Tip of the Week #30: Graphics Preferences Guide

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to use the Graphics Preferences and what all those options do! Related, some compatibility issues are alleviated by clicking the “Custom” checkbox and disabling specific options. As witnessed in Pastrami’s 1.19.1 viewer post and the subsequent comments, it’d be most helpful to have more explanation. So today’s tip is ALL ABOUT THAT!


Here’s an index of this very special ~half-hour programme:

  • 00:23 – Opening the Graphics Preferences
  • 01:11 – Exploring Custom options
  • 02:05 – What are shaders, shiny, & bump mapping?
  • 05:11 – Water Reflections
  • 08:04 – Draw Distance
  • 08:47 – Max. Particle Count
  • 09:11 – Post Process Quality (Glow)
  • 10:00 – Mesh Detail sliders
  • 15:58 – Using local lights
  • 17:37 – Hardware Skinning & Avatar Cloth
  • 19:21 – Customization tips ‘n’ tricks
  • 19:56 – Hardware Options featuring antialiasing!
  • 23:44 – Avatar Impostors boost performance
  • 26:34 – YOU HAVE THE POWER!

Show notes:

  • This video tutorial was filmed in 1.20 RC, hence the different “Dazzle” colors โ€” if you’re on 1.19.1, most of the stuff works the same with the notable exceptions of Antialiasing and Statistics Bar’s appearance. And yeah, I know how crashy the Release Candidate is for some of you… that’s why I crashed in the middle of making it! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We hope to have those kinks fixed soon; I don’t just feel your pain, I live it โ€” and the same is true for the joys you experience.
  • Re: Anisotropic Filtering, since it was hard to get a pristine image due to video compression, click to enlarge this and pay attention to the crispness of textures at angles (big image, give it some time to load):
    Anisotropic Filtering ON vs. OFF
  • Trivia: About 2 years ago before we had a fine Documentation Team (Jon, Jeremy, & Kate who do the Knowledge Base Article of the Week), I wrote & edited the early Graphics Preferences article. And here I am doing a video… I love a good followup.
  • For tech details on some of the above features, check out the Team WindLight podcast.

Coming up next: SPACENAVIGATOR (3d mouse) video tutorials!

Torley Linden https://i0.wp.com/torley-linden.s3.amazonaws.com/little-watermelon-eye.png
     Watch more video tutorials & subscribe on YouTube!

About Torley

Who am I? See http://torley.com/
This entry was posted in Community, Creativity & Ideas, Resident Experience, Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Tip of the Week #30: Graphics Preferences Guide

  1. Geister Pfeffer says:

    What i dont found is how can i vie Second life in my desktop size, i cannto switch to 1600×1200, the maximum what the new viewe shows to me is 800×600, this is riduculous.
    Wit last preview, it comes from alone but now.. and in normal viewer to, i cannot change the resolution, not in full screen too.
    but anyway, ty for the tutorials :o)

  2. ts is total gibberish to many of us… so please just make it work if you can ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. , please read *this*? ty ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Joel Ra says:

    This would be handy if i could actually log in,
    main and alt accounts have been stuck now for
    over 4 hours :/

  5. Vylixan Fallon says:

    Thanx Torley , to bad no one can use your tutorials and videofeeds now, SL is down.

    But I do appriciate all the cool work you’ve put in to create all the nice feeds.

  6. Lady Georgette says:

    My acct has been stuck inworld for around 9 hours now! This is the 2nd time it has happened

  7. Paddy Wright says:

    Torley, can I have your babies?

  8. ThorIronRod Outlander says:

    Love your tutorials. They are so easy to understand and so practical! Keep up the GREAT work!

  9. Cliff Dieffenbach says:

    You accidentally on purpose walked up to the dancer and didn’t even tip.


    Thanks for that breakdown Torley.

