On Wednesday, May 18th, Linden Lab promoted the long-awaited Quick Graphics viewer to de facto release status. This viewer includes two important new features:
- The updated Avatar Complexity settings
- The ability to create, save and load different groups of graphics settings quickly and easily.
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 casual term to refer to them being “Jelly Dolls” – greatly reducing the load placed on a system compared to having to render them in detail, so improving performance.
The idea is that you can adjust the setting according to circumstance, so that when in a crowded area with lots of avatars, you can dial down the Avatar Complexity setting, found in Preferences > Graphics (and in the Advanced Settings floater), with the result that more of the avatars around you are rendered as solid colours, reducing the load on your graphics card and system, thus improving performance. Then, in quieter areas, the setting can be dialled back up, allowing more avatars to fully render in your view.
Note: this only applies to other avatars in your world view: your own avatar will always fully render in your view.
If you have a good system with a high-end graphics car, you can set the value on the slider quite high and thus ensure all avatars render fully for you wherever you are.
Note: You can sett the Avatar Maximum Complexity to “No Limit”. However, this is not entirely recommended. some irritants in Second Life still use worn graphics crashers to overload GPUs and crash the viewer. If you set Avatar Maximum complexity to “No Limit”, then such tools, should you ever encounter an irritant using one, will still be effective; so it’s better to set a reasonable high value, leaving your viewer with a cut-off point which should defeat their efforts in crashing you.
There are a few other points to note with Avatar Complexity:
To help you understand how complex you own avatar is, every time you change your appearance, each time you change the appearance of your avatar, a small notice with your new complexity value will appear in the upper right of your display for a few seconds
- The complexity value of your avatar is transmitted to each simulator as you travel around Second Life. In return, you’ll get a brief notice in the upper right of your screen telling you approximately how many of those around you are (or are not) rendering you because of your complexity
- If you have a friend or friend you wish to see fully rendered no matter how low you dial Avatar Maximum Complexity (while out at a club, for example, where it may be beneficial to set a lower complexity threshold), you can right-click on those individuals and select “Render Fully” from the context menu
- Similarly, and if you prefer, you can selectivity render avatars in your view as grey imposters, by right-clicking on them and selecting “Do Not Render” from the context menu.
Note: Both “Render Fully” and “Do Not Render” will only apply during your current log-in session; the options are not persistent between re-logs.
To help people understand Avatar Complexity, the Lab has produced the following:
- A blog post to accompany the promotion of the Quick Graphics viewer to release status
- An Avatar Complexity Knowledge Base article
- A video tuTORial, which I’ve embedded below.
Graphics Presets allows you to save and restore different sets of graphics settings within the viewer. The idea being that users can then switch between these different pre-sets according to circumstance to help with viewer performance.
So, for example, one pre-set 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.
The capability started as a contribution from open-source developer Jonathan Yapp, and is easy to use. Simply use the Graphics Preferences options (main tab in Preferences and the Advanced Setting panel) to set your desired pre-sets for a given situation (including the Avatar Complexity setting you might wish to use), then click on the Save Settings As A Preset… button on Graphics Preferences, enter a name for the set, and click Save. You can do this for as many sets as you feel the need to set-up.
Once created and saved, a pre-set can then be loaded at any time in one of two ways: via the Load Preset… button within Preferences > Graphics, as shown in the image above. However, a much quicker way of loading / changing pre-sets is to use the Pre-set icon in the top right-hand corner of the viewer window.
When the mouse is hovered over this icon, a list of all saved pre-sets is displayed, a tick appearing alongside the one currently being used. Clicking on any other pre-set will immediately apply it.
In addition, this panel also has a button which will open the viewer’s graphics settings in Preferences.
To delete a pre-set you have created, go to Graphics Preferences, click on the Delete Preset… button and select the pre-set you wish to delete from the drop-down list and click Delete.
In addition, as noted in Oz Linden’s blog post, linked to above, the Advance section of Graphics Preferences has a newer, two-column format designed to make it easier to locate and set options. However, these are now in a separate floater, opened by clicking the Advanced Settings button in the Graphics Preferences tab, which is a bit of a nuisance, given the extra screen real estate it requires.
Avatar Complexity has been a long time coming, and many have been eagerly awaiting its arrival. There may be some upset in some quarters as the capability spreads to more TPVs, but as the Lab’s blog post states:
Our hope is that over time this will encourage people to consider the complexity they create – after all, it’s not much good having the most elaborate and amazing avatar in Second Life if no one else is seeing it.
Which is a fair point.