Black Dragon is MY Viewer, i decide which feature i want to add and which to remove, i share this Viewer to show the world that user base size is not important, i do rate quality by effort, thought and love put into the project, not some rough estimated numbers. I consider feature requests only if i you can name proper valid reasons i can agree on. It is my (unpaid) time i'm putting into this project, i'm not here to cater to every Joe's desires.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.9.0 "Visualizing Dragon"

 This one was quite plagued with fails.

Originally this update was planned yesterday, exactly one month after the last one but the merge with the latest code did bring quite some problems... and i don't mean like a broken button or something... no. All baseline animations were broken, didn't play and basically most actions like jumping and sitting got you infinitely and permanently stuck. Also there was a nasty crash whenever someone (including you) played the standup animation after falling from great heights. This made the Viewer basically impossible to use properly. Cracking down on this one cost me a few hours but trashing and redoing something hasn't been all too rare lately.

In fact the entire month was basically riddled with issues like this. As some of you may have noticed i've dabbled a lot in VRChat lately and started working with the Unity Engine. As much as i hate the Unity Engine its usage is quite "user friendly" although extremely complex. I'm saying that from a developer point of view though. The way the editor works though and what's possible with it and how easy it is was very surprising although a welcome one. In fact many of the things i like so much i want to bring them to SL. If anything this has got me quite some inspiration what else i could do with the UI. Particularly "Drag & Drop" is a big thing in Unity and i'd like to make more use of that in SL as well. In Unity you can basically drag any asset and drop it on any fitting UI Element. An animation preview with a dummy but want to see your avatar? Just drag your Avatar into the preview window and viola, it will be previewed with your avatar. Great. Want an animation to play in this state? Just drag it into the motion box. You can basically drag anything anywhere as long as it belongs there. We do kind of have this in SL already but i feel like this could be extended in some places. For instance we can Drag & Drop textures into texture pickers. How about dragging animations onto your avatar to play/preview them? We can already drag objects onto our avatars to attach them. How about dragging EEP presets into the world to apply them? Just some ideas to start. Unity also has a simple animation editor build in which is quite powerful though and can even translate basically any animation from any skeleton to another as long as they have a similar structure. Looking at their animator has given me some ideas how to tackle my own Animator and how to possible solve the UI look issue.

Further on Friday's meeting i also suggested a new effect to play with that Unity allows, it's called "Scrolling Emissive" there and it basically does what it says, it uses the Emissive Mask but instead of making everything emissive as per the texture's definition, it has a small configurable area that "scrolls" through from one side to another, fully configurable speed and direction of course. We already have emissive and adding this would be a very simple addition to the emissive shader as well as adding a couple options for the direction (which would be the speed at the same time, think of it as the texture offset options), possibly an additional brightness slider, scroll area and so on. It's a very simple thing and wouldn't hurt anyone, wouldn't even cost performance really.

Here's the effect in action. It's simple but looks really great. This could be used for many great things.

Currently this is only possible by scripting the diffuse texture to animate which also moves ... well the entire object's texture making it basically unusable for this unless you make it a separate layer, which introduced a whole host of more issues and a big performance cost.

It seemed like the Lindens seemed genuinely interested. Similarly they seemed interested in a volumetric cloud feature i suggested in the previous meeting. Maybe there's still hope we'll get these some day.

Anyway. Back to the update itself. I consider the update quite important, not only does it finally bring in the latest release code from Linden Labs with a good chunk of behind-the-scenes improvements, it also brings a couple bugfixes. Most noticeably (for compilers though) it brings the move to Visual Studio 2017. I did merge this last month already but i was facing massive performance degradation which forced me to drop it. This time however it seems like performance is equally good if not even slightly better. The move to VS 2017 also means for you as user that the Viewer will no longer require Visual C++ Redistributable 2013 64bit, instead it will now require Visual C++ Redistributable 2019 64bit, also often called the 2015 - 2019 package. I updated the pre-download page to link to that one instead. Make sure you install it if you don't already have it.

Further the update includes a fix for a nasty crash when switching water presets as reported, this was due to the water preset being loaded as sky preset which put the Environment into an invalid state and trying to transition from this into the next water preset caused it to crash. Funny times.

I've also added all the latest Patrons as usual and fixed a some longstanding compiling issues (that are probably not interesting to you unless you compile the Viewer yourself, which i hardly doubt anyone does). Lastly i added all missing tooltips to the Machinima Sidebar and brought all Display tab tooltips to the Machinima Sidebar so it uses the new fancy tooltips to display information about all the available features and options.

Most of the rest of time was either spend outside of SL or trying to do some improvements that sadly didn't work out. I had hoped at least some of them would make it such as the option to only show bones in the Poser that are actually rigged, reducing the clutter a lot and only showing bones that are of interest for your avatar. Sadly LL's underlying code regarding determining "rigged bones" is... random at best.

