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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

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shockwave yareach

You can have the best quality solution ever. (Which SL falls far short of, btw). But if 90% of the people you want to sell it to cannot afford it, then you WILL have low sales figures.

If you aren't going to lower the tier at least 25%, you may as well not bother with any other solution -- they will not bring you more land sales. People are voting with their wallets and every person that walks away from the thousands and thousands of dollars in Sim, will a) never come back and b) not have a single kind thing to say about LL to any of their friends that might be interested in joining.

Every tech has become cheaper over the last 10 years... except SL. You aren't going to convince any of us that the price of the servers has gone up or the price of the fiber has gone up. LL makes money hand over fist while driving their product straight into the dirt. But with a slightly lower pricetag, they'd still make money hand over fist, but with greater volumes of land owners.

Lower the tiers or watch the lights go out one by one. But every sim you lose is 20 people lost, and they won't ever come back again no matter what.

Seven Overdrive

Lowering tier prices and creating exciting content for the masses to consume goes hand in hand. Most people in SL are hobbyists and only have budgets to reflect that.

The cost of a private island, which would be the ideal medium to create an experience for users, is a big barrier for many people.

As far as the land leaches/barons. I say rip the bloody bandage off quickly. It will hurt like hell but the pain won't last as long as making a slow change. Besides, if they throw a fit and leave SL rather than accept a downsizing due to more people being able to afford their own private spaces to create with without a needless land baron price mark-up, it is their loss. A little of something is better than nothing at all.

So no, I won't ever stop asking for more reasonable tier for all.

Hamlet Au

"If you aren't going to lower the tier at least 25%"

Shockwave, about 500 people who own most SL's land pay most the tier in SL:

http://bit.ly/gXZmEf

Generally they're doing fine, because their renters cover tier. But if those 500 people get a 25% discount, Linden Lab will no longer be profitable. Is that what you're proposing?

Ezra

"They can make more money keeping tier prices where they are, and can then plow that profit into a war chest to sustain themselves years after SL private land finally, inevitably, withers away. That's what is happening now. So just. Stop. Asking."

Or they could lower profit margins, actually believe in their product and invest in it by reducing tier.

Actually, it doesn't even take believing in Second Life. It takes believing in Economics 101 and understanding the law of demand; prices fall, demand rises. If sim count attrition is a problem and the top cited reason is pricing, this is the ONLY way to reverse it.

The writing on the wall is that you're right; Linden Lab doesn't believe in Second Life enough to invest in it and even risk losses to grow it and create greater profits, but this isn't something they admit so it's totally fine for customers fielded for feedback on how to improve Second Life to continue giving the same, obvious answer.


"DO: Integrate gaming systems into a noob-friendly third party SL viewer"

I think the Exodus team wanted to do stuff like this, but Linden Lab's new "shared experience" clause for TPVs bars it. It's what you call a non-starter. No TPV can create shared experience breaking features that aren't piped through SnowStorm first, and judging by the tenuous process the mesh deformer is going through and flares of tension between Oz and Qarl, something like getting game related client-side features through is impossible. And the fact that TPVs can only contribute client-side changes makes something DayZ-like impossible anyway. It still requires Lindens to do server-side coding and that's something that can't be kickstarted.

Iggy

Too late for many educators. Tier IS the issue, but LL made it clear they don't want educators, some time back.

Archangel Mortenwold

Without substantially lowering tier prices, Linden Lab will continue to lose its main revenue source without being able to replace it. Why can't they replace it? Because they insist on keeping tier prices unaffordable for the vast majority of SL users. People who own regions can't afford to keep them, and people who would like to own regions can't afford to acquire them.

Ezra's right. In order to retain current users and attract new ones, Linden Lab has to do the sensible thing and lower tier prices. Otherwise it'll keep losing its main revenue source, which in turn will prevent the company from being able to invest in its non-SL projects. This isn't rocket science; it's basic business economics. Maintain high prices when demand is low and no one will buy. That's common sense.

There are already noob-friendly third party viewers: Phoenix, Singularity, and Cool VL Viewer. I've lost count of the new users who can't make heads or tails of the Linden Lab default viewer, or any of its clones (including Firestorm). But once they got onto the V1-GUI-based viewers, they learned quickly. That's why the majority of users still use Phoenix. It's easy to use and it works consistently.

Kadah Coba

SL lacks the features, performance, platform design, and pricing needed for doing anything remotely like DayZ.

We would need NPCs. We don't have that. I don't even have pathfinding "creatures" yet, and those won't be capable of doing much more than wandering and basic obstacle avoidance. Not to mention if you want them to be animated humanoids, you'll have to build them out of prims/scuplts/static-mesh and manually "animate" then via scripts, which, if you've ever been in a region with a few dozen Meeroos, does not look too good with any level of sim lag.

SL lacks good server level implementations of basics game mechanics. It took LL till this year to add a raytrace function to LSL, but then the limit it so much that many creators seem to find the old rez-bullet methods better.

Regions are 256 meters square. This is hardly enough room for anything of any scale. (It would be nice if they would copy the mega-region thing from Opensim.) Which leads us to the next 2 problems.

If we want to make an experience game, we're in for some serious expense. We'll need to be willing to upfront $1000 per region, then another $300 every month just for every each, which we'll likely need many of because...

The more avatars we have in one region, the laggier it gets. Imagine a densely decorated region full of dynamic content with 20 agents, the sim fps would be in the 20's, or less.

Even if we had all that, we'll still have to contend with script memory limits which many making anything large and complex a nightmare to work on and maintain. The limit just serves to artificially require things have go multi-script and need to be more complex to support all the interscript comm needed, which just ends up eating more script time and memory than one large script would have. :|


Even if we had an idea for a gamey thing that was pretty basic and could be accomplished with the current tools, it would need to have a very high monetization rate just to cover tier costs, and such mechanics tend to kill games (see every MMO except WOW).

So unless we are LL or getting supported by LL, it would be an uphill effort unless you're either loaded or very clever, or lucky, or, more likely, all of the above. :(


As far as "Integrate gaming systems into a noob-friendly third party SL viewer", that could quick run afoul of the new TPVD policy, specially if the custom TPV its "required to play" and there is money involved.

