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Why Does My SL Viewer 3 Install Have an SL Viewer 2 Icon?

SL 3 with SL 2 icon

Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but after installing Second Life Viewer 3 and even upgrading to the latest version, this is still the icon I see on my Windows 7 desktop and in my program menu. Is there no special SL Viewer 3 icon that says Viewer 3? I'm fricking flummoxed; someone please explain what I'm doing wrong here.

And alas, this is about as far as I can get with Viewer 3. So far, I've had incredible performance problems and consistent crashes with the mesh-enabled viewer, even on my Alienware laptop that plays a mesh-intensive 3D program like Deus Ex perfectly. (In last week's survey, I'm in the "Sometimes use the mesh viewer, never buy mesh content" category, largely for crashtastic reasons.)

Is Linden Lab Building a 2D Game Platform, or a New World? UPDATE: Not an Adventure Game, Humble Tweet Suggests

Linden Lab 2D world

Linden Lab is reportedly building a project code-named 2D, the Daily Finance claims, citing anonymous sources, which one source describes as an iOS app "to allow users to create text adventure games".

Is this accurate? I just talked with some insiders, and got a slightly different story: There does seem to be a Linden Lab project which roughly resembles what the Daily Finance describes, but it's in such an early stage of development, even most Lindens aren't very familiar with it. However, it will probably not use assets or technology from Second Life, at least how they're currently deployed. And it's probably not an "adventure game platform" per se, but a new kind of open-ended virtual world with user-generated content. My personal guess is the Daily Finance reporter mistook this to be an adventure game platform, because from a certain angle, they seem roughly alike. Daily Finance quotes a Gartner analyst who doesn't seem to know you can already make games in SL, and many have. (Even adventure games!) Since the article is confused on that point, it's likely the confusion extends to what Linden is actually making. Maybe it's more accurate to say the Linden project is a synthesis of the two genres.

In any case, the project was conceived by new CEO Rod Humble, who along with being a former executive with Electronic Arts, develops art games of his own. I did ask Linden Lab to comment on the project, and I was pointed to this Tweet from Rod: "We have not announced what we are working on. Fun to see the guesses though :)" Spokeman Peter Gray adds: "We're looking forward to talking more about this in the coming months, but right now, it's too soon to share details."

UPDATE, 3:15PM: Just noticed a later Tweet by Rod Humble that makes it seem even less likely to be an adventure game platform: "I mentioned how much I loved the genre once, so 2+2 got put together, to make 7 :)"

Hat tip: Alphaville Herald.

Neal Stephenson on Second Life and the Metaverse: I'm a Storyteller, Not a Future Predictor

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson has a new novel out, REAMDE, and it's about high tech intrigue and gold-farming shenanigans in an online game world called T'Rain, "a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online roleplaying game with millions of fans around the world." Stephenson of course is still best known for Snowcrash, the classic novel from 1992 that gave us the word "metaverse", and inspired the creation of Second Life to a great degree. But in a recent interview, Stephenson suggested that his vision of the metaverse is now outdated:

When I was thinking up the Metaverse, I was trying to figure out the market mechanism that would make all of this stuff affordable... What I didn’t anticipate, what actually came along to drive down the cost of 3D graphics hardware, was games. And so the virtual reality that we all talked about and that we all imagined 20 years ago didn’t happen in the way that we predicted. It happened instead in the form of video games. And so what we have now is Warcraft guilds, instead of people going to bars on the street in Snow Crash.

I contacted Stephenson about this passage; was he suggesting that the future of the metaverse (as we understand it) will be more like World of Warcraft, not Second Life?

"I think you're taking this all way too seriously qua prediction," Stephenson told me during a brief break on his promotional tour of REAMDE. "I am just a storyteller and have never claimed nor sought the mantle of 'guy who predicts the future. T'Rain is just a plot device for a fun yarn."

What's more, the new novel isn't based on research into SL: "I didn't do any research into any aspect of SL, so this isn't meant as a comment on SL (or any other existing system)." This is similar to things Neal has told me in previous conversations. While he's a close observer of technology and it certainly informs his fiction, he doesn't evince much interest in how the actual metaverse (which has developed very differently than how he envisioned it) is doing. So just enjoy REAMDE for the ripping yarn it aims to be.

Hat tip: Darcey Nacht.

Second Life Does Have a Reddit Community -- Join Us There!

Reddit Second Life

Reddit does have a Second Life community, as it turns out, cleverly entitled /r/secondlife. Somehow this group didn't come up when I blogged about the need for one, but veteran SLer Francis Chung immediately pointed it out to me. However, it will probably need many more SLers to thrive, so jump on in and start Redditing.

Here's a great place to start: a Redditor who has played SL asks, "[W]hat's the appeal of Second Life and what advice would you give to a new user?" Knowing the Reddit community pretty well, I think game-centric SL content and machinima will probably get the most upvotes. Tateru Nino, another SL blogger, believes some Redditors have been systematically downvoting SL-related links, but if we can grow the sub-community sufficiently, that shouldn't matter. My recommendation: When submitting links, be very descriptive about why the topic is cool to a broader audience, and be discriminating about what you upvote -- randomly upvoting every single SL-related link is probably counter-productive. So jump on in! My own Reddit account (wait for it) is SLHamlet.

