I’m still in a very cyberpunk mood so I’m writing today from Slackers café in the Cybernatural region. The place is aptly named. The robot cashier can’t be arsed to fix me a laté.
So, no sooner do I post a write up on what’s been happening with Second Life viewers than Firestorm drops a new release! No doubt you’ve all seen the splash screen shown here. Hopefully most of you have already updated. If you’ve been holding off, I can report that I have encountered no deal breakers. In fact, the new release has been very stable for me.
What do we get in the new version (126.96.36.199658)? Starting with the Firestorm announcement here are the high points.
360 Degree Snapshots
The 360 degree snapshot tools from the Linden Labs viewer have been ported into Firestorm with this release. This is cool stuff. I’ve already tried out a few 360 pictures at some locations with visual scope. (Cheshyr Pontchartrain of Novatech handed out a “crystal ball” which showed how to create a 360 sort of picture frame inworld. I may write that up a little later.)
One early effort can be found on my Flickr stream. It’s a view near the entry area at Hangars Liquides.
Fun as 360 snapshots are, the performance floater is probably the most exciting thing in the new release.
The announcement calls the performance floater and autotune (see below) “game changing stuff”. That may well be true. If nothing else, we can all stop arguing about who and what’s causing lag as the performance floater allows you to explore just what’s taking up the most resources to render. [And I note my mesh body and tattoo layer – can’t do everything with BoM just yet – are really dominating my avatar’s draw time. Wow is my face red.]
You get to the performance floater from the Advanced menu, Performance Tools, Improve graphics speed… The banner gives you a summary of your current rendering performance as well as a high-level breakdown of which things are taking what time to draw.
Other sections allow you to explore nearby avatar rendering and your own avatar’s impact on things. For a very detailed post on how to work with this powerful tool, see Beq’s Techy Blog.
Autotune is actually part of the performance floater but it’s really a separate feature in its own right. If you look closely at the upper portion of the floater, you’ll see the autotune controls. The idea is that instead of landing someplace full of complex scenery and avatars, watching your frame rate plumet, and trying to tweak graphics settings on the fly to regain some performance, you can let autotune do that for you.
The idea is to set a target frame rate, select a tuning strategy and then let autotune update some of the graphics settings to keep you close to your desired level of performance. It is carefully noted that autotune will not work miracles. It’s not going to magically materialize a 3090 Ti in your work laptop that barely runs Office. But it will do what it can.
The question is, can a died in the wool control freak like me allow autotune to take the wheel? Oh, I’ll just try it and see.
Bugfixes and Improvements
Moving on to the detailed release notes:
RLV – a handful of changes including a couple fixes to setcam behaviour.
Firestorm AO – Some UI improvements such as flagging the running animation and some bug fixes.
Credentials – More robust encryption and it looks like we’re on the way to two-factor authentication support, but not there yet.
Cache handling – a half dozen or so improvements.
Some 30+ fixes and improvements under the heading of Stability and Performance. Sadly, the stand button going missing the first time I use a ground site after logging in is still a problem. I’ll live. I just need to remember to always use ground sits somewhere near another object I can properly sit on!
As I mentioned at the start, I have not run into any problems with the latest version of Firestorm. It’s been running very well for me. I’m quite pleased with the new features and looking forward to exploring them more! So, if you’ve been holding back, worrying about upgrading… stop it! It works fine. Go for it. [Not responsible if it totally doesn’t work for you.]
The new release has been out for at least a week and a half now. As usual, I’m way late with my post. No doubt there are several other writeups out there that are worth reading. At the least there’s Inara Pey’s and Daniel Voyager’s.