Lani Global

Why in the world would would any sane investors put real $$$,$$$.$$$ capital into a High Risk 'New MMO Game Business Inside SL' ??

+ The investor would need to be informed and given full disclosure of known High Risk factors:

1. Entire venture is subordinate to Linden Lab ownership.
2. Content of game is subordinate to Linden Lab copyright claim over "everything that touches Linden Lab servers".
3. Real World equipment and internet service is on Linden Lab servers, thus, out of direct control.
4. Customers must use only Linden Lab approved viewers, limited solely to features which are tightly regulated and stifled by Linden Lab; eliminating any potential innovative improvement and/or technology edge for the new venture.

+ Then there are the "High Risk" Elephant-In-The-Room unknown factors:

1. Entire venture is subordinate to Linden Lab well-known whims, quirks, and unpopular decisions.
2. Possible future ban or forced adverse change imposed on use, due to whim of some Linden Lab executive decision.
3. Possibility for future Linden Lab technology change breaking game content or causing effects requiring high-cost re-building of game components.
4. Impossible to roadmap due to non-transparency of Linden Lab technology plan and/or business vision.

dirk grantly

Put SL on gaming consoles, the Vita, and better graphical tablet access including the ipad. Put SL in front of people on the devices they're using, wherever they're using them. That's what will help bring people in. Once they're here, well... That's another story.

Make it mobile.

EhrmanDigfoot

Hamlet's post was pretty motivating, and I felt momentarily inspired reading it. Then I read the comments and remembered what a pessimistic bunch many of us SL users are. What a drag!

Hamlet Au

Haha, I can see what you mean, Mr. Digfoot.

"SL lacks the features, performance, platform design, and pricing needed for doing anything remotely like DayZ. We would need NPCs."

Those are coming soon from LL, as you know. However, why do they need to be NPCs? Why not let *other players* be zombies? The box, outside it you must think.

Far as pricing, it can be done. I once talked with an SL game developer who was involved with a team that's made 7 figures from their game. Yes, you read that right, over a million. In USD, dawg. Not from land rentals, either, but L$ transactions. I agree you'd want to get clever on how it's deployed due to sim costs and lag, but it can be done.

Ezra

@Ehrman

It's facts. You can lounge about and armchair talk about "do this and this and this in Second Life, duh", but the fact is it's expensive as all hell AND the tools involved to attempt things like full-fledged games are either not there or half-baked. Mostly the former.

And no, better tools aren't coming, at least not in the way you think, because they always come with some two-steps backwards caveats.

Pathfinding for example doesn't work with the keyframe motion LSL function. which itself was a half-baked attempt at solving the problem of animating NPCs. The new functions released this week ARE NOT identical to the functions used in Linden Realms. Even if they were they're just a freakin' teleport function and temporary attach. It doesn't fix fundamental problems with HUDs like not knowing the viewport size and not being able to display text without ugly floating text or eating up sim resources with font spritesheets and a whole new mesh for every 8 characters one wants to display.

And it's not all about what's possible in Second Life or not. Whether building something is worth the effort or not factors in too. There's a point, especially with 'game making', a person is better off putting their effort in Unity, XNA or hell, an ArmA II mod.

Second Life isn't some charity child everyone is either shallow thinking or pessimistic to not break their backs and wallets for just so that it can have a rosier future. For all the heresy about users being resistant to change, little is said about Linden Lab being resistant to change.

Second Life might be the only virtual world of its kind and size, but it still has to compete with the thousand other things out there vying for our creative attention that promises fiscal reward if only we invest a reasonable amount of time and money.

Second Life isn't anyone's kid, nor is it owed any favors. It's a product, it has to compete for customers as products do on feature set and pricing. Pardon the pessimism of not seeing the point of throwing bags of money and time at something Linden Lab won't do the same for. If Linden Lab is turning their attention away from Second Life and pursuing other opportunities, exactly what do you expect of everyone else?

What's next? A plea to make Blackberry apps? Is it common sense or pessimism not to?

Little Lost Linden


Linden Lab, Please lower the tier prices now.

While your at it, fix the graphics by bringing them into this decade. Specular maps at least.

Also, upgrade the water. I like to go swimming in my virtual world.

Something like this will do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSwASbUzt0s

Dave Bell

At the moment, Land Barons exploit the structure of Tier Pricing. They get a lot of customers who don't want a complete region. And they can price the land for those customers at a rate derived from the Tier paid from complete regions.

At the 512 parcel rate, the size you get free as a Premium Resident, comes out at USD 640 per region. The Mainland Tier rate is USD 195.

I don't know if Tier prices can be changed, but I am not sure that Land Barons gain Linden Labs that much, after allowing for the money they suck out of the SL economy.

Rin Tae

So you say:
'Because most SL land is owned by a small number of "barons", and if their tier prices are cut, Linden will suffer a huge blow to revenue.´

With other words, most of LLs revenue stream moves through a few hands and with this, they have to totally depend on all of those people to never leave because if one leavs a big number of sims goes away. This does not sound like a good business strategy and is definitevely not as good as spreading the revenue stream over a larger number of people. And this goes only with lower costs for them. Not only will the big land owners be able to buy more land but everyone else will be able to get their piece of SL as well.
When I talk with people about their ideas and wishes for SL it always ends with pointing out how expensive sims are and how people can not afford their piece of land.

They all want sims and land and would gladly get one. Since I RP a lot and those I talk to about such things came from RP groups too they are also eager about games and RP places they dream about. But they can only dream since none of those places will ever be build if when it continues to be so expensive to get a sim.

The land barons are of no importance here. They can even be seen as a unneeded middleman and LL don't need to cater to them in any way. People want sims and land. I hear that everywhere I teleport to but what I hear too is that only very few can afford it.

If more people would be able to afford it more people would get it and I would even say that the moeny they will be making then will make them very quickly forget about the land barons you see as so important now.

And:
'But if those 500 people get a 25% discount, Linden Lab will no longer be profitable. Is that what you're proposing?'

