|On Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, Firestorm issued a release version of their viewer – 18.104.22.168831. This is the formal release of Firestorm supporting the Lab’s Environment Enhancement Project (EEP); it also includes a number of other Lab-specific updates to the viewer, such as the Camera Presets capability.
Note: while there has been an EEP beta release – 22.214.171.124799 (July 2020) – this summary has been written for those who may still be running the 126.96.36.199205 release from May 2020.
Also, given limitations of my own time (coupled with an inability to run 188.8.131.52205 in direct comparison with 184.108.40.206831), this is a much briefer overview of changes for a Firestorm release in comparison to past overviews in these pages.
|Table of Contents
- There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
- Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.4.12.
- Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.4.12 generic release notes for additional details of all changes and updates in this release.
Register Firestorm as Default Hander
Do you want to register Firestorm as default handler for virtual world protocols?
A response of Yes to this prompt will set the viewer to open map SLurls for example.
Linden Lab Derived Updates Overview
Firestorm 6.4.12 brings the viewer to parity with the Lab’s 6.4.11 viewer code base. As such, it incorporates updates from Linden Lab previously included in the 6.4.5 Beta release and from the following Lab viewer releases:
- The Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF) Update 2020, viewer 220.127.116.113157, providing better support for media playback options win the viewer, including the ability to live stream into Second Life.
- The FMOD Studio update, viewer 18.104.22.1682964, updating the viewer’s audio playback support to use FMOD Studio.
- The Camera Presets viewer, 22.214.171.1241639, – see Camera Presets, below, for more.
- The Zirbenz Maintenance viewer, 126.96.36.1990593.
- The Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer 188.8.131.520188 – see below for more.
New to the 6.4.12 Firestorm release are updates and improvements from the following Linden Lab viewers:
- ToolsUpdate2 viewer, 184.108.40.2065962, viewer build tools update to Visual Studio 2017, a more recent version of XCode and Boost.Fiber, dated August 10th, 2020.
- Love Me Render #4 viewer, 220.127.116.119455 – rendering updates with a focus on EEP bug fixes, dated September 24th, 2020.
- Mesh uploader viewer, 18.104.22.1689686 – Linden Lab’s implementation of the uploader improvements previously found in Firestorm, with additional changes from the Lab. Dated October 14th, 2020.
- The following Maintenance releases with assorted fixes and updates:
Camera Presets provides the ability for users to create one or more custom camera positions to define where and how the viewer camera is placed relative to your avatar, More than one set of presets can be created and saved, so that you can, for example have a camera position for general exploring, another suitable for combat games, another for building, etc., all of which can easily be accessed and used at any time via the Camera Presets drop-down.
For a general introduction to Camera Presets, please refer to: Tutorial: Viewer Camera Presets. However, when doing so, please note that the Firestorm Camera Floater is laid out differently to the official viewer, being more compact, as shown in the image below.
- Presets can quickly be selected from the Camera Presets button in the top right of the viewer, which will open a drop-down menu. By default, this drop-down will display the standard viewer camera positions of Front, Rear, and Side. Additional presets will be displayed as you create them.
- A button on the drop-down will open the Camera floater, if not already open. As well as controlling the camera position, this floater now contains the options for creating and saving camera presets.
- The most accurate way to establish new camera defaults is to use the Camera Position spinners and slider that can be accessed by clicking on the Position button in the Camera floater – again, see my Camera Presets tutorial for more on this approach.
- When you have created your desired preset, use the Save as Preset button to save it as a viewer setting. This opens the Save Camera Preset floater, which allows you to save the preset settings under a unique name or to overwrite an existing setting.
- Alternatively you can manually adjust the camera position relative to your avatar using the camera controls then click on the current settings button to open the Save Camera Preset floater and save the settings as described in (4.).
- You can also select any defined Camera Preset by clicking on the gear icon in the Camera floater to display a list of available presets – default and your own – and then clicking on the desired one.
- If you only wish to select a preset you have created, click the Use Preset button on the Camera floater to display a drop-down of available presets that excludes the viewer defaults of Front, Rear and Side. If you have not created any defaults yourself, the drop-down will be empty.
Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)
It is unlikely that many people have not heard of the environment Enhancement Project (EEP). But in short:
- EEP Replaces the use of Windlight .XML files to control the water and sky environments seen in Second Life.
- Environment settings are saved within environment assets that you can keep in your inventory and / or share with and sell to others.
- These environment settings can be applied to a region or to a parcel (subject to region permissions) and / or to your avatar (thus allowing those travelling in vehicles to maintain a consistent environment across multiple region crossings).
- EEP allows:
- For up to four different, independently controlled sky layers.
- The Sun, Moon and Cloud textures to be replaced with custom textures uploaded to the viewer.
