Living with Lag

A cool grey world.
A cool grey world.

Last night, while walking around a corner in my lovely SL home, I crashed.

And I don’t mean, like, SL logged me out. I mean, like, my computer turned itself off. And then came back on and said in several languages, basically, ‘I couldn’t deal any longer and panicked.’ Sad face.

Let me say up front that I know the reason my virtual experience is so sad and slow is that I am doing it via a 3+ year old MacBook Pro. When I started SL, my machine was brand new, the viewer was old, and everything was rather peachy. But in the new-fangled world of browser-like viewers and mesh, my poor wee machine is struggling. And while I’d love to rush out and get a shiny new one, it isn’t the right time, and I’m not going to shell out the ducats just for SL (sorry SL).

So I’ve been living with lag for quite a while now. Much of my virtual experience is grey and slow to rez, and everyone’s movements are choppy and stilted. But if I am patient and stand somewhere long enough, my world becomes lovely and vivid, and I’m pleased to be there. As such, I definitely limit my experience to places that are worth the wait, like art installations (and which are much lower lag than shopping events!)

But see, that was my SL, I didn’t know any different. That is, until this last Christmas when I had the chance to login on my dear friend (the Cheeky Pea herself) Isla Gealach’s gorgeous 27″ iMac. Isla has NO LAG. I actually had no idea that when you tp’ed somewhere, it could be instant… and when you cammed around, it could all go in a blur. I was enthralled, then I was in despair. How would my SL ever be acceptable after this?

After a manic episode of almost ordering a Mac mini on the spot (I’ll be a Mac user til I die, so I’m not having that debate here, to each their own), I came to my senses. I’ve been living with lag for a while now, and I would certainly survive it.

But since the new year, it’s been particularly bad… and I was somewhat relieved this week to learn that I wasn’t alone. On Tuesday, when I went to preview Bryn Oh’s wonderful new exhibit ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’, SL was entirely borked for all of us… it’s been a mess since, and then last night, the computer thing. When I restarted, Firestorm wouldn’t start AT ALL. So I said f*ck it and loaded up the SL viewer.

Guess what? I’m sort of ok.

PJ and I went back and finished Bryn’s exhibit (and you HAVE TO GO IT IS AMAZING), and it was FINE. I was even able to navigate some of her trickier paths (because when you are regularly laggy, sharp turns and curving stairs are a bitch!). So now I’m suspicious that the problem is Firestorm for Mac, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that.

I’ve had other random issues, such as mesh walls not rezzing until I uncheck basic shaders in my graphics (and then check again and it’s fine). But this wee ramble which is in service of not a lot is basically just to make a plea for content creators: please remember those of us who live with lag?

For example, I am wandering around a major and popular store right now which will not let me fly or tp from A to B in their HUGE store. I get that you want me to walk by all your stuff, but 1) it isn’t rezzing fast enough for me to see, and 2) I just get frustrated when I have to walk back through, downstairs, and around to the next store when I’m even a bit laggy.

Please, remember and be kind to those of us who live with lag.


  1. I’m in the same boat…on an older machine where things take forever. 😦
    I’ve given up on shopping or even going anywhere lately. (Until my new lappy arrives) So on the rare occasion when I do log in these days…I basically stay home and play with my VKC dogs. 😉

  2. Have you tried to ensure you have texture compression switched on in the advanced settings on graphics / under preferences. I think it’s under hardware. I managed to help somebody yesterday get their framerate back to 21 by using this. I am also a MacBook Pro user and this really improves my experience! You may already have it on, but just in case.

      1. Unf, nothing :/ The issue I have found with FireStorm is that they have so many things tweaked the lag is hard to determine at viewer level versus sim level. I have found by doing a clean install of the LL viewer, setting the above hardware setting and using mid settings as a baseline I have been able to maintain >80 framerate. In a busy area around 25 framerate. The SL wiki actually says 25 framerate is the baseline for “good”….. :/

  3. I identify with your frustration so much. I have a late 2009 Dell XPS (mid-range, i5 quadcore, 4GB ram, nVidia Geforce GTS240) Win 7 and 30/2.2mbps broadband. Life was amazing back in 2009. I was the envy of many friends. But things change and I doubt that much LL/QA goes into any equipment that isn’t one or two years old. Now, I’m in a situation similar to yours at times.

    Oh, and i have a 2010 Dell XPS laptop (even better than PC) and from time to time, it has problems similar to the ones you’ve described too.

    Lag seems to almost disappear at times, then it comes back and puts you back in 2007. Oh geez, there I go ranting again. /me bangs her head into the wall.

  4. In Firestorm, I’ve found that by turning off “use http Textures” helped me quite a bit. It’s under the “Rendering” tab within Graphics tab. Also, when I upgraded to FS 4.3 it was unusable on my system so I had to return to FS 4.2.

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