Virtual World viewers: Part 2 – Imprudence

This is a review of a third-party viewer I’ve used extensively in SL and OpenSim regions. Imprudence 1.3.2 release was made available in early 2011. As this post is image intensive, please continue to read after the cut.

Download and installation

Imprudence Default Log-in screen

I found the download time quite fast, around 10 seconds for a 61.5 MB file. Installation was without any problems. Imprudence takes up 170.7 MB once installed.

The first time you launch the viewer; you are asked to choose from a pre-defined list which grid you want to log-in to. Once you have selected your chosen grid you will be able to see the particular start-up screen (the one shown above is a default to the OS grid).

Documentation and downloads are available at: Kokua/Imprudence site

You will find the developers’ blog, forum, bug reports and wiki pages through the above link. Imprudence documentation tends to be thorough and well-explained, as well as having a searchable forum to look for specific questions and suggestions from users. As is standard for most forums; you do need to create an account to post your own questions and bug reports.

Navigation (user interface and avatar movement controls)

The image below shows the user interface once you have logged in. In this case it’s in Second Life.

Imprudence in-world UI screen

This is the default user interface, with your main/most used options on the bottom bar of the screen. The camera and avatar movement control panels are on by default and visible at the centre top and bottom. You have the classic blue help boxes popping up each time you highlight or use an ability. All other options need to be accessed through the drop-down menus at the top left-hand side (unless you know the hot key shortcuts).

I tend to keep my camera and movement control boxes on-screen, but it’s easy enough to click on the corner of each box to close them if you find them unnecessary. User name tags are set on permanent visibility. I do always change that, which comes in the next step of bringing up the Preferences window. Another feature I like to use is changing the viewer skin to Silver and the font to Liberation.

Voice chat, unlike in some V2 viewers I have tried before, is not automatically on and needs to be switched on in Preferences.

Graphics

Imprudence Preferences window

My first port of call in any new viewer is to check the Preferences menu. I usually bring this up with the Command-P shortcut. In Imprudence my default setting of the Graphics slider was at High.

One of the most important features for me is to get anti-alias turned on. Whilst this is not something that always works – for me or anyone else; in all viewers I find the visual experience without anti-alias to be somewhat dated and messy-looking.

In the Preferences window I clicked “Hardware Options” and selected anti-alias at 8x. This is where one of the frequent issues with Second Life and anti-alias kicked in. The screen goes dark, you have to re-log. I’ve found Imprudence stable with anti-alias turned on and it worked well after re-logging.

Enabling anti-alias in Preferences

Next choice is LoD (Level of Detail), which is necessary to help with the look of some sculpted prim objects. In comparison to the Phoenix viewer; changing this setting is more obscure in the UI and long-winded to get to. In Imprudence you need to have your Advanced Menu option turned on (Control-Alt-D), go to the Debug Settings option which is at the bottom of the menu list, then type in RenderVol to bring up the control. On default this is set at 1.125. A frequent problem with changing the LoD is a tendency it has to re-set itself. This has happened to me when changing WindLight settings, needing to re-log, teleporting to a new region or making other Preferences changes.

Changing the LoD settings

Imprudence does come with many extra WindLight settings pre-installed, which is a help for snapshots or mood lighting, although not as many as other TPVs sometimes have now. It does also allow ShareLight, so any region which has its own specific sky setting can be automatically changed in your viewer or after you receive a request pop-up.

In testing Imprudence I did come across a problem with the rendering of an animated texture (it remained blurry until I highlighted the object in edit mode). However, this problem can be caused by many different issues and may not be specific to this viewer.

Experimental Shadows feature in Advanced Preferences

One final, important point: in the Preferences Advanced window an “Enable shadows” ability is listed. This is clearly marked as unstable and needing the Ultra graphics setting. I strongly recommend caution in enabling it. The developers marked it as unstable for an extremely good reason! Having tried it out of curiosity, I found that it pixellated the entire viewer screen. The only way I found to undo the pixel mess was to use the “Reset all Preferences to Default” button at the bottom and re-log. Your viewer preferences will be lost and you’ll have to start again.

