Unpacking – 2016 and beyond

It’s been a while since I last posted, and for good reason.

Much of 2016 for me was characterized by offering in-home care for my Grandmother after she came to live with family and after she passed away in September, the conditions were just right to move on, ahead and out. So on top of some new long-term work that takes up a large portion of my week, the past few weeks I’ve been moving (box by box) in to my new place.

Looking back on the year in SL, I would say that a lot more time went in to testing and experimenting with new content tools (IE: Bento) than general releases. The closed beta got announced last year on or near my birthday and it effectively became the gift I wanted for a very long time but which continued to redefine itself well in to the year that followed.

The bones offered changed numerous times, as did their parenting.

  • Whereas originally only additional wing, face, hand and tail groups were added, we got hind-quarters not long after I tried making my first centaur with wing bones (cue centaur iteration #1).
  • Additional spine bones were added relatively late and to date I’m still not entirely sure what the rationale was for their placement in the bone chains (they inherit other parent bones somewhat oddly) (cue centaur iteration #2)
  • After feedback, some changes were made to bones in the face that allow for a bit more rotation-only movement for those who wanted to keep slider functionality yet still animate the face.

Juggling these changes has been (and continues to be) a trial when paired with the fact that the sole Blender tool for working with this new rig has also been in development concurrently – so for those working on the bleeding edge really found themselves making and remaking content. There are various projects (the wyvern, centaur and a new peryton) on the backburner for me at the moment because they push the limits of what the rig can do and how Avastar can deal with it (Basically, every time something major changes in the plugin that prevents an update in the armature, each of these need to be re-rigged and animated).

At least now, with Bento officially in the mainstream viewer, I have one less sliding scale of development to worry about. Many basic things like tails and ears can be found on the market now. A few mesh head makers have been selling and supporting new human heads for a couple months. I released the Yeti avatar pretty much on the gamble that Bento would go live in December and it’s actually done quite well. You can look forward to some new content imminently, with the onset of Enchantment SL’s Cinderella round (see next post).

Moving forward, I’ll continue making products for both Organica and Wilds of Organica. I have quite a number of Bento-related projects that I’ve been itching to finish up/get-to/start on the avatar side and look forward to working on some more home & garden items as the inspiration strikes surrounding settling in to my new home.

Additionally, with Sansar on the horizon, it’ll be really interesting to see where I can take my skills and push them further.

I’m hoping to get a bit more settled by the end of this month and then we’ll see where my available time leaves me in terms of thinking up new fun things to make. In the mean time, please stick around for my next post, wherein *gasp* actual stuff gets released. 😲

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Vendor system changes, gift certificates, store credit, redelivery terminal & mesh updates

Vendor System Changes:

Part of the long wait to re-open involved switching over all vendors to a new vendor system which, even though it took a lot of work to set up, should reduce overall time I have to spend on administrative tasks and improve my ability to work on new content.

As a result, however, old gift certificates will no longer work automatically with any vendor in the store. If you still have credit in a gift card using the old system (it’s green, not blue), please IM me directly to set up credit for your avatar in the new system! Purchasing gift cards will also be different moving forward. The gift card vendor is now located in the vestibule, on the left-hand side. To use it, simply left-click and follow the directions. You will be able to purchase gift cards in denominations of L$250, 500, 1000, 2000 or you can create a card with any denomination of your choosing. To redeem credit, simply wear the gift card and click the redemption kiosk, also located in the vestibule on the left, just below the gift card vendor.

All customers will also now accrue store credit at a rate of 2% on every purchase. To use store credit, simply left-click the vendor you wish to buy from and click ‘Use Credit’ prior to purchasing.

The new vendor system also allows for redelivery via web-interface. If your purchase was made prior to September 6, you should be able to get the terminal to show the purchase and redeliver it, provided the item is mod/copy. For all other purchases (no-copy or purchased prior to Sept 6), please contact me (Aki Shichiroji) directly, with transaction record.

