Thursday, May 30, 2013

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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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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris 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.


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Ajax Manatiso

Didn't they have a project to make loading quicker and reduce lag .. in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012? And let me see the result were fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, and oh yes -- fail.

Metacam Oh

Lets hope this works, the performance aspect of SL if could be improved may be the only saving factor. Quicker loading + less lag = being able to do more things.


I lost my faith in a lot, but seing or hoping that its true, a colaboration in between the lab and 3th part viewers developers, perhaps this time it will work!
Still as cross sims seem to get worse again, just due to last rollout, i can't really hope to much!

Lani Global

Is LL using this chance to improve avatar body texture resolution?


There is no mention of any better avatar baking resolution in their promotion. If you look closely at SL's avatar body textures, they always have been low quality and cartoonish. Even after the textures have completely been baked they are blurry when up close and personal.

If LL was simultaneously upgrading to 2048 x 2048 pixel baked avatar body textures (instead of 512), then this SSB debacle might be worth the trouble.

Seven Paragorn

Am I the only person who's been experiencing improvements in performance over the years? Teleports have become nearly instant, and things actually load for me these days.

Hitomi Tiponi

It definitely will remove that rez texture/go blurry/re-rez texture cycle that occurs when you change what you wear. The rest of the speeding up will largely depend on how well the new servers work, and how much network lag you had.

Ciaran Laval

Tried this when it was early in the beta process and there were some bugs, but that's to be expected at that stage.

My observations then though, agree with Hitomi, the rez texture/go blurry/re-rez texture cycle that occurs when you change what you wear was nowhere to be seen, outfit changes were very smooth.

Tracy Redangel

I'll be happy with even the texture blurriness going away when changing skins, clothes, tattoos, etc.
I don't think this will be a huge game-changer for SL, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Arcadia Codesmith

@Seven, people have short memories. The question is always, "what have you done for me lately?", and that's not altogether negative if it drives innovation.

Wolf Baginski

A very serious bug has come to light, affecting modifiable skin, hair, and eyes, if your viewer is not SSA-capable. Files are corrupted on the asset server.

I'm surprised this was missed on the Beta Grid. But there's an on-screen prompt to save data involved. Maybe the QA people knew better than to try to save the data.

Beverly Millson (aka Bettina Tizzy)

I haven't seen my avatar for years. Just a puffy cloud, I am. Granted, I rarely log in, and don't bother (much) with tweaking my viewer, but geez. Hope this helps.

Archangel Mortenwold

Given Linden lab's track record, I doubt they can deliver. As for my viewer of choice, it's no longer updated so once this kicks in I'll be forced to move to a similar one, which is a shame because the one I'm on currently has better building features.

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