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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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Caliburn Susanto

She is absolutely right and then some. Actually, I think her comments are too gracious considering SL's faults. However, she is also correct that SL is an incredible achievement. One that is (very) rapidly waning.

As a long time Svarga fan -- I have been there many many times and taken dozens of newbies on balloon tours there -- I would love to buy it myself. But again, she is right in her assement that SL is far too expensive as a hobby and once the novelty has worn off (and I can attest to the fact that it eventually does) the outrageous tier is prohibitive of long-term sustainability of presence.

I look forward to more of her excellent creations in OTHER virtual worlds soon to come.

Good luck to you, Laukosargas, and thanks!

Seven Shikami

Validity, definitely. SL right now is like what the web was.. in 1994. Getting "web space" for your pages was a costly proposition that few people could undertake, so few people did, unless it was being provided for free by their college or business. Only when free web hosting sites like GeoCities popped up that we started to see a creativity boom, which led to another similar model of we-host-it-for-you Web 2.0 approaches.

SL is just too expensive. A private island is great because it's "your space" to define as you please, but it's also three hundred freaking dollars a month, something few people can afford. OpenSpaces.. WERE a possible solution, but even then, few people can cough up $75 a month. In an age where you can have a complete MMORPG for under $15 a month, tier prices have got to come down before anyone other than diehard enthusiasts with vast capital can seriously build things and own land in Second Life. Our lack of growth shows that only the hardcore are coughing up the funds to do this -- the mainstream is not.

Iggy O

Two remarks stand out for me:

"that most people are limited in their ability to accept anything strange or surreal"

and

"Eventually I think Second Life is likely to be replaced by a newer generation of VR that will have learnt from the mistakes made by Linden Lab"

As wonderful as a lot of SL content is, let's face it: the average blingtard cannot fathom or appreciate the nuances of a place like Svaraga or The Wastelands or Caledon. They are too friggin' worried about their fake hair and shoes and ink.

Wow. That felt liberating to say!

Meanwhile, educators, feeling just as Svarog does, have quietly been casting about for other options.

Today, as my students spend time finishing a building project far less grandiose than Svarga, the central database for SL began to have serious problems.

My optimism about this "brave new world" has gradually faded to something along the lines of "this platform is far from ready for prime time." I would not bet on LL's long-term future unless they can address pricing and stability issues. I'm not satisfied with the answers I'm getting.

I'd also bet that in a few years, many of us who teach IN virtual worlds will be teaching more ABOUT them, instead.

Timeless Prototype

Valid.

radar

Yeah, I definitely agree that not only can a lot of people not grok the unusual, they avoid it as though it's uncool.

The limited minds that make people like Leo Laporte see SL as only a place for naked avatars are the same ones that make a lot of the people use SL as a glorified chat room.

YP

I'd love to own my own sim, but I'm waiting to win the lottery.

I'm amazed that so many people can afford them. If they knocked the price down by three quarters I'd purchase one in a shot though.

Is LL worried perhaps that if the price was too low there'd be crap builds. No I don't think so, people are still paying the price and building crap.

We need more quality builds like Svarga, but give us people who work at a 711 and not running for office a chance at purchasing one.

Eric Rice/Spin Martin

These are basically the same reasons I'm closing the last of my sims after so many years. The platform isn't as technically viable as it should be, is still too proprietary, and the game space slowly accommodating large amounts of users and *context*, are all contributing factors. Other worlds might not have line-by-line feature matching to SL, but good grief, at least they figured out Youtube video importing on day one.

Best of luck to Ms. Svarga, may I see her work as a bestseller one day.

Ciaran Laval

She's right about tier, it's way too expensive for a hobby. Those of us who try and then use sims to generate income and provide affordable space then come into the brick wall of LL's absurd policy department.

The sky/sea/land system is a good point to make, I believe teleportation undermines the very concept and yet without teleportation people simply wouldn't get around. This is quite a quandry.

Caliburn Susanto

LOL @ YP ("...people are still paying the price and building crap.") So true! ;-D But LL isn't worried about what people build, they simply know that "time is short and the water rises" and they are grabbing the bucks hand-over-fist while they still can (i.e., before it's too late). We pay, including me, because there's nothing similar to choose from.

Yet.

Arcadian Vanalten

Ahh, the sweet smell of smug elitism in the peanut gallery...

I'm an academician myself, admittedly, but I think there's more than the usual hubris being shown in today's comments. Good grief, guys, could you GET any more patronizing?

