Are Second Life’s Jelly Babies Breaking SL?

As I have pointed out more people are talking about Jelly Babies and the coming RC Second Life Quick Graphics Viewer version 3.8.6.305942 movement toward being the main viewer. Of course some know what they are talking about and others don’t.

erratic / ava sweater & meg leggings

erratic / ava sweater & meg leggings
High or low ACI?

I think – Jelly babies will take over SL soon (AKA how linden lab is planning to break second life) – falls in the ‘doesn’t’ category. utilizator404, the author, believes the Lab is breaking SL by introducing the Avatar Complexity Information (ACI) feature. I disagree, but I can see how some may consider the appearance of Jelly Babies as a problem. The opinion that Jelly Babies breaks SL is as valid an opinion as any. I just don’t agree with it. So, I’ll rebut it.

In the article an assumption is expressed that the Lab is not fixing the root causes of lag; failure to optimize the viewer, not changing how the viewer uses video memory, failure to use all the features of new video cards, and no use of Direct3D (a Windows only graphics render engine).

Most of 2014 and 2015 has been spent optimizing features of the viewer and SL servers. If you follow Inara’s or my blog you already know that. If you have only read the release notes of the Linden and third party viewers as they are released,  you know that numerous fixes for how the viewer use memory have been made. From the Third Party Dev’s meeting we know more are in progress.

You may remember that the viewer’s graphics table was removed. The viewer now tests which features your video card can handle and adjusts your video settings to make the best use of your card. This was done so owners of the newest cards didn’t have to wait for the Lab to update the graphics table to use the new cards. This doesn’t mean that the viewer uses all the latest features the newest video cards have. There is a pipeline of things that have to change before the Lab can use the absolute latest and greatest. Not the least of which is the OpenGL support provided by NVIDIA and ATI. Infamously ATI lags. Regardless of what the Lab does time is needed for ATI to change and publish what they are doing. More time is then needed for the Lab to take advantage of those changes and figure out how to do that while maintaining legacy support for those with older cards.

The Lab builds a viewer that works for Windows and Mac. They are short staffed enough that they curtailed their Linux building. From what Oz has said I take it they would like to support Linux, but there is a resource limit that has to be handled. So, adding in another viewer to support, one using Direct3D which only supports Windows, is unrealistic given existing resource limits.

An additional claim is made that because of ACI we will not be able to wear our mesh bodies (i.e., Slink, Maitreya, etc.) If you have tried the RC Quick Graphics viewer, you know that is not true. The only people likely to set the ACI so low that mesh body wearing avatars do not render are those with low end computers that would tend to use the Graphics Setting: LOW or a step or two above.

Not all mesh bodies have high ACI. In fact I have outfits using Slink’s Physique that have 1/3 the ACI of a majority of my classic outfits.

Utilizator404 says there is a bug that keeps rigged mesh LoD from being accurately calculated. I can’t find it.  I find several that have to do with LoD not working correctly, but those do not refer to the ACI calculation. But, as the LoD may not be rendering correctly it may well be that the calc’s ACI differs from what the video card is actually having to render. I do know that if you enable display of ACI and zoom in and out you can see the ACI value changing, which suggests something is happening with the LoD calc. Utilizator404 thinks the calc is not done in real time. I am not sure why. The changing ACI on zoom would seem to suggest the calc is happening in, at least, near real time.

It is also said the ACI calc is ‘horribly inaccurate’. Nowhere, that I know of, has the Lab or anyone working on the feature said this was any more than a relative value indicative of the work your computer has to do. It has never been intended to be a precise measure of what your video card is doing. Consider how many video cards they would have to support and figure out to have an accurate value…

BA - Veronica

BA – Veronica

Utilizator404 talks about designers abusing the LoD bug to get low ACI. I think that is possible. But, I doubt many designers will ever figure out how to usefully take advantage of that exploit. Few have even figured out LoD. If enough do, that will push the fix for that bug to a higher priority on the Linden To Do List. So, for me it is a non-issue.

I think the point of this feature is to bring awareness to the issue of mesh clothes and attachments makers that make overly complex items. I believe that will change how we think about the items we make and buy. Nobody likes lag. Most people are willing to help out and work to lower lag.

We have seen avatar script load deceasing ever since a way to measure script load was added to the Linden Scripting Language (LSL). I think a similar thing will happen with ACI.

4 thoughts on “Are Second Life’s Jelly Babies Breaking SL?

  1. This Utilizer404 seems to make a lot of questionable assumptions. I don’t agree with him at all.

    I am however less confident than you that LL can make SL use newer features of GPU. Yes, the Lab has spent a lot of time optimizing the platform, but it’s a bit like with computer hardware. You just can’t fit a 2015 CPU on a 2004 Motherboard. You can buy the most developped and advanced hardware available that fits a 2004 Motherboard, but thats it. And that is what the Lab is doing with SL. That’s why we are still stuck with the ridiculous 512 MB texture memory, no shaders, no possibility to rig mesh objects, no possibility to use multiple GPUs… New Games with at least 10 times the graphics complexity of a packed SL region give me 2-3 times(!) more fps with my current gpu (gtx970). It’s a performance difference of 2000% to 3000%!

    AMD is not even supporting the OpenGL version of SL anymore. So SL gets bug after bug when new AMD drivers get released.

    The Lab is trying to make the best out of the things they have (and can’t abandon). Highlighting user content that is too complex is a painfull but necessary next step in this process.

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