But i'm planning more UI improvements. I've spend some time in Blender (the 2.8.0+ versions) and i'm genuinely interested in their ways of presenting action information. They have small icons and a short action tip at the bottom of the screen always giving you a quick overlook over your actions or additional features. For instance if you hold down middle mouse to turn the camera, it shows the Alt key at the bottom, telling you that you can hold it to change to "move camera" mode. I very much like this subtle help and would like to investigate some ways to add this to the Viewer. Also the way the tools are presented sparked interest. Toolbar buttons (much like we already have) instead of in the tools floater as buttons, this would free up a good chunk of the build window in general and would make these tools available regardless of its visibility or current mode. I know you don't use this Viewer for building because it isn't made for building (just because it doesn't have copy & paste object properties) but i use it for building and i'm quite happy with it. It could use some extra love too. We'll see how that goes. I will also investigate a way to convey more UI features to the users with the Blender style icons, such as CTRL + Right Click to reset an option. Most people don't know about these things and there's hardly a good place to tell them...

Anyway, as usual if you find any issues, please report them (preferably in the Discord channel) where they can be easily tracked and responded to.

For Patrons i'm planning to extend the "store-in-login" deal to basically "anything-that-makes-sense-on-login". I'll update the Patron page when i have some specifics what can be put on the login screen. Remember that i don't want to make the login screen another news feed like the original is. So i gotta be careful how i add more stuff to it. Generally though you'll be seeing some more possibilities soon though, people have been asking for nice regions (without a shop) or possibly blogs too. I'm personally not a fan of blogs but i suppose i'm a bit different there, i don't read fashion blogs, i have my own fashion. Nekkid snek fashion. But i figured you like to read fashion blogs, especially humans do.

Lastly, for the past years the right-click pie menu has run rampant and over all these years i didn't manage to reproduce a single crash while there are people out there who can easily reproduce a right-click crash with a 100% chance, over and over. If you are truly willing to help me catch this issue i can give you an instruction how to help me get to the bottom of this. Generally this will require you to install Visual Studio to be able to "debug" the crash when it happens. Visual Studio adds the ability to jump in "just in time" as the crash happens and point to the exact line the crash is happening at. The callstack would be a great help to get some directions from where this is coming from and what might be happening. I can optionally provide you with the library and compile files that might be required for the debugging to spit out a useful callstack, i can give them to you if required. So if anyone is truly up for investigating this and has some time at hand and some patience, message me and we'll have a look into this. Note that you need to be someone who sees somewhat semi-frequent crashes when right clicking with pie menus. The easier and more reliably you crash, the better. Anyone can do this but checking whether the crash is fixed can take some time depending on how reliably you crash.

Thank you very much for your continued support!

By Spectris Audax

By Loverdag

By CassandraMiddles

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.10 "Enhancing Dragon"

 The TLC (Tender, Love & Care) DLC (only 9.99$)

What, it's already a month again? Jesus, i did lose track of time there. Well this update is jampacked with fixes and improvements! I did try to get some experimental things in but... well they turned out too big for what's supposed to be a bugfix/improvement update. This update also doesn't come with the initially planned LL code update. The one i merged forced me to go to Visual Studio 2017 and rather than the expected performance improvements that usually comes with updated tools ... it was a disastrous massive performance drop, one i simply cannot accept after EEP already eating a good chunk of FPS.

The update comes with lots of other improvements anyway! So let's see what this update contains.

Let's start with the UI changes. I've gone through all preferences tooltips and improved them, i made tooltips support linebreaking so i could organize them better, the new tooltips look much better, cleaner and generally offer some extra information in comparison to the old ones!

This should make reading them and getting information needed from them much easier. In the same vein of improving readability i also changed the color picker alpha texture, now its a diagonal slice which work regardless of the color display shape. This is now used in the Edit window to show transparency.

While readability is all nice n dandy i've also improved the usability of several things a good chunk. Starting with sliders which have been quite an annoyance for a long time due to their... erratic and unprecise handling, especially since the Viewer uses them a lot. Sliders will no longer immediately change their values when click-dragging the thumb, they will now only change their value if you actually move your mouse. On top of that you can now type in ANY value into the text entry, regardless of what the slider allows in increments, min/max are obviously still capped but you can now type in 555 when the slider only goes in 1000 steps. Note that the slider itself will continue to go in 1000 steps, this ONLY works for typing into the text field.

While going through preferences i've also removed a couple broken options, and added several new things. You can now find seveal "open" buttons in Preferences - Viewer. These will open the cache, logs and viewer log file directories respectively, this should make it a lot easier to get to your settings, cache and viewer logs, especially for me since i don't have to explain you how to get there.

I've also added delete buttons as you can see, to clean your viewer logs, you should probably do that from time to time. Every week or so.

