Halls of Residence, Academy of Magick

Building Tips

More on Lag

We began a discussion in the last issue of the Gazette about lag; that is, when everything just slows down. You can't move quickly, and things often take a long time to download. Once you have figured out that your Visibility is set too high (which can cause things to slow down), and your computer speed and Internet speeds are OK, and things still d r a g, it's time to see what is causing the problem. I've gone to Bach Zhaa's workshop on lag a little while back, and have pumped him for a bit more information on this often vexing problem. So, presented here are some things that cause serious lag in any build.

1. Mirrors. The "create envi" command. This creates a reflective image in various ways that can really slow things down. It's good for small mirrors in a build, but it should only be used very sparingly and generally within an enclosed space, like a bathroom, for example. You can also use it on a 'bump' command so that it only is visible to the 'bumper', or the 'activate' command, so viewers only sees it with tney click on it.

2.Coronas. Another neat trick, but one which creates a huge visual strain and therefore slows things down. Even though they can be used, DON'T! .

3.Particle Emitters (PEs). This is complex. But the main thing is to look at the quantities in your PEs. Look at the Particle Lifespan, Release Count, and Release Time. These things all add up, which means that if you have very large release counts and release time, for example, it will generate a very large number of the asset textures, and that means lots and lots of textures being created doing things for a long period of time. Result: lag.

4.Very large pictures. AW has objects in which you can place web-based pictures, but the size of the picture file can be a problem. If your picture files are larger than 512x512 pixels, AW will first render them down or up to that size, and then put them into the selected object. It's best to use pictures that are adjusted to 512x512 and have a file size of 100KB or below, with around 50KB being the norm. The .png format is preferred, followed by .jpg and then .gif.

5.Audio and video files can cause things to slow right down too, if they are always playing. One way around this is to use the 'activate media' command and then they will only play when selected.

6.Lots and lots of pictures. When the AW browser has to download heaps of big pictures, this will slow things down too. Figure out how to get your pictures to less than 100 KB, and then work to see if you can use a trigger to invoke the picture, instead of having them up all the time.

So in general, you can make dense builds, but be mindful of the commands and objects that can cause lag. It isn't just you that suffers, but everyone who visits your builds. There are some great techniques in AW building, and the more we learn how to use them well, the better our builds will be. And a final plug; if you can spare the time I really encourage you to attend Bach's workshops at AW School. They are well worth it.

Do you have any questions on building?

Does anyone have any building questions they want answered or do you have some tips you want to share? Please contact Ozman and also to give feedback on this article, particularly if there are any mistakes. He is doing this from experience. And as always, be sure to check the AW Help page and the related AW wiki pages for further help.

For new builders, be sure to visit AWNewbie, and AWSchool worlds for very good tutorials, on-line help from qualified teachers, and lots of very good objects.