There's a new update to Lumiya, the popular third party Second Life viewer for Android phones and tablets (download on Google Play here for $2.95), and it's full of light: WindLight, to be exact, SL's atmospheric renderer, which Lumiya creator Alina Lyvette just added basic support for. The screenshot above is how Lumiya displays a Second Life day; after the break is a screenshot of what it looks like during SL nights, beneath a glowing moon.
“WindLight support is obviously limited,” Ms. Lyvette allows to me. “In general, the design goal was to make it look reasonable with default WindLight settings on the mainland – like, day should be brighter than night. I didn't attempt to reproduce complex atmospheric effects (fog, scattering, etc. etc.)” Those effects aren't available at this stage, but she does plan to add support for parcel WindLight, so users can control the day/night settings for their home.
As with previous versions of Lumiya (which I've blogged about before), this represents a major leap in Second Life technology for mobile devices, which Alina Lyvette is almost single-handedly driving forward. (For years, consumer attention and dollars have been shifting inexorably to mobile as desktop and laptop sales plummet, but SL creator Linden Lab has done little or nothing to support mobile for its core product.)
At any rate, here's more of what the new Lumiya does (and doesn't do) with WindLight, straight from the creator's e-mail to me:
- Light direction and brightness, depending on the the sun and moon position.
- Sim time override
- Sky color, clouds, and haze on the horizon
What doesn't work:
- Only one day preset exists, with settings roughly identical to SL default day
- Celestial bodies are not rendered
- Clouds look very different from the desktop viewer (my initial attempt to reproduce those totally failed for performance reasons, so I've settled with much simpler implementation).
Speaking of how Lumiya looks in the daytime, you might have noticed the screenshot features anti-aliasing. (Geekspeak for “no jaggedy graphics”.) That's because Alina Lyvette uses FXAA to get that effect, but acknowledges it's not a perfect solution: “Despite that it is thought to be among the fastest algorithms possible, it is still awful on mobile devices, performance-wise. So it's off by default, and to be honest, given the typically high screen resolution on modern phones, there's not much difference in image quality. On tablets, though, it is very noticeable.”
Innovation, iteration, transparency – give Alina Lyvette credit for moving 3D virtual world technology forward. And if you use Android and Second Life, at least consider giving Alina Lyvette your daily coffee money.
Images courtesy Alina Lyvette. Hat tip: SL Redditor Kaleaon.
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