Firestorm: The Evolution of the Second Life Viewer

Firestorm: The Evolution of the Second Life Viewer

Introduction

One of the most popular third-party viewers for accessing this platform is Firestorm. In this article, we will explore the current update of Firestorm to Physical Based Rendering (PBR) and the latest news regarding the development team.

Firestorm and the Transition to PBR

Firestorm has long been a benchmark for Second Life users, offering advanced features and an immersive gaming experience. With the goal of further enhancing the visual quality of the virtual world, the Firestorm development team has decided to implement support for physical-based rendering (PBR).

PBR is a rendering technique that realistically simulates the interaction of light with materials. This means that objects in Second Life will appear even more realistic, with more accurate reflections, shadows, and details. The update to PBR will significantly improve the visual experience for users, making the virtual world even more engaging and immersive.

The Preview (Beta) Version of Firestorm

To meet the excitement of Firestorm users, the development team has made a preview (beta) version of the viewer with PBR support available. This preview version can be downloaded and tested in the Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group inworld. Users can thus experience the new features in advance and provide feedback to further improve the viewer.

Change of Project Manager

In conjunction with the update to PBR, Firestorm has also announced a change of Project Manager. Jessica Lyon, who has held the position of Project Manager for many years, has decided to pass the torch to Beq Janus. This change of role does not affect Jessica’s position as CEO of Firestorm but allows Beq Janus to bring their experience and vision to the development team.

FAQ

  1. What does PBR stand for?
    PBR stands for Physical Based Rendering, which is a rendering technique that realistically simulates the interaction of light with materials, improving the visual quality of objects in Second Life.
  2. How can I access the preview version of Firestorm?
    You can download the preview version of Firestorm in the Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group inworld.
  3. What are the advantages of PBR support in Firestorm?
    PBR support improves the visual quality of objects in Second Life, making them more realistic with accurate reflections, shadows, and details.
  4. Who is the new Project Manager of Firestorm?
    The new Project Manager of Firestorm is Beq Janus, who has taken over from Jessica Lyon.
  5. What will change with the new Project Manager?
    The change of Project Manager will bring a new vision and new ideas to the Firestorm development team, but it will not affect Jessica Lyon’s position as CEO.

Conclusion

The update of Firestorm to Physical Based Rendering (PBR) represents a significant step forward in enhancing the visual experience for Second Life users. The preview (beta) version already available in the Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group allows users to test the new features and provide feedback to further improve the viewer. With the change of Project Manager, Firestorm is preparing for an even brighter and more engaging future.


References:

  1. Physically Based Rendering – Wikipedia
  2. Firestorm Official Website
  3. The Importance of Graphics in Video Games
  4. The Future of Graphics in Video Games

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Firestorm Viewer: New Release Brings Enhanced Features and Farewell to 32-bit Builds

Firestorm Viewer: New Release Brings Enhanced Features and Farewell to 32-bit Builds

Firestorm Viewer, the popular viewer for accessing Second Life, has announced the release of its latest version, Firestorm 6.6.16. The new release includes a range of new inventory features and estate management enhancements, as well as a much less intrusive option for ban lines. The update also marks the end of the 32-bit viewer builds, with the company officially declaring their end-of-life.

The new release brings Firestorm back in alignment with the main Linden Lab (LL) release, with Firestorm 6.6.16 aligning with the most recent Maintenance release from LL. The release includes a host of tweaks and fixes from the Firestorm team, all of which can be found in Whirlyโ€™s comprehensive release notes.

One of the most significant changes is the introduction of new inventory features from the Linden Lab viewer. Inara Peyโ€™s write-up provides more information on these features, while her full coverage offers a more Firestorm-specific update.

The new Firestorm release introduces an exciting new feature to enhance the overall user experience within the virtual world. Users will now have the ability to set preview images for each object in their inventory, providing a visual representation of the item before it is even rezzed in-world.

This new functionality aims to streamline the inventory management process and make it easier for users to identify and locate specific items quickly. With the vast number of objects that users accumulate in Second Life, it can often be challenging to remember the details of each item. However, with the introduction of preview images, users can now rely on visual cues to identify their inventory items at a glance.

The preview images are customizable, allowing users to select an image that best represents the item. Whether it’s a photograph of the object, a logo, or any other image that helps identify the item, users can choose what they feel is most appropriate. This personalization aspect adds an extra layer of individuality to each user’s inventory.

To set a preview image for an object, users can right-click on the item in their inventory and select the “Set Preview Image” option. They will then be prompted to choose an image from their computer or use one from their Second Life snapshot gallery. Once selected, the preview image will be displayed alongside the item in the inventory, making it easily identifiable.

Introducing preview images in Second Life’s inventory management system is a significant step forward in improving usability and organization within the virtual world. It allows users to quickly locate and identify their items, saving time and frustration when searching through a large inventory. Additionally, the ability to personalize these preview images adds a touch of creativity and individuality to each user’s virtual experience.

It is worth noting that the new Firestorm release is not a PBR release. While LL has rolled out its PBR viewer, Firestorm Viewer has not yet released a PBR update. The company has released โ€œAlphaโ€ quality viewers since August to allow for early access and testing. Based on this testing, some issues have been identified and escalated to LL. As a result, Firestorm Viewer will assess the progress and stability of the maintenance updates before committing to a full PBR release.

The end of life for 32-bit builds is an important reason for this update. While the 32-bit viewer for Mac and Linux was dropped several years ago, it was retained for Windows due to a number of people still using hardware and operating systems that could not support the newer 64-bit viewer. However, the 32-bit viewer can only use 4GB RAM anytime, causing issues when dealing with modern complex meshes and highly textured scenes. With no contribution of 32-bit libraries from LL, Firestorm Viewer would have to take on the maintenance of all of these themselves, which is not viable as the number of people using the 32-bit viewer is now negligible.

Around 2.4% of users in October ran the 32-bit viewer at least once; however, none appear to be on 32-bit CPUs. The statistics that LL collects suggest that only a few sessions were run on a true 32-bit OS in October (0.07% to be precise). This tiny number means that most people running the 32-bit viewer can technically launch the 64-bit version.

Per Firestorm Viewerโ€™s normal three-version rule, version 6.6.3 will be blocked in three weeks.

JIRA is a valuable resource to track and account for the many reported bugs and issues. Firestorm Viewer thanks users who take the time to provide polite, complete bug reports via JIRA. A concise description of an issue and accurate, repeatable steps to recreate the problem are essential for a rapid fix.

Overall, Firestorm 6.6.16 is intended as a comparatively small and stable update primarily to mark the end of the life of the 32-bit builds. While it does not include PBR capabilities, it brings a range of new features and enhancements that will improve usersโ€™ experience when accessing Second Life.

Download the New Firestorm Release (Firestorm 6.6.16)

Download

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