While doing a few rounds through the code i've also cleaned up some messes here and there, simplified some code parts and fixed a couple other issues. Mostly reported issues such as not being able to load and delete presets with a name exactly like a default preset. Doing so also magically fixed (it seems) the issue with name encoding. From what i've tested, it seems to be (once more) like it doesn't matter anymore what the name of your windlight presets is, encoded or not, or both. You should now be able to load them all again, if you still find one that's causing issues, please report it to me. With that the import function slowly loses usefulness but i've not forgotten about it, instead i've actually fixed it and it should again work, even better it now can import both new EEP and old Windlight presets (for whatever reason you'd want to import already imported EEP presets). I'm also thinking of doing a multi-import.... but maybe later.

Now the interesting bits about this update. Rendering. Quite a few of you probably noticed by now that something is... off with water reflections. They do not match up when rotating your camera and they do not reflect alpha masked objects. Well, needless to say they will now do exactly that! Screw dem bugs!

There's also a hidden little new feature, you can find it when previewing any animation. You'll find a slider there now that allows you to go through your animation and jump to any point in it, even in between keyframes! This is the very first step to an animator tool.

There are lots and lots more small improvements everywhere but they are far too insignificant and too many to list here. So i wont, but you can check out the changelog to see all of them.

Lastly, i'm aware that Bitbucket discontinued support for Mercurial Repositories, i didn't expect them to lock down the entire repository though, just delete the source or something. This means i have to move a lot of stuff, including some formal stuff for the TPVD inclusion to here unless that's not okay, in which case i'll have to seek out other places to put it. I'm sorry for the inconvenience this has caused regarding downloads, this is why i had to push the update today and get as many things done as possible in a short amount of time, so expect possibly broken things.

As always, thank you very much for your support although the patronage has been declining lately. If i missed anyone, please please please do tell me!

By CassandraMiddles

By KT Syakumi

By Kissmebaby Allen

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.9 "Enhancing Dragon"

Some more bugfixes for some reported issues, namely the Fixed Environment editor breaking upon changing settings too fast and having increasingly longer freezes with growing preset lists when switching between presets. Really nothing fancy yet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.8 "Enhancing Dragon"

I guess windlight transitions were broken. Fixes'n stuff.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.7 "Enhancing Dragon"

It's getting frustrating to fix one bug just to add 10 more which when fixed break what you've fixed before, this has been going on for 4 days now.

I hope this was the last of it and yes i know that presets may behave weird or reset under very special conditions when mixing local and inventory presets, i simply cannot fix it as the previous 3 updates clearly proved, i keep breaking whatever i've fixed before so i'm giving up on it. I'll simply leave it as is right now and we have to live with the fact that a very certain order of operating the editors causes your Windlight to be reset. I... just want to go back to Windlight... EEP is getting worse and more complicated with every day i spend looking into it.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.6 "Enhancing Dragon"

And more bughisses and feedback stuff.

Editors should now display the preset name you are working with (again), inventory presets are listed in the presets dropdown (again), an RLVa crash was fixed, the RLVa restrictions window finally displays restrictions again (after many years), the group join fee shouldn't be cut off anymore and the some wonky behavior with the RLVa camera preset should now properly behave again.

If you still find yourself unable to change the camera presets you most likely either have something attached that has taken control of your camera and forces your camera into a certain position, which might block presets and more likely you are being blocked by the RLVa restriction @setcam, which prevents you from switching camera presets or alter them. In both cases you should deattach everything. EVERYTHING. Not just your HUDs, absolutely everything. However before you do go into the RLVa menu (Dragon - RLVa) and select Restrictions and check whether a restriction to your camera is applied via @setcam and which object is doing so (it will display the name if its an attachment or the UUID if its something inworld). In the case of an RLVa attachment you'll have to detach it and relog unless you can toggle the @setcam restriction somewhere in said attachment, i doubt it though.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.5 "Enhancing Dragon"

Rapidfire PEW PEW.

There were bugs that i snaked in. I hissed them out and now the Viewer can slither on.

Welcome to Snekdate #1, bugs hissed: ALL OF THEM.

Water specularity changing randomly. Hissed. Up and down arrows not working anymore in dropdowns. Hissed. Preset checkboxes not checking anymore. Hissed. Inventory presets ignoring windlight transition times. Hissed. Usability. Hissed.


Snek now deserve boop to da snoot!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.4 "Enhancing Dragon"

Phew, this took long.

I just wanted to take a week or two off and get to do some stuff with friends and poof a month was gone, then i started hammering on stuff that broke spectacularly apart and required a lot of time to fix but it was worth it!

This update brings you a special little something that i decided last minute to add haha! (on top of the other 5 trillion things i wanted to have done before i release this)

So here we are a brand new update packed with the good stuff!

The whole time i was "away" i kept following the various EEP discussions and had a close look on what people think and there was a lot to chew through here, this update brings you the first good chunk of additions and improvements. Reintroducing Day Cycles! You can finally tiggle toggle that Day Cycle checkbox and use them again, all of your old ones should work unless they have an invalid name, in that case you'll have to go into the folder and rename them... or... you know yell at me again and i'll do it for you.