I think Lauk's position is, of course, a valid perspective, although I'm not sure it's entirely accurate. From whence derives her data on percentages using SL as a chatroom? I can't think of anyone I know who logs in to sit in one spot and chat. Most are involved in some form of creative exploration or exploration. Perhaps I run in more intrepid circles than the norm, but I doubt it.

And for that matter, for those who simply enjoy spending time interacting with friends, since when is that a bad thing? And who is to say it's less correct than making scripted feedback loops on an island sim?

I also question her assertion that "most people are limited in their ability to accept anything strange or surreal..."

Really? Nothing strange or surreal in SL? Guess it depends on where you go and who you hang out with. My experience again differs from hers, evidently. I wonder how much exploration of works outside of Svarga she's actually done.

Don't get me wrong; I love Svarga. It was my usual logout place for a long time when I first hit SL. However, there's a LOT more out there to experience, with degrees of surreality to suit a wide variety of tastes. I give her props for making a gorgeous build with clever features a few years back. I question her blanket assessment of the SL population, though.

Maya Carfagno

Perhaps a few well connected people can put in a good word to Linden Labs and suggest they start a slush fund to buy the occasional sim like this.

Something like an "SL World Heritage Site".

Svarga has a unique place in the history of SL and the dreaming of how it can be. It would be a shame to leave its fate to chance.

Connie Sec

Hmm..yes, a wonderful build and I can empathise with the feelings of Svarog re the cost and general performance of SL. However, the assertion of "crap builds" etc is an Opinion. Some would be happy living in a plywood box with some choice sexballs on 512 Sq meters while others want everything and the kitchen sink with so much lag you would think your computer had just swallowed a plate of rice glue. Each to their own, and that's what makes SL interesting. Diversity. That said, and being personally an SL addict, I still will keep my ears open, have an AV at open sim and get into Blue Mars as soon as I get the Ok to be a Beta.

soror nishi

I would have to agree that it would be in LL's best interest to buy this sim.

BJ Tunwarm

For all the problems with Second Life if there is a better platform that does the same thing please show me. The same thing with a different company name on it like Open "Oh,oh me too!" Life doesn't count.

We do get tend to get limited by the conventional in our creations.

Iggy O

@ BJ...Well...OpenLife IS quite different. After a couple of weeks and 100+ rebakes on different computers, my OL avatar is STILL a cloud of gas :)

But he's a nice happy cloud...the other OL avatars have pity on him.

So like it or not, SL is it for now.

Lili

Saijo City's going too ?! Is SL going extinct ? Wow, now I'm taking this trend of content exodus seriously. Or disappearance, should I say, it's not like it's going anywhere, well most of it, for the time being.

Svarga never really hit the spot with me, but Saijo City WAS the very first sim of quality I ran into during my noob period and I kept coming back to it for a while, it felt like roots for me for that reason. Now I guess it makes sort of sense that the last time I revisited it, all the content had been replaced with something that seemed somewhat out of place, given the theme and previous looks.

I'd been told to check Eric Rice's island when saying in Joi Ito's irc channel how I couldn't find places of note in SL. I'm sorry you're leaving, Spin/Eric! Never got to meet Joi in-world either, guess I finally made it in long after he lost interest in the medium. He last mentionned SL on his blog years ago, I think. Probably a clue of some sort, coming from an internet entrepreneur and visionary. :)

Gary Kohime

In some ways I agree with Laukosargas. But, the pompousness isn't called for. For those that haven't ever trodden in development environments, the learning curve is huge, and often they get out of it. Or the passion of it takes over and they learn a ton. Laukosargas was ahead of her time when she originally created Svarga and Lauk's Nest. This IS..Beta...and has been for a longggg time. Google does the same thing, they just mastered in how to relate it to profits. LL clearly, might be making a profit, but to say its ready for "Gold" release is like saying, were ready to land a man on mars.

Furthermore, and I posted on my blog about this. Its so obvious that LL has changed direction. All the SL pioneers, such as Laukosargas, and many other very talented individuals have built a path to follow, and most towns along that path will foster, grow, become more sophisticated over time.

The level of talent that exists today in SL, is astounding to say the least. The main issue is how far has LL deviated from its "create it all in sl using in-world tools". Well, that’s a flawed concept and not possible, in my opinion.