Update, 11:00am: I just created this introduction thread to connect SLers with Redditors and vice versa.

Maybe Future Virtual Worlds Will be Movies From Our Mind

Virtual World Mind

You may have already seen this jaw-dropping video which demonstrates new technology developed at UC Berkeley which uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models to decode and visually display what people are seeing in their mind's eye. Yes, really, we're getting close to a version of Inception becoming a reality. And the way this is done may remind you of something in 3D virtual world/graphics technology:

They watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers, while fMRI was used to measure blood flow through the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. On the computer, the brain was divided into small, three-dimensional cubes known as volumetric pixels, or “voxels.”

Voxels, of course, are the 3D rendering technology used in this 3D engine that garnered a lot of buzz and controversy last Summer, and when it came up, 3D graphics innovator John Carmack told me he was planning to make a voxel renderer of his own, relatively soon. Which means we are reaching a point where this is a plausible statement: The future of 3D graphics and virtual worlds will not be images we create on computers, but the dreams and images rendered from our mind's eye.

Yes, that is quite a possible future: not World of Warcraft, but World of Dreamcraft. Not Second Life, but Second Memory. If you haven't seen the video, oh you surely must. Click below to do so:

Continue reading "Maybe Future Virtual Worlds Will be Movies From Our Mind" »

Got an Etiquette or Ethics Question About SL Mesh? Ask Miss Metaverse Manners!

Fashion Mesh Etiquette

For her next installment of Miss Metaverse Manners, Iris Ophelia takes on a topic likely to be touchy: Etiquette and ethics around mesh. Doubtless there are controversy around the issue. Is there a social rift between mesh users, and the 25% who can't even see mesh, because they haven't upgraded their viewer to do so? Mesh content tends to be pricier than prim-based content, which may also lead to keeping-up-with-the-avatar-Joneses quandaries. And so on. Miss Metaverse Manners to the rescue: Anonymously post your touchy etiquette and ethics questions around mesh on Iris' Formspring account.

Pictured: JANE's Pencil Skirt Eliza featured by Iris here.

In SL User Survey, Mesh Viewer Adopted by 56%, Mesh Content Purchases by 17% - But 1 in 4 Get No Mesh at All!

Here's the results of last week's survey on usage of the mesh-enabled SL viewer: With 390 SL users voting (a large sample, far as NWN surveys go), 56% report using the mesh viewer "often", while 17% "often" buy mesh-based content:

SL mesh poll

Based on those results, I'd recommend that SL content creators be pretty conservative about how much mesh-based stuff they make and sell -- the market is not yet avidly embracing that category just yet.

Interestingly, 1 in 4 users who took the survey have not adopted the mesh viewer at all, even to try it out. (If they had, presumably they'd answer they "sometimes" use it.) From one perspective, this is actually good news: When SL Viewer 2 launched, upwards of 50% of users didn't adopt it, but instead, switched to a third party viewer. From another angle, that's still surprisingly low adoption rates, especially when it means not seeing all the high quality mesh content. Why do you supposed that is? If you're in that category, please share in Comments.

Open Forum: Who Wants an SL Community on Reddit?

SL Subreddit

I'm thinking about creating an SL-oriented sub-community on Reddit, the extremely popular and (in my opinion) pretty excellent online content sharing community -- who's interested?

There's a number of advantages of such a community on Reddit, as opposed to another site:

  • Reddit has a karmic system, which is a great way to filter out Spammers and griefers.
  • Reddit is generally all pseudonymous users, so you could use your SL name or another one for an account.
  • A Reddit subcommunity would put all the quality SL-related content onto a single page, as opposed to diffusing it out, as happens on Plurk, Twitter, and SL's own social network.
  • This would be a great way of promoting high quality SL content to the larger Reddit community, and therefore, the broader Internet. A Reddit link which gets even a few hundred upvotes generally gets thousands or hundreds of thousands of pageviews, and often, coverage on major blogs.

If you're interested, please let me know in Comments! To be valuable and gain traction, I think we'd need at least, say, 50 or so interested folks to start.

Top New World Notes Posts from Last Week

Philip Rosedale Coffee and Power

Second Life Founder Philip Rosedale Advocates Adding Gaming Systems to Second Life

More SL news and analysis

General gaming/tech news

Is Linden Lab Losing Land Revenue Due to the Recession? Only Like It's Causing AOL to Lose Dial-Up Subscribers

SL land revenue like AOL dialup

Linden Lab has lost over $1 million in annual SL land revenue so far this year, as I reported last week, but Inara Prey of Living in a Modem World doesn't think this is as much of a concern as I think it is, because she believes the real world recession is a chief culprit:

Right now, we’re in the midst of a prolonged global economic downturn... the recession is responsible for at least some of the shrinkage we are currently seeing. One sees little sign of this in the NWN article.

There's a very good reason for that: Attributing the loss of virtual land revenue to the real world recession would be like blaming the recession for the decline of AOL dial-up subscribers. Here's why:

Continue reading "Is Linden Lab Losing Land Revenue Due to the Recession? Only Like It's Causing AOL to Lose Dial-Up Subscribers" »

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