Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Solid Sky Landscapes are now available

All six brand new solid sky landscapes are now available in the Landscapes Unlimited store in Second Life. In this previous post you can read what makes these landscapes special.

You could already see the Peaky Islands and the Six Lakes solid landscapes, now you can also visit the Lonely Mountain, Kingdom of Islands and Crossing Ridges landscapes.

Lonely Mountain solid sky landscape

The Lonely Mountain is special in a sense that it puts you on top of a mountain instead of in a valley. It is surrounded by animated reflective water (enable Advanced Lighting model!) that you can look and dream about, but not go to. Go to the borders of the sim and look down to enjoy the spectacular views. I'm sure many of you will be inspired by it: this is not a common sight in Second Life, where most places are surrounded by mountains instead of on top of them. The mesh on-sim surface makes it easy to build your own mountain keep.

Lonely Mountain: a mountainous island floating in the sky

Kingdom of Islands solid sky landscape

The Kingdom of Islands is a collection of tropical islands and beaches. The solid on-sim part has beaches and a few higher areas. It's ideal to make your own tropical private place in the sky, high above your other activities at ground level.

Crossing Ridges solid sky landscape

Crossing Ridges is a mountainous landscape, with four valleys that meet each other in the middle, where you get to build your place.  Your sunsets and sunrises will be spectacular!

Sandy Shore solid sky landscape

There is one landscape that cannot be visited yet. It's the Sandy Shores landscape. It has green hills with some big, sheltered lakes that you can walk into.

Installing the Solid Sky landscapes may be a bit tricky. To help you with it I've made an instruction video.

You can get demos of all of them in my store. They are not available on the Marketplace yet, but they will be by the end of August. As an introductory offer these new landscapes will be discounted by 20% until July 19, 2015.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

NEW Solid Sky Landscapes: sim-wide solid mesh merging into a surrounding, off-sim sculpted landscape

After several months of work I've finally finished the first six landscapes of a completely new type. I call them Solid Sky Landscapes.

Peaky Islands Solid Sky Landcsape

These sky landscapes are perfect for easily creating an additional level high above ground level, with a naturally shaped solid surface that almost looks like regular sim land. You can use them on full sims and homesteads. They only have a land impact of 80-160 (depending on the configuration you choose) so land impact shouldn't be a problem!

The Six Lakes solid sky landscape...

...with the solid mesh part in the middle, highlighted for this picture by "glow"

Two solid sky landscapes are already on display, and all six of them will be available in my store this weekend or at the beginning of next week. Solid sky landscapes consist of two parts: a solid mesh part within and a sculpted mega prim part outside the sim borders. These are their properties:

The mesh on-sim part:
  • The mesh part within the boundaries of the region is made of 16 meshes (or a few more when slopes are very steep) that fit together without gaps or seams. These meshes all have baked textures with normal maps to emphasize the terrain shapes.
  • All meshes are solid and can be walked/built on to allow for lots of flexibility without the need of problematic "invisiprims". You can, for example, walk into the water when available.
  • The meshes along the borders of the sim have vertical walls to prevent you from falling through the mesh surface. Without these walls you would fall through, even if the meshes themselves would extend exactly to the sim borders. The meshes have to be exactly in the right position to work well. If they are placed, for example, one meter away from their "sweet spot" you would fall through the surface when close to the sim border. A rez box will help you to position them correctly.
  • Big meshes like these generally have a high land impact. These meshes however have been meticulously cleaned to lower impact. All meshes together typically have a land impact of only about 50-60.
  • The meshes almost seamlessly merge with the sculpted surrounding landscape. It is positioned slightly above it to prevent parts of the surround poking through.

The mesh on-sim part of the Peaky Islands solid sky landscape

The sculpted surrounding off-sim part:
  • The surrounding part is made of 16 sculpted mega prims. They also have baked textures with normal maps to emphasize topography. The land impact of the sculpted surrounding land (and water, when available) is about 32-40. 
  • All surrounding landscapes also have a matching tree part. This part has a land impact of about 50-60. It can be removed when needed. The tree part can be connected to a HUD (many of you are familiar with the principle) to switch to another tree type. The surrounding landscape itself, however, cannot be connected to a HUD, and the textures cannot be changed
  • The water textures contain animated normal maps, which means you will see reflective moving wave ripples if you enable the Advanced Lighting Model in your viewer. Together with baked under water textures this gives quite a realistic picture.
  • The surrounding landscape and trees do not interfere with any sit-animations.

