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Thursday, August 16, 2012

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Iggys

This may be the biggest SL related story in a long time.

There goes my SL, if what you predict is true. I run SL on a MacBook Pro with an integrated graphics card.

We'll see how this plays out. It makes business sense to catch a niche with a lot of disposable income.

What of those who cannot render such graphics? My fellow educators, at least, would now be forced to migrate to other virtual worlds if what you report is accurate. Most of us do not have dedicated desktop rigs and use mid-to-high end PC and Mac laptops. We don't play Steam games, so I have no idea how well they'd perform on our hardware. A great boon for OpenSim and Cloud Party, where many of us already have "Second Lifeboats" waiting.

Will your Alienware laptop cut this new experience? How well does it run DayZ? If the performance stinks, you at least will have an excuse to go to the computer store.

Many others will move on. Perhaps that is LL's strategy, to change their customer base. Hard-Core gamers are a BIG niche, too, though I suspect they will look at SL, consider its rep and type "LOL."

Damien Fate

This is a real game changer. I'm incredibly excited to use these new features.

shockwave yareach

I hope the horribly inefficient use of the GPU is fixed, and the viewer defaulting to modes the GPU cannot render when first installed. Having the viewer on Steam means nothing when the newcomers launch it and it immediately crashes, which is a very common issue.

And while yes, gamers can and do tweak for performance and quality, they also are quick to walk away from games that aren't fun or otherwise don't function properly.

Seven Overdrive

LL is going to have to do more than just improve the graphics. They are going to have to step up their "game" by creating better tools and adding real game mechanics options so developers can create better game experiences in SL.

Somehow I doubt something like Bloodlines is going to be much of a draw for the hardcore gamers. People will want something on par with Skyrim.

Seven Overdrive

Oh and I forgot to say that I am excited about this news too. =)

Adeon Writer

Normalmaps: I'm lost to words. This is amazing. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT TO SECOND LIFE THAN MESH.

Get ready for SL to have the capacity to look like current modern games in terms of graphics.

Iggys: Understand, Normalmaps are an optimization feature. They let your computer render more detail with less intensivly. This is a double-win of making SL run better AND look better. It truely is a win-win situtation, as hard as that is to believe. That's why I've been begging for it as SL's #1 needed feature for years! Trust me, you'll be fine.

Steam: Good. I'm a fan of Steam. This will bring in many more users, most of them gamers. There are those who will yell that SL is not a game, but that does not mean it does not belong on Steam, there are other non-games on Steam, too.

Ezra

@Iggy

Like Adeon said, this isn't something that will hike the graphics performances. I mean it COULD if a creator is careless, but this should make it so that the people making thousands of polygons gravel roads will instead stick to a two triangle plane and put the gravel detail into a 256x256 repeatable normal map.

Normal and specular maps aren't high-end features. It'll be win-win-win for client performance, ease of creation and making Second Life look better.

Ghosty Kips

While I'm ALL abotu the new materials and bringing SL into a realm of better graphics and better visual appeal, I am *not* a fan of Second Life on Steam. Steam is for gamers. Second Life is for everyone who has a purpose for it - game players, merchants, socialites, performers, DJs, artists, everyone. I do not see bringing SL to Steam as a way to enhance the userbase. Gamers are on Steam to game. They are in for a disappointment.

Graphic Dix

Looks wonderful! cant wait to see it, really interesting. I wouldn't say wot's and wot is not SL cose i think no one can say it at this point. There is too many way to see it and to play with SL and also to work in SL. Just hope the user will increase :)

Geenz Spad

I find it interesting that people think this will raise the graphics requirements. Allow me to explain why.

Materials simply adds new texture maps to the rendering pipeline, which are supplied to pre-existing parameters. This means that your existing computer will be able to make use of materials. Currently, we're investigating ways we can increase performance with materials as well, so this won't just be an update that layers on more prettiness with blatant disregards for performance.

Normal mapping has been around for ages now, and most hardware (except for the really low end stuff dating back 7 or 8 years) can support per-pixel lighting. Though of course, the technique in how per-pixel lighting is implemented matters greatly. I'll reveal details regarding the final direction for making this available to as many people as we can when the time's right.

Indigo Mertel

>> By ... increasing the 3D graphics card requirements, Linden Lab is decisively moving away from this audience <<

Sorry Hamlet but I really have to protest to the poor quality of your interpretation. You are so fixated with your theories that you spread bits of uninformative crap.

As a matter of fact, materials and assorted maps are a big improvement to content quality without requiring lots of extra resources. And, it is very likely that these will be extra features which can be enable in the client just as shadows are today.

I agree with Adeon, this is a very important improvement on par to the adoption of mesh.

Seymore Steamweaver

Every game I run on steam performs amazing at advanced graphics on my iMac. Second Life is the only graphic type game that performs like ass. I greatly look forward to this.

Tracy Redangel

Does Linden Labs even really understand Bloodlines players? I'm not so sure they do. Most people get involved with Bloodlines as a way to connect with other players. That's the simplest form of it. They form and join clans so they can have a social/familial structure. People aren't necessarily recruited for game purposes, but rather to be a part of that group of friends/family. There is the usual drama of Second Life dating, friendships, etc that occur in those groups, just like any other. I'm going to go out on a limb and say most people who participate in Bloodlines don't view it as roleplay or gaming.
Now, with regards to this new venture, I find it very exciting. We're heading into new unknown territory, and the truth is no one can predict what the impact will be on Second Life, good or bad.

