First Look: Viewer 3

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When I heard that there was a new what I like to call Vanilla Viewer – the benchmark where all other tastes derive from – I knew I needed to check it out. Check out Morphman’s post on the blog as this is supposed to be a major release.
Viewer 2 got a lot of slack and negative comments by a lot of die-hard viewer 1.x fans as it was a major move away from classic looks: new interface, engine coding and feel. What Linden Labs forgot then was that people don’t like too much change. I guess they listened to the complaints as Viewer 3 has a v2 look and feel… or is it just a rename of the year old bottle of wine?

Login Screen

The login screen did change a bit: you get a website overview that in my opinion could have been more integrated into the viewer: the colors are more “website” than “viewer” based. I have a feeling this has been rushed and not looked over by a graphic designer, as the image on the top is pasted against the top bar, rounded at the bottom means for me it’s missing a bit on the top… But that’s pure esthetic!

What is interesting to me is to see the “What’s Hot Now” screen, you get an overview of the busiest sims of that moment, although I’d have to investigate if those are real-time stats (I doubt it) or some timescale is being used (more logical and server economic I think). The “Destinations” is what it is: destinations filtered by their category. If you want to feature in this I guess you have to take time to put them in the “Events” diary. Finally something that might make this feature a bit more appealing to use, as it might bring in new people to your events.

The more interesting thing is what happens when you look at the bottom: no change whatsoever! You still get a choice between “Basic” and “Advanced” mode – I’ll be skipping the former as in my opinion it takes too much away from the SL experience and thus being pointless (don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to ease new players into the SL experience, but most will skip it within a day or two I think 🙂

Checking out the viewer

Of course this release gets a new number as it incorporates mesh into SL. But what is more interesting to me is if the minor “problems” have been solved… So mesh for me isn’t all that important – yes I am excited about it for other reasons, mainly to see what builders are going to do with this new toy!

Not a lot has changed at first look: the much hated – but in my opinion very useful – sidebar is still there. You get the “Linden home screen” with the same basics that were shown in V2, so i’m going to skip that. I do recommend as a new user to go over them, there is some useful stuff in there!

The profile screen got revamped when you click the “profile” button, more in touch with the website version of your profile. This was not unexpected as LL announced a more web-inclusive interface. The other tabs haven’t changed at all on a first glance. The favourites bar is still there – one of the features that I really liked about V2 from the start!

What I suspected: V3 is just V2 with mesh code incorporated into it. Not a bad idea to rename this, as it is a major difference in user experience inworld, but not per sé viewer-wise.

What is really getting on my nerves is that 3rd party viewers are able to render things right, but V3 still has a problem rendering textures right for me when I switch to “ultra” graphics settings… I can only compare to Firestorm at the moment, but there I can run SL smoothly with everything bumped up to maximum, V2 and V3 just aren’t up to the challenge! Frame rates drop, making my experience less than optimal… Why is it that a brand new high-grade computer still isn’t able to use Ultra graphics settings, Linden Labs? Why still include this!

The other thing that still get on my nerves is “depth of field”: granted, a useful tool when you’re taking pictures in Second Life, but why hasn’t this option been moved to the “snapshot” function? Depth of field isn’t that useful on a day-to-day basis.

Yes, I agree these are minor things, but annoyances non the less…

• No major changes – except of course for including mesh
• Various tweaks, like the web-integration that has been refined.
• Messed up Ultra – at least for me
• Minor gripes solved in 3rd party viewers still present in Vanilla…


Viewer 3 is a logical rename of the previous viewer, giving users access to the long coming promise of mesh inclusion. I’m sure in time coming this will become apparent to all users, as mesh will steadily be introduced to the grid. Don’t worry, it will live perfectly next to prims and sculpties as we know them, so you don’t have to start buying new stuff immediately!

Hopefully my minor problems with V3 will be solved in the (near?) future, although these are my gripes and as with everything: you can’t please’m all!

Sven Hyx 

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