- EEP also provides:
- An extended day cycle of up to 168 hours, thus allowing a 7-day, 24-hour day / night cycle to be defined, for example.
- A Personal Lighting floater that allows you to make viewer-side adjustments to the local environment for the purposes of photography.
- New LSL functions to allow scripts to interact with parcel environments and that can be used with experiences.
EEP is a large and complex overhaul of environment settings for Second Life, and there are numerous resources available for it. If you have not used EEP before, and as the Firestorm implementation is more-or-less as per the official viewer, I recommend reading some of the following:
- This blog:
- Official resources:
EEP and Phototools
One of the popular elements within Firestorm is the Phototools floater. This has been updated to work with EEP, with the most noticeable changes being to the WL tab, now renamed Env, with the changes within it outlined in the image and notes below.
- Environment drop-downs for Fixed Sky, Linden Water and Day Cycles. These display the currently-used environment settings for their respective environment types as seen in your viewer.
- Click the down arrow for a list of all available environment asset types available to you in your inventory and via the Library → Environments folder.
- Click on the required asset name to apply to your viewer only.
- Accesses the EEP Personal Lighting floater, which you can use to modify the current environment settings as seen in your viewer only.
- The X button to the right of Personal Lighting will cancel any changes you have made to the current environment, and revert your viewer to displaying the settings for the selected asset.
- Quick Quick Environment buttons for setting the time of day to the SL default Sunrise, Noon, Sunset and Midnight settings.
- Shared Environment: presumably intended to re-apply the shared environment as set by the region / parcel holder. However, in testing, this did not appear to work.
- The drop-downs in (1) can also be found in the Quick Prefs panel, as can a button to open the EEP Personal Lighting panel.
- As these options are applied to your viewer, note that the selected Day Cycle will not necessarily reflect the expected time of day – as Day Length / Offset can only be set at the parcel / region level.
Firestorm EEP Preferences
Firestorm provides two EEP-specific Preferences options. Both can be found in Preferences → Firestorm, and comprise:
- A slider that allows you to set the interval in seconds over which manual environment changes will blend, with 0.0 being instantaneous. In previous versions of Firestorm, this was known as crossfade.
- A checkbox to allow any personally applied EEP setting to persist between log-in sessions.
Additional EEP Notes
- There are around 200+ EEP environment settings to be found in the Library → Environments folder. These have been provided to Linden Lab by Whirly Fizzle of the Firestorm team, and are available to all EEP-capable viewers.
- As noted in the image above, these can be accessed via the WL tab in Phototools and via the drop-downs in Quick Prefs.
- If you want to edit these any of the environment settings in the Environments folder, you must first copy them to a folder in your inventory (e.g. your Settings folder, or a sub-folder within it).
- As per my tutorial, you can import the Windlight settings you have on your local drive and convert them to EEP settings – see Importing Windlight Settings as EEP Assets.
- Preferences → Graphics → Hardware Settings → Dynamic Texture Memory:
- These options will only be enabled / user-adjustable if your system in 64-bit with at least 512 Mb VRAM and GPUs supporting either the either atimeminfo (AMD) or nxmeminfo (NVIDIA) vendor-specific OpenGL extensions.
- When available these options will allow you to a) specify the minimum amount of VRAM to be allocated to textures, even if the amount of video memory is exceeded; b) set the amount of physical video memory reserved for caching loaded textures that are not currently being displayed; c) define the percentage of video memory reserve for other uses.
- Hover the mouse over settings to display tool tips with additional information on these settings.
- When enabled via the check box, these options will set the Viewer Texture Memory Buffer slider to be greyed-out (see below).
- Preferences → Graphics → Rendering → Occlude objects for water distortion map:
- When enabled, this option will restore object occlusion when generating the water distortion maps. Visuals are more correct with occlusion, however, it may result in objects reflected in the water flashing, and can be particularly bad with avatars & animesh under water when you view them from above water – see BUG-226670.
- When disabled, will prevent the object / reflection flashing, but can result in a performance impact.
- Preferences → Move & View → Movement: a check box that will allow the Double-Click on Land option to either walk or teleport your avatar to a scripted object.
- Preferences → Backup tab now renamed Backup / Restore.
Build Updates – Mesh Uploader
The Mesh Uploader panel has been further updated in line with Linden Lab’s changes to the uploader seen in SL viewer release 22.214.171.1249686, which in turn is based on contributions from Beq Janus of the Firestorm team, and which were first seen in Firestorm 126.96.36.199680 (February 2019), together with additional updates from the Lab.
- UI changes include: an upgrade to preview resolution to 1024×1024; a scalable preview; a fixed display of colours in a preview; adjustment of colours to better correlate to in world (yellow frame of mesh, blue tint physics); rearranged UI elements to give more space for the preview even when not scaled up.