Hamlet Au

"materials and assorted maps are a big improvement to content quality without requiring lots of extra resources"

We were told the very same thing about mesh, and that mesh would greatly improve performance... and now I can hardly run SL on my Alienware. But it's a fair point, so I struck "will" and replaced it with "may".

Iggy

Thanks for the reassurances! It does show one thing clearly....LL is not going to simply milk their existing customers. I will certainly try this out.

Seven Overdrive

@Hamlet - One last comment. I think Bloodlines is a poor example of what Steam gamers may enjoy in SL. It really isn't much of a game. I would use City of Lost Angels that uses the CCS combat system as a better game-like example. The CCS system is the closest to a gaming experience I have ever had in SL.

Interesting times are ahead for sure if someone can create a true gaming experience, like Skyrim, in SL. If not, and Bloodlines and breedable prims are the best to offer, I am afraid those hardcore gamers will be disappointed.

Geenz Spad

@Hamlet

Hi! I'm the guy working on Materials. Materials _has the potential_ to increase performance. The reasoning for this is due to how they enable content creators to decrease the number of polygons being rendered on screen. Less polygons means less fill-rate. Less fill-rate means more performance. Now for the catch (there always is one):

Content creators will have to learn how to use this new functionality. If content creators don't know how to effectively use normal mapping and specular mapping, then materials won't do much to increase performance.

Frans Charming

Ghosty kips, you should tell valve that steam is for gamers, they are going to allow all kinds of other applications soon too, second life included.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2012/08/08/valve-expanding-steam-beyond-games-into-software/

Ezra

@Hamlet

Your Alienware runs just as crappily in regions with no mesh though, right? It wasn't the mesh rollout that changed high/ultra performance for you, it was all the other rendering changes Linden Lab rolled out from 2.7 or so to 3.0.

Indigo Mertel

@Hamlet, you can't blame the poor performance of your computer on mesh without making an accurate check of where the problem may be. Experience may vary on different causes. Several people have reported a smoother experience in heavily built sims because of mesh.

Anyway, this move proves that your theories are wrong and LL is still investing resources in SL and betting on the platform.

EhrmanDigfoot

This changes everything. SL will explode on Steam with Normal and Spec maps. Look at the sucess of Team Fortress with it's USG and free to play model. People spend hours on that platform just on the chance that one of their 3D models will be approved. I predict boom times are ahead. This is a very good day for all of us who have invested in SL, especially the content creators and land barons. And the Exodus viewer team was behind some of this? Thank you LL and whoever else made this happen.

Kaellynn Rayne

I play console games and PC games. A sandbox game (Secondlife) is NOT an MMO-RPG. It does indeed have elements of an (MMO-)RPG, but that's not what it is. Secondlife gives you the opportunity to become your own class, your own race, not a preset list of class and races and factions to choose from.

I truly hope that this move is only to make the graphics quality better and info streaming faster. If this move is to make Secondlife a "videogame" rather than a true virtual world, they're going to be unpleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Hitomi Tiponi

LL are also working on improved texture fetch and caching, which should also improve the experience.

Little Lost Linden


Holy Moly!

Finally! Some graphic improvements we've all been waiting for.

Second Life: HardCore World takes another step towards fruition.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Wonderful news--and since Valve has committed to Linux, even better. A recent Valve Linux blog post mentions that Left 4 Dead 2 runs faster on Linux than on Windows now.

Valve is the kind of folks that nVidia can't afford to give the brush off to the way they have the nouveau team, so I'm expecting good things as a result of Valve's efforts, and not just for games.

As people have pointed out, normal mapping lets creators get the appearance of more detail with fewer polygons--this will benefit everybody, *if only creators will take advantage of it*.

This is a very smart move on LL's part, and I applaud it. The only question I have: will these changes make their way into the sources from which the TPV writers work?

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Guess I should've followed the link. The answer to my question is "yes", so I'm a happy camper.

Jo Yardley

Great and exciting news!
I am a gamer and I am on steam, I see a lot of things that would interest gamers in SL even though most of those things are not simple games.
It will bring SL to the attention of a whole new audience, many of them will enjoy SL, game or not.
As for improved graphics, yes please!

Salazar Jack

Could something like OnLive play a role in this and bring high-end graphics to those with computers that aren’t beefy enough to render on their own?

Hamlet Au

"LL is still investing resources in SL and betting on the platform."

I didn't say otherwise, I said SL would become "less and less central to the company's strategy and plans". From insiders I talk to, that's still the case. Lots of game companies put their old library on Steam in the hopes they get a long tail of users.

Heidenstam

Both of these are interesting and exciting pieces of news.

I worry about the move to Steam, however as, even with materials, SL is in extremely shoddy shape.

LL has never taken presentation seriously.

The human starter avatars have amateurish proportion mistakes, the windlight defaults seem designed to make SL look awful, the camera placement seems straight out of 1995, and everything from the appearance editor to the resource management tools have unforgivable flaws.

Sl needs materials, no doubt about it, but LL needs to address these other problems as well.

