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Thursday, December 01, 2011

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EhrmanDigfoot

When the old Blue Mars client used the individual downloads for each environment I always had to second guess the commitment and usually logged off instead.

What would improve immersion for me would be creating a more dynamic draw distance system. So that you can set the draw distance extremely far and not have such a massive decrease in performance. In game design on Unity for instance there is a fade in and out from dynamic to baked rendering based on the distance you are from an object.

Hypothetically, given that mesh objects can use completely different meshes for each LOD, you could hide the baked rendering in textures on a piece of geometry that only appears at a specific LOD. Similarly you can collapse interior geometry at a more distant LOD, replacing it with 2D textures, thereby reproducing the economic use of system resources we see in professional development environments like Unity. If you designed an entire sim or set of sims in SL in this manner you may be able to create environments that appear as massive and majestic as Skyrim.

The mechanics are there, we just need good design and (unfortunately) a significant amount of money to even experiment with these things at a sim level.

Tateru Nino

I don't think that solves the problem - since Linden Realms isn't a part of SL's first-impression. People with a poor first-impression would likely be long-gone long before they got anywhere near the LR content.

Hamlet Au

That's why I recommended putting the Welcome Area into client as well. IMO Linden should make Linden Realms part of the new user experience, but at the very least, for god's sake integrate the Welcome Area assets (which haven't changed in years I believe) into the client.

qarl

FWIW - they did used to include welcome area textures into the viewer. but then there was pressure to decrease the download time of the viewer, and they came back out.

Hamlet Au

Very interesting, Qarl -- how much larger did those textures make the client? How long were they in there?

Az

If LL built Linden Realms into the client then it would suggest that they didn't have faith in their own product. Although I agree that the experience would be better.

Mark Ciccarello

It's a good idea, though no doubt there will be complaints from third-party game developers who don't want LL competing with them. Actually what they really need to implement is the ability to for any private region owner to lock down their build and have it downloaded once to people who indicate interest somehow (maybe just by visiting there the first time).

Hitomi Tiponi

The big problem is that there is often a weekly/fortnightly update of the client, meaning quite a few textures to add. The way to address that would be one time loads of common textures and place them in a separate area that is only updated when these change.

A proper full texture cache would be even better but then you run into the copying issue. Maybe another thing to add to 'premium'.

Hamlet Au

"Actually what they really need to implement is the ability to for any private region owner to lock down their build and have it downloaded once to people who indicate interest somehow"

That's a great idea! Match that with a white label viewer, and you'd really be rocking. So for example, the Bloodlines folks could get their own Bloodlines-branded viewer, which when downloaded, also downloaded all the main Bloodline areas.

Rod Humble

Good thread. Thanks for the discussion on preloading.

It would also be cool to have new users go straight to an area if they came from that 3rd party referral site.

EG: if you sign up for SL referred from Crazy Eddies Viking RPG sim. When you log in you dont go to welcome island but straight to Crazy Eddies Viking sim. It gets us LL out of the way and people bringing in new customers get the new customers direct.

Coral Gausman

There used to be this thing called community gateways....

Nalates Urriah

Good idea. Probably not that easy to implement. But, a good idea.

Nanu

when rod signed up i actually thought with his background and interest in experimental games or call it game as art or whatever, they would come up with better ideas than just turning SL into an 'online game'

foneco zuzu

Rod pointed a way, now just bring it to light:)

Dizzy Banjo

As I mentioned on previous comments on this blog, and have babbled on about for years in Linden office hours, I think pre-cacheing is very interesting. My comments were generally rebuffed by LL staff at office hours as they were against the pure ethos of SL itself as a live streamed world.

Pre-cached specific areas on the client side ( bundled into the client ), or a way of ensuring complete download of a whole regions non changeable assets prior to the user experiencing them seems to be a logical way to radically improve first impression user experience.

Its clear to me from the media, and many experiences with first time users that they have no understanding or desire to understand SLs 'live streaming of a world' concept. They compare it, and will always compare it, directly to other similar experiences - which for them is games like Skyrim. Settings have no impact on solving this situation. They really will not care about settings below the top level of the UI, and even those they will expect to automatically optimise to deliver a good user experience. SL tries to do this, but its fundamental architecture cannot deliver it.

