June 30, 2011

Windows update made me a quite a gift

Posted in User Experience tagged , at 8:44 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

I’m usually not much into gaming, so when I bought my computer I equipped it for my kind of use. Fast hard drive, much ram for virtual computer systems needed for my development needs. I have lots of virtual machines, often each for one project. What I didn’t need was a high end graphic card. I just wanted two displays, which, I was told by the salesman, is not a problem as its pretty much standard nowadays. (Oh, the envy I received when I was an early adopter of the concept ).

It was only a view days before Windows 7 where released and so I got my system pre-installed with Vista and an update option which I had to do myself, which I later on did. And that has to be the moment when it happened. I catched a wrong driver and didn’t know it. Graphic worked the way I needed it. And when I started Second Life last year it worked – and I didn’t know a lot about the options of the viewer you can use with a better card.

Somewhere along the way I tested if my card is able to user OpenGL, a common standard, for 3D, but that turned out negative. I used a small game someone made, GlTron
something bad is gonna happen. But to which one?
which runs smooth on any OpenGL system but flickering on any other system because without OpenGL all visual 3D rendering is done by the game itself.

And it didn’t work… so what. Ok, the game is fun 😉

Then lately I discovered that windows update has updates for drivers in a separate folder and there were a few waiting for installing… which I had never done. As a part of cleaning up my system I did a full update on all things relevant. Now I have made it a server system its even more important, to keep it safe and clean.

And than it happened. It turned out I have a NVidea GForce. It was not the top model and its not the most actual, but its a card that is for 3D, the system gave me the wrong identification along with the wrong drivers all the time. A 9800 GT, to be exact.

When I learned that, I was eager to try out if only the name changed or if it was really giving me better 3D results.

The first thing I tried was how it handles shadows:
Guess what makes this shadowGuess what makes this shadow, comments are open

And it did well, while not perfect. I was able to enable shadows and keep it smooth yet the frame rate still dropped to 13, not for everyday use, yet shadows (and lighting) are not always an improvement in Second Life or OpenSim Worlds:
Shadow looks good, o well, o no, what is this????My roadster looses its colour and chrome effect, washing out all the surface techniques I used
So I adjusted the other controls. More drawing distance (bandwidth for loading textures was never a problem), all reflections on water, detailed avatar appearance, anti-isotropic filtering and finally, I enabled anti-aliasing with a value of four. But no shadows. If I add them on top of this, the viewer even may crash.

What a difference. And what a nice gift from Microsoft… a modern GForce might be better, but now the graving isn’t that strong any more.

Oh. And guess what? That little Game works now, OpenGL is now implemented.