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Old 08-11-2018, 10:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question What happened to SL's performance?

Hey all!

I logged in for the first time in 6 months and it takes FOREVER for anything to rez. Someone inworld said that they have moved the Grid to the cloud and performance everywhere has gone to shit. Is this true? Anyone else experiencing this or is it my internet? Thanks!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Could be your net but I'm under the impression SL uses more resources in general than it did even in fairly recent past, in terms of memory and graphics card. Maybe experiment with different viewers too, a lot of people recommend cool vl
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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but I'm under the impression SL uses more resources in general than it did even in fairly recent past

Content creators have been actively working on making SL the most bloated, inefficient game-like program to ever exist. It is getting insanely bad.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Careful that your draw distance isn't unrealistically deep.

Also, for mid-range hardware and network it's no longer practical to download and draw all avatars in all their meshy glory because of all the fabulously inefficient mesh that now hangs off every avatar (moreso in the last 6 months, I think). Hence, if you haven't defined preferences for imposters and limits on rendering complexity it's gonna seem like nothing is loading any time you're in an avatar-rich environment.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Which viewer are you using?
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Careful that your draw distance isn't unrealistically deep.
It was unrealistically deep. Dropped it down to 288 and that helped a lot. Also my LOD Factor was at 2.000 instead of 4.000. That also helped. Things loading much faster. Thanks!
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I tend to stick to 128 on a GTX 1060.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Veritable Quandry View Post
I tend to stick to 128 on a GTX 1060.
Hell, I'm on a 980 on this shared setup and rarely go above 128 meters of Draw Distance ....

Usual settings for Firestorm: Ultra with the above Draw Distance alteration.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Someone inworld said that they have moved the Grid to the cloud and performance everywhere has gone to shit.
This move hasn't happened yet, but is regularly used as a reason for bad performance, It's a good scapegoat, I guess. ;-)
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:07 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Also my LOD Factor was at 2.000 instead of 4.000. That also helped.
No, it didn't, I can promise you that.

Increasing the LoD factor will always increase the lag. Depending on several other factors, the difference may so small it's not even noticeable or it may reduce your frame rate by 50% or more. But increasing the LoD factor will never ever reduce the lag, that's guaranteed.

All the performance boost you got came from reducing the draw distance.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:37 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I was told draw is a sphere and fezzes every texture in it, like the inside of a cigar box 100 m away. Unless you are taking a picture you don’t need that pull, IMO.

Ok “fezzes” was a spell check, but I LIKE the idea of a guy in a tux and red cap twirling the dials
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Old 08-12-2018, 07:32 PM   #16 (permalink)
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No, it didn't, I can promise you that.
It's an easy mistake to make. Push your LoD setting up, and suddenly, all those poorly optimised meshes you thought were taking ages to load pop from cubist nightmare to something identifiable. If you don't know what you're looking for, it can seem like a performance boost.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It's an easy mistake to make. Push your LoD setting up, and suddenly, all those poorly optimised meshes you thought were taking ages to load pop from cubist nightmare to something identifiable. If you don't know what you're looking for, it can seem like a performance boost.
That's a good point, I didn't think of that. I better explain a bit more in detail then.

High LoD factor is not the biggest cause of lag in Second Life but it certainly is on the top ten list. What it does, is partially override the model simplification process that makes it possible for SL to work at all, forcing everything to be rendered at higher detail than necessary, causing extra load on the gpu.

The reason it exists and may be "necessary" (in the broadest definition of the word), is a combination of sloppy programming and sloppy and/or ignorant mesh makers.

When LL developed mesh, the did a horrendously poor job and bodged it seriously. One of the many results of this is that they made it difficult for mesh makers to create models with both good LoD and reasonably low land impact. The result is that Second Life is filled with meshes that not only load slowly with lower LoD settings, they never load properly at all.

There are several fairly simple workarounds though and today any reasonably competent SL mesh maker knows how to make mesh with both low land impact and good LoD models that works perfectly well with LoD factor set even as low as 1 and even half baked mesh makers know how to get their meshes to work with LoD factor 2.

---

Even more in detail:
A typical scene in Second Life is made from millions of little triangles, far more than any graphics processor ever invented can possibly handle in real time. The only reason why Second Life and other "game engines" work at all, is that they have several routines for culling excessive triangles before they load down the gpu too much, and LoD is one of the most important of those routines.

