The shapes of things to come

Braydon Randt has started an interesting thread in the SL forum where those working on the beta grid are encouraged to post images of their Mesh creations.

Allowing for the limitations that will (initially?) be inherent in Mesh objects (lack of resizing for one, I understand), there are clearly some potentially exciting times ahead. I cannot get my head around Mesh at all from a technical standpoint: submeshes, vertices, triangles, prim equivalency…it genuinely goes right over my head. But I have to say that even without the ability to resize, things like vehicles and houses could make a tremendous impact on the way SL looks, especially compared with the new graphics tools.

I also confess to being a little sad, as I cannot help but feel I’ll be waving bye-bye to my own modest house building business.

Firestorm: take one

This is a look at the PRE-RELEASE of the Viewer 2-based Phoenix Firestorm Viewer. As such, certain things should be borne in mind both if you are reading this piece and / or using the software:

  • This is not intended as a comprehensive review OR comparison with Viewer 2.x OR an in-depth investigation of bugs, etc. Rather it is an initial look at Firestorm. More details examinations will come as the Viewer stabilises and more features / functions are implemented
  • If you are trying out the pre-release for yourself, please make sure you have joined the Support Group for it, and have watched the introductory video
  • Please don’t expect this review to be a comprehensive list of bugs (see above) or for the software to work *perfectly*.

Download and Installation

I use a PC, and so downloaded the Windows version of the pre-release, which installed smoothly into its own dedicated folders, well away from Phoenix .818 (my primary Viewer). This installer quoted around 116Mb of disk space being required for the Viewer – but as with Phoenix, it ended up grabbing 217Mb of space, far more than the 92Mb required by Viewer 2 or the 198Mb used by Kirstenlee’s S21. Nevertheless, the installation was fast and smooth, and finished with an option to start Firestorm directly.

It *is* pre-release!

As a precaution, I’d cleared cache beforehand, and so hit YES to fire-up Firestorm from the prompt. May not have been necessary, but did so all the same.

On starting, got a new splash screen which again – wisely – hammers home the point that this is a pre-release, and as such will not contain absolutely every function one might expect of a Viewer, nor will it always work as anticipated…

Give the status of the software, writing a blow-by-blow review at this point in time is relatively pointless; anyway, Jessica’s intro video pretty much lays out what the user needs to know in accessing Firestorm. Clearly, given it is based on Viewer 2.x, Firestorm is going to have elements that people aren’t going to like – context menus rather than pie menus; the revised camera and movement controls, etc. Some of these the Phoenix team have tried to address, others they haven’t – and nor should they be expected to. This *is* a new Viewer, based on new software – as such, things are going to change and – frankly – people should show some willing and be prepared to change as well, rather than harping on about X not being Y, and how much they like Y in Viewer 1.2x….

The Good

  • Clean UI
  • Much tidier Sidebar
  • No Sidebar mini-tabs on down the right of the screen (unless you want them)
  • Persistent Sidebar tab behaviour – unlock and move a specific tab (say, Inventory) – it will remember where it was last displayed on your screen and re-open there (rather than back in the Sidebar), just like Viewer 1.2x menus
  • Buttons to Sidebar now contained in the Toolbar, and can be independently turned off / on
  • Chat bar in Toolbar can be resized
  • Ability to remove chat “headings” so that chat resembles 1.2x (date stamp and name, no little icon as per Viewer 2.x)
  • Improved Viewer 2.x Navigation Bar and new options in the LAND heading at the top of the Viewer Window
  • Improved skin options (with more to come)
  • Google translation tool retained (moved to the CHAT tab of Preferences and appears as an icon in IM tabs)
  • RLV/a support
  • Double-click teleports, etc.
  • Nearby chat window now includes a chat entry box AND has vertical IM tabs by default

The (Currently) Missing (that I use)

  • No client-side AO
  • No Radar tool
  • No real privacy options
  • No ability to click on the LAND information at the top of the Viewer window and bring up ABOUT LAND
  • No MU poses or auto-complete
  • No build enhancements in terms of highlighting prims, changing the default appearance of new prims, etc.
  • No client tag colours
  • Display Names are not displayed if chat headers are turned off in Preferences
  • Flexibility of use with MY OUTFITS

The Buggy

  • Had initial issues with the CONTACTS list in the Chat window:
    • Not all friends appeared on first logging
    • Options in FRIENDS list (see when you’re online, locate you on the Map, etc.), did not carry over from settings made in 1.2x. Some Friends lost the ability to locate me on the Map, others that did not have that privilege under 1.2x did in Firestorm, etc. I was also unable to change the options at all
    • Both issues were cleared by a couple of relogs
  • Scrolling up in Group chat caused incoming IMs to appear to “overwrite” text I was scrolling through – this was persistent through several log-ins and tests
  • Some people have reported crashing when editing their shape or outfit – although I haven’t encountered this
  • Not all the skins work – Jessica warns that there might be issues with some of the Starlight skins, and I found that some skins wouldn’t display LAND information at the top of the Viewer windows (e.g. MetaHarper Modern)
  • Disabling the teleport screen doesn’t actually work at present

Continue reading “Firestorm: take one”