Saturday, May 21, 2011

Old vs New Graphics

When I logged in to Second Life today, the viewer graphics were still set to Low from last night's session, a time when lag was so bad only the most basic settings would allow me to remain logged in at all. The lack of glow and shiny and more made me hark back to my first days in our world about 5 years ago when Low was the standard. I lived in Nangrim and it looked very much like this:

Bland, featureless skies, out-of-focus ground textures, no shiny or glow. Actually, it was worse 5 years ago because this ground was actually brown/gray most of the time.
Yes, that is actually Nangrim, on a parcel recently bought by my brother on nearly the exact spot where I had my first tree house. At one time he and I owned about 3/4 of the whole region. Below is the same shot, but with Ultra graphics set.

Much better sky and everything is crisp. The greater draw distance even means that they typical mainland clutter is visible around the scenic barrier. Thanks to sculpties, the first view is still nice, but this is much better.

Then I visited Misty Mountains (SLurl), one of the most scenic spots in all of Second Life, even with Low graphics.

You can see how dull the water is here. On Low graphics it is totally opaque and if you were to go below the surface you'd see it is totally transparent. Quality prims are the only thing that save this picture.
The water is much, much nicer with Ultra graphics, the light rays to the left are visible since Glow is active, and the increased draw distance all make this scene much more beautiful. There are subtle enhancements to the texture quality, too.

My home today is the most telling comparison of Low and Ultra graphics:

The scene is so busy that with Low graphics set even the ground texture won't rez despite waiting 10 minutes. Interestingly, the roof texture and the ground texture are the same yet one is gone. And most of the alpha graphics aren't resolved, either.
On Ultra, all the leaves are visible, a Linden tree shows up on the bottom right, and you can see all my neighbors. The lighting really pops the scene, thanks to SL's Windlight technology.
Complain as people do, we should all take a few moments and think about how much better Second Life has become over the years. The grid really is more stable, there are no more No SL Wednesdays, and the graphics are obviously much improved.

My Main Grid 5th Rez Day is coming up so be warned: I'll likely post more retrospective pieces like this one.

No comments: