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ALM Proposal / Work


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In her Blog post of June 18,  https://modemworld.me/2022/06/18/2022-ccug-meeting-week-24-summary-materials-alm/ Inara referenced a project by LL.

"At the #week #23 TPVD Developer Meeting (notes here), it was indicated that LL are “leaning” towards removal of the non-Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) (aka “forward rendering”) rendering path from the viewer, leaving just ALM rendering (aka deferred rendering”)."

This really concerns me.  There are places that were built by people who did not have ALM enabled and were ignorant of  how bad some things looked with ALM enabled that they did which look wonderful with it off.

And what about things like shadows? Maybe I don't care if I don't see shadows. I don't begrudge any one who does like shadows but personally I don't really care.

Is removing the option to have ALM on or off a good thing or not?

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27 minutes ago, Perrie Juran said:

Is removing the option to have ALM on or off a good thing or not?

What most people seem to not realize is that ALM isn't just one big toggle, or rather, there's one toggle that's a dependency for a bunch of smaller ones.

You can have ALM on and shadows off, for example.

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I'd also like to see what percentage of people would go about their daily business in SL with ALM disabled. The number has been declining over the years, but suspect it's still somewhere up to 33% of all users logged in at any given time.

(For 'newer' graphics cards (Nividia 900 series and up), ALM on of off hardly makes a difference in frame rate. For older ones, it can be an order of magnitude different.)

So here's a quick & simple poll:

https://take.quiz-maker.com/poll4478204xf3DC3a83-140

[Update] LOL, never mind the poll. I could cast 3 votes all by myself. What a joke of a website.

Edited by Arduenn Schwartzman
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I take this as a good sign. Hopefully it means LL is more willing to push forward and start thinking of upgrades and updates, instead of holding back modern hardware for stuff that's probably been abandoned for decades.

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2 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

The ability to turn off ALM means the difference between a playable and an unplayable frame rate for people with marginal computers. I think it would be a bad idea.

So, even without an ALM toggle, the user would be able to turn on/off individual features, like shadows in your example? I don't see any downside if that's the case. Except education on what to turn on/off.

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They can force ALM in the SL viewer if they want, why not, they have removed most of the useful features the TPV's have already.

I prefer to be able to see things, not darkness, unless I turn on a night EEP.

With my perfectly good but old NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti (EVGA) on my low lag skyplatform home, I get 70 FPS and with EEP can make any effect I want.

ALM Off  - 70 fps

ALM On - 38 fps

ALM + Ambient Occlusion - 26 fps

ALM + Ambient Occlusion + Shadows - 16 fps

ALM stays off unless I need Materials for photography 

 

Edited by Jaylinbridges
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1 hour ago, Jaylinbridges said:

They can force ALM in the SL viewer if they want, why not, they have removed most of the useful features the TPV's have already.

I prefer to be able to see things, not darkness, unless I turn on a night EEP.

With my perfectly good but old NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti (EVGA) on my low lag skyplatform home, I get 70 FPS and with EEP can make any effect I want.

ALM Off  - 70 fps

ALM On - 38 fps

ALM + Ambient Occlusion - 26 fps

ALM + Ambient Occlusion + Shadows - 16 fps

ALM stays off unless I need Materials for photography 

 

Yep, on my minimul platform

Without ALM 111FPS

With ALM 85FPS

Adding ambient occlusion keeps it very much the same

Adding shadows 70 FPS

Most of the time it is turned off, only turning it on for photography. If I forget to turn it off and go somewhere busy it does slow me down and I turn it straight back off.

Draw distance as well is a big factor, mine is on 80 so I can see my full parcel. Dropping right down to 32 increases the FPS of course. And just noticed I can see everything on 64 draw distance which increases the FPS a little. My min settings keep it at 32 when out and about.

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I think unless there is a strong technical reason to remove, they should keep the option to turn off ALM, so people can enjoy SL using the hardware they have access to, as of what is the best LOD, ALM, Shadows, etc... it really depends on current computer, connection and objects or scene they are currently playing with ( of course some objects/meshes in-world don't really help...  ).

There is some opportunity on the official SL viewer to make easier to switch between the options and see how your computer responds... Firestorm made it a bit more accessible, but still too complicated.

Would a simple window to easily switch between settings that affect FPS the most help? 

Quick Performance Settings.png

* The screenshot above was created using an editor... not an actual viewer. (ALM Proposal?)

 

Edited by Andred Darwin
Typos
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8 hours ago, Arduenn Schwartzman said:

I'd also like to see what percentage of people would go about their daily business in SL with ALM disabled. The number has been declining over the years, but suspect it's still somewhere up to 33% of all users logged in at any...

I believe most users have ALM off when NOT doing photography as some mentioned above.

Making ALM mandatory is not a wise choice not only for lower end computers as has been stated already, but also for what SL IS "your world, your imagination", and lastly I think it's not a wise choice for creative innovation.

I have been tinkering with baking shiny into my textures as well as using trompe l'oiel* techniques working to bake the illusion of bump into my textures as well.  And with my shiny, I'm not (IN ANY WAY) adding some white streaks here and there (none at all)- it's far, far more involved than that and shows promise.

I don't like bump and shiny together.  Shiny needs to be incremented as does the full bright feature.  

* Trompe L'oiel is not a store in SL; it's a technique of creating the illusion of 3D effects into a 2D texture and has been around for centuries.  

All-in-all though, I think they should have two viewers - one for high end machines and one for lower end.   

Edited by EliseAnne85
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From reading the article it doesn't sound like they are going to remove it if it's going to cut off a lot of older systems, but more find a way to adjust it even more than just a box to check. The slider idea sounds kinda neat I think.

