Alchemy 5.0.0: Bento beta

Alchemy-logoOn Sunday, January 8th, the Alchemy team released a beta version of Alchemy 5.0.0, the first update to the viewer to include support for Project Bento and Avatar Complexity (although no Graphics Presets).

As well as Bento support, version 5.0.0.40120 includes several updates specifically aimed at those with estate management responsibilities, plus a range of bug fixes and improvements from both Linden Lab and the Alchemy Team. In addition, this release includes work that is ongoing to reorganise the UI.

The following is intended to be a general overview of the more visible updates to Alchemy 5.0.0, and a summary of some of the bug fixes.

Project Bento

As almost everyone in SL must be by now aware, Project Bento introduces an enhanced avatar skeleton offering greatly improved support for mesh avatars and rigged mesh attachments. It also includes a set of new attachment points to work with the new joints, although the overall limit of the number of attachments you can wear at any one time remains 38 (including HUDs).

Most of all of this work is entirely under-the-hood. However, there are two additions to the avatar right-click context menu for both your own and other avatars: Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations which should be noted. In Alchemy 5.0.0, they can be found in the Appearance sub-menu of the right-click avatar context menu.

They have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar
The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

Further information on Bento (if needed) can be found via the following links:

Avatar Complexity

To be honest, I thought this had been part of Alchemy already, but looking through my past reviews and Alchemy’s release notes, I can’t find evidence of it being mentioned, and the 4.0.0.37571 release doesn’t include the Avatar Complexity options. Anyway, assuming I’m not going bonkers and thus repeating myself, here’s a rapid breakdown – please refer to my Avatar Complexity release article for in-depth info, if required.

, Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), is in short a means to reduce the rendering load placed on your computer in having to render all the avatars around you in detail. Instead, you can set a rendering limit (aka Maximum Complexity) in the viewer. Any avatar exceeding this limit won’t be rendered in full – unless you opt otherwise – but will instead be rendered as a solid colour (aka Jelly Doll).

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load
The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load on your system

With Alchemy, this means that The Preferences > Graphics tab adopts the official viewer’s approach, displaying frequently used options within it, and moving the more advanced options to a separate Advanced Graphics Preferences floater.

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings.... button in the Preferences > Graphics tab
The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings…. button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

Avatar Complexity includes some additional capabilities / options

  • Every time you change your appearance, and thus your avatar complexity, your current complexity value will be briefly displayed in the top right corner of the viewer window
  • You can display information on your own and other avatar’s complexity by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D to display it, if required) and selecting Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity Information
  • Your own avatar will always be fully rendered in your own view
  • Maximum Complexity has a No Limit setting. It is not recommended you use this. If you wish to avoid seeing the vast majority of avatars around you as Jelly Dolls, set the slider to a high value. Setting it to No Limit can leave you vulnerable to graphics crashers.
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

You can also alter how you see other avatars around you without altering your Maximum complexity setting. To this, right-click on an avatar to display the context menu. Go to Visibility to display the sub-menu. This has three options:

  • Render Normally – will render the avatar in accordance with your Maximum Complexity setting
  • Render Fully – will render them fully, no matter what your complexity setting
  • Do Not Render – will render them as a grey 3D imposter, no matter what your complexity setting.

Not that Render Fully and Do not Render only apply to your current session. If you re-log the avatar in question will once again be rendered in accordance with your Maximum Complexity settings.

Estate Manager and Avatar Controls

The right-click Avatar Context menu has also been revised so that options relating to the management of other avatars in your field of view (reporting abuse, blocking, derendering) are now located in a sub-menu. If you are an Estate Manager, this new sub-menu will also automatically display your estate rights for dealing with trouble-makers (e.g. teleporting home, applying an estate kick or ban)  for those regions on which you have power to do so.

Alchemy 5.0.0 places all the options for details with troublemakers under a sub-menu within the Avatar Context menu (l). If you are on a region where you have Estate Manager rights, the menu will automatically include the EM options for dealing with troublemakers (r)
Alchemy 5.0.0 places all the options for details with troublemakers under a sub-menu within the Avatar Context menu (l). If you are on a region where you have Estate Manager rights, the menu will automatically include the EM options for dealing with troublemakers (r)

UI Updates

The changes to the right-click Avatar Context menu and the revised Graphic Preferences tab are part of the work to revise Alchemy’s UI, either by the team directly or as a result of changes made by the Lab. Others may be found within version 5.0.0 of the viewer, and the Alchemy team request that if any users find specific issues with any of the changes made, such as text layout problems, etc., to please raise and Alchemy JIRA.

Bug Fixes

The “full” release notes for the viewer indicate the following bug fixes

  • ALCH-482 All faces of some meshes are using the same texture settings in latest dire
  • ALCH-475 Alchemy closes down when banning a person from a group
  • ALCH-472 Alchemy crashes during login because of inventory (Linux Viewer)
  • ALCH-416 Texture bakes just sometimes stop
  • ALCH-295 Sound emitters attached to avatar may flicker between surround channels while avatar is in motion.

General Notes

I’ve not had time to drive Alchemy 5.0.0 extensively, so this is very much an overview of those elements spotted as having changed. The viewer is also beta, so is something of a work-in-progress, so expect further updates  / revisions. I’m not sure why Graphics Presets weren’t included in this release – they were always bundled with Avatar Complexity by the Lab, so it will be interesting to see if they show up in another beta of Alchemy down the road.

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