Welcome to the first day of the rest of your Second Life!
The Client menu is jam-packed with hidden goodies which can help enhance the usability and enjoyability of your Second Life. If you’ve never heard of it before, or consider yourself non-technical and are feeling kind of intimidated already, don’t worry — I’m going to guide you through the highlights of 10 debug options that’ve enriched my day-to-day activities inworld.
Before we go further, I do have to precaution you that doing what I’m going to describe is at your own risk. We don’t offer any support if something goes wrong — some of what’s in the Client menu has sharp edges, and like the knife drawer, that’s why it’s closed by default. So if you’re willing to experiment, please understand that you run the risk of getting cut, but if you feel comfortable with handling these tools on your way to becoming a master chef of the Client menu, then come along with me. 🙂
A little history…
If you’re wondering why it’s called the “Client menu”, “Client” here refers to the Second Life viewer program you’re running on your side, which accesses Linden Lab’s side, the Servers (also the name of the menu next to it that’s disabled if you’re not a Linden).
The Client menu formerly used to be called the Debug menu, and occasionally, you may still see it referred to as such. The reason for the change coincided with our Open Source initiative early in 2007, when we cleaned up the menus and encouraged community contributors to tap deeper into the secrets of Second Life so our platform can be improved.
Long story short, the general purpose of a Debug menu is to provide programmer-facing features not intended for the general public that assist us in reducing problems in the program (hence, DE-bug). But even we can’t resist including some Easter Eggs, as you’ll see.
How to get started
The Client menu’s just a keystroke away: Ctrl-Alt-D on Windows and Linux, or Cmd-Ctrl-D on a Mac. (Note that some other programs may use this shortcut, like Google Desktop, so you may have to press Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D to enable it.)
To the right of the familiar Help menu, you should see it!
The menu items!
10. Quiet Snapshots to Disk – Are you an avid shutterbug like me? Concerned that passerby will find the frequent whirrrr-click! of your screen captures annoying? Just select this option to enable it (it’ll have an X next to it when it’s on), and you can happily use File menu > Take Snapshot or Snapshot to Disk without the accompanying animation and sound.
9. Debug Permissions – Permissions are a complicated beast. But by turning this on, you can have added foresight into the finer details of who can do what with a particular item. Where do you see this info? Whenever you edit an object inworld or right-click and get Properties on an item in your inventory.
So what do those extra flags mean? Developer Kelly Linden explains more in a forum post, and while I can’t directly link to a Knowledge Base article (sure wish I could!), head for the Support Portal, login, and search for “Debug Permissions”.
8. Rendering > Cheesy Beacon – Ever thought the red locator beacon to locate a place or person looked a bit wimpy and hard to see? By turning this on, you’ll enable an animated shockwave effect with a pulsing core that has the oomph of 100 freakin’ lightsabers.
(picture slightly enhanced for dramatic purposes)
7. World menu > Mouse Moves Sun – Second Life gives you a lot of power. One aspect of that is being able to change your local time of day at will (meaning you can see the changes but no one else does) via World menu > Force Sun. But what if you want finer controls? Enable Mouse Moves Sun, then go into mouselook (press “M” when chat bar is closed, or View menu > Mouselook) and move the mouse around. When you’re satisfied, leave mouselook by pressing Esc. With some luck jiggling, you may even be able to achieve a mythical black sun!
6. Character > Slow Motion Animations – Ever find yourself frustrated while taking action shots or doing model photography because your subject matter just happened to suddenly change poses, ruining your perfect shot? Fret no more! Enable this, and everyone will look a lot more mellow. Bonus: it stops the default walk and run from looking so spazzy, too.
5. Character > Rebake Textures – Have you ever noticed that your avatar has weird blotches, lines, stripes, or other visual glitches that weren’t there just minutes ago? This is a popular workaround until such time we have a better solution. It won’t cure all avatar texture woes (especially if you actually have a more serious problem like an overheating graphics card), but it’s worth a go.
If rebaking works as desired, your avatar will get blurry for a sec, then crisp up again, sans artifacts. It’s like going to the dry cleaners without taking your clothes off! This will soon get a keyboard shortcut, complements of VWR-353.
4. Disable Camera Constraints – Simply turn this off, and you’ll find you can move the camera a lot further — try clicking the ground while holding Alt key (Opt key on Mac), and observe how much further you can see. Handy for builders working on epic projects and intrepid explorers in search of new adventures. Just don’t use it to peep on Residents in a private area and say “I’m watching you!”, that’s creepy and harassment is against Community Standards. :p
3. Joystick Flycam – This one’s a whole suite unto its own. Runitai Linden (who also did the cheesy beacon) added this feature, which is tremendously useful for smooth flythroughs of places when making machinima, or other creative purposes.
Read the instructions to learn more. While there isn’t a list of “approved” devices to use it with, most quality USB joysticks should work, and in the spirit of 3D, you may want to check out the SpaceNavigator.
2. Mouse Smoothing – If you enjoy being in 1st-person view, aka mouselook (see above!), this will smooth your view as you move the mouse, which should enhance the feel of being in motion. It also works when clicking and dragging on your avatar in 3rd-person view, aka mouse steering. Best way to understand this one is to try it out — if you’re accustomed to games which use mouse smoothing, chances are you’ll appreciate it, and like many of these options, it’s just a switch away!
1. Debug Settings – You’ve come this far, and what do we have at the end of this journey? A veritable Swiss army knife, a smorgasbord of veritable debug options!
- PlayTypingAnim – Ever want to disable that typing animation and sound that plays every time you start text-chatting? Setting this to FALSE is your answer.
- UISndObjectCreate – Frustrated by the bass-rumbling ROWWWWL that plays when you rez a prim, even when the the UI sounds are muted in Preferences? Just blank this field and future object creation will be pleasantly silent.
More of my faves are here. Also, before some features are ready for prime-time in the viewer, like “RenderGlow” which will eventually be a standard build option come WindLight, they’re unlockable in Debug Settings. You may find out more about these undocumented features from fellow Residents, so keep your ears open on the virtual street. 😉
Debug Settings’ dropdown list is very long, but if you know what you’re looking for and start typing, it’ll autocomplete. Each setting has a blurb from our devs about what it does, so you won’t be totally lost, and there’s a handy “Reset to default” button you can click, should something go astray.
(No post-processing here… taken live in SL!)
Hopefully, using the above during the course of your everyday Second Life will make it that much richer. Bon appétit!
These aren’t the only 10 debug options worth knowing about. Got faves I didn’t mention? Leave a comment with your reasons why!
Viva la Second Life!