Written 5 May, 2009
Why Do Merchants Sell Lag Makers?
Some months ago resize scripts began to appear in many wearable products— mostly hair, shoes, and jewelry. The script—I should say scripts, because there is code inside every prim in the object—allows the user to change size and in some cases shininess and color by way of a blue menu. Residents who are unfamiliar with Second Life’s building tools tend to find this convenient.
Some resize scripts will allow you to delete them after you’re satisfied with your jewelry. Some won’t. And since you can’t delete scripts from no-mod items, you’re stuck with them. This is more than unfortunate; it’s potentially disastrous.
Many merchants who had been offering modifiable wearables have begun to use the resize scripts and setting their creations to non-mod.
Now, sellers of modifiable products take a bit of a risk. Because the new owner can readily see the type, size, rotation, and other characteristics of the prims that make up the object, it’s relatively easy for a rogue avatar to reverse engineer a hairdo or stiletto heel or necklace. This enables thieves to duplicate the item, apply their own textures, and sell the imitation as their own. It’s no wonder so many merchants have welcomed the resize script.
Non-mod items, however, are not a good deal for customers, who cannot change the name so they can find it easily and cannot change the item to meet their needs or rid themselves of objectionable characteristics of the item. For this reason, a lot of non mod purchases are disappointing and are never used or thrown away. See here for one such tale of woe.
I love many of the designs at CCD Jewelry—so much so that when my inventory ran amok and gobbled up most of my accessories, I went back to the CCD store and repurchased the missing sets.
CCD uses a resize script in is products. I’ve had no need for the script, since the earrings and necklace I bought there fit just fine and I was happy with the default textures. It’s lovely primwork, and I love to wear it.
Last week, I noticed Whimsy wasn’t running quite right. I hit SHIFT-CTRL-1 and looked at the statistics window. The total frame time was high, and the script time was up—a lot. For the first time, the sim wasn’t healthy.
At first I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Nothing on the land had changed—but when I used the Debug feature in the Region/Domain menu I saw I was by far the laggiest item on the sim.
I turned on avatar rendering cost (Advanced > Rendering > Info Displays > Avatar Rendering Cost> and took a look at my avatar: about 2500. Not great, but half the ARC of a lot of avatars running around the grid.
I changed my Sirena hair for my trusty low avatar-rendering-cost Mystikal Bubbleponi and looked again at ARC and script time.Avatar Rendering Cost was down, but there was no improvement in script time.
But when I removed my CCD necklace, the sim immediately returned to normal. When I put it back on, free time decreased from > .4 to < .1 milliseconds and total script time increased by .3 ms. Even the sim frame rate dropped from 45 to 43.
The necklace I was wearing had more than 110 nanoprims. Its rendering cost was about one thousand, which certainly wouldn’t drag down a sim. But each of its prims, and the prims in the matching earrings, contained at least two and as many as six or seven scripts.
The earrings, at 68 prims each and running the same scripts, were as a pair worse than the necklace In toto, the CCD jewelry set was turning a high-performing sim into a mediocre one.
The most scriptficient way for prims in a linked set to talk to one another is through linked message; the least efficient way is through multiple listens. 750+ listens would almost certainly have a noticeable effect on a sim.
Here’s a scary thought: what if tens of thousands of high-prim jewelry items and hairdos are equipped with horribly laggy listening resize scripts capable of making a big hit on simulator performance?
The notecard that came with my jewelry set bragged that the scripts used were non laggy. Clearly, that’s not the truth—although creator Caithlin Carter may believe it to be.
I’ll no longer be wearing my CCD jewelry unless and until Ms. Carter replaces my items with scriptless versions. You can bet I’ll be asking her to do that.