Of course, doing a pre-cache will reduce the possibility for the true full capabilities of SL in those situations. But a very small percentage of new users actually understand that SL can do this anyway.

The design of the client is starting to reveal capabilities gradually now as people move further in from new users, to intermediate to advanced. A move like pre-caching might allow this staged approach to happen across the whole architecture.

Pathfinder

Rod Humble said: "It would also be cool to have new users go straight to an area if they came from that 3rd party referral site."

Everything old is new again?

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:Registration_API

qarl

one idea to improve slow rezzing: make it fun with visual effects. maybe a tron-like glowing wireframe as objects pop into view.

(yes, doesn't actually fix anything, but gives you something to look at while you wait.)

Arcadia Codesmith

What Dizzy said. There are a few pre-caching advocates that have been harping on this point for awhile. This almost feels like an, "oh! THAT'S what you were talking about!" moment.

Welcome to the bandwagon.

Metacam Oh

I'm with Qarl, some sort of Matrix rezzing textures instead of grey goop would do a little bit. Also for the viewer to rez things closer to you as first priority would make sense, and an option to right click on an object or an avatar to change rezzing priority.

Been beating the drum for a while on the SL registration API and dropping people off in their sims, make it happen!! If you build it, they will come! :)

shockwave yareach

I also agree with Qarl -- While gray is better than "TEXTURE LOADING" all over the place, it looks horrible. Just have the default texture be a black square with blue glowing border. Would be easy to do.

I have thought about having a couple of spots where local data is present and used. Sort of a permanent cache of stuff that's in that area. I concluded it was a bad idea. For one thing, this permanently sets the design of the sim in cement, rendering it forever unchangable. For another, you now have additional checks everytime a prim is rendered, having to check to see if the sim is the predefined one and all data coming from the additional cache. And making the viewers 250M will not bring new visitors to our virtual world. In fact, such monsterous file downloads would make people give up before they even tried it out.

And most importantly, it would create a false expectation about what they should experience in the rest of SL. If there will be lag and simcrossing issues everywhere else, hiding the problems in the newcomer area will only delay the results, not change them. Someone quitting because of the serious problems inworld is still going to quit when they get their first real taste of how the system functions. Better to give a customer realistic expectations early on than to make them angry that you tried to sucker them at the beginning.

Ann Otoole InSL

If LL wants to improve new customer retention then they have a choice. Either police the welcome areas or delete them all and dump new customers into estates with staff on hand that keeps the antisocial people out.

Period.

The rest of this discussion is not going to help since it is impossible to preinstall the entirety of a massive dynamic virtual world on a computer. Just putting part leads to disappointment as soon as new customer try to escape the new customer areas.

Get rid of the griefers in the welcome areas. File criminal charges if they return. Otherwise accept that the griefers decide LL's fate and go on about your business. If LL doesn't want a couple hundred 4chan/SA goons deciding their financial fate then LL can grow/harden up and deal with it. LL has managed to dispose of a group of them that were trying to destroy the forums so LL can man up and get rid of them in world too. Even if they are friends/relatives of Lindens.

Psion

Here's a thumbs-up for Qarl's suggestion. Couldn't it be implemented using wireframe rendering until the texture is loaded using a pulsing wire color that fades/de-saturates with distance?

So on first load on a slow connection, everything might look like red or blue wires and "reality" fills in from closest to farthest as textures are downloaded until the render limit is reached.

I also like Hamlet's suggestion of bundling LR content into the viewer, although frequent changes to the landscape could undermine that. Perhaps separate "common SL content" could be downloaded as modules that are saved with the client and updated as needed? These should be the most common LL-owned textures, sounds, scripts, and objects that are used in SL and available for others to use for their own builds to lower bandwidth demands.

Wonderful thread ... good going Hamlet!

KR

Rod... I'm really surprised you don't know more about Second Life and it's history. Your 'would be cool' suggestion above shows you clearly don't. I would have thought that would be an essential requirement in your position.

