Firestorm – Use Quick Prefs to set up Lag-Blocking of graphics heavy avatars

Lag Blocking of graphics heavy avatars is coming as a default feature in Second Life. I’ve covered this several times in the past, and it has been covered by other bloggers as well.

Once enabled, this feature will render laggy people as solid colors. The term ‘jelly’ has for some reason become popular in referring to this. The end result will be to protect you from crashes or slowdowns caused by people who are just wearing way too complex of items.

There is even a test viewer out there for seeing how this feature will eventually look and work.

All of the functionality for this is actually already in the current viewers, it just isn’t yet in your graphics preferences and Linden Lab is still trying to sort out things like ‘what to name the buttons’, ‘what messages to send to people when a lot of other people can no longer see them’ and ‘what should the default be set at’.

So in other words, a feature that will dramatically reduce lag and crashing in Second Life is being help up over what messages to put on your screen when you would be causing people around you to crash, so they have auto-hidden you from view… As for the default value… for the last several releases the number has not moved off of 80,000 – so the only important part of this actually seems resolved now…

On most viewers you can go into debug settings everytime you want to adjust this and tweak one of these values:

set this to “7” to enable all of this functionality. Any other value is treated as ‘off’.

RenderAutoMuteRenderWeightLimit – the value at which people vanish (invisible).
RenderAvatarComplexityLimit – the value at which people turn to a solid color. This numbers on this are not correct… So setting this to “54712” is the number to get ‘Jelly’ at Complexity 80,000.

QuickPrefsIconIn firestorm you can add these to Quick Prefs so that you can easily pull it up and turn it on or off, and tweak the values, if you don’t like what is happening. I often turn it off for a moment to see what I might be missing, and then turn it back it on so I don’t have lag issues. At other times, I play with numbers just to see where I can safely set it. The more crowded a place is, the lower I’ll set it (hiding more people), on a theory of using this to reduce my lag.

Click the wrench icon at the bottom right of Quick Prefs to add a new one or remove an exiting one. You can see here that my list is very different from the default setup of Firestorm. This is meant as a space for you to put the things you mess with a lot, and now you know the things I mess with a lot. And oops, my Draw Distance is super high there – kind of laggy to be above 96 – I just got back from sailing on Blake Sea where you have wide empty sims… and I forgot to lower it back down before making these.

Once you’re in the edit window, you can pull up a selector with all of the various debug settings. If you start to type in the name of the one you want, it will go to close to where your typing, so you don’t have to scroll through the entire long list of them:


Set each of them as I have in the screenshots below. Note that I set the the RenderAutoMuteFunctions to ‘integer’ and a value between 0 and 7. That’s important, because it only uses 0 and 7, and any other value used will be treated as garbage (it will work more or less like 0, but I’ve heard it can sometimes randomly hide things if not on 0 or 7).


I guess at one point they had plans for 1-6… but no more.


This is the value at which people go invisible. In Firestorm it matches to their Avatar Render Weight. In the coming changes this value is NOT included on graphics preferences, but is still in the debug settings.


This is the value at which people turn to solid colors (Jelly). In the official viewer this matches their Avatar Complexity. In Firestorm it is a little higher than their Avatar Render Weight – but not a consistent amount higher. So you will have to ‘wiggle the values’ a bit until you find the right number to use. Setting this to “54712” is the number to get ‘Jelly’ at Complexity 80,000.

And that is basically it. Once you have these values set like this, you can pull up Quick Prefs at any time and turn this feature on or off – to save lag or prevent yourself from crashing, or turn it on to see that laggy friend you’re trying to not say something too because they really like that one thing that they’re wearing that is melting your graphics card… /sigh…

Pretty “soon” (sometime between now and the fall of the Klingon Empire) this stuff will be added to the official viewer, and then rolled out to Firestorm and other viewers, all nice and packaged into the graphics preferences. Even once it is, it might be handy to still have quick access to it like this. I find I am tweaking these numbers all the time…


Why did I do all these shots off my belleza mesh body, mesh nipplesm mesh hair, mesh ears, mesh tail, prim eyes, and even sculpty teeth the way that I did?

Because as I’ve stated several times now… a lot of the mesh out there is actually pretty low on lag. With all this on, and even with clothes as well, I am quite often the lowest ‘Avatar Complexity’ person in a place I visit. You just have to start getting smart about what you put on – demo items for their avatar complexity before buying them.

Is this your desktop? Simple tricks to cut OSX lag

Hey Mac folks, this desktop look familiar? Does it belong to you, did you leave it on my computer?


Seeing that this morning inspired me to dig up some old useful advice I’ve know for a while but never thought to share before.

Some simple advice on cutting lag on Mac OSX… Not Second Life lag, but system lag that specifically affects graphics performance… ie: Lag you will feel in SL that has absolutely nothing to do with SL…

This article’s advice generally comes from around the web. Much of it is something I found burried very deep in the pages of a forum thread on an MMO fan website through a random search some time back. The sort of place that could easily vanish someday.

