Category Archives: Alchemy

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.

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Alchemy 4.0.0: released

Alchemy-logoOn Saturday, June 26th, the Alchemy team announced the official release of Alchemy 4.0.0.37571, which essentially moves the recent Beta releases to release status, together with some tweaks and tucks.

As Alchemy beta users will know, 4.0.0 brings Alchemy up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.0 code base, and also adds some upstream fixes from 4.0.1. This means the viewer includes the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media handling.

Given I have provided a couple of overviews for the February and April beta releases of the viewer, the following is a quick bullet-point list of major updates in the viewer:

  • Client-side AO (see my April Beta release overview)
  • Automatic update capability (matching the official viewer update capability) – Preferences > Setup
Alchemy 4.0.0 includes auto-update options to help with maintaining parity with latest releases / receiving beta version updates

Alchemy 4.0.0 includes auto-update options to help with maintaining parity with latest releases / receiving beta version updates

  • Enhanced environmental tools
  • In a change introduced on the April Beta, the local chat bar (see my February Beta release overview) no longer has a chat check-box to activate the option (Preferences > Chat). Instead, the chat bar will open automatically if your mouse focus is in-world (e.g. not already focused on the conversation floater or another floater) and Preferences > General > Pressing Letter Keys is set to Starts Local Chat.
The Alchemy local chat bar and options, as it appears in the 4.0.0. release version of the viewer

The Alchemy local chat bar and options, as it appears in the 4.0.0. release version of the viewer

At the time of writing, the full release notes were reported as “will be generated soon”, so users are referred to the Alchemy web site for these and a detailed breakdown of updates.

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Alchemy 4.0.0: client-side AO

Alchemy-logoAlchemy viewer updated to version 4.0.0.37561 (Beta) on April 16th. This is another progressive update, containing a lot of under-the-hood improvements and fixes – notably around rendering – and a new visible update in the form of a client-side animation override capability, modelled after the one most popularity seen in Firestorm.

The update also sees a Linux 64-bit release as well, although going by the comments following the release notes blog post, there appear to be log-in issues associated with the Linux version.

This, and the previous “beta” release are intended to get the team’s own updates in front of users ahead of some major updates which will be forthcoming as Alchemy (as with all other viewers) merge with some significant releases coming down the pipe from Linden Lab (including the Avatar Complexity capabilities and – eventually – the Project Bento updates).

As the AO update is the most visible change with this release, and given I am not a regular Alchemy user (although I find it possibly the best viewer for video capture), the rest of this article focuses on the AO aspect of the update.

The client-side animation override (AO), is intended to replace he need for HUD-based scripted animation overrides, instead driving animations – walks-sits-standing poses, etc – directly through the viewer, thus freeing-up simulator resources. Using one does require a little work in setting-up (but so can HUD-based systems), but you can run multiple animation sets directly from the viewer.

Essentially, the AO system comprises three parts:

  • The animations you wish to use, which you will need to copy / move from any associated HUD system to your inventory – placing them in a folder within your Animations system folder is often a good way to do this
  • A configuration note card defining the animation you wish to use. Like configuration note cards found in many ZHAO -based animation overrides (so simply using the note card found within your scripted AO system should work OK), this defines animations by type: stand, walk, sit, etc (you can also manually create an animation set if no configuration note card is available)
  • The viewer UI elements.
To use the client-side AO, you'll need to have the animations you wish to used stored within your inventory (not within another AO system) (l), and a suitable note card defining the animations you wish to use with the AO (r)

To use the client-side AO, you’ll need to have the animations you wish to used stored within your inventory (not within another AO system) (l), and a suitable note card defining the animations you wish to use with the AO (r)

Once you have done this, you’re ready to set-up the client-side AO system.  You can access the AO floater in one of two ways:

  • By adding the AO button to your viewer toolbar and then clicking on it to open the AO floater
  • By hovering the mouse over the AO icon at the top right of your screen to display a minimised AO floater.

The latter is actually the easiest, given the way Alchemy have implemented to AO system. Assuming you take this approach, click on the spanner icon in the minimised AO floater to expand it.

The client-side AO floater - minimised (l) and expanded (r)

The client-side AO floater – minimised (l) and expanded (r)

Now, simply drag and drop the configured animation note card from your inventory to the AO floater. This will cause Alchemy to configure the AO system ready for use, and result in a list of your animations appearing in the floater. At the same time, a set of links will be created in the Animation Override folder in your inventory – do not delete these!

Alternatively, if you don’t have a configuration note card for an animation set, click the + button on the AO system floater, type in a name for your animation set, then drag and drop all of the animations you want to use in the set from your inventory into the AO system floater.

The AO floater with the loaded animation set (l) and the associated links in the Animation Override folder in your inventory (r)

The AO floater with the loaded animation set (l) and the associated links in the Animation Overrides folder in your inventory (r)

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Alchemy 4.0.0

Alchemy-logoOn Tuesday, February 16th, the Alchemy team announced the release of Alchemy 4.0.0.37374 Beta.

The release  – as indicated by the version number shifting to 4, incorporates code for the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media handling. Already in the official release viewer on some TPVs, CEF replaces the ageing QTWebkit framework, and supports all modern web technologies including HTML5, CSS3, and WebGL.

This release also implements the Lab’s auto update feature, which means that when a new version of Alchemy is release, users well get a notification prompting them to allow the updater to run and install the latest update when they log into an older version.

Perhaps a more visible change to the viewer is the ability to initiate nearby chat through a local chat bar, rather than either through the Conversations floater or having the detached Nearby Chat bar always open either full-sized or minimised.

As with similar local chat bar options found in other TPVs, this will only work if you set the viewer so that pressing letter keys starts local chat (Preferences > General).  You also need to ensure that Preferences > Chat > Open Conversations When Initiating Nearby Chat  is unchecked. Once done, starting to type within the viewer window will open a compact chat bar, which will close automatically upon pressing Enter.

The new local chat bar offers a convenient means of typing local chat, complete with gear icon options, and can be enabled by ensuring pressing the letter keys on your keyboard initiates typing (rather than movement), and that the option to Open Conversations when Initiating Nearby Chat (shown above) is unchecked (leaving it checked will open the Conversations floater in full or the Nearby Chat floater, is detached from it)

The new local chat bar offers a convenient means of typing local chat, complete with gear icon options, and can be enabled by ensuring pressing the letter keys on your keyboard initiates typing (rather than movement), and that the option to Open Conversations when Initiating Nearby Chat (shown above) is unchecked (leaving it checked will open the Conversations floater in full or the Nearby Chat floater, is detached from it)

Removed from this version of Alchemy is  media pop-ups, which aren’t supported by CEF.  Other updates are reported to be directed at OpenSim use, together with a few “hidden gems” and also under-the-hood updates intended to improve performance.  There are also a number of fixes implemented, as indicated in the release notes.

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