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ALM Proposal / Work


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5 minutes ago, Bree Giffen said:

Could someone explain it in layman's terms why LL would consider turning off non-ALM?

Cost - Maintaining two things takes more time and money than maintaining one

Consistency - Having only one graphics pipeline ensures people see the SL world the same way

Modernity - Using a more modern graphics pipeline lets SL use the new graphics features without having to do the additional work of making it somehow work (probably badly) on the old graphics pipeline

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Way back when ALM was introduced many of us were asking Oz Linden to tell us how many people were using ALM. The Lab can collect that kind of information. Unfortunately they were revamping their data collection tools and system at the same general time. So.... from then until Oz retired we never got the data despite repeated requests. The only thing I am sure of now is that we do not know how many people use ALM. That lack of data on adoption has caused creative types to shy away from using materials to any great extent.

It has been some time since I've seen any information on the computers and OS's in use on SL.

We do know that before Oz left, the Lab decided it wasn't worth their time to support Linux. Lab support for Linux is very minimal now. They stopped supporting Windows XP, Vista, and Win7. That doesn't mean you can't run SL on Linux, XP, Vista, or Win7. It just means you are on your own with problems. But what number of users were using those OS's when the Lab dropped their support?

We have a few instances where discussion with Lindens revealed they were willing to lose low single digit percentages of the population to move SL forward. As best I can tell there is no fixed number. It always seems to be a balancing act between likely loss and gain for any change. I think this shows we can't know what they will do. But in my time in SL the Lab has shown they are sensitive to the loss of residents. I mean they still recommend NVIDIA 9000 series graphics cards... those cards were released in July 2008... like 14 years ago. I am trying to remember if I replaced my 9800 before ALM was introduced or not. I think it was after... but...

So, if the Lab decides to drop the older lighting model, I am confident they will make a consideration about  what it will do to the user base.

While I like the idea of including everyone that wants to be in SL, the reality is we do not have unlimited resources. Those resources have to be used wisely. We have other threads where people talk about SL being held back by the Lab's unwillingness to support new levels of graphics available on new graphics cards. So are we losing new users with new hardware because we are trying to support stone age computers? Probably. Some one has to make a call. Only the Lab has the data to make an informed decision.   ...which kinda sucks...

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Claims that ALM will unacceptably slow older machines need to be backed with data from newer viewer releases—at least since this June for the Linden viewer and (much?) more recent for Firestorm—because of the dramatic changes to rendering since the "Performance Improvements" update was adopted.

Not sure where to find a 4-way comparison of (ALM v no-ALM) x (Performance Improvements v no-PI), but there's a (shadows v no-shadows) x (PI v no-PI) comparison in a then-current Modem World post that showed the Performance Improvement code could render with shadows faster than the earlier code could render without shadows.

If that also applies to ALM, then concerns about dropping the old forward-rendering kludge are likely outdated, except possibly for very old hardware.

(Personally, I think they really need to move the platform forward, visually, while at the same time providing a "mobile client" especially for tablets and 2-in-1 class laptops that are simply devouring what was once the budget desktop market. That mobile client may require greater compromises than merely non-ALM, but still deliver a recognizable, dynamic 3D view of the SL world.)

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3 hours ago, Fluffy Sharkfin said:

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).

Personally, I find very few occasions to vary the hue and saturation across a specularmap, but that may be because I try to use faces for "materials" so in particular metallic stuff is using a whole different specularmap than non-metallic (and to me, non-metallic specularity is grayscale, and metallic has a uniform hue representative of the metal).

I do agree, though, that many SL creators don't fully appreciate the power of materials. My pet example is emissive alpha which I use fairly often and see very rarely.

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4 minutes ago, Qie Niangao said:

emissive alpha

/me raises hand

Please sir, what is "emissive alpha"? I didn't do all the readings for today, so maybe I missed it (my dog, or my grandmother died . . . whichever) . . . can you explain?