If LL does not want to repeat the 2008 hype bubble and inevitable collapse that followed then they have their work cut out for them in turning SL into a polished, presentable, professional product which achieves the "shared creativity tool" ideals Rodvik has used to describe his vision of SL.

I wish them the best of luck. I am extremely fond of SL and want nothing more than to see this become a huge success for LL. However, if they are not prepared to work for it and continue to ignore some of SL's more serious shortcomings, this move to Steam could prove a costly misstep.

Alberik Rotaru

I think LL may be in for a rude shock. I play a lot of games. I use Steam a lot. The only 'game' (in fact the only program of any kind) where I have any graphics or stability issues is Second Life.

Sure Steam is a large potential audience. So are all the other large potential audiences where LL has tried and failed. I most seriously doubt Second Life in its current state is going to thrill the Steam community rigid and I have to say that gamers are used to things like chat, movement and inventory just a tad more sophisticated than SL offers.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

This is a very interesting announcement; and yes, I agree it's "bigger than mesh", because, for once, we're seeing strategy (kudos to Rod, he seems to know what he's doing).

So, first, LL promises to roll out a LOT of new features in the next months. After months and months of yelling about the lack of normal/specular maps, LL comes up with this — engaging the Exodus developers, finally starting to massively reuse open source code, and retrofitting their rendering engine — which already did bump maps nicely, but they couldn't be changed; and did normal/specular maps on water but nowhere else. Finally we start getting to see the old rough edges being finished.

While it's true that badly applied materials will not increase performance (but it will not make a serious difference, either — even 6-year-old graphics cards like mine do normal/specular maps natively on the GPU), another difference in Rod's leadership is that he seems to actually be looking at what people are doing in SL. Sure, it's still a huge social/shopping environment. But jump to a 'game zone', and the content quality is being done by professional or semi-professional game developers, who enjoy their free time doing FPS for SL, with all its lack of support for developing serious games... what they do is truly amazing and shows the incredible patience these people have :) And they have amazing programmers who can even create their own, gamer-tailored TPV — Exodus. So Rod saw that, and saw that these people are a "niche inside a niche", but one that knows how to develop high-quality, industry-grade content — they just need the renderer to play nice. Which it will. Soon. :)

I'm sorry about everybody who complains about lag, lag, lag. I know that feeling. But since SL 3.3 on Mac OS X Lion (which MUST have updated the OpenGL drivers), SL all of a sudden became three times faster on my 6-year-old, gamer-unfriendly iMac. That means that I now get 20 FPS easily on decent settings. I get over 40 on lower settings, and, no, SL doesn't look anything close to what it did in 2004 or 2005 — it still looks awesome at those settings. And with shadows on — sadly rendered in software for my graphics card — I get decent 4-5 FPS on most areas. That is pretty much a little below the performance I got everywhere from 2007-2012. The HTTP Project Viewer is nothing short of astonishing in loading textures so blindingly fast that I feel I'm sitting on LL's co-location facility, instead of half a world away on an ADSL line :) So, yes, there have really been a LOT of improvements, and these have appeared in the past few months... or even weeks. The UI is still the same mess, though :) but we'll survive.

So is SL "gamer-ready"? No, I don't think so, and it might never be. But it's as close as possible. However, I think that the agreement with Valve is really just Rod's way to reply to what we kindly regard as their "competition" (not to be rude). You might remember how Cloud Party stupidly claimed that since they allowed Facebook registration, they were now "open to 800 million users", a meme that was repeated over and over again until people started to believe it. And this when Facebook's future as a gaming platform is declining, as Zynga's loss of profit (and market share drops) is showing.

Well, Rod can now announce that SL will be part of a community of 40 million people. Sure, they're mostly gamers. But the important thing is that they are mostly paying customers, i.e. people used to spend a few dollars to enjoy themselves online. This is the kind of audience that LL wants to attract: people willing to pay. 800 million free accounts who have no intention to buy a single L$ from the LindeX are just "sitting ducks" who consume precious resources. 40 million potential customers, who are used to pay to get entertainment, are the right market to attract.

Steam is not just "a game distribution platform". It's a community of users. It has registration, profiles, groups, forums, and everything else that a social platform needs. The fun of buying through Valve's Steam is the ability to know what your friends are playing, join them, offer them games as gifts. If LL integrates Steam registration with SL, turning Steam profiles into SL profiles, that's far better than any kind of "Facebook integration".

It's ironic — I just joined a community of 900 Steam users who have a Second Life account, and SL is not even on Steam yet. And it's not the only SL community on Steam — just one of dozens.

I have no idea what "LL's strategy and plans" are for non-Second Life applications, but THIS strategy I can fully understand, and it's totally about SL!

For the ones believing that SL, a peaceful, social environment will now be flooded with trigger-happy hard core users... well, that will not happen. Most very hard core users will still find SL's renderer too primitive and move elsewhere. The not-so-hard-core gamers, who love to tinker with mods, will be a much more realistic group to join (or re-join) SL — but they will join the existing gamer communities in SL, or develop their own. They will find most of SL boring and uninteresting and leave the non-gamers alone. Nevertheless they will be valuable residents — many will have the talent, the skills, and the patience to develop their own things in SL, because, really, there is hardly anything so "moddable" as SL, and, for some, that's all they wanted to do.