Questions do arise though, has Laukosargas been making enough to sustain her existence in SL? Probably not, her product line is limited but top quality. Why did you create Svarga and Lauk's Nest? Wasn't it to share the passion that you came to know from virtual worlds or 3D development?

Worlds like SL are ONE of a kind, at this stage of there evolution. OpenLifeGrid and Legend City, may be the nearest alternatives. But, SL all still BETA. Why is it still Beta, because its original intent was to become Web 3.0. So, we can be in for the money..or we can be in it for the social networking.

Laukosargas, my suggestion to you is.. if all you want to do is develop 'things' for 3D worlds..then do that. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. No its NOT a hobby..or rather it IS a hobby, albeit an expensive one. But, if you look at other hobbies in RL, you can find one's that cost even more. So, it boils down to.. are you burnt out? Or have you isolated yourself to the extent that other peoples feelings are of a lesser concern.

I've had personal related feelings around all of this. You know what I mean here too. I miss the piano at Lauk's, change is hard...we all have lost a lot of personal RL contact by our passions. This is natural. Sometimes we reach a point wherein we need to make a change. But we have to want to do it.

Don't blame someone else for YOUR mistakes, that's a cop out. True wisdom is learning from others mistakes. Not rubbing their noses in it. Or was it really a mistake? I would say not, your passion and talent has rubbed off to many. Why not stay a leader, rather than dropping out?

Laukosargas Svarpg

When I first came to SL it felt like a sort of 1969 for virtual worlds, but that feeling soon faded to the 1970's and now it's become the 80's already in a lot of ways to me...

But I think at the end of the day, my rather low opinion of SL is irrelevant and frankly, other people's opinion of my opinions doubly so. Perhaps I can clarify the reason for the sale of Svarga which is what this topic is about ...

I no longer have any use for the island.

For the past year I've logged into SL no more than 7 or 8 times and then only for an hour or two each time. I was already tiring of SL as a social space when I sold Lauks Nest, but purchasing a private island gave me a great opportunity to remove myself from the main grid to prototype some coding ideas and to play with my hobby as a texture artist. ( Unfortunately in the real paying, jobbing world it seems we're not allowed to be both coder and artist! ).

I could've chosen any of several different methods, perhaps the easiest would've been to leave SL completely and purchase a licensed game engine, but at the time I was still hoping SL's efficiency would improve. Unfortunately when I got my A-life ideas to a certain point, it turned out the SL system simply wasn't up to doing what I needed to take those ideas a lot further. As prototyping tool it was pretty cool and still is I guess. But I'm not getting into that debate here and now.

The only reason Svarga still exists is because I've been persuaded it has some value to SL as a whole ( for a 100 different reasons it seems ) and that I should not simply delete the contents and put the island up for sale as an ordinary space, which would've been the easy option. I did not set out to create a place that SL residents would come to admire and value and be blogged about all over the web. A fact that took me by complete surprise when it happened. ( Call me naive as well as pompous if you like ).

Over the past 20 months or so there have been several attempts at "rescuing" Svarga none of which have materialised when it came to actually putting money where mouths are. This means I've been landed with the expense of a private island in SL that I neither need or want. For the past year I've been paying the large part of the tier from my own pocket, effectively paying to keep SL residents off my back about deleting the contents. I have decided this has to end and therefore the island is for now sale. I'm not giving it away for free because I don't feel that would be appropriate; the effort I put into it, and the way my work has been used to promote LL's business are just a couple of reasons.

Qie Niangao

"But my opinion of Second Life hasn't really changed much in the last year though," she explained to me by e-mail. "Mainly it's just too expensive, too slow, too cumbersome and too constricting to be a serious tool for development on the scale I was attempting with the artificial life stuff on Svarga."

How would she know? In the past year she's "logged into SL no more than 7 or 8 times and then only for an hour or two each time." So she's effectively missed the massive performance and script memory boost of Mono, and before that, the vast physics improvements of H4, both major advances for implementing alife in SL.

Shenanigans. Svarga's interest to others was a product of its creator's interest in Svarga. Without that, it's a white elephant.

Gary Kohime

@ Two Worlds

First why don't you look up BETA? Wait, here. .let me..it might be to far over your head to use the internet to find the answer:

** 'Beta' is a nickname for software which has passed the alpha testing stage of development and has been released to a limited number of users for software testing before its official release. Beta testing allows the software to undergo usability testing with users who provide feedback, so that any malfunctions these users find in the software can be reported to the developers and fixed. Beta software can be unstable and could cause crashes or data loss. **

Furthermore, your BLUNTNESS is far from rude; the people in SL, especially builders/creators of all types aren't anything like YOU say. I'm appalled at your use of 2 cent words. You obviously are from a lesser world. Also, WOW is NOT Beta. It’s near FULLY controlled by the company and always has been.