Ciaran Laval

When I first came to second life, I thought those avatars wearing white outfits with text on them were wearing a very popular inworld brand, it took me a while to realise it was actually the fact that the textures hadn't loaded.

There are lots of good ideas in this thread and the other similar post but peole like Qarl and Pathfinder may be able to help with pointing some of the technical hurdles here.

I do like Hamlet's suggestion of a white label viewer, I'd like the ability for sim owners to have their own viewer download for regulars that had information about their sim as the message of the day and the regular textures downloaded locally etc. but that would be a nightmare in terms of management.

Hamlet Au

That's not the kind of civil response that encourages productive conversation, I doubt all Lindens are aware of all the discarded/shelved/de-emphasized Linden projects of the last 10 years. In this case, I think the 3rd party reg system has been a non-starter until Rod and team introduced auto-loading HUDs.

KR

@Ciaran

Does it even need a sim specific viewer download?

Surely they could fairly easily allow users to set their own preferred 3rd party home page in the viewer, and simply have a 'set as home page' button in the menu, where a given estate offers that personalisation. Which could be potentially extended for allowing that third party to specify certain assets for pre-loading by UUID from a simple XML addition to that 3rd party page.

Preloading can obviously be done already, so they'd only have to make an addition to enable reading that asset list from elsewhere, add a browser like 'set as home page' and 'reset to default' option to the viewer, and a text box for estate owners to specify the URL of the 3rd party page to use instead.

I'd imagine a simple LSL script would suffice for outputting the pre-load list syntax for them to cut 'n' paste into their xml asset list.

I see no nightmare, really!

Pussycat Catnap

The problem with retention, IMO, is not about downloads and pretty areas.

Its about meeting people and finding pretty avatars -to talk to-.

People log into SL and the most common questions you get seem to be:

1. What can I do now?
2. How do I make myself look the way I want?
3. Where can I meet other people?

#3 comes with a subtext of "...other people who look interesting to talk to..." For many newbies (hint: the menfolk), its more important that the -OTHER- people look sexy... For others (hint: the womenfolk), its important that -EVERYBODY- look sexy. :D

#1 is sort of Linden Realms, but is more "what can I do -with- other people?", but is also half the time phrased as "How can I get a job?"
- People want the group content. This is why MMOs like Champions Online failed - poor group content at launch. Its why 1st person shooters were the early hits in online gaming: PvP is all about group play. Its why the top traffic spots in SL are the clubs and roleplay, not the art builds and solo-games.
LR's is a concept piece to test tools, but the Lindens themselves have noted that the purpose is to test tools they plan to hand over to the makers of group-oriented-games: roleplay and breedables.

#2 was solved in viewer 3. I just tell people now to click the icon on the left of the screen that looks like 2 people standing next to each other, and then the learn about having fun before coming back to 'shopping' for more.

That said, the newbie style challenge:
http://juicybomb.com/2011/11/04/newbie-style-challenge-ii/
- is probably going to be a new part of the 'detailed version' of my #2 answer.

EhrmanDigfoot

I'm down with the 3rd party API, and love Qarl's suggestion for making the rezz process more Tron like. These type of visual metaphors go a long way to communicate what's going on at a technical level. I think the dedicated downloads should happen invisibly though, maybe just make the cache system smarter.

Pussycat Catnap

@Ann: Word.

@KR: Maybe its not so bad that he has gaps in knowledge of SL history - if that prevents him from dismissing good ideas with 'that won't work, we tried it once before, didn't do it right, and blamed all of you, so doing it right won't work.'

Lets let him pretend its a new and good idea, and see if he can get it done right - kinda like all the things the people before him said 'could not be changed' about viewer 2, have now been changed in viewer 3. :D

Ezra

Pretty much all of this stuff needs to be implemented.

It'd be nice if we could hit a checkbox to give a select amount of sims preferential caching. It's probably not efficient that the sim we visit every single day can be pushed out of the cache by say, a once a year event like SL#B.

Its impossible to cache an entire everchanging grid of 30,000 sims, but that isn't the problem that needs to be solved. We need a way to not have to redownload so often textures, sculpts and now meshes of the half a dozen sims or less we each favor and frequent a day. It seems that aside from avatars, probably 99% of what I'm loading goes weeks and months without changing in most sims with a set build.

