Friday, February 2, 2007

Oh. My. God.

I tried out the First Look viewer yesterday. I'd put it off, because in the comments about it in the official SL blog, I've read all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how unstable it is, but I was bored and wanted to see these "render pipeline improvements" for myself.

It was quite a bit faster (I haven't got exact numbers, but everything was much smoother), until I started playing around with the debug options and found the one to turn on reflections.

It's not just an image map of the sky sphere overlaid on the texture of shiny objects, the way the current "Shininess" texture setting works — my guess is that every so often (especially when you change position), the viewer renders a 360-degree panoramic image of your point of view, and then overlays that image onto shiny objects.

It's not perfect (for example, in order to see yourself in shiny objects, your point of view has to actually be in front of your avatar; and if you're in mouselook mode, you're either invisible or headless depending on whether or not you've got "Show Avatar in Mouselook" checked in your Graphics Preferences.

But still, it's phenomenal, and the frame rate with reflections turned on seems pretty comparable to the existing (non-First Look) viewer. And it didn't crash once while I was using it, though I noticed flexi prims aren't nearly as flexible as they are in the existing viewer, and HUDs tend to flicker madly from time to time.

While walking around and looking at reflective things, I took a trip to the Design Center in Idea City. It has some nifty tutorials on shadows (using a different technique than baking them right into your textures), and a nice display on microprims.

One thing that I hadn't managed to figure out with microprims was to make a complete sphere smaller than 0.01 in all dimensions. In my jewelry, I'd been faking it by stretching a sphere and then dimpling away all but the very tip, and using that as a mostly hemispherical bit, but it was far from perfect. The Design Center display gave some really good advice: use Hollow, and then apply a transparent texture to the outer skin of the sphere.

This was great, but the shadows are reversed in the hollow -- at noon, for example, the top of the microsphere would be shadowed while the bottom would be lit.

I found that by setting the twist on the sphere to -180 for both the begin and end, it will turn the shadows "right side up" and look much better.

And, oh, how tiny you can get them! In the image below, the moon on the left is 0.01 in all directions, the smallest SL will let you make it. To its right is another one, hollowed, twisted and textured, with the hollow set at 10 — a millimeter in diameter. And to its right, the dark grey dot, is one with the hollow set to 1, a tenth of a millimeter wide. It's almost too small; nobody would ever look closely enough to actually see it.

Now to make some jewelry with tiny little spherical gems!


Caterin said...

Yes, Johanna, back to your workshop and get to work! We need more of your lovely product.

Ged Larsen said...

Another thought, as I was browsing your store, looking for things to buy. The rapier is very nice, and I had some fun in a sandbox, waving it around like a lunatic. And I never knew I was left-handed!

Since the jewelry is no transfer, how about making them available at SL Exchange or SL Boutique, both of which can deliver the jewelry as gifts?

(No, there's nobody I'd be sending jewelry to, but maybe some other guys would want to!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you SOOOO much for the link to Design Center! Now that I've seen the secret of the microprim, I feel as though I've been to the mountain top or something. :)