It is the kind of advice useful for any Mac user, but specifically Mac users that use a lot of intense graphics. Like Second Life users.

Tip 1:

Have a blank desktop:


You can have background pictures, I only removed mine from the first screenshot to make what I was referring to obvious. 🙂

This is an issue where OSX does a preview render of everything on your desktop. This includes things like text files. All of that is using up system resources… resources you could be using on SL.

Tip 2:

Don’t have 3,274 apps running at once. Don’t even have 3,273. Best to just have one. But if not that, just the ones you need right now.

To close an app you MUST do “Command-Q”. Hitting this button:

Doesn’t do anything but close that window. The application is still running and using up all its active resources.

OSX is NOT Windows… Hitting that red ‘X’ in Windows will close an application. In OSX it is the same thing as putting your head in the sand to ignore the lion gnawing on your left leg…

Tip 3:
I read advice that says avoid Firevault:

Yes you will go faster if you avoid it, but consider that the first confirmed encryption ransom malware has now occurred in OSX. I think this one might be better to call for safety over speed.

Tip 4:

Keep your system up to date. This one applies equally to OSX and Windows users. And don’t think you can escape it by hiding on some other OS either… whatever you use, keep it up to date. Updates will keep your graphics card working with enhancements, and keep away known security flaws. Most hacked systems are systems people were not updating.


(You don’t need Xcode unless you’re developing applications for OSX and iOS – which is part of what I do.)

Now we get into the ‘wait what?’ weird stuff…

Tip 5:

Repair your disk permissions. Because they routinely get out of step with what they should be, and if you’ve ever run an analytics report side by side with looking at console logs of what is going on in your application… you know this is a big pain… everytime a “minor oh it doesn’t REALLY matter we can fix that next release, we got bigger bugs right now” permission warning pops up… that uses resources for your applications to decide they can keep working despite that flaw…

This one is on you though, not the developers who made all your shiny programs. This one is because you used stuff, and then other stuff, and then stuff got confused, or stuff crashed before stuffing its stuff back into the stuff box before stuff could happen…

So just run this stuff and get your stuff in order…

Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility


Click the First Aid button


Tip 6:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Accessibility
Reduce system UI Transparency. Those nice semi-transparent window borders in OSX… they use up a lot of graphics resources. Transparency in Second Life drives up the ‘Render Cost’ of something by a factor of 4 in their Draw Weight equation… This is done because it eats a lot of graphics resources. The same is true if you’re letting your computer’s operating system do it to all the bars on the edges of things that you’re probably not even looking at anyway. And being solid gives them more contrast to find your stuff, so its better to turn this off from a design perspective as well:

Tip 7:

Turns off everything from Spotlight you don’t absolutely need:
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Spotlight
Spotlight is just going to be constantly scanning your system for things to pre-fill into all of this, and that’s slowing you down. Keep it to the minimum of what you need.

If you really want to fully kill spotlight, type this into a terminal window:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

And this will turn it back on:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Tip 8:

Keep a lot of unused space around in your hard drive. If you have a LOT of files of data you like to have stored for ‘stuff’… get an external drive or cloud backup and keep all of those screenshots of your avatar in the free-xxx club… off of your hard disk.

Its useful to have your data on an external not-always connected disk anyway, in case your system ever gets hacked… you just laugh at the hackers as you reformat your operating system, and then plug your data drive back in and continue (OK that is still a major hassle, but at least it is a recovery plan).

Guys: There is no need to download all of those porn videos. The stuff is free and all over the internet anyway. Don’t fill up your disk with copies of porn… Obama isn’t taking your guns, and he isn’t coming to take your porn stash away either, because its all over the web anyway… Yeah I know, you can clear up about 70% of your hard drive if you delete those files…
And it will be a lot less embarrassing in church next Sunday when Obama finally does send the FBI in to take your guns and ship you to a FEMA camp and they see what’s on your computer… 😛

Free space on the drive means more space to used for caching, and for applications to be installed without fragmentation.

Do NOT go out and get some third party “clean up your disk” application. Even if other blogs about keeping a clean system suddenly shift into marketing mode halfway through and tell you to get their app.

Guess where malware comes from?

Tip 9:

Get the application gfxcardstatus. Oh yeah… I just told you not to go out and get crazy third party apps. Now I’m telling you to go out and get some crazy third part app.


This only applies to Mac users that have a Mac with a graphics card. Welcome to the reason the VR companies have said they aren’t even bothering with us Mac people… Most Macs don’t have graphics cards… but use an integrated board solution. A high end Mac is often graphically no better than a $300 PC…

It hurts to say that, as a Mac user… but it is true. For most Macs.

If you have a higher end Mac, and if you do you know about it already because you paid another $500-1000 for it and you weren’t stupid enough to pay all that without finding out why…

Well, if you do have one, you want the ability to actually tell it to use your graphics card when you load up something intense like Second Life.

