On Sunday, December 1tth, Catznip R11 arrived, bringing with it a lot of Lab love and Kitty goodness. With the last update having been back towards the start of 2016, there are quite a few updates and features from Linden Lab, and well as some niceness from the Catznip team themselves.
In particular, this release picks up on the Lab’s Avatar Complexity capability and graphics presets, and also include Bento avatar skeleton support, as well as a raft of Lab changes such as HTTP co-routines, CEF, LibVLC, voice improvements, bug fixes, and more.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of Catznip R11; rather, the hope is to provide an overview of the more major updates and changes. Information on all changes can be found in the release notes (when available – link to be added).
Updates Via the Lab
Avatar Complexity, aka Jelly Dolls
There are probably very few in SL who have not heard of Avatar Complexity, be it by that name or its more popular nickname, Jelly Dolls. However, for those who need a quick re-cap and run through, here’s the deal.
As avatars can often be the biggest single rendering load on our computers (and why you can experience a lot of lag in a crowded place) Avatar Complexity is a means by which you can set a “complexity limit” within your viewer. Any avatar (including their attachments) exceeding this limit will be rendered as a solid colour – a “Jelly Doll” – thus putting a lot less load on your computer. It comes with a handful of notable points:
- Avatar complexity only applies to other avatars in your view; your own avatar will always be rendered fully to you
- You can also override the setting for individual avatars around you and select how they render in your view
- You can adjust the limit at any time according to your needs at that time
- You can use graphic presets (see below) to save different avatar complexity settings for different circumstances (e.g. a very low limit for crowded places, a much higher limit for home use, etc.).
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 Catznip R11. 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
Avatar complexity is controlled via the Avatar Maximum Complexity slider, which can be found in three locations:
- In the Preferences > Graphics tab: Avatar Maximum Complexity
- In the Advanced Graphics Preferences floater (see Revised Graphics Preferences, below, for more on this): Avatar Maximum Complexity
- The Quick Appearance panel of the new Catznip Quick Preferences floater (see below for more on this): Complexity Limit
In all three cases, moving the Maximum 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. Changes made in one slider will be reflected in the others.
Note that you can set the Maximum Complexity slider to No Limit (all the way to the right). However, this isn’t recommended because it leaves your viewer vulnerable to any graphics crashers some inconsiderates still occasionally try to use. It is far better to set your viewer to a high limit (e.g. 350,000) if you don’t want to be bothered by seeing Jelly Dolls.
To help you understand how complex your own avatar is, every time you change your appearance, a small notice with your new complexity value will appear in the upper right of your viewer window for a few seconds. Your own complexity value is also displayed at the top of the My Appearance floater (Me > Appearance or right-click your avatar and select My Appearance from the menu), and on the Quick Appearance panel of Quick Preferences (“Complexity”), while the Quick Wearing panel will provide a breakdown of the complexity of all your worn attachments (see Catznip Quick Preferences, below for more on Quick Preferences).e
You can also display avatar complexity information on yourself and all avatars around you by going to the Advanced menu (
CTRL-ALT-D if 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.
Other points of note:
The complexity value of your avatar is transmitted to each simulator as you travel around Second Life. In return, you’ll get a brief notice in the upper right of your screen telling you the approximate percentage of avatars around you who are not fully rendering you because of your avatar complexity.
- If you always wish to fully render certain other avatars, no matter what your Maximum Complexity setting, you can right-click on those individuals and select “Render Fully” from the context menu.
- Conversely, if there are avatars around you whom you’d rather render as grey imposters, right-click on them and select “Do Not Render” from the context menu.
- Note that in both cases above, these per-avatar settings do not persist between log-ins. If you re-log, any avatars you have set via these options will revert to being displayed in accordance with your Avatar Complexity setting
- You can also revert any avatar exceeding your Maximum Complexity setting by right-clicking on them and selecting Render Normally from the context menu. They will become a Jelly Doll once more.
Finally, Avatar Complexity does not replace Avatar Imposters, but rather is intended to work alongside of it, offering another means to reduce avatar rendering load on your computer.
HUD Complexity Warning
If you attach a HUD which makes heavy / excessive use of large textures and which, as a result, can impact your system’s performance, the viewer will display a warning to indicate the problem and which names the HUD. It will naturally fade after a set time has passed.
Graphics Presets allows you to easily save and restore different sets of graphics settings within the viewer, which can then be used according to need. So you might have one with all the performance-hitting options enabled for when you’re taking photos, and another with many of them turned off, as they’re not really needed (e.g. for shopping or clubbing, etc.), for example. You can then swap back and forth between them as needed via a drop-down options list and without any need to relog.
There is no limit to the number of presets you can create, and any you no longer require can be easily deleted.