LoD stands for "Level of Detail" and it's about how much details are kept for items that are a little bit away from the point of view. Tiny details aren't actually visible at a distance anyway and you can save your gpu a lot of work by getting rid of those details as early as possible in the rendering process.

In a well made Second Life scene, practically all items are represented by one of their simplified LoD models, usually you only see something in full details when you cam in on it. If the LoD models are well made, this isn't noticeable at all, if they aren't they cause the typical SL LoD disasters.
Unfortunately, LL didn't put much thought into this when they developed mesh and the method they came up with for handling LoD models is crude and primitive to put it mildly. As if that wasn't enough, they added an even cruder and more primitve way for the uploader to automatically generate some seriously dodgy LoD models and they designed the land impact system to actively penalize good LoD and reward "LoD butchery".
---

Fortunately some SL users saw the problem right away and started looking for solution. There turned out to be several good workarounds and most of them are published in the mesh section of the official forum. After seven years with mesh, If you aren't well and truly familair with these workarounds, you're not a skilled mesh maker. Some say that a good mesh needs to work with LoD factor 2. I will actually insist that isn't enough and that a mesh needs to stand up to LoD factor 1 to be suitable for sale. (What happy amateurs make for themselves doesn't count here; it's not fair to expect professional quality from them.)


---


Now, there are two "cheats" and one bug that give us all serious lag problems:

The LoD factor cheat

I think I already explained that


Over-strengthened LoD models
Some mesh makers - including, sadly, all Moles - try to compensate for LL's mistakes by including far too many details in their LoD models. That's not nearly as bad as cheating with the LoD factor but it's still a serious mistake no self-respecting skilled mesh maker should ever make. The most grotesque example of over-strengthened mesh I know of, is the latest LL Premium Gift, the crystal skybox. It is actually strengthened to such a degree that if you are in another skybox half a sim away, your gpu is still forced to handle every single little detail of its interior.


The fitmesh LoD bug
That's the bug, and it's a quantum one in both senses of the word. It's actually a very small mistake but the consequences are overwhelming.
Without going too much into detail, it means that the whole LoD system is all but broken fitted mesh. No matter how small the fited mesh is and no matter how far away the avatar wearing it is from you, your gpu will nearly always try to render it at full detail. A fully fitmesh equipped Second Life avatar can easily be made from more triangles than an entire scene in a modern professional computer game. And more texture pixels too. The result is that mesh avatars are by far the biggest single cause of lag in Second Life. To make matters even worse, the ARC system doesn't catch this. It assumes that the LoD system works as it should for fitted mesh and the result is that the "jellydoll" function is broken, turning perfectly safe low lag avatars into colored silhouettes but ignoring the real lag monsters in the scene.

Last edited by ChinRey; 08-13-2018 at 10:09 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:23 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, LL didn't put much thought into this when they developed mesh and the method they came up with for handling LoD models is crude and primitive to put it mildly. As if that wasn't enough, they added an even cruder and more primitve way for the uploader to automatically generate some seriously dodgy LoD models and they designed the land impact system to actively penalize good LoD and reward "LoD butchery".
Emphasis on the bolded part. Did you mean the distance and size at which models degrade? Because that works quite well. Good LODs with good LI is a mixed bag though, it works great for smaller scaled objects, but becomes a bit of a challenge the larger an object gets.

The larger an object becomes, the more it will be seen at its highest LOD, and the further away you need to be in order for it to degrade. This is why you can have a normal sized vending machine that is 7k triangles with perfect, hand crafted LODs be only 2LI, but if you scale it up, you'd be forcing 7k triangles into the renderer at even a far distance, instead of only up close, hence the LI penalty, and the need for larger objects to have lower triangle counts.

The real problem most run into though is getting the LI into a range that people will actually want to use, this is where most feel forced to compromise. The only up side is the lack of good lower LODs for larger objects often isn't apparent since many people never see them from far away enough in the first place. It's also good to design builds with this in mind, such as blocking views with natural geometry, and making the exteriors and interiors of skyboxes/buildings seperate meshes.

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Old 08-13-2018, 01:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Good LODs with good LI is a mixed bag though, it works great for smaller scaled objects, but becomes a bit of a challenge the larger an object gets.
The trick there is to never mix small and large triangles in the same mesh. You often see inexperienced mesh house makers make large walls with intricate window frames and that is a recipe for disaster. Make the wall and the windows separate meshes and you can get very good LoD with very low land impact.