Mesh Updates to many ground cover items:

In addition to all the new items and festivities this week, many updates were made to ground-cover field items, such that mesh options have been made available alongside older sculpted ones. Towards those ends, all new purchases marked ‘Now with mesh!’ should contain the updated field items applied to mesh shapes. For existing purchasers of these items, please contact me directly, stating which of the following list you purchased (please specify individual colours and/or fatpacks). After verifying this data with existing records, I’ll be able to put together a custom update package for you. *Please note! This mesh update is currently only available in-store, due to excessive workload surrounding new content for the store renovation. I’ll be switching marketplace copies of these items over some time between a few days to a week after the opening. If you purchased any of the below items via Marketplace and did not receive mesh shapes along with the sculpt shapes, please contact me directly and I’ll be happy to upgrade your purchase.

Apologies – automatic deliveries of these updates are not available due to the number of items which would individually need to be sent out.

Ground Cover field-style items which were updated from sculpt to mesh:

Trillium

White Ash

Spring Wheat

Dried Wheat

Horsetail Reed

Ferns

Cattails 1

Lily of the Valley

Tulips

Lupine Flowers

Tiger Lilies

Grass 3

 

 

 

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T’is the Season! + some land notes

This release welcomes the winter holidays back with a few new additions and the return of some seasonal exclusives; read on to learn more!

Available seperately or together as a fatpack, this product is mod/copy, so it’s easy to stretch and squish to fit your build. Just adjust the texture repeat to fit proportionately. Each pack comes with five garland shapes and a double-ribboned red bow. Check them out in-store or on the Marketplace at your convenience!

These sculptie ornaments have historically only been available in-store at Organica during the holiday season. While they have returned to the shop this year, they’re also permanently available on the Marketplace. Each pack includes 8 coloured ornaments, mod/copy. They are 1 LI each and beautifully detailed with hand-painted textures and baked lighting. Mod, copy, transfer, requires SL 1.21 or newer for viewing. Available in-store or on the Marketplace.

These Alpine trees are perfect for your temperate or boreal-themed area! This pack includes both evergreen and winter foliage, scripted and unscripted. Standing 17m tall, these trees are a low 8LI at packaged size. Available in-store or on the Marketplace.

Some housekeeping notes about Organica:

– Oak 6 has been retired from display on the grounds. A vendor is still available but you’ll need to send me an IM to check out Oak 6 if you need to see it ‘in the round’.

– Winter has hit the main store area, and I’ve updated the dirt road pack with an appropriate winter texture. Those of you who purchased this pack already will have received an update earlier today. If you accidentally declined or didn’t receive the update, please contact me directly for redelivery.

 

Land News:

As of this writing, four parcels are now available for residential use located on Sylvan, which is adjacent from Organica sim. Parcel sizes range from 960sqm to 1920sqm, with prim allocation ranging from 383 – 768. All visitors to Sylvan have access to a small sandbox (3h auto-return) and direct access to region infrastructure. Rent costs L$1.8/prim/week.  Check out available land here:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Sylvan/123/123/61

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Multiple seat issue – updates to follow in next couple of days.

To all who recently purchased furniture from Organica which includes multiple seating:

Due to a recent change, likely as the result of pathfinding being added to SL, many of you may find that multiple seating for mesh objects no longer works properly.  While all items of furniture were checked at time of packaging, it now appears that this functionality is broken. For more details, please see https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-8210 .

A temporary fix has been identified and will be sent out within the next couple of days once I have been able to test and check for permissions on all items to be redelivered, however as the result of this temporary fix, you may notice a slight change in prim count depending on the item being redelivered. This is not ideal, however it is a necessary fix until such time that Linden Lab can fix this problem.

Items affected:

[ Organica ] Lush Plush Couch (all colours), both sizes.

[ Organica ] Park Bench 2

[ Organica ] Two Hearts Loveseat

In the mean time, please take the time to make sure Linden Lab knows how important this issue is to you by clicking on the JIRA link above and voting/watching the issue.  While mesh is still relatively new to the grid, it has the potential to become (if it has not yet already) the preferred kind of item, over and above regular prims or sculpts. While there is a workaround to this problem, the fact remains that many existing products will be affected and the temporary fix has the potential to affect prim count, causing existing promotional material to become no longer accurate.

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Organica is closing + sale!

