It is the Christmas Season and in the merriment some news is leaking out about things to come.
I think most of you have heard a public countdown clock is running on Third Party Viewers (TPV) being able to deliver this service. Those that don’t change over will render avatars as grey or clouds.
What is less known is the new service only uses the HTTP protocol to deliver baked textures. In most ways this is a good thing. However, a number of people in Japan are seeing problems with HTTP texture being slow. Most of the rest of the world outside of Asia is NOT seeing that problem. They see a speed up. So, if you are in Japan and you are seeing a slower HTTP delivery of textures, get in touch with Monty Linden. But, be sure you know it is not your computer and be sure you can add information to the discussion before contacting Monty.
Viewer Side Baking
Even more of you know that the viewer bakes the composite image of clothes. It is that action that is being moved to the server side to avoid ‘bake fail.’ But, that part of the viewer will stay in place. It is needed to show you changes to your avatar appearance without waiting on the server to bake up a change. At some point the viewer will send a Bake Request to the service. Presumably when it decides you are finished editing appearance.
What will eventually be removed from the viewers is the code that compresses and uploads the baked texture to the asset servers.
Several Third Party Viewers (TPV) have a temporary texture feature that allows one to do a temporary upload of a texture on the main grid for free. The process uses the Avatar Bake and Send processes to make that work so others can see the temporary texture. That ability is going away with the addition of server-side baking.
The Lab was interested in temporary textures because so many people were using them. Plus the load on the ADITI – Preview Grid was filling up the hard drives. So, making temporary textures available was a feature that helped users and the Lab. The result is Local Textures are replacing Temporary Textures.
If you texture an object you have the choice of a texture on the server or your LOCAL computer. So, you can experiment and upload only the texture that works or is needed AFTER seeing how it looks in world.
The problem is others can’t see the LOCAL texture. So, it is a hit to collaborative building. I don’t see it as that big a deal because I tend to experiment with textures in ADITI where I can upload for free. Also, I’m not into any collaborative building just now. But, some anticipate it as a serious annoyance. Whatever, plan to wave bye to temporary textures around the end of February 2013.
We are still short test garments.
Oz Linden has mentioned that he has a new Linden to help him evaluate the Mesh Deformer. But, he doubts they will do anything before the end of the year. At which time they will also be working on STORM-1800 – The vertex weights of the default character mesh could be better.
In the mean time some creators are starting to do pants and skirts using the Collision Bones or Volume Bones weighting discussed in previous articles. Since that doesn’t work for breasts… shirts and jackets are not good candidates for that process. Also, at some point the process may break as it is not a ‘Linden supported’ method.
Oz says the first round of changes for the Mac are in the Beta Viewer, which will come out as 3.4.4 Real Soon Now™. No performance increases are expected. The Lab is just catching up with what Apple is doing.
The viewer side of the Materials system is ‘coming along nicely.’ The server side is mostly done and running in some regions of ADITI.
Geenz Spad says there are some nice things happening in the viewers rendering pipeline. Gamma Correction is coming to the SL Viewer. You can preview it in the Exodus Viewer now. This is less of a setting you would use than it is a process the render pipeline uses to make things look right on your computer screen. Geenz says, “…what the viewer’s getting is technically better than what Exodus already has.”
Also, the viewer’s SHINY is being improved. The new version is a bit more physically based. But, it only works in deferred rendering, with Lighting & Shadows enabled. Full scene reflections is being worked on too, but that is separate from the Shiny improvement project.
That physically based means at different view angles relative to the light, reflected light will seemingly become stronger much as it does on objects in the real world. I am taking to make that mean shiny will change depending on where the sun is and you are. I doubt point lights will be part of this change.
Geenz says it is based on a microfacet model. I’m doing another article on all the rendering features in SL. So, I’m not going into microfacets here.
Normal map precision is being improved. The current normal maps can render a bit jagged.
From the Lab’s side of things they can see a number of large projects coming together. Because those are not announced by management, they can’t talk much about them. So, we try to piece it together by collecting bits here and there.
I think we will see some nice things arriving in 2013.