As a part of the holiday period, and as mentioned in various SL projects reports of min over the last few weeks, Linden Lab operate a code freeze / no change window in which no major updates to either the viewer or the simulator code are made, other than those required to fix significant issues impacting Second Life. This code freeze, which this year comes into effect on Monday December 16th and extends through until the start of 2014, encompasses all thing server, and the SL viewer release channel (the release viewers and RCs). The aim is to give LL’s support personnel and contractors a chance to enjoy the holiday period as well.
However, as well as encompassing the server and LL’s viewer, the Lab also request that TPVs refrain from making major releases during the same period, again to help lessen the load on LL’s viewer support team, who take a lot of TPV-related calls when users encounter problems.
This means that the window for TPVs to get significant updates out is closing fast, and both Black Dragon and UKanDo have both had what is likely to be their last updates this side of the new year (although in Black Dragon’s case, it appears the reason is because Niran is having fun relaxing with a new computer game!). Both updates are small, tidy packages, and as such, both are overviewed here.
Black Dragon 188.8.131.52
Released on Wednesday, December 4th, hard on the heels of version 2.3.9 and 184.108.40.206, both of which appeared on December 3rd, Black Dragon 220.127.116.11 is described as “Maintenance #4”, and is the latest in a line of maintenance releases of the viewer which build on existing functionality and UI changes, rather than adding anything significantly new to the viewer.
That said, version 18.104.22.168 does offer what is something of a new feature: “realistic Mouselook”. Traditionally, when in Mouselook, the camera is positioned / locked towards the centre of the avatar frame (around chest level). With this release, Niran has moved the camera position so it is effectively in the avatar’s head.
This may sound a trivial, but it does make something of a difference when operating in Mouselook, as movement in Mosuelook as a lot more responsive to avatar animations. While it is somewhat dependent upon the animations you are using, it can mean, for example, that when running, your mouselook view with “bounce” in time with your avatar’s running strides.
To help demonstrate the difference, Niran has produced a video showing what happens when in Mouselook with Black Dragon 22.214.171.124; you might want to compare it to your own experience using Mouselook in a viewer without the updates.
The option can be toggled off / on via Preferences > Camera > Mouselook Options. Additionally, Niran recommends that when using it, Mouselook Smoothing (same section of Preferences) is enabled.
A further Mouselook fix with Black Dragon 126.96.36.199 comes by way of Adeon Writer, which corrects the issue of hand attachments (weapons, etc., behaving oddly and appearing to move away from the avatar when entering Mouselook or when crouching in Mouselook.
The remaining updates for the release as recorded in the release notes comprise:
- Addition of all windlight presets found in other versions of Niran’s viewer (other than his own “realistic” settings)
- Updates to a number of floaters, include People, which has been a little reduced in size and the addition of the Send button to the Notices floater
- Updates to the loading screens and a fix to the version history link on the log-in screen.
This release offers another small package of tidy changes, several again gathered from other TPV offerings, and it’s good to see that credits for imported features are starting to appear in the release notes as well. The latter list the updates within the release as comprising:
- Updates from RLV
- Addition of Penny Patton’s windlight settings
- Re-write/clean-up of the Status Bar code
- Possible speed improvements
- UKD_Logo icon updates.
- Black background in the address bar combo list’s scroll bar fixed
- An old bad merge for the avatar context menu in chat which didn’t show at the time
- Net Stats graph now shows correct Kb and wdiget now clickable
- Show the total member count on the Group panel’s General tab if you’re a member of that group
- Edit option added to the Area Search floater’s context menu
- Username login drop-down combo box for multiple accounts
- Frames-Per-Second displayed on StatusBar (from NiranV Dean). Modified and clickable (Hidden by default)
- Additional Status Bar show / hide options for FPS, Net Stats, Avatar Offset Slider and Draw Distance Slider.
Both of these releases offer neat packages of updates to their respective viewers, both of which continue to be developed and enhanced in small, relevant steps and which also keep track with most of the recent code base updates from Linden Lab.
Performance-wise, both viewer showed more-or-less consistent performance levels on my primary PC as shown with earlier releases, and I had no difficulty in running both viewers with the major graphics bells and whistles enabled (ALM on, Ambient Occlusion Enabled, shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors, etc.), at home and in wandering.