Black Dragon is MY Viewer, i decide which feature i want to add and which to remove, i share this Viewer to show the world that user base size is not important, i do rate quality by effort, thought and love put into the project, not some rough estimated numbers. I consider feature requests only if i you can name proper valid reasons i can agree on. It is my (unpaid) time i'm putting into this project, i'm not here to cater to every Joe's desires.

Monday, June 1, 2015

About quitting development

[Super Big Story Ranting Time]

I feel the need to explain some stuff here about the topic of quitting the "active development" of my Viewer, reasons behind that and some other stuff that seems off-topic but is also a factor in to why this is happening.

Note that this is not meant to be as a massive roundhouse bash but rather an article to make you open up your mind and think about it.

First and foremost, when i say i quit active development, i don't mean i'll suddenly stop from one moment to another, since this is my Viewer and it is the only Viewer i actively use for obvious reasons, there's no way i can completely stop as it would render my Viewer useless sooner or later, i will want to come online and do stuff from time to time, fancy stuff. I will obviously need a Viewer for that that doesn't look like a boring, fuzzy mess of greyness when i turn on Depth of Field. I want some colors, i want some contrast, i want some life in my pictures and it speaks for itself that all the "good" photographers out there grab photoshop and do some slight post processing otherwise not available. I do not. I am strictly against any post processing (other than cropping) of pictures, it hurts my heart seeing pictures being massively altered in post processing to make them appealing, it grinds my gears even more seeing flickr (or other) groups dedicated to un-edited pictures decline my absolutely un-edited pictures where as i can spot obviously photoshop'd pictures right at top as the most rated pictures. This is a no go.

Furthermore it is saddening seeing top rated non-edited pictures looking nothing more than a random default snapshot from any given place at any given time by any given photographer. I question the community and it's ability to scan and rate pictures based on their actual quality. You don't believe me? You think i'm just pushing my ego? You're right, i'm pushing it down. All the time. I am saddening myself with this, now look around you and tell me how many photographers you see around who do snapshots actually representative of today's Second Life? I see almost none, i see either ugly or photoshop'd snapshots almost exclusively, there are some good snapshots in between sometimes from someone no one even knows and you know what? Almost no likes, no comments. Sad.

It is not just about picture quality, it's about content in Second Life too, there is no quality control in Second Life in any way, everyone can create a box and sell it on the marketplace as the fanciest, most awesome box ever happened to be created and some people would probably buy it, proving that they are right with putting quantity over quality. It's an extreme example but i can go around the marketplace and spam you with lists of objects that fall into quantity over quality and/or general low quality content categories. It's alarming but not surprising, this marketing style has worked in the past, you can see it everywhere, for those of you who play games might have heard about EA games, Activision, Ubisoft etc. I'm sure i don't have to explain what they do. I'll give you another example. Are you a furry? Then you must have noticed that often eyes coming with Avatars are fullbright, sometimes use glow, unnecessarily use alphas for textures that could be made without any alpha (pupils as example, the eyeballs themselves) and have this fullbright shine and sometimes even a full fledged reflection texture that looks like it is reflecting the entire interior of a well lit house. I know what you think, "it looks fine to me", it might look fine to you, it doesn't for me, it is unacceptable in my opinion. Your eyes will be eternally damned to reflect a non existent, static house window letting in sunlight that might not even be there because it is pitch black, no matter from which angle you look or what light conditions are actually met around you. Have an example of this:

properly enabled materials eyes
original untouched avatar eyes

I see this with literally every avatar i cross, modded or unmodded. Modded avatars are often worse. I'm not saying that the Avatar is bad, by god no, it is a really good avatar, but it is still lacking quality in some places. Trust me, this is a difference like day and night (although the night in Second Life could be a day just with black sky... aha... see?). If Avatar creators actually fixed these things... Avatars could look so much better and they could be much better optimized at the same time!

Do you know what i think these missing quality standards are coming from? ~ No, it's not yet time to hate Firestorm again... although there is something to it. As far as i can see these missing quality standards come from several reasons - inexperienced users, compatibility, missing interest in these things and of course several other minor things.

