Once a week or more often I upgrade to a new version of the Snowstorm Development Viewer. It is one of these versions that eventually becomes the next Beta Viewer. This version has a couple of features I’ve been expecting.
Update: The SL Viewer 2.7.0 Beta is out and the 2.7.1 version is the same.
Kirsten’s viewer has had dynamic shadows revealed as Preference settings for some time. Now this version of the SLV has the settings out where users can turn them on and off. In the left column of settings in the Graphics tab you’ll see the new settings.
Lighting & Shadows – This setting will be grayed out if your hardware does not support it or if Atmospheric Shaders are disabled (another setting in Preferences). Turning this feature on should engage deferred rendering. You should see little difference in the render, but the image should look better. The impact on Frames Per Second (FPS) while using medium power hardware should be small if even noticeable. There is a major improvement on the number of lights rendered. Previously 6 or 8 was the max. It is unclear how many can be handled now. In the past months we have seen over 200 render in tests. (See: KirstenLee Viewer S20(40) Released) The quality of Avatar Impostures improves. You probably won’t realize when your viewer is or isn’t using impostures. Shiny and Bright should look better.
Ambient Occlusion – This feature will be grayed out when Lighting & Shadows is disabled. This feature can be optionally used with the Shadows feature. The only visible change is nooks and crannies will be darker. If used with Shadows the shadows will be smoother and less sharp edged.
Depth of Field – This feature affects the sharpness of the overall image. I makes the render appear more like what we see in real life. If we focus on something close, things far away will go out of focus and vice-versa. DoF is a term taken from classic photography. Personally I don’t like DoF.
Shadows: None, Sun/Moon, and Sun/Moon + Projectors – This is the feature that turns on dynamic shadows. All objects that can cast and receive shadows will now have them. This is kinda lame inside buildings but outside it is very cool and really improves the render. The Projectors thing is for the feature of prims that allows you to turn them into a type of flashlight or slide projector. If you make a spotlight and walk in front of it, you’ll see your shadow in its projected light. This feature takes a hit on medium power hardware. My 8800 GTS drops about 10 to 15 FPS depending on the complexity of the region.
You can see images of these features here: Deferred Rendering Test
Click to Move
This is an option in: Me -> Preferences -> Move & View -> Double Click to: Teleport or Auto-Pilot.
You can set double click to teleport to where you click or to walk there. This should prove interesting in combat games where I never have enough hands and fingers.
I think these features showing up in the Development Viewer are more innuendo that mesh is arriving sooner rather than later. One of the developers and operators in OSGrid feels mesh won’t arrive in SL before the end of the year. I think it may arrive by the end of next month. If you are putting money on it, the safer bet is somewhere in the middle. May be we should get a pool going.