With it of course came a million bugs that needed fixing, all of which i have hopefully fixed by now and hopefully also replicated the old behavior as much as possible.

Next topic was the absence of a lot of old presets all of which have been brought back! Sky, Water and Day Cycles should all be back, all the ones we had in previous Black Dragon versions.

A big problem of EEP is that people are seemingly confused despite my best efforts making the Windlight editors look as close to the original as possible while adding all the new options into places they make sense, as you may have noticed by now the Sky editor has had a few options shoved around in its tabs to make space and to group them a bit more logically, i know this takes getting used to but lets be honest, we all just open it and start sliding sliders and see what they do until we like what we see, no need to know the exact background calculations of every slider but i did hear one big part out and that was apparently the biggest confusion of them all, the "Sun Position" which was previously simply named Sun Angle and East Angle. You have to agree that these make little sense really, they should have been Sun Angle Up/Down/Left/Right or North/East Angle respectively. Which is why "Position" made much more sense since you're changing the position of the sun in the sky. Nonetheless i relabeled them to Sun Angle again and took this opportunity to add "Scale" to it since apparently people didn't know what the "S" slider did. Now you know, its Sun Angle and Scale.

Another request I've heard a lot was changing the Windlight transition time.... and well its back! Yes you can finally set the transition time again, this time however i removed the transition checkbox since.... lets be honest, you can just set the time to 0, does exactly the same and saves quite some code.

Other changes include the relabeling of "Projector" shadows to "Sun, Moon and Projectors" to make it crystal clear that this is not an option where you choose between Projector shadows and Sun/Moon shadows. I mean just think about it, why didn't your shadows vanish when you used Projector shadows? It doesn't make any sense!

More changes include some SSAO and Shadow softening tweaks, shadow precision tweaks (especially at high altitudes), bringing back the old pre-EEP shininess (YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT), a long standing issue with rigged mesh shadows flickering when the mesh swaps through alpha states (poor Sergal avatar is finally fixed) and finally light reflections on water coming back and not just that i also fixed the weird light reflections on the shoreline when close to water with lights attached to you.

Pre-EEP (new)
Post-EEP (old)

You can now also set the shadow resolution up to 8K!

This update also brings the image decoder OpenJpeg to version 1.5.1. You may see drastically increased texture rezzing speeds too!

And if you thought this can't get any better, i have a very special gift for all RLVa users. I updated RLVa to the latest version featuring EEP support. I played some Fright today to see if RLVa works.

By Altcake

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.3 "Enhancing Dragon"

Here we go, the last update for probably the rest of the month.

Don't worry, i'll be monitoring any issues that come up and work on them when i get some time but starting at the 16th i won't be active for a while, big stuff is coming up and it will keep me busy for a good week or two. So lets hope all the baddies have been fixed in this update!

This brings me to the actual changes of this update.

Starting from now on any snapshot resolution above 4K is unsupported and is locked by default. You'll find a new option that allows unlocking resolutions for up to 12K at your own risk.

The bone camera dropdown has been added to the preferences window, no need to open the camera controls anymore, everything can now be configured from the preferences window. Hooray.

Dramatic Tail Wag Intensifies

While at the topic of camera related stuff, both bone camera and the cinematic camera have been slightly changed to be subject to camera smoothing which means they will now behave slightly different than before.

Also, using both at the same time will no longer freak out the camera and make it stick to 0 0 0.

Next up is EEP/Windlight (again). Daycycle editor has been slightly changed, all controls should now disable when no preset is selected in the preset timeline to visualize that the controls wont do anything at this moment, hopefully reducing confusion when and why sliders wont do anything. The tabs have also been reordered from lowest on the left to highest on the right, since we read from left to right after all, right?

Sun and Moon position sliders should no longer move the Sun and Moon diagonally and instead rotate them properly straight.

The "Environment" tab in About Land should also now be fixed and contain the new EEP controls and the Sky/Water editors should hopefully be less crashy for those of you who have been randomly crashing using them. I've also increased the Sun/Moon beacon size to make them better visible.

Several people also had the strange issue that after a graphics initialization failure they could no longer get Deferred Rendering to work, this is because Deferred Rendering requires a few extra options to be enabled beforehand, options that can no longer be found in Black Dragon since many years because they were originally completely removed, but rebuilding the Viewer on the LL Viewer brought these back and failing the initialization disables them without giving you the ability to re-enable them unless you know the debug settings to look for. Fear no more, Deferred when toggled should now automatically toggle these on putting this issue to a quick rest!

Also a crash introduced in the rebuild when opening the "Window Size" window was also fixed.

Lastly one particularly annoying thing that has been reintroduced with the rebuild was fullbrights ignoring atmospheric haze, needless to say that i do not agree that fullbrights should do this. With this update they will be fogged just like anything else, they remain light-less of course but they will vanish behind fog just like any other object now. I mean a TV in real life doesn't infinitely shine through thick fog just because its very bright now does it? If you're wondering what i'm talking about.

