Yesterday Firestorm released a long-awaited update. I downloaded and installed it immediately. I love Firestorm, and I am always sad when I am forced to use the LL official viewer. (Yes, I know there are some who love the official viewer, and that’s great. Use whatever makes you happy. Me, I’m sticking with Firestorm.)
First, let me just say that I am so appreciative of the Firestorm team and all the volunteer work they do to keep tech-illiterate peeps like me swimming in all the gorgeousness of SL. If you are in the Firestorm support group, a thank you might be appreciated. In fact, one sec while I go do that myself. 🙂
Ok, that’s done. Now, the two biggest things with this latest update are the Jelly Dolls and the Quick Graphics preferences. I have been awaiting both with great anticipation.
I’ve talked in many posts before about ARC/Render Weight. This is now called ‘Avatar Complexity.’ (How this number is calculated I don’t know exactly.) You can now set your ‘Maximum Complexity’ how you wish, in order to avoid being lagged out at busy events, for example. If you use Firestorm, it’s in the Quick Prefs window:
In the pic above, you can see the Max Complexity Slider under the Max Bandwith slider. You can set it to 0 (which will make pretty much everyone Jelly Dolls) or move it all the way up (which will make everyone render fully).
I went to a busy club last night just to test out how it worked and how people appeared. With a setting of around 30,000, most people in the club were Jelly Dolls. Interestingly, if they were Jelly Dolls, their animations appeared to be slow-motion (everyone was dancing at this club). I moved up the slider to around 70K and more people rendered. However, there were a few avatars (including the hostess at the venue) who did not render fully until I set the complexity to above 250K.
You can also see your own complexity. Under the Advanced menu > Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity. In the pic above, you can see that my complexity is 165,374. Not great, but I was wearing a mesh head for some photos, which makes my complexity larger than usual. The ‘rank listing’ has something to do with how distant from you others are, so your rank is always 1 (I think). The green 229m^2 – not a clue what that means.
Also, when you tp somewhere, you may get a message telling you that people around you may not render you fully because of your avatar complexity. I’m already seeing people who are annoyed about the complexity issue. A lot of people are afraid it will harken back to the days when ARC/RW was used as a tool to berate and belittle noobs and others who were ‘causing’ lag.
While this is probably going to happen, I am happy about the new information and settings offered. I have been paying attention to my own ARC/RW/ACI for some time now. For example, I no longer wear any jewelry when I go to dance shows. After doing some testing on my own, jewelry was often the culprit of my high complexity. I don’t routinely run around in a mesh head that I know may cause others to lag. And I have experience myself crashing when someone with an extremely high complexity renders. This way, I can control not only my own complexity, but how the complexity of others affects (or doesn’t) my own SL experience.
I’m also hoping that clothing/jewelry designers will become more aware (as residents do) of how complexity affects things and design items with lower complexity – as most home decor/landscape designers are already doing. Clothing/jewelry designers have not had to pay attention to it, because worn items don’t affect land impact/prim count the way that rezzed items do. However, since a large portion of residents are in SL to be SEEN, not rendered as a colored body, supply and demand may change that.
For those of you who are dancers, there is a way to make certain people (like others in your troupe) ALWAYS render for you. Simply click on their name or avatar and there should be a menu option to ‘always render’ so that they will show for you, regardless of your maximum complexity settings. This should also work when you go to a dance show and want to make sure the performers render. I believe I read that these settings will persist between log-ins for Firestorm, though not for the official viewer.
So for Firestorm users, you should be able to do this once and then have no worries when performing or going to a show. 😀
Quick Graphic Preferences
The other big item in the update is something I have been waiting for – the Quick Graphics Setting option. When I perform in a dance show, I turn down my draw distance, change certain items to not render, turn off shadows, and a myriad of other things. When I take photos, I bump up many settings so that I can take a very high-resolution picture. When I go to a crowded shopping event, I turn many settings down low, so that I don’t lag out or crash before I’m done shopping. Now I can create a quick graphics setting by doing all these things only once, and then loading that setting quickly whenever I need to.
See the little TV/monitor in the upper right corner? If you click on it, it will open a window where you can choose one of your quick graphics settings or open the graphics window to create one.
I set up two different options last night – one for everything on ultra/high for taking pictures and one with settings lowered for crowded events. So now, with just one click, I can be ready to go.
The graphics setting window looks like this:
At the bottom, there are now buttons for saving, loading, and deleting your presets. If you are using a preset, it will tell you which one you are using (or not) at the top of the window.
I can’t wait to try out these new options!