August 28, 2008

Avatar Rendering Cost debunked

Since the introduction of Avatar Rendering Cost, there was controversy. Like no other tool before, it was quickly used to discreminate. There are reports of avatars being ejected or banned due to too high ARC. Rather drastic opinions on ARC can be read at my friend Kitty (http://kittywitchin.com/2008/08/23/kitty-rant-if-i-can-have-an-arc-of-1-at-hair-fair-why-cant-you/) or at my sister Chey (http://cheyennepal.blogspot.com/2008/07/arc-discrmination.html). My girlfriend Skinkie, who designs jewellery, investigated into that matter and found ways to reduce the ARC of her creations: http://thedressingupbox.blogspot.com/2008/05/avatar-rendering-cost-jewellery-some.html

But all the time there were people claiming that the ARC has no meaning whatsooever, that the effect is grossly overestimated, and that it is doctoring on a symptom and not the cause of SL laggyness. My friend Tarissa found an interesting blog post, that seems to debunk the myth of ARC = lag.

"Technically, ARC is supposed to measure the computational requirements of rendering a specific avatar with a specific attachment combination. But, it does this in abstract parrots — meaning that it’s units do not correspond directly to any computational power measurement I know of — and the abstract parrots fly wherever they damn well please."
says Rika Watanabe, and continues to line out the experiments she made with high-ARC-objects, that actually bring down the rendered frames per second (FPS) only marginally. She concludes:
"So in effect ARC does little more than promote people competing who can get it higher, and causes lynch mobs when the lag is actually results from poor server performance or excessive numbers of avatars on screen."
The full article can be found here: http://rikawatanabe.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/arbitrary-rage-cause/

I think further investigation is needed, before ARC is used to discreminate even further. I also think ARC actually distracts from the real issue - that the SL grid is not really scalable and has some inherent design flaws. It's ridiculous that a sim crashes when there are 80 avatars on it, and it is ridiculous that an empty sim gets attributed the same CPU power like a full sim. Assigning a fixed number of CPU's or servers to a sim is not exactly scalable.

And let's not forget that scripts and uninspired use of textures have a huge share on lag as well. Sim owners are better advised to streamline their scripts and tune down their textures than to discreminate against high ARC avatars.

And no, I don't know the ARC of my avi - never bothered to check.

Update 1: My ARC for my typical outfit is 1054.
Update 2: You can switch off rendering of all other avatars via Advanced -> Rendering -> Types -> Character - that is pretty antisocial but will make you move smooth even in laggy sims
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