Pretty sure you agree that it looks ridiculously stupid right?

Note that beginning with this update i've added the VCRedist 2013 64bit package to the package, it will automatically start after the Viewer is successfully unpacked, this should hopefully reduce the "I'm getting an error on startup" cases drastically.

As always, thank you so much for your support!

By Spiritus Natus
By Syakumi

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.2 "Enhancing Dragon"

Aaaand another bugfix update!

You get bugfixes, and you get bugfixes and you get bugfixes. Bugfixes for everyone!

Screen Space Reflections should now work with shadows, ssao and blur light off. Defaulting water height should work again, the "My Environments" window should now display all your settings and has been overhauled too. SSAO blur size should work again and SSAO itself has been slightly tweaked. Saving a preset from Fixed Environment after entering the name (but not yet clicking out of the name entry or committing with Enter) should now save the preset with the correct name that you entered. Much more importantly though, all presets should now be loadable again, regardless of their names and regardless of whether they were escaped properly or not. No more need to import them (hopefully).

Something that has been long in the coming was some tweaking to complexity values. I've finally gotten around to do just that, i lowered all complexity values by roughly 50%. This will drastically lower numbers but don't expect your 1 million triangle avatar to magically be fine, the calculation is still as punishing as it was before, the numbers are just in a smaller range now in hopes to trigger stupid automated script banners less. Again though, if your avatar is a shitfest of optimization it will still get a high complexity value, just not as ridiculously high as it was before and you will still be banned from such regions but at least because you deserved it. I might tweak them more but for now that should lessen the severity of that issue for now. Also... the 800.000 max complexity limit should now be enough for almost all avatars (hopefully).

Finally because some people have been nagging about this i've raised the maximum snapshot resolution to 12K. Yes. 12K. 12000x12000. This is mostly for GTX 10XX cards and i doubt that you'll get too many shots in with lower cards before the Viewer decides to poop its render pants and explode in a giant mess. Here have a quick 12K shot.


As always keep them bugreports coming.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.1 "Enhancing Dragon"

Iiiiiits Updaty! *axes through door*

This update obviously on fixing any reported bugs, improving the previously introduced systems and generally making sure that everything runs as smooth as possible.

Let's start with the Windlight windows, they have been slightly overhauled and cleaned up visually, the save buttons have been combined into a combo button to host both saving locally and the new saving to inventory option (in local edit or local saving in fixed environment editing). Saving your presets should now work for all first timers and those who didn't have a Windlight preset folder yet. Loading has gotten some improved notifications when loading fails, specifically with invalid names it will now suggest using the importer instead. Saving your presets locally should also now save the textures IDs into them properly if you have the permissions.

You heard that right you can now save your preset directly into inventory from the old Edit Sky/Water editors and save your preset from the Fixed Environment editor onto your disk, both options are now available in both windows. I've also reimplemented separate Cloud Scroll locks for X and Y sliders and the preset drop-down list now sorts your local presets at the top, your system presets second and your inventory presets last, all three are now separated by a nice separator with label that tells you exactly what preset bracket you are looking at!

Apart from the Windlight windows i've also fixed several other reported issues, such as SSAO Effect not working, SSR brightening the default glossiness reflections, attached lights vanishing while sitting down, the Windlight editors that open via the Environment Settings window doing wonky stuff, Fixed Environment not reacting to changes after loading a local preset, Edit Outfit having broken button positions, right-click menus for IM tabs not properly enabling/disabling depending on their conditions.

Graphically i also tweaked the Tone Mapping defaults to better match EEP and look closer to pre-EEP, note though that lighting is still vastly different and colors are fixed in EEP which makes red-ish colors show much stronger than before. Please don't expect exactly the same look across all possible settings. EEP has changed lighting as a whole and there is no way around fixing all your presets one-by-one without breaking lighting again, yes breaking again, it was broken and wrong before... as with so many things.

As always thanks for reporting these bugs and thanks to all the new Patrons!

By 털덩이

By Clover Jinx

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.8.0 "Enhancing Dragon"

After over a month of quiet development its finally here! The update you have been (not) waiting for!

EEP released yesterday so this is going to be the EEP update, featuring a total reimplementation of the entire Viewer (yes i had to redo it for EEP) and a complete overhaul of the new Windlight interface.

Almost nothing has been changed in the Viewer, this update is solely focused on redoing EEP, by bringing back all the old windows we know and loved (including the Environment Settings window) and reimplementing local Windlight presets. You will be able to use your old presets still just like before and you can still save them just like before, nothing has changed in that regard, ontop of that everything EEP has to offer was added, making it more of an addition (as it should have been) rather than a complete replacement.

