to texture or not to texture – that is the question


i try to build with as few imported textures as possible. one reason is to lessen the viewer load and speed region rez times and the other is a “lego” approach which subQuark thinks will be fine for our educational endeavor

textures can make things look better when they are well done – they elevate builds in wondeful ways. good textures can take significant time to create but can add so much richness to a scene

so . . . save time, reduce region load, play to the target audience OR take some time, add a bit to the overhead, and satisfy my own standards?

that’s my dilemma and as an OpenSim person i consider what you, my peers, are doing – most of you build really well and pride yourself deeply in your work. so textures makes sense from an OpenSim community perspective (that darn peer pressure!) =p

however, a lack of textures is well tolerated by the non-virtual world mainstream population – look at Minecraft! pretty limited number of textures yet it’s hugely successful. same for Farmville, simple colours do the trick to the tune of something like 60 million monthly players!

i’m torn on this issue personally for Enclave Harbour . . . i get subQuark’s “lego” point of view and from an illustrative perspective for science activities, i don’t think the textures affect the value of the learning outcome much

i spent an hour making textures and adding them to my landfill compactor. the total size of the 16 files is 444 KB and all are 256 png-8s

like many things, there’s no real right or wrong answer and you could point to examples for both sides of this

what do you think?






one could be new? but if only one, then . . .


even broken glass and bent safety rails - what kind of place is this?

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written by Ener Hax

February 6th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

16 comments to 'to texture or not to texture – that is the question'

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  1. I remember, in the early days of the Web, folks would try to get the number of images on their pages to a minimum — and some would have images turned off in their browsers, so pages would load faster.

    Now, we don’t think twice about images — but some people do have Flash blockers on.

    I think, over time, as connections get faster, we’ll stop worrying about in-world textures and start worrying about other stuff.

    Meanwhile, I guess you have to do a calculation — are you using your builds for machinima? In that case, you want the best graphics possible.

    Will you have only local users? Say, Sim-on-a-Stick distribution? Or do you expect to have lots of remote traffic?

    So, for my personal region, I expect little traffic, and I want the highest graphics. Same for our company offices.

    For the hyperports, I expect lots of traffic, and will be running lots of scripts, so I plan to use as few textures as humanly possible, and when I do need textures, to use the same ones over and over again.

    Maria Korolov

    6 Feb 12 at 10:05 pm

  2. As internet speeds get faster, so will the expectations of the quality and quantity of the information sent over it. This means that we will always need more bandwidth than we have, just to get the content we have looking its best.

    It is the dilemma of the Red Queen (from the book “Alice Though the Looking Glass”): That you have to run as fast as you can, just to say where you are.

    Think about computer graphics. Back when we only had 8 bits to play around with for colour, and the maximum screen resolution was 300 X 200 (wow doesn’t that age me :D ), people were amazed at the “realistic” graphics that were being produced.

    But, we are still, today, amazed at the “realistic” graphics that are being produced, and have been amazed at the “realistic” graphics each and every year in between. We will still be amazed at the “realistic” graphics 30 years from now too.

    My rule of thumb is to optimize the amount of information that needs to be sent. This means to make it as low as needed, but no lower.

    For instance: with the landfill compactor, if the images don’t add too much extra data to be sent, and as part of the build, having detailed graphics is important (and there are many reasons why someone would want them to be), then having those detailed textures is fine.

    But, if the sim is already overloaded with detailed textures, and adding more textures doesn’t add anything to the value of the build, then leave them off (and if this is the case, then it probably would be a good idea to reduce the amount or quality of the already existing textures).


    6 Feb 12 at 10:24 pm

  3. I am not a fan of flat color faces.

    This bulldozer is a great example. Here is how I would attack it:

    1. Create one “yellow metal panel with rust texture”(as the bulk of eners bulldozer is) called “Rusty Panel”.
    2. Link entire item. Shift drag Rusty Panel onto the object to apply the texture to all faces(including the black grills and glass).
    3. The glass: 95% transparent, color light grey. Texture scale 300% vertical scale(to emulate scratches.)
    4. The black portions: color 80% black(or just enough to get some texturing from “Rusty Panel” yet has a painted black look.
    5. Bulk Select the hydraulic rams: texture: blank, color medium grey, shine: high.
    6. Shift select all vertical faces: color medium grey
    7. Shift select all inside wheel faces: color dark grey
    8. Wheel hubs: 90% black
    9: Because the natural view is looking up at the bulldozer… downwards facing faces such as underneath of the cab handrails: 90% black.
    10. Tweak some faces texture size to match neighboring texture stretch.
    11. Create some signage textures. Create a 100% alpha texture. Make signage: all faces the alpha textures, except one as the sign face. Apply to object, placing .025m from parent object(0.25m to defeat z fighting).


