Firestorm released version 18.104.22.168634. The download is here.
Controversy and Confusion
There are some controversial changes in this version of the viewer. I think the controversy is from confusion which is from ignorance.
The issue is about the Level of Detail (LoD) setting RenderVolumeLODFactor found in the debug settings (Ctrl-Alt-D=Menu Advanced->Debug Settings). The Firestorm Team has explained why they are making the change. See LOD and The Upcoming Firestorm Release The What and Why. It gets all technical, but it is an accurate description of how SL works.
The TL:DR is that high RenderVolumeLODFactor settings have your computer spending time drawing complex things which are so far away they only take up one or two pixels on your screen. Does it matter if a jacker has a dozen buttons if the whole jacket is so far way it can be drawn in 4 pixels and is just a tiny tiny spot on your screen? If you can’t see the buttons, why draw them? LoD is about making these optimizations and providing better performance.
Doing all the useless drawing of thousands of pixels to average them down to 4 pixels for your screen lags your render process and slows the SL system because all that detail has to be downloaded. Dumb move.
I referred to Beq Janus article a few posts back, For LOD’s sake stop! Beq’s post explains in greater detail what is going on with LoD.
As the FS Team points out, back in the day of sculpties people tended to use high LoD settings. In the current day of mesh, it isn’t the thing to do. Be smart. Use the latest tech and set your LoD to 1 or 1.2, maybe go as high as 1.5.
There are designers that will include a note card telling you to set your LoD to 4, 8, or higher. These are 3D modeling designers with NO CLUE. Don’t do it. Don’t buy any more of their stuff.
Firestorm has taken a permissive but forceful position to deal with ignorance. In general, a setting higher than 4 should never be used. Knowing there is some real crap on the grid that you may need to render on occasion the FS Viewer will allow you set a LoD value up to 10. But, when you next login the setting will be reduced to 4. Said another way, the viewer will NOT remember a RenderVolumeLODFactor setting higher than 4.
In the Build Panel, there is a new feature that shows the physics shape of the item being edited. See Beq’s explanation here, A couple of new features for builders and non-builders alike.
Also being added is Mesh Information. So, when editing mesh you can have more info and switch between LoD levels to see how the 4 LoD models work. See the info at the link above.
Rez Item Enhancement
Ever rez something and have it poof? Me too. Beq explains why and what Firestorm is doing about it. Same Beq post. Check the video. It explains in pictures WAY better than I’ll do with words.
Other Awesome Features
There is more stuff in this release. The Team is not late getting FS out because they were sleeping. They were busy cramming stuff into the viewer.
I’m not going to go through the details of all the new stuff because Inara has a good post up describing the additions and how to use them. See Firestorm 22.214.171.124634: Rendering, Lod And Physics.
The download is quick. Install is simple. Just install over the previous version.
On my front porch, I get 55 to 68 FPS. In my green-screen room at 1,500m, I get 120 to 140 FPS. In a landing hub with 11 people, 55 FPS. Another with 20 people 45-50 FPS. I can’t find my numbers for FS 5.0.7. I recall the porch numbers being better, the with people numbers worse. So, I’ll say performance wise, this one is a bit better.
1/26 Update: I retested with 5.0.7 and 5.0.11.
5.0.7: Porch 61 FPS – Green Screen 145 FPS – HUB 21 people 44 FPS
5.0.11: Porch 90 FPS – Green 140 – HUB 20 people 40-47 FPS
Only the Porch number improves. The FPS in my green screen room and over at the Landing Hub (Nelsonia) is essentially the same.
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Amount of people still doing this, or “designers” advising their users to use LOD 7 (no idea how is that even possible), amazes me! Being here way before mesh was introduced (11 years), I can vouch that back then you were able to make sculpty (yeah, poor mans mesh back then) that with proper optimization will be quite LOD resistant even at default LOD 2.000. Nowadays, people just cram in RETARDED amount of polys into ring (that cannot be viewed pretty much anywhere except up close when you take a picture of the wedding), and still upload full mesh on all LOD levels, boosting ARC to the infinity and back. I am quite happy with this change as it will make people think first before importing idiotic meshes into SL and then whine how SL is slow and laggy (although its a perfect excuse to say “too laggy here, lets go to the beach”)
Well SL is for novices to the virtual world. So, the Lab is having to find ways to move people to self-educate.
I think it is a good change and the Lab will be doing something similar in its viewer.