Tuesday, February 23, 2010

she just looked at me, uncomprehendingly, like cows at a passing train

New article out at MMORPG on player housing I found somewhat interesting, for two reasons: first, the sideline inference that future MMOs under development are using the Second Life engine as a jumping-off point to build multi-player games (and if that's really what's going on, WAU for open-sourcing Second Life!), and second, that multiple different designs for homes--or any large displayed areas, really--butchers performance on single machines because of the multiple draw calls.

So, we've known this for a while--large-textured builds--who use lots of individual textures--cause lag. Lag = performance. Multiple draw calls, then = lag. Huh.

So the solution would be--if Second Life were a game--to reduce the number of allowed textures, and the problem is solved, right?

Save...SL doesn't work that way.

The Second Life 2.0 viewer is available now, the SL blog trumpets--or, at least, the beta version. And as anyone who has any experience with beta programs knows, "beta" means "the end version may drastically change and nothing you spend arduous time learning will remain fixed. Thanks for helping us find all the bugs so we don't have to pay people!"

The first thing I'd advise everyone to do is watch the video--it's embedded in the blog, but really, you need to view it, big as you can, because it's priceless.

This is the future! They've decided to be Firefox with bad jazz! It's INCREDIBLE!

Okay, okay, I'll stop being sarcastic, but really, that's what they've done--they've equated 'viewer' with 'browser', and they're fairly sure this will be so simple and easy to use, even a cavema--I mean, a newcomer could use it. And it's endlessly customizable--three minutes in, SB Linden has said those two words at least three times.

They also have introduced two new inventory types--along with a new 'alpha mesh' wearable item, they've introduced a 'tattoo' layer. What I want to know--and what I'll have to test out--is, does the 'tattoo' layer have to be a texture layer, or can you take any previous costume-layer tattoo and punch it in to the tattoo spot? Because that would be damned useful.

At 4:43 everything stopped for me. I literally paused the video and just stared at SB Linden in total shock. Let me reprint what she says here, because I'm still reeling:

"Second, is a list view called 'My Outfits'. Outfits are a new special type of folder in viewer 2 that allow you to save an entire look. You can quickly switch between outfits by selecting the one you want to wear from this list, and then clicking the 'wear' button."

So...let me get this straight. They've implemented a feature that is the same thing as taking the outfit you want to wear, the skin, hair, eyes, and a bald cap if you want, shape, shoes and accessories desired, and putting all of that in a folder and naming it, oh, I don't know, "Special Outfit"...and then right-clicking that folder to put it on. I'm told the plus on this is that you can move no-copy items to these outfit folders, because you're not actually putting the original items on, you're just compiling a folder with links to the actual items.

I guess...but it still seems redundant.

From the blog itself:

"We looked carefully at the experience design of other successful social media and technology platforms--such as the web browser, Facebook, the iPhone, Twitter, etc.--and the key elements that enabled them to reach mass adoption. You'll see much of that thinking baked into new Viewer 2 experience design."

So...again, everything we've been telling the Lindens is a bad, bad idea...they're going to implement. Because they don't listen to us. Because they want their world to fail? Because they want their residents to run off screaming? What? I honestly don't get it. What is driving them to the cliff like lemmings running after Facebook?

The first good thing I noticed in the browser itself is active links on login. Remember how many times you've seen the little bit.ly links logging in, that are all text, so you can't click and check them out? They're more annoyances than anything; by the time I hunt down pen and paper, or pop open a text file, I've logged in and it's gone.

Now? You can click them, so that's a benefit. Of sorts.

The second thing I noticed was, they're still having the appearance bug, of rezzing in and being ghosted. I can't even get to that yet, because I'm coping with half my screen being blocked by various things I can do, and trying to figure out where my notices went. Then I see several light grey boxes on the lower half of the screen and spend the next ten minutes going through notices, laboriously, having to agree twice for everything I click "Keep". This is annoying and redundant.

And then disaster struck.

[7:00] Emilly Orr: AGH
[7:00] Emilly Orr: HATRED
[7:00] Emilly Orr: BILE
[7:01] Emilly Orr: leaving for Snowglobe
[7:01] Fawkes Allen: >_>
[7:01] Fawkes Allen: Did you even give it a chance?
[7:01] Emilly Orr: I did
[7:01] Emilly Orr: I logged in
[7:01] Emilly Orr: Two lines for every single line of chat in group chat
[7:01] Emilly Orr: Individual group chat windows, no tabs, no simple aligning of chat windows out of the way
[7:01] Emilly Orr: If I'm in more than two chats, I HAVE NO WINDOW SPACE
[7:02] Emilly Orr: It is dead to me

Fawkes wants me to log in, because he says there's fixes for these things, but damn it, I'm in the middle of trying to get a store that I can stand up and running and I DO NOT NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS CRAP.

