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Jul 2008
Avatar Rendering Cost
Posted in General by Pandora Wrigglesworth at 11:19 am | 1 Comment »

Starting with version 1.20 of the Second Life viewer, there is now an option to help you track the Avatar Rendering Cost of your avatars and others. You can find it in the menu under Advanced->Rendering->Info Displays->Avatar Rendering Cost.

This new feature causes numbers to float over each avatar’s head, giving a rough measurement of how taxing it is to render that avatar based on the clothing and attachments being worn. If you are going to a high traffic event and are concerned about causing too much framerate loss with your fabulous new outfit, this feature will help you determine just what effect that outfit will have on your framerate and that of those around you.

I have been very surprised by some of the results I am seeing from this new metric. For example, when I wear a nice dress with a flexi-skirt and long, pretty prim hair, I get a dangerously high value of over 1500+. Then when I try out my new Tiny Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing Avatar the metric drops way down to a comfortable 331. Since that avatar contains 21 sculpties and around 40 sliced prims, I thought it would be higher but, since there are no flexis and many of the sculpts and prims use the same textures, the rendering cost is very low. In fact, when I compared the rendering cost to a basic, unclothed Tiny avatar you might find around Raglan Shire, those generally weighed in at around 360 which is still nice and low but is about 30 points more costly than my sculpt-heavy avatar.

I think this is a good lesson in render-friendly design: Use a few texture images as you can, copying the same texture across multiple faces and prims when possible, because separate textures are one of the biggest drains to the rendering pipeline. And sculpts may take longer to download but they cost less to effort to render than those sliced and twisted prims. (That’s actually what I would have expected since sculpties always have 1024 polygons but a hollow, sliced sphere can have many more polygons than that.

Of course, if you want really super-low impact, take off ALL of your attachments and just go in your skin for an Avatar Rendering Cost of 1. I recommend my Clockwork Automaton Lady Skin so you can be nekkid without upsetting anyone (unless they’re a robophobe).

There is an article on the Second Life blog which goes into more detail about how the Avatar Rendering Cost is calculated.

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One Response:

Crap Mariner said:

When I see someone going around with the basic Clockwork skin, I sometimes think “Maybe I should give them a windup key?”