  10. ac14 hutson says:

    the new windlight viewer gave me a headache. i had to darken all the images to fix it.poor choice for those of us who use secondlife more then 30 minutes a day.’

    but great video. i hate when pepole complain they are lagging , then when you tell them to turn down graphics. they have no idea what your talking about.

  11. Angelina Sinclair says:

    @2 watch the video, that should help explain it all. ^^

  12. Venus says:

    I love the windlight. it doesnt crash my laptop, and runs great
    however on my super duper desktop, I have weird triangles sprouting from objects. If I fiddle with setting it goes away for 10-15 minutes, then comes back. its more annoying than anything. anyone have any pointers?

  13. Hey Torley, awsome tutorial, answered like 100 issues since the new SL viewer update!! Keep up the good work!

  14. Jesse Snoke says:

    help us with content theft!!!!!!!!

  15. Marcus Llwewllyn says:

    @12 Venus

    You’ve run into a known bug. There is a way to fix it for now. Go to your Graphics preferences, and look for the Hardware Options button. When you click that, you’ll get a new window called Hardware Settings. In that window, look for a check box called “Enable OpenGL Vertex Buffer Objects” This is on be default… make sure it is *not* checked. That will stop the triangular horde from appearing, with the tradeoff of a bit of a framerate drop.

    This bug is in JIRA as VWR-3258, and seems to be a problem with ATI’s video card drivers. My understanding is that Zen Linden has been working with ATI to get this fixed. Anyone interested in keeping an eye on this issue will find it here… http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-3258

  16. Chrysala Desideri says:

    omf rushing off to fix the horrible glow i get on older pv since WL went main , i had no idea there was something in preferfences for it besides turning shaders off completely!

    thanks torley, just extended a pc’s SL life i think.

    friendly salutations!

  17. Mimi says:

    Windlight looks great on empty land but its awfull on buildings or inside homes.
    I have a white home with nice detailed textures but windlight washes out the ones that have light on them completely: they become almost plain white or orange, the texture is no longer visible. It looks awfull.

  18. Chrysala Desideri says:

    nope… my ATI R-1650 has all glow enabled objects burnt out as if glow could be set to 10. regardless of actual glow setting, and post process makes no difference. is this another ATI issue?

    i make note that the RC4 worked like a chram and glow was perfect even on the older pc, this burning out has been on main viewer and newer RC w/dazzle.

  19. Another great tutorial, Torley! I was at Pastrami’s big public WindLight meeting yesterday; it was clear from the comments that this tutorial will be a big help to a lot of residents.

  20. Angelina Sinclair says:

    @17 Go back to your built and edit it. You should see a option some where that says “Full bright”

    It should be towards the color box, just under the transparent feature. Check that off and your textures shouldn’t be effected by the lighting.

    That’s about the only thing I can think of for now to fix that.

  21. rush gastel says:

    what can i say love windlight
    love the video tutorialsstill learn bit from then.
    but hate the new viewer layout and colours
    can youmake the next video tutorial on how to alter them

    kiss kiss

  22. Faded Dagostino says:

    It’s handy everyone can change their preferences. The downside is that everyone will see things differently. Alot of people like to know how their avi looks to others. But yeah, everyone looks the same these wearing all the same stolen skins . lol

  23. Vivienne says:

    Fixing the preferences will not help this huge piece of buggy software at all.

    Withdraw ii and make it RUN, technically and aestthetically, on mainstream computer systems, instead of throwing such far from working stuff on your customers. Not your fault, Torley, but working on the symptoms alone does not cure the basic desease.

  24. Pingback: 1.19.1 Office Hours- 4 HOURS of fun! « Official Second Life Blog

  25. I have my own TIP OF THE WEEK

    fix money its not working again!!!!!!

    fix money its not working again!!!!!!

    fix money its not working again!!!!!!

    fix money its not working again!!!!!!

    fix money its not working again!!!!!!

  26. Argent Stonecutter says:

    The problem with “full bright” is that it turns off all directional lighting and makes the object as bright as if ambient lighting was set to 100%.

