I Derryth

Rowan Derryth's Virtual Adventures

Living with Lag

A cool grey world.

A cool grey world.

Last night, while walking around a corner in my lovely SL home, I crashed.

And I don’t mean, like, SL logged me out. I mean, like, my computer turned itself off. And then came back on and said in several languages, basically, ‘I couldn’t deal any longer and panicked.’ Sad face.

Let me say up front that I know the reason my virtual experience is so sad and slow is that I am doing it via a 3+ year old MacBook Pro. But when I started SL, my machine was brand new, the viewer was old, and everything was rather peachy. But in the new-fangled world of browser-like viewers and mesh, my poor wee machine is struggling. And while I’d love to rush out and get a shiny new one, it isn’t the right time, and I’m not going to shell out the ducats just for SL (sorry SL).

So I’ve been living with lag for quite a while now. Much of my virtual experience is grey and slow to rez, and everyone’s movements are choppy and stilted. But if I am patient and stand somewhere long enough, my would becomes lovely and vivid, and I’m pleased to be there. As such, I definitely limit my experience to places that are worth the wait, like art installations (and which are much lower lag than shopping events!)

But see, that was my SL, I didn’t know any different. That is, until this last Christmas when I had the chance to login on my dear friend (the Cheeky Pea herself) Isla Gealach’s gorgeous 27″ desktop. Isla has NO LAG. I actually had no idea that when you tp’ed somewhere, it could be instant… and when you cammed around, it could all go in a blur. I was enthralled, then I was in despair. How would my SL ever be acceptable after this?

After a manic episode of almost ordering a Mac mini on the spot (I’ll be a Mac user til I die, so I’m not having that debate here, to each their own), I came to my senses. I’ve been living with lag for a while now, and I would certainly survive it.

But since the new year, it’s been particularly bad… and I was somewhat relieved this week to learn that I wasn’t alone. On Tuesday, when I went to preview Bryn Oh’s wonderful new exhibit ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’, SL was entirely borked for all of us… it’s been a mess since, and then last night, the computer thing. When I restarted, Firestorm wouldn’t start AT ALL. So I said f*ck it and loaded up the SL viewer.

Guess what? I’m sort of ok.

PJ and I went back and finished Bryn’s exhibit (and you HAVE TO GO IT IS AMAZING), and it was FINE. I was even able to navigate some of her trickier paths (because when you are regularly laggy, sharp turns and curving stairs are a bitch!). So now I’m suspicious that the problem is Firestorm for mac, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that.

I’ve had other random issues, such as mesh walls not rezzing until I uncheck basic shaders in my graphics (and then check again and it’s fine). But this wee ramble which is in service of not a lot is basically just to make a plea for content creators: please remember those of us who live with lag?

For example, I am wandering around a major and popular store right now which will not let me fly or tp from A to B in their HUGE store. I get that you want me to walk by all your stuff, but 1) it isn’t rezzing fast enough for me to see, and 2) I just get frustrated when I have to walk back through, downstairs, and around to the next store when I’m even a bit laggy.

Please, remember and be kind to those of us who live with lag.

3 comments on “Living with Lag

  1. Saunder Hand
    January 13, 2013

    I have been having similar thoughts recently. I spent about 30 minutes trying to get up the staircases in Brynn’s new exhibit, and once I did, found myself in a more or less linear narrative, and teleported away in frustration. Brynn says it’s part of the work, but I think that there’s precious little thought given to those of us whose machines or connections can’t hack the fine movements she requires to get around her installation. I can’t even comment on the merits of the work because the technical necessities frustrated me to the point of being unable to process what she was trying to do. Does one HAVE to jump in such a place where failing to properly time it will result in five minutes of repeated work and walking? Must appearing stair-steps only appear when one is exactly at the edge of the stair, leading to frequent falls? I may return later when I’m less frustrated, but it’s disappointing to feel that the installation is fighting against my immersion.

    • Rowan Derryth
      January 13, 2013

      Thanks for your comment Saunder, I feel like that too, although I also love the game-like aspects of Bryn’s approach. To be fair, when we were there Tuesday night and the lag was so terrible, I was explaining to her that although I loved the concept, it was practically impossible for me to get to the build. She listened, and now there are four options to get you to the top to ‘start’ the story. Did you see the flying chair? There might be a tp too. She also did away with some other things which were prohibitive, such as figuring out and saying a password (‘I do’) to get past the reception area. I loved this, but Bryn mentioned that she realised this wasn’t fair to non-English speakers. She also added scripts to her poems so that they showed up in local chat, for translators to help.

      It is down to what works… Rose also uses a moving stairs script, but hers was much smoother, and also wasn’t built to be a challenge like Bryn’s. That isn’t a criticism, just a different approach. I do realise it is tricky because obviously creators want to work with the very latest and best tech & scripts, and I support that. I just hope that those of us who love the work can also keep up.

  2. Saunder Hand
    January 13, 2013

    I went this morning, when it was busy but not terribly so. I attempted three of the four options (stairs, spiral, chair), and was unable to find the fourth, although Bryn did tell me that one existed. Entering into the exhibit proved so difficult for me, though, that by the time I finally did get past the climb, I was not in an emotional state where I was able to properly appreciate the work, and promptly left. Usually I am all for cheerleading in the virtual world (there’s too little work done in general not to encourage the stuff that does get made), but in this instance, Bryn has screwed up. I will certainly go back, because eventually I want to understand how my difficulty was cohesively necessary to the experience of the work, but right now it just feels like an unnecessary aesthetic tack-on.

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2013 by in SL Technicals, Virtual Ramblings.

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