How'ver, I did log back in, to try to figure things out. The first thing I figured out was that music streams automatically start; it's not a pure user on/off thing anymore. At the bottom of the volume bar is a little gear; clicking that brings up the direct volume settings (which used to be tidily down on the bottom of the browser window). The location of the media streams (which used to be accessed via a single intuitive click of the land name) proved nigh inaccessible, so while I have Fawkes trying to talk me down from DefCon 2, and me clawing at my desk with my headphones blaring--because the stream was apparently set to DEAFEN in he new client--I'm just trying to find the land tools so I can gut the sound entirely.

The second thing? Getting the chat windows back to tabs, not individual windows. This required getting into Preference settings, then into Chat, then clicking the button for Tabs over Separate Windows...and then restarting the damned viewer, because apparently it can't make these kinds of changes on the fly.

My next unpleasant surprise? There are no camera controls. Let me say that again, because to me, functioning for four years with them, that's vaguely important: THERE ARE NO CAMERA CONTROLS. Instead, we have a single button called "View", which controls both camera and movement, including 'group view', back-of-the-head view (I would suppose that translates to 'standard'), "front" view, and mouselook. Without calling it mouselook, of course.

This is going to make my style of picture-taking IM. POSSIBLE.

There's also a pure cam view, and BOY is it sensitive. In the space of one scroll I went from in the skybox to outside Morgaine entirely.

I hate this viewer. HATE. This viewer. I want not to hate it, but I hate it; I want not to kick the Lindens repeatedly until they stop screwing up the things that work, but I really want to do that too.

So much for building tonight. So much for SL, tonight, if it has to be under the 2.0 viewer.

There's already a JIRA issue about the scroll bars in place profiles not working; this is a bad thing for estate managers and people who own their own parcels, AND ANYONE WHO NEEDS LAND TOOLS--which is, frankly, EVERYONE.

I'll try it out when I have more time, but first impressions with me, as with many people, do tend to last--and my first impression of viewer 2.0 is now batched up in a neat little package of frustration, panic, and rage, tied with a pretty barbed-wire bow sprinkled with napalm. To simplify....it's a bad viewer. Bad bad bad.


If that's the only thing good about this viewer? Go back to the drawing board, Lindens, you need some major frigging revisions before this puppy goes live for real.

But the furs thank you for making their bendy-leg problems go away. So hey, you got one thing right...


Anonymous said...

I haven't yet had a chance to try 2.0, but regarding this: "The first good thing I noticed in the browser itself is active links on login. Remember how many times you've seen the little bit.ly links logging in, that are all text, so you can't click and check them out? They're more annoyances than anything; by the time I hunt down pen and paper, or pop open a text file, I've logged in and it's gone."

You've always been able to click those. They just don't show up in a different color. (Honest! I didn't believe it till I tried it either...)

Emilly Orr said...

Not so; or at least, never for me, because I have tried clicking them, when they don't just flash across the screen and disappear.

Still, this could be my system. After all, in the new browser, pausing a web page playing media (on a prim), I have to click the pause button twice or it does nothing.

Anonymous said...

Hmmph. It's worked for me (in the official viewer, Cool Viewer, and Emerald), but I will grant that it would be surprising if this were the one thing in SL that consistently worked for everybody.

Emilly Orr said...

You know, that's actually a good point.

I never tried clicking the links in Emerald (by the time of my use of that viewer, I'd long since decided they didn't work). But they didn't work as links in Nicolas, Snowglobe, or Kirsten's viewer.

Astolat Dufaux said...

"but damn it, I'm in the middle of trying to get a store that I can stand up and running and I DO NOT NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS CRAP."

QFT, Miss Orr!

May I quote you in my blog? I have an entry brewing there about this, still in the editing stages.

Emilly Orr said...

Absolutely, Miss Dufaux, feel free.

Sphynx Soleil said...

The links have always worked for me (double-click) over the last year. Granted, I've *rarely* used the main viewer in the last year....maybe that was the difference?

If your machine is slow, it may just be not responding fast enough - it does take a minute or two to spit up firefox even on the NEW box, so maybe it just....forgets? :)

Emilly Orr said...

That might also be true. It's gotten better over the last two years, but Gimp still takes ten full minutes to open (not kidding) and ANY browser for SL takes between 60 and 90 seconds--two full minutes for everything to rez. So the request might just be lagging out.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Wow. As the kids say, fail.

The outfits thing is actually a good idea. I tend to have a mix of copy and no copy items on, so I've never created outfit folders. Changing completely is a real pain.

On the other hand, I, like you, take pictures with the friggin' camera controls! It would be insane not to. That alone renders this thing unusable.

Lalo Telling said...

Vote #3 against the new camera controls! Same reason, too: I spend more time taking photos in SL than I do anything else, and have a well-trained, nigh-on instinctual "body memory" for the old controls.