(Oz told me that  Geenz was actually supporting mirrors and Linden Labs themselves decided against it, it will stay there as example)
Many of you are very inexperienced in regards of graphics and quality, lets be honest, paint me green if it comes to graphics in theory, i have never been good in theory with anything, i am a practical guy, i don't like wasting my brain on possible (not to mention sometimes totally unnecessary) issues that could arise. Example anyone? Reflections. More specifically mirrors, "aha" you will say, there was a guy (or girl) called Zi Ree who added these mysterious things never thought to be "possible" in Second Life, quite a lot emphasis followed just to end up driving the project against a wall... why? I think i know the answer. When powerful people say something, people will listen to those, right? Exodus's developer Geenz Spad (also known for adding Materials implementation and Color Correction as well as Tone Mapping in Exodus and several other minor enhancements) joined the discussion about mirrors and basically told this feature off as hard if not impossible to properly implement. He saw the problems with griefing with mirrors already pop up in his head, those mirrors were not exactly damn fast (so isn't the water reflection) and while he is right that it could be used for griefing people by killing their framerate, Zi Ree already offered a solution within his implementation by adding in a max amount of rendered mirrors option. It's the same thing with particles, you could use them to grief people too and kill their framerate, you can just turn down or completely off if you desire so. I think Geenz didn't see that his presumably experienced statement was basically the final stab that killed this already very unstable project off entirely. I don't think Geenz did that on purpose, he just tried to give some experienced feedback on the project, but ultimately ended up stabbing the project in the back. If LL was ever going to consider adding it, then this must have changed their mind and someone experienced with rendering telling you as not so rendering experienced guy that this is going to be really hard to implement isn't exactly the best thing to hear, it's discouraging. What could have happened if Geenz did say "hey, this is the best idea ever, i see some problems here and there but they seem mostly fixed already in your presentation", maybe nothing, we will never know. It shows us that experience could potentially prevent things from happening and if we all were a bit more experienced in how content works in Second Life and at least have a general idea of what "good" content is and which things are "no-go's" then we would see a lot less bad content. People wouldn't buy bad stuff if they can tell apart good and bad stuff and want good stuff only, it would either force content creators to adapt or give up leaving space for better creators.

Compatibility is the next big issue, both content and Viewer worsen this somewhat equally. This is my favorite topic. Did you ever buy an object that has a pre-baked shadow texture on it? Yes? Did you ever buy a couch or these soft beanbags that often use prim shadows? Yes? I. Can. Not. Tell you how much i hate these. I have these awesome, real-time shadows and whenever i see these prim shadows under such an object casting double shadows (one shadow on the shadow and another one on the ground) i feel like i'm being punished for using deferred rendering with active shadows. Why am i, the one who's willing to spend some money on hardware that can display quality content and better graphics and therefor make use of new features (like Materials) being punished? Shouldn't i be the one having the best and fanciest stuff? I'm paying for it after all. I know what some of you think, "just because you are the few % that can handle all the fancies, we low-end users shouldn't be ditched". You sound right and i do agree that ditching users for other users is dodgy stuff, but let's be honest for a moment, your potato holds back quite some potential of Second Life. This is not something i made up, it is a fact you can see everywhere. Those beanbags were just one of many examples. Viewers. Yes, Viewers. Viewers have always been the portal to Second Life, without them we cannot access Second Life effectively but they are also another root of evil. We as Viewer developers do not focus enough on pushing forward, using the potential that Second Life bears within, that includes me as well. If i really wanted to actively push forward i should start by dropping support for legacy rendering and anything below Deferred Rendering in general altogether, that includes removing all options that allow you to turn off Deferred Rendering and raising all minimum requirements to Deferred Rendering, forcing the Viewer to start up with Deferred Rendering at all times, no exceptions. Why haven't i done it so far? I don't feel like i would achieve anything with that since my Viewer is focused on anything above Deferred Rendering anyway, if you disable Deferred Rendering in my Viewer you disable all improvements i have ever done to this Viewer in terms of rendering. That's right guys, you are wrong, it doesn't "already" look better than Firestorm with disabled Deferred Rendering, in fact it looks worse than Firestorm, which leads me to inexperience again. You have no idea, no experience and you believe anything anyone who seems to have more experience tells you. I keep telling you the graphics are so much better, are they really? In all objectivity: Yes, they are better. However, graphics in Second Life is a really flexible feature, since anyone can just carry over my setting fine tuning to any other Viewer that supports them. Yep, you could get all my SSAO, Depth of Field, Glow, Light weighting, Shadow and Camera tweaks over to any Viewer. There are however some deeper changes that you as normal user cannot carry over, changes like my quadratic shadow maps, Tofu's faster depth of field, better SSAO, Screen Space Reflections, camera reset changes, camera water surface snapping removal and so on, unless they are ported over. Let's get back to the actual topic real quick here, compatibility. I understand that compatibility is somewhat key but i think that Second Life and some developers are overdoing the compatibility part, they cater to almost everyone and try to support them no matter how far down it pulls them into the past time. LL dropping the Linux support is one right move into the right direction, as sad as it sounds but dedicating time and manpower to something that is simply not worth it is... not worth it! Which is funnily a summary of this entire post and ultimately one of the major reasons i am stopping to continue developing my Viewer actively.

