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Majorino Topaz

Is LL ever going to invest in updating the graphics of their game?

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Peggy Paperdoll wrote:

What I won't scream about is demanding LL "upgrade" the graphics in SL when the graphics are created by us.  Once mesh comes, SL will have all the same tools any professionally built game has..........wanna bet SL's graphics are still lower in quality?  Same tools available (Photoshop, Maya, Blender, GIMP, Poser, DAZ3D, etc)...........different creators (almost entirely amateur).  There is a reason for the graphics being what they are in SL...........and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

 

The best content development tools are worthless if the rendering engine is hopelessly outdated open source crap. If you use Kirsten's viewer and enable shadows, all resident-made content looks ten times better and vastly more professional. But even that visual quality is nowhere near the shader quality of contemporary DirectX games, and yet the hardware demands are insanely high. It's not the fault of content creators that SL is simply nowhere near the current standard in 3D graphics.

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The main reason those games look so good and perform so well is because they have meshes and normal maps, and to a lesser extent spec maps (which is what Penny is asking for). I know people in sl love their prims and sculpties, but they're the reason things look so butt ugly and why we get such low frame rates. And yes, glow and bloom are the same thing, i.e. gaussian blur (or a cheaper filter for performance reasons).

As a side note I can spot dozens of rendering glitches and performance hacks in the screen shots you posted. Maybe it's just 'cause I know how a lot of this stuff works but none of those games look all that great to me in terms of rendering. Most of the eye candy is from good artistic direction in the content.

So I think things can be summed up as: SL looks bad due to low quality content. The content is low quality because LL hasn't given us better tools to make high quality content. 

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Marigold Devin wrote:

The fact there is no substantial competition to Second Life probably gives some indication of how complicated creating all of this is.

IMVU: 90 Million signups. 6 million unique users sign in every month. They probably don't see SL as substantial competition.

I tried IMVU. It just doesn't compare. For me at any rate. It's just a chatroom with graphics.

But I see where you're coming from about actual users who sign on and who are logged in at any one time. Yesterday there were 118,000 users online, and I can see how IMVU is making a whole heap of money.

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Peggy Paperdoll wrote:

Someone doesn't understand how SL is designed. 
We all came here for many different reasons.  But the main reason most people stay (and it's a "niche" that stays) is that LL provided a platform that allows the users (customers) to create the world we all enjoy.........Linden Lab, once the base grid was designed gave the rest to us to build.  The don't make those textures we see, the buildings we enter and live in, the clubs we party in, to sims we roleplay in, the games we play..........we, the users (customers) do all that.  That's the uniqueness of the whole SL thing.  That's why there's so little competition........it ain't easy to do.

 

When someone screams that LL needs to upgrade their graphics it demonstrates how little they know about the "game" that they are "playing". 
The tools are there, LL has added more over the nearly 6 years I've been around..........and they have more in the wings to bring to us (mesh is the next big deal on the horizon).  It's up to the users (customers) to learn to use those tools to "upgrade" the graphics in SL...........that's what SL is all about (users creating their personal virtual world).  You don't like the graphics then dig out your favorite search engine and get to learning how to make better graphics.........LL isn't going to do it for you. 

 

If you want "fantastic" graphics you'll have to rely on experts to make those graphics for you.......there ain't many here compared to sheer number of graphics creators in SL.  It's what makes SL SL instead of Blue Mars (and we all know how that went).  Call me a "brown noser" if you like.......I just tend to look at facts and learn how things work.  Yeah,
LL pisses me off a lot too.............but so do residents. 
:)

I agree, of course, with my fellow "brown noser", particularly the emboldened bits

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Here's the thing though.  That's the work of professionals, right?  People who studied light, shadow, and form.  People who know what the word "phong" means.  Those scenes are very low polygon renderings with every trick in the trade to make them render as easily as possible.  That' s NOT credit to the game engine.  That's credit to the content creator.  If that content creator were to be in SL, the results would be practically the same.  Come mesh, they ~will~ be the same. (^_^)

Can you say you created any item in any of those screenshots?  I'm sure, not.  But, when I go in SL, I can say that I made my own lamp posts, Wardenclyffe tower, glasses, clock bell, shoes, and then some... Did I make them professionally?  Of course not, but, I made them anyway.  (^_^)

If ~MY~ creations can't measure up to what an educated and salary paid game designer can achieve.  Do I blame the Labbies for that?  Do they owe me a 4 year degree in 3D graphic arts?  Should I have not made them?  Should I have just bought Gothic 2?  Will Gothic 2 let me make my own bell to decorate the clock tower in my dollie mansion? (o.O)

