Lumiya 2.5.0: advanced rendering

Update August 29th: There have been two additional updates with Lumiya since this review was published. Versions 2.5.2 and 2.5.3 both offer the same additional functionality as reviewed here, but include further fixes for devices using Adreno GPUs.

lumiya-logoAlina has released versions 2.5.0 / 2.5.1 of Lumiya. The two versions, released on August 26th and August 27th respectively, comprises the same updates features-wise, but the 2.5.1 release includes an additional fix to correct a crash issue users encountered with devices using Adreno GPUs (such as the HTC One).

The focus for this release has been on rendering capabilities, with the 2.5.0 release notes summarising the updates as:

  • An advanced rendering mode for better visual quality
  • Limited windlight support (sky, clouds, stars, time of the day)
  • Drag-to-select pointer for easy selection of small objects in 3D mode
  • Ability to purchase objects
  • Fixed an issue with terrain not being rendered when 3D view is opened too early.

Advanced Rendering and Windlight

The number of rendering options already included in Lumiya is impressive. Advanced Rendering brings with it the ability to render in-world light and other visual effects, windlight support for clouds, night-time stars, setting the time-of-day in the world view, and anti-aliasing.

Advanced Rendering options. note that Advanced Rednering must be enabled via a separate option in the Settings menu in order to access the options
Advanced Rendering options: note that the capability must be enabled via a separate option in the Settings menu in order to access these options

The additional capabilities are added to the 3D View section of Lumiya’s Settings menu (device Menu button > Settings), although they are on by default. While they do offer some enticing options, they do make Lumiya very much more device dependent than perhaps has been the case with the client in the past.

For example, I found that with the Advanced Rendering options active, my Galaxy S2 struggled mightily to render an in-world scene, even with high quality textures disabled, max avatars dialled back to 1 and draw distance down to a minimal 48 metres. More particularly, it got very hot in my hand; something I’ve not encountered previously. Once rendered, the scene also lacked clouds (although I’d chosen a region with a cloudscape overhead on purpose), but stars were visible when switching the time to night. Because of this, I’ve not included images from my phone, but rather demo images Alina captured on a tablet device with more oomph than my S2 can manage, as they give a fairer indication of what can be seen when using the right hardware.

Lumiya has clouds - if your Android device has the power
Lumiya has clouds – if your Android device has the power

That my S2 struggled isn’t surprising. There’s an awful lot of work for a small hand-held device to manage, even with just some of the bells and whistles turned on. Just as it is unrealistic to expect older computer hardware with limited graphics performance, memory, etc., to be able to handle all the latest shiny in Second Life, it’s also unfair to expect devices which necessarily have limited capacity to present everyone with the same level of detail with all the options ticked.

Starry, starry night / Paint your palette the Lumiya way ...
Starry, starry night / Paint your palette the Lumiya way …

Drag-to-Select

Another major new addition to Lumiya in this release is Drag to Select. This comprises a small hand icon in the top left of the world view, with the label Drag to Select. Following the instruction allows you to drag the icon (which changes to an arrow) and point to objects in-world, enabling you to interact with them more easily. Releasing the icon when pointing at an object will bring up the initial interaction menu, allowing you to touch, sit, etc., depending on the object.

Use Drag to Select to interact with in-world objects which may be too small to otherwise use long touch on
Use Drag to Select to interact with in-world objects which may be too small to otherwise use long touch on

This is especially useful when using a small screen, where the finger can easily cover multiple items, resulting in some frustration when trying to long touch something for its menu. Do note, however that as the option removes your avatar from the in-world view, you can’t use it to touch your own attachments; nor does it appear to work on other avatars’ attachments.

Making Purchases

You can now shop ’til you drop with Lumiya. Simply find a vendor or object set for sale, long-touch it, and the pop-up menu includes a Buy Object item. Tap this for a final confirmation before buying.

You can now purchase things with lumiya
You can now purchase things with Lumiya (account balance blanked on purpose)

Feedback

Another interesting update, albeit it one which may well tax some devices, prompting users to disable some of the options. Seeing windlight start to arrive in Lumiya is good, and helps the client to become more of a mobile alternative to a full-blown viewer for those on the move requiring their SL fix. Similarly, having the ability to make in-world purchases adds to Lumiya’s attractiveness. I also like the new Drag to select function, although its addition is starting to make the in-world view on small screens rather crowded. Even so, I’d rather have it than not.

I understand that in-world building is on the cards for a future release of Lumiya; now that will be interesting. I presume it’ll be a capability best suited to tablet devices rather than small-screened handhelds, but that’s no reason for seeing it excluded. It just means I’ll have to go buy myself a tablet! :D.

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CtrlAltStudio: Stereo 3D and first pass at Oculus Rift Support

CAS-logoCtrlAltStudio is a relatively new viewer to appear for use with both Second Life and OpenSim. The work of David Rowe, it is based on Firestorm, and the project is revisiting the use of stereoscopic 3D in the viewer, building on the release of the NVIDIA 314.07 video driver.  More recently, David has also been working at a first pass at Oculus Rift integration ahead of LL’s own work with the headset.

Version 1.0.0.34218: Stereoscopic 3D View

A proof of concept image with CtrlAltStudio (image: David Rowe)

After various proof-of-concept and beta iterations, the 3D-capable version of CtrlAltStudio appeared on July 27th, 2013.

Version 1.0.0.34218 of the viewer (release notes) uses OpenGL quad-buffered stereoscopic 3D, and requires NVIDIA graphics drivers with 3D Vision support (314.07 or later). It also requires monitors set to 120Hz, and for the viewer to be running in full screen mode. It should work with GeForce GTS250 or better, NVIDIA Quadro cards, AMD Radeon HD 6000 or better and FireGL V7600 or better with recent drivers.

To control the 3D capabilities, David has added an additional Display Output tab Preferences > Graphics, and an additional toolbar button, labelled 3D, which toggles the stereo view on / off.

Sadly, I don’t have the glasses to test the viewer itself, so will have to leave that to others to report on how things look.

Version 1.1.0.34244: Initial Oculus Rift Support

Second Life in Oculus Rift via CtrlAltStudio (image; David Rowe) – click to enlarge

On August 25th, David release version 1.1.0.34244 Alpha with initial Oculus Rift support (release notes). This is well ahead of the Lab’s own implementation of support for the headset, and people shouldn’t expect it to be in any way a complete integration of Rift support. As David comments on the blog post announcing the release:

If you want to stick your Rift-kitted head into Second Life or OpenSim and have a look around, well now you can. I’ve added some basic Oculus Rift support to CtrlAltStudio Viewer 1.1.0.34244 Alpha: you can look around and move about but there is no UI. Full Rift support including UI will come when Linden Lab release their viewer with Rift support in the not too distant future. But in the meantime you can now at least enjoy the sights of your favourite virtual world locations.

Options for Oculus Rift have been added to the Display Output tab in Preferences > Graphics, directly below those for the 3D stereo controls.

The Display Output tab of Preferences > Graphics, showing the 3d vision and Oculus Rift options
The Display Output tab of Preferences > Graphics, showing the stereoscopic and Oculus Rift options

To use the headset with the viewer, David recommends that you first sit down, then get to where you want to be before you don the headset. Once there, wear the headset and toggle “Riftlook” (using the 3D toolbar button or CTRL-ALT-3) to look around and use the arrow / WASD keys to move, remembering that “forward” is in the direction in which the Rift is pointing when “Rfitlook” is enabled.

So if you have the Oculus Rift SDK, why not download CtrlAltStudio and give it a go. Just do remember, the viewer is still Alpha, and subject to limitations, possible odd behaviour.

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