    There needs to be a way to turn off sun/moon lighting for a volume. I proposed one alternative… to turn them off when more then some percentage of the sky centered on the sun was completely obscured, indicating that you were “inside” and that only ambient lighting and local lighting should be applied. I can’t find it in Jira now, because Jira is down.

  27. Whichway Janus says:

    IT would be useful to point out that _none_ of these changes effect the load on the server, they are all client side.

  28. Sumiko Yokosuka says:

    I just downloaded the new release candidate viewer. The bottom toolbar looks like something out of AOL (ugh!), but the top toolbar is much easier to read now. I would really like to see you revise that bottom toolbar because it is really ugly. And who wants their site to remind people of AOL?

    Also, the new inventory look is harder to read than then old one. So you need to change that, too.

    Finally, to all the landowners who got screwed in LL’s decision to put lots of cheap land on sale while also being afflicted by technical hiccups: what I am afraid of as just an average consumer is that this stuff will chase off creative people who have enabled me to have such a great time during my short time (only about four months) on SL. That will degrade my experience as well as that of other residents, making SL less attractive to people like me.

    What I would recommend to LL is to create in world focus groups to run some of your ideas by before you decide to pull the trigger on them just to gauge the possible reactions to them. That will make more of the people affected feel like their opinions count and it may prevent debacles such as the diffusion of cheaper land decision. The blog is great, but the decisions are announced as a fait accompli right now and thus, really, the blog really doesn’t do any good other than make people madder since you will carry out a bad decision even with angry reactions conveyed in the blog’s posts.

    In any relationship, the worst thing is not being listened to. LL needs to improve their ability to listen and truly make this more collaborative rather than just a slightly modified version of the imperious top down behavior of most corporations.

  29. Tegg B says:

    Any chance of a Tutorial on the new joystict controls Torley? ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. french hi says:

    good evening this vesrion is brilliant impecable is better than the other graphics are prettier of l’ interface except l’ inventory or one does not distinguish well the object atacher and not atacher but Ca n’ is not a problem thank you for this video can our own site Web it be to publish on?

  31. Dytska Vieria says:

    Antialiasing is built-in! That’s great ๐Ÿ™‚ I think.

  32. Raven Primeau says:

    A wonderful idea posting this torley, lots of things to try out. Just one eensie problem though NO one can log in to try it out!

    whaddya know, its Friday the blogs full of info post from LL and surprise surprise the grid is Borked.

    Also I wonder if its an LL conspiracy with these new viewers that I cant rip the local & IM chat apart anymore or that the viewer resets itself and I have to set my preferences each time I log, including that *Voice* garbage.

  33. Mar says:

    Best tutorial yet! Since I take a great deal of screenshots in-world, this is going to help make them look a lot better. And even though I *know* it must happen to the Lindens as well as to the rest of us, it was rather nice to see you keep the crash in the vid, rather than excising it in order to show a more ‘perfect’ view of Second Life. I personally value honesty like that, and I’m sure many other end users do, too.

    Thanks again, Torley: the light of my Second Life ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Vivienne says:

    26:34 – YOU HAVE THE POWER!

    Unfortunately we diรณ not have this, if we had, half of the so-alled “love machine” would have been fired some time ago.

    I really wanna see who of the bunch will survive the new CEO. I bet it wonยดt be the viewer development department. And certainly not the ones responsible for the release of this crap.

  35. Veronica Quackenbush says:

    Am I the only one relishing the irony that even LL’s own Torley is crashing now? ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe if the Lindens themselves start crashing even on their own obscenely souped up machines, they’ll stop pumping up the viewer so those of us who have to use what only LL calls low-end machines (the rest of us call them average fairly well equipped pcs that were state of the art 6 months ago) have to grind along at 12 frames per minute.

