SL and POS Laptops from the Recyling Bin

by Alphaville Herald on 27/05/08 at 11:10 pm

Cheapskates cheer happy news from Linden Lab

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

According to an e-mail forwarded by an anonymous tipster to the Second Life Herald offices today, Linden staffer Dave Parks has mixed news for the Second Life development community, refusing to support new features on older graphics cards but also saying “cheapskates of the world… Second Life will still run on that POS laptop your boss let you take out of the recycling bin at work”.

Here at the Herald, we are not sure if we should take this e-mail at face value — particularly since the Lindens have told us how important it is to provide unlimited free access to SL, lest some potential metaverse resident be turned away from King Philip and Emperor M Linden’s garden of cyber delights. We cannot discount the possibility of a faked e-mail, but if the goal is bringing SL to the widest possible audience, shouldn’t the Lab gladly support “pandering” to people with 3 year old graphics cards? Dave, please tell us that there is some hope for a better experience for the more elderly computers – or maybe just publish detailed hardware recommendations for SL?

It seems likely that Mr. Parks was just having a bad day – but suggesting “if you don’t care enough about graphics to keep and maintain an up to date system, you shouldn’t expect to experience significant graphics improvements” does seem a bit harsh. Particularly when the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro has been suffering from graphics card freeze-ups for over a year.

Still, the Lab works in mysterious ways, and hope springs eternal among the fanboy community – and those who guess which graphics cards Mr. Parks currently favors.

[full text of Dave Parks’ e-mail after the jump]

Original Message
From: “Dave Parks”
To: “Second Life Developer Mailing List”
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 5:24 AM
Subject: Re: [sldev] branches/shadow-draft missing llrender.cpp

>A number of people have been e-mailing me directly complaining that this
> doesn’t work with their GeForce 7 GPU. GeForce 7 was introduced in June
> 2005, which means it would be starting preschool in the fall. It’s old
> enough to talk in complete sentences, it’s beyond obsolete. Frankly,
> drawing the line at GeForce 8 (not even current gen any more) for a
> still-in-development high end feature is generous. That would be like
> Crytek saying they’re not going to add any features to Crysis that are
> DirectX 10.0 only (probably a bad example what with the whole Vista
> thing, but you see my point). I’m not going to apologize for it, and
> I’m not going to pander to people who think a 3 year old architecture
> should receive as much support and attention as current offerings.
> The way I see it, if you don’t care enough about graphics to keep and
> maintain an up to date system, you shouldn’t expect to experience
> significant graphics improvements. If I invest resources to supporting
> an old chip that’s being phased out, I get a much lower return on that
> investment than if I would have put those resources into a chip that’s
> becoming mainstream. The number of installed GeForce 7′s in the world
> is decreasing while the number of GeForce 8′s is increasing, and I don’t
> expect GeForce 7′s to make a comeback.
> Now, before the over reaction machine spins up and I get an e-mail about
> an open letter from the cheapskates of the world, this doesn’t mean
> Second Life is going to be GeForce 8 only, just that you’ll need that
> kind of card if you want the absolute best experience. Second Life will
> still run on that POS laptop your boss let you take out of the recycling
> bin at work.

9 Responses to “SL and POS Laptops from the Recyling Bin”

  1. Angel

    May 28th, 2008

    In fact DaveP Linden was talking about his new “experimental” client that has shadows in it, a code sample that is for his work and that was made available to the SL Dev team.

    People on SLDev who checkout a CVS version of experimental code should not be complaining it doesn’t run on their Trident card.

  2. Nicholaz Beresford

    May 28th, 2008

    It’s not a fake and he probably didn’t just have a bad day (unless all his days are bad days).

    Click this link (the developer mailing list archive) and search for posts by Dave Parks (his later ones are worth reading too to get an idea of his mindset):

    I guess the old article about Dav3 P4rks being hired was pretty much on spot, saying “… a mutant undergrad computer graphics d000d”.