You make it sound like it is only those 500 who would ever buy sims. You forget to mention taht EVERYONE ELSE will get the discount too and that a 25% discount can be turned into 25% more land with more people on it and who knows how much more revenue since those people not only pay tier but also buy, build and sell themselves (hint .. less money spend on tier leavs more of the SL-budget to shop and upload what would benefit the merchants who might once again start building shops inworld and as such contribute to tier instead of only selling on the marketplace where LL has pushed them too. What in turn resulted in closed sims and less revenue .. shooting themselves in the foot comes to mind when thinking about LL).
And as I said above. Land barons are not needed for LL since for them it is of no importance where the money comes from and who pays it.

And as a last point:
'Those are coming soon from LL, as you know. However, why do they need to be NPCs? Why not let *other players* be zombies? The box, outside it you must think.'

This is not outside the box thinking but simple reality on RP sims. People play all roles and are hapyp with it and many are really really grat with it.
On the other hand thinking that finding enough people for such roles is only possible if one has never been on a RP sim or talked with the people who are or have been invovled in their staff.
A zombie-RP sim for example that has been around some time ago (it got clsoed and rebuild as a different RP setting) was, while filled with people playing all sorts of roles, happy to have two or three palying a zombie (the hordes had to be imagined and refered to in the players emotes that describe their and the zombies actions). And you might not beleive it, but such roles are not easy to play.

ii singh

@Ezra you nailed it perfectly in your posting. Sorry folks but altruism has its limits I spent way too much time trying to put a business together on SL and was torpedoed by the lab and the users several times. I trash-canned the business idea and hung around building for a while and chatting and even that got pointless. Sorry Hamlet and the rest of the fashionistas... but eventually you guys are going to have to find jobs doing something else. Life is hard but many of us had to do that in SL or RL or both. Stick a fork in this world it is done. The technology isn't there the capital or maybe the desire by LL to pour more capital into this stage four cancer patient isn't there. The goodwill of many content creators either isn't there or they have found other things to do with their lives. Even if they could nail the "game technology" I kind of doubt it would attract the kind of gamers/users that they would want meaning any gamers or users (new ones I mean). This product is looking dated and a little too long in the tooth to attract new hardcore gamer types. Most of the current steady crop of users hang around out of a misplaced sense of nostalgia more than anything of real consequence. Move in folks your favorite pet is dead.

ii singh

in should be on but otherwise it has been said.

salahzar stenvaag

This post instead of convincing people to NOT asking for tier reduction is producing the exact opposite result.
Intermediators like land baron would at a certain point start to leave SL themselves when people will lower at a specific factor. Already many barons are earning much less than two years ago because final customers are not renting land so they have much of their properties essentially half rented. So it is a very risky bet to keep tiers so high. SL needs a reputation if they want to even keep the actual figures. Currently Linden reputation is keeping in lowering and recent initiatives from Linden had been disastrous. Do you want some examples?
Why promise a monthly gift to premium users if you just deliver 2-3 low quality gifts in one year? This is not serious and people understand they are teased and being pulled their legs :(

Masami Kuramoto

@ Hamlet
"about 500 people who own most SL's land pay most the tier in SL"

You've identified the problem, but your conclusion is wrong. LL must replace those 500 high-profile customers with 50,000 low-profile ones, because low-profile customers are less likely to throw the towel and erase entire communities.

Luci Koenkamp

Okay, Hamlet lets not ask LL anymore to lower tier prices, we all know that they´re not sustainable in the long run and it will mean the end of SL eventually ... anyway, it doesn´t matter how much we reason and pleat with them ... they don´t listen to us, they never did and never will. But what they could do, is offer us more land for the same price so that the few that can and will invest in land can offer cheaper land to their renters, especially on the mainland it would solve a lot of the abandonment.

Saffia Widdershins

I seem to recall that when tier prices were significantly lower (for the pre-Homestead Open Space sims), everyone did rather well - land barons sold plenty of land; people gained their own sims and were very happy with the result. The only people unhappy with the result were the Lab, who found sims they thought would be 'lite' were groaning with prims and people partying happily.

The noise! The people!

But the 500 land barons were happy - it was after tier was whacked up that most of them had to re-trench.

Perhaps what is needed is a new level of land - at bargain prices. Instead of the 3750 prim homestead, the old 1870 (which was what the Open Space sims were before LL upped the primmage, lowered the prices and triggered the land explosion). People are nowadays more economical with their prims - careful use of mesh can help (and the drive to create content for the new land level would be a boost to the market too).

I agree with people above - your "entry level" version of Phoenix is a great idea but dead in the water until LL either alter their TPV viewer policy or agree to license a "Newbie" version of Phoenix/Firestorm.

As for games ... well, I think Lani Global has it right, I'm afraid. It is incredibly difficult here to build a business plan for anything when the goalposts can be shifted at a moment's notice. And the worst of it is the disconnect between the Lab and the users - so the Lab, seeking to make what is clearly a much-needed feature or fix a dangerous exploit, manage to break what for many key users is an essential part of their everyday lives (because the Lab were just unaware of its other functions).

So in structuring a game here, you need to be aware not only of the limitation of the technology, but be aware that the technology might, next week, be significantly broken because the Lab, quite innocently, fix an exploit that griefers are using, or remove some illegal megaprims / content.

The games that are successful here tend to be those that are reliant on people running them on the ground (the Bloodlines, Tiny Empires genres) or are fantastically creative but controlled within a relatively small range and usually time limited (the Mad Pea route), or exploit people's existing commitment to SL (the breeding animals). I doubt whether anyone ever joined SL to breed Amaretto horses, KittyCatS, Ozimals or meeroos - but all are very popular and add to the economy.

However ... if I wanted to make the kind of investment that was needed to create a significant MMO and really wanted to use the SL-type platform ... at this point, I might be thinking about partnering with one of the smaller, hungrier, closed garden developments (like Inworldz) where they would be anxious to look after me as a valued client.

Nisei from ~nOd~ Latex & Fetish Stores

I have been renting private land since 2008, not as landowner, but as merchant who wants to establish headquarters in a nice place, but finally i have buy mainland.

