Update: This article constantly pulls lots of people. I’m not sure why. In February of 2011 the Ascent Viewer’s development was discontinued. I wrote 2 articles about the Ascent Viewer; this review (Sept 11, 2009) and the one about its being discontinued (linked in this paragraph).
The Singularity Viewer is the descendant of the Ascent Viewer. Or in more geeky terms, Singularity is a branch of the Ascent Viewer code. — End update.
Finding a new viewer has become the new quest for many Second Life residents. In general most have made the safe and simple choice and are using the Imprudence Viewer. A number of residents have abandoned Third Party Viewers (TPV). They have started to use the official SL viewers either SLV1 (Second Life Viewer version 1) or SLV2. A few of us are using Second Life Development Viewers (SLDV), which come out daily as part of the Snowstorm team’s work. Others are exploring and testing other viewers. This is about the Ascent Viewer for those exploring TPV’s.
Since trust is an issue for TPV users I feel I need to comment on the spin and outright lies spinning off the Emerald viewer drama. See the Emerald Scandal blog if you want to keep up on the trashy details. Accusations have been made that the Ascent Viewer is a combination of two Trojan viewers; Interia Viewer and Nano Viewer. It is hard to track down the validity of the charges. What I do know is the Ascent site says the Ascent Viewer is based on Interia, which is based on Snowglobe 1.4. The site also states the viewer includes code from Nano and other viewers.
Ascent is developed solely by Hg Beeks and Charley Levenque (who is also Charlotte Wirtanen). Our source code contains contributions from many developers who were involved with Snowglobe, Inertia, Nano, Emerald, Imprudence, Cool VL and many other viewers.
Google and Bing show little on the Interia Viewer (it is a good search for seeing the difference between Google and Bing). Searching for Nano Viewer shows a bit more information, but the links are old and most of the information is gone. I find nothing conclusive either way, good or bad.
I will point out that all TPV’s have code from a variety of sources and contributors. So far the only people making derogatory comments about Ascent are those likely to have an agenda and that have been less than completely honest on previous occasions. Salt the reports as you will. The Ascent Viewer has made it on the TPV List.
The download is about 44mb. It is available here: Main Page Ascent Viewer
No zip file. The download is an EXE file. Install is typical. No complications. It installs in its own folder.
The install sets up Ascent to use the default SL cache. Which returning readers will know I think is a bad idea. So, once the viewer is open and before logging in change the cache to a new folder then restart the viewer. (Edit -> Preferences -> [Network])
Pressing Alt-Shift-G opens the grid selector. Only SL grids are included. No easy OpenSim links.
This is not a complete features list. This viewer is very Emerald/Imprudence like. There are fewer features than in Emerald. But all the important and useful stuff is there. For a more complete list see Ascent Viewer Feature List.
Command Line – This is the feature that allows one to type commands in the chat dialog and have the viewer execute them. For instance, changing the draw distance setting by typing ‘dd 32’ (without quotes) to set draw distance to 32 meters. (Edit -> Preferences -> [Ascent System] -> [Command Line])
Breasts – For many this was the initial attraction to Emerald. This is a duplicate of the Emerald feature. Imprudence has the settings hidden in Debug Settings, last I looked. (Edit -> Preferences -> [Ascent Vanity] -> [Body Dynamics])
Inventory – Has better sorting options.
Link Number – For builders programming scripts this feature provides the link number of the selected prim.
Build Copy-Paste – This allows one to copy position, size, or rotation (separate copies) to another prim. But it lacks the math features built into Imprudence.
Build Pivot Point – This allows one to move the pivot point of prims. I haven’t tested this feature but generally it is limited to how the viewer handles prims and adds no benefit to scripts.
Per Avatar Settings – several settings can be saved for each avatar you use. This is a unique feature rare among viewers.
Ascent Menu – Several often used features are in the top menu item Ascent (see image). There is an AO and a pose stand.
Log Out – this feature lets one log out of SL without closing the viewer. Handy for changing avatars.
While there is nothing really exciting about this viewer, it appears to be solid and to have all the important features. However, I did not see the settings for RLV or shadows. It is a very nice viewer.
With my Dual Core2 2.44ghx 4gb ram and nVidia 8800 GTS I get 35 to 40 FPS.