Second Life’s Render Complexity – Discussion Starting

We have been here before. A feature like the old Avatar Render Cost (ARC) was used by what became known as ARC Nazis to abuse people. You see a type of person that has basic authority issues, control issues, or a bullying nature adopt a fascist mentality and start telling people what they can do. Some in those groups start trying to enforce their will on others. Abuse, shame, hate, anger… and more is called into service in attempts to enforce their will on others.

Geisha Shadows

Geisha Shadows – Think this gorgeous outfit has a high ACI?
If it does, is that good or bad?

We could call this politics… In SL it is more often called drama. But, whichever we call it, it has the same source: human nature. Humans are different, unique. But, we all have the same basic traits, just in different degrees and we learn to cope with issues in different ways. We call the result character. 

So, the SL Forum discussion of Avatar Complexity Information (ACI) feature in the current RC Second Life Quick Graphics Viewer version can be expected to show the variety of ways people cope… or don’t. Knowledge and ignorance are both on display too. As is character or the lack of it.

Several of the commenters’ expectations are that there will be drama about ACI. Some expect ACI Nazis to popup. I don’t, but I could be wrong. Some people just like to bully/boss others around.

ACI is different than ARC. The big difference is the viewer supplies the ACI information to the user by default. Not much room for emotional confrontation. ARC was a hidden setting few knew about or ever saw. The ARC Nazis popped up and, in modem speak, tried to raise awareness. How they went about it would have made Hitler proud.

This implementation of ACI doesn’t impose a limit on the user or designers. The user can change settings and render all avatars or a fewer number of avatars present. A user can wear a 500k ACI avatar and we can avoid being affected because we can set a cut-off limit that works for us and not render it.

With ARC that was not the case. If an avatar with high ARC came into a region with us, our viewer slowed down. We have no real choice. In combat regions there were actual things people wore just to slow down their opposition. That lack of control could be seen to have fueled frustration and driven people to be ARC Nazis. But, that is victim thinking… however, a popular thing these days.

The idea was pushed that one should be nude at events. The often heard line was, take off your clothes, you’re slowing my viewer. Right… Now, we can tell them to adjust their ACI limit and keep our pants on.

The ARC Nazis also had their ideas of what was a acceptable ARC. There were various standards and ideas of what was fair. This made lots of room for drama.

The Lab has made an effort to avoid setting up standards for ACI. Is an ACI of 100k good or bad? The Lindens don’t officially have an opinion. They seem to be going with less is better for this one. So, 100k is better than 150k. But, whether 100k or 150k is good or bad is rationally said to depend on what the designer tried to accomplish.

A pencil skirt shouldn’t have an ACI of 200k, IMO. But, an Elizabethan gown with an ACI of 200k could be reasonable. So, trying to set hard lines for good and bad ACI without regard for criteria would be an unnecessary arbitrary limit on creativity. The Lab tries to avoid stifling creativity. In general I think they have done well.

The new ACI feature is an excellent example of  providing consumer information (think Consumer Reports) and leaving users free to do whatever they want. I think this is a great free market way to resolve a problem that affects everyone and preserves freedom.

5 thoughts on “Second Life’s Render Complexity – Discussion Starting

  1. There will be ARC Nazis as sure as there will be a sunrise tomorrow, especially since there is no official standart by LL.

  2. I must say, you are very level headed about this. My personal opinion is that this new ACI is a tool, if you are getting low FPS, lower the limit. And the kicker is, people cannot really force this on others like ARC, its an rendering setting, not just a statistic read out. Besides, now-a-days most SIMs worry about script limits, which for the most part, the amount of scripts or size is kinda half the problem, but I am not a scripter.

    • Thank you.

      SIM owners see scripts affecting the region performance. Its visible in the stats. Tools were added to the scripting language to allow evaluation of an avatars script count. They jumped on that to enforce limits. But, individual owners enforced the limits they wanted. The Lab didn’t impose limits as had long been talked about. The Lab sort of dodged a bullet and left us free to do what we want.

      I expect to see something added to the scripting language to allow scripts to access the ACI info. I already see people trying to hide all the ACI popups and turn the feature off, and in almost the same breath complain about lag… So, at some point we will see events restricting access to those with low ACI. Avatars don’t impact regions as scripts do. But, they do impact users and to some extent region performance when an avatar TP’s in.

      Region owners will want a way to enforce ACI limits for their events. But, that may not be needed. People may self enforce ACI. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

      • Right, I agree. It is just odd however, how could one enforce something that for everyone is different. Just a thought tho, if you run SL on a potato, don’t expect others that don’t and have an actual computer lower down to your level. That in of itself might cause a problem, anger and the like. But you are correct, atm it is still very new and time is what is needed now.

        • What I consider the error in your thinking is the idea of ‘enforce’. ACI is not something to be enforced. There are those that will try. But, it is like a club requiring evening attire. You comply or you don’t get in. But, no government is making us all wear evening attire.

          Why do people buy based on price? Also, not every one sees cheap the same way. Is a Prius cheaper than a gasoline powered car? The environmental impact from monoxide is less. But, almost every other environmental impact is higher. Recharging them is driving up US electricity prices. Unless something changes it will soon cost more to run a Prus than a gas car and I haven’t even included calcs for battery replacement and the impact they have.

          No one enforces the ‘buy cheap’ idea. But, people do it. Whether saving a penny or millions it is the same aspect of human nature. That is the idea for why ACI will move more people to optimize the content they place in SL. Doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, saving money is an idea people like.

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