Firestorm: take two

So, I’ve been working with Firestorm for a few days now, and I have to say, I’m still enjoying it. I’ve not had any significant issues, although there have been a few things that had caused passing annoyance:

  • The CONTACTS list seems a bit ropey at times: on logging in, name frequently appear either in reverse alphabetical order or completely jumbled, and require the window to be closed and re-opened to correct
  • I still cannot figure out how to enable Map for friends, should I wish (or indeed, disable it)
  • Some Preferences seem to fail on persistence occasionally – although this could simply be the age of my graphics card

But…these aside, I’ve have no crashes or other major upsets attributable to the Viewer itself. True, I’d like a more powerful graphics card to run all the nice things, but sadly, due to power supply limitations, that’s not going to happen on my current PC.

I really do like seeing shadows rendered, tho. After tweaking and playing, I’ve managed to up my frame rate to an average of 12-13fps – with peaks around 15-16 and troughs around 10fps. not perfect, but workable with only one or two other avatars near me. Any more than that, and things crawl to a near standstill.

Anyway, a couple of shots to demonstrate why I’m coming to love shadows – nothing new or radical for those who are already familiar with them.

Me – without shadows

This is probably the way most of us see one another in SL, so no big surprises. However, turn shadowing on, and not only does the house and the trees cast nice shadows, but…

Me…with shadows active

…I get much better facial definition, and shadows cast across my feature from my hair – shadows with move in time to any hair movement.

One thing I have found is that shadows, like Windlight, demonstrate the need for subtle face lighting: illumination points really need to be considered carefully, and face lights are best “turned down low”, rather than being left full-on. I’d especially avoid lights that are very face-on: a couple of friends have these, and under Windlight it’s like having a car headlight shining during the dusk / night / dawn. With shadows and lighting combined, it’s like having a set of mobile spotlight illuminating anything within a 10-15 metre range, to say nothing of washing-out facial detail.

Now if only I could take courage and upgrade my power supply and then get a higher specification graphics card….

2 thoughts on “Firestorm: take two

  1. Shadows do indeed make an immense difference to the looks and general feel, it adds quite some depth to the visual experience. Unfortunately they turn SL into a slideshow for me, so I can only use them for pictures – with very nice results though. One of my favourites – which I can’t resist showing off – is this one I took of an alt of mine (not quite worksafe).


    1. Heloise – fabulous photo!

      Sorry that shadows kill SL for effective use for you; I have the same problem with Kirstenlee’s S20/S21, where the Viewer becomes little more than a flick book of images for me when things are enabled (indeed, Viewer 2 itself was not much better!). I’m encouraged by Firestorm (and in fairness Viewer 2.4), as I’ve been able to tweak and play with various settings to at least manage with shadows, so long as the sim I’m on is not avatar-heavy. I’m no photo artist (as my efforts on the blog ably demonstrate!), but I’m itching to upgrade the graphics on my system and run shadows and all the other Shiny (including camera DOF when it comes to Firestorm in the future).


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