Large textures are a huge problem in Second Life, I know, I’m guilty of causing that problem myself.
If you want to make something look really nice from far but also up close, you are easily tempted to use the biggest texture allowed in SL, 1024 pixels by 1024 pixels.
In most cases this is absurd.
if you want to build a big building with a one texture façade that has lots of little details and that has to look good up close, then it makes sense.
If you prefer using 1 large texture that consists of several smaller ones so you can wrap it around a mesh object without having to use many different textures, it makes sense.
However people don’t always seem to care about the size of textures or they don’t even know they are using large images in stead of regular or small ones.
This becomes a problem when you live in a full sim with up to 100 other people who all enjoy rezzing stuff.
Yes, that is where I live.
A 1024×1024 texture takes for ever to rez, that is all the grey stuff you see in SL.
And when there are lots, it slows things down.
A 1024×1024 pixel texture uses 16 times as much memory as a 256×256 texture!
And when texture demands get too high, frame rate suffers.
As I said, it makes sense to use them in some cases but in many other cases you can use smaller ones without any noticeable loss of quality.
Linden Lab can’t solve the problem of people who use large textures on purpose, because they need big textures or just because they are lazy or don’t care.
For instance, some designers make little shoes, handbags, jewelry and sunglasses with lots of huge textures.
This makes the objects look great and who cares that they cause sims trouble somewhere outside the shop?
But really, nobody would actually notice if you use a 512/512 or 256/256 texture for the sole of that shoe, the backside of that earring or for those 80 individual pieces of diamond on your necklace…
I am trying to cut down on large textures, I promise.
But when someone in SL sends me a texture they want me to use as wallpaper in the house they rent or for whatever other reason, it is often a very large texture.
That means I will first have to download it (and usually remind the sender to give me a full perm version), then I have to open photoshop and make the texture smaller, then upload it again and pay 10 Linden for the pleasure of all that hassle.
But Linden Lab could do something about people who accidently upload large textures, who are perhaps not so good with image editing software or who just don’t know about the whole large textures issues.
Here is what I think Linden Lab could/should do, consider it as a free gift to the next CEO 😉
Add this to the texture upload window;
First of all, a nice big red warning that lets the user know he or she is uploading a large texture, the red question mark button below that warning will give them some information on why large textures are not always a good idea and rarely needed.
But when the user then clicks the change size the SL viewer rezzes several different sized versions of that picture, for instance 512×512, 256×256, 64×64, depending on the size of the original texture of course.
The user can then decide to easily, without any image software hassle, decide to upload a smaller texture.
You wanted to upload that 1024×512 pixel image, the uploader warned you, you saw that the quality really wasn’t that bad at a 512×256 resolution and uploaded that version in stead, easy, quick and we’re fighting lag.
You may think that it will be a hell of a lot of work for LL to add this to our viewers, yes it probably is although the viewers can already rescale images, try uploading a picture that is 2000×2000 pixels big, it will automatically be converted to 1024×1024.
But even if it is a lot of work for LL, it will be worth it.
Not only will a better use of textures make SL look better, it will also make it run a lot smoother.
Lag is and will be the biggest complain users have and getting rid of a lot of the big textures will make a difference.