Saturday, June 26, 2004

Like a Version

Second Life v1.4 hits the scene, and Second Life may never be the same
By CALIANDRIS PENDRAGON

Second Life version 1.4, with instant inventory, streaming music and custom animations, has arrived in-world. Gone are the days of stuttering music struggling to load and dancing to silence. We are now in a world where anything, quite literally anything, is possible.

Within two days of its June 15 release, inventive Second Lifers made animations for lap dancing, symptoms of demonic possession and various bedroom sports.

However, some Second Lifers hint there is still room for improvement.

"I love the new animations. They bring a whole new dimension to SL, which was badly needed. On the down side though – boy, is it laggy," Cailyn Miller said.

The updated version will also change the way some common activities take place in Second Life. For example, many Second Lifers enjoyed group dancing with the aid of Kris Ritter’s Dance-o-matic machines.

How will the advent of 1.4 affect the machine?

"It will break it," said Ritter. "It will work fine as it is now, but it can’t be easily adapted for custom anims the way the Lindens have implemented it. I’ve posted a feature suggestion that would help me, but don’t know if they’ll listen. Until they do, it can’t really be done very practically."

Despite this, Ritter was enthusiastic about the changes in 1.4. "Yeah - custom anims are cool!" she said, "and I like the streaming sound thing, too. I can play my songs to my friends now."

There were mixed reviews from residents after a couple of days. "It’s much more fun than 1.3, and generally more stable," Strife Onizuka said.

Ratt Foo thought 1.4 may have been released too early: "It’s buggy. The ideas are good but it’s not ready," he said.

Others didn’t mind the occasional programming flaw.

"Sure there are bugs, but I’ve been here since 1.1. This is nothing. Besides, it’s well worth it for the benefit of having custom animations and streaming audio."


"I think overall it’s a phenomenal thing for Second Life," said Higbee Protagonist. "Sure there are bugs, but I’ve been here since 1.1. This is nothing. Besides, it’s well worth it for the benefit of having custom animations and streaming audio."

Anshe Chung does yoga


Anshe Chung demostrates a yoga position (above) and a stretch (below).

Anshe Chung Stretch


Higbee provides a guide to setting up the streaming audio on the forum. To some, the process seems a long-winded and time-consuming business, especially if they lack a static IP address. There are suggestions for simple ways of getting streaming music on the forum too.

Before 1.4, the main way of getting live music in-world was to employ a DJ using the Live Internet radio stations. Sukkubus Phaeton, one of the DJs in-world, said that she didn’t think it would affect her business too much.

"I don’t think it will be a problem," she said. "People like dedications and announced events still. I love 1.4."

Phaeton continued, "It’s made me enjoy Second Life even more and animations are addicting, the streaming music is fantastic, and I love flying around and hearing different types of music. They just need to work out the bugs ... but this has been the best online virtual world I’ve ever seen and will only get better."

Hank Ramos, an instructor at Second Life University, said he hadn’t been online enough to know the full extent of the changes in 1.4. So far, he was impressed with the speed of inventory load.

Some changes will take a while to understand fully, like the introduction of XML-RPC, which allows data and commands to be sent back and forth between things in-world and external computers.

The impact of the new profile option, which allows Second Life couples to make their relationships "official," also remains to be seen. As people already hold engagement and wedding parties, this may be just a formality.

Finally, 1.4 has brought changes to the building tools. New tools make it more difficult to swivel a prim in a wobbly way and much easier to see turn an object through multiples of 90 degrees. Builders now need to adjust their movements to 1-360 degree movement, rather than -180 to 180.

Most users asked said it is an exciting time to be in Second Life. The explosion of animations has made users anticipation of the changes they will bring. Sound has also burst forth into the world, tempered by the possibility of keeping noise to land borders.

Three mini-updates after the introduction of 1.4, there already appears to be more stability and fewer bugs. The possibilities could be endless.

Information on the update can be found at http://secondlife.com/download/guides.php

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