Oh Finally, Our Linden Gods have answered our cries! There is now a Building 101 wiki for Second Life.
None-the-less I give you my guide to texture creation for the virtual world.
This guide will help the Second Life builders.
However, most of the best practices apply to all virtual creation.
No matter if you are creating textures for gaming, graphics for websites, or even photos for your blog, these guidelines will help you create faster loading graphics no matter what you are creating.
Of course we all want best quality, but performance matters too.
Your images are streaming to someone else’s computer over the internet. If it does not load fast, they leave your website, blog, or are unable to play your game.
You have about 5 seconds to make an impression…and that’s stretching it.
If your graphics or textures do not load… they toss away your item, or even leave your Sim. Who cares how pretty it could be, if the average user can not see it !
Basic guide for all texture creation in Second Life.
TEXTURES CAUSE LAG for you & your Sim! It’s not only scripts but texture load too!
Build smart, fast loading creations, and watch your visitors AND customers RETURN.
Test Your Textures:
- Test your graphics on MEDIUM. Just because you can run on “ULTRA” does not mean your customers can. The average Second Life resident can not run above medium setting, and many more run on low.
- Clear your cache. If you are testing how well your textures load always clear your cache to have a true representation of load time.
- Leave the LOD alone! Changing your LOD from standard to 4 + just so that sculpts appear higher rez is great for YOU but is not a true representation of how your creations appears to other residents. Always test on the default, as many new users will not know to change their LOD in the debug menu. Heck they probably have no clue what the develop or advanced menus even are.
- Max size is 1024×1024 but you should avoid this in almost all cases.
- a 256 x256 or 512×512 with a sharpen filter, will give you same effect as a 1024×1024 and its ¼ or ⅛ the file size!
File/texture types used in Second Life.
- .tga (32 bit alpha) or (24 bit opaque )
- 32 bit have a 4th channel for alpha, where as the 24 bit do not contain alpha or transparencies.
- The best choice! They have 0 compression prior to upload, giving you crisp image quality with low graphics burden on your customers.
- .png (24 bit alpha)
- smaller bit alpha files. If you use a .png file type as a solid texture, it will still flicker in world when against a transparency texture. we call this double transparency, where one texture disappears when near another. Best for simple transparencies and a wysiwyg outcome unlike a 32 bit .tga
- Outdated and large file format.
- .jpg .jpeg
- Second Life already compresses all images and since both .jpg and .jpeg are compressed already, the quality will drop too. That being said, I do use these quite often, the trick is to save these files at max quality, in your prefered graphics program.
- Sculpt maps: no sculpt map should ever be more than 64x64pixelsortheproportionalequivalent in case of oblongs.
- 32 x 128
- 16 x 256
- 8 x 512
BIGGER IS NOT BETTER your sculpted creations will be big balls to everyone who has not previously cached the object and the bigger these files the longer they see these awful balls. You get no added quality to your sculpt maps.
- Tileable textures: IT”S TILEABLE.
- Which means you can tile it as many times as you want so it does not need be big.
- 128×128 is all you need or be a rebel and even go smaller! but be sure to check the lossless compression on upload, to avoid further compression of you already tiny file.
When to Go big
- Skins are the one place I can see you needing to use a 1024×1024 texture.
- complex mesh creation with a single face or even repeated on all 8 allowable faces.
- Weigh your options and file sizes to see which is best. In rare cases it is better to load 1 1024×1024 texture, in luo of 8 512×512 textures. Do your math, test it, and see which is more effective.
- cover an object with 8 , 1024 x1024 textures! It will never load fast enough, and it will tax out the user graphics reserve on their video card making it so they can not load ANYTHING once that graphics threshold is crossed.
The smaller the file the faster it loads for the other residents. Always shoot for the balance between quality and size, test and re-test
If you have comments or questions post them in the comment field below or better yet!, Stop by Wyndavere’s in-world!. Lets work together to make Second Life a little less laggy, more beautiful, and an enjoyable place for you, and your customers to live in!