- Informational changes include: two new boxes: cost breakdown and physics breakdown. These provide access to information that has always been available to the viewer from the upload costs update message but were not shown to the user.
Group Chat Access from Notices
Note: the button will only work where group chat is permitted.
RLV / RLVa Updates
Firestorm 6.4.12 contains the following RLV 3.3.3 and RLVa 188.8.131.52831 updates and fixes:
Add @buy and @pay restrictions to block object purchases and avatar payments respectively (because of baguettes).
Indicate user typing status with @redirchat=n with an optional toggle (RLVa menu / Show Redirected Chat Typing).
- The viewer crashing when accepting a give-to-#RLV task offer since the EEP merge.
- Assertion failure on LLApp::isQuitting() in RlvHandler::cleanup() when disconnecting.
- Assertion failure on m_Object.empty() in RlvHandler::cleanup() when an object only issues unknown commands.
Other Updates and Improvements of Note
- FMOD Studio updated to 2.01.05 (updated Windows, Linux, Mac).
- KDU updated to v8.0.6 (Windows, Linux, Mac).
- Voice Server updated to Vivox Version 4.10.0000.32327.
- LibVLC updated to version 2.2.8.
- Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) Dullahan updates:
- Dullahan: 184.108.40.206007261348 (Windows) / 220.127.116.11008031101 (Mac).
- Page of test URLs for Dullahan. With the Developer Menu enabled (CTRL-ALT-Q), press CTRL-SHIFT-Z followed by the Home Page button.
- Chromium: 81.0.4044.138.
- Notecards: saving a note card does not return the cursor to the top of the card, but retains it at the edit point – see FIRE-24306.
- Bakes on Mesh: Bake textures can be applied to non-attached editable items – see FIRE-24333 / BUG-227553.
- Movelock: feedback not given if users attempts to move avatar with movelock or other locks engaged – see FIRE-29880.
- Pose Stand (Avatar → Pose Stand …): update so pose stand animations work with Bento bones – see FIRE-29333.
- Bulk uploads: option added to deactivate the confirmation dialogue for bulk uploads – see FIRE-29935.
- Appearance → Wearing: now show attachment points for attachments – see FIRE-30096.
- The French language translation has been added back.
As always, refer to the release notes for a full list of bug fixes and additional improvements.
Note that these updates were actually in the 6.4.5 Beta release, but are included here for those who did not update to that version of Firestorm. For OpenSim users:
- The viewer incorporates Windlight ↔ EEP interoperability, allowing EEP viewer users to visit legacy Windlight regions.
- The viewer supports the new OpenSim 0.9.2 with EEP, code-named “Ugly Sky.”
- There is now a fast-entry grid feature on the login screen; simply paste a URI to add a new grid.
In addition, the last Firestorm OpenSim Release had a bug that caused crashes when rezzing items. This bug was responsible for 70% of all reported FS OpenSim crashes on the 6.3.9 version, and it has been fixed.
New to 6.4.12 for OpenSim are:
- The viewer now forces the grid list to be available on every start-up of the OpenSim build, and avoids the issue of the grid list being disabled if the OpenSim version is running alongside the Second Life version. There is also an option to disable this for grids that really need/want to restrict external grid access (though frankly, firewalls are a far better choice)
- Object caching for OpenSim is now “fixed” so that when editing an object with large numbers of items inside, the viewer will not refresh every time you close and reopen the edit.
- Note, however, this does not change the fact that the object contents fetch protocol is extremely poor, whenever the contents update, you will still have to endure the long wait. There may be some news on that in the future but it requires server changes as well as viewer.
- My Suitcase should no longer go missing from inventory.
I don’t have a lot to comment on with this release. As with the EEP Beta, I have found it to be stable and with acceptable performance. The updates to the Camera floater to incorporate Camera Presets are a marked improvement on the Beta release and present a more logical flow. I’m not sure if my whining on this with the Beta had any influence, but I appreciate the changes made.
As this release will effectively make EEP a fact of life for everybody, it’s good that the Firestorm team have integrated the Love Me Render #4 viewer fixes for EEP into the release. Whilst the LMR fixes do not address all issues with EEP, they go a long way to smoothing out some of the more noticeable issues with the capability, even if there are others that still need / are awaiting some TLC from the Lab.
For my own part, I have to admit to liking EEP and have had a certain amount of fun playing with it, particularly where Day Cycles are concerned. So, if you’ve not tried it, I’d urge you to give it a try (just stick with some of its more arcane aspects using the resources listed above), as the results can really be worth it – and they can automatically be enjoyed by everyone by default, rather than just those who happen to be running Firestorm, as has been the case with Firestorm parcel Windlight settings.
Other than that, I’ve really not much else to say, so here endeth the article.