Important note: The SL Go service is to be shut down on April 30th, 2015. For more information, please read this report.
On Tuesday, December 16th, 2014, OnLive, the providers of the Second Life streaming service, SL Go, announced a new addition to the SL Go service: The Firestorm Viewer.
The announcement follows several months of collaboration between the Firestorm Team, lead by Jessica Lyon, and the folk at OnLive, lead by Dennis Harper, the results of which now mean that with immediate effect, SL Go now provides a choice of TWO viewers to subscribers and users:
- The existing SL viewer – which OnLive are referring to as “SLV” – can be used from any Mac computer, PC, and from Android devices and iPads to access Second Life
- AND The Firestorm viewer, initially available for Mac computers and PCs, which can be used to access Second Life and OpenSim grids.
SL Go’s pricing options remain the same whichever viewer you opt to use, and you can swap between them at any time you like, should you wish. Simply make your choice from the SL Go selection screen.
Since its launch in March 2014, which I covered in-depth at the time, the SL Go service has proven to be very popular with people who are using low-end systems which traditionally have problems when trying to run the viewer locally. Because the viewer is streamed from OnLive’s dedicated servers, it’s the servers that do all the heavy processing, delivering a fast, smooth service to users, thus helping to give a new lease of life to older hardware.
Of course, because SL Go is streamed, it means that – like the SL viewer offered by OnLive – certain functionality within the Firestorm offering has either been removed for security reasons (such as the Develop menu, and no access to debug settings and content cannot be uploaded), or has been disabled (such as the option to save snapshots to a hard drive – as that would effectively mean saving them to the OnLive server).
The big benefit in using Firestorm through SL Go is that – with the noted exceptions due to security issues, etc., – it brings the richness of Second Life’s most popular third-party viewer to those on older systems who have perhaps felt themselves to be increasingly edged out of Second Life, something Firestorm Project Manager Jessica Lyon commented on when discussing the release with me.
“I’m really happy about this,” Jessica said. “For years folk on lower-end systems have seen significant improvements to Second Life, particularly with how the world looks, pass them by because their systems are unable to run them. We’ve even heard from many that they simply cannot use Firestorm or any other viewer and as being pushed out of SL completely.
“This release of Firestorm through OnLive, together with the existing SL viewer, hopefully gives those people a new way to enjoy Second Life. I really hope this works for them!”
I can personally attest to that. In 2010, I purchased an Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook, which has found running a viewer like Firestorm increasingly heavy going. With Firestorm through SL, with all the bells and whistles turned-up, I’m averaging around 60 fps!
That SL Go does bring a new lease of life to older hardware can be seen in the fact that since the launch of the service in March, 2014, the largest take-up among users has been by those using the service through the OnLive PC and Mac clients. But those who want Firestorm on their mobile devices need not fear – it will be coming in 2015. This is something Jessica is also looking forward to.
“A could of years ago we fooled a great many people with our April Fool’s joke of a Firestorm Mobile client,” Jessica said. “The excitement over the announcement, and the outcry when it turned out to be just and April Fool’s joke, was overwhelming. The great news is – and no joke this time! – that OnLive will be making this capability real very soon!”
And it doesn’t end there. One capability that Firestorm brings to OnLive and SL Go users is the ability to log into other grids as well as Second Life. The version of the viewer supplied to OnLive is the OpenSim version, which means it is complete with the grid manager and start-up grid selection drop-down, allowing you to log into all your favourite grids – as I did, logging-in to Kitely and Fallingwater at the Seanchai Library.
Thus, with a single subscription to OnLive, you gain access to the entire metaverse from any low-end PC or Mac in your home.
“We’re happy to be able to empower SL Go users with more choice. They’ve told us they want a choice of viewers, so offering the popular Firestorm viewer was a natural next step.” said Rick Sanchez, VP of Product and Marketing at OnLive, at the launch of the new offering.
I’ll have a more in-depth look at Firestorm on SL Go available shortly.