Kirsten S21(4)RC2 Release Review

Kirsten S21(4)RC2

Kirsten S21(4)RC2 Menu Items

This article is my impression of the new RC2 version of the Kirsten Viewer. I’ll cover the new features and changes in the section titled Experience. (Download)

Install

Download is typical, nothing unusual. The download file is about 28mb. The install goes into the Kirsten S21 folder by default. The install removes the preview install and skins. That seems to take some time. I suppose it is deleting a list of known skins rather just blowing the folders away. Still, if there are logs or skins you want to save, do that before starting the install.

The settings and custom cache location are retained. The graphics settings for my 8800 GTS 320mb card are reset, which means Lighting and Shadows and Ambient Occlusion are turned off.

Experience

This is a Release Candidate release, which typically means more fixes than new features. However, Kirsten is adding features from Linden Lab’s work and other third party developers.

I started off with L&S + Occlusion off. I also started with the default skin, Azure, which I happen to like. The Cyan or teal colors are a favorite of mine.

In my little cottage I get 38 to 42 FPS. With Lighting & Shadows and Ambient Occlussion on I slow down to 20 to 25 FPS. With Sun and Moon shadows I slow down to 7 to 10 FPS. (Duel Core2 w/8800 GTS)

One of the first things I noticed is some new buttons in the upper left.

The house icon is a teleport home button, the shortcut keys are; Ctrl-Shift-H.

The round ‘I’ information icon is for land information. It open an About Land panel that is much like the one the series 1 viewers have. It has the General, Covent, Objects, Options, Media, Sound, and Access tabs. It is different than the ‘I’ icon in the SLURL area. That one opens the sidebar Place – Profile. So, they different but similar things, pretty kewl.

The Sun and Cloud icon floods the region with 5 meters of water… NO… teasing. It opens the Advanced Sky Editor.

The Wrench icon opens Preferences. I like having it there. Not that I will use it much, I’m so into pressing Ctrl-P the habit will be hard to break. But, for new people it should create some curiosity and hopefully help the noobies find Preferences.

User Interface

This viewer with the Azure skin is a modified SLV2 interface. Those coming from the old viewers, SLV1, will have some serious adjusting to do. Those coming from SLV2 will adapt quickly. I suspect it will take SLV2 users some time to find all the neat features.

I think the panels need individual close ‘X’ buttons. Having to go back down to the bottom menu is awkward. Otherwise Kirsten’s interface is nice.

Preferences

A quick look reveals little new.

The main new item is a toggle for the Depth of Field (DoF). You’ll find it in Prefernces -> Graphics -> Advanced tab -> Misc tab. This is the same page on which the other DoF settings reside.

Film

Kirsten Viewer Film Menu

Kirsten Viewer Film Menu

Notice in the image that in the top menu there is a new menu item; FILM.

This menu item has a collection of the settings that machinima peeps need to change. You can find most of these settings in Preferences, but not all in one place.

An interesting item is at the bottom of the list, Agent Recorder. There is nothing to explain how it works in the KirstenLee forum. Most of the viewer related wiki’s have a section that lists the controls/menu recorder items. It is an old thing in viewers. The new menu puts it out where people can find it. The general purpose is to record an avatar movement and later play it back. This supposedly makes filming easier. You can have your avatar walk a path then during playback do the filming.

I find that no matter what I do my avatar flies during playback. 🙁 The same thing happens in SLV 2.6 Dev 220434 and Phoenix 818.

In spite of that, the menu is going to make lots of photographers and machinimaists happy.

Lighting and Shadows

Changing the value while logged in is not a good idea. It puts my viewer into black screens and in and out of not responding. Also, restarting the viewer does not fix the problem. The computer has to be rebooted.

As long as I change setting while logged off things work well.

Stability

Pretty good. My longest continuous use was may be 3 hours. No crashes, other than when I tried to turn L&S on. In complex areas with tons of textures, like an art exhibit, the viewer may start going in and out of not-responding and the screen blinking. A restart clears the problem. It’s a good idea to clear the cache when that happens.

Summary

Nice viewer. The S21 and SLV2.6 viewers still lack the builders tools needed to make them popular with builders. But, the S21 viewer is intended as the best photographers and machinimagraphers viewer for Second Life and OpenSim grids. I think it has attained that goal and continues to get better.

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