No, I don't believe there will be a "revolution", either :) Let's be realistic: besides some very positive marketing, all that LL can hope for is, say, a million new paying users, in a year. That would be an excellent target: doubling the number of active users, but having a million of them willing to participate in the economy — buying items, uploading textures, opening shops, renting land. If LL can pull that off, that would be more than fantastic. Even 100,000 new users coming from Steam would be great!

If not, well, pushing out a positive and clever strategy is more than we have heard from the Lab's board in a long, long time, and I can imagine that even the media will not fail to notice that.

Keystone Bouchard

VERY exciting.. but SL on Steam isn't the big deal here, imho.

The sweet spot would be breaking out access to instances of individual sims on Steam, and let sim owners set a price for accessing those experiences.

The game industry is in serious upheaval, and a lot of gamers are constantly seeking new experiences. They're getting tired of the same old game genres, and the new Indie Game development scene is exploding!

Dan Pinchbeck's 'Dear Esther' is a perfect example of the appetite gamers have for thought-provoking, experiential, open-ended, artistic environments. If some hype is building around a cool new sim someone just launched, and they can jump in for a few dollars and explore it, they'd be all over that!!!

BUT, you can't just flop SL down on the table, and expect gamers to fuss around with all the goofy bullshit - they want to get right into the action - right to the experience. Maybe frame the sim access as mini-games, or 'apps' or whatever - something you don't mind spending 99 cents on that you won't be completely put off if it doesn't blow your mind.

It would be a refreshing new revenue stream for content creators, but more importantly, it would be a more palatable bite size experience Steam players can grapple with instead of getting clobbered with all of SL at once. If they like what they see, they'll be much more inclined to check out the rest of the SL world.

Joker

all that graphic complexity costs time and money to develop during production... and there are plenty of 3d engines that do all those tricks with less overhead than SL, PLUS to invest all that time and money in a game that can be shuttered/made non workable in a second due to SL management style is serious suicide for a game developer..

prims for hobbiests was the sweet spot linden EXPLOITED for 6 years... This is a pipe dream being done only to keep linden employees paid well by conning more that they have a future for creatives efforts.

list the "successful" creators from the first 6 years... they end up all selling social media /twitter consulting now..or are back to starbuck jobs.

Aeonix Aeon

I'd like to note a few things in response to this post, and maybe address the hype.

First:

Second Life on Steam isn't what its cracked up to be. 40 million potential customers does not equal 40 million customers. Offering a system that is not a game to a decidedly hardcore gaming community may actually backfire.

The number one thing I've heard from new users of Second Life (and many other sandbox virtual environments) over the years is the following question: How do I play this game?

There is a huge difference between a video game and a sandbox virtual environment. Video game players come with the prerequisite of expecting to be hand-held and given a predefined experience. Compared to other games on Steam, Second Life doesn't hold up to that scrutiny.

Secondly

I'm definitely happy about the inclusion of specular and normal mapping. That doesn't mean Second Life is on par with modern gaming graphics, however. What's considered great for the sandbox virtual environment industry is still considered behind the times compared to modern games. That alone is going to become a glaring issue with hardcore gamers on Steam.

Third -

Second Life isn't a game. I take umbrage that Linden Lab pursues the avenue treating it like it is, and to wit is something I expected from day one when Rodvik took the helm. It's not strategy, it's total misinterpretation of the product and misunderstanding of the social environment it is. Labeling and treating it as something it is not just because the new CEO knows how to market The Sims but not an actual Metaverse system.

The analogy for this is if the square peg doesn't fit in the round hole, simply carve the square peg into something that will fit.

Lastly -

Seems to be the blatantly obvious has been overlooked. Linden Lab isn't in a position to handle 40 million users. They can barely handle what they have now and still call it "reliable" even though you and I know better.

The lag alone will turn off gamers from Steam who expect far better, not to mention the viewer stability issues and failure to properly load the environment reliably without clearing cache, relogging, and rebooting your computer.

It's not usually a good idea to try and run a zebra in the Kentucky Derby. Just my two cents.

Nica Pennell

Oh, man. For years I considered SL's technological evolution hopelessly stagnant, and now all of a sudden they're checking off some of the top items on my wishlist. Could user-defined avatar skeletons be next? Improved terrain mesh texturing? Who knows! I'm actually feeling optimistic!

Connie Arida

Good to see some movement on the graphics rendering front. Some movement on the avatar mesh deficiencies would be welcome too. Of course SL will NEVER be able to compete with Games using highly optimized, Direct X engines as Open GL is its engine. However any movement forward is welcome.
To my mind LL is trying to make SL a relatively simple game development tool ( pathfinding etc ) that can be used for more than what it is now. If it succeeds we shall leave to the prognosticators and time.

Kadah Coba

About the only effect LL's viewer getting on to Steam is likely to have is increasing exposure slightly and get some new sign up. Steam isn't some magical platform that instantly gives you everything you want when your game is released on it. SL is still a very hard thing to explain and properly advertise, which will be difficult given the tiny spaces where Steam gives you to summarize your 'game' and the fact that LL historically doesn't understand how to convey what their product is to people who have never used it. SL lacks a clear single big thing, or even a handful of smaller things, you can point to and go "that's some stuff you can do on SL (which isn't really true, but I don't think any marketing dept. would go with "SL: Where you can go have really kinky pixel sex(TM)").