Avatar Appearance Editing

For editing your avatar’s appearance there is not much noticeable difference between Imprudence and other viewers. Where there are differences is in the lack of some of the newer features. Imprudence does have the facility for wearable alpha layers, but it hasn’t got the same tinting feature you can find elsewhere. There are no multiple attachment points. This can cause unintentional hilarity (or hassle, depending on your point of view) when you do log-in with an enabled viewer and find yourself wearing parts of three outfits, two hairs and two pairs of shoes at once.

Multiple attachments confusion from Imprudence to Phoenix viewers

One thing that does prove handy in Imprudence is the tab in the Inventory window for currently worn items. This is an easily overlooked feature which is a great help for quick reference.

An additional ability that I forgot to mention on first publishing the review: Imprudence does have the feature of an Animation Overrider. This means you can store all your preferred avatar animations within the viewer’s UI and not have to wear an object that contains them.

Transactions

With thanks to Thom Lunasea, who joined me at this point to do some testing, we ran through some of the more common transactions. Thom was using Linden Lab’s viewer 3.2.4. We tested payments to each other and object transfer by dragging the named object from Inventory to an IM window. We tried these together in our home sim and separated by visiting other sims in SL. We encountered no problems. Rarely have I experienced transaction failure in SL or OpenSim regions, unless it had to do with other factors not involving the viewer.

Friends, chat and groups and maps

Imprudence Mini-map with radar

For this section; I’ve skipped a detailed examination of Friends list abilities. I’ve never encountered any particular difficulty with that since the days of Linden Lab’s hippos, which is quite a long time ago. The same goes for Local Chat and IM. I have to say I rarely use Local Chat unless checking for group messages I’ve missed seeing on-screen. Due to personal preferences I usually use voice chat facilities outside of SL, so I’m unable to comment on reliability.

The Mini-map provides a twirl-down menu including radar and other options when you highlight an avatar’s name. The radar function is set at a maximum of 512 metres, so unless you are wearing a more sensitive scanner, you won’t have as much range as some other viewers say they provide.

The world map I’ve found to have one of the best loading times of any viewer I’ve used so far. This is particularly noticeable when you turn on the option for highlighting Land Sales. Definitely faster for me than other experiences.

With group notices I did suddenly realise that each time you highlight a notice in the archive history, even if you do not open it, it will show a message in the Local Chat window saying you have declined it. This could create a cluttered view if you are using Local Chat.

Snapshots

With the default settings – snapshots will be automatically saved at the dimensions of your viewer window. Changing the dimensions and file format is a fairly simple task. So is choosing a location to save the image files to your computer. Imprudence has a reasonably good stability for photos in my experience. As the anti-alias feature works well I’ve never had to save files at extremely large dimensions as a standard workaround.

Summary

Imprudence is a TPV I’ve used regularly for two years. I’ve found it to be, overall, remarkably stable for my needs, with few crashes or lag (unless caused by other circumstances such as crowded sims, poor server response times, etc.,).

Although not covered in this review I have built many objects, terraformed, streamed music, uploaded textures, handled minor scripts and taken a lot of photographs, all using Imprudence releases. I’ve also found their documentation to be some of the best-written and most helpful. Until recently Imprudence was my absolute favourite viewer because of the stability of its features.

For all those good points; unfortunately the team have been unable to offer further releases in recent months.

*Edited 30.01.12* After an open call meeting in January the development team announced they intend to start releasing alpha versions of their viewer for user testing. Future focus looks likely to be on the Kokua viewer rather than Imprudence but for further information and updates I’d suggest visiting the team’s blog.

If you’re looking for a viewer that gives a good standard of reliable behaviour (without needing the newer abilities) then I would recommend trying this first. Particularly for older machines like my iMac.

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2 comments on “Virtual World viewers: Part 2 – Imprudence

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