"Web on a prim" -- who cares? I've have a second monitor to run Firefox on, including the Twitter plug-in, while in-world.

I wasn't wearing my digitigrade avatar last night while testing V2.0, so I can't verify that there's any difference in the display of existing invisiprims. And don't forget, furry avatar makers are not the only artists who use them -- think of all those high-heeled shoes and boots! I suspect the new layering, with its alleged removal of the need for invisiprims, will only affect future attachment designs, furry or otherwise.

I have sympathy for the folks at Luskwood, who are in the middle of a redesign program for their entire avatar line, and who may have to change technique in mid-stream if V2.0 comes out of beta with that feature.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

Having played with 2.0 a bit more now, I can say the outfits concept is sound. Since it preserves links to the actual items, and doesn't copy over the actual items themselves; so essentially what's happening is you're telling your inventory to track down X list of items, and it knows where to search each item out because of the list.

Unfortunately, due to the architecture changes in 2.0, if you use 2.0 at all, you then get three folders you cannot use or delete in all 1.0 scaled browsers. How does this work in terms of inventory count? No real clue.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Telling,

I'd think shoes and furs, both, and here's another complication--1.0 browsers don't see the alpha mesh feature properly, so...what happens when someone walks by with a redesigned fur av or a redesigned pair of shoes? Will non-2.0 systems be able to see them as they see themselves?

I'm still irked over the camera controls thing. The next blog post I went into it a fair amount as well, because it's just insane. They NEED to fix that, now!

Lalo Telling said...

I can partially answer that, Miss Emily: Since I don't wear clothing using the 'outfit' method, I didn't create any linked ones while using 2.0. However, when I logged in today on Emerald, I found those damnable, un-deletable folders (which cannot even be opened to examine their contents!), and my Inventory count had risen by approximately 400 items: the total of the n00b outfits provided in the Library, now duplicated where they don't belong.

Emilly Orr said...


The last thing I need is more inventory items! Great, now I have phantom inventory!

(And no, I created no outfits under 2.0 either. But I'm stuck with them in Snowglobe, too.)

Lalo Telling said...

Since we cross-posted...

I suspect you're correct about the new layering, rather the same as the doubled attach points available with Emerald: they're only seen properly by others using Emerald.

Oh, and btw... it's Mr. Telling ;)

Emilly Orr said...

Oh, and btw... it's Mr. Telling ;)

Damn it--

I checked your profile and everything. My bad.

But now I'm creeped out by that--because people are going to be walking around thinking they look fine in 2.0--and they probably do--but in 1.0 viewers they'll be mangled. Yeep.

Anonymous said...

My hope would be that the third-party people will backport the tattoo, alpha layer, and HTML-onna-prim features to their 1.x viewers. (And I'm not sure they don't show up properly at any rate; unlike attachments, one's skin and clothing are baked by one's own client... my guess is that tattoos show up fine. I'm less certain about the alpha layer. I wonder if anyone's checked?)

On the other hand, Boy Lane's dropping out thanks to the new 3rd-party-viewer terms. As a diehard Cool Viewer user... I'm not happy.

Anonymous said...

On the other side of the Cool Viewer fork, Henri's waiting for the 3rd-party-viewer terms thing to get hashed out, but assuming they end up being something he can live with, he does plan to backport the tattoo and alpha layers. Probably not the shared media, though.

Anonymous said...

I just tested this... my main avatar is using Cool Viewer 1.22.12 (I'm not letting Samantha get anywhere near 2.0 at this point), and an alt is using SL 2.0.0. I note three things:

(1) If the avie in 2.0 wears a tattoo on the tattoo layer, it DOES show up for the avie in 1.22.

(2) If the avie in 2.0 masks part of its body with the alpha layer, that part of the body is NOT masked for the avie in 1.22.

And here's the really unexpected bit:

(3) The bald hair base worn by the avie in 2.0 (which showed up -- or, rather, didn't -- normally in 2.0, and had always been invisible in 1.x) appears to be OPAQUE for the avie in 1.22. The effect is rather like Ruthing.

This does not apply to every bald hair base; switching to the "Boy Next Door bald" from the Library solved the problem. As far as I can tell, the difference is that the original bald hair base was technically a longer hairstyle, with a completely transparent texture; the one in the Library has most of the sliders set to zero. (I'd never noticed this before, because it had never mattered before.)

I don't know what other implications this last point might have.

Emilly Orr said...

Been following what you said here, and on Twitter--and this matches with my end results, too. The tattoo layer showing up: wonderful, but on the down side, you do have to create a specific tattoo layer, and I'm still not sure if you can import in existing cloth-layer tattoos.

But the alpha mesh blocking? That matches what I've observed, and frankly, all the furs and shoemakers who are so very excited over the possibilities--it really won't help if only 2.0-enabled browsers can see them properly!