Not only does OSX not tell you when it turns on your pricey GPU, it often only makse the decision to do so when its good for Apple’s marketing… So the shiny Apple apps that will run better with it will use it, many other apps won’t, and if you go into bootcamp and run Windows they will turn it on all the time so as to heat up your system and overtax things so that Windows seems to not perform as well…

I don’t have the solution for keeping it off when not needing it bootcamp side. I need to read up on that still.

But OSX side, you want “gfxcardstatus” so you can turn have it get turned on by default anytime you flip on an application that has 3D graphics, and flipped off otherwise:

You really want this one. Google it and read about it to be sure on the security issues.

Tip 10:

Disable uneeded notifications.
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Notifications
If you don’t NEED it, disable it. This is just slowing you down for spam most of the time.

Tip 11:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Dock
Change the dock from Genie to Scale.
That Genie effect may look cool, but that coolness is at a cost of advanced rendering to warp a window and slide it around.

Tip 12:

Cut out startup applications:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items
If you don’t need it or recognize it, uncheck it or remove it.

Also check your Library:


You need to look at both LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons.

Where I put “/Library” up there, also look in these two:


“~/” is a shorthand for: “/Users/[your computer account name]”

In the LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons you want to delete anything that is not from apple or a source your recognize. Malware commonly gets into Macs by placing itself here.

If you find something on the list that looks like it might be important but you’re not sure – google it and look for a link that is on a website for info. Be wary of links about malware found elsewhere – I’ve had co-workers get malware by searching on how to clean out malware…

PS: If you are unlucky enough to get malware on your system, NEVER download an app to ‘easily clean out that malware’. Always follow the absurdly long overly complex manual instructions to clean it out by hand. They may be annoying and worded badly… but if you have to sit there and type in manual commands and find files the hard way, you can at least do so making sure you’re not adding in more malware…

Tip 13:

This one is highly technical.

PRAM / NVRAM Reset :
Shutdown your Mac:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

Start your computer again & hold Alt+Cmd+P+R before the bootup noise.
This will reset your PRAM.
PRAM used to need regular resetting. These days it shouldn’t ever need it, but if your system has gotten a bit corrupted it will help.

SMC Reset:
Shutdown your Mac again:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

From here it depends on how your battery is connected, if you have one.

Desktop or MacBook With Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Unplug the power adapter.
Remove the battery (if there is one – a desktop typically just needs to be unplugged).
Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
Replace the battery.
Plug in the power adapter.
Turn on the computer.

MacBook Without A Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Plug in the power adapter.
On the built-in keyboard, press the Shift, Control, and Option keys on the left side and the power button, all at the same time.
Release all three keys at the same time.
Turn on the computer.

A little side note for people in bad weather: Your computer can’t get friend in a power surge if its unplugged. If the power goes out, unplug all the expensive stuff in the house…


New Graphics Preferences Now Help Auto-hide Laggy People

Hiding those laggy people by default will soon be common in Second Life, thanks to the new Second Life QuickGraphics Viewer version release that came today:

This is one of the beta test viewers, not the default. But this feature will hit the default soon.

Look for “Maximum Complexity”.
This is a stand in for Avatar Draw Weight – which was the replacement to ARC. Draw Weight uses math based on how taxing to render and how taxing on SL something is.

My iMac wants this to be set to 60,000. In your average SL club, the other people range from 150000 to 450000…

My top end 2013 Macbook Pro with an advanced graphics card also wants to use 60,000. So it looks like a lot of people in Second Life are going to start vanishing from people’s screens pretty soon, if 60,000 is always the default. By contrast I’ve heard the usual recommendation to be 120,000 to 150,000 for a person with ‘normal graphics’ on a mid-range recent computer.

Every time you change something worn, a little popup will let you know your new Avatar Rendering Complexity:

Clicking that will bring up a page explaining what Avatar Rendering Complexity is all about (you must be logged in to Second Life in your web browser or that link comes back with an Authentication Failure). Note that I am getting only 22,193 there, that is with booN mesh dreadlocks, the Belleza Freya Mesh body, and a few items as well. You can get these numbers to be low lag if you are militant about managing your own lag.

If you want to be sure you don’t end up being one of the folks that everybody else cannot see, read my post on How to NOT buy bad stuff in SL.

In the debug settings, this slider is found under renderavatarmaxComplexity if you want to enter a manual figure (the slider is really wild, and its hard to get a round number – which will drive semi-OCD people nuts… so that debug setting is how you make it an ‘even’ number.

This ties in with RenderAvatarMaxNonImpostors which is the number of avatars you will render regardless of how complex they are. Default on this seems to be from 8 to 12.

There is also a new display over you head when you flip on:

Advanced -> Performance Tools -> Show avatar complexity Information

(That is how they case it… S and I in cap… I don’t know why…)

The wiki page says:

This displays four values as floating text above each avatar:

  • Complexity – The numerical complexity score of the avatar.
  • Rank –  How close the avatar is to your camera. The closest is “1”, next closest is “2”, etc…
  • Attachment surface area, in square meters – This value can, uncommonly, cause an avatar to be shown as a solid-color impostor.
  • Attachment size, in kilobytes – This value can also cause an avatar to be shown as a solid-color impostor, if it is high enough.

