Friday, November 29, 2013

New release: Tropics and Grand Canyon sky environments

Over the last year I released two new environments: the Grand Canyon and Tropics environment. Up to now I only had versions to use at ground level, making use of Linden water. Today I release sky versions of both, to be used to surround any sky build.

The Topics sky landscape. The reflective waves are made of new animated materials. The beaches in front are made of the mesh beach system, ideal for use as a natural, solid & walkable surface on sky builds

The Grand Canyon sky landscape



The innovative part of these sky environments is the use of animated, reflective prim water. This water makes use of the new possibilities Materials have to offer. The water almost looks as good as Linden water, which is great news for people who want to have several natural environments stacked on top of each other above their land.

In order to see the reflective water, you have to enable the Advanced Lighting Model in the Graphics section of the Preferences of your viewer. Today, only the Linden Lab default viewer and the Beta Firestorm viewer are able to display materials. Soon other viewers will also be able to do so. What's good about the Advanced Lighting Model, is that it makes use of the latest technology modern graphics cards have to offer. Displaying them, even though they offer a much richer visual experience, does not slow down your graphics.

Activate the Advanced Lighting Model to see the reflective, animated water

Both environments will only be available in the Gold edition: they will be copyable, adjustable by HUD, won't obstruct sitting animations and allow removal of non-essential scripts after deploy. Both come in three sizes, ranging from 100x100m to 1000x1000m.

The new skybox environments are available in my in-world store and on the Marketplace. As usual, demos are available as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A complete walkable, easy to install mesh beach system: revolutionize your beach experience

Straight beach. Looks familiar?
Over the years I have seen many island-themed regions (often tropical) with beaches along the sim edges. Almost always, the beaches appear to be straight and unnatural, with deep cliffs at the sim border. This is especially apparent when you look down from high above. See the picture to the left as an illustration.

A chart of 49 out of 158 segments
It's obvious that it's not easy to create naturally sloping beaches with the regular terraforming tools. What I have for you now, is a system of mesh beach segments that fit together like domino blocks. I made 158 segments that fit together like domino blocks in uncountable ways, to allow people to compose their own unique beach. The segments are solid, so you can walk and build on them and solid 'invisiprims' are not necessary.
A complete sim, layed out with mesh beaches. The 25 segments are textured like a chessboard. The red area is the sim itself: note that part of the outer beaches go off-sim.

The meshes are not just fun for people with a beach front parcel, but they can also be used to create solid ground high in the air. It's an ideal system to be used in the middle of my skybox environments, since those really need a solid surface in order not to fall through them. Currently, the best available solution for many people is a solid, square, invisible prim. This new system is much better: with it, you can create naturally shaped, soild surfaces at a height where terraforming is not available.

The mesh beach system in use on Radostin. The sim edge looks much more natural.
The beach system combined with the Large All-In-One Skybox Environment. The grassy island was also made of one of the beach segments. Visit this setup here.


In short, these are the properties of the mesh system:
  • 158 Segments are available, designed for sim edges, filling in the central area of sims, solitary islands, smaller beach front parcels and any setup of a beach environment in a sky build.
  • Permission to copy & modify. You can apply your own textures to match your land and change their size if necessary.
  • A scripted system aids you in snapping the segments to a convenient grid on your sim. The script can be removed after deploy.
  • The land impact per segment is in between 1 and 7 prims. Most segments are 2-4 prims.
  • After the beaches are in place, you can easily merge them into the sim terrain by terraforming. Use the 'smooth' and 'flatten' tools as much as possible for that.

One mesh beach segment (C7), controlled by its menu







You can purchase the system here on the marketplace (leave a review!)  and here in my store in Second Life. The simple sky setup from the picture can be visited here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tropics environment available for 1/4 sim corner parcels

The tropical full sim surrounding environment that I released in December 2012 proves to be very popular. By now, there must be hundreds of them out there on the grid. To use this full sim surround, however, you need to own or rent a complete island. That makes it unusable for many residents.




Today I release a version of the Tropics that you can use on a 1/4 region. It has eight different scenes inside (volcanoes, mangrove islands etc), all in three editions with dedicated textures making 24 setups to choose from.



This item will only be available in the Gold edition, which means that it's copiable and that its appearence can be changed by means of a HUD. Moreover, you can remove unnecessary scripts and sitting on any object on the sim will not be blocked  in any way.

The new Tropics environment is available here, and it's very attractively priced. You can get a demo to try it before you buy the real one.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Using rich materials in stead of plain textures

Linden Lab is collaborating with others on a project to enable the use of richer looking materials in Second Life. Read more about the materials project in today's featured blog post. Be sure to watch this video where Torley Linden explains about using materials to enrich textures. At exactly 1:00 you will see a shot of the Grand Canyon surround!

Flat surface textures can be improved significantly by adding normal maps and specular maps. I have improved the rock and sand textures on the mesh cliffs and caves environment at ground level on my island by using this new technology. And I must say: the results are very, very promising indeed. Here are two pictures:




You can see what the richer textures look like by installing the latest second life viewer and teleporting to landscapes Unlimited. In order to see the materials you have to enable the Advanced Lighting Model in the Advanced section of the Graphics settings (Preferences menu, CTRL+P).

Some environment settings have a more profound effect on the materials than others, so I advise you to select a few different ones from the list in your viewer. For the pictures above I have used a slightly altered version of the Coastal Afternoon setting.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grand Canyon surround and On-Sim Mesh environment now available

The Grand Canyon off-sim environment and the on-sim Cliffs & Beaches mesh environment are now available on Landscapes Unlimited and on the Marketplace (off-sim surround (including a demo) and on-sim mesh). In my in-world store, there is also a pack of both environments available against a 40% discount.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Landscapes Unlimited turns into the Grand Canyon

I am proud to present to you the Grand Canyon sim surrounding environment. From today you can visit it on my sim Landscapes Unlimited.

I don't think the real Grand Canyon region in the Western USA needs much introduction. We all know the breathtaking images from documentaries or study books. I have never been there myself, but I've been wanting to go there for a long time (and I probably will next year).


This new surround is not an exact reproduction of a specfic part of the Grand Canyon, although Horseshoe Bend has been a big inspiration for me. You will also notice the green pastures at the bottom of the Canyon and the pine trees on the lower slopes. You may say this is not very realistic, but I thought it was pretty anyway. And hey, don't you agree that lots of things in SL grow better than they do in real life?



Within the boundaries of the sim itself, I set up a mesh environment. Both the rocks and the beaches are made of mesh. All other objects are regular and sculpted prims, except for the hot air balloon.

The sim surround is not for sale yet, but it will be in 1-2 weeks. It will have eight setups, from a complete desert-like environment to a lush tropical setting with palm trees. All can be selected and changed by HUD. Visit the new environment here.