Firestorm 4.7.9.50527: “I see jelly people!”

firestorm-logoMonday, August 8th saw Firestorm release version 4.7.9.50527 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.

Available Downloads

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 4.7.9.50527 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.

The revised log-in credentials area of the splash / log-in screen
The revised log-in credentials area of the splash / log-in screen

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.

"Avatar

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-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
  • 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.
The Firestorm options for displaying Avatar Complexity information in the viewer
The Firestorm options for displaying Avatar Complexity information in the viewer

Continue reading “Firestorm 4.7.9.50527: “I see jelly people!””

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Firestorm 4.7.7: get ready to update!

firestorm-logoThursday, March 17th saw Firestorm release version 4.7.7.408706 of their viewer. Coming four months after the last release, this update is slightly later than planned, but includes a number of important updates from the Lab as well as a good mix of updates, improvements and fixes directly from the Firestorm team and contributors.

As per my usual MO, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release, and 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.

The Usual Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

This update means that Firestorm 4.6.9 will be blocked in approximately 3 weeks time.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 4.7.7 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.1 code base, and so includes the TLS 1.2 and CEF changes. These and other Lab derived changes are outlined below.

TLS 1.2 and Viewers

The reason this release might be regarded as becoming a mandatory update for Second Life users is the integration of TLS1.2 into the viewer – and by “viewer”, I mean all current or upcoming viewer releases, LL or TPV.

TLS, the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a cryptographic protocol for communications security intended to provide privacy and data integrity between two communicating computer application (such as the viewer and the Lab’s servers).

TLS 1.2 is currently being implemented by Linden Lab under the umbrella of their work of fiscal compliance, This involved changes to both the viewer and LL’s servers, the upshot of which means that, once TLS 1.2 has been fully implemented, any viewer that does not support TLS 1.2, will not be able to do any interactions with cashier or anything that involves L$. While there is no precise time frame for this work to be completed, indications from the Lab are that it will be sooner rather than later.

Again, this is not an arbitrary decision on the part of either the Firestorm team or Linden Lab; the work is being carried out as a compliance requirement.

Chromium Embedded Framework

Firestorm 4.7.7 includes the Lab’s implementation of Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media management (and more). CEF completely replaces the old llQTwebkit for media management within the viewer, replacing it with current web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 support and WebGL, which can allow direct manipulation of objects on a browser page displayed in-world with ease.

CEF should also enable things like viewing PDF files in-world, editing PDF documents via Google Docs, etc. See the CEF forum thread for more.

CEF integration into the viewer means that Flash and QuickTime content require third-party support (see this Knowledge Base article on enabling Flash support for CEF viewers, for example). However, because they do rely on plug-in support, there is no guarantee given by Firestorm or Linden Lab that either will work, and are regarded as unsupported.

Other Updates from the Lab

Materials (texture / diffuse, bumpiness / normal and shininess / specular) in the Build floater Texture tab can now be selected via radio buttons, rather than picking from a drop-down list, to make locating and selection them easier (see BUG-10149).

Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer
Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer
  • A fix for ALM enabled + full bright + shiny objects failing to display texture on Mac (see FIRE-12681)
  • A fix for activating Show Avatar Complexity disabling all llSetText (hovertext) viewer is restarted (see BUG-10488)
  • A fix for show land owner colour overlay is only visible where there is water in deferred rendering (see FIRE-11654)
  • A fix for a black screen if ALM is enabled while in wireframe mode and then wireframe is disabled (see BUG-4543)
  • A fix for rotating an object that is used as grid reference going crazy (see FIRE-2593 and BUG-9419)
  • A fix for “Ban Member” in the group chatters list context menu being greyed out (see FIRE-16160 and BUG-10500)
  • A fix for animated agents at high altitudes randomly showing up at 0,0,0 (see bug FIRE-14439 and BUG-6648)
  • A fix for having to open ‘About Land’ twice to get parcel ban timings to load in the parcel ban list when banned names are not cached (see bug FIRE-17408 and BUG-10831)
  • A fix for a stuck freeze frame state if snapshot floater is closed with freeze frame left enabled and the viewer window is subsequently resized (see FIRE-16739 and BUG-9952)
  • A fix for opening a note card with the same name as one already open failing to work (see  VWR-2981)
  • A fix for replacing current outfit with contents of a non-outfit folder creates a folder link in the Current Outfit Folder (see BUG-11274)
  • A fix for opening an experience compiled script in an object in an adjacent region failing to show the script is compiled with an experience in the script editor (see BUG-8980).

