A Little Bit of Alchemy

For most of my time in Second Life, I’ve been using the Firestorm Viewer, and it has served me pretty well. But even with a more powerful Mac, there’s no getting away from the fact that Firestorm struggles at times in busy areas.

So I was intrigued when I saw a recent video from Luca Grabacr where she did a performance comparison between Firestorm and another viewer, Alchemy, within the same sim:

As luck would have it, Alchemy is one of a few third-party viewers for Second Life that are available and actively maintained for Mac systems. So I decided to give it a try and see what difference it made to my day-to-day experience.

Compared to Firestorm, Alchemy doesn’t have as many bells and whistles, and isn’t as customisable. However, I’ve found that it definitely does a better job of rendering large areas and busy places, and remains responsive even in the middle of clubs and shopping events. So I’m going to continue using it as my primary viewer for Second Life.

All of the screenshots in this blog post were taken from Alchemy. In some cases, I’ve even been able to turn on shadows and still get a workable framerate!

Posing at home in clothes I bought at Second Pride event.
Posing outside in my TARDIS book nook – it’s bigger on the inside! 😀

As you can see, I’m considerably shinier now! I tried out some appliers from Jeanette’s Joint aimed at sci-fi roleplayers and those looking for a more android-like appearance, and while the skins were too light for my taste, the material appliers work great over the top of my existing skin. 🙂

I’ve also tweaked my shape a bit more, so now I have fuller lips and a more alien face.

I’ve been spending some time sorting out my recent acquisitions from the last few months. With the Fantasy Faire, Sci-fi Con and Second Pride events in rapid succession, I got tempted a lot! 🙂 I also spent some time at Relay For Life’s annual charity walk, doing some shows from the Gorfest area for Gorean Whip Radio, lighting a lantern for my late father, and completing a lap of the circuit in just under an hour.

Second Life’s 17th birthday celebration (SL17B) officially starts today. I got in early yesterday to have a look around, as I’ll be doing a DJ slot at the Spin-Masters Stage. I’m really looking forward to this, because unlike last year it’ll be at a time when I’m still awake! I’ll be there at 9am SLT (5pm UK time) on Tuesday 23rd June, and my plan is to simulcast my set on Gorean Whip Radio, and post the recording of the show on the blog next week.

I took this photo before I redid my avatar shape, but it shows off my new, more android-like appearance a lot better! 🙂

Switching over to Alchemy from Firestorm has definitely put more spring in my virtual step, and I’m enjoying Second Life a lot more these days. 🙂 I just wish I could do a similar makeover for my real life. Sadly, I’m still in lockdown for the most part, although I’m now taking occasional walks around the block for exercise. On the plus side, I’ve now gotten the WordPress app working on my Mac, so it’s a lot easier to get posts written. So I’m going to try and keep this blog a bit more up-to-date.

If you see me in Second Life, do say hi! I’m pretty hard to miss, after all. 🙂


  1. I tried Alchemy and found some weird issues.

    It cannot seem to properly render textures set as ‘alpha blending’. They render as alpha masks at about a mask setting of 32 or so. It understands setting a transparency number, and masks, but not blends. Blends are far more common so this was jarring. If this is limited to only some blends, you can see it with the house “Trompe Loeil – Harleigh Ranch Cottage” on the doors.

    Also noticed that the first login of a new avatar would freeze in place, had to relog to be able to move. And, the BOM of other avatars never rendered, only for myself.

    Might try to play with it more though.

    1. Huh, I’ve just been in-world and viewed that house, and you’re right about the doors have a weird alpha mask on them. That’s the first major glitch I’ve encountered — touch wood, everything else seems to render OK, including BOM. Mind you, there does seem to be a Mac-specific issue with sound cutting out occasionally, which would be super-annoying if I were in voice chat at the time.

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