Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pancake Races and degrading graphics support #SL

So this week being Shrove tuesday i organised the annual New Babbage pancake race which took place on the New Babbage region. Last year it was held on Port Babbage which is notorious for being quite laggy.

Now this is the forth pancake race i have organised and is the 3rd that i have filmed, which gives an interesting opportunity to see how Second Life has progressed in graphics and stability over three years. Well you might have already gleamed from my heading that it's not great.

Windlight was introduced in 2007 and took a long time to be tweeked in order look good. In 2008 i created a video to show New Babbage using windlight to give a smoggy atmosphere. March 2009 i filmed the New Babbage Pancake race for the first time. Using Windlight settings and ramping up my SLviewer1 settings on my brand new Macbook Pro 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB Ram, and a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512mb ram. Framerate was average while motion was smooth using the then new 3dSpacenavigator Mouse.

Move forward a year to 2010 and another Pancake race. This time held in one of New Babbages most laggy regions, Port Babbage. Being a port it is next to water and so reflections are needed and the draw distance needs to be high so i ramp up the graphics option on SLviewer1. The resulting video was ok seeing as there where a lot more avatars attending that year.

Zip forward another year and yet another pancake race. This time im using SLviewer2 and it seems not to support my macbook pros graphics. Since Viewer 2.1 the performance has dropped dramatically due to stuttering jerky rendering. The only way i was going to be able to record this years race was to lower the SL graphics settings, no windlight, no reflective waters, no fog. Yet even with the settings down right down, still the viewer performed worst than last year.

I've voted and commented on countless Jira reports and blogs, created a few youtube videos to show the difference in performance, but i seem to be in my own little world. I hope to get a new Macbook Pro soon as my current one is just over 2 years old, but there is no guarantee that what effects my current Macbook Pro, does not effect the new ones too.

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