The peaky Islands sky landscape: high-quality sky living!

In order to use this type of solid sky landscape you need to be have rez permission on the complete region. You cannot use it if you own, for example, half a region or a 1/4 region parcel, unless your land lord allows you to.

You can visit the Six Lakes landscape here. The Peaky Islands landscape is rezzed at my store. You can jump over the bariers of the store and explore!

I will post more information here when all of them are for sale. There will be demos that you can take with you too. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this new kind of landscape!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Rocky Coast: a chain of islands to decorate your horizon

I've had this landscape in my inventory for a long time already, but I never had the time to finish it. Now it is available in my store. It comes in five versions: full sim surround, half sim surround, and three sizes of sky landscapes (1,000 x 1,000m, 250 x 250m and 125 x 125m).

The Rocky Coast consists of a couple of island groups with steep cliffs, boulders, some sheltered beaches and trees on top. They go very well together with the on-sim mesh Cliffs & Beaches landscape. It keeps the horizon visible for long stretches, so it won't obstruct your sunrise and sunset. This landscape, like all other recent landscapes, does not interact with the physics system, which means it does not obstruct any sit animations and does not cause movement lag.

I've used new materials too, so make sure to enable Advanced Lighting in your viewer to enjoy it to the max. The sky landscapes have animated reflective water when Advanced Lighting is on.

The sim surround landscape can be visited here, where it's surrounding the Cliffs & Beaches on-sim landscape. The medium sized sky landscape can be visited here. I've put a few sections of the mesh beach system in the middle, to show you how well they combine to make your perfect hideaway in the sky.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Landscapes Unlimited goes Urban

Up to now, I've only created purely natural landscape items. The sheer beauty of nature inspired me. However, city sceneries can be very impressive too, and recently 'materials' in Second Life offer awesome possibilities to make the textures of buildings much richer than before. Besides, several people have been asking me about city surrounds. Two months ago I accepted the challenge, and this is what I came up with:
  • A full city sim surround (1,000 x 1,000 m), for single region islands,
  • A half city sim surround (1,000 x 500 m), for bigger islands,
  • A large city skybox surround (1,000 x 1,000 m), for large sky builds on island regions.
Modern City Full Sim Surround landscape

Modern City Half Sim Surround landscape

I have two more items on my to-do list: a medium-sized sky surround (250 x 250 m) and a sim edge environment (250 x 125 m), but they probably won't be ready before September.

The city landscapes come in three sets of metarials: one especially suitable for daytime settings, one for twilight settings and a third one for nighttime settings. You can pick the set that matches your build by using the HUD that you're no doubt already familiar with.

It is very important to switch on the Advanced Lighting Model in the Graphics settings (Preferences menu, CTRL-P). Otherwise the textures of the skyscrapers will look dull. Another tip: don't use default midday environment settings, the sun will shine from straight above your build, which is not very natural and will cause unwanted effects on the vertical highrises. However, several sunrise and sunset settings will give you spectacular colorful reflections in the windows, which is a lot more interesting to look at!

The city landscapes are only available in copyable form ("Gold edition").

Friday, March 28, 2014

Third and last Rolling Hills release: half sim surround and sim edge environments

One week after releasing the sky environment version of the Rolling Hills I'm now releasing tthe last two versions: a 250 m wide sim edge environment and a 1,000 m wide half sim surround environment. Both can be used on island regions, on connected regions and on bigger continents with an open side to the ocean.

Default textures on Rolling Hills sim edge environment

They are copyable and can be changed by using the HUD (8 themes and a few hundred textures to choose from). Like the previous versions, these landscape items also make use of the new materials: higher morphological detail on the hills (yes, I am a geographer), and cut-off alpha textures to make sure the trees do not interfere with alpha textures on your land (to prevent "texture bleeding"). Make sure to use one of the latest Second Life viewers and enable the Advanced Ligtling Model.

Surfacing bedrock on this Half Sim Surround edition. The red rectangle depicts the border of the region

The half sim surround and the edge environment will be discounted by 50% until Tuesday April 1. As always, free demos are available on my island and on the marketplace.

Desert theme available also