Linden Lab's Project Sunshine Promises Faster Avatar Loading in Second Life - But Can They Deliver?
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
Yesterday Linden Lab announced Project Sunshine, a viewer update that is part of an ongoing initiative to identify and address problems with streaming and loading content (like avatars, objects, and textures) in Second Life, known as Project Shining. Several third-party viewers (including Firestorm) are already compatible with Project Sunshine, meaning that you may not necessarily need to change your viewer of choice to see the benefits... Though you'll still need to update.
But wait! There's more...
This updated viewer is itself only the first part of Project Sunshine, with server updates and a second viewer update to follow. Bear in mind, it doesn't seem like you'll notice any significant improvements until that server update is rolled out in the near future, since the heart of Project Sunshine involves shifting processes like texture baking onto the server rather than handling them client-side. Until the servers are primed to do that, it will probably be business as usual for loading content in SL.
After years in Second Life it feels like I've learned every trick in the book to make myself, others, or the world around me load properly... I'll be more than happy to throw every one of those tricks away if Project Sunshine is as amazing as it appears to be. I may still have some reservations, but ultimately a team of Lindens who have been working on this problem for over a year probably have way more expertise on the subject than I do, so I don't feel like I'm in a position to be too critical of Project Sunshine (especially at this early stage.) Maybe it will be great, maybe it will be "meh", maybe it will cause new problems to replace the old -- we'll just have to wait and see.
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.