As it says, we’ll be closing for renovations!

From now until August 5, a coupon will be available at the landing point for all visitors to use towards 25% off all items (excluding RFL)! Simply buy a copy, then wear the coupon (it will attach as a HUD) and click on the vendor you want to purchase from. A menu item will appear; select ‘Use Card’ – this will activate your discount for 60 seconds. You can then pay the vendor at the reduced amount.

At 9PM SLT August 5, Organica will close and all visitors will be rerouted to a temporary telehub while the sim is redone.

While no specific maintenance will be done to the Marketplace stock during this time, a significant portion of older stock will be retired from the shop floor to make room for newer and better content.

On August 12, 2012, join us for a live music event! (More details to be announced)

 

Visit Organica and get your last minute photos of the sim before everything’s levelled next week!

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May Land Referral Bonus

For the month of May, I’m making a referral bonus available. From now until May 31, any referrals leading to successful new residency will be rewarded with two free weeks of tier (reward must be applied to a Sylvan tier meter within 30 days of referral). If you know any friends who might be interested in a bit of land, please feel free to direct them to check out what Sylvan has to offer 🙂

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Under Construction

I’ll be doing some remodelling on the stores and sims over the next couple of weeks in order to expand available area, do some much needed re-organization and rework the landscaping a bit. There are some additional items that will be released once I’m done, including a new item for SUYS (more on that later) and I’m pleased to announce that I’ll also be participating in March Mesh Madness next month!

The sim and stores will remain open, however things might be a bit hard to find. If you need help finding anything, please let me know and I’ll be happy to show you where it is.

Alternatively, almost all of Organica’s products can still be found on Marketplace, here: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/6763

In the mean time, check out some landscaping work I did for my friend, Mocksoup Graves, at her store, MOCK Cosmetics (And while you’re at it, check out her excellent skins and make-ups!):

 

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Sculpt & Mesh: Then & Now

 

Folks who have been following my blog postings for a while will probably note that I’ve been releasing mostly mesh items for the past few months.  I still enjoy making sculpts now and then and the majority of my inventory is still sculpt, but there are just so many advantages that meshes have over sculpt that the additional hit primwise is usually far more worth it (and sometimes one can manage to be less primmy than if one were to use sculpts too!).

I recently dug up this old post of mine back from 2008, decrying the constant use of sculpts in clothing etc. It’s sort of funny because I can see areas where my position was hypocritical, yet at the same time it was true that the abusive overusage of sculpts (which eventually became the norm) was contributing considerably to viewer lag.

A few things remain problems, between 2008 and now:

[box type=”shadow”]

Sculpts are limited in their stitching type:

Sculpts are proprietary hacks that are severely limited by a set number of stitching types (shapes) that can be manipulated. UV layouts are always rectangular and always fit these stitching types completely in a similarly rectangular fashion. As a result, not counting some XML hackery*, someone looking to texture such an object will always be limited to only one rectangular texture that will always be applied in full to the object.

Restricting sculpts to a set number of stitching types also creates problems as far as distortion – bunching up at the poles of sculpts in particular comes to mind. Additionally, because sculpts are always limited to a specific UV layout, stretching things out too far between one or two set of verts could mean ugly texturing later.

Each sculpt represents 2048 triangles. No more, no less.
Sculpts are assigned only one prim per 2048 triangles. On the surface, this was a blessing because people felt they could be far less primmy while gaining more realistic looking objects, even if in a limited fashion. Prim hair that would be otherwise impossible given limits on the size of linksets was suddenly eminently possible. But let’s also remember that sculpts represent a minimum of 1024 quads/2048 triangles per prim, and due to the problems outlined above, in most cases it is not possible to make as good use of a sculptie as one can with a mesh with the same number of faces. Many game companies strive to keep full characters down to between 4000-6000 polygons total, yet some content creators now broach the maximum number of items within a linkset with each prim a sculpt (that’s 524288 polygons)! And that’s just one attachment! If it’s a boot, you’ll need to wear a matching set (doubling your polycount) and of course if you want to wear anything else, that will be more costly resource-wise as well. **


* Of note: there is a hack out there utilized by some content creators which gives some limited flexibility as far as adding an additional texture face to a single sculpt, however the fact remains that sculpts are mainly proprietary to Second Life and when used in other environments would most certainly be considered inflexible, wasteful and inefficient.