I also love qarl's suggestion about making loading more visually interesting. I know personally it'd make me interested in seeing how a new gargantuan mall would come together under such an effect rather than dreading it and probably going afk until it was done.

Also agree with the sentiments from Ann. The welcome areas are horrible. It'd be good if Linden Lab leveraged third-party portals more via a new Registration API, complete with an idea like Ciaran's where after registration, the login screen shows an HTML page relevant to the third-party.

Take Meeroos for example, it'd be awesome if the full registration process could happen on their site and once the viewer was loaded, a thematic Meeroo login screen was presented and the initial login point being some Meeroo place...the Destination Guide geared towards Pet categories, etc.

Same could go for anything...treet.tv with a signup form and instant teleport to whatever live show.

Lotta great ideas here and I hope some are implemented.

KR

I'm sorry, Hamlet - and Rod - if you think I was being rude. I was just genuinely surprised that the man charged with leading SL into the future wouldn't be aware of some of the major initiatives of the past and why they were withdrawn if they indeed failed, so that we aren't doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

I certainly think that third party registration and community gateways qualified as a very major shift in how new customers were being brought to SL and their initial inworld experience.

If Rod does indeed believe it would be a cool thing to have again, and as you say, it might be better facilitated this time round by these new features, then surely being well acquainted with the successes or failures of previous attempts would help to ensure better implementation this time around?

Hopefully that's a less blunt explanation of my thoughts and initial comment?!

Arcadia Codesmith

Performance does drive recruitment and retention. If somebody logs into SL and it operates as smoothly as the disk-cached virtual worlds/MMOs that they're used to, they're more likely to stick around than if they land in the world of gray blobs where it takes 60 seconds or so for the scene to resolve (even if they're stuck viewing a loading screen for that time... that's a metaphor they are used to).

Is it more important than cracking down hard on griefing or helping new users connect? Hell no. But there's a word for virtual worlds that focus on a single priority to the exclusion of all else: defunct.

Reticulating splines....

Dizzy Banjo

I agree with some points here and think preloaded areas would cause an expectation management issue.

But performance expectations are already firmly established prior to them installing anything - by other 3d interactive content they have experienced like games.

I don't think reducing the client download size is going to keep users. It just means a few more people will download it, but they find out they want to quit faster. SL still has a lot of people trying it out, the problem is many of them leave too fast.

I think they leave for many reasons, but in the context of this discussion this one is the most relevant :

The current solution of streaming everything fails to deliver satisfaction because most users don't understand that is happening and what benefits it brings anyway - so they just assume it is an apallingly implemented game engine. ( no offense to LL - I personally think its a brilliant ambitious project! )

I think it might be interesting to have a clear way that users could understand exactly what is going on. Ie a way they understand that SL is running in different modes - like Fixed mode ( entirely preloaded and unchangable ), Hybrid mode and Fully Streaming ( as SL is now ).

That way any region owner ( or LL if it was a welcome area ) could choose the mode it ran in. This would allow for the best type of user experience for the actual functional requirements of that region.

A welcome area might be fixed. The region would needs to be super fast, responsive, simple and intuative. The users might not want or even be allowed to build / change anything that required extra streamed content - in an extreme case even avatars.

An elaborate roleplay sim might run in hybrid mode. There may well be a large amount of fixed content that would change rarely ( which would require a re-download of the preloaded content ) plus some streamed rezzed content and avatar attachments. Here it could be much more acceptable for people who really want that experience to download the sims preloaded content, even if they had to wait prior to teleporting to it.

A highly dynamic changing sim all about playing pictionary by building could be fully streamed like SL is now.

I think these modes could be introduced in phases through the new user experience. Their understanding of exactly what SLs full capabilities being revealed to them slowly and in small easy to understand messages. Games do a lot of this stuff very well, SL doesn't currently.

I think finding new ways of displaying unstreamed content is a great idea too. I'd speculate that many combined approaches will be necessary to make the overall journey more slick - from "Why isnt it slick and awesom like Skyrim?" to "Oh I love the way I can feel the fluidity of this 3d digital improvisational jam around me."