    @10 ac

    “i hate when pepole complain they are lagging , then when you tell them to turn down graphics. they have no idea what your talking about.”

    aww, my heart bleeds for you

    Personally, I’m not wild about it when I am lagging at 0.4 fps and some friendly soul tells me to dial down my draw distance to 128 when I’ve already got it set at 64, but I would not dream of holding that against them, let alone being snide about it. They are trying to help me and they deserve thanks for that even if their well-meant efforts are not actually helpful because everything they suggest I’ve already tried months ago–and believe me, I am no longer meeting people who can suggest any workarounds that I didn’t try long ago or am not filthy rich enough to buy the hardware for (and before you accuse me of penny pinching, I spent 6 weeks’ income on buying new more powerful hardware *which did not help get rid of lag either*)

    Speaking of workarounds, I recently made a mindnumbingly counterintuitive discovery, and I’ve been combing the JIRA trying to figure out the best way to share it, since it is not so much a bug as a counterbug–the exact opposite of a bug in fact. In a nutshell, *running multiple instances of the client REDUCES deep freezelag*

    I am not kidding. I discovered this by accident when 1.19.1 became “mandatory” I installed 1.19, but kept a backup version of so I could switch back if 1.19 turned out to be too buggy.

    Not entirely unexpectedly, the usual snafu applied: although my *peak* framerates under 1.19 did increase somewhat to about 25 fps, the troughs of intermittent freezelag were longer and deeper (0.1 fps, or rather 24 spf or less, often for 4 minutes or more). I had resigned myself to the usual workarounds (building by the numbers rather than by mouse, staying in areas with sufficient open ground or friendly avatars to autopilot to, or with sufficient objects with sit targets I could drag focus and “sit around” to) when I accidentally launched 1.18 while I was already running 1.19. Rather to my surprise, this did not crash me as it usually had in the past, so I decided I might as well log in one of my alts to compare performance. My experience was, to say the least, very counterintuitive.

    Basically, running two viewers (of different versions) at the same time “smoothed out” my lag: my *peak* framerate dropped to about 8 fps, but at the same time my lag troughs *shallowed* to about 3 fps, which is not exactly ideal but it sure beats 20-second stills.

    I am not enough of a geek to begin imagining what this means, but one thing I am pretty sure about: whatever causes the grinding several-seconds-per-frame freezelag that at least occasionally poisons the SL experience of nearly every resident I have met, it is not simply linearly related to load. Running more than one copy of the viewer at the same time is surely a heavier load on any computer than running a single copy of the viewer–AND YET THE REALLY DEEP FREEZELAG SHALLOWS OUT WHEN THIS EXTRA LOAD IS IMPOSED.

    Any suggestions on how best to report on this counterbug in the JIRA would be welcome, because the last thing I would want LL to do is to get rid of it ๐Ÿ˜› I now keep an alt in world constantly for the sole purpose of smoothing out freezelag for the one of me who is actually working. I know it probably adds a teensy weensy bit of lag for everyone else, but I am not going to apologize for it; personally, I prefer a little more evenly distributed lag to brief peaks of screaming fast performance separated by long depressing troughs of grinding freezelag.

  36. shaq Merlin says:


    In the new Dazzle imported to the Release Candidate I even don’t see menu and options !!! See this bug http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-6411


  37. Nedrae Messmer says:

    Haven’t finished watching it yet, but how come your tools menu is showing in your video, and not in the 1.20 RC I’m running at the moment?

  38. Uccello Poultry says:

    Another great tutorial, Torley! Here I thought I had explored everything in the Graphics options, but thanks to you I ran across some new things. Such as I shouldn’t ever touch Gamma (eep!) at all and that the viewer wasn’t using all my Macintosh’s video memory.

    Something I’d like to point out, though, is that with or without Avatar Impostors, viewer performance will take a hit for every avatar in view. I hear complaints from folks all the time “this place is soooo laggy” and they laugh when I tell them the lag is a sign of popularity. They stop laughing when I teach them to zoom around to see the difference fewer avies in view makes or when I show them how to hide avatars completely (Advanced > Rendering > Types > Character).