Many of you obviously have other interests than seeing the fanciest graphics possible in Second Life, that is human, we all do strive for our own goals but you do have to realize that by not showing interest in graphics to some degree you also decline interest in at least a big chunk of quality of most of our content in Second Life. Strictly said: You are destroying possibly good content that must necessarily be good in order to survive. In other words, you don't care if content is good, exceptionally well, ok or just plain bad, you just care for your own interests. You are in no way taking other people who want more than just "ok" content into account but yet you force these people to take you into account. That is downright wrong. If at all, you should be happy to be able to use content, even if it doesn't look as good for you as it does for people with better hardware. You can always upgrade later on and experience that content later on in all its glory, think about it this way: If you ever come to the point those people were at, you will be the one complaining that you paid money for better hardware to enable all the cool features just to find out that the stuff you bought looks like crap because of people like yourself, unless you are again not showing any interest and you don't care if it looks like crap because again it might not be "crap" for you since you are not that experienced and/or interested in graphics and their quality to see an important difference.

Above was basically a tip of the iceberg of one of the previously mentioned reasons i am losing interest in Second Life as a whole and why it is wasting its potential. Since that should be done and hopefully well explained we shall continue to major reason that made me decide to stop active development. RL.

I don't have any sad stories to tell about becoming ill in some way or another, in fact i am in a good condition. Almost perfectly healthy according to my doctor. Physically that is. Mentally i'm probably a ticking bomb. "Hah, i knew it, Niran is a psychopath!" you will shout somewhere out of that dark corner with red glowing eyes. Yes, it is no secret that i'm a "slightly" mentally ill guy with an own opinion about everything, as solid and immovable as a mountain. I never made a secret out of it. I'm very depressive and very aggressive if i have to protect my standpoint. Some people call me a dick, for what i say or do, they call me stupid and even worse, a liar, there is a big difference between saying something wrong and lying intentionally. I also sometimes tend to be very paradox, the most common example for that is me saying that i do not care about users, while at the same time bashing in the door of that guy who dared to grief my users for not having a certain feature. I clearly differentiate between not caring about gaining or losing users or having a user base at all and giving "support" for something i made. All these behaviors i'm showing look weird to other people, making them believe i'm trying to be a dick to them whereas i just have my reason to be in declination with what they are and/or represent. I'm a very emotionally driven person, fear and sadness are my biggest enemies, fear to lose control over something and sadness that comes from everything else including being called the wrong boo boo word at the wrong time in the wrong place (yes that matters a lot). Sometimes it seems to me that some people are intentionally trying to provoke me to prove that i'm an asshole because they did not understand the background in my previous sayings, usually leading to me becoming a rage filled douche telling you in the purest honesty what i think about you and everyone else who happens to be around me. Yes i don't have an all that good opinion about oh so many things, i hate a lot of stuff, a lot of people but that seems to be the price for being open and honest about everything and everyone. I'm a very hate filled person to say the least, hate is my every day fuel. Sounds weird. It is indeed. Sadly hate only brings you that far and truly hating certain people did not show progression in any way, in fact it only made me hate them more and they started disliking me, understandably. I have to repeat that i don't lie or at least try my very best not to if i know otherwise, i'll be honest to people and that sometimes includes telling certain people that i think they are stupid fucking assholes. Anyway, enough of endless human stupidity and anal sex. Sadness is driving me into a corner, making me emotionally and mentally unstable, so much that i seek ways to avoid sadness. Second Life was one of these ways, it turned into another saddening area of my life. Love is one of these things that made my life and Second Life such a saddening place for me to be, i don't like talking about it other than saying that love plays a huge role in my life, no love, no life. Wrapping this up as "Niran is an emotionally ill guy who's slowly being driven off of Second Life"

