Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Avatar Server Demand

Avatar Server Demand 120605

The upcoming DANCE QUEENS Dance Festival V has me thinking about ways to reduce dance lag. One of the contributors to dance lag is the server side demands that occur when many avatars are on the same sim. I have covered dance lag before from an individual avatar viewpoint, and I have thought a lot about the subject from a sim management viewpoint.

At last year's Dance Festival IV I used an approach of Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) and the script monitoring tools available to me as a sim owner to identify avatars that were the biggest users of sim server resources. I asked individuals to reduce ARC in IM. WOW, that not only made people confused, it took a lot of explanation and made some audience members angry that I asked them to remove scripted items while watching the shows.

For Dance Festival V I initially decided that separating the sims for most of the shows and controlling audience size at 40 avatars would be enough to make the lag problems manageable, but ... hahahaha, there is always a but. But, I came across something at a club that  gives feedback on individual avatar script usage. Once I investigated it, I have decided to use it to further control lag at the upcoming Dance Festival. It is called the ABTech Avatar Script Monitor made by Ales Beaumont.

Here is a pic of the monitor with me in front of it.

The monitor is rezzed and gives real time feedback of the demands that each avatar places on the sim side server. You get feedback on number of scripts running, the time required to run the scripts and the memory requirements. In this picture I am wearing a Huddles HUD, long hair and my 2005 shoes. I have a lot of scripts running and my ARC is 7734 (use the menu at the top of your screen: Advanced - Performance Tools - Show Avatar Rendering Cost).

Next, I detached my Huddles HUD. Here is the pic:

WOW! What a difference. I have my Huddles set up so I can lead 20 dancers. When I remove it, script count goes down 62 and my memory usage drops by more than half. The monitor has built in color codes so you can see if you are high (red), moderate (yellow) or low (green) in your server demands. I also placed my ARC above my head and you can see it remains at 7734.

Next, I put on my Barre HUD:

This is the standard Barre with eight dancers I can lead, but you can see it added only 22 scripts. If I added 12 scripts so that I could lead 20 with my Barre that would be 34 scripts, still far fewer than the Huddles. This is good evidence that the Barre is better than the Huddles for managing lag.

Next, I removed all of my attachments except the Firestorm bridge.

WOW, I may not be beautiful, but I surely don't put much demand on the server. So I began to put on and take off attachments. I found that some have almost no demands and others surprisingly have high demands. For example, the ankle bracelet that Riddle gave me a few years ago and I wear almost all the time, has 122 scripts in it. WOW! I think I will ask Riddle to trade this one in on a low script version.

So, now I have set up one of the script monitors at Dance Central. You can go there and test your own attachments.

Next, I used my RL best friend's avatar to see how the monitor handles two avatars. Here she is (Nottooo Wise, which is a long story for another time) with me. I set up the monitor to order us by memory usage.

One nice feature of the monitor is that you can easily see who the biggest offenders are in terms of sim server demand. In fact, everyone can see. If peer pressure were enough to make the offenders reduce script usage, this would be great. BUT (another but) the monitor system allows you to go a step further. You can warn people who are high server demand people, give them time to correct the situation and eject them if they do not.

I am not too keen on quickly ejecting audience members from the Dance Festival, but it does give me an idea for managing the audience.

Here is what I plan to do for the Dance Festival.
  1. I will set up the landing point for the Dance Festival on my current sim, Not2z.
  2. At the landing point I will place a script monitor with instructions for understanding it. I will identify the maximum memory or script usage allowed and give advice how to get script demands lower. There will also be a teleporter to the festival.
  3. At the festival I will set up another script monitor, but this one will have the warning and ejecting features mentioned above. Any offenders will have a minute to correct their script demands and will be ejected if they don't.
Performers will be on another sim and will not be affected. Only on Friday, July 27 will we have the performers and audience on the same sim and we will not use the ejecting feature at that time.

I am very interested in your comments about this approach for the Festival and what level of server demand should be allowed.



  1. That sounds like a fine plan. But please don't put in a system that gives you x amount of minutes to remove your scripts before it boots you from the sim. A skin fair did that lately and I was booted before I figured out what was going on and found where the scripts were.

  2. Hi Nottoo. I am never-endingly impressed at your dedication to task, I must say, we are fortunate to have you!
    I have very strong feelings on this issue, and have had lengthy arguments with people about it, thus I am compelled to add my "two cents".
    I run a very successful dance show that attracts upwards of fifty avatars every weekend. It should be noted that this show is held at midnight, when the load on servers is probably a lot less. I have also hosted and run very large live music events for the past three years.
    I believe policing things like scripts and ARC are harmful to shows. This kind of behaviour makes audience members feel bad, and that is the number one killer for your show. I have been to many policed events, and I have to say that my anecdotal experience is that they are no less laggy, and often worse, though I'll admit I don't know why.
    What I do know is that I produce and perform in a show that draws high traffic, repeat business, and which does not and will not ever police the audience. Yes, some people find it laggy. Yes, they arrive early to get a good view. And yes, they keep coming back.
    The biggest problem I have with lag is that I have dancers who are terrified of it, and at the first sign of a problem, like frightened horses, they bolt, and have to be calmed down to believe they can perform adequately. As far as I am concerned, it exists in much more frightening proportions in their heads than it does in reality. That said, the past few weeks have been rougher than usual, but that is across the board SL, and this has always been my experience.
    We come to SL and enjoy it because we can express ourselves. I don't believe we, as performers, have more right to that than anyone else. But I do believe true fans do realise that the the less they use, the more we can use to entertain them.
    I am no less precious about my “art” than anyone is. But I am humble enough to know that the success of my performance relies on more than just me – if it did not rely on a live audience, and their interactions with each other and my dancers, we would just make machinima. You have complete control then, but I don’t believe it’s what we, as entertainers, want. We want a live audience, and if we want them, we ought to respect them.
    The fact is, any time your processor is asked to read a large number of customised avatars, there will be a struggle. You're asking it to process a great deal of information before we even dress. My PC is two years old, wasn't expensive as these things go, and handles most events of 100 avatars reasonably well. Perhaps the answer is to expect to have high-performance hardware. Perhaps it is to limit the number of people who may attend an event. Perhaps it is to slow down, think of the audience and do what you can to be entertainment foremost.
    Apologies for the tl;dnr 