Please remember again that to view this webpage from outside of Second Life you need to log into Second Life’s website.

Here is what happens in a crowd of people when some of them are too laggy:


And another InfoHub:


Yes that dude to the right is over 158,000,000 complexity. Even hidden like this I crashed a half dozen times trying to get this image…

The advice from that experience is: Keep people who have become blobs at range. Don’t stand too close… or your system won’t be able to handle it…

While I was on the other side of the infoHub I was just fine. My crashes happened when I tried to get close to the skirt there… her avatar was also insanely complex…
– I managed to render her a few times when coming back from crashes. Which also tells me that it takes SL a moment to flip this stuff on…

Oh and she’s listed as rank 8… higher rank means further away from camera, not from YOU. Which is funny because I should have been rank 9 in this if she was rank 8… so I guess it needs some tweaking still.

Side note on proportions: If you have a kinky avatar and your arms are too short to even touch yourself… how can you not see the problem in this? 🙂


Avatar Draw Weight, the Horrors of Transparency Flipping, and “Second Life: Render Speed Tricks from Nalates Urriah”

Ok, today you’re getting three thoughts that are jumbled together in my head, even if they do or don’t belong together… 🙂

If you haven’t read it yet, here is a very useful list of setting that can improve the speed of your SL:
Second Life: Render Speed Tricks

Simon Linden gave out a note card at Tuesday’s Server-Scripting user group meeting in Second Life™. It gives us the Debug Settings we can change to improve performance at events with lots of avatars.

Access your debug settings off of the Advanced menu:

Particularly note:


set this to “7” and people with too high an Avatar Draw Weight will render as ‘imposters’ (reduced graphics still images)


set this to the maximum Avatar Draw Weight you will accept others being before you ‘imposter’ them. The blog recommends setting between 80,000 to 200,000. The right setting here is extremely dependent on your computer’s graphics capabilities – you’ll just have to mess with it now and then until you’re satisfied with the results. This ties in with “RenderAvatarMaxNonImpostors” which is the number of avatars you will render regardless of how complex they are.

The three values… are because this feature is in testing. I think “renderavatarmaxComplexity” is already deprecated. No longer works.

RenderAutoMuteRenderWeightLimit will turn some people to solid colors IF “RenderAutoMuteFunctions” is set to 7, otherwise it does nothing. But its value does NOT match to Avatar Draw Weight anymore – I think this one is also broken.

RenderAvatarComplexityLimit turns people invisible if they are above it, regardless of any other debug settings. This one does match Avatar Draw Weight.

So here’s what this gives me in an adult infohub on a day when half of SL is in rolling restarts. So the place is way over packed:

Notice all those people who are just solid colors now… 🙂
It hasn’t done so much good for my FPS, but then again look at how stacked it is in here. I can walk around without fear of crashing, in a mess like this.

So there is your trade-off. High cost people look funny now, but you don’t crash because of them anymore. I’m still going slow here because these settings don’t do anything for any problems other than people’s graphics costs… I stood just outside the sim border and cammed around in here at my normal FPS. But cross the sim border and I hit that 7 fps again. By contrast without this when I cam into crowds, I could hit freezes or crashes.

But you REALLY NEED to go read that blog for a full list of many settings that will improve your SL, especially in crowds.

I’d love to get my hands on the original notecard.

I’m wondering if the Linden Notecard explains the math or thinking on these at all. What are ideal values?

For exmaple for “RenderAutoHideSurfaceAreaLimit”, I had to set it to 23.5 before my skybox appeared. Does this mean my skybox is bad for me, or that 23.5 is a good value for me, or neither?

Avatar Draw Weight Notes:

Oh and… NO LONGER VALID Info on Avatar Rendering Cost:

Which was REPLACED by Draw Weight:

  • I mention both because you still see the first being discussed a lot. People are often not aware it was replaced by Draw Weight. It is VERY IMPORTANT to let people know, because Draw Weight is based on actual difficulty to render things, while ARC was, well, not sure what ARC was based on – but the Lindens themselves said it was not valid metrics. It may have just been values they guessed were important back when SL was new and they did not yet have metrics back telling them what was or was not taxing the system and user graphics cards.
  • So…
    • DRAW WEIGHT is real
    • ARC is no longer used.

That said I see a note in the wiki that an ‘alpha’ is a x4 multiplier on the Draw Weight of a prim – I wonder if this is true of ‘Alpha Blending’ mode only, or also of ‘Alpha Masking’ (the ‘1-bit alpha’ system).

The formula has some interesting curiosities. Like this one:

(-200 points for each baked texture marked invisible)
That makes me wonder how we manage to get our textures into that category. I suspect this comes about in a manner similar to getting things cached.

