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Archive for July, 2008

These instructions are meant for individuals who are new to the Second Life environment. These are a few steps you may try before deciding whether you really need to buy a new machine, upgrade your RAM, get a new end of the line graphics card, or download the latest graphics drivers. If you are lucky, just tweaking your graphics setting a little bit can improve your experience of the virtual environment. Let us see how this can be done in a few steps. Hopefully these simple instructions will improve your experience of the environment. We are are here only focusing on issues relevant to the Second Life application installed on your desktop. There are of course other possible causes such as things happening on the server end (the pieces of code running on the Linden Lab servers). Let us assume the server end is perfect for now. So how does on know that environment is not responding or is slow- some folks may be free from expectations :)? You know you have a problem if you find that walking is difficult, camming around is difficult, and just being in the virtual environment feels very constrained.

Bring up the Statistics window

It is helpful to bring up the statistics window so that you get some sense of the impact of the various tweaks you are going to perform to speed up your client. Press CTRL, SHIFT and 1 together. You should only be concerned with the FPS (Frames per second, the number of times the screen is drawn per second). The higher that number, the faster your environment will appear to respond when you navigate or click on interactive stuff. To hide this window, press CTRL, SHIFT and 1 again.

The statistics window

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After logging into your Second Life client, pull up the ‘preferences’ window. It’s good to know where it is in the menu but I advise you to learn the short cut (CTRL-P, meaning hold CTRL and hit P) because you will need it often.

Looking for the ‘preferences’ menu item

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The ‘preferences’ window- simple tweaking

If your preference window does not look like the one below, don’t worry. Just click on the graphics tap on the left and you will see exactly what you see here. If the window still looks different, uncheck the custom check box (indicated by circle 1). I suggest that you start with max performance (Faster, circle 2), ie make sure the slider is on the low end. After doing this check out the FPS in your statistics window, it should have moved up quite a bit. If your FPS is under 5 FPS I strongly suggest to consider other more radical options, such as getting a new machine with better specifications.The little tweaks in here, advanced or simple won’t really help.

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The ‘preferences’ window- advanced tweaking

Now, if you find your Second Life environment looks too ugly for you taste, you can try to improve its looks a little of course at the expense of performance. But before doing that let’s look at the advanced settings. Click on the custom check box to reveal the more advanced parameters that can be tweaked. Generally speaking, having all the sliders to the left and unchecking ‘Basic shaders’ (Circle 3) will boost your performance. You can try each one of them and see its impact on how your virtual environment looks and responds. If you find that there are lots of particles (lots of shiny things flying about) slowing you down or obscuring your view, set max. particle count to very low or zero (Circle 1). If you are mostly indoors, I would just slide the trees and terrain slider completely to the left. You would think that the system would be intelligent enough to make these decisions on its own but am not too sure those optimizations are coded in. Your best judge of course is always the statistics window (the little thingy that pops up when you hit CTRL SHIFT 1). Checking the ‘Bump Mapping and Shiny’ (Circle 2) does not have a huge impact for machines with relatively recent cards. But make sure you have basic shaders off, this has a very high foot print (this is almost the Windlight engine ON and OFF switch). Lastly, make sure your avatar imposters checkbox (circle 4) is checked especially in crowded spaces, this basically tell your Secoond Life client to render avatars which are far away in a way that does not consume too many resources. They will of course not look good but they are far away anyway.

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