I want tomake a bell for my dollie mansion and I don't see the tools to do so in Gothic 2! (T_T)

 

 

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In short, yes, Linden Lab is currently invested in updating Second Life's graphics. Being "complacent" is a wrong assumption, but Majorino, I can understand if you're coming from a Steam-powered background (if you get my drift), your perspective would be weighted a lot more heavily on visual aesthetics... than someone who's a casual gamer but cares more about ease-of-use, which is a more visible priority because of our CEO Rod's posts. We do have a lot of Resis on lower-end hardware and can't even see SL in its current Ultra graphics mode, so please keep that in mind.

(It'd be interesting to see a study on how many Residents are also avid gamers (and which games?), though.)

If your computer is powerful enough, try the Mesh Project Viewer with all the aforementioned lighting + shadows + depth of field etc. cranked up. I took this awhile back, it's from this set:

5263570161_bc25c06e2a_b.jpeg

Even older SL builds can look pretty good with all that on. To be fair, performance (FPS) does suffer, but Moore's Law is still in effect. :)

From experience, this is one of those topics where it's easy to come to false conclusions about, because as has thoughtfully been explained by some well-informed Residents, not only the engine matters but the applied talent of content creators.

Some people want quick explanations but really understanding what's going on takes a lot of patience that the majority of folks aren't willing to look under the hood and learn about. Not to mention many games use rendering shortcuts and pre-computed environments for performance that SL — in all its just-about-anything-goes OMG WHAT JUST APPEARED IN FRONT OF ME glory — can't. The really best-looking in SL will continue to inspire other creators to new heights, though.

My own background is an artistic/creative one and while I don't play a lot of games, the ones I do play get a lot of playtime, so yeah, I totally resonate with wanting to have more of that gorgeousity in SL.

Oh, and I leave you with a thoughtful quote from the book Infinite Reality:

Forget walking a mile in someone else' shoes, just move an inch using her senses and you would perceive reality differently.

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Marigold Devin wrote:

Well, one of the Lindens waved a magic wand at me, and I was made very very small so I could crawl into one of the servers and see what the other little Lindens do in there. :matte-motes-tongue:


 

Sure, and did you not see any little tiny ghosts while you were in the machine?

As to the OP, not everyone in SL is really into graphics. Content creators almost always are—Ishtara clearly is, as is Torley. Even so, a lot of us are here mostly for the pleasure of the community, and graphics is really only a small source of that pleasure. I am more impressed by cleverness in content than by looks.

As for calling people brown-nosers: pfft

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I'm not asking for LL to add a ton of over the top stuff, but some things like better base avatar meshes and shader support would go a long way towards giving players the tools they need to improve both the look and performance of the world.

 

 

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Dillon Levenque wrote:

Sure, and did you not see any little tiny ghosts while you were in the machine?

 

Haha, not since March 6th. I have retired now from the ghost hunting, and have been recycled as a wand-rest for Oskar Linden :matte-motes-grin:

Some bitter person calls it brown-nosing, I prefer to call it "working my passage", as although I am a paying customer too, I don't have much of a disposable income to spend inworld. I'm also like you, not in SL for the graphics particularly, although pretty things are a bonus. Shadows (RL and SL) freak me out! You just never know when they're going to catch up with you.

 

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

Can you imagine how it feels to see something like this with 30+ fps on an old dual core PC with a GeForce 8800 video card, complete with shadows and state-of-the-art 3D effects... and then come back to SL and experience something that looks like Everquest back in 2001, only with 15 fps?

Part of the reason EverQuest was so fun, however, was that it also had content to back it up.  All the pretties are fine and all, but if that's all it is, nobody will come back.  If I want to see a computer-generated tree that looks just like a real tree...!  .. I'll go outside and look at a real tree. :matte-motes-agape:

George Lucas said something a long time ago about flashy special effects vs. having a good story, but I don't think anyone was listening.