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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3 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Please sir, what is "emissive alpha"? I didn't do all the readings for today, so maybe I missed it (my dog, or my grandmother died . . . whichever) . . . can you explain?

quoting myself:

Quote
  • Alpha blending: variable levels of transparency from 100% transparent to 0% transparent, depending on the transparency layer of the texture. This is the most 'obvious' thing to do with the transparency layer.
  • Alpha Masking: transparency is either completely solid or completely invisible. the 'cutoff' parameter determines whether pixels that are partially transparent are treated as visible or not. Alpha masking is easier on your graphics card, and has fewer glitches than alpha blending, but 'looks bad' in a lot of scenarios.
  • Emissive mask: This is the least intuitive. this takes the transparency layer and instead of using it as transparency uses it for something unrelated: Emission. 100% emission is like fullbright, 0% is mostly like a normal texture. The only good reason I know of to use the emmissive mask mode is that it pairs very well with glow: parts of the texture that are 100% emissive will glow a lot (if the glow parameter is non-zero), and parts that are 0% emissive will barely glow if they glow at all.

emmisive alpha lets you make glowey symbols, there might be other uses I don't know about.

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2 minutes ago, Quistess Alpha said:

quoting myself:

emmisive alpha lets you make glowey symbols, there might be other uses I don't know about.

Right. So if I were texturing a console of some sort that had LED lights, I could make them glow, without it affecting the rest of the face?

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Just now, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Right. So if I were texturing a console of some sort that had LED lights, I could make them glow, without it affecting the rest of the face?

Exactly, the only other way to do that would be to make separate faces for the glowey and non-glowey bits, which would be a pain for small complicated symbols.

you also need to be aware of special export options in your image editor, gimp specifically will make fully transparent pixels (0% emission IIRC) black unless you ask it nicely not to.

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53 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

..what is "emissive alpha"?

It uses the diffuse texture (that is, the texture you see painted on an item) alpha channel as a glow (emissive) map instead of alpha translucency. I've used it for things like making glowing spots (bioluminescence) on mermaid tails and skin textures. It can be set that way in the edit window; it's one of the options (none, blending, masking, emissive). The only other way is to have the glowing spots as individual faces on the mesh. Much easier to use an emissive map. Also used it for 'magically' glowing symbols on things that can be turned on or off by changing the alpha type with a script.

The spots don't emit light as such; that is, they don't illuminate nearby objects, but they glow like setting the glow slider. A pixel value of 255 in the alpha channel is maximum glow; 0 is none.

Edited by Rick Daylight
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I think i'll best sit this one out and not say too much because:

CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-9900KS CPU @ 4.90GHz (4925.66 MHz)
Memory: 131072 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit (Build 19044.2006)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce RTX 3090Ti/PCIe/SSE2
Graphics Card Memory: 24576 MB

Windows Graphics Driver Version: 31.0.15.1694
OpenGL Version: 4.6.0 NVIDIA 516.94

 

(Oh yes, i'm showing off)

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3 minutes ago, CaithLynnSayes said:

I think i'll best sit this one out and not say too much because:

CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-9900KS CPU @ 4.90GHz (4925.66 MHz)
Memory: 131072 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit (Build 19044.2006)
Graphics Card Vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
Graphics Card: GeForce RTX 3090Ti/PCIe/SSE2
Graphics Card Memory: 24576 MB

Windows Graphics Driver Version: 31.0.15.1694
OpenGL Version: 4.6.0 NVIDIA 516.94

 

(Oh yes, i'm showing off)

Not Windows 11, or Linux?

Slacker! <== Is joke!

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4 minutes ago, Love Zhaoying said:

Not Windows 11, or Linux?

Slacker! <== Is joke!

heh, i can take a joke, no worries ;)

No Windows 11. I'm riding Windows 10 out till the last day somewhere in 2024, by then Windows 11 is more mainstream and most complaints worked out.

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1 hour ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Right. So if I were texturing a console of some sort that had LED lights, I could make them glow, without it affecting the rest of the face?

Right. (Sorry, had some distractions. Pesky RL.) The thing about emissive alpha is that it can be continuously variable in how emissive it is, unlike fullbright which is all or nothing. A simple example is the wax at the top of a lit candle, which is effectively emissive at the very tip, gradually fading further from the flame.