And this:

for each unique texture (including sculpt textures) in the linkset: + 256 + 16 * (resX/128 + resY/128)

Which means that a sculpty object is going to always be counting up a second texture – thus sculpties end up inherently high in Draw Weight. But not as high as flexi:

flexi x5
Just… wow.

Also interesting that Torus is not mentioned on here, because when this all came about I remember it in a linden post that commented at length about how horrible rendering a torus was on the graphics cards of SL users… Maybe something about torus is already covered in one of the other factors (like how sculpty is hit by the texture issue), or maybe Torus turned out to not be a bad thing after all?

See also this side link:

  • First this problem no longer exists. But that’s not why I’m sending you to it. I’m sending you to it to make a point about Draw Weight. There is a note on this page that says:
    • “Transparency — Keep all frames rezzed all the time and use scripted calls to set non-visible frames to 100% transparent. This will cause the renderer to load the object once, and 100% transparent objects are not drawn. The “prim” cost of the object will go up, but this cost is reflective of the actual load of an animated object. “

You may have seen this before with many animated tails. If you wear one, you might see that your system suddenly slows down a lot. I find just wearing one of these can cause my FPS to drop enough that I’m seeing the individual frames… Testing just now, the Somali Tail from lemon Tea cut 10 off of my frames per second.

This “Transparency” system is the new “resizer script” fiasco… its putting a huge number of alpha’d textures all over everyone’s screen… creating massive lag.

Unfortunately this does not seem to be properly counted in Avatar Draw Weight… so the ability to make people using these just ‘auto vanish’ is not really there.

Here’s what switching between two tails does to my FPS:

The impact of using Transparency Flipping – 12.4fps:


The impact of using Posotion/Rotation based animation – 23.8fps:


Yes my FPS is low in general today…

In this test I waited a minute between each switch to make sure all of the ‘loading in’ costs were done. That said, the Jerboa remained the same from the moment I put it on, but the Lemon slowly lowered down from where I was, until it stopped at the 12.4.

If this were about animation choices… I’d show you the Solarian tail. Its true BVH motion using the pelvis of the avatar – super fast, I’m here today talking about render costs… and for that its a distraction.

What I really want you to notice above is the red numbers over my head. They’re about the same. In fact the Lemon Tea is slightly lower. But its having a dramatic impact on performance.

In other words… Avatar Draw Weight measures some reasons why you will suffer lag – but even if the reason is related to a texture issue, Avatar Draw Weight might be missing it…

I’ve picked Lemon Tea here because I still have it in my inventory. The problem it gives occurs with any item, tail or not, worn or rezzed, that uses transparency flipping.


How to NOT buy bad stuff in SL

Everybody knows they should demo things before buying them… but how many people know what to even look for when demoing.

Sure there is the obvious “do I like it”, “does it fit my avatar”, “does it match my theme”, “is it Copy/Mod or is this store’s owner a jerk?”

But there are three much more important tests that most people don’t know about – even though we all know about what happens when the results of these tests are bad… Most of us just don’t know how to find out before we’ve shelled out our precious loot for the latest fad…

So… Here is what you should really be looking for, how to look for it, and why you need to look for it.

The three steps in the try things out that way too many people never do…

  • Check out its script burden – very important.
  • Check out its avatar draw weight – the most important.
  • Zoom way the heck back and see what it looks like – situationally important.

Script Burden and Avatar Draw Weight will determine whether or not the item contributes to slowing down your SL, maybe randomly crashing you or others, and so on… ie: client-side appearance of lag that is actually your video card freaking out…

Zooming back will tell you how well they optimized stuff. It relates to what happens at a distance far enough to trigger a new ‘LOD’ (level of detail)…


So here are some screenshots and advice to show how to check and set all of these:

Script Burden:

Script Burden is my term for two things, Script Memory and Script Time. As users of SL we can only see Script Memory Allocation, and not the actual memory, nor the script time. We “CAN” use the LSL scripting language to find… script time allocation, but not the actual time…

Allocation is like making a reservation at a restaurant that only seats people at tables of 4. If you have 5 people, that is 2 tables, if you have 7 people, that is 2 tables… If you tell the restaurant you expect 5 people, it allocates two tables, and then only 2 of you show up… you still allocated 2 tables… but only used 2 seats…

Script time allocation… that’s like google maps telling it will take 23 minutes to drive there… Even if once you hit the road, it actually only took 19 minutes… you still allocated ’23 minutes’ of your life to expecting to be sitting in traffic… and the restaurant won’t serve you until 23 minutes have passed because that is when you made your reservation…

So its all about guessing here, when we can only see one leg of the elephant…

This is why you will often hear people say checking scripts is useless. Because its guesswork. But an educated guess is still better than just ignoring all evidence…

Checking the script memory allocation of things is STILL VALUABLE. The allocation tends to be a good estimate for how much resources something is going to eat up. If it is high it tends to indicate something that will slow you and everyone in the same sim, and any other sims on the same server, as you down. Yes, each sim in SL shares a server with 4 other sims – you have no idea where they are, but some jerk on one of them could be running a 700mb scripted hair piece from 2009 and totally killing your SL… That jerk might even be you… so here is how to find out if it is you so you can get some control back to your experience… (you can’t do anything about that other person except link them to this blog and pretend you’re being friendly and didn’t notice that giant flashing lag beast over their heads) 😛