Lot of problems during these years changing of land due to problems with landowners: owners who fail to pay to Linden Labs and land disappear in one day with no explanation losing all my items and buildings, or for example the last one i rented: the landowner only had a 1/4 of land rented (my plot) and finally she changed me to other different land to sell the old one like a full region.

This is really bad for a bussines with a lot of LM in each item, with links in websites, etc...

So finally i decided to buy mainland at Zindra (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Baern/237/55/36 ). More stability, less square meters but lot of prims at the same price. Is not a caothic area (that's important lol), near the sea (i love sea, lol) and i'm sure i will not have more problems with landowners.

This kind of problems with privates lands are bad advertising for future private rentals (remember they are more or less 500 people than pay 75 % of LL benefits).

Seriously, they need to have some form of regulation from Linden Labs to avoid problems with residents, otherwise the long-term residents will not rent land of this type.

Hitomi Tiponi

A couple of technical points Hamlet:

- Designing and making an MMO friendly basic viewer using Viewer 3 as a base is not a big task, as long as you know exactly what you are aiming for. Design can be the hardest part as Viewer 2 showed.

- There are limitations on what a viewer tailored towards an MMO can do that are imposed by Linden Lab in their Third Party Viewer Policy. If you were to create something that showed content in a different way than is available to LL's viewer users you are likely to fall foul of them - "2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer."

Liam Kitty

Who are you and have what you done with Hamlet.

The rest of you, stop getting distracted by land prices; Start building and get back to telling people to come to SL to see what you created.

All the new features from LL are AIMED at game creation. Pathfinding and experience tools.

HAMLET JUST NAILED IT.

Pienaar

Hamlet, your idea isn't bad but as such comes several years too late and from the wrong person.

If LL would have had that idea and if they had created a technical infrastructure plus a business model for start-ups to rely on, then it might have worked.

For the rest, Lani and Ezra are right: there is no bases provided by LL to invest money into gameplay.

One can build small amateur gaming elements or a an RP environment that is based on early nineties PC text messages plus some empty and disconnected graphical scenery. But there is simply no platfrom - neither technical nor administration nor business wise - to build anything that appeals to new mainstream users.

I also put your example about the SL game developers in doubt. Maybe it was a "breeding" game or playing "bingo" in SL. Then a million dollars revenue isn't impossible. But if it is was any sort of real gameplay, then I would like to get more concrete information about this: the name of the game and the enterprise. And why hasn't anyone build on the success?

Ajax Manatiso

Plain and simple, your idea stinks to high heaven. Changing all of SL and modeling it after the "success" of Bloodlines would cause a mass exodus of the core users who have made SL survive. It may come as a shock to you, but Bloodlines activities are banned throughout the majority of SL and their members are individually reviled and banned. The core users don't want SL turned into a routine game and are here in SL instead of somewhere else because it isn't a game. No matter what the negatives, SL is the best example of a purely social and building world. Making it into a routine game would make it the 200th best "game" out there and instantly cause it to spiral into non-existance as all those core users go running to InWorldz and Avination. Your idea is shockingly bad.

Archangel Mortenwold

Liam, as I and others have pointed out, you can build al the shiny stuff you want, and try to implement all the cool gaming features you want, but if in the end the whole thing breaks the pocketbook for 99% of users — and an increasing share of that five hundred or so "elite" land barons, too — then people aren't going to come. That's not pessimism at work, but simple economic reality. It can be ignored, or it can be acknowledged and dealt with by lowering land tier prices to something competitive with the smaller grids out there.

As Hamlet's own numbers show, the land barons are disappearing from the grid since even they are feeling the effects of the ongoing economic depression with renters unable to afford the high price of land in SL. A friend of mine who rents land on a private estate regularly receives notecards from his landlord through a blanket announcement bitching about renters who fail to pay their tiers on time and as a result the sim owners "have lost many sims". Let's take this at face value. In order for land barons to recoup the high cost they pay for land, they have to charge renters more than what they pay for it themselves. Otherwise they're just breaking even or losing money, and that kills the point of being in SL real estate. With no end in sight to the Second Great Depression, people whose incomes used to be able to sustain spending money on SL are finding themselves unable to afford their hobby any longer, so they end up having to abandon their land, and because land is prohibitively expensive they're not renting it again. As a result, more and more land barons are losing money, which in turn results in them leaving SL.

The current land pricing model isn't working. It's costing Linden Lab the revenue it needs to pursue its non-SL projects. Like it or not, the reality is that until or unless Linden Lab acquires another source of revenue for its projects, it'll have to adjust by lowering land tier prices in SL. It'll take the pressure off of those five hundred or so land barons and attract more people to buy or rent land, making up for any loss of revenue.

shockwave yareach

@Hamlet - those 500 landbarons are already getting a nice discount from the lab.

Why not just extend the Atlas project to the rest of us? Hmm?

Arcadia Codesmith

I think we've covered all the bases. This is not an attactive or cost-competitive development environment for virtual-world games in any respect. This seems to me to be obvious and self-evident.

It works for games that aren't dependent on virtual space, but even then you'd probably do better ignoring SL and recasting your idea as a smartphone app.

It might be a viable development platform, with the right combination of features such as precached zone transitions, optimized database communication, and instanced regions at a tiny (TINY!) fraction of the cost of persistent areas.

Any bets on when THAT will happen? I've got "when hell freezes over".

GeneVincent Tigerpaw

I so don't get this. Let me see, Lindens sell server space to 3rd parties who have no personal interest in secondlife. Those 3rd parties then add a profit margin and rent the server space on servers they do not own to the end users. The end user, therefore, is not a customer of Linden Labs, but of the middlemen. Why is that Linden Labs must not upset those middle men and not worry about the end user?
Why can't Lindens cut out those middle men and provide space on the server directly to the end user at a lower price rather than protect the profits of middle men? Would the end user leave because they preferred dealing with the middle men? I don't understand the economics or business model here.