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I still disable ALS sometimes to do some stuff, like boat racing, bot other than that its pretty much always on.   If the proposed changes come with a better materials system, then I totally welcome them.

And the slider thing mentioned upthread seems to show that older systems wont take that much of a hit, since they can customize the light sources.

This is a good direction, in my opinion, and a new one, instead of trying to keep anacrhonistic systems coexisting.

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1 hour ago, Paul Hexem said:

That's a joke, right?

Well, no. Probably not. I know lots of people in SL who generally don't have ALM on. And I myself will turn it off in certain contexts (although the new performance update probably means I will do that much less than I did).

I think I've mentioned before the instance of a friend of mine -- a 14 year veteran of SL -- who was astonished when I sent him a pic of the log cabin he build for himself with ALM and shadows activated, because he'd never seen it "look like that before."

SL is chock full of people who aren't gamers, don't have very up-to-date computers, and aren't here mainly for the visuals in any case. In some cases, they are on very old computers, or ones that lack bells and whistles, because they can't afford them -- they're on a fixed income or whatever.

Again, we all need to stop assuming that "our" SL is also everyone else's SL.

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16 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 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.

I keep it off unless I am exploring or trying on skins and/or makeup or doing photography.  It adds more work for the computer for something that I don't care about when I'm out trying to sludge through an event or do a hunt.

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I just turned it off for the first time, because of this thread. Just one word: Yikes!

That feels like back to the Middle Ages of computer graphics.

Edited by Sid Nagy
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20 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Again, we all need to stop assuming that "our" SL is also everyone else's SL.

I agree with this, as was stated previously, only LL has the numbers on this and really know.
To be fair to @Paul Hexem though the person he was responding to was also falling into the trap of thinking they know what the majority use-case is.

Edited by Gabriele Graves
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On one hand I hate the idea of anyone being blocked from using SL as things move forward but on the other what is a reasonable amount of time to expect a computer to be able to run something like SL?  The Core 2 Duo example from earlier in the topic is a good thing for people think about.  Is a low-spec 11 years old laptop really still reasonable? 11 years is a good run.

11 years ago iOS was on v4.2.1 and Android on v2.3 (Gingerbread) and I would place a bet that very few phones/tablets from that time are still in use today.
So people are generally OK with moving forward on phones, etc.  Why should laptops be different?

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3 minutes ago, Gabriele Graves said:

I agree with this, as was stated previously, only LL has the numbers on this and really know.
To be fair to @Paul Hexem though the person he was responding to was also falling into the trap of thinking they know what the majority use-case is.

Oh, agreed. I didn't intend to be mean to Paul.

I save that for special occasions.

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16 minutes ago, Gabriele Graves said:

On one hand I hate the idea of anyone being blocked from using SL as things move forward but on the other what is a reasonable amount of time to expect a computer to be able to run something like SL?  The Core 2 Duo example from earlier in the topic is a good thing for people think about.  Is a low-spec 11 years old laptop really still reasonable? 11 years is a good run.

11 years ago iOS was on v4.2.1 and Android on v2.3 (Gingerbread) and I would place a bet that very few phones/tablets from that time are still in use today.
So people are generally OK with moving forward on phones, etc.  Why should laptops be different?

We can't look in others people's wallets.
Not everybody is able to shell out shekels to upgrade a computer before it is totally toasted.
It would be a shame if they had to drop SL because of that.

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1 minute ago, Sid Nagy said:

We can't look in others people's wallets.
Not everybody is able to shell out shekels to upgrade a computer before it is totally toasted.
It would be a shame if they had to drop SL because of that.

I completely agree with this and it sucks for anyone who cannot afford to buy another computer but those devices are living on borrowed time anyway.  You could well ask "What would happen if their laptop died tomorrow?".  Nothing lasts forever.

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I always turn my graphics slider way down low as a old habbit from back in 2007 that  i think is better for my computer to live longer without overheating, even when I buy a brand-new lap top I still do it.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who plays SL like this.  I turn everything super high to make a photo.  I think this change would cause computers to overheat in summer reducing peoples amount of time online thus hurting linden in the pocket coz less time online means less shopping.

Dumb idea.

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