going commando – prims versus texture intervention


from past posts you can tell that i like “staying native” (going commando?) and like to build with minimal imported textures. it’s not so much because textures can incur a big load on the viewer because when they are properly made, they can save on prim count. it’s also a subjective thing as to their value in your work . . . but there’s no doubt that well crafted textures add tremendously to a build and great textures are key to great clothing

so if it’s not the size and load, assuming i am capable of creating an efficient texture, then why do i shy away from textures?

in my move from Second Life i was able to export many things which then were imported into a private grid with Reaction Grid, then exported and imported into their community grid, and then exported and imported into our SimHost grid. in all that moving, i lost some textures and some became corrupted. additionally, subQuark likes the simplicity of “native” builds and uses the analogy of creating things with Legos – to learn how a wheel turns on an axle of a Lego car, it doesn’t matter that the Lego bricks are limited in their colours

for the sim-on-a-stick build i ripped off i was inspired by Tintin’s rocket in Destination Moon and in true Ener commando spirit i did not use any imported textures. i simply duplicated the same prim umpteen times and cut and dimpled it by differing amounts to make the checkered pattern on the rocket fuselage

this is an extreme example of my stubborness – the prim rocket is a total of 35 prims versus 16 for the textured one below - and the texture file size?

221 bytes! not kilobytes – 221 bytes! if i used four of those, it would still be under 1 kb!

it’s pretty obvious that one tiny texture is far less viewer load than 19 cut and dimpled spheres! phew, i’m stubborn! =D

what are you stubborn about when it comes to virtual worlds?


left are prims | right is a texture


a closer look reveals crisp edges on the left, but not worth 19 prims!


it would also have been faster to use one texture!

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written by Ener Hax

March 13th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

posted in OpenSim,virtual worlds

tagged with

9 comments to 'going commando – prims versus texture intervention'

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  1. In terms of modern computer’s graphics capability, the polygon count of virtual worlds is quite low. So the question is not one of viewer capabilities, unless the client is using a really slow computer (like 8 or so years old) My 5 year old Mini9 netbook runs OS server and viewer at the same time just fine, although not at the best graphics setting admittedly (more to do with shaders than polygons though).

    Depending on how the data for the prims are packaged, it could be a much smaller amount of data needed to be sent for each prim and for any image.

    Take a 256 X 256 image. Each pixel needs 4 bytes per pixel (1 bit each for Red, Green, Blue and Alpha/Transparency), when you multiply that by 256 row, and then again for 256 columns, that equals 262,144 bytes (or 2,097,152 bits).

    A single prim might be able to be described by a few bytes (I’m not sure the actual number, so for argument lets say 128 bytes – it is probably less).

    This means that for the same amount of data as the 256 X 256 image, you could have 2,048 prims.

    Of course, with images you have compression, so this would reduce the size some what, but it should also be possible to compress the data for prims too.

    The best way would be to look at the amount of data that needs to be sent for images vs prims. However, I think prims will be a lot less than images.


    13 Mar 12 at 10:02 pm

  2. wow, nice analysis Paul! and an interesting conclusion which doesn’t help my OCD nature and drive to use prims instead of textures! =)

    i’m sure there is some way to actually measure load, but it’s seemingly not as direct as talking about image sizes on a website

    Ener Hax

    13 Mar 12 at 10:48 pm

  3. And there are yet other factors to consider.
    At OpenSim Creations, Vanish has put up the March monthly challenge “Vehicles”. The catch is, there is a 32 prim limit.
    Apparently 32 is the largest physical linkset allowed in SL, and “because many driving scripts make use of physical prims, for the scope of this challenge, the creation must not have more than 32 prims”

    So one rocket would qualify and the other wouldn’t, we might say in posh language, its a question of choosing a construction method that meets the design parameters.

    Personally, I like detailed textures, but at the same time, I do think some things one might do in keeping prim counts low can be counter productive in performance.
    I’ve never measured the difference, but I don’t think prim counting is usually the answer to anything, it’s the nature of the prim and its properties that count more.
    LL seem to have reached that conclusion too with prim equivalents.

    keith selmes

    14 Mar 12 at 5:08 am

  4. The other problem is that non-phantom prims add to server load on the physics engine. Which is why my solution is to add invisible non-phantom prims for the structure and have the visible prims as phantom if I am dealing with detailed objects on a boundary (it also helps avoid users getting stuck in the prim details and not easily being able to escape).

    But really, it is a compromise whether you choose to do prims or textures. ANd there are so many factors to consider that sometimes the best solution is to do what is easiest for you and gives the result you want.

    After all we are not trying to design optimal level designs for a fast paced FPS. Virtual worlds (even ones used only for purely practical purposes), are an artistic expression. All the prims, animations, textures and other content is there for aesthetic reasons. SO the ultimate choice comes down to what gives you the aesthetic effect you want for the build. It is only in the extreme cases where large numbers of users, prims and textures are being used that we really have to be too concerned about the optimal design (oh, and OCD of course :D ).


    14 Mar 12 at 8:35 am

  5. Hi Ener! I don’t pretend to know much about the technical aspects of this discussion but I can say this, reading this made me grin. I love the way you think!


    14 Mar 12 at 9:42 am

  6. Here I thought the post was about not wearing underwear….



    14 Mar 12 at 10:03 am

  7. I go for what looks best :-D Sometimes that means individual prims for the shinies, sometimes that means a detailed texture.

    Sarge Misfit

    14 Mar 12 at 12:02 pm

  8. for shame! hehee Ener, you know you could have made the whole thing with a sculpt from blender and a single texture and made it look just as good :D


    14 Mar 12 at 4:43 pm

  9. “design parameters” that is a mouthful! and it includes it’s targetted se as well as cost parameters – like doing a custom build for a company, you have X dollars to work in and that’s a real conatraint too

    good point Paul, i use phantom prims for some things but it never occured to me to do the same with the rocket! it’s a static thing so could be phantom with a real invisible prim as its physics

    thanks metaversemina! i don’t know much tech stuff either and part of this blog is intended to be entertaining and it’s an awesome community who teaches me more in comments than i could learn anywhere else =)

    ha ha Azzura! yah, going commando was a bit cheeky, but not the lower cheeks! =

    pfft Sarge! from that peak with your photos of Excelsior Station – you go for top quality builds with really good texturing =)

    lol, i could not have “made it look just as good” with Blender. now i could build a nice looking rocket in Blender in about an hour complete with some nice details like a ladder, hatches, and whatever BUT . . . i have no idea how to bring that into OpenSim. could i learn? i suppose so, but the thought of it intimidates me

    Ener Hax

    14 Mar 12 at 7:17 pm

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