Continue reading “Firestorm 4.7.7: get ready to update!”

Firestorm 4.7.5: something for everyone

firestorm-logoTuesday, November 17th saw the release of Firestorm 4.7.5.47975.  While not as major in terms of LL features and updates as the August 4.7.3 release, the new version of Firestorm nevertheless brings with it plenty of general fixes and improvements, both via the Lab and the Firestorm team and contributors.

As per my usual MO, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release.  For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Usual Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

Details of any versions of Firestorm to be blocked as a result of this release will be announced in due course.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 4.7.5 brings the viewer to parity with the Lab’s 3.8.6 code base, and so includes the new Notifications updates and changes to the mesh uploader. These and other key updates from the Lab are listed below.

Notifications Update

The notifications update presents a new floater for managing all your incoming notifications and notices, the result of a feature request to the Lab from Aki Shichiroji. Within this floater, incoming notifications are split between four tabs: System, Transactions, Invitations and Group, with each tab displaying the total number of notices stored within it.

Notices are initially displayed in summary format presenting the title, date of receipt and other immediately relevant data, and can be opened in one of two ways:

  • Clicking on a notice directly will open in a new floater (shown below left) – this is a Firestorm-specific feature for the floater
  • Clicking on the small downwards arrow to the right of the notice will expand it within the existing floater (show below right).
The new Notifications floater from the Lab is included in Firestorm 4.7.5.
The new Notifications floater from the Lab is included in Firestorm 4.7.5.

The floater also includes two buttons: Collapse All and Delete All. Both do as they suggest: collapse all notices open within a tab in the floater and delete all notices with a tab. Two further Firestorm-specific aspects of the notifications floater are:

  • An improved display of condensed group notices and show group name instead of sender name
  • The floater remembers the last selected tab after a relog.

Mesh Uploader Updates

Firestorm 4.7.5 includes the updated mesh uploader from Linden Lab, as seen in the SL viewer 3.8.4.305119 release.

This feature modifies the mesh importer to (optionally) improve debug output, perform name-based LOD association, and handle models with many materials, and allows models with more than 8 unique faces to be imported. When using it, note that:

  • The same limitations on LODs and materials remain in place (e.g. your low LOD mesh materials must be a subset of the full LOD materials).
  • LODs and Physics reps can now be explicitly associated with a given mesh in the full LOD model using name-based matching.
  • By properly naming the meshes in your lower LOD meshes and physics reps, you can avoid issues with ordering of the meshes within your DCC tool and other material mismatching errors.
  • An ImporterDebug option has been added to the settings.xml file which, if enabled, causes more information to be output during import than you can shake a stick at.
    The extra output can be very helpful for diagnosing authoring errors (e.g. violating the material subset constraints mentioned above) and pinpoint what needs to be fixed in the source model for successful import.

Further information can be found in the Lab’s Knowledge Base article.

Other Updates from the Lab

Other notable updates from the Lab include, but are not limited to:

  • A fix for unable to wear a copy of a wearable until relog or swapping to a wearable with a different UUID (see: BUG-8388 and FIRE-16097)
  • A fix for viewer crashing at logout if wearing clothing textured with a local texture (BUG-8872 and FIRE-15787)
  • A fix for viewer crashing if you open Help > About while a group member list is loading (see BUG-9396)
  • A fix for deleting objects too quickly from contents of another object results in viewer crash (see BUG-9492 and FIRE-16352)
  • A fix for alpha masking not working when ALM is enabled if the object has a legacy bump set (see BUG-7263)
  • Fixes for mesh models sometimes failing to load completely (see: BUG-6803, BUG-7239, BUG-8806, and FIRE-15690)
  • A fix for the inventory count sometimes not displaying (see BUG-7263)
  • A fix for group members of large groups in a role which has “Invite people to this group” ability not being able to send group invites (see BUG-9404)
  • A for fox errors when texturing a linkset “Unable to add texture. Please wait a few seconds and try again.” (see BUG-9957 and FIRE-16755)
  • A fix for the massive slowdown when opening “Place Profile” or “About Land” dialogue when the Covenant text is long
  • A fix for broken texture animation on rigged mesh
  • A fix for building block type changing to Torus after cancelling changing of texture for sculpted object
  • The time remaining is now displayed before the avatar name in the parcel ban list for timed bans
  • A huge number of maintenance fixes from various LL Maintenance viewer updates – for the full list, please refer to the Firestorm notes.