Here is a screenshot showing where to find your script cost:


So: World -> About Land -> Script Info -> My Avatar

Older items tend to be very bad about this. Many older items have been repackaged as freebies… so always check this if you get a freebie…

Yeah, my AO is a minor beast… Its the biggest thing I use, by a large amount. But a few years ago it would have been seen as small. Things are getting better in SL… Basically if your total here is ‘under 3 to 5mb somewhere’ you are “probably” not the problem. I say probably because we haven’t checked the other issues yet… 🙂

(My AO is reasonable, BUT consider that it limits what else I can also wear… especially if I had an older system… or if a friend of mine did, and many do… and I don’t want to be crashing my friends while I’m trying to chat them up…)

No-Mod hair is the most common cause of high script issues – because from 2009 to 2011 there was a popular ‘resize’ system going around the hair shops that required putting an individual script into every single strand of the hair… The linden’s added a new linkset script system in 2010 or so, I made it a freebie, as have others – and since 2011 versions of the linkset system have spread, each working a different way, but all finally low on script memory. However every now and then there is someone still using the old method.

Avatar Draw Weight:

This is the most important test you can run. Its a big performance issue, and a generally unknown factor.

While most people today know about scripts, almost nobody knows about this one. And many who do confuse it with the old system (ARC) that it replaced. The old system… was broken and gave meaningless data. The new system, is accurate and pretty much paints a red sign over the head of all the people around you who probably just aren’t quite aware of the impact of what they’re wearing and why they and/or people around them are feeling so much lag in SL. Keep that in mind… most people don’t know the causes of this stuff. So once you do, lay off the blame game, and just try to help people find solutions.


Advanced -> Performance Tools -> Show Draw Weight for Avatars -> Look over your head for a colored number.

And note the 72,604 number over my head there – that is just high enough to start causing lag. People are often way over this. If you bust past 100,000 to 200,000 or so – you can start causing random people around you, or yourself, to crash… I’ve seen people over 400,000; sadly not uncommon.

Ever wonder why you’re happily hanging out somewhere, and then SL just up and dies on you? Now you know… Something with a very high Draw Weight just got noticed by your graphics card.

I saw “Something” and not “someone” on purpose… This issue is even WORSE with rezzed things like houses and furniture… Anyone who’s been happily walking about and hit upon a new scene made in mesh or sculpty and suddenly notices their computer starts crawling or the fan kicks on… that’s bad Draw Weight items around you… Its VERY COMMON in the Gatcha scene… and I see it a LOT in some fancy shops and clubs that are burdening down their build with ‘cute but badly made’ items…

You can’t do anything about it if somebody at a venue you like has rezzed all the bad stuff… except try to tell them and hope they’re not one of those weird folks that freaks out anytime somebody talks to them… BUT you can control it on your own stuff…

I don’t tend to wear that hair anymore as a result… It was about 30,000 or so of the number you saw up there…

So… you just bought some fancy new mesh kitchen and want to know this for it… how do you tell? Well… you actually CAN wear your kitchen in SL… 🙂 So that is one way – wear it, and then check your scripts and draw weight.

Another way is to go into wireframe mode and look at all the lines… This one is guesswork. If the lines are “all up in my business like some crazy cat lady” – so thick you can’t see Jack from Jill… or rather, so thick that you CAN see Jack… if the lines in wireframe are so thick the object almost looks solid… that’s your nightmare object right there. The wireframe test can be done in the store, before you buy it… But its a bit of a guess. I HAVE seen a low wire item that was laggy, and a densely wired item that was low lag… and these were both mesh bodies by the way…

Here is where you can find wireframe mode, with obligatory cat lady in your business:


Develop -> Rendering -> Wireframe

So this is a hint of where to start looking, not the final proof… MOST of the time the more solid the object in this view, the more laggy it is being… but not always. I wish I knew how to tell what kinds of shapes in wireframes were bad… I’ve seen that very point discussed on a Poser forum back in 2000 or so… the shapes of these polygons matters, but what shape is good… Not sure…

And yeah – my tail there is pretty solid. Its the only mesh tail like it I know of… it IS laggy, but it is true animated. There are another few mesh tails that animate by changing transparencies on different parts of the mesh – they are even MORE laggy…

Notice my hair is also pretty solid: but, it is actually a LOW lag hair from booN (booN also makes some cornrows I LOVE on my human alt – best looking hair in SL, but they ARE very laggy, so I had to pack them up and no longer use them… /cry). Shoutout here: booN has the best looking hair in SL in my opinion, half of it is very laggy, the other half is very well optimized. I don’t know why because its not about is it new or old… But the shop has many styles and I highly recommend them. Just test before buying.

