This post was inspired by someone asking in a group how/if alphas, shine, and glow contributed to lag.
I had recently been researching some other topics and had come across a page in the wiki about mesh/rendering weight costs.
In fact, I had been doing some testing on my avatar with render weight, because I seem to be wearing more and more mesh lately.
With a mesh body, mesh head, mesh hands and feet, mesh hair, mesh clothes, mesh shoes, mesh jewelry – it’s endless.
Though I have a decent computer, I try to be mindful of others who might not.
When I attend dance shows or crowded events, I try to be as low-cost (render weight-wise) as I can.
I’ve even started adding the render cost of items to my LOTD posts.
It’s interesting to see how much items ‘cost’ – some I would think were heavy turned out not to be, and vice versa.
Render Weight Basics
Your basic avatar (wearing eyes, skin, shape, and hairbase – all required items) should be 1000 ARC.
I got mine to 800 (there’s a note on the Wiki about some baked textures having a -200 score, but I’m not entirely clear on what that means or how it works).
However, I was surprised to see how much some ‘additions’ to items can affect their render weight.
There is a base cost for an item, but then you have to add in ‘multipliers’ based on certain features.
If you make an item ‘shiny,’ for example, it will multiply the render weight of the item by 1.6.
Glow is 1.5 and flexi is x5!
This Can’t Be True, Can It?
The question about these render weight factors was asked in a rather large clothing template group, and I was surprised by some of the responses after the render weight wiki page was shared.
Someone said, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to those. They’re just ‘guidelines,’ not rules.”
Another person commented that the page couldn’t be right, because it listed alphas as x4, and “alphas make things invisible, so there’s no work for the computer to do.”
If you want to check your avatar render weight, go to Advanced > Performance Tools > Show Render Weight for Avatars (if you use FS).
I try to stay in the green (around 20,000) if I am going someplace laggy.
I’ve found that most jewelry has a pretty high render weight, so I tend not to wear jewelry a lot anymore, except for photos.
(Don’t forget to remove all those pesky scripts from things like hair/jewelry/shoes – those can add to lag as well.)
Kay over at Avataric has some really good posts about render weights, including the one featuring the picture above.
Should You Care?
Why should you care about render weights?
You don’t have to, of course.
But if you spend time dressing up your avatar and want others to see you in all your glory, you may want to, especially since LL is working on new tools that will let people set a baseline for which avatars will render and which will appear as ‘jelly babies,’ as Nalates Urriah termed them.
So if your avatar has a 100K+ render weight, and I have my preferences set to less than that, I will only see you as a colored blob.
Probably NOT the look most of us are going for. 😛
There have also been a few changes regarding limits in SL that you may or may not have heard about.
Originally, you could only wear one item for each layer (shirt, pants, etc.).
Then the option to ‘add’ items was added, allowing you to wear up to 5 items on each layer, with a total limit of 60 layers.
Additionally, you could attach a number of items to your avatar, but could only attach so many to any one attachment point.
Currently, according to the wiki, you can now wear 60 layers total, but the 5 item limit per layer has been removed.
You can also wear up to 38 avatar attachments (including HUDs), but you can now wear all 38 on one attachment point (if you wish).
I’m not sure why you would need to wear 60 layers of anything or put 38 attachments all on one point, but there you go. 🙂
(Note – you must always wear a shape, skin, eyes, and hairbase; however, only one of each is allowed.)
As I said, I am trying to be more conscious of my render cost.
One of my ‘to-do’ items is to go back through my inventory and get rid of really high render cost items that I don’t really need/use.
Or at least box them up. 😀
(Sadly, some 40-50K+ shoes may be getting binned. But then I have an excuse to go shoe shopping, right?!)
As I acquire new items (and/or use them in LOTD posts), I am trying to keep track of which designers have low render weight items.
I’ve even seen a few designers putting the render cost on their vendor ads, which I love.
That way I can know the render cost BEFORE I purchase the item rather than after.
And now that I’m wearing sooo much mesh, it’s nice to know that I no longer have to worry about where everything attaches.
I’ve run into issues with that before, since so many mesh items are/were made to attach to the right hand.
Making outfits could get complicated. 🙂
I didn’t like mesh much at first, but it has grown on me.
Indeed, it’s getting harder to find non-mesh items these days.
Be an informed consumer, but as always – caveat emptor!