the other day i explored the impact of textures on the server (specifically RAM) and this becomes critical for two reasons – the more RAM you use the more it uses up your server’s resources and the longer it takes for your work to load for visitors
if you don’t run your own server you probably are not so concerned with that first point because you figure your world provider (vwp? like isp?) is being paid to deal with it. the second point affects everyone if your grid is open to visitors because they will need to download your textures as well as the information about all your prims. that latter part is also something you should consider that affects lag – the complexity of your prims is data that is sent to visitors. if a prim is twisted, cut, hollowed, has texture repeats and offsets – all of that info takes up bytes (an important consideration for meshes also) – the more bytes, the more lag
when i saw the significant reduction in one region’s OAR file after removing some textures, my OCD side kicked in and i decided to see what would happen if i swapped prims for textures. i already started doing this with the roads, thanks to subQuark’s help, where we went from 2 and 3 prims with textures to 5 prims without textures (that post)
my first “test” for seeing what the effect of removing additional textures is on a building that is the place of a toilet flushing science activity (warning: math content). it’s a building meant to be one metre taller than the current tallest building in the world and it only uses 5 textures, all of which are 512 png-8s . removing textures would reduce the amount of data in that region but i still want to maintain a level of “visual interest” so i added prims to the building, a lot of prims - 286 additional prims! o_O
at first it might seem that adding prims is a crazy idea because, for many of us, Second Life imposed a mentality that prims are the big deal because that’s what the limiting factor is on a sim. you don’t get a report on how much RAM you use, only on the number of prims and scripts. so the thought of adding 286 prims in the place of 5 textures seems ludicrous (at least to me)
but simple prims might have a small footprint and i base that thought on this from the SimHost website: “A simple ‘box’ primitive (or things derived from boxes) use a tiny amount of resources (max: 50MB per 1,000). ”
so what was the end result of this?
well, it completely shocked me. i thought that 286 additional prims would take up a lot more space than 5 fairly well made textures but was i wrong! i swear that i am not making up these numbers and what i looked at was the OAR file size before i removed the five textures and then after i added the 286 new prims (all hollowed cylinders) and the results were 18,388 KB before and 18,387 KB after!!!
this has turned my virtual world upside down and the image below shows the two “looks” – i think i’m going to continue on this crazy rampage! =)