I could post a lng sit of such techniques here but I'm not going to. And the reason is something I mentioned in the ripped content watch thread:
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To me as an old blue-eyed open source contributor, what bothers me about IP theft most of all, is what it does to open source. Not only does it discredit the idea, it also disheartens the genuine contributors. They get tired of seeing people who never contributed anything at all profit from what they gave away freely in good faith. So either they start building walls to protect their works from exploitation or they just stop creating.
It's exactly the same here. The people who have profited from our work, are the Lindens who should have done the job and are paid to do it, and the content creators who could invest the time they saved not having to do the work themselves, on marketing. A few of the content creators did show honest apreciation of the work we did for them but most never offered as much as a half-hearted thank you. The Lindens never did anything.
So yes, I'm disillusioned, frustrated and quite frankly fed up. I can't speak for the others of course but Optimo has said straight out that he isn't going to build anything for SL anymore. I think Arton, our incurable optimist, still does a little bit of building but not much. Drongle and Aquila seem to have vanished without a trace. They never did much building anyway, they were way too busy helping others.

Everything anybody needs to know about optimizing content for Second Life is posted at the Building and Mesh sections of the official SL forums. Search those forums and look especially for posts by the people I mentioned.

It could be compiled into a big, helpful manual for SL builders but that would be quite some work. I'll do it the day somebody offers me 10,000 dollars for the job - that is: never. I can't imagine anybody else is going to do it for free either.

Oh, and if somebody want a glimpse of how a full sim 700 LI landscape with no LoD issues worth speaking of, low lag and no use of the (often very useful) "hiding with natural geometry" trick can look:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlif...n/129/129/1801
It's not even that brilliant, I made that landscape a few years ago while I was still learning some of the basics.

Last edited by ChinRey; 08-13-2018 at 02:21 PM. Reason: Correcting typos
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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The move to the cloud has started. It is hard to know how much has actually moved. But, we do know the region servers (simulators) have not moved.

I suspect mostly backend stuff that is more standalone. But, the subject hasn't come up lately in any of the user groups.

Assets have been served from the cloud for some time. Plus, they are now run through a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Why one thinks the cloud is slow is never explained. I'll suggest the world isn't moving to the cloud because it makes things slower. As the Lab will not have to be replacing hardware with newer faster hardware on their budget, the cloud people will be upgrading on what I understand is a way more frequent plan than the Lab's. So, better hardware.

The Lindens hope for better performance because they can use servers closer to the users. Like the CDN idea. They can also scale up faster and handle peak loads easier. But, there are interesting challenges.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:51 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I usually do not load people at all unless it is for a picture or I need to see how they look for RP context. As others said - it is due to mesh but also mesh bodies and heads with loads of layers. However, scenery is not better and would say mesh improved loading times in some cases but not when textures are badly done or lumped in one space (imagine an example of loads of clutter with 1024 px textures each). 128 is a good distance, I usually also turn advanced lighting off unless taking photos - it is nice eye candy and shadows but I prefer loading stuff.



On a weird note - I noticed same thing in Firestorm 64 bit and for me it went even weirder: had LoD at 2 and lagged to hell and back, when I changed it to 8 - smootheness galore (it was the only setting I changed). I presume unloaded things somehow caused viewer to slow down or glitch? It happened about 2 years ago though and on NVidia 750Ti, on I had no such thing happen but Firestorm is generally slow for me so I barely use it. Could have been a specific version bug as seems illogical plus I recall similar thing happening in yet older one just with advanced lighting (sans shadows) - got lag without it and perfectly fine with it on (again - not happened since).
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:56 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Assets have been served from the cloud for some time. Plus, they are now run through a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Not all assets. Only textures and mesh assets were moved to a cloud hosted CDN network in 2014 (or possibly early 2015). Earlier this year LL announced they were starting to migrate other assets to the cloud too. I don't know how far they've come on that project.


Contrary to what many seem to believe, there is no big difference between traditional server hosts and the cloud. A traditional host has all their servers located in one big server park. A cloud host has the servers spread out in several parks all over the world but not that many. Akamai is the biggest cloud host and also the one LL use for Second Life (but not for Sansar - Sansar is hosted by AWS). They have "only" 25 server parks.


Cloud hosting makes a lot of sense for assets. The idea is that there is a copy (I think it's called a "node") of the database at each server park and the viewer fetches them from the nearest one, reducing transfer time considerably. There are two problems though. The SL assets database is HUGE. Ebbe once mentioned there are 25 billion items listed in it. There is no way it can all be stored at every single location. When a node is asked for an asset it doesn't have in store, it has to retrieve it from the master node first and that of course slows things down. Also, the assets database isn't static, it changes all the time and every time an asset is modified, all nodes that has it listed need to be updated.
Hosting the assets on the cloud can speed up content delivery considerably but getting it right is rather complicated and it may not work for all kinds of assets so there's no wonder it's taking some time to implement.


