UPDATE: Be sure you read Niran’s comment at the end of the review. My first impressions make up my article and not all of them are completely accurate. The ATI/AMD Pink Textures problem is a bit confusing. I’ll let you sort it out if you have an ATI/AMD video card. A note added to Niran’s blog says the problem is fixed.
There is lots of news about Niran’s viewer this week. Inara has her experience of using the viewer posted here: Niran’s 1.33: super smooth and totally flexible. She likes the viewer and it is a positive review. Inside the viewer this version is labeled: Nirans Viewer 3.3.5 (1083) Apr 26 2012 23:49:31 (Nirans Viewer).
Third Party Viewer Directory
Niran says the viewer has qualified for the TPVD list. We should see it there in the next week.
It is likely not going to be in the first section of the list where viewers are listed by stability. A viewer version must see 200,000 hours of use in a reporting period to make the rankings. TPV Dev’s get stats the rest of us are not allowed to see. The idea is it helps them with development of their viewer. Apparently those stats or feedback from the Lindens is that more than 200k hours are logged by those using the NiranV Viewer. BUT… that is across all versions of the viewer.
So, if you want to see a stability ranking for the viewer, you need to help out and upgrade to the new version 1.33.
I suspect the listing of the viewer in the TPVD will slow the ‘release’ pace of this viewer with “release” being the keyword. I doubt the development pace will change. But, there will likely be fewer versions made available for download. Niran will need to concentrate users in a version to get 200k hours to make the ranking section.
There are two versions of this release. One is an experimental that includes the Mesh Deformer 0.3 feature. Niran is not sure what’s with the Deformer code. Whatever is up it is crashing the viewer. One can get around the problem by enabling Deferred Shadows (Lighting and & Shadows) and Ambient Occlusion.
The experimental Mesh Deformer version comes only in a 64-bit version. So, those on 32-bit systems are out of luck. Correction: (…sort of…) The 64-bit versions are Large Address Aware versions. They should run on 32 bit systems. My copy refused to install. A new copy downloaded 4/30 7:30 AM PDT also refused to install.
There are TPV Policy issues. You can read through the comments following: #SL Deformer Update Wk17. Ansariel Hiller from the Firestorm Development team sees things differently than Qarl Fizz and I do. I think we have all made our points clearly and objectively without drama. Check them out and see what you think. I’ll say I think Qarl and I are more in the place of: the policy says one thing, but the Lindens are choosing to interpret it beyond just the immediate circumstances.
In the Open Source User Group Amethyst/Niran Dean discussed it with Oz Linden. So, we’ll have two versions of the viewer since the Lab is going with the idea the Deformer triggers Policy Item 2.k.
Experimental Niran Viewer 1.33 Download 64x – Mesh Deformer
Niran Viewer 1.33 Download 32x – Direct File download
Niran Viewer 1.33 Download 64x – See download link on page.
The Pink Prim problem is back for ATI/AMD video card users in version 1.33. Niran makes a small rant about ATI cards and the problems with Second Life ®. This problem has been around in this viewer since version 1.30. It’s a known texture indexing problem in OpenGL drivers. The Linden code doesn’t help. The oddities of how OpenGL handles indexing has spawned some threads at OpenGL.org and various other forums.
We saw this problem in all viewer s back in February. See: Pink Prims Bug. Something in Niran’s modified render pipeline is likely triggering it. I have heard that we are getting some new stuff merged into the Linden viewer trunk and will soon be seeing the ‘stuff’ in the Linden Dev Viewer. With any luck they may help with this problem or reveal the source. We can hope.
Download & Install
This morning the downloads were slow, a few minutes. Not sure what’s up with that.
The install is the basic install. No surprises. Niran recommends clearing the settings and cache before installing/running the viewer. I did. So, I don’t know if it is or isn’t truly necessary.
The settings file is here:
I find the viewer gives me about 25 FPS with the viewer’s default settings.
The graphics settings panel is nothing like the SL panel or panels in other viewers. So, it took me some time to figure out how to get shadows turned on. With; the equivalent of Lighting & Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Sun/Moon shadows I drop down to 12 FPS, about the same as other viewers for me.
If you notice Inara’s FPS is much higher than mine. A friend of mine is starting to work with nVidia to see why there is such a difference. May be I’ll get some answers. GLViewer, an OpenGL tool, is showing 4 errors with my nVidia install. Apparently in 2007 and 2009 there were lots of similar problems nVidia’s OpenGL driver. If he finds a fix for me, I’ll write it up.
Inara’s review discusses the revised user interface in 1.33. Changes happen so fast in Niran’s UI I can never find anything. I spend way too much time looking for controls. Plus some control names change and differ from the standard Linden viewers. While some controls are named more technically accurate, one still has figure out what corresponds to which. I have to spend time figuring out which control is what and some controls are hidden until you enable another feature, which can be confusing when you are looking for a specific control.
Niran’s blog has video that shows many of the viewer’s behavior changes. If you have not used the viewer before, I suggest you watch the videos. Camera behaviors change. They are easy to get used to and once you get what is happening, it’s a nice change.
The Preference panels are animated in many places. That takes a little getting used to. It hid several settings from me until I realized how the panels work. I think this will be seen as a negative change by many. If you do not know which settings are dependent on others, you may never find some settings.
Depending on one’s view point, the changes and experiments are a good or bad thing. From my viewpoint, it means learning a new UI every couple of weeks. Not fun. Still there is a lot to be learned by innovating and experimenting. Those unhappy with the current interface in the LL and TPV’s should try Nirans Viewer.
Not only does Niran experiment with the user interface, the default Windlight and render settings vary too. This makes for striking skies, sun rises, and sets.
Clearing the settings moved me back to the viewers default camera position offset over the right shoulder. Since I mouse steer that change throws me a curve.
In Preferences (Ctrl-P) -> User Options (top tab) -> Advanced (bottom tab) is the camera offset settings. In the Linden viewers these are buried in the Debug Settings. So, it is nice to have them exposed in a settings panel in Preferences. Use can use the values to change the default location of the camera. In general the rendering is nice looking. I suppose whither you like it is a matter of personal taste.
You can use the Bottom Menu – View button to switch away from Shoulder Viewer to Rear View. Make sure you know which view you are in before editing the camera settings in Preferences.
Inara says she got a false positive alert with AVG anti-virus. My ESET didn’t have a problem with it. If your anti-virus fires off during install and complains, be sure to check that the file C:\Program Files\Nirans Viewer\slplugin.exe made it in. If your anti-virus blocked it or removed it, you’ll have problems running the viewer.
Niran’s is an excellent viewer. The render is nice and excellent for photography and machinima. The rapidly changing interface creates a constant learning curve.