See the pink heart inside of me… that’s from the nipples… I wish this modeler made those mod so I could remove that thing – the nipple set is low lag, but it’d be about half the lag it does have if it didn’t have to render a high detail mesh heart inside your body…

But the highest render cost in this entire screenshot? My eyes. Maybe you didn’t notice that they’re basically solid… If I could replace those eyes I could probably double the number of other things I wear. FATE Mesh eyes did get a script reducing update about a year or more ago, but the mesh itself is still too high detail.

Zooming back test, renderVolumeLOD, and correcting popular bad advice.

The last test for seeing the quality of something is to zoom yourself way the heck back, and see what happens. How far back can you go before the item breaks apart visually, turns into a triangle, or some other weird thing happens…

And is this distance too short for you, personally, and how you plan to use the item. For example… does it really matter if that new mesh toilet you bought breaks up into a giant single triangle 90m away, if its going into a bathroom in your little skybox on a small plot somewhere? Probably not…

But if the same thing happened to your hair at only 90m away… then you’re going to end up looking bald to a lot of people. And a few months back I bought some beautiful hair for an alt and had this happen at only 5m away because I forgot to zoom back before hitting buy… /cry+delete…

So this one is “PARTIALLY” a subjective preferences and “how you use it” test… But its one many people don’t know to do because they’re not aware of how mesh is both made and ‘rendered’ (drawn on your screen).

Advanced -> Show Debug Settings -> rendervolumeLODFactor



To run this test it is first IMPORTANT to set your “renderVolumeLOD” to 2 (or lower):

Notice the 4 in that image. That’s an old screenshot. Many people, self included, used to recommend 4. I actually used to recommend 9… I don’t know why… It was BAD ADVICE.

Remember that at 4 or higher you have disabled SL’s optimization code… so SL will lag a LOT more at 4 than at a lower setting. You want it at the default (1.00 – official viewer), 2, or at most 3…

A common hack to getting the “Avatar Draw Weight” to be low is to optimize an item by turning it into a triangle at ‘far away LODs’… and then telling people to ‘break’ their LOD setting (rendervolumeLOD) by setting it to 4, so that they never see this… but that breaking actually comes at a VERY HIGH cost… and is one of the biggest reasons users of SL on ‘normal computers’ and not ‘suped up gaming machines’ think its laggy…

Ideally you should have your ‘renderVolumeLOD’ debug setting at either default or 2. NEVER the commonly recommended 4, because at 4 you have disabled SL’s optimization code… slowing down your experience and creating… client side lag…

But once you drop to 2, and zoom back, you quickly learn how badly some stuff is made…

And you want to do this BEFORE testing items so that you can wear them, zoom back, and see if they “break”. If they do – its a badly optimized item. Buy something else.

So… renderVolumeLOD now set at 2, it it time to take your camera up to something silly – camera distance 512m (DO NOT do this normally – you “ping” everything in your camera distance, the farther it is, the laggier your SL, and everyone in your range that you need to ‘ping’ and get an update from also takes a hit. Normally I keep my camera between 64m and 128m – 64m is ideal for avoiding having to see that your neighbors put a building with improper texture repeats on top of a beach that has fullbright trees… AND without using support pillars… 🙂 ).

You might notice that I also have advanced lighting off. I usually have it on – but it has no impact on this test. You don’t need it on or off for testing this kind of thing.

Here I am close up, everything looks good:


Just a little bit back, my coffee machine has vanished. I am fine with this because it is usually in my skybox in a small kitchen that’s only about 2m wide by 3m long. Out here it’d be an issue, so I may need to rethink using it here:


A bit more back, the platform has deformed:


This kind of is a problem… and as soon as I find a replacement, this platform might need to go… Because honestly that is not that far back.

What is going on here is improper optimization done in order to cause these items to have a lower ‘Land Impact’ cost. This also happens with worn items – but I just didn’t remember any worn things, that I still own, that break so easily – I tend to not buy them, or delete them once I find them (like the alt’s hair I mentioned above)…

Notice that the trees, the art canvas, the table behind me, and the campfire below all never broke. They are all actually LOWER land impact than the platform that DID break… Why?

Because the ‘hack’ to break things at distance LOD is just that – its a hack done instead of doing proper optimization. It is a sign that the 3D modeler is likely a hobbyist who has learned from other hobbyists and has never had to model for a paycheck at something like a gaming company – where having low polygon good LOD models is vital for a video a game to work online…

The stuff that didn’t break – much of it, like that art canvas from Dysfunctional (same shop as the trees – Dysfunctional tends to be quite functional 🙂 ) is actually 1LI items… but they are very well optimized by people who were either professionals, or just hobbyists turned SL merchants that learned from the right training advice (because often hobbyists are way better than professionals… Hobbyists tend to be either very bad or very good, professionals work to standards and end up ‘in the middle’ in most fields… in my opinion)…

The table that didn’t break is made by the same person that made the platform that did break – so just because a builder gets one item wrong, don’t discard their entire brand. Test every item individually unless you start to find a very consistent bad pattern – this platform builder’s stuff is usually on my list of good examples – here is just an exception.