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Imnotgoing Sideways wrote:

Here's the thing though.  That's the work of professionals, right?  People who studied light, shadow, and form.  People who know what the word "phong" means.  Those scenes are very low polygon renderings with every trick in the trade to make them render as easily as possible.  That' s NOT credit to the game engine.  That's credit to the content creator.  If that content creator were to be in SL, the results would be practically the same.  Come mesh, they ~will~ be the same. (
^_^
)

Can you say you created any item in any of those screenshots?  I'm sure, not.  But, when I go in SL, I can say that I made my own lamp posts, Wardenclyffe tower, glasses, clock bell, shoes, and then some... Did I make them professionally?  Of course not, but, I made them anyway.  (
^_^
)

If ~MY~ creations can't measure up to what an educated and salary paid game designer can achieve.  Do I blame the Labbies for that?  Do they owe me a 4 year degree in 3D graphic arts?  Should I have not made them?  Should I have just bought Gothic 2?  Will Gothic 2 let me make my own bell to decorate the clock tower in my dollie mansion? (
o.O
)

I want tomake a bell for my dollie mansion and I don't see the tools to do so in Gothic 2! (T_T) 

 

 

You're right that unlike SL, those games were created by professionals who used industry-standard 3D engines and -solutions. My point is that what makes these games look amazing are effects such as bloom, fog shaders, motion blur, and all the other effects that are supported by video cards nowadays (and have been for some time). Not the content. A crate is just a box with a simple wooden texture in either world.

The simplicity of SL's 3D engine and lighting actually means that SL content creators invest a lot more professional skills and know-how into their textures than game artists. It's a lot harder to make something look good in SL than in a 3D environment with proper light effects and shading. Here in SL, we can't just slap a seamless rock texture onto a cave wall, turn a torch into a light source, and leave it to the rendering engine to create an amazing display of dancing light and shadows.

In SL, the texture artist has to do all the work because the engine won't be of any help (on the contrary. Just look what SL shaders do to our skins). I mean, have you seen sculpted content with baked shadows? Or shadow prims under furniture? We have to simulate properly shaded content because SL's engine won't do it for us. Total madness. Or look at all the work that goes into realistic looking metallic objects, or the highlights on latex surfaces, all because the "shininess" property is such a joke.

And despite all that work, SL objects still look lifeless and static. No dancing dancing shadows on fire-lit cave walls in this world. No environment reflections on metallic surfaces. I'm sure it would be possible to create a world like SL that uses a decent graphics engine and makes all user-created content look ten times as awesome.

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Janelle Darkstone wrote:


Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

Can you imagine how it feels to see something like this with 30+ fps on an old dual core PC with a GeForce 8800 video card, complete with shadows and state-of-the-art 3D effects... and then come back to SL and experience something that looks like Everquest back in 2001, only with 15 fps?

Part of the reason EverQuest was so fun, however, was that it also had
content
to back it up.  All the pretties are fine and all, but if that's all it is, nobody will come back.  If I want to see a computer-generated tree that looks
just like a real tree
...!  .. I'll go outside and look at a real tree. :matte-motes-agape:

George Lucas said something a long time ago about flashy
special effects
vs. having a good
story
, but I don't think anyone was listening.

 

I agree, Everquest (the original one) was a lot more fun than all the clones that followed, even before the Luclin expansion spiced up the graphics engine and turned omgwhatisthatthing into actual elves and dwarves :) But unlike MMOs, virtual worlds don't have much interactive content to offer. Aside from the social component, they only leave the user with a lot of static content to explore and marvel at, and that content had better look awesome if the user is meant to stay around and spend money in SL.

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I don't understand the comments in this thread that seem to suggest that good graphics can only be possible at the expense of good content. I think some people are setting up a false dichotomy here.

 We can have both good graphics and good content in SL. In fact, good graphics made good content even better. Good graphics also make SL more appealing, so we'd see more people, more potential new content creators, arriving.

 

I do agree, wholeheartedly, that a large part of SL's poor graphics are due to the nature of user generated content (art assets made by amateurs and hobbyists, rather than professionals), but I do want to stress that the tools and starting standards are important too.

 

 The poor quality of the average SL avatar shape (shrunken heads, "t-rex" arms, tiny hands and feet are all so common that properly proportioned human shapes are the odd ones out) is much more related to the lack of tools in the appearance editor than it is to the fact that most SL residents have not taken human anatomy and proportion classes in their spare time.

 Any well informed and properly skilled resident can create or find their own improved windlight settings to better view SL, but the average SL resident will never see anything besides the default skies.

