Thursday, June 25, 2009

I was at the Hair Fair...

Posted by Alpha Auer... :-\

Like most other females on the grid, all year long I live in joyous anticipation of the annual Second Life® Hair Fair. I am also experienced enough to know to detach every single prim on my body before I venture forth. Same this year. And not only did I divest myself of every attachment that I had but I also took Laynie Link's hair fair tips on avoiding lag at the location posted on the dedicated Hair Fair 2009 blog to heart and reduced all of my Graphics settings as well.

None of it helped. This was quite simply the laggiest Second Life experience that I think I have ever had. After arriving and realizing just how horriifyingly stuck I was, I also disabled all the render types from the advanced menu. All that I could, including rendering the sky! So, there I was painfully groping for prims to which I was getting stuck, completely unable to move, surrounded by a largely gray landscape which when it eventually materialized I was seeing with no shaders, no volume, under a pitch black sky. Granted I did manage to get about with the usage of the red locomotion boxes provided by the organizers but why would I even have wanted to move given that hardly any shop contents rezzed themselves? Nonetheless, I tried, I really did. I have lost count over how many times I crashed, but I was determined enough to log back in every time - until I eventually gave up...

I ran into several acquaintances while I was out there. Chatter was pretty much impossible due to lag but I did contact them subsequently to ask them how it had been for them. The answer was unanimous: Worst lag experience in Second Life to date.

I am writing this because I think I may have identified one of the reasons of the problem and maybe my two cents worth of input might help the builders of these very large scale locations which attract vast crowds of visitors, should they stumble upon this post: I believe the lag at the hair fair this year was due to an over abundant usage of sculpted prims. As I said, it was too laggy for me to be able to inspect the prims, the information as to who their creators were simply did not rezz, so I have absolutely no idea who the designers and builders of the 4 sims are. I am in no position to comment on their output either, given that I really did not "see" it. All I saw was a specter of a landscape devoid of all shading and volume. But I did manage to identify the presence of hundreds if not indeed thousands of sculpty prims through their highlighted contours when I right-clicked on the structures that they were embedded into.

I realize of course, that many of these sculpted prims were used repeatedly and that it can be argued that once one sculpted texture rezzes all of them will have done so. But, as far as I could tell, there were still enough individual shapes present to seriously undermine the overall rendering process. And also, even though in theory it holds true that once one texture is rezzed all identical textures in your location will also have done so, for some bizarre reason, in practice I find that this is not necessarily always the case.

All in all, I am wondering why far more minimalistic design strategies do not get implemented at locations where the primary objective is providing an easy access to the goods displayed therein. An excellent example of such a location are the Hairspray sims (as it turns out a particularly appropriate example in this case, given that our primary area of discussion here is in fact hair ;-). These sims are the epitomy of the maxim "form follows function", the function here being the showcasing of "hair" with no further obstructions from the surrounding environment. Indeed I would suggest that their huge success as a design system and their ultimate beauty lies in their designer Damien Fate's having diligently followed this very fundamental design tenet first coined by the great architect Louis Sullivan.

So, my dear friends, I did not really get to see the hair fair at all this year. From the isolated few stands, the contents of which I actually did manage to rezz (and where what I saw captured my attention), I have obtained landmarks and will be visiting their main stores in due course.


Juko said...

Also worth noting is the constantly present issue of avatar limits - I saw the 4 sims at max most of the times I checked the Map, and often couldn't get in at all.

The sad thing is missing out on Fair offers such as Pandora's which also contribute to charity :-(

Unknown said...

Hair Fair was built by the same person who built Hairspray, Damien Fate. As well as his business partner Washu.

Surprised it was so bad for you though: I was all the structures quiet easily. Hair vendors, otoh, took a long time to load.

Alpha Auer said...

Hi Fabiano,
Yes, after I had already posted this Bettina actually did put me wise to the fact that Damien Fate was in fact the creator of both locations. Like, I said, I am a great admirer of the Hairspray sims... :-)

However, the entire point of the fair is to rezz the shop contents no? That is why I was desperately turning off all render types and wandering around under a pitch black sky in a world with no shaders - to rezzz the shops!!! And ouch: Nada, zippo, nill...

Who needs to see the structures? I need to see the hair!

Pandora Wrigglesworth said...

I'm sorry that you run into so much lag at the fair but blaming it on sculpted prims is completely illogical. You're confusing the three types of lag, a very common mistake in SL. The problems you described as a manifestation of server lag, a reduction in the speed with which server updates are processed. But sculpted prims don't affect server lag except in the sense that every prim of any type contributes to the cost of the physics simulation. Sculpted prims only contribute to transfer lag, by requiring an additional texture to be downloaded, or to client lag, by having as many polygons as a sphere or torus.

Pandora Wrigglesworth said...

Follow up:

Turning off render types only helps client lag, improving your frame rate by skipping various things in the render process. This has no effect on the server.