Now remember to turn your camera distance back down after doing this test…

So… I hope the above manages to be useful in informing people on what to test for before making that purchase.

Getting these things under control will greatly improve your SL experience – particularly if you not on a top-end computer.


Yes I have called out two or three brands that I like in this. I’m not getting anything from them, I just like them, this is my blog, and I’m going to say my piece on it. 😛


Footnote on LOD:

Some may wonder where I got the idea that a high LOD is bad. If you think about how LOD works, how your graphics card renders detail, and how optimization works it ought to be obvious. You can see it in any video game really – settings to lower the detail in order to improve performance because the more you tax your system, the harder it gets on that system.

But here is a quote, from a meeting the Lindens had with the Firestorm team some time back. What they say in this, is something you will see said in any real-time 3D graphics platform. This advice is not at all new:

Here is a quote, from a meetings with the Lindens, that covers why a high LOD is bad:

12:02 JL: If you turn-up your LOD, you’re going to see things really nice … it’s also more complex because your video card is rendering more things … So if you want to take really nice pictures in SL, crank up your LOD; but it’s going to have an effect on the performance of your viewer.

12:55 JL: So what a lot of content creators do – and if you’re one of the content creators that do this, yes I’m pointing at you … is they want their stuff to look really good, so they’ll have their LOD cranked up really high …. and then they’re making their necklace or their shoes … and it looks really great to them, it looks really perfect and they package it up and they send it out. And people who don’t have their LOD cranked up, get that item and it looks like crap. And then the content creators says, “Oh, it’s because you have your LOD down too low; turn up your LOD and it’ll look fine.”

13:40 JL: Let me tell you something. If you’re that content creator, if you’re that person, you are doing it wrong. You make your content at a low LOD, and you make it look good at a low LOD level, and it is guaranteed to look good at a higher level … That’s the way to do it, because that’s how you make sure it looks good for everybody. not be making it to settings most people can’t use … you make your content based on a low LOD level, and that makes sure it’s going to look good on a low LOD level and on a high LOD level.

JL: Don’t tell people to turn their LOD up … it’s not good for them … because they forget they’ve turned it up and then they have really bad performance because they go to a region full of all kinds of prims and avatars with mesh and all these things, and their viewer performance is just utterly crap And they come to us and say, “Firestorm is a piece of crap. I just ran Singularity in the same situation and Singularity runs really well in the same situation!” But it’s not the same situation, because the LOD isn’t turned-up on Singularity …

JL: And that’s very common. People will compare one viewer with another viewer, not realising that they’ve changed a setting in one viewer that they haven’t in the other, and that setting has a huge impact on performance … Just leave the LOD alone in the viewer.

15:36 EM: The ideal setting for most people is between 2 and 4, which is why our LOD slider only goes to 4.

15;44 TS: And in fact, LOD is restricted in the viewer, there is an upper bound above which, no matter how high you set it, won’t make any difference anyway. My fuzzy memory tells me that number is four, but i could easily be wrong. i haven’t looked at that chunk of code in quite some time.

16:03 JL: If you want to do pictures, go into Preferences and crank-up your LOD. But when you’re done taking pictures, bring it back down again. Or just jiggle the graphics slider, because the LOD is affected by what setting you have in the performance slider. So if you choose low, it’ll have a lower LOD, and if you choose Ultra it will have the highest LOD that we would possibly recommend. But for content creators, drop your LOD when you make your content, make it look good on a low LOD and you’re going to be putting out a really good product.

16:57 TS: Which is why the defaults are good choice, because they’ve been tweaked pretty well … for most systems.

17:38 JS: Just generally speaking, we have had arguments, big arguments, internally on the team on what we should make default LODs. We try to follow along with Linden Lab, although seldom do we agree with Linden Lab’s defaults. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to choose what we feel are the safest LOD levels for each quality setting on the slider.

16:13 TS: Linden Lab has a lot more tolerance for low frame rates than we do and what our users tend to do.

So they say from 2 to 4. The default is actually 1.00 (official viewer). Why did I pick 2? Well, a bit of intuition really… I’ve been trying to get it lower and lower over time and trying to find the point where lowering it isn’t helping me anymore, but is instead breaking too many things. I think that is 2 to 2.5 maybe… Now if you’re obsessed about min/maxing what your system can deliver out of SL, you can play around with this and try to find a sweet spot in there that is better than where I’m at.

Most quality mesh still holds up at 2… so I’d rather not go any higher, because I want to maximize every last piece of performance gain I can get…

4 though… at 4 NOTHING breaks no matter how far I go out. That’s a pretty good indication that the optimization is no longer in play… So 4, 4 is too high. And at 2 – yes, you will see a performance gain.


See also this more recent article for added information:
– You should test with all of that in mind when doing the tests here.



ps: Just because a person is exploring nudity in SL, does not mean its appropriate to toss your random weird freak sex fantasies at them…

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