Pursuing the Holy Grail of Second Life in Virtual Reality: A New Solution Using Firestorm and SteamVR

holygrail
Obligatory image from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I first heard the news from Wagner James Au of the long-running Second Life blog New World Notes: someone has come up with a new way to navigate SL in a VR headset!

OK this is pretty amazing: Someone named Peter Kappler quietly created code to run Second Life in VR via Firestorm and Steam VR, and then posted the source code online. “It’s not a fully working Firestorm,” he allows on his YouTube, “there is still a lot to do. The file I posted is a source file in C++ for coders that wish to maybe work on a VR version for Second Life.”

There have been at least two other attempts to create a VR port for Second Life, but performance has not been impressive — Linden Lab had an experimental client of its own, but discontinued supporting it due to lack of decent frame rate. The demo video…suggests Kappler has come up with a fairly decent port; better yet, by open sourcing his code, he’s encouraging other developers to improve it further.

Here’s the eight-minute demo video Wagner refers to (there’s no sound):

Now, there is no guarantee that this open-source solution (which relies on SteamVR and the Firestorm viewer code) will be able to attain the high framerates required to avoid VR sickness. But it does look somewhat promising!

Second Life was never intended for VR; the platform is simply too dated to support it. Any solution will be a kludge at best. But I do find it interesting that people keep pursuing the Holy Grail of SL in VR, anyways. I wouldn’t mind trying this out myself, just to see how well it works.

Thank you for the heads-up, Wagner!

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Altamura Clodet Full-Body Female Mesh Avatar

As you might have noticed, I am taking a bit of break over the holidays from blogging, but I did want to mention yet another free full-body female mesh avatar from Altamura, called Clodet. You can pick up Clodet at three vendors located behind the Christmas tree at the Altamura store (just pay the vendor L$1 and it will be refunded):

Clodet 3 28 Dec 2018.jpg

As with past freebies from Altamura, you cannot remove the head on this one, but with such a beautiful head, you might not mind so much! To my knowledge, Clodet is the first of the free mesh bodies from Altamura to have a blonde hairbase (which you can remove).

Clodet 1 28 Dec 2018.jpg

Clodet 2 28 Dec 2018

Here’s an overall look at the avatar:

Clodet 6 28 Dec 2018.jpg

Clodet 5 28 Dec 2018.jpg

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head and Body: Altamura Clodet full-body mesh avatar (free)

Hair: Green Tea by Navy and Copper (free group gift; group is free to join)

Dress: Guapa holiday minidress by Altamura (free 12 Days of Christmas gift #3 under the Christmas tree at Altamura; the Altamura group costs L$25 to join during the holidays, 50% off the regular price of L$50)

Shoes: Jai pumps by Rowne (free gift at the Shop & Hop Christmas Mall; also a free group gift at the Rowne mainstore, along with many others; the Rowne group is free to join)

Body AO: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace)

Hands AO: included with the Altamura Clodet body

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: L$25 (the group join fee for Altamura)

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Altamura Akakor Male Bento Mesh Head and Delphinus Male Skin Applier

As promised, Altamura has given a free group gift of a fully-adjustable, Omega-compatible Bento mesh head for male avatars, called Akakor, which appears to be named after the mythological Amazonian ancient underground city. (See what you can learn from Second Life?)

It’s the 12th gift of their 12 Days of Christmas gifts, located under their Christmas tree to the left of the main entrance of the Altamura store (it’s crazy busy right now and will be throughout the holidays, so you might have some lag issues). Here’s a SLURL to guide you.

You do have to join the Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group to pick up all the Advent gifts (the group join fee is L$25 during the Advent/Christmas season; usually, the fee to join is L$50). It’s worth it to join the group and stay subscribed, since Altamura often offers special deals to group members throughout the year. For example, Altamura offered Valentina, a fully-featured, fully-adjustable, Bento mesh avatar head and body package for women, for only L$300 during the 2018 Skin Fair!

Here is what the default head looks like, out of the box, with the with the included eyebrows shape, body shape, and head/body alpha:

Altamura Akakor Mesh Head 23 Dec 2018

This is a really great-looking male head!

