Fighting the Lag Monster

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To win your battle with the Lag Monster, you need to understand how to battle this infamous creature, which is often felt wandering about Second Life.  Here are some tricks to help you have a better real-time experience:Flying Spaghetti Monster

1 – Use Max Bandwidth. Torley Linden recommends going to your PREFERENCES (CTRL + P) and selecting the NETWORK & CACHE tab on the left side.  Move the MAXIMUM BANDWIDTH setting all the way to the right.  By default, this is normally set to only 500 kbps, which is more of the speed of the old dial-up Internet connections than today’s high-speed Internet connections.

2 – Remove Unnecessary Items.  It’s always best to keep down the prims, particles, and scripts on what you wear.  If you don’t need a HUD, just remove it.  Remember to de-lag your outfits for items with resizing or recoloring scripts (i.e. shoes, hair, etc.).  You may want to make a copy of the original first in case you ever need to resize it for another avatar shape.  Many of the items with resizers have a menu option for deleting scripts in them.  Otherwise you can edit the item and either stop the scripts from running or delete the resize scripts.  You might also want to have a low lag avatar or two for when you go to high lag events.  The boxbot avatar is a low lag avatar in everyone’s library.

3 – Lower Your ARC.  The Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) is a green-yellow-red type indicator to help you see how much it takes to render your avatar.  Do your best to keep your avatar in the green or yellow.  This is found in the ARCADVANCED pulldown menu.  If you don’t see this on your viewer, try Ctrl + Alt + D to toggle it on.  You can see your ARC in Firestorm under the ADVANCED menu, PERFORMANCE TOOLS, and then selecting SHOW RENDER WEIGHTS FOR AVATARS.  In the older viewers, this was under the ADVANCED MENU then RENDERING plus INFO DISPLAY and ARC.  A number should appear above your head and everyone else around you.  If your number is yellow or green, you have a low and preferred ARC.  If your number is in the orange or red, then your ARC is high.  Reduce your ARC by removing very primmy or high script attachments like jewelry or by wearing low-prim hair and clothing.  Basically, the more prims and scripts you’re wearing the higher your ARC will be.

To understand lag and latency, it helps to use the built-in tools like the Lag Meter, which you can find under the ADVANCED then PERFORMANCE TOOLS menu.  This provides you with a simple green – yellow – red type meter to see where the problem is taking place: (1) Client, (2) Network, or (3) Server.  On the older viewers, this was available under the HELP menu and then LAG METER.  Pressing the << button expands the Lag Meter, revealing descriptions and advice to solve any lag you are currently suffering.  Here are some terms to help you understand the terminology a bit more:

  • Understand Lag and Latency.  These two terms are often misunderstood.  The “latency” is the time between cause and effect (or how long it takes from button push to detection by the server).  And “lag” is simply “the round trip.” So if you do something in the game (i.e. fire the gun) and it appears to take a second for the player to see it, then that is referred to as “lag” since it causes a less-than-realistic user experience.  Lag is made up of many things: latency; server overload; slow client performance; extensive time to move packets; extensive hops between server and clients; etc.

  • Roundtrip.  This is the latency of the network connection. Roundtrip times between 150ms to 200ms represent an excellent condition in which none of the call participants need to pause and wait for other people to talk. If the number reaches the 350ms, the need to pause becomes significant.
  • Packet Loss.  This measures the reliability of a connection. A set of known data is sent to the server and then the server is supposed to deliver the same data back without any changes. If 100 packets were sent out, but only 80 made it back, then it would be 20% packet loss. In order to maintain a good Skype communication session, the packet loss should not be higher than 5%.
  • Relays.  The data going back and forth between two parties might be routed through several nodes.  The ideal situation is to have zero relay to achieve direct connection.  The lower the relay number, the better the call quality will be.
  • Jitter.  These are the variations between consecutive data packets arriving at the user’s side.  The lower this number, the better the voice quality will be. Some applications implement a jitter buffer to ensure the uninterrupted communication.
  • CPU Usage.  Over 80% will degrade the quality of the connection quality.

Tips from Mother Metaverse (aka Tessa Harrington)

  • (A) Build for Low Lag.  A sim is like a rubix cube with cells that make up the space, from the ceiling down to the sea floor.  If you build with that in mind, using different elevations and tier with your terrain up and down, you’ll find you can use far more prims and scripts. Why?  Because the viewer only reads what it can see.  The more it sees, the more it has to compute. If you put builds at different levels with realistic non flat and perfect paths and streets, then You should see a dramatic lessening in lag.
  • (B) Screen Size and Draw Distance Matters.  When experiencing lag, make your viewer window smaller. Again, the more the viewer has to see then harder it is on your processors.  You can also lower your graphics setting in preferences or limit your draw distance to like 100 with local text chat “dd 100”.
  • (C) Plan out your textures.  Try and keep to no more than 20 textures on a build. The more textures you use, the more the residents have to download.  Keep your textures between 256×256 and 512×512.  Remember that 1024×1024 texture images can take up to 90 seconds for a low end video card. The 1024×1024 size should be reserved for avatar wearables and skins.
  • (D) Break up the Build.  If you are making a congested area on a quad sim setup, put a visual divider or big water span between the two. That will give the scene some “white space” – relief from the prim congestion around it.
  • (E) Building on the Mainland.  Know that if you build more than 7500 prim sims next to each other like on the mainland, you WILL get lag. This is just a reality. Mainland or continents will always casue more lag becuase you have this never ending view of content alwyas comign on your viewer from afar unless you lower you draw distance.
  • (F) Edge Work.  We all dig prims into other prims when building to get sharp edges and just general hectic building.  But did you know that every time you do that or dig a prim into the ground, this causes your video card and proccesseor to do double duty in their calculations.  They have to decide what shoudl be and shouln’t be visible by what is above the ground and below.  And this is why you get flicker on overlaid prims
    when they are that close to the surface.  The backend of the virtual world server can not tell which prim should take precedence over the other, so its tries to show both.  That is why you get flicker and you MUST fix flicker becuase it can actually cause people with epilepsy to have seizures or give folks with tendendcies to migraines get full blown ones.

NOTE: The depiction of the Lag Monster here is truly fictional since no one has actually seen what it looks like, but seeing as Cory Ondrejka was the Flying Spaghetti Monster avatar in Second Life and Linden Lab’s creator of LSL (Linden Scripting Language), we thought his virtual likeness a good one to once and for all put a face on LAG.

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