** For extra fun, let’s also not forget people using V2/3 can now add up to 38 attachments per attachment point now and there are a total of 30 attachment points on the avatar already. So for those keeping count, that’s a maximum 524,288 polygons per attachment, max 19,922,944 polys per attachment point, max 597,688,320 polys per avatar! It’s highly likely your viewer would crash long before you managed this, however it is important to note just how abusive this can get, especially in situations where everyone wants to look their best in front of a crowd.  This can be combatted by turning on avatar imposters and there is talk about adding visual muting functionality, but this does not remove from the fact that your viewer still needs to download this information before muting it.

[/box]

Of course, I realize my development of sculptie products over many years has in itself contributed to this problem, but I would have to say that is a big part of why many of the items I make now are mesh rather than sculpt. While I have always tried to keep prim counts down and use as much of a single sculpt as possible, ultimately sculpts (even in low quantities) present artificial challenges that are far more easily dealt with when modelling mesh.

I have noticed that some newcomers to mesh have elected to simply attempt upload of unoptimized sculpt assets as mesh (since that’s what sculpts are) and I have a bit of ranting I could do on that, but it’s best kept for another post. Ultimately, mesh represents a great opportunity for creators to both create more responsibly and make it look better at the same time; it is my hope that the content creator community does not squander it.

This past Monday, it was announced that 70% of active users are now using mesh-capable viewers, with about 28% of regions in SL containing at least some mesh content. Considering it was released to the public on the Main Grid back in August, this seems like a pretty healthy rate of adoption and given this format is much more of an industry standard, it makes me optimistic for content creation to come.

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Blog change & new releases

Organica has been around for quite a while – since October of 2007 in fact! But did you know Organica Specialty Trees is affiliated with an accessory shop as well?

In fact, Kitheres Industries was my first project! Some time last year I decided to consolidate the shop and move it to a single spot located at Fort Stygian in The Wastelands. For a number of different reasons, however, it had to be put on the backburner and I haven’t really had the chance to add to the shop until recently. I’ve added a new product and I’ll talk about that in a sec.

I’ve decided not to keep two seperate blogs for updates and will be posting about both brands on this blog from now on. I will not be combining the subscriber groups, so if you are only subscribed to one brand, you will only recieve notifications for posts which contain relevant material. You are, of course, welcome to sign up for notifications for both.

The blog has been renamed ‘Kitheres and Organica’, which more accurately reflects my branding on Marketplace, however in-world both brands will operate as usual. Over the next few weeks, I will be sorting out proper categories for existing Organica posts and recently imported Kitheres posts, so hopefully things will remain organized and accessible to all.

With that said, let’s get to the new releases!

Kitheres:

Spatterdashery Boots are named such because they include a belt-bound spat along the length of the lower leg, covering the ankle region and reaching upwards, providing added material for the wearer.  These grungey boots are great for everyday wear and especially optimized for use in crowds due to their relatively low draw weight compared to comparable sculpt products. Available in three colours, these boots are 100% mesh modelled and textured from scratch. Left unrigged for easy resizing, the boots are mod/copy and contain removable resizer scripts – so you can use the script to resize the boots for you if you’re not confident with building things (then remove the script once you’re done) or you can remove the script entirely and just resize the boots as needed using build tools. ( Buy in store ) ( Buy on Marketplace: DemoCharcoalHazelOliveFatpack )

Organica:

Organica has joined Spruce Up Your Space and will be a participating merchant this weekend!

This Elm tree is wonderfully lush and detailed – it’s a great item to help create shade and atmosphere to a mature looking landscape! Full mesh, includes three foliage colours both scripted and unscripted. As this is a mesh product, you’ll need a mesh viewer to view.

