

Weird huh? Anyone have any clues as to what's going on? Tempus has tried various viewer settings (Firestorm) and lighting combos to no avail. It seems to be a server-side baking issue. I'm seeing the same behavior on Cool VL Viewer.

Reported as a JIRA bug here:

November 4, 2013

Sentiments still hot against Linden Lab changes to SL TOS

In spite of Peter Linden's recent letter trying to spin away the recent changes to the Second Life Terms of Service, negative sentiment of creators remains high with no signs of letting up.

Some threads of interest:

First, two from Tateru Nino's Dwell On It blog. In both, she tries to explain why the TOS changes aren't that bad and why they make sense from a legal perspective. IMO, she kinda misses the point which is that the whole thing was one big "eff you" to the paying customers of Second Life. Read through the comments that follow to pick up the general tone.

I don't think Tateru expected the firestorm response she got. I think Desmond Shang's response is very telling and probably accurately represents the feelings of many creators in SL:

Then there are these thread on Wagner James Au's blog:

Like Tateru's threads, you need to read the comments to get the tone.

Further complicating the whole situation is what the heck Linden Lab is going to do with Desura. Many content creators are concerned that their items will suddenly get ported to Desura without their permission, intent or support. Thus, some of the preemptive strikes by removing existing content before whatever happens, happens.

November 2, 2013

New Country Music Club Opening in Second Life

A good friend of mine, Kernian Segal, is opening a Country-Western club in Second Life. He swore they'd never do it again but, uh, they are doing it again.

Canyon Country's grand opening  is scheduled for November 3 starting at 2pm SLT with live blues and live country acts. Kernian tells me the club IS the sim and vice versa. There are no shops, malls or other junk to get in the way. I love the open air get down and party look!

Canyon Country

So check it out! Here's the SLURL: Canyon Country at Dead Rose Dark

See y'all there!