Continue reading “Firestorm 4.7.5: something for everyone”

Firestorm 4.7.3: are you ready to rock?!

firestorm-logoUpdate:this release has seen further issues for those using Webroot anti-virus (problems include low FPS, high ping rates to the simulator, very slow rendering, etc.). If you have Webroot installed on your system and are experiencing issues, please try manually whitelisting the viewer’s cache folder.

Tuesday, August 18th saw the release of Firestorm 4.7.3.47323. This release comes a little later than had been planned, thanks largely to a series of last-minute blockers caused be assorted external influences (such as win 10 driver issues for Intel).

This is once again a major release, packing a huge amount into it, and which brings Firestorm pretty much to parity with the Lab’s code base. It also sees the return of the Linux 64-bit build to the fold.

Given the sheer number of updates in the release, I do not intend to cover everything here, but rather offer an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release.   for full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Usual Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

Version Blocking

As this is a full release, expect an announcement on the blocking of version 4.6.1 and 4.6.5 to be made once the dust from this release has settled.

Log-in Screen Updates: Text Mode and Remember User Name

Login Screen > Select Mode >Text

When enabled, this disables the viewer’s 3D rendering, allowing Firestorm to be used as a “text viewer” for low-end systems and launches the viewer with the in-world view blanked out, but all of the menu options and tool bar buttons accessible HUDs (which are not displayed) and other attachments can be manipulated via the Touch option in the Inventory context menu.

The Text Mode option, accessed from the Select mode drop-down on the right of the log-in / splash screen enables you to run Firestorm without 3D graphics on a low-end system - menus and buttons will still be accessible, as will floaters. The Remember user name check box (highlighted above left) is also a new feature, restoring the functionality last seen in Pheonix
The Text Mode option, accessed from the Select mode drop-down on the right of the log-in / splash screen enables you to run Firestorm without 3D graphics on a low-end system – menus and buttons will still be accessible, as will floaters. The Remember user name check box (highlighted above left) is also a new feature, restoring the functionality last seen in Phoenix

The Remember Username check box has been added to Firestorm in response to a series of requests to bring back this functionality from the Phoenix viewer – see FIRE-5735.

Additional Log-in Screen Fixes

  • The issue of Remember Password box checking itself after a failed log-in attempt and refusing to uncheck itself (see FIRE-16535) has been fixed
  • Several focus issues within the login panel have been fixed (see FIRE-6930)

Lab Updates

The 4.7.3.47323 release brings Firestorm up to parity with the Linden 3.8.2 code base (with some additional updates from the current 3.8.3 code base). Chief among the LL updates are the following.

Viewer Build Tools Update

This release means that Firestorm is now built using the updated viewer build tools, notably Visual Studio 2013 for windows and Xcode 6.1 for Mac, with some additional tool improvements, all designed to provide improved performance and stability, as well as easing the viewer build process. Details on the new build tools can be found in my blog post on the subject, however the key points with this change are:

  • The Windows version of this viewer will not install on Windows XP systems, regardless of the Service Packs also installed  (previous versions of the release viewer would install on Windows XP system which had Service Pack 3 installed)
  • The Mac version of the viewer will not install on any version of OS X below 10.7.

Attachment Fixes

Firestorm 4.7.3 includes the Lab’s Project Big Bird fixes for a wide range of viewer attachment loss issues, which tend to noticeably occur after regions crossings (physical or teleport), such as: attachments appearing to be detached in your view, but not to others, and vice-versa; attachments appearing to have detached from you, but showing as attached in Inventory, and so on. These also fix issues such as adding multiple attachments at the same time failing to attach everything selected, and attempting to wear an outfit with too many attachments failing.

Project Layer Limits

This changes how system clothing layers (shirts, pants, under shirts, jackets, etc.), are handled. Prior to this update, an avatar could wear a maximum of 5 items of any single layer – say the jacket – at one time. With this change, an avatar can wear any combination of layers up to a global maximum of 60 – so you can wear 1 pair of pants and 59 jackets if you so wish, or just 60 jackets, etc.