Robert Graf

SL/LL's wave crested in 2006-07. They failed to take advantage of the big mo and instituted several moves - don't need to list them, we all know what they were. Some of us got so turned off that even if they cut region prices by 90%, we won't be back.

The day I left SL in 2009 I went over to OSGrid, fired up my first region, and never looked back. For the past couple years I have run 8 regions at absolutely no cost. Other than the electricity that the old spare PC that hosts them is using.

I own all rights to anything I create, I have complete control over my regions. I can back them up. Back up my inventory. And no Lindens/Mr. Authority Figure looking over my shoulder. lol If I want to take my regions off OSGrid and go hypergrid I can do that. It's called freedom. Something SL has lacked for many many years.

SL has become North Korea... Each new leader worse than the next, no freedom, and Big Brother/The State owning and controlling all content and activities. Propagandizing about how wonderful everything is in "the workers paradise". Introducing a new "5-year" plan every few months. etc etc.

HTML5/Opensource is the way. Right now... And for the future... For computers... cell phones.. etc... And most importantly, for Virtual Worlds. ;)_~~~

Dartagan Shepherd

Agree with Ezra, it's a company and product not a charity case or a cause. It gets/got my money, not my sympathy. There are already worlds and technologies that would pop up to fill the void.

It costs too much, maybe try paying $300/month out of pocket for a region yourself out of love for SL for 5 years before talking about more sheep giving up more money for more crowd sourcing.

Adding game elements that take user hours away from merchants, clubs, etc. just speeds up the process of leaking more sims and users.

By the time you've turned SL into a game engine to compete with other game engines, people begin to have light bulb moments that for the same amount of effort, they can build their own games on real game engines and retain much more control over their games, their pricing, features, capabilities and their users.

And if you're willing to do your own marketing there are far more users for your game "out there", than you'll generate from a partial SL userbase.

If LL is indeed in profit, they're not paupers and can lower tier if they're willing to take less profit.

The over monetization is a mutant form of free play that penalizes the people that pay the most into SL.

Project "Shine On" saves LL money by nixing one data center and investing that money in servers that can pack even more regions onto even less machines. Bringing some of it up to date will equate to more savings and better performance "for LL".

Savings that paying customers will most likely never see. Better performance for everyone? Time will tell.

But right, not lowering tier and pimping more crowd funding and game features that allow LL to sap more users hours away from community is yet more Kool-Aid, and we've built up an immunity to the stuff.

Mariko Nightfire

You don't have to lower the tier on my homestead sim. Just give me more prims and more space for my money.

foneco zuzu

When there is no competition, One can does whatever!
But there is competition now, be on new platforms or using open source code!
And they are getting better, stable and with more users!
LL is trying to do some good, see Mainland regions at the black sea, the new shining code.
That will make users want to rent in mainland instead of getting full sims (any simple mind can understand that if you want to have all you wish to build without limits, there are free ways to do it, without having tom give shi*** about LL!)
So if LL lowers now tier prices on mainland, make sure cross sims keep improving as well as the new viewer code that Tpv will make usefull, LL can forget all the crazy mistakes they made before (Intel, USA Army, educators, any remenbers that, well Open sims welcomed them as LL rejected them!) and will hopefull avoid new ones (Pathfinder roll out rushed to make all useless and reduce even more the number of users is the one i fear tight now1)

Metacam Oh

I had to laugh a little at this, sorry Hamlet, it makes me feel like you are a bit out of touch these days. How much time do you spend in SL these days BTW? Just busting chops, I know you have been busy with your new book, but anyway:

1) DON'T: Keep asking Linden Lab to lower land tier prices

Not sure how this will save Second Life? I get what you are saying, they won't lower tier so stop asking. However, that's not how the real world works. People shouldn't have to bite their tongue in expressing the fact that Second Life land tier is absurdly overpriced. That's just the truth. Add to this the fact that they are making cost saving measures, like region idling, sever consolidation or whatnot, yet these savings which are in direct relation to their pricing model is not being shared, and that's ridiculous.

Linden Lab regardless if they are the only virtual world out there needs to be held to the same standards as every other business.

Which brings up the problem that the whole model of land tier is ass backwards to begin with. Land is a real world commodity. Bandwidth and storage space, CPU power are the virtual world equivalent, not 256 meters by 256 meters. If I want 2 miles of empty space around my Sim it costs them nothing. Why should Sally and Joe's private sim cost the same as Bukkake Bliss Island that is taking up a shit ton more resources?

Revamp the entire business model. If Joe Freebie is taking up 1 terabyte in inventory he should be charged. If I have a sim and no one is on it, and it is idling for weeks on end I should pay very little.

Ignoring this is the first problem that WILL kill SL. Current land tier business model would just be milking a dying cow until its dead.

DO: Create DayZ style hits in SL

DayZ is a first person shooter. Unless Linden Lab has a brand new "Physics" or "Gaming" sim coming out, there is no chance in hell anyone would play that type of game in Second Life. That would be if they could even find it.

Even if someone does create the best game ever within Second Life, those creators can't even get people to sign up via their own website and hand delivered, they have to go through Second Life's main gates where they shuffle everyone in through one cookie cutter experience, and never end up where they intended to go.

DO: Integrate gaming systems into a noob-friendly third party SL viewer

Remember that policy they instituted, you even reported on it.

"Linden Lab recently announced new Third Party Viewer policy changes, forbidding developers from creating a version of an SL viewer that "changes the way elements of Second Life are defined or how they behave, in such a way that users on other Viewers don't experience the same virtual reality"

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/02/linden-rules-against-3d-party-viewers.html

Please stop expecting the users to innovate when everything Linden Lab has done is to stifle innovation.

And that brings me to the third reason SL is dying. This philosophy that everyone uses the virtual world the same way. Who cares if a third party viewer added some awesome feature? In fact why wouldn't you want that? It's ass backwards Hamlet, you have to admit it. They have hoards of users willing to donate time and effort as a hobby to create viewers, features, add-ons, and experiment, but Linden Lab is failing to use these resources.

