Kirsten Viewer Install Tips

Kirsten Viewer

KirstenLee Viewer Shadows (29)

Kirsten’s viewer is a rapidly changing and is a bleeding edge viewer. Things that worked well in a previous version may not work in the latest version. Also, the default install process sometimes works well and sometimes it does not work so well. So, knowing the tricks and gotcha’s is essential for those using Kirsten’s Viewer.

Niran put up a post on Kirsten’s forum with a load of tips and tricks. Niran´s Guide for Kirstenviewer

Kirsten’s viewer is supposed to clear the cache automatically on any version update. My experience with S20 (29) is that it didn’t. I had to manually clear the cache. See: Kirsten Viewer S20 (29) Released But, the manual cache clear described by Niran hasn’t worked for me. May be it is a 32 bit 64 bit thing. However Niran’s idea to save settings is something of which I had not thought.

I was just blowing out the cache and I losing all my viewer settings. Having a way to save those settings when clearing the cache or installing a new version is nice. On Vista and Win7 the default settings cache is in C:\Users\[your logon ID]\AppData\Roaming\Kirstens S20\user_settings.

Inside the cache (Roaming\Kirstens S20) is a folder labeled user_settings. Copy this folder to a new location. It contains other folders and files. The files have your settings and are what you need to save to save your settings. During a new install over the top of a previous install these files are removed. After the install copy the saved files back into the cache.

In C:\Users\[your logon ID]\AppData\Local\Kirstens S20\ is the texture cache. Often it is the files in this cache that are causing me problems. There is a folder inside labeled texturecache that has more folders. Inside all these are the downloaded textures. You can delete everything inside the Local\Kirstens S20 folder.

Windlight Settings

If you dig around in these folders you will find folders titled skins and windlight. These will likely be empty. If you have a ton of Windlight settings, like I do, you’ll want to save those and may be move them from viewer to viewer. You’ll find the Windlight settings hiding in C:\Program Files\Kirstens S20\app_settings\windlight or wherever you installed Kirsten s20. These files are usually left in place during a new version install. However, if you add lots of new Windlight settings you should probably back this folder up. Plus these files can be copied to other viewers, so you have all the same settings in each viewer.

I have my own Windlight settings folder that I use as a collection point. Every so often I copy the Windlight settings from all the different viewers into that folder. After a new install I can copy the collection back into the viewer.


The same is true of skins. The actual skins reside in a folder labeled C:\Program Files\Kirstens S20\skins. However, as user interfaces change skins may not be compatible across versions. I have not explored skins or how to make them. So, I’m not sure.


There is a thread on Kirsten’s forum about performance and multiple video cards. See What kind of system can run full shadows?

Personalities start to show through (meaning drama as rude people expose their selves). Niran claims SL does not handle SLI and multiple cards… well… if you have two video cards you hopefully understand the technicalities of getting the best performance out of them. Using them incorrectly can produce better looking frames but slower frame rates. Getting things right for a particular game can give great results. The multi-GPU cards are the future and anyone buying a new card should go that route.

Many people trying to enable SLI for SL and use multiple GPU’s are not seeing a speed improvement, others are. Nvidia says SL is optimized for SLI, but they have a vested interest, selling cards. If you want to try, there are instructions for setting up your cards. See SLI Application Profiles: How to Guide

In 2008 people were setting it up but only getting something like a 10% boost in frame rate. The same people get huge boosts in performance on other games. Seems those getting the most performance help in SL are using anti-aliasing (AA), which takes some serious graphics power. With multiple cards they are pushing AA up to 4x and 6x and maintaining high frame rates. One set of GPU’s is doing the extra AA rendering and passing it to the primary card. I doubt the SL software is even aware of what is happening.

Others are finding that using an older graphics card, say an 8800, as a dedicated physics card, omitting the SLI bridge, with a new 200 or 400 series card doing the rendering provides a big step up in performance. However, one has to benchmark the settings. For default settings letting a big 400 series card do it all gives the best performance. So, unless one is into tweaking settings…

Remember. SLI requires matching cards. No mixing, AFAIK.

All the Settings

Niran provides a good explanation of things like Deferred, Shadows, SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion), and Global Illumination. In some cases rather than explain what these do Niran provides images with a setting on and off so you can see it.

My Experience

I’m running Vista on a Dual Core-2 (6600) with a 8800 GTS. Previously my viewer would go to 0.00? FPS when I turned on shadows in (29). So, I turned off everything that Niran suggested. That got me running with shadows on. But, wasn’t too pretty.

One of the first things I had to change was Global Illumination (GI) on the Me -> Preferences [Graphics] [Advanced] [Lighting]. The Min. Luminance I had turned down to zero had to be moved up to 1.2 to keep everything from being washed out to almost white. Even with GI turned off.

Kirsten Viewer

Shadow Problem (29)

Next with most things turned off, I turned on shadows, Me -> Preferences  [Graphics] [General] Shadows and Lighting. I still kept a good frame rate but my world went dark. Most everything was dark or black.

Fixing that required I turn on Atmospheric shader Def-render. Then things started to look pretty good. I was getting 8 to 16 FPS with nice shadows. Several other settings changed on their own as I tweaked things. But I have nice shadows now and ok frame rates. J

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