Note that this change does not apply to body layers – skins, shapes, eyes, etc., for which the limit is still one of each, nor is it applicable to attachments, which retain a limit of 38 per avatar.

Experience Keys / Tools

Firestorm 4.7.3 adds the full set of Experience Keys / Tools controls and floaters in the viewer. For those not familiar with Experience Keys / Tools, I offer my own overview from July 2015.

This update means that on entering an area where an Experience is running, Firestorm users will see the full permissions request dialogue, rather than an abbreviated version.

With release 4.7.3, Firestorm users can access the Experience floater and review information on those Experiences they have allowed, blocked, owned, etc., and display individual Experience profiles
With release 4.7.3, Firestorm users can access the Experience floater and review information on those Experiences they have allowed, blocked, owned, etc., and display individual Experience profiles. Land owners can also display information on Experiences running  / blocked on their land through World > Region Details and / or the About Land tab

In addition, Firestorm gains the additional Experiences-related panels and floater options. So users can now access the Experiences floater via Avatar > Experiences, and the Region and About Land floaters have also been updated to include Experiences tabs and information.

Viewer-Managed Marketplace

Firestorm 4.7.3 incorporates the Marketplace Listings folder
Firestorm 4.7.3 incorporates the Marketplace Listings panel (Avatar > Marketplace Listings)

Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM) is designed to enable merchants to manage the creation and management of Marketplace product listings through the viewer, bypassing the need to use the Merchant Outbox (and have copies of items stored on the Marketplace inventory servers) or using Magic Boxes (as VMM fully supports the sale on No Copy objects). It was fully deployed in July 2015, and all merchants have had their Marketplace listings migrated to VMM, and should by now have also migrated their Magic Box listings and items to VMM.

Firestorm 3.7.3 now fully supports VMM functionality, providing the Marketplace Listings panel and hiding the Marketplace Listings folder by default.

Those still requiring information on VMM are referred to my blog posts on the subject, which also include links to the Lab’s official information resources.

Dragging Folders into My Outfits

A recent change to viewer functionality meant that it was no longer possible to drag and drop sub-folders of items into the My Outfits  / Outfits folder – see BUG 9209 (FIRE-15603). This changed caused some consternation among those who use My Outfits to order their outfits. As a result of the use-cases supplied to the Lab within the JIRA, this has been reversed in an upcoming release, and has been cherry-picked for inclusion in Firestorm 4.7.3.

Continue reading “Firestorm 4.7.3: are you ready to rock?!”

Firestorm 4.7.1 Beta: It’s here!

firestorm-logoSunday, May 3rd saw the release of Firestorm 4.7.1.45325 Beta. This is another big update which brings Firestorm pretty close to being up-to-date with the Lab’s viewer.

However, it has been given a beta status as there are further important updates coming out of the Lab, such as fixes for AIS v3 attachment issues, the new Viewer-Managed Marketplace functionality, etc. As such, the Firestorm team will be working on a further release, which will be made available once the Lab has made these updates and new functionality generally available through their viewer release channel, and this will count as a “full” release of Firestorm.

Given the sheer number of updates in the release, I do not intend to cover everything here, but rather an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release.   for full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

Version Blocking

As this is a beta release, there will be no blocking of any older releases of Firestorm until after the next “full” release is made.

Lab Updates

The 4.7.1.45325 release brings Firestorm up to parity with the Linden 3.7.26 code base (with some updates from the 3.7.27 and 3.7.28 releases). Given the last release (4.6.9) brought Firestorm to parity with the Lab’s 3.7.8 code base, this means this release includes a significant number of updates direct from the lab, which include, but are not limited to, the following.

Avatar Hover Height

The Lab’s Avatar Hover Height option is included in this release, allowing users to make on-the-fly adjustments to their Avatar’s relative position above the ground / the  floor / an object it is sat upon, via a slider or spinner, with a range of +/- 2 metres. The option is accessible via the avatar right-click context menu  / the pie menu, which displays the slider / spinner.

Avatar Hover Height allows for on-the-fly adjustments to your avatar's relative position above the ground, etc.
Avatar Hover Height allows for on-the-fly adjustments to your avatar’s relative position above the ground, etc.

Avatar Hover Height can be used whether you are standing, sitting, using a poseball, etc. However, note that it is a change to the graphical representation of your avatar – the option does not make any associated change the avatar’s height in terms of platform physics.