 SL's poor camera placement is every bit as culpable for the rampant up-scaling in SL as are the 7' tall starter avatars. Problems like these are far reaching because they affect us all. I may know how to fit four sim's worth of content into a single sim via proper use of scale, but if I'm building a public space I'm forced by LL to make painfully inefficient comrpomises, greatly resitrcting my ability and creativity, resulting in smaller, less detailed environments.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Imnotgoing Sideways wrote:

Here's the thing though.  That's the work of professionals, right?  People who studied light, shadow, and form.  People who know what the word "phong" means.  Those scenes are very low polygon renderings with every trick in the trade to make them render as easily as possible.  That' s NOT credit to the game engine.  That's credit to the content creator.  If that content creator were to be in SL, the results would be practically the same.  Come mesh, they ~will~ be the same. (
^_^
)

Can you say you created any item in any of those screenshots?  I'm sure, not.  But, when I go in SL, I can say that I made my own lamp posts, Wardenclyffe tower, glasses, clock bell, shoes, and then some... Did I make them professionally?  Of course not, but, I made them anyway.  (
^_^
)

If ~MY~ creations can't measure up to what an educated and salary paid game designer can achieve.  Do I blame the Labbies for that?  Do they owe me a 4 year degree in 3D graphic arts?  Should I have not made them?  Should I have just bought Gothic 2?  Will Gothic 2 let me make my own bell to decorate the clock tower in my dollie mansion? (
o.O
)

I want tomake a bell for my dollie mansion and I don't see the tools to do so in Gothic 2! (T_T) 

 

 

You're right that unlike SL, those games were created by professionals who used industry-standard 3D engines and -solutions. My point is that what makes these games look amazing are effects such as bloom, fog shaders, motion blur, and all the other effects that are supported by video cards nowadays (and have been for some time). Not the content. A crate is just a box with a simple wooden texture in either world.

The simplicity of SL's 3D engine and lighting actually means that SL content creators invest a lot more professional skills and know-how into their textures than game artists. It's a lot harder to make something look good in SL than in a 3D environment with proper light effects and shading. Here in SL, we can't just slap a seamless rock texture onto a cave wall, turn a torch into a light source, and leave it to the rendering engine to create an amazing display of dancing light and shadows.

In SL, the texture artist has to do all the work because the engine won't be of any help (on the contrary. Just look what SL shaders do to our skins). I mean, have you seen sculpted content with baked shadows? Or shadow prims under furniture? We have to simulate properly shaded content because SL's engine won't do it for us. Total madness. Or look at all the work that goes into realistic looking metallic objects, or the highlights on latex surfaces, all because the "shininess" property is such a joke.

And despite all that work, SL objects still look lifeless and static. No dancing dancing shadows on fire-lit cave walls in this world. No environment reflections on metallic surfaces. I'm sure it would be possible to create a world like SL that uses a decent graphics engine and makes all user-created content look ten times as awesome.

I think you're seriously over estimating the importance of shaders in those games. Go take a closer look at those screen shots of AoC and you'll see that the lighting model is very simple. There's no irradiance mapping, no sub surface scattering, no volumetric lights, no volumetric fog, no light propagation volumes or other global illumination algorithms, no nothing, it doesn't even look like it does SSAO. The Lighting model in that game is about the same, or in some ways worse, then viewer 2 with deferred rendering on. You said it came out in 2008, well it looks like a game from 2005. You said it runs great on old hardware, well there's the reason, its render pipeline is dead simple. It's the content that makes that game look good.

 

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I run a shadow client.  So much of what you're saying doesn't apply to what I see on my screen. (^_^)

As for bloom, fog, motion blur.  I don't even know what those are. (o.O)

I not only see sculpts with baked in lighting... I make them.  Look back at that bell picture I linked.  All baked in lighting and shadow.  I enjoyed the creative endeavor necessary to make it appear that way.  It's a fun practice and surely happens more often than you may think in game design. =^-^=

I've been deleting all the shadow prims under my furniture.  They're no longer needed now that shadows are stable on my computer. (^_^)

I get the dancing shadows on my screen.  And, new shiny reflects local lights.  I know it's not a 1:1 environmental reflection, but, considering the draw time to render a prim build... I wouldn't really want to double that. (o.O)

I'm in SL in order to be creative.  If the engine makes it difficult to create, that only helps me hone my skills more.  In the end, I'm satisfied with what SL delivers.  It's why I log in every day.  If it were so disappointing, I'd go do the stuff that doesn't disappoint me. (^_^)y

 

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There is some validity to the statement that the rendering engine needs work, at as far as performance.

The same system that can run games like the latest Call of Duty and Battlefield: Bad Company and Crysis and the Dragon Age games all at maximum graphics settings getting 40 FPS gets sluggish as soon as you fire up SL at max graphics settings.

