Buyer Beware

Before I continue here I want to point out that this post is my personal opinion, nothing more and nothing less.

I have a complaint about some creators of content in Second Life. Far too many of them do not consider what their creations look like with graphics settings other than what they use. I’ve seen many items in SL that only look good with one particular combination of settings. With any other settings they look like crap. Now I do understand that that is their choice, they create the items that many of us cannot, but it still bugs me.

That said I have a more serious complaint about certain creators. (you’re about to see why I  put the disclaimer at the top of this rant)

Some of these people may be very talented, but some either don’t have a clue about the effects of their recommendations, or they just don’t care as long as they get your money. Many recommend setting LOD above 4, or antialiasing to 12 or more. Then there are those that tell you to raise the  “MeshMaxConcurrentRequests” debug setting. Even worse is a recommendation to enable  “Full Res Textures”. This last one will crash probably 90% of the users in SL quite  quickly. This sort of thing has been a pet peeve of mine for some time, so why the rant now?

I had a user IM me for help today and they told me about some recommendations being made by TMP (The Mesh Project) and I snapped. The fact that they recommended setting antialiasing to 12 (which doesn’t exist, 2,4,8 and 16 are the choices) was bad enough as you need a pretty good computer to do so without taking a big hit in performance was bad enough, but no they went even further. They suggested enabling full res textures as well. For those of you not aware of what that setting does here is the short explanation. That setting will make ALL textures res at their full resolution regardless of how far away they are, thus loading far more textures than you actually need, which often overloads your memory. So not only will you take a large hit in performance but will also cause you to crash.

So for the 5000 L$ this user spent they also got recommendations and suggestions that will cause them lower performance and result in a crash. Oh and then there is the HUD they have that causes texture thrashing.

For those of you who are interested here are a few links that may help you understand why I am actually taking the time to do this rant. Take the time to read everything on the linked pages, and pass the information on to your favorite  creators folks. Maybe they will listen.

LL Jira

Community Forum

Firestorm Wiki

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6 thoughts on “Buyer Beware

  1. You have made a good point. But not sure you read the snowstorm code much.

    “which often overloads your memory. So not only will you take a large hit in performance but will also cause you to crash.”

    As you point out this will affect the resource usage the viewer. That a side the viewer actually detects your amount of GPU ram and Your onboard ram. from this it actually is supose to throtle back and does.

    This is why on my Machine with four gigs of ram it never uses more that around 2 gigs of ram. But on my other one with 16 gigs of ram it will go way over that. As for the ram on the gpu that is set to 512 max. and there is a project working on using more.

    What your real problem is is the cpu is getting hot from rendering and the operating system is backing it out.
    You bring up a valid point the default settings of the viewer are not to be taken lightly and buy forcing the viewer to work the hardware harder you will have failures. If I had a dime for every intel gpu laptop that burned up the gpu and cpu I would be rich.

  2. I came across this post because mister Ed Merryman talked about it in one of his great classes. I pointed out to him inworld that although i agree with what is written here, i have trouble understanding why it is in the first place that some things look so different on different settings. I can give you an example with shoes i have. They are Materials enabled and are very realistic. But from time to time i like to enable space reflections, And that’s when they become a monstrosity. Again, i agree with Ed’s rant on high res textures and pointless load on servers and your computer. But! Why does LL show such differences in graphics settings. Why do my shoes look extremely realistic in Ultra but with space reflections off and horrible when on?

    I play other games then SL (please don’t give me the ‘SL isn’t a game rant’) and i also pointed that out to Ed that other games have simple graphics settings, and if you degrade those settings, things still look more or less like they have to although with degraded quality but it doesn’t cause errors or just plain wierdness.

    I am not a tech and will never be a know it all, but I think we have to look on both sides here. I hear allot of problems with LOD, space reflections, anti aliasing and what have you. TMP has high detailed but we have to see the facts as well. It is difficult to create a good looking product on all possible settings and computer setups. You have different computer setups, with varieties of memory, graphical capacities and so on.

    I am Not that long in SL to know how it was in the early days, but we are a long way from default avatars with layered clothing. I believe proper education is needed on both sides, the creator of the product as well as the buyer of the product. I believe the creator should give proper warnings on the complexity of the product and how strong of a computer you need for it. and the buyer needs to be aware of that.

    but that brings us to an other nasty problem. what if an other user sees you in your high end product and sees you as a monstrosity because he doesn’t have a high end computer?

    Again, we are far away from the layered clothing and prim hair. I personally upgraded my computer (bought a new one) for SL. I am daily in SL as i think most of us are. But then again I understand that not everyone can afford a stronger computer and that brings me back to the wild differences in graphics quality within ‘all’ SL viewers.

    This is my view on this. i may be very wrong so don’t shoot me for it. i’m just expressing my thoughts on this.

    • I won’t point out that SL is or is not a game, that is for each person to decide for themselves. People leave SL because there are no missions, there is no scoring, no ranking, no boss fights. To them, this game sucks.

      For those who understand what SL really is and what it offers, it’s a good thing. These people understand that nothing is pre-built, there are no missions, no goals, no points, no ranking, no awards or badges. It is Second Life, a place where you can be, do and create anything, interacting with people from around the world. Those people don’t see SL as a game.

      But my point is actually about how a game or SL works on your computer. Most games have a scene or, if you will, a sim, that is already built, textures all baked in, non-player-characters (NPCs) clothed and added, shadows already calculated and placed. Basically all the rendering and raytracing was done long ago when the game was being created. And you can’t leave an area unless you complete the mission or exit with a menu or trasnporting device placed in world. And when you do leave a scene, a new one has to be loaded, and there really is no looking back to see where you moved from, it may simply not be there, even though it might be the village at the end of a path.

      In SL, almost nothing is pre-created, almost no avatar is an NPC. All content one sees was and is being created by the people in SL. It can change all the time (Liv Glam) or it can remain unchanging (Hyannisport). You can go from one scene to another and see exactly where you came from, unless you teleport, and then it should be obvious that you can’t see your departure point.

      All that that real-time ray tracing and rendering and texture baking takes a lot of computer processing to accomplish, which makes it unlike any game, really. So when you compare SL to a game, try to compare only after you arrive at a region and everyone else has already arrived. All textures should be completely rezzed in, all scripts should be at their most efficient (which many aren not). And you can’t move your camera in any way not permitted in the game, so no camming around. Also, everyone should be seated on some object, whether a vehicle or stationary seat, so that their movement doesn’t affect physics performance.

      Once you make SL look and act like a game, there’s a good chance it will perform like one.

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