Thursday, 25 February 2010

Second Life Viewer 2.0

I didn't want to post this earlier, sure I could have posted my thoughts on Viewer 2.0 an hour after I downloaded it.  But I would have only been looking at some of the changes, I decided to wait until I had a few more days to explore this strange new Viewer.

First off, let me talk a little about the current viewers available for Second Life.  Sure if you're a casual SL'er you've probably only used the main LL viewer and maybe you've used Snowglobe each of these viewers are ok...but inarguably the better SL viewers come from different sources.

Henri Beauchamp's  Cool SL Viewer is my primary viewer, I also like the Emerald Viewer, though that can tax my graphics card at times.  There's the Vertical Life viewer which is excellent for the stripped down quality and extra FPS boost it can give you (vital for playing GOHA or Giant Snail Racing) and there's lots of other great third party viewers out there.

This is not to say that the Official Viewers don't have their place, they do and without them most of the third party viewers wouldn't be so great.  But here we have Viewer 2.0...a new wave as it were...and how does it hold up?

My God It's Pretty!!
If that's not your first thought then it really should be...because it inarguably is very very pretty...the UI differences are the first thing you spot...from the docked sidebar to the sleek navigation area and favourites bar, this is a viewer that actually makes you feel like it's a much more classy Second Life.

Sure there's flaws in this design...trying to drop something from your inventory to a person via their profile becomes a bit more of a pain (not to mention the current bug on not being able to change object permissions of things in my inventory - this is a bug...atleast that's what I'm hoping).

But the big win is that the UI and Sidebar make SL feel more professional and easier to use.  I've taught students the basics of SL with the regular viewer and I know it can take a while for non "gamers" to get used to it.  With this UI and the way it's set up I can see this taking a lot less time...things just seem more intuitive, easier and better presented.

Big Win For LL
Well almost.  Sure things look better but I can't help but feel that some of the usability of Second Life has been reduced a little.  Drop Menu's replacing Pie Menu's...I'm still unsold on this although the great Torley Linden said that he missed the Pie Menu's too at first "but give yourself time to use 'em... maybe the pie won't seem so tasty.." 
So maybe I'm just still in the adjusting phase.  I really like some of the new features, the Hyperlink style "My Outfits" creator is awesome, meaning I don't have to create actual folders for outfits but can pick and choose and store my favourites there.  That's an epic win especially considering the changing into and out of Snail Shapes or Hockey Kits I do on a weekly/semi daily basis.

The Friends list with profile pictures on gives a little sheen to finding people and looks very cool.

As this is the first Viewer 2.0 release and I'm sure there'll be many more down the line, I'm actually looking forward to seeing what Emerald or Henri do with this code to create new Cool Viewer 2.0's or Emerald 2.0 viewers.  Other than that there is still one big thing missed out of this...

64 bit processing and 64 bit OS systems are becoming more and more popular and SL is still stuck at 32 bit...please let somebody sort that out...