Even now as you report they are scaling back, there is no indication of opening up these channels of development. It's turning away progress, it's turning away free help, and all why? Because they feel the need to own and control every aspect of the world. If they really want their platform to grow they need to rethink this approach.

Similarly to their plea for user input on new user experience. Its pretending like there is one solution to a problem out there, and that solutions going to be from Linden Lab. This issue of new users coming in and not being able to find stuff is never going to be solved by one solution, and with the way a 3D world works, searching and categorizing locations is hard to accomplish.

So the company apparently has something in mind that they have spent time and resources on that is in the works, and hopefully it's something innovative, but no matter how good it is, it will never solve the problem 100%, and that's not a knock on the Lab its just reality. You have what is equivalent of a 3d internet and everyone is going to use it for very different purposes and be interested in very different things.

The Lab needs to stop with this thought that they are the only ones who should control how new users comes into Second Life.

Why would anyone invest in SL when they can't even market their SL project to the wider world? If someone created DayZ in SL they would want people to be able to sign up right from their webpage, give them possibly custom avatar choices and drop them right on their sim without any interference from what Linden Lab is doing with their own new user portal.

Emperor Norton

I am just dying to hear Mr Courtier Au explain how people can run a Day Z style game on the 1/16th of a sim they can afford. rolf

RobsterRawb Jaxxon

Alright this might not be narrow minded enough for this discussion but Ive got some suggestions ill lay out bluntly and let you all out of the box for a minute.

1. Re brand Second Life
The very name implies you want or need a second one, the name should instead imply something in the realm of 3dNet, my following suggestions will probably make this suggestion sound more relevant.

2. Embedded Client Web Browser Functionality with .(3dnet ex.) domain.
Second Life(Re-brand!) would benefit greatly by being able to advertise and tout itself as the facilitator of a new 3d internet.. or evolution of 2d if you will. Client web browser functionality should be at or near the top of the list for development

3.Secure Server Distributional With Annual Grid Subscription (ex. DNS)
Outsource the majority of hardware overhead & allow for maximum scale-ability plus get rid of of the harsher side of financial and legal vulnerabilities associated with maintaining and upgrading a profitable venture with future uncertainty by having users and new land baron server farms investing in your relevancy. Client-browser functionality coupled with this suggestion would also give relevancy to the theme suggested in suggestion 1.

3.Secure Asset Client-Server Communication (aka Encrypted Asset Cloud Storage)
The ability to communicate or travel to simulators or "sites" with a persistent medium or avatar & their belongings has vast potential in overall acceptance and profitability in a transition from 2d to 3d given the immersion and incentives to accessorize. Authenticated free users would ideally have a set amount of objects (ex. 100k), more on users below.Simulators or sites could have their own storage apart but cross communication would leave sl vital. Trippling upload fees would help keep "trash uploads" to a minimum.
4.User-Pro User Re-brand And General Description
Premium users should be re-branded pro users and a prepaid model with multiple month purchase incentives should be ushered in with an automated process to downgrade unpaid user accounts. Pro users would ideally have perks such as reduced asset upload & 3dnet domain subscription costs and additional cloud storage and possibly increased network priority.

5. Linden Dollar
The linden dollar should be dynamically backed by the most stable & solvent currency at whichever time giving incentives to invest and accumulate.

6. Mainland
Restrict Teleports to Hubs, Home & Owned locations to assist immersion and prop up property value, Teleports to event locations on mainland would ideally place the user at the nearest hub with a beacon for their destination. Addition hubs should be monetized and scaled up for every 1 bought.

7. Phase Down Private Region Rentals
Transist hardware that facilitates private regions slowly as the market competes and lowers prices to assist other functions in performance and future scale-ability.

8. Admit Im Right.
Or at least take my suggestions into consideration.

9. Hire Me As Assistant CEO

And give me ALL YOUR KNOWLEDGE HUMBLE!!!


Emperor Norton

Hamelt Au @ "I once talked with an SL game developer who was involved with a team that's made 7 figures from their game."

Name names or it didn't happen.

Keystone Bouchard

What @RobsterRawb said.

ii singh

@Emperor Norton I think the reason Hamlet hasn't mentioned the name or the product of that mysterious seven figure success story is because it was involved with gambling. Anybody with a sense of SL history would know how well that went.

Aside from the cost of tier thing the other trends in replies have been.

Too late to fix this.
Technology too broken or ineffective to do what LL hopes.
Limitations of region size, region crossing issues and prim based economy to mount any realistic game effort.
Residents don't want games... bloodlines argument.
All in all it sounds like yet another LL "plan" that is more than a little ill-conceived.
I can't say this more clearly....
THE CENTRAL PROBLEM WITH SL AND LL IS THAT THEY HAVE A PRODUCT THAT THEY HAVE HAD A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF DIFFICULTY DEFINING.
Its a business demoing meeting tool lets sell it to business.... nope next

its an education tool ... nope next

Its good for virtual gambling.... nope next

It will work well with the vampire crowd lets sell it that way... nope next.

Can we cash in on the movie Avatar..... nope next.

We need easy to use web based viewer... nope next.

We need some sort of facebook like approach... nope next.

Its a game development tool and very soon we shall hear... nope next.

The questions I got when I demoed SL to people still resonate with me.... SO what does one do with this? Why would anybody invest any time in this world? What is the overall point to SL?

I am not sure I have the answers and I am positive LL never really knew the answers either.

Keystone Bouchard

The DayZ analogy is a really interesting point.

You have to spend the better part of a day trying to figure out how to hack your way into that world, which is anything but current technology, yet the game experience is compelling enough to attract millions of players.

Hamlet Au

Thanks! I agree, that's very interesting. I think the survival factor is important, because it makes learning about the world a fun challenge, not an irritation. Similar impetus with Minecraft, I think. I bet SL games which also had a survival mechanic would also be attractive.

Hamlet Au

"Hamlet hasn't mentioned the name or the product of that mysterious seven figure success story is because it was involved with gambling"

Nope, this game has nothing to do with gambling, and the developer talked with me in 2011, years after gambling had been banned.

"All the new features from LL are AIMED at game creation. Pathfinding and experience tools."