    Breen Whitman

    6 Feb 12 at 11:55 pm

  4. great logical approach Maria – task specific areas within your work. i tend to be very black and white so if i am going to have detail, then everything has to have detail. your approach allows me to have shades of gray

    i’m not sure that faster internet means better graphics are the norm. mostly yes but look at Farmville and Minecraft versus Eve Online. EO has incredible graphics (like Black Ops), yet Minecraft and Farmville are bigger

    fewer textures would achieve much of the same and your settings would give them enough variety as to accomplish 99% what the multiple ones do

    Ener Hax

    7 Feb 12 at 7:19 am

  5. Actually, when I tried Minecraft on a tablet, I wondered if you could modify the textures. It turns out there are loads of texture packs for download, and it seems more coming all the time. Yummy yummy.

    Keith Selmes

    7 Feb 12 at 7:48 am

  6. On the whole, I think its horses for courses – whatever approach is appropriate for the project.

    Keith Selmes

    7 Feb 12 at 8:23 am

  7. With the Textures the bulldozer looks like a real one but without them they look like a toy. So depending on the case textures can be useful or not and that’s the matter!.


    7 Feb 12 at 4:20 pm

  8. heeeee! a toy! i think it looks like a Tonka toy! =D

    the landfill compactor is a very slow horse! but good point =)

    Ener Hax

    7 Feb 12 at 4:29 pm

  9. The non-textured dozer has that “fresh off the factory floor” look. It just needs a few days a hard use and some nights spend as target practice for the local feral teens. I suggest getting the bulletproof glass option.

    I would add some texture advice but that has already been well handled. :)

    Kimika Ying

    7 Feb 12 at 7:32 pm

  10. thank you Kimika! =) i would love to hear any advice you have, that’s how i learn =)

    i am doing another one tonite with fewer textures and will post it tomorrow (only 72 kb of tectures vs. 444 kb)

    Ener Hax

    7 Feb 12 at 7:39 pm

  11. Realism, only a good texture could give the “touch” to any element. I prefer sacrifice a little of technical resources if I got a good product.

    Of course, your choise is personal but I advice you prepare good textures, yourself can see the diference in the snapshots.

    And, dear Ener, Minecraft is like listen a Mozart’s sonata by a mini-piano for kids :P

    Kind rergards.


    8 Feb 12 at 9:18 am

  12. omg!!! i nearly spat out my coffee when i read your line! i think that is the best quote ever! =D

    “Minecraft is like listening to Mozart’s sonata on a mini-piano for kids”

    Ener Hax

    8 Feb 12 at 10:01 am

  13. […] post the other day, to texture or not to texture, resulted in some great comments which helped me frame my perspective in a more balanced manner […]

  14. I think I started the virtual worlds thing with a bit more sensitivity about things that cause load or are troublesome to download.
    I have a great 64bit monster cpu running Ubuntu, but I am a full Time RVer. I do all this with a tweaked but limited mobile broadband connections.
    In some ways its very much like the early net as Maria mentioned (but not that early), I notice server loads and huge images. But alas, still my -bandwidth challenged- vote is not for doing away with the textures- they make things neato. My vote is for optimizing them before use, even though I have an HD monitor. Not everyone has high-end cable broadband (even now).
    Especially when you tap international markets (or slackers with an Avatar that run amok in RVs and log-in from some unimaginable beauty spot after exploring it).

    Araxie Longoar

    9 Feb 12 at 6:11 pm

  15. Oh and I too love the dozers you made (sending Kudos). A dozer that is not dirty is a bad thing. Take that truth from an fella from rural Appalachia who has actually operated a real one from time to time.

    Araxie Longoar

    9 Feb 12 at 6:16 pm

  16. ubuntu! i briefly looked at doing that when i started in Second Life – but it quickly overwhelmed me

    great consideration about international access. i did a simple post a year back on PING times and that certainly affects load time

    thanks on the nod that a dozer should be dirty! =)

    Ener Hax

    11 Feb 12 at 10:06 am

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