Thursday, July 10, 2008

Random Thoughts on Shadows

I haven't seen a lot of screenshots from the shadow client (and it won't work with my graphics card), so this blew me away. It's gorgeous. It looks almost like a real photograph. Except...

Well, except for the shadow prims. The shadow client has me a bit concerned, because -- unlike basically all the other graphical improvements thus far -- there's no happy medium. You can't make a build that looks great both with and without shadows: add in artificial shadows, and it'll look bad in a shadow client; don't add artificial shadows, and it'll look awful in a non-shadow viewer. Given the hardware requirements for the shadow viewer (and the fact that bad is still better than awful), the best thing to do is still add in shadows prims and the like, but still. The thought of having contradictory shading in my builds pains me.

Again, the shadows look fantastic. And they had to be added eventually. Still, there's a part of me that wishes they'd picked some other area to make visual improvements in -- that we'd gotten vertex painting or more forms of texture mapping or something. SL looks a lot nicer with shadows, but it'd also look a lot nicer with, say, normal mapping. (Oh, man, and don't even get me started on vertex painting. SL would look nicer and, in the hands of competent builders, run faster.)


Blogger Siddean said...

Hi Miriel

Naiman showed me this image yesterday as well and while it is gorgeous, it comes from an unreleased (and probably not going to be released) compiled client. This article explains further. So I don't think we will see a shadow enabled client available on the SL website anytime soon. Naiman also told me it's highly unstable so enter at your own risk! I think I'll stick with my regular old client for now :)

July 10, 2008 5:41 PM  
Blogger Miriel Enfield said...

Yeah, I know about the unreleased shadow client, and that we may or may not actually get shadows. (Also, that the Linden working on it has slightly insane standards for hardware.) I'd try getting it to work, myself, but it's only for 8000 series nVidia cards, and I've got a 7950. So close!

July 11, 2008 6:36 AM  

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