ALM Proposal / Work

At the #week #23 TPVD Developer Meeting (notes here), it was indicated that LL are “leaning” towards removal of the non-Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) (aka “forward rendering”) rendering path from the viewer, leaving just ALM rendering (aka deferred rendering”).

  • This was triggered as a result of a bug report which initially appeared to suggest the Performance Improvements viewer unintentionally alters the render order of object faces. While it later proved that the issue was more an edge-case in the way a piece of content had been created, efforts to try to correct it and to ensure it rendered as desired in both ALM and non-ALM rendering, raised the question as to whether it would simply be easier to remove the non-ALM path.
  • Were non-ALM rendering to be removed from the viewer, it would:
    • Only be done if it can be shown that this does not adversely impact performance (e.g. ALM runs roughly as well as non-ALM for those using the latter) on the broad cross-section of hardware most commonly operated by SL users.
    • Include a slider to manage the number of rendered local lights, as these are unlimited under ALM but can cause performance issues on low-end systems; thus a slider will help those on lower spec hardware to determine how many local lights they wish to have rendered.
    • Likely include a “data saving mode” that will prevent the download of materials for those on metered connections (to reduce the amount of data crossing their connection) and / or help those who find that materials loading can impact performance. This will have a UI warning that when employed, some objects may not look the way they are supposed to look.
  • In terms of the last point above and “data saving mode” the focus is currently on how many users would need it *if* the Lab goes forward with the idea. This will help determine how much the mode is needed and how best to approach it.
  • Given the ongoing work to support PBR and a more rounded set of materials, moving to deferred (ALM) rendering without fallbacks to non-ALM rendering – providing, again, the caveats noted above can be met / implemented – will help ensure a more reliable / consistent viewing experience.
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25 minutes ago, Ceka Cianci said:

The slider idea sounds kinda neat I think.

That sounds like not such a horrible idea.  However, with some of the textures I make I don't even need AML, as one texture looks like AML but it's only one texture.  Bump and shiny are baked with the main texture all into one texture not three.  If I am making progress with this, doesn't LL think others will as well?  Trompe L'oiel, as I said, is something artists have been working with for centuries - making a 2D flat surface have 3D aspects to it but it's still one texture or one canvas as in the past but parts look or give the illusion of 3D.  Three maps is a lot to work with.  And, the bump and shiny together - meh.  Shiny needs increments for each individual buyer of furniture in the modify, imo.  

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1 minute ago, EliseAnne85 said:

That sounds like not such a horrible idea.  However, with some of the textures I make I don't even need AML, as one texture looks like AML but it's only one texture.  Bump and shiny are baked with the main texture all into one texture not three.  If I am making progress with this, doesn't LL think others will as well?  Trompe L'oiel, as I said, is something artists have been working with for centuries - making a 2D flat surface have 3D aspects to it but it's still one texture or one canvas as in the past but parts look or give the illusion of 3D.  Three maps is a lot to work with.  And, the bump and shiny together - meh.  Shiny needs increments for each individual buyer of furniture in the modify, imo.  

While baking lighting into a diffuse texture to simulate depth and reflection/specularity can yield exceptional results it just doesn't produce the same results as normal maps when viewed with dynamic lighting.  I'll agree that the "shiny" part of the equation is lacking, although if the object your dealing with is modifiable you can usually tweak the specularity/environment settings to tone things down a little.

I suspect part of the problem is that some creators aren't utilizing the materials system to it's fullest by including the specular exponent and environment intensity maps in the alpha channel of the normal and specular maps (which can have a dramatic effect on the end results), however the much larger problem is SL's environment map is truly awful which is why they're also working on reflection probes in order to replace the default environment map with something that doesn't look like a background for a 1980s handheld video game.

As someone with a relatively low-end GPU I must admit it's going to be a rough transition if they remove the option to use forward rendering but personally, as a creator, I'm pretty happy about the decision since it will make a huge difference to the amount of work involved in creating things for SL if I didn't have to accommodate non-ALM users.

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17 minutes ago, EliseAnne85 said:

That sounds like not such a horrible idea.  However, with some of the textures I make I don't even need AML, as one texture looks like AML but it's only one texture.  Bump and shiny are baked with the main texture all into one texture not three.  If I am making progress with this, doesn't LL think others will as well?  Trompe L'oiel, as I said, is something artists have been working with for centuries - making a 2D flat surface have 3D aspects to it but it's still one texture or one canvas as in the past but parts look or give the illusion of 3D.  Three maps is a lot to work with.  And, the bump and shiny together - meh.  Shiny needs increments for each individual buyer of furniture in the modify, imo.  

My main concern was having some sort of way to use it or not rather than, welcome to the new world.. hehehehe

It seems to be a big concern for them as well from reading the article..

Now I'm curious if this is going to eliminate the way you do things, or is it adding another way to do things?

I'm not too well read on it all.. I was basically just looking to see if they were leaving an opening for older systems to turn it off if they wanted still..

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18 minutes ago, Fluffy Sharkfin said:

I suspect part of the problem is that some creators aren't utilizing the materials system to it's fullest by including the specular exponent and environment intensity maps in the alpha channel of the normal and specular maps (which can have a dramatic effect on the end results)...

I don't think many creators even know they exist, seriously. Like you say, they can make a dramatic difference to what can be achieved.

Edited by Rick Daylight
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15 minutes ago, Rick Daylight said:

I don't think many creators even know they exist, seriously.

I've seen quite a few items where the specular colour map seems to just be a greyscale specularity map rather than a 32 bit texture, which would certainly explain why some objects can appear "blown out" at times since the purpose of the 32 bit specular map is that the first 24 bits (i.e. the RGB channels) modify the colour of the reflected light while the specular exponent is controlled by the 8 bit alpha channel (eta: of the normal map).

Edited by Fluffy Sharkfin
specifying which map contains the specular exponent
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