Chey's View (Click on Picture to See Just How Detailed it Is)
Written 30 January, 2008
Treat Yourself to a Good Visual Experience: Why Video Cards Matter
When I first met my Sweetie, lo these many months ago, she saw Second Life as a collection of blobs, mostly gray. She had to sit still with camera unmoving for a long time before things would resolve enough for her to make them out.
I had no idea of the state of her graphics experience. I thought she was just being zen.
I didn’t realize how bad things were for her on her primitive Mac (hmm, primitive Mac; is such a thing possible?) until she got all excited about the whale by the lava flow..
The whale! Wait a minute! What whale? When did we get a whale? And if you didn’t put it there and I didn’t put it there, who did? Did it swim in from the ocean?
I said, “We have no whale.”
“Yes, we do,” she said, and gave me a snapshot to prove it.
Sweetie’s photo showed a piscine shape in a tidal pool. I could see how she might think it was a whale, as it was large and vaguely whale-shaped, but OMG! What was the matter with her camera that it took such unrefined pictures? Then it hit me—the problem wasn’t with her camera; the problem was with her video display!
As I hovered above the shark, stunned, I realized Sweetie had built her beautiful fountain and my beautiful house while suffering under a profound visual handicap.
It was at that moment that I fell in love with her.
When you look at my view of the same area, it’s clear just how profound a difference a good video card can make.
I was happy, a couple of months later, to send Sweetie the graphics card from my old computer (go here to discover how I blew it up). My new computer had a PCI slot and my old AGP card was no use to me. Sweetie and I had long ago shared mailing addresses, but I had to twist her arm to get her to take it. Sweetie has her pride, after all. But she accepted with graciousness and a sore elbow, and I had a joyful time one night as I sat on a couch in the House of 1000 Pleasures and received her excited IMs from the land below. “I didn’t know we had a frog!” “This bridge is beautiful!” “OMG, a bird!” “These plants are moving!” “Pele is so beautiful!”
The textures, the textures! Arggh!
Sweetie still labors under a bit of a visual handicap—her new dual core iBook has difficulty with Second Life for some reason, and the processor on her desktop PC is a bit slow. SL is still frustrating for her at times, but the quality of her visual experience has improved tenfold.
Why am I writing this? Because I love to write about my Sweetie. And because you, gentle avatar reader, deserve a decent visual experience of this finely detailed virtual world. So if your visual experience in Second Life is more like Sweetie’s than mine, please consider investing in a graphics card—and, if you have less than 1 gb of RAM, some memory. RAM prices have dropped dramatically, and really good video cards are selling for less than $100 US these days (I just bought, as part of my let’s-get-my-old-computer-running-so-it-can-serve-as-a-backup plan, a 512 mb nVidia card with DDR3; it was $99, $69 after rebate).
After all, there may come a time when you will need to be able to tell a shark from a whale.