Finally, I’m sure that you've not ever seen or worked with Open Source software. In addition, if you dislike it so much..why are you being such an Org, actually that’s putting it lightly, Troll, idiot..and other words that I will not defile a blog like NWN in. I hope he deletes your crap. Also, go play your fantasy escapist games. If you have anything positive to contribute...then do that. You really have NO clue about technology.. your just a player.. and I bet your no good at it either.

Hamlet Au

Gary, no worries, the poster you're referencing has already been shown the door.

@ Qie: you make an interesting point, but is it really the case that Mono and H4 have drastically improved SL's performance? That's not my experience, definitely.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

From examples that were put up, it's clear that Mono is a major speedup, at least for compute-intensive scripts (remember the video comparing Mandelbrot set explorers, one using the old LSL, the other using Mono underneath?). OTOH...

1. There's still a HUGE pile of old scripts out there. Perhaps the thing to do is have a decompiler set up so that when you attach a scripted object or set one out on the ground, something pops up and says "I see that this is using the old slow LSL interpreter. Would you like it to run faster? (YES) (NO)" Eek! That sounds like Clippy's Revenge--so maybe LL should just bite the bullet, scan the whole asset database, and recompile every single script out there.

2. The bottlenecks may lie elsewhere (*cough* centralized asset server*cough*). I'd say this is true, judging by the way objects dribble into existence and sit there grey for minutes waiting to be painted after one teleports to a place like Serenity Falls nowadays. (That's what happened to me yesterday afternoon; I'm running a 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 X2 system with 4 GB of RAM and an nVidia 8600 graphics card, with an 8 Mb/s cable modem hookup.)

3. Read Gwyneth Llewelyn's excellent blog entry "No More Limits", especially Page 3, "The Programmer's Nightmare." After you do, you'll be amazed that anything in SL works at all. (Add to that the wildly varying levels of expertise of scripters--how many are doing the equivalent of sorting things by repeatedly shuffling them until they happen to come out in order? If you were to ask the maker of the next item you buy for a computational complexity analysis of the scripts associated with it, what kind of answer would you get?)

Yes, in many ways SL has improved a lot--after all, in many of our heads we're comparing today, when peak usage is 70,000 or over, with the time we first came to SL, when a peak of 20,000 was impressive, and Windlight has improved SL visually so much it's not even funny. But SL performance has to improve. Ms. Svarog is very much right about that.

Laukosargas Svarog

Did I miss something fun ? There's one particular troll who I expected to show up, shame I missed it. Personally I can't understand the vitriol.
My comments are based on my careful observation. I watch SL VERY VERY carefully. I am never far away from many blogs and many other news sources for virtual worlds. When I log into SL I tend to recompile the scripts, ( often I have to because they've stopped for some reason or other ). Often I have to replace parts of the build that have mysteriously moved or disappeared. In an hour or two a seasoned resident can get a very good feel for the improvements, or not, that may or may not be happening in the system. Mono is a very good step in the right direction. However I want and, more importantly, 'need' to be able to work as fast as I can on my local C++ compiler, after 5 years of development I hoped SL would be like that by now. As far as I'm concerned, and I'm talking about my requirements, no-one else's, advances such as windlight and shadows are mere window dressing.
Movement is still like walking through mud on my machine which is no slouch! Ressing objects is still unreliable and even simple script compilation takes too long to complete. And for me just those examples are enough to justify my stand on my reasons for not taking SL seriously as a development platform. It has to 1000% reliable and it simply is not that ... yet.


AlterEgoTrip Svenska

Since Svarga(Svarga Svarga?) was one of the first places I have ever visited in SL it has a very dear place in my heart.

I will neither argue for or against it being sold because this is in the insterest of the creator.. I have seen people rant and rant about this situation.. viciously.. and for what cause.. its sad when a creator leaves SL because the format isn't up to par.. as Laukosargas said.. its unrelyable.. and because it is unrelyable it is turned FRUSTRATING.. (lots of people seek SL to do things where they don't have to be frustrated, why frustrate yourself on your free time??)