Money. This is the initiator for thinking about stopping active Viewer development. Soon i will need some money and i am not getting any. I don't have a job (i was not taken over after i finished as trainee in a warehouse), that was roughly over 2-3 years ago. I have been sitting at home doing nothing more than playing games, sleeping and working on the Viewer, you guess where this is going... right i'll need a job and with a job comes a huge investment in time of my day. I suspect 10 hours a day. I usually sleep 8-12 hours a day, that's already 18-22 hours a day used for working and sleeping, not to mention i have to eat, drink, visit people, go shopping and do other stuff. All that while still trying to squeeze in playing games with friends. You see there's not much time left to work on a Viewer unless it becomes absolutely necessary or i have some unexpected free time at hand. Sometimes i wish a day had more hours but then again companies would just use that as excuse to make us work even longer.

I feel sad (there it is again) for leaving my users out in the cold like that but time moves on, so do we, something some people don't want to.

"BUT STOP" You might shout, "WE CAN HELP YOU", no you can't. Donating me is not going to solve anything unless you somehow managed to "donate" enough money every month to keep up with at least so much that i won't need a job and the only other option would be ... starting a Kickstarter, please don't. I have seen this fail on Kirstens Viewer long ago and he had quite a bunch more users supporting him (and me sabotaging him for going down that path.. and backstabbing me for trying to make his Viewer better) , not to mention that it would be downright wrong and i would feel bad for it. I don't see myself skilled enough to be privileged to gain any money off of this unless you were fine with my poor coding skills and the path i have chosen for the Viewer, even then i would feel bad, i would feel like i was ripping you off. Ironically you are ripping me off, you are not paying a cent for my time and effort but hey, my broken mentality tells me otherwise.

Whew. It's a long time since i've written so many words into a single post and that is just scratching the surface.

There is one last thing i wan't to talk about. I was talking about my improvements in one of the above wall o'texts. Soon i'll talk to Oz and start a major enhancements project that will focus on bringing all my experiences and improvements i have made to my Viewer over to the official Linden Viewer, as far as they are willing to accept them. I will want to share my stuff with the entire community, i don't want to let all this go to a waste. This will include many Depth of Field, SSAO, (possibly glow) and Camera tweaks as well as some additional features and changes.

So what does "stopping active development" actually mean now. It means that i will obviously still work on it whenever i find some time or necessity to work on it, i will work solely for myself, i don't know about any specifics yet, i will most likely stop announcing updates and instead only do monthly or in worst case longer round-ups of changes, no download links, no nothing, you know where the download link is and you know how and where to download it, that means that i might upload updates in secret without actually announcing them or explaining its changes other than what the changelog tells you, so you will either have to IM me in world if you need help (as usual) or ask on the blog, forum, in world group or SLU (yes i am still looking at SLU from time to time). I will not drop support in any way, i'll still be here and try to help people actively whenever i am online.

[End Super Story Ranting Time]

Before you go, check out the latest update right below this post!


  1. I understand your reasons, and again it is sad, but you n eed to do what you need to do.

    I am sad personally cause I love the viewer, and what it brings to my SL, the thought of using certain other viewers and stuff makes me want to cry BUT...

    So long as you are able to keep your viewer functioning, then I for one will continue to use it until the point that you simply don't wish to use it any more.

    I HOPE that you may find the time to add new things in the future but yea as long as it works then I'm happy.

    I wish you luck with getting a job and getting yourself up and running. Thank you for your viewer over the years, and indeed, monthly updates or as/when needed updates sounds like a very good thing so at least unlike Kirstens your user base isn't left with a viewer they can't use.

    Take care of yourself Niran, Good luck and thanks.

  2. Very interesting reading Niran. Never used your viewer before but I plan to check its DOF and may be port its settings to my prefer viewer. Never underestimate your skills and never overestimate other people opinion about you. It only matters that you feel good and you are doing the right thing. Wish you the best.

  3. Fair winds, i know you will not believe me but you will be missed.

  4. I will miss the viewer, I was hoping that some alternative to Firestorm would always exist with an emphasis on render quality rather than bloated utilities. I will continue to use it in its current state however as its leagues above anything else.. chromatic aberration was on the neatest things I've seen come out of a viewer in ages and I remember when I orignally wished for godrays and asked geenz if it were a possibility. I hope eventually someone will pick up the mantle.. but my interest in SL is waning.