Thanks, that strongly influences my thinking, too.

"LL must replace those 500 high-profile customers with 50,000 low-profile ones"

Yes, but to get 50K customers, given monetization rates for free-to-play MMOs, SL will probably need 500K or so more unique users.
Which will require growing the userbase with cool games and such!

Pan/Lainy

I think they can lower tier. At the moment say, the barons get a 25% discount....

Give everyone across the board 25% discount and the barons 50%. Everyone happy, barons stay put.

Tier is too much, everyone who spends money on land knows this.

LL needs to accept a lower percentage profit and hopefully more people will stay/become engaged in a world they can afford.

shockwave yareach

And you are going to get cash from these 500K new players, how exactly? And you are going to attract them to SL to play games without advertising, how exactly?

I like adding more game tools to SL. SL is a place where we can do anything, but the board has done everything short of dropping an EMP bomb on the servers to prevent anything having anything to do with games from being offered. Whether they like it or not, SL is primarily entertainment to most of us and having more fun stuff to do will never be a bad thing. But this isn't going to pay the bills, even if they knock a home run out of the park (and I would like to see that.)

It is good that Rod doesn't share M's embarrasment at SL being called a game company, even if that's not exactly accurate. But I'm afraid it's much too late now and the ship is too deep in the water for some +2 buckets to save it. If steps aren't taken to give ALL landowners the same discount the land barons have, people will continue to walk away with no newcomers to replace them.

SL could be an amazing game architecture base where you pay daily for access to game areas, then laugh with your buds over pints at the local bar as you talk about your exploits while trying to get the barmaid to come home with you. But priced as it is and setup as it is, this will never be anything but a pipe dream for those of us who love to dream.

millay

What I really appreciate about these last two posts on the future of SL is that you raise what I believe to be the most important point - it is up to us - the users of Second Life to make this community sustainable. That's true in any community.

Though I wouldn't know the first thing about either of the two suggestions, I do know and understand my own resources and passions and can draw on my experiences to raise my level of participation in a community that I have come to call "family" and to share that passion with those that may not be familiar. I see that as my responsibility to my community and its sustainability. It's a challenge I embrace and an opportunity for innovative and creative ideas to burst forth.

Linden Lab is a borg (and I mean that in the nicest of ways). It is a machine and a platform as is any business or organization. They provide the space but it is the people that people that community that should empower each other and themselves to create the community that they want to see in that space. I think it's like that in all lives.

Keystone Bouchard

At first, this post inspired me. I started imagining it might be true - maybe just one more really cool big new idea would be all it takes to regain the Lab's attention and investment. You're probably right.. that may be our only hope.

But the more I think about it, the more I get this nagging feeling that we've already put in our time. We collectively bent over backwards for years to help build this place - at times, it seems, in spite of the Lab itself. We're the ones who put that cash in the Lab's reserve. To be sure, there was *never* any lack of creativity or innovation on behalf of the SL community, and that continues to be true to this day. We did the very best we could with what we had to work with. Just look back at this blog's history of posts.. it's been a limitless stream of new ideas and innovations.

We proved the concept and then some, and I think the community within SL exceeded everyone's expectations - for years. But the Lab failed to match our collective investment with meaningful advances in the underlying technology to keep this all moving forward - probably (i'm guessing) out of perpetual fear of rocking the boat too far and upsetting the community too much). Now, it seems, they're spending a good chunk of the money they earned from SL on other non-SL games, which seems such a shame.

So we get a couple of moderately useful tools, and now we're to believe it is once again *our* responsibility to prove SL's worth if we hope to keep it above water and retain their development interest?

You're probably right on this - it may be SL's only hope. But I still say we need radical change. These are early days in the virtual frontier, and I fear we grew to clingy and resistant to change within the first iteration that came along. It's time for metaverse 2.0 - new concepts, new innovations, new ideas - build on what worked, throw out what failed. The Lab is in the best position of anyone to build it, but if they don't - someone else will. It's only a matter of time.

Pienaar


If the Lab wants do to something revolutionary, they should sell "indipendent grids" to game developers. They tell those game developers: Use our technology, currency system and servers (and pay for that).

But make your own TOS, viewers and game design. Like a website host you are responsible for the content, not the server farm. Then LL would say: You can allow users to bring their avatars and belongings over from the main grid - or not. Users can sign-up to your grid via your website. Users that signed-up over your website can access the SL main grid after they registered their existing avatar with us. He/she can then bring over the belongings that they received in your world (and have payed there with L$).

Then the Lab would say: The specific viewers for your grid can be programmed with the set of SL functions YOU need for your game. You can suppress the functions that disturb the game experience (camming, teleports, mini-map, IM...).

That would be revolutionary! And that might bring new creative potential, new users, new money to the SL platform.


foneco zuzu

Who wants revolution?
For that Any can have and use Open sims!
All we, the users that goes in world every day for more then 1 minute, want is:
Stability and no lag, cross sims as they are now, things we bought 2 years ago still working, mesh things we did bought, not getting screwed!
And if possible lower tiers!
All the rest is useless crap that We, the ones that use Second Life, don't need nor wish nor will support for long!

foneco zuzu

And yes, we are the ones that will make new users stay or move to other places, cause we are the ones in world that speak with them when they arrive and are lost!
So don't even think that hardcore users are a pin, cause we are in the end your survival, LL!

Zarkinfrood Miami

Coming to the party late as usual, but I think there's another important point to consider. Much as been said of why high tier hurts Second Life. Almost nothing has been said about how it helps the world, and ultimately, the residents.


We've all heard and participated in the same arguments time and again about how prices are outrageous, and how Second LIfe would be so much better if they simply reduced land ownership costs. But how often have you considered the flip side of the coin - what would happen if the wish for free(or low cost) land was granted?

