Hiding Your Windlight Under a BushelAmong the exciting Second Life features in development is the new Windlight environmental enhancements. There's no public schedule yet, but the draft spec has been kicking around since mid-June which was aptly summarized in Inara Pey's blog.
The most basic part of this is just the Lab implementing an official, more universal way for landowners and Estate managers to specify the sky and water settings viewers see by default over any parcel or region, similar in effect to what some third party viewers have done with text in parcel descriptions.
One step further is the ability to exchange Windlight settings as Inventory assets. Some will recall that this was promised years ago when Windlight was first introduced (there must be a Torley video somewhere, with a Real Soon Now assurance) and now it finally will be realized, uh, Real Soon Now.
That step is important as groundwork for the most exciting development: Scripted, per-user Windlight. And that's exciting because scripts can make fine-grained distinctions of where an avatar is located. The effects, then, can be specific not just to parcel boundaries but to location within a parcel: inside the peasant's hovel, far overhead in the sky castle, atop the roof garden, in the underwater lair, etc., all on the same patch of land.
Scripts will also be able to change the settings over time while the avatar remains in one place, as "weather conditions" change (precipitation still a separate scripting challenge). Or different avatars may be shown different conditions for the same location, perhaps corresponding to their different progress through a narrative.
Because this scripted Windlight could be disruptive if misused, it will be controlled by Experience permissions -- but that may help promote wider use of Experiences, generally enriching Second Life for participants.