    Take care, Torley! And keep up the great work!

  39. Oh, thank heavens… if *Torley* is crashing as much as I am, I know there’s nothing I can do ’til it’s fixed. ๐Ÿ˜€

  40. Torian says:

    Nice tutorial but it will go over the head of 90% of the users. Us geeks are fine with your stuff, but we are in the minority.

    On thing Torley.. LL needs to make their minds up. In some posts we see things about “making SL more accessible for first time users” Then we see things like this and the removal of things like the Voice Setup Wizard, and the Streaming Media notifications in the client. This just makes things more difficult.

    A year ago people I told about SL downloaded the client and loved it. Most of those have stuck around. In the last 6 months, everyone I have got to try it has only stuck around for a day or two. Crashing on logon does not make a good first impression.

    Oh.. and turn off Dazzle, even you are now admitting that it’s a bad client.

  41. Naptastic says:

    What level of anisotropic filtering is being applied with it being turned on? As you know graphics drivers give an option to control this from off over 2x up to 16x. Just curious, because since it’s anything lower than 16x, I will force 16x with the driver.

    And concerning the new (much appreciated) antialiasing setting.
    I take it the selectable levels all refer to MSAA, please clarify!? Is there any support for CSAA, SSAA etc. (from inside SL, of course, it can all be forced with the driver)?

  42. Domchi Underwood says:

    Torley, I’m so eagerly waiting for SpaceNavigator tutorials… I’ve had it for some time now, submitting bugs and watching SL support for it improve, and was in for a nice surprise when I downloaded the latest Dazzle viewer.

    It works wonderfully now, and I hope you will be able to show the vastness of freedom of movement you get in SL with SpaceNavigator, especially when building or shopping (not to mention machinima). With Windlight and SpaceNavigator, I’ve spent hours just moving my camera around. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. And no, I’m associated with 3Dconnexion (the makers of SpaceNavigator) in any way.

  43. Georgette Whitfield says:

    Woohoo! We got to see up Torley’s skirt!!! Yayzerama!

  44. Winter Ventura says:

    What software do you use to make these tutorials?

    Not the CLIENT, I know that’s Dazzle. What are you using to record the videos?

  45. Andrew Scott says:

    Torley Linden sings Philip Glass’ greatest hits!

    ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good one Torley. Pretty intensive stuff there. Thanks

  46. Resse Brane says:

    Stop texture theft and prim copiers

  47. Linnie says:

    Dear Torley please use the official view when doing tutorial about the UI. What you use in this video i guess is the canidate view, i have no antialasing in the hardware settings like you say it is. Nor do i have that kind of color and look on my UI… but if it’s that AOL looking as #28 say then i’m actually happy.

    Other than that great video, it helped me to tweak my settings to run smooth even in crowded sims. One request tho… when will we get the options to save varous preferences settings so we can have one for laggy sims, one for photoshots, one for romantic evenings with my love… and so on :)))

  48. torley, could you do a vidtut as to why i/we cant log right now? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  49. Max Kleiber says:

    An excellent tutorial as always, but a thought occurs to me:
    Personally, I prefer a “set it and forget it” approach to using SL.
    It strikes me that what’s necessary with the current crop of viewers is to constantly change settings in order to function in different situations.

    Furthermore, since SL is a communication platform.. that means people.
    Seeing people, talking to people, working with people.
    Avatar impostors? this says to me,”Hey people, I don’t care how much time, effort, and money you’ve put into your avatars. Look how pretty the water is.”
    Granted, they will improve viewer performance, but at the cost of sacrificing the basic purpose of Second Life.

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  51. Suzanne says:

    This was excellent! Easy to understand and apply. Very useful too!

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  56. Mikey says:

    This was excellent

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