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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ARC, Script Counters, and Bar Fights

Have you gone to a club, or a crowded event, and had someone rudely tell you that the lovely look you spent so much time and effort and money putting together is lagging the sim? In some places, the Management will even kick you out if you don’t immediately put on something that uses fewer server resources.

The problem with this is that the Lag Police are usually going by one or two indicators, neither of which is really a good measure of the actual lag caused by an avatar.

The first one is Avatar Rendering Cost, or ARC. Linden Lab started including this tool in the viewer a couple of years ago. If you enable it (Advanced/Performance Tools/Show Avatar Rendering Cost), a number appears above your head, and the heads of other nearby avatars. The number is also color coded…Green for lower values, yellow for intermediate, and red for high ARCs. The idea is that the ARC number represents a measure of how hard your avatar is for other viewers to render. The higher the ARC, the more resources everyone’s computer needs in order to “draw” you on their screen.

Not a bad concept…but depending on the sort of textures one actually has on, ARC may or may not be a useful measurement. One avatar with a low ARC may actually be harder to render than another with a very high ARC, because of the algorithm used to determine ARC.

ARC is a useful tool for you to see whether you’re likely to be a lag queen or not, and change your outfit before going to a crowded place. When used by others as a means of policing a venue, it only causes arguments, anger, and resentment.

Script counters are the same sort of thing, but what they count is the number of scripts, and the amount of script memory being used. Too many scripts on too many avatars can indeed affect region performance. But once again, what the script counters do not do is measure the actual efficiency of the scripts in any way. Furthermore, the dividing lines between the “green”, “yellow”, and “red” zones are more or less arbitrary…and yet those who use these tools to confront others treat them as Revealed Truth. “My script counter has you way in the red. Take off some scripted items or leave!”

We should all try to use no more than our share of our virtual world’s computing resources, by checking our own ARC and script use. Those who delight in bossing others around and telling them what they must wear or do can have a closer look at the end of my lovely, primmy, heavily scripted, .45 auto.

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