The problems once you get a new user signed up and logged in still exist; new user retention is still poor from what I've heard and seen.

And LL's Viewer still isn't exactly popular or even well tolerated to this day. From everything I've heard over the years, LL has managed to make it something that neither easy for the average noob nor the average long time user. In it's current state, it might not be the best "first experience" to put forth to a new audience.

Getting on Steam isn't a bad thing, just that its likely going to be an indifferent thing since it's not a good time for it (all the graphics and service reliably updates aren't likely to be released till after the Steam launch if my guesstimates are correct), but there may very well not been a "good" time for such a launch. SL is still pretty much nothing more than a hyper chat room, and the modern web isn't as interest in real-time 1:1 direct online social interactions as it once was.


That said, I'm still surprised that SL isn't as popular with the wider furry community as I would expect. It's a good atmosphere for it, but experience outside of SL is full of the same responses I've gotten from non-furs that's either hear of SL or tried SL briefly but didn't stay. There are A LOT of furs on Steam, so we'll see if that has any effect.

Ah well.

Little Lost Linden

"It's not usually a good idea to try and run a zebra in the Kentucky Derby. Just my two cents."

I would like to see this kind of a race. To quote President Frankenstein from Deathrace 2000, I think a zebra in the Kentucky Derby would add a little spice to the race.

Rin Tae

Okay .. tis is big news .. first mesh, then the performence announcements and now materials as well. Finally it seems like LL is really doing something to improve and there might even be signs that this time they wont just stop half way through or change direction to something else without ever finishing their work.

Sadly however I can't bring myself to hold my breath about it. I am excited since any new building tool can be used to improve old things and build new ones and to create more nice content and any performence increase will make the expierience smoother and nicer. But I have seen too much on how LL has worked in the past to be all giddy and jumping about it. They have to deliver it and show it works and they don't forget such key features like the deformer this time (what I can only explain with LL not having any idea about how their customers use their product).

But things are moving on, so YAY!


As for steam ... my hate for it does not know any bounderies and I am not sure it is a good move to bring SL to it. On the other hand .. why not .. LL always lacked on marketing and never ever seemed to care about it or never had anyone who knew how to do it so maybe now they hope that steam will do it for them.
So while I might not see it as a good move (I admit to be biased because of my above mentioned hate for steam) it might turn out to be one. Unless the gamers there wont get into SL and accept the difference it has towards normal games and not fill all steam forums with comments about how boring it is and how they don't have anything to do there.

But all in all .. things are moving in SL and that is very very good.

Dizzy Banjo

I guess this is a logical step for Linden. If Valve open it up to all kinds of software, they may as well put SL on there too.

However I agree with many posts here that as a product ( game or otherwise ) SL presents a user experience that will feel very inferior compared to many other products on Steam. I think most of this will be due to the extreme slowness in rendering scenes.

New users ( especially Steam users ) will not care that it is streamed - they will simply thing it is broken - and possibly complain very vocally.

By placing SL in a marketplace like Steam, it really makes it easy to compare against other user experiences. Lets hope some people learn from that comparison.

As I have said before, I think fixing those UX issues requires substantial rethinking of the current server client architecture, possibly the concept of a fully streamed world itself. I'm not sure where they are with that, but I think that work is far more important than any new client side or rendering capabilities.

Arcadia Codesmith

Is Steam hardcore? I have it for the Civ series and Magic: The Gathering, neither of which is dependent on state-of-the-art graphics. Thumbing through their catalogue, I see a wide variety of different types of games from ultra-light and fluffy to Malthusian bloodbath. I think Steam's reputation is as misleading as Second Life's.

My take is that this is a move by Steam to further diversify their offerings, more than it is a move by Second Life to conform to the Steam stereotype (which I guess would be a PvP shooter -- not that there's anything wrong with that, my darling soft targets).

Graphics improvements? Bring them on! As long as they degrade gracefully on older systems for backwards compatibility, that's pure winsauce for everybody.

Baal

I actually create viable RP worlds in SL. And I realize that the makers of SL ignore all I do. Pretty graphics maketh not a game. SL is running to catch the bus that left years ago. If they continue to ignore their strengths they will continue to be that sad backwater they truly are

EileenK

This is NOT the way I wanted to start my morning. This news brings back memories of being mesh-blind all winter long. LL did fix the problem in early January, but I had given up after several weeks of agony, followed by several months of third party viewer exile. Still, the bright spot in all this is that Second Life's technical side worked for weeks to make sure low-end users (That's what they consider me though I have adequate RAM) were included in the mesh upgrade. I hope they will do the same for steam. I'll be content with anything but not seeing objects that are there even if I don't see them well. Monetization in SL is a sore spot, and having to do a three to four figure computer upgrade, just to enjoy the world may price Second Life out of my range.