Welcome back our new-old friends! Also the Environment Settings window has been cleaned up a bit. I'd like to know whether the new Environment Settings window (the small one on the right) is preferred or the old flat one.

As always report any bugs you find, this update has seen quite some testing which is quite unusual for my Viewer but since the entire Viewer was basically redone i suspect there are a lot more bugs to find.

Also... i'd reeeeeally like to know about the Pie Menu, i updated it in hopes to fix the crashes, the warning is still active but i'd like to hear whether you still crash with Pie Menus or not.

Thanks to everyone on Discord who helped finding bugs and thanks to all the new and old Patrons on Patreon!

By S!nny (Sinful Rhapsody)
By Spiritus Natus
By MoxxTheMocker

Friday, April 3, 2020

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) - The Plan

So here's the plan how EEP is going to happen for Black Dragon.

I went to TPV meetings, posted feedback into the Feedback thread on the Second Life Forums and attempted to salvage what was salvageable, without luck. I suppose i came too late to the party because i trusted LL to do it right, i guess that's not going to happen again, next time i'll be all over them from the get go when there's a project ongoing that i'm interested in.

Since Oz is refusing to change EEP now in any way, shape or form, i suppose i'll have to do it. I've already threatened that if EEP threatens Photography and Machinima (which i suppose this Viewer is all about, right?) i'll not be merging it, luckily that's not necessary. I think i have a plan that we all can be happy with.

The first and foremost offender of EEP is the interface. It is clunky, it is big, it wastes tremendous amounts of your limited screen space and it was unnecessarily rebuild from scratch to confuse and make everything harder than it should both in code and for the user, so that's the first thing i'll change.

Introducing the NOT personal lighting.

These two windows are exactly what you think they are, they are the two old Edit Sky Preset and Edit Water Preset windows that we already had prior to EEP. Updated with all the new EEP settings and slightly reorganized to fit all the new options, you will see that editing water hasn't changed at all, editing a sky on the other hand had some slight reorganization in the Atmosphere tab and some major reorganization in the Sun & Moon tab because a lot of options were added there, but you'll still find everything there, don't worry everything should be pretty much immediately apparent just like before. To give you an idea what the original EEP windows look like:

Quite the difference but that's just one part of it, the functionality will also change. The above two windows are the edit preset windows you get when you edit a settings item from your inventory, my two windows are free windows that can be opened at any time from the main menu just like you could prior to EEP, they replace the "Personal Lighting" window introduced in EEP which was missing a lot of options and functionality. The edit sky/water preset windows will look exactly the same as the "Personal Lighting" replacements above, meaning no matter if you are editing your preset or your personal Windlight, all settings will be in the exact same spot everywhere.

Coming to the functionality, this is most interesting to Oz, he wanted a writeup on how i'm going to tackle this to decide whether it is okay or not.

A major downside of EEP is that it does not offer you the ability to use local presets anymore, instead you have to manually import them one-by-one and export/save them as inventory items to be able to use them, this is tedious and annoying, bloats your inventory with more potentially corruptible items and is generally very user unfriendly compared to the previous system. Why setting items weren't added as simple extra feature is beyond me but it's exactly what i started tackling first.

Right now as you can see in following picture, you can select a preset from your locally saved presets (either user created or coming with the viewer) and it will immediately load and apply it, just like before, you can also save the preset locally too, just like before, you can (unnecessarily) import said preset again (why would you do that if you can just select it from the preset dropdown, but the option is there...).

Any presets saved from now on will be saved in the new EEP compatible format, meaning all legacy settings will be translated to the EEP equivalent and will thus become unusable in previous versions (which you shouldn't be using at that point anymore anyway). To prevent copybotting shenanigans the save function will check whether you have the textures being used for the sun, moon, cloud noise and water map in your inventory and if you have the permission to copy, mod and transfer them. If you do not, the Viewer will not save the texture ID into the preset resulting in the entry missing from the preset and loading it will use an empty or default texture for all missing ones. This way you can edit a region windlight at any time but you cannot "steal" the textures being used. You can do the same when someone gives you the settings item, you can modify it but you can't save it into the same settings item (it will create a new one), though i am not sure whether it keeps the textures (probably does but safe is safe).

You can also delete any selected preset just like before with the "Delete Preset" option.

Settings items were not changed at all in my version of EEP, they work as expected and can be loaded , shared or edited just like in the original EEP implementation. They now act almost exclusively as "addon" rather than the only way of using your Windlights, like it should have been from the beginning.

I'm unsure what i'm going to do with the Day-Cycle editor aside from changing its layout to match the rest... i'll probably leave it mostly as is as it really isn't of interest. I will investigate later whether it is feasible to add local preset support to it or not.

Additional plans include bringing back the toolbar buttons to open the sky and water editor directly, as well as bringing back the Environment Settings window (the small one where you can select all your sky/water/daycycles and open all other editors).

