Speedlight, the browser based / Android Second Life client, received an update on May 22nd, focusing heavily on the world rendering capabilities, offering updates to the UI displays, and various performance fixes / improvements, together with a step forward in avatar rendering.
The performance improvements are mostly under-the-hood – notably the addition of a further back-end rendering server pool, that I understand specifically handles textures and which corrects issues of textures with alphas failing to render correctly (so, among other things, no more “boxy” trees). There have also been updates in handling network traffic, so 3D world view freezes should be less apparent.
For client-side assistance with rendering, the Scene Progress / 3D Settings information panels have been updated thus:
- The old connection status has now been revised to show three colour relating to “lag”:
- Green – you’re “fully” connected to the server.
- Orange – your connection is suffering from network lag.
- Red – severe lag (/ awaiting data?).
- The 3D Settings display in the panel now includes the option to switch between downloading and rendering objects at “high” or “low” quality, with the latter intended to reduce the network traffic load between your browser / device and the Speedlight servers.
With regard to these object rendering quality settings, I understand that for users on the “low” quality object setting, objects stay cached in the Speedlight intermediary server, speeding load times when camming / moving around. Objects cached in “high” quality”, however, may be discarded if not in the immediate view, so as to allow the servers to handle other object data.
The improvements to avatar rendering mean that avatars now have a body shape. It’s still primitive, but again somewhat in keeping the Lumiya’s progress with avatar rendering.
The case remains that only Gold members can move their avatars in the world view while free account users can only orbit / zoom their camera / turn their avatar on he spot. However, both Gold and free account users can see others avatars moving in their field of view, and the walking is fairly fluid, and certainly a good start to things. The short video below highlights the avatar movement.
According to the release notes, seated avatars should be rendered in a basic sitting pose (and a seated avatar is shown in the video). However, whether this is limited to just Gold users or a glitch with my experience, I’m not entirely sure (my Gold membership has lapsed at present) – but I found that when my avatar (running on a viewer) was seated on a lounger, my alt (running on Speedlight) rendered her as standing on the back of the lounger, rather than offering a view of her Speedlight avatar in a basic sit pose.
At the time of the release, there were apparently a number of issues with world view rendering, but these did appear to get fixed fairly rapidly. Certainly, by the time I got to play with the release for around 3 hours, I didn’t encounter any of the problems that had been reported; generally speaking, I found my experience was a lot smoother than previously: no sudden lock-ups / freezes / log-outs within minutes of starting the world view rendering.
As noted, I did have an issue with rendering seated avatars, which might be down to the fact I’m currently not at Gold status. The lack of the latter also meant that I couldn’t check to see if a fix had been made to my issue of my avatar refusing to stop once walking had been initiated (unless she hit and insurmountable obstacle or I logged out / in).
The “high” quality object rendering appears to have fixed a little niggle I’ve had with earlier versions failing to render two of the more complex mesh boats we have have moored at home; one or other would invariably be left with holes in it / missing mesh faces when the download / rendering process apparently completed – but, no more! With this release, both boats render as I’d expect to see them. It was also good to see the trees around our house render correctly, thanks to the alpha issue being fixed.
Quite probably the best experience I’ve had with Speedlight to date, and I understand more improvements are coming down the pipe in the near future!