This item will be available mod/copy on sale for L$150 for this weekend only! This introductory price will go away after Sunday, when I’ll add back a mod/transfer edition, so be sure to pick this one up before the sale ends! (Please note: sale is in-store only! This product will be added to the Marketplace next week 🙂 )

Other non-sale releases:

As mesh items with no transparencies, they don’t conflict with water surface rendering or other plants which use transparency, so they work really well as highlight pieces right next to the existing Cattail 1 set! This product includes two shapes for variety and each piece is 1 land impact at the size packaged. ( Buy in store ) ( Buy on Marketplace )

This new park bench is a wonderful addition to every outdoor area! Carefully modelled and textured, this bench seats and animates up to three people. Includes attachable book. Full mesh, so be sure to use a mesh capable viewer! Mod / Copy ( Buy in store ) ( Buy on Marketplace )

Land:

If you’re looking for the ideal spot for a quiet and wonderfully landscaped home, check out the land offerings below:

Some of the larger parcels have been recently vacated and have been split; they were originally offered at a larger size prior to a change in prim bonuses. As a result, I am pleased to offer four new smaller parcels in the north-east and south-east corners of the sim. They are all waterside to some degree and, located in a 1.75x prim bonus sim, all boast a healthy prim allottment. (Please note: Parcels 1A & 1B as well as 6A & 6B can be merged upon request if still available.) The details are as follows: Details and SLURLS below:

Parcel size Prims Weekly price SLURL
Parcel 1A – 1536sqm 614 L$1105 SLURL
Parcel 1B – 1024sqm 410 L$738 SLURL
Parcel 2B – 960sqm 383 L$690 SLURL
Parcel 6A – 1152sqm 460 L$828 SLURL
Parcel 6B – 1152sqm 460 L$828 SLURL
Parcel 8 – 1696sqm 679 L$1222 SLURL
Parcel 15 – 1680sqm 672 L$1210 SLURL

A land office has also been established in Organica in the News/Gift shop. (SLURL)

More information about land in Sylvan can be found here.

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Organica at San Diego

Organica will be opening a new location at the Botanical Gardens of San Diego Balboa sim, Jan 22 2012, during the grand opening of San Diego 3D!

Visit the new location at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/San%20Diego%20Balboa/149/211/33

 From the press release,

SAN DIEGO 3D GRAND OPENING

For Immediate Release

SAN DIEGO 3D is pleased to announce our official grand opening on Sunday, January 22, 2012.

San Diego 3D is a themed entertainment destination recreating the look and feel of San Diego, California in the virtual world Second Life. Using their avatar, visitors can explore some of San Diego’s most beautiful landmarks, in stunning, interactive 3D. Destinations include historic Old Town; Balboa Park’s Organ Pavilion, Museum of Art, and Spanish Village Arts Center; downtown; and the famous San Diego Zoo. For entertainment, they can catch a live performance at the Balboa Theatre, or dance in the ballroom at the Hotel Del Coronado.

San Diego 3D promotes tourism, entertainment, and the arts through strategic partnerships with businesses and organizations operating in the physical and virtual world. Founded in 2007 as “Diegoland”, the project passed into the hands of its current owner, Ayesha Lytton, in 2010. In 2011, the simulator was completely rebuilt by Akimeta Metaverse Development to create the most realistic replicas yet of numerous San Diego locations.

Our grand opening event will be held on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at the Balboa Theatre. This near-replica of the 1920’s vaudeville and movie theatre features numerous details accurate to the real building, including its famed wall murals and working waterfalls in the auditorium. The Balboa Theatre 3D raises the bar for live performances in Second Life, using realistic animations, sets and costumes to create a truly immersive theatre experience.

Our first concert showcases soprano Tamra Hayden, who has starred on Broadway and on tour in musicals such as Les Miserables, the Phantom of the Opera, and Cabaret. A talented songwriter in her own right, she will be sharing some of her own beautiful music as well as favorites from Phantom, Wicked, and more. Hayden and Lytton have been collaborating for several months with programmers Alchemy Epstein and Tangle Giano, as well as builders and designers to create the effects seen in the production.

The event is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. Formal or semi-formal attire is preferred.

Second Life SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/San%20Diego%20Balboa/178/61/33

 

 

More photos of my work from the rest of the project can be found here.

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