If one has to keep fixing the scripts every so often as you log in, that in itself is a task, its quite like rebuilding part of the whole sim every single time you do what one could consider "proper maintainance"..

one thing is.. I like the idea of keeping it AS is, down to the scripts unless you can come up with some better updates to keep the situation in order.

There is obviously a place for Svarga as there has been for Templum ex Obscurum.. its a part of the cultural history of SL, but in order to preserve it, I am worried that it may constantly need looking after in a way that may be problematic to its being sold.

I voice my concern now because of after reading this, I would have to contimplait advising someone who wanted to get inworld and support something of this cultural history within this virtual world and actually buy this.. they could understand that it was AS is, that they would have to do any "marketing" and support of Svarga outside of Svarga itself, and form groups, but the idea that there is a problem with having to constantly rebuild the sim, at least partially is rather alarming for anyone who would take on this task, especially if the sim is AS is, rather than allowing improvments of the scripts and such be MADE, and that would be of course at the discression of the creator...

Is there any posiblity that this would be open to negotiation? If you wish it to end of in the proper hands, perhaps in the hands of a governmental art agency of a number of different countries.. do you feel that you can revise some of the things so that it can have the possiblity of being sold without fear of it all collapsing.. after all anyone who is willing to buy it as IS, really wants it for preservation.

I proposed that even now, as LL now owns this, that we may start some kind of preservation group, and sell passes to rez objects for machihima purposes only for limited number of hours, and to use the funds to maintain the sim. (all in spite of SL being notorious for having bouts where things ARE not functional, even on good days)

How would this be seen to the creator of the project, would it be seen as a negative or a positive, I would really like to know.

Personally for me, I see Svarga as something of a challange.. you really need to match up the right buyer for it, and you really need to let it go to someone who has its best interests in mind. It would definately be as any other "art" purchase, only "virtual".

Arcadian Vanalten

It's hardly vitriol, Lauk, LOL. Just noting some of your assertions aren't very well supported, especially when they involve sweeping judgements & generalizations of other users. You DO seem to have a flair for hyperbole.

I will mourn the loss of Svarga. As a noob a few years ago, the place was awe-inspiring. I've seen many other places since that have managed to blow me away, including a number that make Svarga feel kinda dated, but I will always have a warm nostalgia for the place.

That being said, I respect your sovereignty when it comes to deciding its fate. You alone are responsible for making the monthly decision to keep forking out the tier. Sell it, let it go poof, or turn it into a bling-themed sex park/mall; it's your land to do with as you please.

Personally, I'd LOVE to see LL select a sim or 2 every year to preserve for the public trust, given that the owner/creator is willing to cede all control & responsibility of it. I think if LL would institute such, Svarga would be a great contender.

borborigmus (Vyt)

Fascinating comment thread; even more fascinating is the name of the goddess. 'Laukosargas' - a literal translation of that Lithuanian t ermis 'guardian of the field'.

And she is - owner and guardian of a field of endeavour and a work of art. She has the power and the right to do with it whatever she wants. Like the creators of a Buddhist sand painting, she is perfectly entitled to sweep Svarga away if she wants to.

Leave her alone, people, it's her choice, not ours.

Alia

This news brings a lot of sadness, I saw that sims when not maintained by the creator tend to transform in something too much distant from the original idea, and not all are aware actually of the costs... so drop down easily. I think sometimes you can afford a sim just because emotionally involved.
For the opinions written, I must agree with Caliburn and a few others, if all would be interested in no news and alternative imagination my sims would not exist.
And about the prices, hell, those are deadly. I speak as a european which has to add a VAT to it that raises it even more. When I mention to friends my SL rent costs the same as my RL flat, they cannot believe it.
Probably if the prices would drop a bit down I would have the possiblity to complete my project about a net of sims and a bigger scenario. But for now, has to wait.
Good luck Svarga, and good look to us all. :)

Edgar Proto

Svarga tome is a sacred place. I have spent many virtual hours there when i really needed to think rl. I spoke with the creator regards buying it when it was first coming up for sale but the money is too much. I have built many sims but in a very wing it way....Nothing came close tothe feel of Svarga. I just wanted to say that.... some of us regardles of the reliability, or the politics use second life as a very real escape....I dont mean beleiving that the place is real or that love found therin is real....... but stand on a shoreline at dawn with a very heavy weight in your real life gut...... and these places can very much affect our real lives.... it doesnt even matter if the creator does`nt quite get it. We did.....

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