Linden Lab is excited to announce the launch of the Materials Beta Viewer! This Viewer will allow content creators to build objects using normal and specular maps and will allow users to view the effects of this new feature set. The end result is photorealistic textured objects inworld.
Credit: Katana by June Dion
Normal maps provide modelling of fine scale surface textures at far lower cost (to performance and Land Impact) than the equivalent geometry, while Specular maps, along with advanced specularity controls, provide much richer control over how the surfaces of an object interact with all the light sources in a scene. Together, these new features provide creators in Second Life much greater ability to make detailed and responsive content appearance.
Setting any material property on an object will change the accounting method to the current accounting from the old count-the-prims accounting; in most cases, this will mean that you can get lower object cost for detailed or varied surfaces that would otherwise require more prims to create. It also means that Materials objects will have improved simulator performance and mesh object upload cost by decreasing the complexity of object geometry.
Credit: Jacket by Geenz Spad
A Collaborative Effort
This new set of features has been developed in collaboration with open source Viewer developers and content creators. New pages on how to best leverage these features and optimize the Land Impact of your creations are being published on the Good Building Practices wiki and the Content Creators Guide, and more will be added in the coming days by Second Life content creators and builders from Linden Lab.
Download the Beta Viewer from the official downloads page.
To see the new effects in this Beta Viewer, you must enable 'Advanced Lighting Model' in Preferences > Graphics > Advanced (this preference used to be called 'Lighting and Shadows', but actually controlled a wider range of rendering behavior, so the name has been changed).
Once we have squashed all the beta bugs (which you can file in the MATBUG JIRA project), we will be pushing the Materials Beta Viewer to Release. Check back here for updates!