Monday, August 15, 2011

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Linden Lab's Product Team on JIRA, NPCs, Prims, Exporting Content, and More (SLCC11 Highlights)

Linden Product specialists

Here’s my top ten highlights from Linden’s Lab product team keynote at SLCC last weekend (in addition to adding game mechanics to the new user experience, as I mentioned yesterday.) On the panel from the product team were John Laurence (SL: Durian Linden), Sarah Kuehnle (SL: Esbee Linden), and Michael Gesner (SL: Gez Linden). Here we go:

  • The game prototype demo the team showed off during the panel comes with a nifty point-to-point teleport feature; they are working on introducing something like that for Residents to use in their own projects.
  • The product team is concentrating on two general areas: Usability and Engagement. That includes improving the rezzing problem and avatar customization.
  • The team is also working on combining the Basic and Advanced viewers into a single UI. (Basic mode was just a temporary stop-gap measure)
  • "We hear you loud and clear about [hating] the sidebar... probably the number one complaint for Viewer 2" (Durian)
  • Prims will still be the primary means of creation in SL, but mesh will become an option for those who know the pro-level tools needed to build with them. (Personally, I'm highly skeptical of that, after market forces start driving demand for mesh.)

Five more after the break:

  • As part of the first-time experience, the team wants to get new users interested in building.
  • Linden is planning to introduce scriptable NPCs for developers to use. (Not sure how they’ll be different or superior to bots; no info was given.)
  • An audience member asks, will there be export tools for content built with prims? Team answer: "There's no plan to allow that type of exporting from Second Life."
  • "We do use JIRA, we don't ignore it," says Esbee.
  • Durian Linden, a veteran of Sony Home and Everquest (where he worked with Rod) on one reason why he loves Second Life: "Somewhere in there is the future.’

As with my last two SLCC notes, fellow attendees, if there's anything I missed in my rough notes, please help out in Comments!

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Uccello

I like the sidebar, particularly the Landmarks and Outfits sections. I hope they keep that as an option.

Adeon Writer

I am jealous of Esbee's prim. :P

Myf McMahon

"Linden is planning to introduce scriptable NPCs for developers to use. (Not sure how they’ll be different or superior to bots; no info was given.)"

Not requiring their own account, or a dedicated instance of the client software to run, would I imagine, be the two big features they could have.

Indigo Mertel

Must have a moment of amnesia... what the heck is NPC?

e (16)

NPC = Non-Player Character. They not controlled by a player but by scripts in a life-like way. Like monsters in other games. They will be quite good in SL because people will make animals, fish and birds with them. Robots, guards and fighter characters as well that you can interact with. Mesh will enable them to be very realistic.

8b

Well what do you know?
This proves that Rod Humble actually does listen to his customers. I wrote him a snail mail letter pleading for server side scriptable NPCs. Maybe he actually read it.

Troy McConaghy

Right now, if you want to have a bot in SL, you have to run an SL client for each bot (or software that looks like a client to the SL servers, e.g. code based on libopenmetaverse). If you want to script that bot, you must either modify the client code or create some sort of API in your client, so it can be controlled by messages from some external code.

PikkuBot makes a nice bot client with an IM API. You can send commands to your bot either one-at-a-time using regular IM, or you can write an LSL script to send IMs.

The bottom line is that it's clunky to create and control SL bots today. I think it would be cool for Linden Lab to give us an easier way to do that.

Arcadia Codesmith

"Personally, I'm highly skeptical of that, after market forces start driving demand for mesh"

Just like sculpties have eliminated prim building? ;)

There are applications for which mesh is going to be invaluable, and I look forward to playing with it.

But there are many, many others where the best tool for the job is a humble prim.

And I STILL think the viewer needs a robust 3D modeling and texturing package built in. Don't make people buy Maya; EAT MAYA'S LUNCH and become the 3D modeling and prototyping platform of choice.

There's a huge, HUGE market opportunity to undercut the 3D modeling market with a package that's intuitive, powerful, and priced for people who aren't corporations.

And if we've learned nothing else from virtual worlds in the past ten years, it's that "free" can drive some pretty compelling revenue streams.

Sitearm

@Wagner; Another excellent summary!

@Arcadia; Hi! I am dittoing and adding to your excellent comment as follows...

ARACADIA SAYS: "But there are many, many others [applications] where the best tool for the job is a humble prim."
SITE ADDS: Ditto Ditto Ditto! (<- likes to play with blocks) Plus, I don't know HOW to do anything fancier than prims and terraform files *wails*

ARCADIA SAYS: "...the viewer needs a robust 3D modeling and texturing package built in."
SITE ADDS: That was my question at the keynote. Rod's reply was, basically, "we're aware of that opportunity but we are prioritized until further notice on increasing usability and reducing lag" (*sigh* - can't argue with that ; )

ARCADIA SAYS: "...'free' can drive some pretty compelling revenue streams."
SITE ADDS: Rod mentioned that in the CEO KEYNOTE, and Durian mentioned that in the PRODUCT TEAM KEYNOTE. My read is that the Lab is WEll aware of the major advantage that CONTENT-CREATION-BY-RESIDENTS gives SL over other 3D Web platforms.

Further, when introducing the KNEPH GAME PROTOTYPE DEMO, they were exTREMEly careful to say that the project was to teach themselves, as Lindens, better what we resident builders go through in making stuff, so that they, as Lindens, have a better feel where to tweak and adjust and provide more tool options to improve the developer experience. In other words, the Lab is NOT going into the content development business ; )

Oberon Onmura

Scriptable NPCs sounds great! Currently, I'm running bots (for my art pieces) using the libomv library TestClient.exe. I can run many bots with one client, and they don't use much in terms of system resources. However, it truly is clunky! And the poor bots get logged out every time a sim is rebooted.

DD Ra

Let see what this new team will do !
The RL avatar are not bad... and the prim is cute ^^

Arcadia Codesmith

"we're aware of that opportunity but we are prioritized until further notice on increasing usability and reducing lag" (*sigh* - can't argue with that ; )

Worthy goals, to be sure. And if they choose to someday include a 3D editor, I'd like to see a slick, top-tier product rather than something cobbled together in their spare time (though I confess, some of those spare time projects have turned out to be very, very cool).

Graham Mills

I have one question and one observation:

1. Does that mean that there won't be a tablet-compatible viewer for SL-Classic?

2. OpenSim already has NPCs (and Pikkubots run there too, albeit unsupported)

Connie Sec

How about being able to save SL built prim based objects as a Mesh?. An advantage i see of that is it would be an easy way to import SL builds into external 3d programs ( something free like Sketchup), tweak them, then re import as lower prim count collada objects. To my mind Arcadia has it right :)

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