Default Permissions

Firestorm 4.7.1 includes the new default permissions panel for setting the initial permissions on created items – objects, uploads, scripts, notecards, gestures and wearables.  contributed to the official viewer by Jonathan Yap under STORM-68, the new panel can be opened via Preferences > Firestorm > Build 1 > Default Creation Permissions.

The STORM-1968 default creation permissions are now integrated into Firestorm
The STORM-68 default creation permissions are now integrated into Firestorm

Other Lab Updates of Note

  • GPU Benchmarking Feature: in common with the Lab’s viewer, Firestorm no longer uses the GPU table to define your GPU and initially set the viewer’s graphics. Instead, a test is carried out when the viewer is first installed to determine the GPU type and graphics settings are initially set as a result of this test. You can, of course set alter your graphics settings to suit your needs  / load your settings for any saved presets you have
  • Server-side Appearance (SSA) polish / Advanced Inventory System (AIS v3): stability and performance improvements for SSA, including retry logic, removing redundant requests, detecting various appearance stuck conditions; the removal of code related to the old client-side baking framework; appearance bug fixes 
  • HTTP Pipelining and faster inventory fetching: significantly improves the download of data (currently avatar baking information, texture data, and mesh data) to the viewer and improves inventory fetching and loading on logging-in
    • As HTTP fetching using HTTP is now used exclusively by SL (support for UDP fetching has been removed from the simulators), the option to disable HTTP Inventory has been removed from the Developer menu
  • Joint offsets in rigged mesh attachment fixes: removes the unpredictability from attaching multiple meshes with joint offsets which meant you could see yourself with different joint positions at different times, and the way you saw yourself might not match up to what others saw. Instead, wearing the same set of meshes should always produce the same joint positions, and the way you see yourself should consistently match the way others will see you. The process for removing attached meshes is also more robust, so you should be able to reliably get your old joint positions back after meshes are removed.
  • Obtain LSL syntax table from the simulator so that it is always up to date: see STORM-1831
  • Added glossy reflections for projectors: This feature makes use of the glossiness parameter to calculate the “gloss” of projector reflections – see STORM-2067
  • New unified snapshot floater and updated SL Share 2 capabilities: see Snapshots and Photography Updates, below.

Preferences Overhaul

Perhaps the most noticeable update in this release is the complete overhaul of the Preferences panel, tabs and sub-tab. Every major tab in Preference has been revised and rationalised, and most of the sub-tabs have been revised / added-to, along with a number of new sub-tabs being added to various tabs.

Firestorm 4.7.1 sees the Preferences panel extensively overhauled, with revised tabs and updated / new sub-tabs, such as the new Mouselook, Teleports and Map & Minimap tabs under Movement
Firestorm 4.7.1 sees the Preferences panel extensively overhauled, with revised tabs and updated / new sub-tabs, such as the new Mouselook, Teleports and Map & Mini-map tabs under Move & View

The result, while possibly confusing when first discovering a particular option has been moved, is actually a better, more logical set of Preferences tabs and sub-tabs.

Documenting all of them is beyond the scope of a review such as this, and the recommended means for finding options and to gain familiarity with the new layout is to use the Preferences search bar.

Continue reading “Firestorm 4.7.1 Beta: It’s here!”

Firestorm on SL Go: a closer look

Firestorm on SL Go from OnLive: almost 60 fps in my home region on a Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook with all the bells and whistles active
Firestorm on SL Go from OnLive: almost 60 fps in my home region on a Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook with all the bells and whistles active

Important note: The SL Go service is to be shut down on April 30th, 2015. For more information, please read this report.

Onlive, the provider of the SL Go, and the Firestorm team recently announced the addition of the Firestorm viewer to the SL Go service. I covered the news with a quick overview, and you can also read both the official press release from OnLive and the Firestorm’s team’s announcement to catch-up, if you need to.

Given SL Go has, until this announcement, only been available with a flavour of the official SL viewer, there may be some Firestorm users who haven’t really thought about SL Go or given it a look. As such, I’d thought I’d offer a little more of a detailed look.

The Preamble

Just as a quick reminder, SL Go is a third-party service which can be used to access Second Life. Rather than using a locally-installed viewer, everything is run on OnLive’s servers and then streamed directly to the user’s chosen device (PC, Mac, tablet, HDTV via OnLive’s own game console).

