Monday, August 8th saw Firestorm release version 18.104.22.168527 of their viewer. Coming a little over four months since the last release, 4.7.9 brings with it a lot of important changes from the Lab – perhaps most visible Avatar Complexity and graphics pre-sets – as well as a large number of nips, tucks, fixes and improvements from the Firestorm team and open source / TPV contributors.
As per my usual MO, what follows is not an in-depth review of the release, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and fixes, which I feel will be of most interest to users.
For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.
When installing this release, uninstall the existing version and then install the new 4.7.9 release – no need for a clean install.
Prior to getting stuck into the details, please note that with this release:
- There is no 32-bit Havok version for OS X, due to incompatibilities with the RLVa update
- Firestorm have discontinued producing a 32-bit Havok version of the viewer for Linux, due to the relatively low demand for it.
Firestorm is and will continue to be available as a 64-bit non-Havok (“OpenSim”) version for OS X and in both 32-bit and 64-bit non-Havok (“OpenSim”) versions for Linux. These versions can obviously be used with Second Life, and are available for the 22.214.171.124527 release.
This means it is unlikely there will be any Firestorm Havok support for either Max OS X or linux until Linden Lab release the 64-bit versions of the Havok library alongside their own upcoming 64-bit viewers. In the meantime, the Firestorm team offer their apologies for any inconvenience caused, and ask that those on either OS X or Linux who require Havok functionality (e.g. for mesh uploads reliant on Havok physics or for pathfinding purposes) to briefly switch to the LL viewer.
Log-in Credentials Display Update
The first noticeable aspect in this release is the log-in credentials area at the bottom of the splash / log-in screen have been revised, offering a slightly more Viewer 4 style look and bringing all the options together alongside of a single, obvious log-in button.
Note that if you prefer the old login screen layout, you can set the debug setting FSUseLegacyLoginPanel to TRUE.
Another change with this update is that opening Preferences from the log-in screen should no longer cause splash screen layout problems, thus fixing FIRE-17518.
Lab Derived Updates
Firestorm 4.7.9 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.6 code base, and so includes the Avatar Complexity (aka “Jelly Dolls”) and graphics presets, as noted above, and includes many maintenance fixes, things like Voice updates and the most recent HTTP updates.
Avatar Complexity – or “Why is everyone I’m looking at an odd colour?”
Avatars can often be the biggest single rendering load on our computers. Hence why the bottom falls out of your viewer performance in a crowded place. Avatar Complexity is a means to offset this impact by allowing you to set a “complexity limit” for avatar rendering. Any avatar (including their attachments) exceeding this limit will be rendered as a solid colour – a “Jelly Doll” – putting a lot less load on your computer. You can adjust the limit according to your needs, and you can also override the setting for individual avatars around you. Do note as well that the setting only applies to other avatars in your view; your own avatar will always be rendered fully.
When first installed, a viewer with Avatar Complexity will set a default limit for you based on your current viewer graphics settings. Hence why you might see a lot of solid colour avatars around you when logging-on for the first time with Firestorm 4.7.9. These default limits are:
- Low: 35,000
- Low-Mid: 100,000
- Mid: 200,000
- Mid-High: 250,000
- High: 300,000
- High-Ultra / Ultra: 350,000
You can adjust you Maximum Complexity setting at any time in Firestorm in one of two ways either via Preferences > Graphics or via your Quick Preferences.
In both cases, moving the Max(imum) Complexity slider to the right increases your threshold, allowing more avatars around you to be fully rendered, while moving it to the left decreases your threshold, increasing the number of avatars liable to be rendered as solid colours.
Note that you can set the Max(imum) Complexity slider to No Limit (all the way to the right). However, this isn’t recommended simply because it leaves your viewer vulnerable to any graphics crashers some inconsiderates still occasionally try to use. It’s far better to simply set your viewer to a high limit (e.g. 350,000) if you don’t want to be bothered by seeing Jelly Dolls
Displaying Avatar Complexity Information
You can display Avatar Complexity information for all avatars (including your own) in Firestorm in one of two ways, depending on your preference (or both can be active at the same time, if you so wish):
- By going to the Advanced menu (
CTRL-ALT-Dif not visible) > Performance Tools > Avatar Complexity Information (previously Show Render Weight for Avatars). This displays three items of information over the heads of all avatars Including yours):
- The render complexity for each avatar
- A ranking of the avatar’s distance from your camera (1=closest)
- The attachment surface area for an avatar, expressed in square metres
- Or by going to Preferences > General and checking Show Avatar Complexity (if not already enabled). This will display the render complexity for each avatar in their name tag, and includes two sub-options, which are pretty self-explanatory:
- Only [show avatar complexity, when enabled] If Too Complex
- Show Own Complexity.