Sunday, October 30, 2005

Second Life 1.7 In-world Map

The in-world map in Second Life has been updated in 1.7. It now shows the sims shaded and textured as if viewed from a satellite, and the default view also shows the objects in the sims. Apparently the new map actually uses the next version of the Second Life renderer, so this is not a stylized map display but an actual 3D render from a fixed camera orientation.

Screenshot, click to enlarge.

I've been looking forward to the new map because it will help me create a textured view for myself. The main challenge in generating sim textures is actually collecting data: what textures are used at what altitudes, what textures go into a single sim material (texture set), and which sims use which materials. The process of doing this inside Second Life is slow and tedious, much more so than popping into a new sim and surveying the topography. The new map will make the process much quicker, and I'm looking forward to collecting some definitive data on the sim materials.

Another improvement in 1.7 is the ability to find out a sim's rating through the scripting API. I plan on sweeping the whole grid collecting ratings to make sure my sim data is correct. I'm not sure why Linden Lab doesn't make more sim data available. I can think of a number of attributes that would be useful, such as a short description, owner, and access. I personally would explore islands a lot more if I could have some clue what they were about before I visited. As it is you don't know if you're teleporting to a busy mall, an empty desert, or a BDSM dungeon.

I've started working on a new library for working with grid data, this time in Java. This is because I need to brush up my Java before taking some exemption exams in January. So I've decided to use this as an opportunity to start a new version of the code library. I've been working out the new design in UML and I think there will be some real improvements.

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