    Besides that, I’d tend to agree with the guy about making über-features available to über-hardware only, but with the Linden tendency to break something existing whenever adding something new, it’s no wonder people won’t like that.

    And with the Geforce 8xxx cards, as someone on the SL dev list correctly pointed out, the G7 cards over the last year were still the most sensible purchase (sufficiently matured without teething pains) while the G8 had their own range of problems with SL.

  3. Sargeant Lane

    May 28th, 2008

    Would it have been a terrible BURDEN for the Herald to simply ASK him if it was authentic before printing it? Yes, I realize that it probably is authentic, but one would THINK that a “journalist” might ASK a supposed source if they actually said it.

    In any event, this has been going on for years. I can’t tell you how many times my card has gone from the recommended list > minimum requirements list > not supported list. Which means at times, I couldn’t have all the candy until I upgraded again.

    Nothing new under the sun.

  4. lol wut

    May 29th, 2008

    Yeah, because you can always go straight to the horse’s mouth for a straight/truthful answer. OH WAIT

  5. Ric Mollor

    May 29th, 2008

    Assuming the document was written by Dave Parks one has to wonder who the developers of Second Life consider their target audience.

    Though the 8 series GPUs are certainly popular with gamers the percentage of installed PCs with graphics capabilities at that level is very low. Only dedicated gaming PC will have GPUs of that caliber as the requirements for Vista are far lower and the majority of mainstream PCs are lucky to run the Aero interface smoothly.

    At one time Linden Lab was promoting SL as the future ’3d internet”. They certainly can’t achieve that goal by making their platform inaccessible to the majority of computers.

  6. anon

    May 29th, 2008

    considering the lindens cant even get N64 level graphics to work on an average PC with dozens of times the graphics processing power i wouldnt get your hopes up

  7. Dr. Internet

    Jun 5th, 2008

    What anon said.

    It’s hilarious that you need such powerful set ups to display graphics that look up to date if it were 2001. Yeah tons of objects and user created content doesnt help, but I’ve seen games that are much much more graphic heavy, and with more objects, not even make a 7 series sigh.

    Sounds like someone is trying to keep job security by blaming the end user for their faulty code.

  8. Dr. Internet

    Jun 5th, 2008

    @ Ric

    LL promotes SL as a lot of things, for a lot of things it cant actually do or handle.

    -It isn’t a 3D internet, as the internet is not controlled by one entity. It’d be a true 3d internet if anyone could just download the server software and run their own sims or grids. don’t even start on reverse engineered attempts. They’re nothing more than a proof of concept, much like what SL REALLY is.
    -It sucks for education and business collaboration, as what it offers can be mimicked by conferencing software (a bunch of avatars, sitting in a sim, conferring with someone on a video screen, how about just using skype or something else that allows conferencing)
    -It sucks for business. Period. There are no real protections on any “products” you make inworld, nor are those products really yours. You also have to rely on the company’s own currency to make money, currency that can change arbitrarily with no checks or balanced.
    -It’s only good for advertisement.

    It’s basically a proof of concept software that got turned into a golden goose. It was never ready for what it’s doing now. They can spin as much marketing bullshit as they wish, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s run by an incompetent company that fired all their real developers and have people like dave working on it — and the fact it was never intended to do what its doing now.

    The best solution would be for someone to rewrite it all and make it better to scale, with security (encryption, anyone?) and other things that they try to claim it can do.

    Application sharing would be great too if they want to tout collaboration.

  9. Storm in a teacup

    Jun 5th, 2008

    Seems a fair assessment, and what other software makers do all the time, excepting the cheapskate comment perhaps. Not everyone has Bill Gates as their Dad.

    I’m on a Mac, a G% as opposed to an Intel, so there are certain things I can’t do eg iPhone SDK without getting an Intel Mac. Photoshop was the same, pre G4 and Altivec. even if you upgraded the software, you didn’t benefit from speed unless you got the hardware.

    But both PS and SL still run on older equipment, just don’t expect all the bells and whistles. I’m happy not having Windlimp lagging everything to death and distorting lighting thank you very much.

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