Niran has released the ‘Final’ version of Niran’s Viewer. That is final as in finally complete, not the last. Niran’s blog has an article that is worth the read. I’ll mention the main points, but I won’t cover all the details.
Some viewer developers want their viewer to be the best viewer. Kirsten’s was bleeding edge technology for the best rendered image. Henri’s Cool Viewer seems to be about stretching the life of V1 viewers, which in Henri’s case is probably more about the user interface than the code. Linden Lab’s viewer is about being easy to learn. Firestorm is a power user’s viewer, imo.
Niran wants to create a viewer with the best render image. For Second Life I think that is an awesome goal. I may be a bit more visually oriented than most. So, I like high quality graphics. I loved exploring Blue Mars. But, I need more computer to run at the quality I want. My duel core just isn’t cutting it with my new graphics card.
Niran’s Graphics Now
I take it that Niran is working on the graphics pipeline. He warns that this release will probably produce fewer FPS then the previous. This is because he has changed the shadow render to get better shadows. You can see the comparison photos on his blog. If I understand Niran the shadows produced in the SL Viewer on Extreme are equal to the Niran Viewer’s shadows on High. Niran feels the FPS lost is more than made up for by quality.
On High I’m getting 9 to 12 FPS with this version of Nirans Viewer. (Duo Core 2 firstname.lastname@example.org w/GTX560 Vista 32). On Ultra I get about 4 to 8 FPS. But, the shadows are awesome. In the image notice I’m in my little house. The ‘window’ transparency is high and I’m getting shadows inside the house. If I turn the window opacity up the shadows change.
The image shows setting the wind0ws to 100%, 50%, and 0% opacity. From inside the windows never go opaque. From the outside they do. Whatever, you can see the difference in the shadows.
In the SL Viewer my home is in shadow regardless of the window setting. I’ll have to try the latest SLV to see if it handles shadows this way now.
It is interesting to note that this viewer is based on the Shining code branch. This means it is getting the latest graphics fixes. In some cases is using fixes and improvements that haven’t even reached the SL Development Viewer, much less the Beta.
It also means that other fixes found in the Dev and Beta viewers are not in the Niran Viewer.
I’m not up on what the story is with trees. I think the Lindens turned off tree animation to get a bit better performance. It’s not even and option in current SL Viewers. Or maybe just I don’t know where the settings are.
Niran made tree animation a part of this viewer. There is a video of it in his blog. I think the trees move too much, but that is probably a setting.
I haven’t been playing with skins. I was having too much trouble with them in the V2 and 3’s. Viewers are changing so fast that by the time I get a skin installed, a new viewer is out.
Niran has the Darkness skin working in this release and has apparently put some effort into it. Niran says this skin is very different from what people have seen. It makes lots of use of fade outs.
When I started using it I found a few interface items that were animated.
The viewer comes with Miguael’s skin called Ashen Blood.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Viewers build their fan base on User Interface (UI). Niran’s Viewer has a different UI. It will take some time to get used to it. If you think about what a control does or affects you can usually find it in Nirans layout.
Niran is working to make this the most customizable UI possible. It is FUI (Flexible UI) based as best I can tell and has been extended. In the Azure skin one can even customize the transparency. Color is customizable.
The IM panel has been redone. I’ve not been following Niran’s Viewer closely. To be blunt I was hoping Kirsten’s would survive, but that is not to be. Today I filled out the Crowdfunder withdrawal. So, it seems to have fallen to Niran to draw blood and provide the bleeding edge.
If I understand Niram found code in the SL Viewer for IM features not yet being used in the SLV. These are now part of NV. Both text and voice chat have some new stuff.
I am unhappy with the size of IM and group chat windows. Also, they don’t remember the size you have made them. Close a group or IM and it next opens at the small default size. The other side of the sizing issue is how much screen do you want to cover up?
#SL Graphics Tweaking
The new Preferences panels for graphics have been redesigned. Niran says these should allow one to more easily tweak their settings, see the effects, and not take too much of a performance hit while doing it.
See the graphics section below for images and more information.
I have now heard from a few places that getting a viewer to run well on all platforms and hardware configurations is nearly impossible. Niran joins that group. While there are a lot of bug fixes that went into the release Niran expects it will help some, have no effect on others, and degrade stability for others. The only way to know which group you are in is to try the viewer.
Niran expects to be adding more features. However, we are told this will not be the feature rich viewer others strive to provide. Niran’s intention is to make this an excellent machinima and photographic viewer.
Features added will be considered and added when they fit with Niran’s style and sense of usefulness. Input on features and requests are welcome. It seems information on how you would use a feature or why it is needed/wanted is important to Niran’s decision process.
A Linux version is coming.
Niran expects to be releasing lots of little updates. I was writing this Saturday and reading that Niran version 1.01 would be out tomorrow… which I doubted as that would be Christmas day. But, I was late Sunday a new release was out. Version 1.02 is supposed to be out New Years.