Two new options which will be appearing in the official viewer in the near future, and which have been mentioned in this blog a number of times over the past few months are Avatar Complexity and the ability to create, save and restore graphics presets. Both are intended to provide options by which users can better tune the viewer and its settings to suit their needs and circumstances.
I’ve had the opportunity to look at both in a development viewer from the Lab, and what follows is an overview of how things may appear when both capabilities are released for general use. However, please keep in mind that things are sill very much a work-in-progress at the moment and aspects of either / both may well change between now and any functionality appearing in any public version of the viewer.
As avatars can often be the single biggest impact on the viewer in terms of rendering, particularly in crowded places, so Avatar Complexity adds a new slider to the viewer which can be used to set a level above which avatars requiring a lot of processing will appear as a solid colour – the most popular term used to describe them being Jelly Babies after the sweet (candy) of the same name – greatly reducing the load placed on a system compared to having to render them in detail, so improving performance.
The intent with the capability is to allow people to adjust the setting according to circumstance, so that when in a crowded area with lots of avatars, the setting can be dialled down and more of those avatars which are harder to render become solid colours, while in quieter areas, the setting and can dialled back up, allowing more avatars to be seen in full detail.
Avatar Complexity is intended to sit alongside the avatar imposters functionality (Max # of non-impostors in the official viewer), allowing both to be used as required to produce more optimal performance in crowded or busy places.
By default, Avatar Complexity is set to No Limit, meaning all avatars in your field of view will fully render. As the slider is moved, it will list a render weight value, which is a revision of the RenderAutoMute function within the viewer previously used to help calculate the more familiar Avatar Draw / Render Weight. The latter, viewed via Advanced > Performance Tools, has also been renamed to Show Avatar Complexity Information for consistency, with the displayed information updated.
The initial work on Graphics Presets was undertaken by open source contributor Jonathan Yap (see STORM-2082) to provide a means by which users can save and restore different sets of graphics settings within the viewer. The idea being that users can then switch between different presets according to circumstance to help with viewer performance.
So, for example, one preset might have all the performance hitting items – shadows, projectors, etc., – turned on / up for times when the overall quality and depth of detail in a scene is important (such as when taking photos). Another might have these more taxing capabilities turned down / off to ease the processing load on a computer during more general activities. A third might be established for “in door” uses, with things like draw distance and the level of detail for external items (the sky, trees, terrain, reflections, etc.) all turned down, again easing the processing load.
Like Avatar Complexity, Graphics Presets is still undergoing development internally with the Lab, and so what is presented here may be subject to change.
Perhaps the most significant change this brings to the viewer is the introduction of a new Advance Graphics Preferences floater (shown below right). This is designed to display all of the options than a user can set and save within a graphics preset without having to either scroll through options (an earlier iteration of the design did use a scroll bar, but they didn’t meet with favourable reactions during testing), or having to switch between different sub tabs.
As it is, the Advanced Graphics floater has been acknowledged as being less-than-optimal given it is currently a fixed size which may not suit all screen resolutions. It is therefore likely to go through further revision, such as perhaps being made resizeable. So again, please do not take what is presented here to be the final iteration; this is just a sneak peek / first look.
Once a profile has been set-up in the Advanced Graphics Preference panel, it can be uniquely saved using the Save Settings as a Preset button (shown above left). Note that several presets can be created in this way.
Once created and saved, a preset can then be loaded at any time in one of two ways: via the Load Graphic Preset button within Preferences > Graphics, as shown in the image above, lower centre; or more directly by the Graphics Presets icon located in the top right of the viewer.
When the mouse is hovered over this icon, a list of all saved presets is displayed, a tick appearing alongside the one currently being used. Clicking on any other preset will immediately apply it.
In addition, this panel also has a button which will open the viewer’s graphics settings in Preferences.
While it may seem I am belabouring the point, please do note that both Avatar Complexity and graphics presets are a work-in-progress, and things may change between what is seen here and what appears in the viewer in the near future. This is purely intended to give people a flavour of what is coming.
Currently, Avatar Complexity is subject to further work – a bug has been introduced into the capability, which is in the process of being tracked down in order to be stomped. There are also some simulator updates which, I believe have yet to be implemented / deployed. Similarly, as noted aspects of the graphic presets capability may be subject to further refinement. Given this, I’ll have a more complete introduction to both once they have reached either project or RC viewer status.