ARC is Not the Boogeyman

5 May

Call me crazy, but I just don’t get the all the hubbub and suspicion around town about the ARC, saying that it’s Big and Bad and All Wrong because “it doesn’t take into account the user’s graphics card capabilities”.

If that were true, then the ARC would have no real value because there would be no real scale, making the number (mostly? absolutely?) useless. And here’s why:

Let’s say I design something, but I have a kick ass system. Perhaps I’m concerned with making laggy things, so I check the ARC. Shows great for me! Perfect, it’s not laggy at all!

But then someone with a crappy graphics card buys my thing and it slows them to a crawl. They check their ARC and it’s thru the roof! Which ARC is right? Is it a laggy thing or not? There are as many answers to that as there are points in a circle (infinite!)

Or situation B: It’s a full, laggy event. The witch hunt begins: Everyone turns on their ARC’s and starts talking. Oh, look person A is huge! make them go bald! But someone else says, no that person’s fine but PERSON B, that’s the one that’s killing it for me…..etc etc etc who’s right? everyone? no one? The number becomes arbitrary, meaningless.

Look people: here’s what (I think, in my very humble opinion) the ARC’s about. Before this, all we had was folk legends about AO’s lagging down events, or whatever you want to believe this week. Laggy events were handled like witch hunts, each person with a different pet theory about what’s causing the lag. Most of the pet theories are wrong.

The graphics guys at LL do understand how certain things cause more work than others to render. That’s obviously how they assigned their points. ON A COMMON BASELINE.

Believe me, I don’t think it’s a perfect system, but it’s better than folk lore. I think some things are noticably missing from the points assignment, like sculpties, and taking into account a texture’s size which can make a big difference.

But it’s a beginning. It’s a snapshot, a general idea about how laggy one thing is compared to another. Everyone could be in red and if you’ve got a great system that can handle it, you should have no problem seeing it all, have high fps, etc. Good for you, now get outta mai face 🙂 The rest of us do contend with lag and it’s nice to know that hair A has a large ARC so maybe it’s not a good idea to wear it to the next fashion show or orgy room or Insert Laggy Event Here.

The ARC is a development tool, much like if I create web pages I should check the pages to make sure they work on older versions of browsers and in different OS’s. If it only told me what things were to me, that wouldn’t help me create items in a smart way, nor understand the impact I’m having on my poor Minimum System Requirement-having customer or neighbor or visitor or victim.

The fact is, LL always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to “it runs so slow!” but so much of that slow is caused by you and me and everybody. The ARC sets to put the User behind the Content in a place of having more information.

User Generated Content may be the Shining Star of Second Life, but it’s also it’s Primary Problem.

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4 Responses to “ARC is Not the Boogeyman”

  1. Botgirl Questi May 5, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Added you to my blogroll!

  2. Rheta Shan May 5, 2008 at 11:33 pm #

    Oh no, nobody is going to call you crazy ; after all, assessment of the ARC is open to personal opinion, and I find your take on it interesting.

    I agree it would make no sense whatsoever calculating different ARC values according to the power of the graphics hardware. That would be illogical by itself (the costs do not change with purchasing power), and, as you rightly pointed out, there would be no way to compare ARCs between machines any more.

    But that is not what I consider the glaring flaw of the system, nor what I have tried to draw attention to in my post. The flaw is not hat the ARC value is machine independent, it is that the rating of this value as good, so-so, or bad (respectively red, yellow, green) is. While it makes absolute sense to calculate the same ARC across machines, it makes none whatsoever to postulate that the same ARC causes the same client side lag in graphics hardware of widely differing power. That would amount to stating that for the performance of the SL client, all graphics cards are equal — which I very much doubt (contenders are welcome to prove the opposite is true, of course 🙂 ).

    Keeping to your example, the same person will be designated as causing client side lag (ARC red) even if all users present run SL on machines not impacted in the least by his or her ARC. And seeing how much we all hate lag (me not excepted), and that all other lag causes are not as easily pointed to, what will happen to that person ? With that ARC, she or he will be presumed guilty of lag until proven innocent. Quite a progress indeed 🙂

    P.S. : User generated content is SL’s primary problem ? Does that mean you believe we would be better off without it ?

  3. Rheta Shan May 5, 2008 at 11:38 pm #

    Bugger, the bracket in the third paragraph above should read « (respectively green, yellow, red) », of course. Sorry for that.

  4. QueenKellee Kuu May 6, 2008 at 12:17 am #

    I see your point exactly with the value problem. They could do away with the color coded-ness, but then there’s a problem of understanding what level is “high”-ish….But yes, witch hunts will probably still exist. We can never seem to get away from drama, can we?

    –>OH and get rid of User Generated Content? GAWD NO! Ha! Yes, I rather did stick that ending in there. No, I firmly believe that User Generated Content is What Makes Second Life What It Is; it’s Most Important Feature, if you will 🙂 …I say it like I’d say Someone’s child is a person’s primary problem…it makes them work hard, and do a lot of sacrificing, but worth every single bit of it. It’s greatest challenge. ‘Hard’ does not equal ‘bad’

    Second Life is often compared to traditional video games that are highly customized to be fast loading and responsive when you need it, but SL has so much…beautiful chaos that “highly customized to run fast does not exist.” And I think LL takes a lot of crap sometimes for “lag” and such that are simply always going to be apart of any kind of User Generated Content situation…unless you begin to educate the residents and give them tools to see the differences.

    I stand with other’s who’ve asked for similar tools for builds/objects rezzed in-world (not just avatars). Currently Estate Owners can scan their sims for laggy scripts using Estate Tools – I sure wish I could do that as a resident. All these things would help us learn, allow smart residents to be pro-active, and to stop the witch hunts.

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