KR

The trouble is, Arcadia, that pre-loading doesn't really achieve performance. It 'fakes' initial performance until you leave the preloaded area, and potentially sets an expectation that the rest of their SL experience couldn't live up to.

QueenKellee Kuu

I like the idea of pre-loading. But there are a lot of gotchas involved with it. And I can't help but think of how I am with a build, little tweaks all the time. I like how things don't have a final state, they just have a current state.

That said, Qarl's suggestion about creative rendering is actually something that needs to be looked into. They already did it for loading avatars with the cloud. No matter how much pre-loading you try, you're never going to get away from downloading content. There definitely needs to be a creative visual interesting "loading" mechanism that encourages you to stay and watch as the world is revealed around you, and not just from a mass of gray.

This brings to mind all kinds of ways different applications and games and flash sites handle loading. One that comes to mind is Glitch when it's loading each street page. Perhaps instead of the teleport black screen of boring (which I turn off when I can in TPV's) maybe showcasing some info about the sim you're being transported to, including the place location picture. Like, the stuff that's in the search results and landmark/place info. Or even the map from above image. Just some idea of something to think about or look at while we're sitting here waiting. The screen could stay up longer to allow more of the world to load.

Fill the downtime with interesting things to look at or giving information and it makes it hard to leave. Just my $2L

Adeon Writer

I would say the biggest problem new users face is not lag, graphics, FPS, or UI confusion, but rather it's the nature of the crowds that hang out in Welcome Areas, preying on new accounts and in general being very anti-social and, in a nutshell, very unwelcoming.

SL becomes a wonderful awesome community once you step out of the welcome areas, but many don't make it.

Alazarin

How about keeping the viewer as-is and having extra downloadable packs of textures + objects? For instance the welcome area pack for new residents and various other packs for different types of region: Bloodlines, Steampunk, Elven, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, LL-created regions, etc. Is it possible to ceate a separate section of the cache for ones' avatar: clothes, attachments, etc., that could be cleared [or not as the case might be] separately from the main cache?

KR

@Adeon

Agree 100%

And for the record, that's a large part of why I *do* advocate the idea of community gateways. Because right now the 'welcome' to SL is anything but, and I sincerely believe residents can do it better than what we have now.

It might take a bit of a rethink and rehash compared to what's been tried before, sure.

I also don't believe preloading or building areas into the client is the answer, unless you're going to have a seperate 'starter pack' client for newbies, given the frequency of viewer updates.

@Alazarin

That's certainly an interesting idea. Coupled with 'pick an avatar' on the registration pages, and moulded into 'themed signups', a specific destination and custom inventory etc based upon that choice could be a neat boost to starting a new resident on their chosen path, compared to presenting a confusing array of choice that they won't immediately get a handle on.

Aeonix Aeon

I remember back in the 1990's ActiveWorlds approached the same problem. In a dynamic and streaming world, how do you handle users who are used to local content and instant gratification?

Their answer at the time was the ActiveWorlds High-Rez CD, which was a supplemental CD that you could purchase and use in conjunction with ActiveWorlds client, whereby the textures being downloaded would instead come from the CD and were all double resolution.

Bundling the SL Viewer with pre-cached textures and assets wouldn't be a good idea, because as ActiveWorlds eventually found out - it breaks the immersion factor the moment those users leave that introductory area.

Comes across like false advertising in the user minds. Not surprisingly, shortly after that little "experiment" by ActiveWorlds, they abandoned the High-Rez CD idea and simply learned to build a better environment to accommodate the first user experience.

The idea with wireframe incremental loading is interesting, because it at least breaks the experience up into stages mentally and becomes less of a tolerance break. One of the interesting solutions to this was the fading in of models once they were loaded instead of the sudden "pop" in.

I'm more on the side of Karl in that the gradual method is probably better than trying to cram content pre-loaded into the viewer on download. Also because Second Life isn't a game, and it's a bad idea to give Rodvik any more half-assed ideas about how to treat it like further like a game going forward.