Note that this head only comes with one HUD, for animating the eyes and mouth. There are no other included HUDs for different skintones. However, it is Omega-compatible, which means you can use any Omega skin and makeup appliers on it. You will have to buy and install the Omega System Kit for Altamura. A message recently posted to the Altamura group included a notecard (which you should get a copy of, for future reference), and it states:

Go to the Omega mainstore and buy the Omega System Kit for Altamura. It’s cheaper to get it there than on the Marketplace (MP). (It’s 99L at the Omega inworld store, but 199L on the MP.)

If you’re on a viewer that has Area Search, you can just search for Altamura when you get there. Please note that there is only ONE system kit for Altamura, so it doesn’t matter if you buy it from the Men’s or Women’s section.

Here’s the taxi: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Omega%20Solutions/224/129/24

And here’s what the vendor looks like at the Omega mainstore (the SLURL should place you right in front of it):

Omega Store19 Dec 2018.png

Note that there is a tattoo on this head on either side of the neck of this mesh head (which you can’t see in the picture I posted above). I hate wearing tattoos, so I removed it using one of the free Omega makeup-removal HUDs available on the SL Marketplace (such as this free NEFA Clear All Layers Omega HUD).

Now, one of the other gifts under the Altamura Christmas tree is the Delphinus male skin applier, which comes in both Altamura and Omega versions. The Altamura version of the applier doesn’t work on this head, but the Omega version does, and here’s what it looks like. BE CAREFUL though; once you apply it, you cannot revert back to the original skin unless you re-unpack it and re-install the Omega system installer and relay on the new head. Here’s what the Delphinus skin applier looks like:

Altamura Delphinus Applier 23 Dec 2018.png

It’s nice too, but I think I like the default skin better. In the following picture, I have paired the default Akakor mesh head with the Altamura Robert mesh body, which I picked up as the Men Only Hunt prize last year:

Altamura Akakor Robert 23 Dec 2018.png

Note that there is a slight mismatch between the skin tone of the head and the body, which I hid by adding the Nina unisex choker by RxK (free from the Ajuda SL Brasil freebie store; more details here). If you picked up the free Altamura Robert mesh body at the Freebie Megastore at the London City sim, you will not be able to remove the head to replace it with this one. I find this to be a rather irritating limitation to all the free mesh full-body avatars that Altamura has been giving away this year, but it is a freebie so I can’t really complain. If you really like this head, perhaps you will spend some money and buy a fully-featured male mesh body from Altamura (or wait until another special deal for group members comes along).

Happy shopping!

Linden Lab Issues a Second Life End-of-Year Update: User Concurrency Figures Are Remaining Steady

Linden Lab has released a Second Life End-of-Year Update, outlining some of the achievements and events of 2018, and things are looking pretty good overall.

They shared some statistics on user concurrency, which show that it has remained steady over the past two years. It’s not increasing, but it’s not going down, either, which is encouraging:

As the year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some interesting statistics to share insight into how the Second Life community is spending its time and money.

One thing is clear: Second Lifers were a busy bunch in 2018.   You spent an estimated 336 million hours inworld in the past year alone!  And there are 50 million+ chat messages daily.

Our daily concurrency rates remain stable, too. Take a look at this chart, which shows the overall traffic trends on logged in Second Life users over the past two years.

 

chart-1.png
Pictured: Second Life concurrency rates from early 2017 to late 2018.

Also, They shared some stats about sales this year, and they’re pretty good too:

This active population helped keep the Second Life economy healthy in 2018. Approximately $65 million was paid out to Residents in the past year for a variety of items and services. On the Marketplace, there are currently over 5 million virtual goods for sale. Since we lowered prices on the Mainland and maintenance fees on Private Estates, we’ve seen some growth in the overall land market as well. For example, we saw increases across the board in land ownership – more Region owners, more parcel owners, more group-owned land, more Regions on the Grid. As many owners traded up from Openspaces and Homesteads to full Regions to take full advantage of the lower pricing, we saw growth in overall SQM owned by Residents.

Back in 2011, ReadWrite reported that Second Life made almost $100 million in revenue a year, so sales appear to have gone down, but I still think that $65 million is a pretty impressive figure. It’s clear that Second Life is still a cash cow for Linden Lab, the profits of which are funding not only SL development but also the company’s work on Sansar.

Here’s to the next 15 years!