Thursday, March 15, 2012

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Linden Lab's LittleTextPeople Making a Second Life for Text-Based Shareable Storytelling

Linden Lab Little Text People Platform

Game Industry International has a good interview with Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble, who confirms what some have speculated, when the company acquired adventure game platform developer LittleTextPeople: While its first Linden product will be a standalone game (with text and 2D graphics, it seems), the studio is also developing what might best be described as Second Life-meets-shared, text-base storytelling. Hit it Humble:

You can view Second Life as a shared 3D creation space; the product LittleTextPeople is working on is going to be a creative shared storytelling space, where you can make your own stories and have people share them and play them.

SL developers will get a kind of MMO toolkit, as also speculated, and for everyone, two other products which tantalize:

[T]he two other products, certainly one fits very much in with virtual worlds, and the other one is kind of a unique, weird thing again that is even harder to describe - actually, it's much harder to describe.

Neither sounds like a social game, as I thought, but we will see, we will see.


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Desmond Shang

Refreshing... and also risky. On balance, good... but there are more critical factors that we aren't seeing, I'm sure of it.

The Big Question might be if there is going to be an "SL 2.0" ~ this is the question I need to have answered with respect to my own doings on the SL grid, and I'm sure it looms large for anyone heavily invested there. Would it be good to become pioneers yet again on a new product? We only have our past, and the current state of affairs on the main grid as our guide.

One thing that's always had me curious ~ if they truly are as madly profitable as they claim to be, why they haven't done "size as a strategy" ~ e.g. lower costs, broaden marketshare, and halt the policies of decline that characterise the grid and land economy inworld now. Or perhaps there *is* an SL 2.0 coming which means... there's no reason to bother. Having seen land equity on the grid, tenuous as that ever was, be degraded phenomenally in 2009 and forward I would not be shocked to see it degraded even further.

* * * * *

Adding more life to the world ~ this is a key concept, I like that they are addressing that from the very top!

Two very obvious things would instantly add more life to the world: completely eliminating SL Marketplace would be one, and destroying the Linden Homes area would put up to 38,000 residents back onto a revitalised Mainland (well, perhaps maybe up to 10,000ish who actually *USE* their Linden Home, let's be realistic).

Of course, both moves would be highly unpopular to many people, but filling the world with NPC bots just doesn't seem to have enough traction by comparison.

Like it or not, developing SL Marketplace, by definition moves a huge portion of the SL mercantile and shopping experience right off the grid entirely, and Linden Homes... heh, don't get me started :) In essence, these features are *driving the very need* for more life on the grid, literally working hard against it. Tough situation!

* * * * *

As a resident who has tried *many* times over the years to get something going in terms of a 'game' on my estate ~ it's not the tools that are lacking. Even the tools of 2007 were sufficient ~ the thing that did us in was *change*. I've had several iterations of a simple train running around the estate, which was broken multiple times by changes in the way parcel limits worked (2006), scripts worked (2009) and region handoffs worked (2011). Yes, worlds do need to evolve, but code written yesterday still largely needs to work today.

Writing an MMO, even a simple one requires not so much coding hours but coding *verification and testing* ~ that horrible, un~fun, not~relaxing kind of stuff that people only do consistently when there is a monetary reward (see: Meeroo's et al).

That's several hundred hours of investment, easy. And once it goes from hobby to income, the game has changed. And that game requires stability, and all its myriad implications good and bad. Would we be willing to 'freeze' code compatibility in 2012? I suspect not. Which will greatly limit the scope of games developed here.

Some of us have sidestepped the question entirely; for instance I've created a minecraft server that is tied to estate membership/rental as a 'perk'. Within 5 minutes (consisting of forwarding a port, editing one text file, and launching the server program) I had a complete MMO fully operational. Five minutes! Well, maybe three. I'm not the only one doing such things; just as company CEO's can add value by buying companies, this was my 'poor man's way' of doing effectively the same thing to add value to the SL estate. Of course, such a perk is great and retains people if you have fostered a loyal community... and is utterly useless otherwise.

Something to think about.


Shared storytelling that other people can play? Sounds intriguing in the abstract at least.

Emperor Norton

LL invented a web forum.


I'm really glad they're being creative and experimental with whatever they're working on. At least it seems that way without actually seeing a product.

Lucius Nesterov
and +1 for forums.

Do they expect this kind of retro entertainment to take off in the modern world? Was SL not niche enough that they had to look for something even more underground?

I'm all for thinking outside of the box, but most people have moved on to creating multimedia content. The ability to rite teh words is gon.

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