The sim servers is a completely different matter. You can't have active copies of the same sim hosted across the world. If a person from Japan and a person from Texas happen to be in the same sim at the same time, they need to be connected to the same server, you can't have the Japanese connected to the East Asian copy and the Texan to the midwest U.S. one. Adjacent sims also need to communicate a lot with each other and that only really works well if the servers they are on are close to each other in RL.

Last edited by ChinRey; 08-14-2018 at 07:53 AM. Reason: Typos again
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:16 AM   #23 (permalink)
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On a weird note - I noticed same thing in Firestorm 64 bit and for me it went even weirder:
If you get weird and unpredictable lag problems, first look at the weird and unpredicatble cause of lag: the Maximum bandwidth setting.
On Firestorm you find it in the Network & Files tab in preferences, on the regular SL viewer it's in the Setup tab.

The best setting depends on your computer, your connection and the weather in Kuala Lumpur on the day your maternal grandmother was born so you have to fiddle a bit with it to find the "sweet spot". It's usually somewhere between 500 and 1500 and setting it too high tends to be worse than setting it too low.

An overloaded sim can also cause client side lag since the viewer will have to wait for the server to respond and often resend requests before it reacts. Simulator overload doesn't always show up in the Ctrl+Shift+1 Statistics window btw. There may be a lot of activity going on during what is listed there as "spare time".

Edit:
Two more tips for a smoother and more pleasant SL experience:

Advanced Lighting Mode (ALM) usually reduces the frame rate considerably. But there are a few things it handles faster and there are some rare occasions when you can actually increase your frame rate by switching it on.

High frame rate is not the only thing that matters anyway. Stability is at least as important. Most people will perceive a stable 20 fps as less laggy than an fps that jumps wildly between 40 and 100. Firestorm allows you to set a maximum frame rate (Preferences -> Graphics -> Rendering). Set that limit to something you know is realistic to achieve and not higher than what you really need.

Last edited by ChinRey; 08-14-2018 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 08-14-2018, 11:17 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChinRey View Post
If you get weird and unpredictable lag problems, first look at the weird and unpredicatble cause of lag: the Maximum bandwidth setting.
On Firestorm you find it in the Network & Files tab in preferences, on the regular SL viewer it's in the Setup tab.

The best setting depends on your computer, your connection and the weather in Kuala Lumpur on the day your maternal grandmother was born so you have to fiddle a bit with it to find the "sweet spot". It's usually somewhere between 500 and 1500 and setting it too high tends to be worse than setting it too low.

An overloaded sim can also cause client side lag since the viewer will have to wait for the server to respond and often resend requests before it reacts. Simulator overload doesn't always show up in the Ctrl+Shift+1 Statistics window btw. There may be a lot of activity going on during what is listed there as "spare time".

Edit:
Two more tips for a smoother and more pleasant SL experience:

Advanced Lighting Mode (ALM) usually reduces the frame rate considerably. But there are a few things it handles faster and there are some rare occasions when you can actually increase your frame rate by switching it on.

High frame rate is not the only thing that matters anyway. Stability is at least as important. Most people will perceive a stable 20 fps as less laggy than an fps that jumps wildly between 40 and 100. Firestorm allows you to set a maximum frame rate (Preferences -> Graphics -> Rendering). Set that limit to something you know is realistic to achieve and not higher than what you really need.

I wish there was any logic behind that but did change bandwidth settings loads of times in hope old ADSL connection decided to act like it was 2016 (changed since then) but the only effect was seen when under 512 and it obviously slowed down (at least that worked right). The saving grace was flushing DNS cache and changing DNS to Google's - it let me run SL without 100 crashes back then. Firestorm also disliked any frame limits - be it driver or viewer wise as tried capping it at 30, 60, 90 and 120. All of that applies to older versions anyway, I just found it peculiar that performance deteriorated when trying to decrease quality plus that someone might have had similar error. Any idea what ALM handles faster as no idea on that.
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Old 08-15-2018, 12:53 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Just let me make and sell a mesh body that loads like shit because I do not know how to design correctly. Then attach a bunch of clothes that load by the time I finish baking a potato, then of course 20 penises on my avatar.
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