Low land costs would allow more residents to setup businesses in a place that is already flooded with stores.In the real world, bad product goes away eventually because stores that sell an inferior product simply can't afford to stay open, which is also true to a certain limited extent in Second Life now. This creates a "survival of the fittest" atmosphere where people must stay innovative to stay profitable, and those who can't keep up with new, better, or different product are eventually forced to close their doors. Lower tier and expect the amount of inferior goods displayed in-world to sharply rise and the number of stores to rise as well. You can easily see the effects of this particular argument by spending some time browsing the marketplace. Residents who offer cheap knock off items, charge for free scripts, or misappropriated textures rarely have stores in-world.(this is another problem entirely, to which I could dedicate a month ranting about.)

An unlimited amount of land at fire-sale prices would also turn Second Life into a wasteland like OSGrid. It may seem like an unfair thing to say, but the number of regions within OSGrid that are completely empty of prims is rather high, and that's just the tip of the iceburg. Checking the numbers,Grid Survey reports 29,483 total sims in the Second life grid.The quarterly report from Second Life puts SL's average monthly users at 1,046,000 for a total of roughly 35.5 residents per sim. Comparing that any other grid exposes the stark truth - cheap land means a less concentrated user base. has statistics for most of the Open Sim grids and the numbers aren't pretty - Inworldz rates the best of the opensim grids with a large user base, at roughly 5.2 residents per sim(1,117 sims, 5,804 average monthly users). The largest alternative grid, OSGrid, self-reports at 9,279 sims and 3621 monthly users - .39 residents per sim. It seems the cheaper land gets, the less concentrated your user base is. Without a concentrated user base, meaningful connections between people aren't formed - And ultimately it's the friends we make, not the things we make, that keep us in-world.

My final argument for the land pricing is one that isn't as transparent as the rest, but one that has affected every single new resident to step into the multiverse. By keeping the land prices artificially high, Linden Labs has allowed for a very unique free-to-play model. Land owners pay for the majority of the operating costs of Second Life and still manage to keep Linden Labs in the black. I haven't met a single resident who has started off by paying for membership or buying land before playing. By allowing anyone, anywhere to experience the world completely without paying a cent, Linden Labs finds its target customer - you and me.

While I agree that the Lab has done a lot of things wrong over the years, I don't think that high land pricing has been one of those things. Other land policies have been a lot more questionable. I agree that things like the ATLAS program hurt LL's real customers, the residents. I also agree with what others have said here - cut out the middle man(land barons), give everyone access to the same pricing and level of customer care, and suffer a small short-term loss to allow for real, non-hyped growth.

shockwave yareach

There is one flaw in your logic Zark -- people selling garbage or freebies or 1L stuff were present at the very beginning of the grid. And they are still around today. And there are far more free things and 1L things now on the marketplace -- which contribute exactly Zip money into paying for land -- as well as free shops.

So if high tier is a "gatekeeper" making certain only quality products can exist inworld, how do you explain all the freebie spots and 1L warehouses found on the grid?

Dartagan Shepherd

@Zark

The over-zealous free play model is part of the problem besides high tier.

Said elsewhere LL takes too much to sustain a healthy market for users.

In a declining, pyramid-ish system, the whales can no longer support the minnows.

Tier needs lowering and the model needs to be more honest and strictly value-based hosting and services.

If they're not willing to lower prices and overhaul the model itself, there are no features or performance improvements that can save the decline.

When you have a realistic product and people willing to pay monthly you don't need to play economy and monetization games like LL is doing.

Nathan Hopkins

Hamlet,

After reading your post and your comments I feel like something is missing. If LL reduced tier costs by 25% and land ownership then went up by 30%, they would become more profitable. Are you assuming the reduction in tier would likely not be offset by a significant enough increase in land ownership? And if so, how do you know this?

I don't have an opinion on this and don't know enough to form a good one... I'm merely asking because I've been perplexed by your reasoning since reading this post and some of the good points made in the comments by others. Maybe you have talked to an internal number cruncher or something?

elizabeth (16)

@Nathan

one thing have to calculate in as well is the cost of how much extra land current tier payers will acquire

for example: if say i had 3 sims and got a 25% reduction. is 3 outcomes for me

1) i dont increase my land. just keep the same land and pay less than now
2) i increase my land by 1 sim and pay the same tier as now
3) i increase my total sims to say 5 or more. increasing my current tier payments

of the 3 outcomes the last is the least likely for existing tier payers. so linden would have to rely quite heavily on new tier payers coming into the game. is an open question whether or not is enough of them

+

is my guestimate that would probably need close to about a 40% increase in total tier paying accounts to break even on a 25% tier reduction. maybe a bit less but not much I dont think bc of 1) and 2)

Krinkles Q Klown

Anyone who seriously believes SL is in anything but the Big Rut isn't clearly grasping reality.

Nothing has changed at the Lab. They keep adding new features hoping that the latest bit of crap will jack the user base up. Hasn't worked yet and it won't work now.

The same conditions exist today as they did when SL for Business and SL Enterprise was being flogged by the Lab. Inherent instability, bad design, lipstick-on-a-pig thinking, years old bugs, nothing working quite as it should, and a refusal to R&D a new SL. FFS, a whole new Grid not plagued by the design flaws of the current one, made for flexibility, extensibility and scalability should be ready to roll out. You know, something that well and truly knocks peoples' socks off--and works!

But no. It's the same crap. Pathfinding won't save the Grid. New physics won't save the Grid. Making an MMO like gaming experience won't either.

The only reason other Grids haven't taken off is because those leaving SL get well and truly fed up with virtual worlds. LL leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. When they move on, they move on.

Their own customer base was their best salespeople. They were the best product evangelists. They helped people through the stiff learning curve.

Until a new vision is put forth of what this product can be, it will languish in the Big Rut--until the Death Rattle comes.

Jen

I lost my premium membership bcuz I add a prepaid card and liden lab won't accept that, they want me to add some other veryfy payment option, which I don't accept or want, second life is a game for most of us I don't want to expose any real life info, also second life is full of spam and people sending virus, so forget it!
I don't have any intention on going back to second life, will gladly hold the money I use to expense on second life to buy a professional camera and returnd to my real life hobbies. So long second life!
And that how u lost money and clients. I already pay a lot on that game, in six month of playing have a big inventory use to pay rent and all. Soooo thanks I'm not returnd there and keep my money for myself and other Rl things.

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