SL Go has been available with a version of the SL viewer since March 2014 for all of the above. The Firestorm update now extends the service to include the Firestorm viewer, initially only to people running low-end PCs and Macs, although Android and iPad flavours should be available in the future.

The service does require a subscription (to cover OnLive’s costs), which amounts to US$9.95 (UK £6.95) per month for unlimited access – and this includes accessing Second Life from your Android Tablet or iPad as well, should you also wish to give it a try (you will need to install the OnLive app on your tablet and, as noted above, you will only be able to run the SL viewer on it for the time being).

A free 7-day trial period is provided for anyone wishing to try the service without obligation, and there is no minimum term once the trial period has ended, so you can cancel your subscription at any time. Once you have signed-up, and to use Firestorm, you’ll need to download the OnLive PC or Mac client.

However, and important point to remember is that SL Go isn’t intended as a replacement for the standard viewer offerings (SL or TPV). If you have a good computer / laptop and can run the viewer to your satisfaction already, then SL Go likely isn’t for you. But, if you are using an old system and are finding SL a struggle, then SL Go may well offer a means for you to increase your enjoyment with the platform until such time as you can update your hardware.

Running Firestorm via SL Go

Running Firestorm via SL Go is a matter of:

  • Launching the OnLive client
  • Then, if you have an OnLive account (rather than just an SL Go account) – clicking My Games at the top of the client window, then selecting SL Go from the left side of the client
  • Selecting Firestorm from the SL Go service screen (see below)
  • Allowing the viewer to load.
SL Go users access the service via PC or Mac now have a choice of viewer: the SL Viewer (SLV, as OnLive refer to it) or Firestorm
SL Go users accessing the service via PC or Mac now have a choice of viewer: the SL Viewer (SLV, as OnLive refer to it) or Firestorm

A point of note here is that the OnLive client runs in a fixed 1280×720 resolution, and presents the viewer in fullscreen mode only. This means that the client is “stretched” or “shrunk” to fit other screen resolutions, and as a result there can be a loss of image quality.

This can be compensated for to some extent by switching the OnLive client to “Windowed” mode (ALT-ENTER for Windows, CMD-F for Mac), and then resizing the window by pointing down into the lower right corner of the window, holding the left mouse button and dragging to the desired size (note that the cursor will not change to a grab handle or anything, so getting it can be a case of trial and error).  The window will retain a 16:9 ratio when being resized in this way, but should hopefully offer some degree of improvement; in the case of my own Asus PC EEE 1201N notebook (1366 x 768 native resolution), it did make things clearer for me.

With the OnLive client running in "Windowed" mode, you can point to and click on the lower right corner of the client window (no grab handles will be displayed) and resize as required - the window will retain a 16:9 ratio
With the OnLive client running in “Windowed” mode, you can point to and click on the lower right corner of the client window (no grab handles will be displayed) and resize as required – the window will retain a 16:9 ratio

Once you’re logged-in to Firestorm, you should find it pretty much as you’d expect to see it on logging-in first the first time following a clean local install. As when running the viewer locally, you can set the buttons you require within the toolbar areas, adjust the font size, tweak Preferences, etc. You’ll find you have almost everything you’d expect to find in Firestorm had you downloaded and installed it: windlight options, Phototools, radar, quick preferences,  Firestorm’s conversations / chat UI, RLV/a and so on.

There are, however a few things apparently “missing”, which are purely down to the fact that the viewer is being run on an OnLive server and streamed to you. Those who have used SL Go before will be familiar with some of this, but again, for completeness here’s a breakdown of what you’ll likely note as “not being there”:

  • The Develop menu, access to debug settings through the Advanced menu, the ability to upload any content (mesh, sounds, animations, images), the ability to use local textures, or to save snapshots to disk – these are all limitations common to both Firestorm and the SL viewer on SL Go
  • There is currently no support within SL Go for 3D mouse devices such as the Space Navigator
  • You cannot save or restore your Firestorm settings; any “local” pickers Firestorm uses will not work; there is no option to set crash reporting  to the Firestorm team.
Firestorm doesn't have the crash reporting tab or backup tab in Preferences among other disbled elements
Firestorm currently doesn’t have the crash reporting tab or backup tab in Preferences, among other disabled elements

Continue reading “Firestorm on SL Go: a closer look”