Today (8/2) the Firestorm-Phoenix team released a new version of the Phoenix Viewer. The announcement says a new griefer-crasher fix has been added along with several bug fixes. The full list is in the release notes. I’ll cover the ones I find interesting.
The rumor persists that Linden Lab will block Series 1 viewers. It doesn’t seem to matter how often the Lab says they won’t. Some rumors say all V1 viewers will be blocked. In general those rumors come from people misunderstanding what has been said and what will happen.
Most Series 1 or alternately labeled V1 viewers will never render mesh. The changes needed to a V1 viewer to accommodate the mesh render pipeline are massive and complex. It is easier to just start over with V2 code and add V1 features. Adding V2 features to a V1 viewer require extensive rewriting and are time consuming, which is why we see the V1 viewers fallen farther and farther behind the V2 versions.
Linden Lab is making over 100 revisions per day. That is not 100 versions, but 100+ builds. Even for a large team like the Firestorm-Phoenix team that means it is hard to just keep up. A small team of part time workers verses a larger full time team is not fair head-to-head competition.
Part of the rumor is that V1 viewers will break. That is speculation and what is being speculated depends on what one means by break. Viewer crash is unlikely. Things just not working, is the more likely meaning.
Most V1 viewers will never have web profiles. At some point profiles in V1 viewer are likely to stop working. One can use their web browser to get to the web profiles. That is inconvenient but possible.
The Enhanced Avatar Physics won’t render correctly. So, as more people use Physics Layers more avatars will render incorrectly on V1 viewers.
Mesh won’t render in V1 viewers. Instead you will see oddly shaped spheres and boxes. Jessica Lyon took pictures with a V1 and V2 viewer for side-by-side comparison. See: Non-Mesh Viewer vs Mesh Viewer. Since mesh is going to be used for avatars and clothes more and more avatars will render incorrectly.
It is possible to port all the V2 features to V1 viewers. The problem is the time needed to do the work and get the back ports working. So, as a V1 user you will fall farther and farther behind. Expect to see mesh next year. What new things will the Lab add to SL in that year? You can see those new things the following year. Fewer and fewer fans will use V1 or be willing to write code for V1 viewers.
From the Series 2 (V2) viewer code three features have been back ported to Phoenix.
Parcel Privacy – this is the feature that allows a parcel owner to set it to private. Once made private people on the parcel are invisible to those not on the parcel. Nor does local chat extend outside the parcel. The green dots on the mini-map are visible and selection beams are visible. So, it is still possible to know people are there. But, it does give much more privacy.
Region Environment Settings – This is the feature that allows a parcel owner to set Windlight values for their region and those will capable viewers to see the settings when they come into the region. This replaces the type of region environment settings previously used in Phoenix. Or… may be it is in addition to the previous style of handling environment settings.
Parcel Level Muting – You can mute sound coming from a parcel.
New Phoenix Features
Phoenix will now recognize mesh enabled areas and allow use of the 64x64x64 meter prims. One can build 64m objects in a mesh enabled sandbox region and move them to a region not yet enabled. You CANNOT move mesh to areas not yet enabled, but you can move large prims. Once there a large prim behaves like a mega-prim. Any size change will pop the object back to 10x10x10.
The Build Tools copy/paste has been added and improved.
Avatar Physics bugs are fixed.
Webkit fixes and upgrades have been added.
GPU recognition has been improved.
Install and Experience
The Phoenix Team recommends a clean install for this version of the viewer.
I no longer use Phoenix. So, I’m not doing hands-on reviews of the experience and performance of the viewer. I am using Firestorm and consider Phoenix an outdated transition and legacy viewer. I know lots of people like it and that is understandable. I am about having fun in SL and Phoenix, while good, doesn’t do the things I want to do. However, Firestorm is a great viewer.
The king is dead. Long live the king.