SL Camera Offsets

Penny Patton

Camera placement is important. In the videogame industry this is common wisdom. Game developers spent decades experimenting, improving and pretty much perfecting the art of camera placement in 3D videogames.

Unfortunately, the SL camera does not take advantage of any of that experience. As a result, the camera sits way over your avatar’s head, angled down. Not very immersive or engaging. More like you’re watching a character from afar rather than interacting with the world through them.

This has also affected how we build. It’s common knowledge that avatars are generally oversized, often close to 7 or 8′ tall, some pushing almost 9′. And yet, the environments we build and explore are larger still, often fully double scale compared to real life. 5m high ceilings instead of the more typical 2.59, 20x20m rooms instead of 10x10m or 5x5m rooms. We need to build so much larger to compensate for SL’s camera.

Some will point out that you need to compensate for any third person view. This is correct, however with a proper 3rd person view you’d only really be affected by a room as small as about 2x3m, like a bathroom or walk in closet. You’d easily be able to navigate a 5x5m apartment with a typical 2.59m high ceiling.

The irony of all this up-scaling is that it makes SL smaller. We can’t re-size our land to match, afterall, so we either need to buy more or settle for a “smaller” build.

These up-scaled builds also eat more of our alotted prims. A 20x20m room might take 16 prims where the same room done to 10x10m scale takes up only 1/4th the land area and can be done in a mere 6 prims (or even 3 prims if you build as efficiently as possible) because you don’t bump heads with that 10x10x10m prim size limit.

So here you are. Alternate camera settings you can easily enter into the viewer’s debug panel to get a better look at Second Life.

Debug can be accessed by pressing CTRL-ALT-D (PC) or CTRL-OPT-D Mac) to enable the Advanced menu (if ADVANCED is not already visible in the menu bar at the top of your Viewer window), then clicking on DEBUG SETTINGS towards the bottom of the Advanced menu itself. This will display a pop-up window, into which you can enter the commands on the left of the following table (commands Viewer-dependent), and then adjust the X, Y, Z values as shown to achieve the desired view.

Note that for Viewer 1 (including all 1.2x based TPVs), you will need to relog after making these changes in order for them to come into effect. On Viewer 2 (and Viewer 2 based TPVs), the change will be interactive, and will not require a restart.