As shown below i've kept the menus as close to the original as possible (while removing the unnecessary entries that are no longer needed of course). All relevant options can once again be found in Dragon - World - Environment Editor

I hope to have the release ready around the time EEP is officially released into the Second Life Release Viewer, possibly sometime next week.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.7.1 - 3.7.3 "Improving Dragon"

Some keen eyes have noticed that i've released two more updates without saying anything and heres coming a third one. I didn't say anything because i didn't want to shove down the important announcement in 3.7.0. Patron is going quite well, roughly half a month time gone and we doubled the patronage, thats very impressive and i'm very grateful for all your support. I've come to the realization that despite my best attempts to continue without help i just can't do it. I've always been super hesitant on asking for help... hah yea i see the irony... me saying that if you need help you should just ask but then i'm not even doing it myself when its much more important... the simple truth however is that i can't continue just waiting for people to support me, i have to actively encourage them and ask them for help otherwise this isn't going to work. As scummy as it sounds to myself, asking for financial support for a project i've been dumping a massive chunk of my lifetime into (and two thirds of my SL time) is normal considering that i could get paid a good job instead. I've never regretted doing this (only that it kinda took the magic out of everything, just like with knowing magic tricks) because it is something i love doing, regardless of payment.

Anyway, thank you all for your continued support and thank you for spreading the message!

Onto the updates then...

The last 2 updates mainly fixed reported issues with logins for avatars with more than 16 characters length, crashes on startup when you switched the "Starting Location", some setting changes that seem kinda obsolete nowadays, reducing the volume of sound and media quite a lot to hopefully lessen the shock when you open the viewer for the first time and get an heart attack because of the login screen intro starting, the login button not enabling for first time users and some cleanup.

This update comes with another round of fixes, attached lights will no longer poof when sitting down on objects and refreshing your avatar be it adding/removing/editing/attaching/detaching anything while wearing a BOM avatar will no longer fold your avatar 16 times and then some.

Some UI improvements have been added as well, you can now see the link and face index when selecting them as long as only one face or link is selected, additionally the "X objects selected" string will no longer show 0 when "Edit Linked" is enabled and instead will count the selected links.

Apart from that there are mostly tiny UI bugfixes that triggered anyone with OCD... scrolllists clipping outside a few pixels at the top (very visible when editing shape), the radio buttons in Edit having a slightly different spacing than the checkboxes right next to them and they still used the radio button textures, the object manipulator not working when selecting multiple prims and the panel to edit universal layers was still completely untouched and looked like shit, no more that is.

One last thing though, as an attempt to encourage higher patronage for those who can or want, i've added a new benefit to Patron, all 10$ patrons can now specify their shop link (both inworld and marketplace) to be displayed on login. Don't get me wrong, i ABSOLUTELY HATE ADS which is why i wanted to do this extremely careful but some feedback would be welcome on it.

As you can see i've placed them at the top right for now, kinda like LL does it with events and that stuff on login page, it was suggested to make it at least three times as big but i'm highly against this change, what do you think? Should it be bigger or is it okay like that? What do the people think who pay for it? There's a delicate difference between visible and obnoxiously visible, i want it to be visible but i don't want it to look like forced ads, the user should be able to ignore it if he doesn't want to see it.

I'd also like to use the opportunity as shout-out to the team of Gateways of Realities, they are working on a game outside of SL but i've also just recently found their inworld avatars, while i'm not exactly a fan of the Dungeons and Dragons style Kobold (because they aren't cute and cuddly) its an absolutely amazingly well done avatar regardless. It's super low lag, uses only very little scripts, comes with a ton of customization, high quality bento animations, BOM support (and EXACTLY the way i imagined i'd use it) to swap out scale patterns and such, full mod support a nice and simple HUD, Materials support and more. It's exactly the type of content i want to see more, these guys know what they are doing and they are doing it proper. I was quite surprised seeing the creator use my Viewer for the in-HUD pictures. WIP Kobold below.

As always, some snapshot highlights from the Discord server.

By Aeeykay

By Kissmebaby Allen
By 털댕이

Monday, February 10, 2020

Black Dragon 64x - Update 3.7.0 "Improving Dragon"

This one took way too long...

Lets get right into why...

