Dolphin 3 launches with mesh rendering

dolphin-logoLance Corrimal has launched Dolphin 3, the latest in the Dolphin range of Third-Party Viewers, and another alternative to Viewer 2.x/3.x.

The new release follows hard on the heels of the Firestorm “Mesh Beta”  brings with it a wealth of new features – including mesh object rendering. The full list of new features reads:

  • All new goodies from Linden Labs up to their internal version 3.0.3:
    • Mesh object rendering
    • Camera depth-of-field
    • Avatar physics
    • Native 64m prim support
    • Build tool improvements (see below)
    • Increased maximum cache size (up to 9984 Mb)
    • Increased maximum setting for LOD (up to 8 )
    • Mini-map back in the People sidebars with options to turn off & re-size
    • Enhanced parcel privacy, a check box in About Land/Options
  • Marine Kelley’s Restrained Love v2.07.03.03
  • All of Lance’s own additions to Dolphin 2, with the exception of Qarl Fizz’ “select Linden plants” patch, which does not work with the mesh engine

The improved build tools include:

  • Ability to perform simple mathematics in the spinner controls in the Build tool’s Object tab (numeric fields in Position, Size, Rotation). For example, to double the length of a prim along the y axis you enter sy*2 in the y-size field. The other “variables” are px/py/pz for position, sx,sy,sz for size, rx,ry,rz for rotation.
  • A new button in the Build tool is present, so that creators can create a sculpted prim directly instead of first creating a box and then changing it to a sculpt.
  • The maximum number of repeats for textures has been set to 256
  • The maximum size for hollow has been increased to 99.99% from 95%
  • More precision (4 decimals) in the spinner controls in the Build tool, together with a way to increase and decrease the single digits with your keyboard

This release does not include mesh object uploads, for the same reason a Firestorm 3, and may also have inherited the Linden-generated nVidia 400-series+ crash bug – so caution may be required in using Basic Shaders.

I’ll hopefully have a features review of Dolphin 3 out within the next 24 hours.

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LL offer Premium membership at 50% discount

Linden Lab have slipped in a new offer to encourage the take-up of Premium memberships. For a limited time (i.e. this weekend), people can sign-up at a 50% discount  – but only if they sign-up for the Quarterly payment plan and only for the first billing cycle.

While such quarterly offers are not uncommon – my ISP offers new sign-up 1/3 off their first quarter bill for phone & broadband charges, for example) – one cannot help but feel the Lab are perhaps being a tad tight-fisted here. While I can understand that Annual membership is hard to discount to the same degree – why restrict the offer to Quarterly only (and perhaps even why only the first quarter?).

The discount offer. The small print reads: “This limited-time discount offer is available only for memberships on the Quarterly billing plan. Discount will be applied to the first quarterly billing cycle only and all future charges will be at the regular Premium price.”

Why not offer a 25% discount on monthly memberships, applicable to the first 3 months alongside a 50% discount on Quarterly memberships?

Of course, there is a risk that, in offering such discounts, LL will annoy their established Premium members. But the fact is, currently, and the new additions to Premiums notwithstanding, there is little enough being offered to tempt established users with free accounts into jumping onto the Premium train; and while the various offers might appeal to incoming members, one feels that overall, people will – by their very nature – opt to go the “free” route first, rather than “risk” signing up – again, discount notwithstanding – to limit their exposure.

Both increasing the attractiveness of Premium memberships and promoting them to the user base is a good idea. One just wonders if there is a consistent and workable strategy behind it that will lead to success.