interestWell, that was unexpected!

It seems that we’ve been waiting for the Interest List changes to be implemented for as long as we can remember – and throughout, the Labbies have tantalised our enquiries of ‘When?’ with that enigmatic and somewhat irritating response of, ‘Soon!’ 

Then, all of a sudden, without any warning – Blam!!! The Lab announces a brand new ‘Project Interesting Viewer’, incorporating all the Interest List updates and effectively bringing to a close all the shiny and bling that Project Sunshine was intended to deliver – momentous news indeed! (Incidentally, you’ll also find the other ‘alternate’ Official Viewer – finally – with the updated GPU tables on the download page too – if you’ve been using the LL Viewer and having problems with a newish graphics card, this could be your saviour – although it won’t help you if you have an older card that’s struggling to run sl!)

Sorry… i’m in danger of falling into the techy-speak trap, for which i’ve had my virtual knuckles rapped on more than one occasion! For those of you who speak normal English and have no real interest in the Interest List, perhaps i should explain what it is, and why it’s important. It’s a pretty complex thing but, at its most simplistic, the Interest List is the means by which the Simulator, server and viewer haggle with each other to decide exactly what things appear on your screen and in what order. Up until now, it’s a process that’s been geared towards what the server wants to do, rather than what we would like it to do – hence the seemingly random way in which the virtual world appears around us as we travel through it. This is the cause of all those non-existent walls that only rez five minutes after we’ve tried to walk through them, stores that appear to be devoid of any goods until the surrounding countryside has fully rezzed and buildings in the distance that appear, whilst those in our immediate vicinity stubbornly refuse to show themselves.

What the Project Interesting Viewer does is render everything in a more sensible and logical fashion – things that are close to us and larger objects will rez first, whilst stuff we don’t need to see and more distant objects will catch up later in their own good time. As you walk/fly/career out of control in a vehicle through sl, objects will pop up according to their proximity to you which means the scenery will evolve as you pass through it and immediately ahead of you, rather than wherever it feels like – that is, the things you are more immediately interested in will always appear first, hence ‘Interest List’. Theoretically, this should result in a more immediate, immersive and engaging experience with rendering that feels more game-like, (in a good way), than anything we’ve been used to before in sl.

Here’s the downside, though… you’ll need a compatible viewer to reap the benefits and, until the third party devs have had the opportunity to release their own viewers that are able to capitalise upon the new goodies, the only choice is the official Linden Viewer, (or, more specifically, the official Alternate Viewer, until it’s promoted). That, for the anti-Linden brigade and TPV die-hards, is a real pain in the arse bitter pill to swallow, and unfortunately, as new client side innovations continue to be implemented, it’s likely to become an increasingly familiar scenario in the future. 

misali17_001It may not be much of a bugbear for those who gravitate towards a frequently updated viewer, such as Niran’s, but for the vast majority that prefer, for example, Firestorm, who are probably going to have to wait a while for an update, it could be very frustrating… do you stick with the familiar, or go against all your principles and revert to the official Viewer, at least until the TPVs can catch up? Oh, the agony!

What does concern me a little is the possibility that changes like this will prompt a rash of releases of less stable alpha and beta releases to the masses, rushed through before the devs have really had a chance to properly put them through their paces. That’s not a problem, as far as i’m concerned, but i can imagine that there will be enormous pressure put upon developers to achieve results with the bare minimum of quality assurance and knowing how intolerant we sl users tend to be, that’s bound to lead to friction!

As for me, i’m going to take a pragmatic approach and wait. The way i see it, the TPVs will get the code changes, eventually – in the meantime, my experience of sl may not be the best it could be, but it’s no different to what i’m used to and, whilst i’m waiting, it allows time for the inevitable teething troubles to be sorted out before i get to play – seems the best to me, but what do you think?

s. x

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s a little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (better) 
The Beatles – Getting Better

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