Yesterday the new Firestorm and Phoenix viewers were released. I think with this release the Phoenix viewer is pretty much dead. On March 21, when Direct Delivery goes live on the Second Life grid, the Phoenix 1600 release will be noticeably broken, at least the inventory panel will be. So, Phoenix users will need to upgrade to the version 188.8.131.521.
HOWEVER, Firestorm has a Phoenix mode, soon to be named V1 mode, that is almost an exact Viewer 1.23 interface. But, with the new SL and FS features. Before you download Phoenix 1691, watch the video and then decide which viewer you want to download. I am encouraging you to go with Firestorm and click on the Phoenix mode. I’ve reached the point that I’ll soon uninstall my copy of Phoenix and I won’t be upgrading to Phoenix 1691. Firestorm is the future.
Download & Install
Simple download, quick. Install is the basic SL Viewer install. It installs over the top of your last install. They usually have one do a clean install. They did not say anything about that in the release announcement as they usually do. I tried installing over the top. It seems to work. I hate the idea of re-downloading a 9gb cache…
I think this install wipes some of the potentially problem files or otherwise handles some install issues. Some of my common settings seemed to disappear… or I hadn’t reset them in the previous version. Hard for me to know, I jump from viewer to viewer.
First thing after login, you are greeted with one of the responses to the TPV Policy Changes: a dialog asking you whether you want to display your viewer version when chatting in the FS/PH Support group. PLEASE, click YES. That will make life for everyone much easier.
What this does is prefix each line of chat you type with the viewer version ID. This ID is only appended when you are in the FS/PH Support group chat.
REMEMBER. FS/PH Support is going to be busy answering questions and solving problems. Avoid using the group to complain, commend, flame, or just chat. If you don’t have a question, stay out, at least for a few days. Asking questions like, (said in ahigh, trembling, whinny voice) ‘What did you do to my Firestorm?’ is counterproductive and only broadcasts your [place whatever pejorative here you want].
If you are frustrated, visit the FS Forum and vent. When you are sane again, ask for help in support.
You have to watch the video, I’m not going to rewrite what the deal is when Jessica does such a good job in the video. Some of what found that is not in the video follows. Also, know that I use the viewer in V3 mode. I think this will be the default mode for Firestorm as it eases the shock to new users coming from SL Viewer 3, which makes sense to me.
There is a new kind of button. It is a sort of button within a button. I think it is a great space saving feature. The example I have is the AO, Animation Override. The smaller button turns the AO on and off. The larger one opens the setup panel.
There are some new buttons in the main Toolbar Buttons panel; Statistics, Web Browser, and Debug Settings. I’m so used to using Ctrl-Shift-1 for Viewer Stats I don’t need the Stats Button. Having the Debug Settings on a button while setting up the viewer could be a big help, if I can just remember there is such a button when I start making changes.
Button behavior changes a bit. In previous versions if I minimized a panel and clicked a button, it first closed the panel then a second click would open it. Now a minimized panel is opened, saving a click.
The Firestorm button opens a handy quick settings panel. It has the most commonly changed settings. I am hoping the camera settings eventually made it out of Debug Settings. My changed rear view settings often do not work well in an auditorium setting. I need to change them and doing via Debug is a bit of a pain.
In the upper left of the World Map is a chevron type icon that hides and reveals the Legend, Find, and Teleport controls.
There is some problem with the map-tile server. A fix was recently added. It is better about providing tiles at extreme zoom out. But, I found some titles still missing until one zooms in close.
There seems to be more people on the map than I am used to seeing. My counter only shows 48,000+ online. May be it’s a bot invasion… or they are breeding and the kids never have to login, so the count is off… and… and… I prolly should find my meds.
Anyway, the point is: if you have missing tiles, it is likely the LL server at fault.
In a new viewer I tend to go through the settings and get my favorites enabled and disabled. Changing the Rear View camera position is now a must for me.
In Preferences->Colors there are a load of color choices. Only Nirans out does Firestorm’s ability to choose colors. I had an easier time setting colors for FS.
All the TPV’s do these differently. The settings are complex and all developers have their ideas of how to make it easier. It isn’t. But, Firestorm has a nice layout and it makes sense.
In Preferences->Graphics->Rendering (tab) there is a setting for Alpha Mask Rendering. Most us know this as invisiprims. So, I think this setting will be confused with Alpha Layers. It could be better named.
Sound & Media
The Media Filter feature is enabled by default. This is still the most horribly annoying feature to ever hit a viewer. I would love to see stats on how many people turn it off. It is one of the first things I disable. Preferences -> Sound & Media->General tab.
Network & Cache
The default minimum cache size is set. With HTTP Get Texture you’ll want to up this. I max mine. Preferences->Network & Cache.
While you are in there make sure you are using the separate caches a clean install sets up by default. The default for Firestorm is a folder in the path named Firestorm.
There is a radio button for internal or external web browser use. Neither was selected. I suppose that could be from installing over the top of a previous install. I know this is a setting I always change to external.
Move & View
The control to enable a chat range circle in mini-map is in this section. Preferences->Move & View->Firestorm tab.
General has the auto-accept settings. I’m not sure how these will change with the coming roll out of Direct Delivery.
The ‘Look At’ controls are here. These are the controls for how Look At Targets are shown and whether your Look At info is broadcast. You can use these settings to see who is perv caming you and hide when you are perv caming.
This is mostly empty now. The control to allow/show other grids at login is here. The viewer carries a warning that it may not be usable on other grids. I suggest you check with other grid operators before using it on a grid other than Linden Lab’s grids.
Lots of control here. Some are looking for away to move the IM Notice buttons to the bottom right. They default in V3 view to the upper right as in SL Viewer 3.
Firestorm – General
This panel has the unique Firestorm feature controls and a number of tabbed pages.
RLVa is here. Disable teleport screens is here. Enable or disable the Firestorm Bridge here. If you want to try this viewer on OSGrid, be sure to disable the bridge before logging in. The place gets cluttered up with bridges that fall off.
Firestorm – Protection
Spam protection is here as are several other features; block sit, revoke permissions, texture lag, and a couple of notifications.
Firestorm – Avatar
Avatar head movement and selection beam controls are here.
Firestorm – Windlight
This section has lots of Windlight settings that are not available in the SL Viewer. They make for a nice experience when exploring.
Firestorm – Tags
This is another casualty of the TPV Policy change. You can however change tag colors that you see. So, you can change tag color based on whether they are in chat range or not. You can also set the height that a tag is above avatar heads. This is great for combat where some players try to obfuscate there meter text by hiding it in the tag text.
Speed and Stability
In general it is the same speed as the LL viewers. I get around 12 FPS set on HIGH with L&S, AO, and S/M shadows on.
I used the viewer for a couple of hours. Made it through a user group meeting and survived Mayfair (a mostly all mesh region).
No crashes. I am running nVidia driver 296.10.
I’ll have to try it in Phoenix mode next.