I mean, honestly, if he had his way he'd probably try to get it on store shelves as a DVD with a subscription package like World of Warcraft.

"Play SecondLife! Now available at Wal-mart and Best Buy"

*shudders*

Thadicus Caligari

Maybe its good Rod doesn't know more about some of the history. Leaves openings to re-implement an old scheme but maybe a better way that was possibly killed for the wrong reason.

As I read this post and the responses I thought oh, there is a better way thats a mix of both Hamlet's idea and current.

How about implement in the viewer the option to set unique caches for sims you wish to cache? Maybe a button to perma cache a sim you are standing on?

Everyone has a handful of sims they visit very regularly and it would be wonderful to have a sim separated cache for each one that didn't flush unless requested. That way its on the user to pick what ones they think are that important.

Would definitely want it to be a separate folder from the normal cache as it would be mostly static.

Ann Otoole InSL

@Aeonix Aeon - I have a much better idea. LL has no fealty to the US government outside of paying due taxes. What LL needs to do big time is tell the US Gov to take a long walk off a short pier and make it easy for people to give LL money. Get rid of the stupid paranoid crap that turns away money. Take gift cards. Who cares? Some retard at the FBI that can't pee because he thinks a turban wearing guy is hiding behind the urinal? Screw that. In addition we need to see L$ prepaid cards at walmart.

LL is the ONLY corporation I know of that refuses money when people plead to give it to them. Rodvik needs to clean his company of all the US Government lackeys and turn it into a money taking machine. If the US Government has a problem then they need to spend the money to investigate. Period.

EhrmanDigfoot

I agree with Adeon's comments. I had never been to a welcome area until yesterday when I visited Linden Realms. For the full duration of my stay (20 minutes) two young men from Iceland were belching and making racial slurs on the voice channel. There were also 8 obscenely ugly and tacky avatars just standing there, deliberately created to represent cultural stereotypes in the crudest fashion. Someone should have been there to at least teleport them away from the welcome area.

Ciaran Laval

@KR Good point, you're right, it shouldn't require a sim viewer download, just the chance for the set login screen to display information about the sim you're set to login to.

I was getting a bit ahead of myself as I've suggested in the past the idea that instead of people going to Second Life, they could think of themselves going to Community x (where x is the name) running on Second Life technology, but I'm in danger of going off on a tangent here.

Fuzzball Ortega

Too many good points for me to add in my ignorant viewpoint.

I agree with Thad on the possibility of having the option to set unique cache, if that's possible.

Too many good ideas and suggestions. Hope Rod and the others go through them and take them into consideration.

SL needs to be safe for newcomers, and be enjoyable for all.

DeNovo Broome

Let's DO realize - everyone - that the beauty of SL is that it is a platform that makes it possible to do *different things* and that there's nothing at all wrong with the idea of having areas that work somewhat differently, even to the extent of specialized clients to truly play the game that exists there. So long as observers and spectators don't need to do that, all is good.

I think the idea of a game sim being developed and then "locked down" for pre-caching is excellent. It won't work well for a sim that is in constant steady flux, but consider this; if a sim could be developed on the beta grid, say, at a much LOWER cost to the developers, and then introduced on the main grid with a simple import, well, that would be an excellent way to make SL a true gaming platform... as well as everything else it is.

...please note the importance of this. the importance of an immersive gaming environment, with the potential for specialized clients, possibly even specialized server-side mechanics, but with the advantage of using your own account and inventory.

When I think of all my SL friends who wander off for days at a time to grind their other accounts, I can't even begin to imagine all the piles of shiny money that this change could represent.

And it's not even a bad thing for other game designers. Think of SL as being the shared environment in which you could walk from WOW to COS, stopping here and there to shop and hang out with friends. This improvisational, non-scripted sort of interaction is where the streaming reality truly shines. But why must we have one OR the other?

NOW let us imagine a "tiered" client which would intelligently load and manage plugin-overlays. A very simple, light, fast-loading client that will suffice for most things, with the ability to load special tool-kits; gaming, building, flight, driving, combat, etc. Something that can load and unload plugins and manage memory without pestering the user.