Baal

LL have no understanding of their strengths. the guy running the show thinks SL is the sims. He has no idea at all about real crazy interactions and users that exist in SL. How disconnected can the creator become from their product. they promote graphic advances that no sane professional would use in a world where their creations are open to theft. anyone with he ability to create sims that are based on mesh and normal maps is simply wating their time in SL. Get a life, get a real job where your work will be appreciated by more than the average bored housewife who thinks SL is cutting edge virtual content. SL is what it is. and advances in graphics are always appreciated. But the users are not so bothered by the pretty things. they are far more interested in the way they look. they are prepared to stand forever in lego
worlds that do not need normal maps. Am I talking complete sh--t? then please drop me a substantial amount of links to sims that can even make use of what we already have, leave alone advanced graphic upgrades.

cube republic

Baal there's loads, and I can't be bothered to compile a list. Personally I think this is good.

melponeme_k

This is exciting news.

However I have a feeling we are going to be inundated with Steam users looking for some 500 shades of Grey.

melponeme_k

@Hamlet

I also have an alienware laptop. Dell it seems is notorious for dropping graphics driver support for their older hardware (wish I knew before I purchased).

I now download drivers straight from Nvidia. Yes, I lose the switchable graphics ability but it means I can run SL and my other games rather well. However I still can't run shadows in SL due to the opengl thing or whatever.

Keystone Bouchard

A lot of gamers aren't satisfied with the same old fantasy, shoot'em up and side-scroller games being remade and remade over and over. They're pining for something new, and the exponential growth of indie games is, in part, helping to satisfy that craving for fresh ideas.

Second Life is the best kept secret for developing, experiencing and sharing indie content. High end graphics aren't requisite, either - there are plenty of retro graphics environments that are doing just fine. Plus, Unity and UDK are a bitch to learn. If you're not a pro developer, but have a great idea and want to try out and share with a community, there's no better place than SL.

Therein lies an exciting crossroads for SL, if it's done right.

Content is king, and there are places in Second Life that would blow away even the most hardcore gamer. But they're not going to sit through 2 hours of goofy bullshit trying to find those places.

More importantly, content creators aren't going to be compelled to create quality experiences if they have to bleed tier just for the opportunity to give it all away for free. SL is one giant freemium universe, which is one of the most incredibly difficult ways to become profitable. It's like a lottery ticket - if you happen to get the right mix of content and retail, you'll rake it in. There are a few in SL, but that's a *really* tough nut to crack. There are so many other ways we could be capitalizing on our content if access to those places were framed differently into bite-size portals, and *not* called 'Second Life.'

Nexus Burbclave

Excellent! I hear Steam players like their hats. Time to open a hat shop in-world. :)

On a serious note this seems like a good move both for SL and potentially for Valve. And LL doesn't necessarily have to focus just on games to benefit. Between the creation tools being released for TF2 and the addition of Second Life to its roster, Steam has a real opportunity to become a goto location for Machnima makers. Valve and LL could both probably benefit nicely from this opportunity if they see the opportunity and promote correctly.

Michelle Leckrone

I was excited to hear about sl going on to steam is not just going to be a game place any more it's going to be for all kinds of software on steam so very good idea to do that LL
Also there has been some new scripting for making games in sl to and should be released very soon on main viewer
It was lovely to see some nice graphics coming out of ll and the community keep it up :)

Tabzy Ragu

I'm quite excited about this.

Like many of you have commented, 40million users doesn't mean SL can handle it, but it does mean they have a potential 40million users.

Another thing people often get confused about with SL, its not like your normal game, download all the data you need to play the game and away you go.

SecondLife is a DYNAMIC world, meaning all the data about object/mesh location, textures, scripts, physics info so on and so forth, are all downloaded per simulator (sim). This does cause a lil lag, especially in heavily populated regions, but does clear up after a few minutes and the data has finished loading.

Because of the world being dynamic, it does require a lil more in bandwidth and in some area's more graphical power to render everything, but at the same time, show me another "game" that has approx 85,000 regions or 5,969,125,000sqm to explore dynamicly.


There are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of different MMO games in SL, some HUD Based, some land based etc.. Bloodlines is 1 of many games available to residents and the choice of games is incredible. Theres games for Vampires, Mafia Bosses, Emergency Services, War, Sci-Fi, Fantasy the list goes on and on. There is definitely something for everyone, just gotta find it :D

foneco zuzu

All this just makes me think that LL needs so hard to cut off expenses that they will tell all kind of shi**** and in the end what one will get is 20 sims staked on a cpu!
Hope im really wrong and that Sl (that for me is already looking amazing as i use Niran's!) can be as better and bring more users!
But I'm afraid that as some told, Rod does not know sh***** about its product nor have any idea about the needs of users!

foneco zuzu

http://iliveisl.com/over-3000-sl-private-sims-gone-in-last-2-years/

Check and read it well!

Tabzy Ragu

@foneco, Yes over the last few years there has been a steady decline in the amount of "Private Regions" on the grid, this is primarily due to the current state of the economy as well as the costs associated with owning a region in SecondLife.

For a new person to setup a sim of their own is expensive, US$1000 setup fee + US$300 to get the region on the grid. Then its US$300 per month for maintenance and upgrade costs.

There are also lots of land barons on SL to rent land from, this method sometimes is the cheaper way to get land.

Regarding the "in the end what one will get is 20 sims staked on a cpu!" comment, should Linden Lab get hold of some nice shiny 20 CORE CPU's then yes you will have 20 sims per CPU. a Full region gets an entire CORE dedicated to it, Homesteads have 2 regions dedicated / core and openspaces get 4 regions / core. It has been like this for many many years and it works.