Some of you who have been following the Discord channel might have noticed that i left hints at the future of the Viewer, which to put it gently, doesn't look very good. The reason being, money. Obviously, it's always the money. Everyone knows that you need money to live, so do i (as little as it is) and the past 2 years i've been doing quite well with the little help of the community which i'm very thankful for. Sadly however, with some patreons jumping off due to financial reasons and more and more real life "issues" arising, the money is simply not enough anymore. Not enough as in, i can pay the internet bills and still have a tiny little bit for me to get some food if the need arises. However, with my parents getting older and them reaching an age at which the risk of them... "suddenly poofing" is getting dangerously high, they have been "gently pushing me" towards thinking of how i'm supposed to pay the bills when they can't anymore. Needless to say the obvious answer is "get a job" and that is exactly where the problems start. If i get a job i can basically guarantee you that Black Dragon is dead. I'm already several hours too short of time... friends, family, personal needs and then shove a 8-10 hour work day inbetween and the chaos is complete. Obviously this is neither what i want nor what you'd want (i assume). The only solution to this problem i see is getting more Patreon support but that posed more of a problem than i thought. You see in the past i've been very subtle with how i advertise Patreon, simply because i don't want people to feel like they need to help to let me continue doing what i do, ontop of that when it comes to money (from others) im very picky, i live in my own little utopian world where i believe that anything can be free (and should be free for the most part, especially a hobby project like this), obviously thats very naive to think but i do try my best to make these beliefs a reality, which is why Black Dragon has always been free and will always continue to do so. This also means that making people pay for it obviously is not an option and neither is offering "extras", e.g technically locking bonus features behind a paywall. Anyone should have everything the Viewer has to offer at all times, including personal support. And this means im left with only two options, either i get a job and will no longer have time to work on Black Dragon or i turn to you and ask for "more help". Asking for help alone pains me to no end, i hate asking for help but i no longer see any alternative to doing so.

So... my plan was to openly ask for more Patreon support, i give little care how, whether it is more Patrons or the same Patrons giving more although personally i'd prefer more people paying less because... well i think its obvious that more people having to pay less is better for everyone involved right? I was thinking of giving it roughly a month time, go around, "advertise" that i need help and hope for the best. If it doesn't work, i'll look around for a job which will most likely mark the end of Black Dragon (from me). I've always thought getting a thousand people to pay 1$ for something they love isn't hard but that proved to be kinda hard at least with how subtle i've been going about this the past 2 years.


Let's get to the update before i get sentimental.

It has been quite some time since the last update and i've made sure to include all the more stuff to make up for it. This update is primarily focused on QoL, improvements, bugfixes and the little things.

IM tab sides can now be switched from right to left (to the original style), this has been a hot request since a long time, the conversation window will now also display the name of the session at the top rather than simply saying "Conversations". The layout and look of tabs and the conversations window has been overhauled slightly to improve its overall look and get rid of the last remaining tiny annoyances. No more fugly tab lines clipping and i think i also fixed the expand thing too...

The keybinding system has been improved with a highlighting system which from now on tells you whenever you've bound the same key to two actions, it will highlight the entries and show a warning to bring it to your attention that you made a mistake and where. Ontop of that i added hopefully all the missing default controls, all the different variations (those that made sense) and i've fixed the missing camera pan controls for when you are sitting and a "Reset Roll" binding has been added too, you can now rebind all of these! To get all the new controls you'll have to reset yours to default or keep it as is if they are fine for you.

The poser has been improved too, the "Start Posing" button should now be the only button not greyed until it is pressed to disallow changing any values and giving the impression that they dont work, in addition the "Start Posing" button will now flash to signal the user that it needs to be pressed before anything can be done. Loading poses can now be done via a right click menu too, this has been done to allow loading rotations, positions and scales seperately or all together in any combination needed, the load button now also opens the same menu, double click loading will now default to loading the rotations and positions, instead of everything. This is to prevent your loaded pose from overwriting your scales if you made the pose for another avatar that uses different scales. No more deform unless you actually want that!

Graphics wise i fixed the broken Depth of Field smudge that you were seeing with "High Quality Depth of Field", i did a big booboo there but its fixed now and if that isn't enough you can now turn the close blur on/off as promised in the last update.

The new graphic preset system has been improved a bit too, it should now be able to load presets with special characters and spaces, yay!

Automatic Memory Management has been slightly improved as well, instead of defaulting to 90% of your max VRAM it will now default to your max VRAM minus 256mb. GPU's with less memory will have less memory available but anything from 3gb VRAM and up actually have more memory available to be bloated by oversized textures. BTW, the warning system will no longer trigger when you use the Automatic Memory Management, because it was stupid that it told you that you might have set your texture memory too low or high when in reality these values didn't matter since they were automated.

The rest is a lot of really tiny improvements all over the UI, sliders having a consistent width across the UI, warnings no longer being visible for a second before they vanish, Rects and Vector4's not working in Debug Settings, the old login screen video is back, some inconsistent layouts were fixed, wrong textures were changed, the login screen now has link buttons to Youtube, Blogger, Discord and Patreon, the Texture Console has been improved in accuracy and might actually work with AMD cards now (don't know, no one actually reported back), duplicate menu entries were removed, usernames are now saved in a list on login and can be selected and/or forgotten in preferences and a lot more!

As always, thank you very much for your support, i really appreciate that and welcome to Black Dragon to all the many new users that found the Viewer in the past 1,5 months!

Almost 5700 downloads for the AVX version and another 2800 for the non-AVX version. Thats a lot!

By Beev Fallen
By Loverdag
By Aeeykay
By Alex
By 털덩이
By 털덩이