We do most of that now with horrible kludges built with LSL, but the kludges illustrate nicely what could be done with something better than cardboard and packing tape.

Meanwhile, I'd be utterly stunned if there were not other gaming companies quietly using SL or a private closed opensim server to prototype game environments, check sightlines and everything else that is easy to do in SL and harder to do in any sort of collaborative way on other design platforms.

I think much dissent in these matters has to do with various sorts of residents objecting to other sorts trying to tell them what SL is "supposed to be."

But really, it's "supposed" to be like the 2D web... as many tools as possible. Any particular page or sim is "supposed" to be *interesting* and *useful* to the people who refer to it. And the fact that I am interested in particular sorts of games should not force me to be NOT interested in sitting in my skybox and watching a live stream of an SL talk-show.

Candy Cerveau

"That's not the kind of civil response that encourages productive conversation, I doubt all Lindens are aware of all the discarded/shelved/de-emphasized Linden projects of the last 10 years."

Agreed. That is an unreasonable expectation of an employee in a company of any size.

For a community that so vehemently attests that they want Linden Lab to listen to them, quite often those same complainers dive in with accusations or sarcasm when someone from the Lab does try to make the attempt to engage in conversation. Frankly, I don't blame any Linden for approaching a resident exchange with caution.

If you want constructive change, that begins with constructive and respectful dialog.

KR

@Candy. I assume you're not talking about me, then! I'm definitely not "the same complainers". I haven't attempted to participated in this blog or any other "constructive" dialog with LL or other residents about SL for some years. I found it a frustrating exercise in futility.

Candy Cerveau

I was speaking generally. However, the fact that you haven't participated for some years doesn't really make your comments different. When you did choose to respond, it was still with sarcasm and pretty unrealistic expectations.

We've probably all been frustrated in Second Life at one time or another. One thing that I've found useful to remember is that "The Lab" is not one big faceless blob, but lots of individual people. I've had my bad encounters with a few Linden employees, some on a level of spectacular irresponsibility and incompetence.

But my interactions with most LL employees have been very positive and I refuse to blame good people for the actions of those few bad eggs. Holding the entire company in mistrust because of that would be an error and a loss on my part.

Mark Ciccarello

"My comments were generally rebuffed by LL staff at office hours as they were against the pure ethos of SL itself as a live streamed world."

Hmm, well never underestimate the Lindens' ability to underestimate the difficulties users have with their product. But I'm not sure live streaming is really an ethos. There's an ethos of user-generated content, to be sure, but live streaming is more a technical architecture than an ethos. And while it enables some nice things, preloading wouldn't replace it. Really I'd just be supplementing it with what amounts to more intelligent caching.

I think it goes beyond the new user experience. I rarely log in anymore, but even when I was a regular user I spent 90% of my time in fewer than a dozen sims. My experience would have been improved if I'd had a way of "subscribing" to them and having their content kept up to date automatically, maybe even offline while the SL client wasn't even running.

Orca Flotta

After reading the very intereting article and comments I come to the conclusion that we're trying to heal the system by curing single symptoms. That's not the holistic approach as it would be needed here.
What I think LL needs to do are 2 very basic (and yet simple) things:

1) invest heavily into more and better servers
1a) hire more networking guys
1b) stay abreast with new code (physics and core)
1c) get rid of homesteads since they are the very reason of lag

2) lower the tiers
2a) a full sim for the price of a homestead is still too expensive but would be a starting point

The first would help against the lag and crashes while the second would make people stay longer and care more about the product. More concurrency, more money spent in SL --> everybody happy.

KR

It's unrealistic to expect the CEO of Linden Lab to be more versed with his product that I am? Granted I've been in SL since 2003, but I'm just a resident. He has a helluva lot more of a vested interest in the product than I do.

And whatever you might believe, I wasn't being sarcastic. I may have been blunt.

As I already explained after Hamlet told me off (tho I've seen a LOT worse comments than mine on NWN, and even in this thread!), I was genuinely expressing surprise at his lack of knowledge of what I considered a major shift in the drive and direction of SL and the way that it has previously been marketed and positioned to new customers, entrusting the new user experience to existing residents and estates. An initiative that LL later all but killed off.