Should you end up on a server that is kinda sluggish, easiest way to fix it is do a sim restart, 2-5 min reboot of the sim gets it assigned to a different server and new core!

LL are also doing the single most expensive hardware upgrade they have EVER done, http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Tools-and-Technology/Project-Shining-to-Improve-Avatar-and-Object-Streaming-Speeds/ba-p/1583465 . So all you whiners saying LL don't upgrade anything they just patch it, they don't know what they are doing with SL etc.. get off you high-horse and do it better if you think you can!

Archangel Mortenwold

Given the anticlmactic settling in of mesh following its release, I doubt this Steam scheme will make a significant impact on the grid. Why won't it? Part of it has to do with everything mentioned in previous comments in this thread, about the inability or unwillingness of Linden Lab to devote its resources to finally resolving all the graphical and programming errors inherent to SL — including and especially its outsourced, bug-infested, viewer with a difficult GUI that is still a distant third to V1-GUI-based viewers like Phoenix and Singularity.

But the biggest hurdle Linden Lab needs to address has nothing to do with engine performance or gaming or access to grids. Its biggest hurdle, the one it MUST overcome if the company is to survive the long term, is its unwillingness to lower land prices. In a depressed economy with fewer and fewer people able to spend diminishing disposable income, it is sheer foolishness to keep charging people up to $1,000.00 USD for private regions with an additional $295.00 USD per month just to maintain servers. Other virtual worlds such as InWorldz and Avination charge a mere $75.00 up-front fee to purchase a region, and $75.00 a month for maintenance. What's more, users of these grids enjoy far more resources such as double or triple the prim allowance Linden Lab grants region owners. By contrast, Linden Lab charges more for mesh uploads than it does for sculpt map texture uploads, which again is either free or much lower in price on other grids.

At the end of the day it all boils down to money. Linden Lab charges users too much to use Second Life, and all the added bells and whistles won't amount to a hill of beans because most users can no longer afford to make use of them.

But it is interesting you mention Bloodlines, because a vampire clan I belong to in SL is working to raise money for a full region on which we can build a RPG.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seraphimproductions/the-nocturne-project-supernatural-role-play

We're thirty days from our goal of $10,000 USD, which will pay for the region for up to a full year. If we can raise the needed funds by September 16th, we'll be able to open within a month. Anyone wishing to donate may do so at the URL provided.

foneco zuzu

All i see is a company that could lead:
http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/08/opensim-passes-200-grid-milestone/
All i see is a company that could lead a universe of grids and its refusing to do so!
The bridge to the hundreds other grids!
Read this and see Maria post in how SL could be leading the future and risks being a footnote!
And not doubting of any, at least i still use SL 6h daily!





Hamlet Au

Foneco, to state the question frankly, why should Linden Lab spend any time leading a universe of OpenSim grids that only have about 17,000 active users, and hasn't provably grown in the last few years?

Metacam Oh

Tabzy you are wrong, each sim doesn't get its own core.

Salazar Jack

Re: My earlier question about OnLive… just saw this posted on Twitter (maybe the Lab can acquire some patents?): http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/08/reports-onlive-fires-all-staff-services-future-unclear/

elizabeth (16)

if we can use our steam wallet in the same way we can use paypal to move money into and out of l$ then i think will be lots of steam people make sl accounts to do that. even if they dont actual play sl much

also lots of sl people would make steam accounts just to have a wallet for the same reason

dunno if steam/linden will do this. hope so

Iggy

@Hamlet, good point about OpenSim. I am happy with our small user base, but I'd like a virtual currency to use across grids. I think the better question might be "why doesn't Linden Lab leverage our trust in its virtual currency?"

Forget foneco's idea of "leading" all these OS grids. LL could simply provide a de facto currency of choice for OpenSim, SL, and, heck, games.

Victor1st Mornington

Second Life will be part of the new Steam 5 overhaul.

Valve Softwares Steam digital download service right now at the current moment in time is all games. Ranging from the "twitchy" first person shooters that the kiddies like, to thew more RPG element games that older folks like.

However that is now old steam. The new steam which is mentioned here... http://store.steampowered.com/news/8584/ is covering software titles now, including "creativity and productivity". It;s that catagory, well away from the games section that Valve will put Second Life in.

Also of note is the well known fact that anything added to the Valve service must be of good quality with a sustained development cycle...for SL to be included in the new Steam it must mean that the lab presented Valve Software with some kind of development roadmap which was enough for it to get into the service in the firstplace.

40 million gamers using steam. About 40% of them are in the "main age" range of 24 or below. The 25 to 40 range makes up about 25%...and in that range you have publishers of gaming magazines, software developers, programming developers, and a whole list of other people who have no idea Second Life is still around. Thats the age group that the lab is aiming for...the 40 million sounds good on a press release but The Lab is targeting only a 25% section of that 40 million.

This is Rod Humble killing two birds with one stone, Valve will esentially do the marketing, and SL being in Steam will open the eyes of the old duffer gaming journalists who thought Second Life was long dead.

Yak Wise

Sure hope I don't have to shoot people or dragons or so...

