So you can’t run SL.

So you can’t run SL. Why do you feel the need to take it out on those of us who can?

We don’t all have super-fast top-end computers. Hell, I can run SL on my netbook (not very well, but it runs).

Why is SL so laggy? Why is everything shit quality?

Okay, let’s think about this a little bit.

When you get on any other online game, the content is pre-made by the game developers. All the textures, 3D stuff, so on is contained in a neat little package on your computer.

That’s not how SL works. The majority of content on Second Life is user-created. That is, there’s a 99% chance that the creator of the item you’re looking at at any given time was NOT created by a SL developer.
Not all residents are graphics or 3D geniuses. This explains the ‘low quality’ found throughout a fairly large portion of the grid.

Now, onto SL’s lag. A lot of residents agree that SL is laggy unless you have an extremely fast internet connection. Again, this goes back to the fact that most of SL’s content is user-created. Anyone can create objects / textures / whatever in SL. Now, keep that in mind, and remember that there are hundreds of thousands of Residents, around 40,000 – 60,000 of which are active at any given time. That’s a lot of content – far, far too much to be included with the program when you download it.

So what does that have to do with the lag? Alright. When you’re on SL, your computer does NOT download every single texture, sound, object, etc. when you log in. That’d be impossible. Instead, it only downloads the textures, objects, and whatnot that are in your immediate area. The lag comes into play when there is a lot of stuff to download; for example, if you teleport somewhere new, somewhere crowded, or if you have your draw distance too high.

And, yes, SL is a bit graphics intensive. You don’t need a high-end computer to play it, though, seriously.

SL is designed to run best at around 25fps. My desktop can run SL at around 40fps when things are done loading and I’m sitting still. My netbook, in the same conditions, runs at around 11fps, but SL is still usable.

I prefer not to use my netbook for the simple reason that wireless internet is horrible for running SL. Remember that your computer must download all the material around you. Wireless connections have packet loss. Packet loss slows downloads greatly. If possible, use a wired connection. This goes for satellite connections as well – they have insanely horrible packet loss and very low internet speeds due to that.

But, I digress.

How can this be fixed? Well, for one, make sure your graphics drivers are up to date. Two, if your computer can’t handle high graphics settings, set the graphics settings to Low. Sure, things won’t look very pretty, but it’ll ease up the load on your computer.

Hopefully I haven’t lost you with all this. My point is, not everyone who runs SL has a supercomputer. Stop and take a look at yours and figure out why yours can’t run SL properly. If you notice something, ask for help with fixing it. That’s not so hard, is it?

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About Skye the Ferret

Known as Blau Rascon on Second Life, Skye's a somewhat cynical furry with a blog. View all posts by Skye the Ferret

2 responses to “So you can’t run SL.

  • Smiley Barry

    I agree. Kinda.

    SL isn’t very graphics-intensive – it’s CPU-intensive. SL doesn’t use regular maps and meshes like any other 3D app, and uses prims. Now, you don’t expect it to render every little prim, right?

    What I understood from Katharine Berry is this: Essentially, SL inspects every prim around you and performs massive calculations to understand how they should be converted to meshes, so your graphics card won’t be overloaded. Ironically, this overloads your CPU, causing a bottleneck which makes graphics slow. (Which is why two computers with the same hardware except for the processor (E.g.: Core 2 Duo VS Core i7) will have varying framerates)

    So basically, SL combines groups of prims into meshes for your graphics card rather than converting all prims into meshes and transferring them to your graphics card for rendering. Which is why nearly no one manages to run SL at framerates even close to the ones they get in some games, even if they have a high-end GPU, because while games have pre-baked meshes, textures and maps, SL does all this on-the-fly. (And with upcoming dynamic shadows, lighting calculations will add even more load)

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