Firestorm on SL Go: a closer look

Firestorm on SL Go from OnLive: almost 60 fps in my home region on a Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook with all the bells and whistles active
Firestorm on SL Go from OnLive: almost 60 fps in my home region on a Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook with all the bells and whistles active

Important note: The SL Go service is to be shut down on April 30th, 2015. For more information, please read this report.

Onlive, the provider of the SL Go, and the Firestorm team recently announced the addition of the Firestorm viewer to the SL Go service. I covered the news with a quick overview, and you can also read both the official press release from OnLive and the Firestorm’s team’s announcement to catch-up, if you need to.

Given SL Go has, until this announcement, only been available with a flavour of the official SL viewer, there may be some Firestorm users who haven’t really thought about SL Go or given it a look. As such, I’d thought I’d offer a little more of a detailed look.

The Preamble

Just as a quick reminder, SL Go is a third-party service which can be used to access Second Life. Rather than using a locally-installed viewer, everything is run on OnLive’s servers and then streamed directly to the user’s chosen device (PC, Mac, tablet, HDTV via OnLive’s own game console).

SL Go has been available with a version of the SL viewer since March 2014 for all of the above. The Firestorm update now extends the service to include the Firestorm viewer, initially only to people running low-end PCs and Macs, although Android and iPad flavours should be available in the future.

The service does require a subscription (to cover OnLive’s costs), which amounts to US$9.95 (UK £6.95) per month for unlimited access – and this includes accessing Second Life from your Android Tablet or iPad as well, should you also wish to give it a try (you will need to install the OnLive app on your tablet and, as noted above, you will only be able to run the SL viewer on it for the time being).

A free 7-day trial period is provided for anyone wishing to try the service without obligation, and there is no minimum term once the trial period has ended, so you can cancel your subscription at any time. Once you have signed-up, and to use Firestorm, you’ll need to download the OnLive PC or Mac client.

However, and important point to remember is that SL Go isn’t intended as a replacement for the standard viewer offerings (SL or TPV). If you have a good computer / laptop and can run the viewer to your satisfaction already, then SL Go likely isn’t for you. But, if you are using an old system and are finding SL a struggle, then SL Go may well offer a means for you to increase your enjoyment with the platform until such time as you can update your hardware.

Running Firestorm via SL Go

Running Firestorm via SL Go is a matter of:

  • Launching the OnLive client
  • Then, if you have an OnLive account (rather than just an SL Go account) – clicking My Games at the top of the client window, then selecting SL Go from the left side of the client
  • Selecting Firestorm from the SL Go service screen (see below)
  • Allowing the viewer to load.
SL Go users access the service via PC or Mac now have a choice of viewer: the SL Viewer (SLV, as OnLive refer to it) or Firestorm
SL Go users accessing the service via PC or Mac now have a choice of viewer: the SL Viewer (SLV, as OnLive refer to it) or Firestorm

A point of note here is that the OnLive client runs in a fixed 1280×720 resolution, and presents the viewer in fullscreen mode only. This means that the client is “stretched” or “shrunk” to fit other screen resolutions, and as a result there can be a loss of image quality.

This can be compensated for to some extent by switching the OnLive client to “Windowed” mode (ALT-ENTER for Windows, CMD-F for Mac), and then resizing the window by pointing down into the lower right corner of the window, holding the left mouse button and dragging to the desired size (note that the cursor will not change to a grab handle or anything, so getting it can be a case of trial and error).  The window will retain a 16:9 ratio when being resized in this way, but should hopefully offer some degree of improvement; in the case of my own Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook (1366 x 768 native resolution), it did make things clearer for me.

With the OnLive client running in "Windowed" mode, you can point to and click on the lower right corner of the client window (no grab handles will be displayed) and resize as required - the window will retain a 16:9 ratio
With the OnLive client running in “Windowed” mode, you can point to and click on the lower right corner of the client window (no grab handles will be displayed) and resize as required – the window will retain a 16:9 ratio

Once you’re logged-in to Firestorm, you should find it pretty much as you’d expect to see it on logging-in first the first time following a clean local install. As when running the viewer locally, you can set the buttons you require within the toolbar areas, adjust the font size, tweak Preferences, etc. You’ll find you have almost everything you’d expect to find in Firestorm had you downloaded and installed it: windlight options, Phototools, radar, quick preferences,  Firestorm’s conversations / chat UI, RLV/a and so on.

There are, however a few things apparently “missing”, which are purely down to the fact that the viewer is being run on an OnLive server and streamed to you. Those who have used SL Go before will be familiar with some of this, but again, for completeness here’s a breakdown of what you’ll likely note as “not being there”:

  • The Develop menu, access to debug settings through the Advanced menu, the ability to upload any content (mesh, sounds, animations, images), the ability to use local textures, or to save snapshots to disk – these are all limitations common to both Firestorm and the SL viewer on SL Go
  • There is currently no support within SL Go for 3D mouse devices such as the Space Navigator
  • You cannot save or restore your Firestorm settings; any “local” pickers Firestorm uses will not work; there is no option to set crash reporting  to the Firestorm team.
Firestorm doesn't have the crash reporting tab or backup tab in Preferences among other disbled elements
Firestorm currently doesn’t have the crash reporting tab or backup tab in Preferences, among other disabled elements

Continue reading “Firestorm on SL Go: a closer look”

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