Lots of Second Life™ people use the Firestorm Viewer. Creators are certainly part of that group. A number of people think the Firestorm Viewer is to blame for LoD problems in Second Life. Can that be?
Personally I think this is a case of a fascist mind set running the standard victim line and wanting someone else to fix their problems. See what you think.
The current idea is there is a problem with LoD in Second Life. I tend to agree. But, in my thinking it is mesh creators not knowing how to build optimized mesh for a virtual world and LoD is only a part of the problem.
Whatever is the case it is so much a problem for some a thread titled Dear Mesh Content Creators: Please stop making your content on Firestorm has started over on SLUniverse. You’ll see people with different idea about who is you blame. You can decide who you think is to blame.
First understand what they are talking about when they say LoD. LoD is an aspect of mesh meaning level of detail. The viewer uses LoD level 4 when you are close and can see small details. As you move away the viewer moves through the levels until you are so far way you can barely see the thing. At that point a small 2D picture of the item will look like the item. One could paste that on a 2 poly plane.
Why does the viewer do this? For better performance. The fewer polygons to be rendered the faster things render and the higher your frames per second (FPS). Also as you move away from things they get smaller. Soon some polygons are smaller than the pixels on your screen. There is no point in rendering those polygons. So, a lower poly model is used to avoid wasting CPU cycles.
Good designers literally make four models of everything they make. Level 4 is the most detailed, highest polygon count. Level 1 is the lowest with the least polygons. Often my LoD 1 is a cube or plain with a picture of the item.
What happens with LoD when a model is poorly designed is it renders slowly looking like a blob or collection glass shards. And it changes shape as you move toward and away from it. With sculpties this blob look was a common problem. Things started rendering as a blob that changed into some recognizable thing as it loaded finally and rendered.
The moving toward and away shape change is caused by the viewer changing which LoD model it is using. It decides based on a mathematical formula that considers the size of the object and distance it is from your camera.
Good LoD design avoids noticeable shape change. Many designers simply do not know how to work with LoD. With mesh this is becoming an acute problem and we are seeing more complaints.
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