SL Shopping Tutorial: How To Inspect Items Before You Buy So You Don’t Get A Lag-Causing Lemon


Chic Aeon has a very valuable, illustrated tutorial for customers (and creators) of Second Life content who want to avoid buying items with mesh textures that have been poorly optimized — a hot topic of late, because many if not most SL content creators poorly optimize their textures, contributing quite a bit of lag and poor performance for everyone in the vicinity.  Fortunately,
the latest release of the popular third party viewer Firestorm has some tools to find out if an item has been optimized before buying.


The New Firestorm Building and Shopping Tools

Remember when jellydolls and Avatar Complexity came on the scene?  It changed our world — well for q portion of us anyway.  Some designers paid attention also and our clothes and hair got “lighter” and that’s a GOOD thing for our overall SL experience.

The newest release of Firestorm adds to our information with three new features that let builders — and shoppers — see what they are getting. This of course if there is a demo out to view. On the SL forums we don’t always agree but we have a pat line when folks complain.  “Try the DEMO; No DEMO; No Buy.”

I reminded myself of that today when a popular creator had a very pretty set for sale on the Saturday Sale list. It was $50. I ventured over to the shop which was filled with vendors and almost NO demos out to view. Now I know this is a “well respected” creator and the items are lusciously textured, but still == NO demo. So I passed.

The MESH board of the SL forums has been interesting to read lately. So much info that before we could only guess at — or get the info through many steps and in a not very easy to understand way — is now at our fingertips.

NOW you can inspect an object in the build menu and not only see how “heavy” it is, you can see what distance it will break up and disappear. This isn’t a replacement for visual testing of course, but it is very handy for builders when they are testing their own creations.

I am using Mesh India’s work here as an example. Partly because I have a rule with blogables and I don’t keep things that I don’t blog or truly believe I will be able to blog in the future.   The close up above is from a really lovely chest available at this round of Tres Chic.

The MI Samyukta Lamp Cabinet isn’t low prim but it is very pretty and fairly SANE from my point of view anyway. It also has great LOD for long distance viewing without turning your LOD setting up to 4 or more. Since the new tools have come out, not only have I used them daily in my own work, I have been inspecting some work of other creators.

I found a very small bench (very small) that had NINETEEN textures on it and a vertices (think more vertices – more lag even if that is simplistic) count that was astronomical.  Another gacha item from awhile back caused lots of conversation on the board with enough vertices in the match heads to make a small building — you get the idea.

MI Samyukta Lamp Cabinet

Another VERY helpful tool that has been added is an enhancement in the Object Inspect pane.  It’s a big one now and tells you LOTS including the number of textures used and the download for those textures.

click to enlarge

This is a screenshot of the inspection pane on one of the buildings that I created for the upcoming Fantasy Faire. It has three textures total and a reasonable vertices count. It is various sizes up to 35 x 38.

THIS screenshot below is for an item that is less than one meter in the largest dimension — the bench I mentioned.

My point is that not all mesh is created equal. Some is more efficient than others and some will “cause” lag. Put enough of these heavy mesh and unreasonably textured  items together and moving can become an issue. It is up to BOTH the creators AND the consumers to pay attention. 

The folks that have been complaining about objects “disappearing” at a short distance and not being able to move in their house after they added their furniture now have the tools to make better choices when purchasing.

And, if the consumers pay attention, it won’t be long until creators not on the LOD 2 or less, good physics,  game asset bandwagon — will hop on. This would be a good thing for everyone.

One more tool, most likely used by builders rather than consumers is the physics model view. You can now see the shape of the physics on a mesh object. This could be particularly helpful with houses that may have incorrect physics. Again, you need to be able to SEE them (demo, demo, demo) before this will be helpful.

This is a build of mine that will be showing up at the Imaginarium in a few days.

There are plenty of opinions on the MESH forums about what is “best”. Some folks may create very low poly, lag free items that work but are less than glorious in their look. Others (not on the mesh board but they might read — I do not know) make gorgeous items that fall apart visually at three meters for the Firestorm default of LOD2 (the Linden viewer is 1.25 – even lower).

I, like Mesh India, try to find a happy meeting place where things can be reasonably low poly, have good LODs and still have nice textures.

Anyway, this was to let the folks that CARE know that there are now tools available via Firestorm that will let them make more informed choices should they care to.

Happy Shopping.

The improvements in the inspect floater including VRAM usage, contributed by Chalice Yao and Arcane Portal, based on code originally by Cinder Roxley.

And the great LOD info was courtesy of Beq Janus. Many thanks to both.

At right, for instance, is what you see using the Inspect feature (as Chic does)– a furniture item for sale with a crazy amount of poor optimization. She writes:

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with people poorly optimizing content (or buying it) in the privacy of their own sims, but in public regions, it’s a tragedy of the commons kind of deal. The problem becomes even worse when popular and highly profitable SL brands sell poorly optimized content — making as much as six or seven figures in real income every year while making the overall SL experience worse for everyone else.