Niran released this version March 17, 2012. I saw Inara did a review. Our takes are different. I’ll try to skip some of the stuff she covers or at least provide more information. Also, I’m running the nVidia 296.10 version on my GTX560, which may change how some things work for me. I seem to have fewer problems now that I’ve updated.
The viewer is innovative. If you are looking for something different, this viewer is different.
I was thinking the viewer is fast. I got 18 to 22 FPS with… well I was going to say, but it’s complicated. I can’t really compare settings. I’ll just say the default settings are what I started with. But, getting Lighting & Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Sun & Moon Shadows on I get about 8 FPS at my home.
I went over to Mayfair. If you have not been to the region, go. It’s all mesh construction, or nearly all mesh. With Shadows off I was getting 18 FPS and with them on 8 FPS.
Jumping over to Celtic Myst I get another fast region rez and 18 FPS with L&S on,AO on, and S/M Shadows off. Nice. And you know I love the jewelry there. I test viewers there so I can drool.
Whoa… this is different. If you use my Camera Position Tips which were originally explained by Penny Patton, you will be used to the view… sort of. But, the camera behavior is very different. The arrows and mouse steering are different. I kinda like it. But, it did through me a curve.
The camera is located behind you and to the right. I usually have it behind me and down lower than the default SL Viewer location. So, the offset to the right throws me off. I keep walking into things. Fortunately I don’t drive in SL. THAT would be a disaster.
If you mouse steer, you have to turn off Double Click Teleport. You’ll find it in the top menu->NV->Edit->Preferences (or press Ctrl-P)->Advanced->Movement (tab). The menus have been scrambled. It’s a rational arrangement, but it is way different. Those that hate change will be hating on the menus. They take some time to learn.
As you click on the avatar and scoot the mouse the behavior is different. The camera moves but the avatar does not pivot as I expect it to. When I press the ‘W’ key then the avatar rotates. The ‘A’ and ‘D’D keys are the same, they swing the camera but so not rotate the avatar until you press ‘W’ or ‘S’. This non-standard camera-movement control will confuse some.
With the offset to the right and the unique movement-camera control I seldom move in the direction I intended. This will take some getting used to. I may have to move the camera. Ctrl-P->Advanced->Camera tab. Most of the settings hidden in Debug Settings are exposed here. So, you have excellent Camera control.
I suspect those making machinima are going to love the change. I suspect those coming from viewer 3 will be frustrated.
The best part of this panel is there is a TUTORIAL button for the camera controls. Awesome. Its worth getting the viewer just take this tutorial. You can get similar information from the Second Life Camera Position Tips, viewer’s tutorial is right where you need it, in the viewer.
Oddly, the tutorial tells you how to change the settings using Debug Settings. I hope most people make the connection that those are the same settings beside the tutorial button they just clicked. But, the in-viewer tutorial idea is nice.
I finally had to turn off Shoulder View. It was too annoying trying to steer. I think the default shoulder view would be frustrating to new users, but that thinking may be because of how I learned to use viewers.
The post login and pre-render screen and the teleport screens have viewer tips. These screens are now nice looking web pages with tips on using the viewer. They will alert you to features you may not have noticed.
Advanced Graphics – Textures
Check the new Linden feature HTTP Get Textures to make sure you have it on. If you run with it off, you are more likely to have cache corruption. Also, you want to avoid mixing viewer caches. If you run with some viewers using HTTP and some using the older UDP, many say you can have more cache problems. When changing between UDP and HTTP it is advised by several to clear the cache.
I’m not sure the cache clear is actually needed. However a file is downloaded it is the same file.
The typical tips found in many of the panels are missing on this tab but present in other tabs. The viewer is a work in progress. Things like Anisotropic Filtering are not explained on this panel. There is a good picture in the Wikipedia that shows the effect on you rendered image. You may want to check your older video card against GameSpot’s Anisotropic Filtering page before turning it on. Newer cards (nVidia 8800 era) handle it with only a tiny performance hit, which you may not be able to see in FPS.
If you are a builder, this will take some getting used to. It takes up less room on screen. That is a plus. The controls are on the same panels so it only takes a second to find a control that has moved.
Some text controls have been replaced with icons. The ‘Link’ and ‘Unlink’ icons seem reversed.
Build Math is included. I don’t see the Triplet Copy feature. May be I just haven’t figured out how it works. I use it to copy positions when building, so I miss it.
In this version one can change the interface colors. Do that via Preferences (Ctrl-P)->UI Colors.
I wanted to change the transparency on the build floater. Unfortunately it is not in this section. I’m certain I can change it, if I can just find the setting.
The options and control of color in this viewer dwarf the color feature in the new Firestorm viewer. Both give you excellent color control over your user interface.
There are some video glitches. I see clusters of black triangles around an object or avatar now and then. The viewer has more controls for render limits. The idea in the SL Viewers for adding these controls is the anticipation that an avatar could wear a massive number of complex mesh objects, which would drag your viewer’s performance to 0.something FPS range. These controls allow one to tell the viewer when to stop rendering complex objects. Niran’s viewer has more of these controls out where the user can tweak them. I may need to tweak those.
From time to time my avatar bends double. The backbone is rotating forward 180 degrees. Turning the AO on and off has no affect. The Stop Animating Me has no affect.
I need more time with the viewer and a new Firestorm is out, so I’m off to play with it. I’ll come back to this one. I haven’t gotten to the machinima and photo features that I wanted to.
My take is Niran’s Viewer is it is following in some of Kirsten’s footsteps. This is an experimental viewer. Niran is experimenting with user interface changes and different ways of doing things.
In many ways this viewer has features for new users, newbies. The labeling being less numeric and more control popup tips and built-in tutorials all seem aimed at new users. But, the complexity is such that even those familiar with Second Life will be challenged. In many ways it is overwhelming, making it a viewer for power users. This mix leads me to think Nirans focus is on experimentation and not a particular user group or may be more accurate: user demographic.