It certainly wasn't just some obscure little quirky historical blip of a feature that isn't worth his attention. Indeed, Rod himself thinks it would be cool. As it happens, so do I. Done right.

But there's the rub. I know where it went wrong last time. From first hand accounts from Lindens who were involved in implementing it and ultimately shelving it. Rod clearly doesnt. Which is exactly what I said. And as I elaborated, I'm just concerned this means his 'cool' 'new' idea could suffer the same fate through lack of knowledge of history.

But whutever. I see nothing has changed. Some of the names might be new to me, but it's the same circular arguments about the same stuff we were having 7 and 8 years ago, punctuated by the people complaining about the complainers.

Enjoy your "constructive and respectful dialog".
Maybe I'll check back in another few years to see if any of it amounted to anything.

Dale Innis

I'm with KR on the concern that preloading certain areas of the world will just make the rest of the world seem slow and annoying, both in comparison to the preloaded ones AND because it means that there will be less pressure to improve the performance in dynamically-loaded areas. And to my mind the Primary Differentiator of SL over WoW and so on is exactly those dynamically-loaded areas; otherwise it's just Yet Another MMO.

I also agree that the craziness in the new-user areas is a problem that needs more attention. My impression is that the new-user experience hasn't improved much at all since I started in 2006 on the simple path-with-parrot Welcome region, and was then thrown into a chaotic and unmanaged infohub to make my own way. If anything it's gotten worse, because there are more people hanging out at infohubs trying to exploit newborns in various ways.

I actually rather enjoyed the chaos :) but if the Lab really wants to get more Residents who aren't extreme neophiles, this does need to be addressed. I know people are really expensive, but perhaps a small strike-team that just TPs from infohub to infohub all day, addressing the most glaring problems, would change the culture?

Pathfinder

Constructive conversations go hand in hand with constructive criticism.

I think KR is being constructively critical.

Dizzy Banjo

It would be very interesting to know what percentage of the whole of SL is actually changed often dynamically and what percentage remains static for over a certain time period - like a week.

I wonder how easily LL could track that. That seems like the logical way to accurately assess the feasibility of these proposals.

Lani Global

Get my free GLOBAL TEXTURE PRELOADER device at my stores in OSGrid ( opensim )

It has been available for about a year.

Tateru Nino

I suppose the basic issue boils down to: Other virtual environments thought this was a problem and did looked to preloading - but it turned out to not make a significant difference, because it wasn't the right problem.

Winter Jefferson

OH OH OH wireframe rezzing in textures - can we have this pleeeease? That would be SO COOL. The wireframe has its own minimalist beauty and I have learned to hate grey. Which is an awful shame.

Matthew Leach

Too late to the conversation :(

It seems as thought there could be technical improvements - for example the rezzing seems random sometimes; where it would be better if the closest appeared first and expanded outwards. However, I'm guessing there has been plenty of experimentation by LL technicians.

If the product is what it is, then the main thing that you can do is improve information to the user:

* Qarl's suggestion; start with all shapes with default texture then fill-in with actual textures.

* Loading screen showing progress bar that doesn't show the scene until all has downloaded, but with a button to optionally jump straight in mid-download (managing user expectation).

* Permanent on-screen download indicator showing progress as you move around.

This is all viewer-side stuff though, and there's nothing stopping a 3rd-party adding it in.

Hamlet Au

"I was just genuinely surprised that the man charged with leading SL into the future wouldn't be aware of some of the major initiatives of the past and why they were withdrawn if they indeed failed, so that we aren't doomed to repeat the same mistakes."

KR, you raise a fair point, albeit bluntly at first, which actually deserves it's own post. The bottom line: Many Residents know more about SL's history than Linden Lab's current staff does. Because most of that staff wasn't even staff 2-3 years ago.

Hiro Pendragon

Rod - forget Linden Realms.

Put an orientation space directly in the client, so that a person can access it anytime and there's ZERO problems with gray-texture first-experience with new users.

I mean, I (and others, I'm certain) have suggested this kind of thing for years but Linden Lab has never been interested in doing anything but what *they* think is the right way to do new user experience. :/

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