SL should never take more power than a Call of Duty game... Until you can get 40+ people on screen with sculpts and meshes and lights and particles and animations all playing smoothly.

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@GadgetPortal

This is precisely what people mean by arguments failing to take "user generated content" into consideration.

SL looks worse but gets lower framerates because the art assets, what you see in the world, is nowhere near as efficiently made as the same environment would appear in a Call of Duty game. Those exceptional looking Crysis environments? They're almost certainly rendering far fewer polygons per frame than SL, it's just that the trained, professional artists who made those games know how to build efficiently to get the most out of fewer polygons, and mesh modelling allows more ability to do that then prims.

It's similar to how one SL sim using only 2/3 its prims can look larger and far more detailed, and provide higher framerates, than a set of sims using all their combined prims. It's in the hands of the artists. It has nothing to do with that one sim having a better rendering engine.

Maybe the rendering engine could use work, but it's definitely not the whole problem. LL would do well to encourage better, more efficient builds via better content tools. We're getting mesh, which can be great or terrible depending on the user. LL should do what they can to encourage efficient mesh work for import.

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I don't know if this is possible but it's an idea that ocurred to me that might help reduce the rendering load: Include a 'freeze' option into the SL building tools that removes all internal surfaces, hidden textures, etc., optimises the polygons and coalesces the textures used on the object into a single custom texture. Obviously the 'freeze' option is something that could not be undone however that might prove to be quite useful in certain circumstances.

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Oh, no. I get that.

The content is easily 70% of the issue.

Even user generated, mainland sandbox trash would render well if SL had DirectX 11 support, ran on multiple cores, SLI, etc... All these new (even some of the old!) technologies that modern graphics cards are using.

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>Even user generated, mainland sandbox trash would render well if SL had DirectX 11 support, ran on multiple cores, SLI, etc... All these new (even some of the old!) technologies that modern graphics cards are using.

Fair enough, but it's important to remember SL still would not run as well as people expect from videogames. A computer getting 10FPS might bump up to 20-30FPS even if they geto 60FPS with no slowdown in Crysis or the latest Modern Warfare.

It'd still be a very welcome bump in performance, but it's good to keep things in perspective and be knowledgeable of why.

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I don't know about you, but I see a significant difference between 10 and 30 FPS in.. well, anything on my computer, Modern Warfare or no.

30 FPS > 10 FPS any day of the week. If we can do that without training every single content creator in SL in how to be better at content creating, we should.

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While i do think LL should invest more and smoothen things up a bit, they wont drasticly upgrade. SL is for people with "normal" computers and its meant to be accesable for mid range computers

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>30 FPS > 10 FPS any day of the week.

Oh, I agree, but you made it sound like if you're getting 60FPS in Crysis, you should be getting twice that in SL because the graphics are so much poorer.

I'm saying if you get 10FPS in SL with mid range graphics, no shadows or depth of field, you'll get like 20-30 at those same levels. (And that's a generoues esitmate.) Turning on shadows you'd drop right back down. It's an improvement, a great one even, but the inefficient nature of the way most people build SL content means even if the graphics engine was exactly the same as those major AAA videogame titles, it would get a fraction of the framerate.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing with you on any of the points you made. As a matter of fact, with most, I agree.

I just also agree with the other person who said SL is due some upgrades.

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          Hi Kasya,

     I do agree with you one the fact that LL could do a few things to improve grid performance. Faster asset servers might help a bit, more servers might help a bit as well.

     However, the fact remains that the vast majority of content in SL is user created. Another fact is that far too many people access SL with machines that are far from suited for the demands that SL requires. Do I have a gaming system? No, my machine is the best I could afford at the time and honestly is not up to the task of running SL at it's optimum. Of course, you never hear me comp[;ain about graphics quality either.

     From my experience, most sim performance issues could be lessened greatly by more intelligent sim design. By this I mean that many sims are rife with badly built objects, poorly performing scripts and little thought to things that can aid rendering.

     These badly built sims cause undo stress on already admittedly inferior hardware. This leaves the resident frustrated and wondering what's going on. Thier thinking is, I bought $600 USD computer package that WalMart had to offer with monitor, printer and 3 free months of Norton.

     Trust me, I am no Linden appologist. I have had many discussions on matters where in my heart I knew that LL was wrong or was doing something that had the potential to be very bad. In this case however, some fault doers lie with LL, the rest lies with the individuals who create 99.999% of everything that we see.

       Brynn

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