James Corbett

Didn't I read somewhere that Valve are big fans of the Oculus Rift VR headset? Doesn't this news mean the likelihood that SL will therefore be optimised for the Rift at some stage in the not too distant future. Now *that* would be worth getting excited about.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

You read well, @James! Hmm. Interesting connection.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

And +1 to @Victor1st. My thoughts exactly :) It's an amazing marketing scheme, and that's a novelty, from The Company That Does No Marketing.

Archangel Mortenwold

I seriously doubt Valve will have any appreciable impact on SL's user base. Mesh was supposed to revolutionize things but it hasn't. Similarly, opening up SLers to Steam users and vice versa won't have all that big an effect. Why not? Because SL is not and never has been a gaming platform. Yes, creative people have learned to create something like roleplaying experiences, but SL is primarily a social platform. Dedicated gamers simply aren't going to flock to the grid. Nor will dedicated SLers migrate in large numbers to Steam.

If Linden Lab really wants to make SL attractive to a wider audience, it has to lower prices significantly. That is the single biggest barrier right now.

Pussycat Catnap

"40 million gamers using steam. About 40% of them are in the "main age" range of 24 or below. The 25 to 40 range makes up about 25%...and in that range you have publishers of gaming magazines, software developers, programming developers, and a whole list of other people who have no idea Second Life is still around."

Most gamers average at age 37:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/study-the-average-gamer-may-be-older-than-you-think/

BUT I still do wonder what all of this will do to Zindra / Adult Content in SL.

I'm not in that community, but it is a BIG part of what keeps SL alive. I do live on Zindra, and I kind of like that where I am there is a bit remote... Overtime, in some strange twist of logic I've yet to figure out, the Adult folks went from having the ugliest builds in SL to the nicest looking land in SL - they make better neighbors if you go to the right parts of their town...

Wayfinder

One thought in this:

If there's anyone that can totally mess up the operation of Steam... it will be Linden Lab.

Aprilleshepherd

Do you remember rumors of Linden Labs being bought by Microsoft so they could make SL the Home for Xbox Gamers (similar to how Sony PS has Sony Home)?
Well, Linden has done it without selling out to Microsoft. They will now have access to a huge pool 40 Million (4 million concurrent) of 30 something computer (not console) gamers who have money to spend.
Perhaps SL will become the "Home" for Steam users and there are lots of interesting linking opportunities like sitting in your home in SL and sharing a link with your friend to play a certain game...and poof the two of you are transported to the game play direct from Second Life and perhaps back home once the game is over.
As for Sex and Adult stuff, Linden can deny it all they want, but the revenue from users who participate in all things related to sex, kink or just being sexy is massive and represents a huge chunk of their revenue and revenue made by content creators and providers.
When Steam comes on line with SL, I think we will see a big boost in concurrent users and those new users will enjoy some of the Adult and Social things they cannot in traditional games...and they will have the money to do it.
~ Aprille Shepherd

Iohannes

Was already able to use mesh with texturing in Opensim already. XML worked best because you could load the model textures already as if loading an object.

Iohannes

As for land, I know of an Opensim that you can get a full region with 937 prims for around $3.00 a month. That anyone's paying $10,000 for a year is ridiculous. Even the most expensive Opensim grid tier doesn't even come close to being that expensive. You're paying a bloated amount for a game world that practically charged real life prices to play it, and for what? Because of the gimmicks? Pathetic.

David

@Hamlet -

"We were told the very same thing about mesh, and that mesh would greatly improve performance... and now I can hardly run SL on my Alienware."

I'm able to run SL on Ultra with shadows on on a 2 year old Toshiba Qosmio, so I'm not exactly sure SL is to blame for the poor performance on your end.

David

@Iohannes - I agree, land prices are outrageous. SL should take note of what Apple has done.

Treat SL as the platform and charge cheap prices, but make it up by taking a 30% cut out of marketplace/shopping transactions that occur through the marketplace, or in world at stores.

Content creators may not like this, but if it meant that they could have their in world land at a very cheap or free price, it would encourage more people to join SL and maybe become creators as well.

Aaron

I use a rather new laptop (2011), and even low graphics settings is very laggy after the start of SL mesh. I'm not sure if my computer can handle any more.

LOL

Steam has a LARGE userbase of chrildren under the age of 16.... what wil they do on Second Sex Life?

Rika Tachikawa

Well i play a lot of games on steam and as a steam gamer i am already on SL.. i would love to see graphics upgrades to SL though... and i would love to see them fix the avatars in SL...

michael SL British Airways CEO

test

michael SL British Airways CEO

Im a veteran from 2007, having been in combat sims mostly, but got into leasing sims in 2009.

I left in january 2013, because, The grid system, is now so outdated, it wont let passenger aircraft loaded with scripts with altitude,instruments Undercarriage, landing lights, and all the sound scripts to cross each grid, usually ends in failure. failure means That your income from renting hangers and check in desks is all but nothing, because theres only a 30% chance you will be able to fly 25 Sims from another airport. I miss My British airways airport in blakes seas, But we need seamless oceans to make sea and air travel not a hit and miss afair, i had to close two airports through lack of income to pay tiers. But I spent 7000$ nearly£4000 since 2007, and have nothing to show for it apart from 40,000 redundant objets. Steam users want seamless play, they wont get that on SL :DD

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