Friday, January 18, 2013

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Lost World Closing Soon -- How to Stop Loss of Other Great SL Sims Remains Open Question

Second Life sim death watch

Click here to teleport to a beautiful sim called Lost World, which as Kara Trapdoor blogs, is about to be lost from the world of SL. "This is a huge loss for SL, photographers, and explorers, and well... everyone," she writes. "Truly one of the best and most loved sims I know of." The sim's owner has more on this Flickr page (from which comes the image above). At the beginning of this week, we discussed the idea of requiring Marketplace sellers to own land in SL -- a suggestion that most, I think, rejected. So remains the open question, to discuss this weekend in Comments below: Is there a way to help private sim owners better monetize their sims, or should we just accept this continued loss as inevitable?

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Ezra

I understand it's good for this blog to have an ongoing narrative, but it's time to move beyond this problem being an open question. The answer is obvious, lower tier. The problem is Linden Lab won't discuss tier.

Let's begin Chapter 2: Get Linden Lab to discuss tier.

Max T

Accept this continued loss as inevitable for the time being.

I'm not even sure if there is much of a loss here. Just because a sim is pretty doesn't mean it is relevant to anybody or has a reason to exist. The vast majority of SL user either didn't know these sims or simply don't care too much about just looking at a place.

If there is no community to use a sim and nobody who wants to support it otherwise, it might as well close down.

Also, tier is not coming down. It doesn't make much economic sense for LL to do this, even with the number of sims gradually decreasing.

LL needs to increase demand by making SL look, feel and work better for users.

Hamlet Au

But it's very unlikely they could lower tier even if they wanted to:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/09/second-life-private-sim-loss.html

So we're still stuck on Chapter 1.

Ezra

@Hamlet

No offense, but I'm sure you consider yourself a journalist. Isn't your utmost concern truth to readership? Why settle for theories you can think of and push those over and over? If this is the biggest problem of the day for Linden Lab, why not ask them to comment on tier?

Anything else is spinning the wheels. Good for this blog maybe, but it progresses nothing when it comes to the problem of dwindling regions.

Iggy

Lost World was known to many of us. It was a well designed and eerie place.

@Ezra, Hamlet could ask all day--we all could--but the Lab steadfastly refuses to talk about tier, even as their world slowly vanishes around them. The only question is when the tipping point happens, the Lab stops making a profit, and the LL Board votes to sell the leftovers.

I'm sure you'll read it here first with the rest of us.

Meanwhile, Hamlet has every reason to report when a sim known to so many of us goes away. So I wish lolmac luck. Unlike some other sims reported here, he worked to keep the site evolving.

Ezra

@Iggy "Hamlet could ask all day--we all could--but the Lab steadfastly refuses to talk about tier, even as their world slowly vanishes around them. The only question is when the tipping point happens, the Lab stops making a profit, and the LL Board votes to sell the leftovers."

Steadfastly refuses to talk about tier...? I think we can reference back to exactly one time Rod Humble refused to talk tier. When has that ever been challenged?

Hamlet has no obligation to do anything. He can blog about whatever he wants. But I think it's fair to challenge bloggers if they're challenging their readers to think of what can be done on our parts. If he's concerned he can do his best, labeling the most common sense solution to too expensive tier a "non-starter" isn't his best in my opinion.

Metacam Oh

The market is speaking and Linden Lab isn't listening. Countdown until Linden Lab no longer exists....At least the board got rich though.

Bouncer Criss

has anyone asked why it's closing, the flickr page is very vague, or are we just assuming more doom and gloom and high tier?

Ezra

@Bouncer

lolmac posted in the comments of the Flickr page Hamlet linked:

"Guys, a word of explanation about this sad situation :
Since awhile sales of poses are not anymore what it was ; It never paid the sim but at least a part, and until few months ago i added the rest.
However i've been more and more busy by my RL these last months and still is the case. So it missed time to create and promote new stuff or even simply be there.
The fees sim are 91 000 ls /month, around 250 euros. So i couldn't anymore go on to pay all of it.
It's unfortunately simple like that and Io, Seb and myself are really sorry to have to come at this extremity ; A huge part of our SL is going away."

Argo Nurmi

Its not uncommon now to know ex-sim owners in SL. First thing you hear from them is they are much busier in real life. But, after a while, I believe, you hear a better reason for giving up on SL. Back in the day (2006-2009) you met all kinds of people in SL. SL had socia capital and people's social networks reflected that. But the opposite is happening now. Of course, the decline can't continue indefinitely. There is a tipping point.

LL has made is share of blunders. But, maybe too the time of mass market virtual worlds ended a few years ago. New virtual worlds like CP are rolling the dice that theirs is somehow different. IMO what is ailing SL and other virtual worlds is deeper than high tier.

William Smith

Imo it is more than tier. People are spending more time on mobile devices and less time on PC's. Younger people are too busy being connected with texting and facebook, there is no time for virtual worlds. In my opinion it is over; however, it was fun for me. I got in before the decline started. I spend less and less time in sl now and just gave up three mainland sims, I don't miss them, but I am happy I had them for the time I did.

Adromaw

Ezra (and others from time to time) actually make decent points about tier that go past just simply lowering it by considering to adopt sim archiving (if I recall correctly, I know /someone/ brought it up at some point down the line) and cutting fees down to maintenance, freezing activity and holdings. Because then LL *might* be able to still get a trickle of revenue from people taking a step back trying to re-plan their efforts to get things back up and running (if they are actually trying to do that). Still it's a big if, but that's surely safer than just dropping tiers, if you follow Inara's take on the stats ( http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/tier-cuts-looking-from-the-labs-perspective/ ) on which suggests considering lobbying for lowering setup fees.

But as Ezra quoted the reason for this particular sim closing case it was for reasons that the main holders weren't able to put enough human resources into the sim to maintain and grow it—or secure the needed investment/capital. And that's not something that the Lab is responsible for in the end.

"How to Stop Loss of Other Great SL Sims Remains Open Question" -> What strong avenues of investment are available for second life ventures and who should be directing those ventures for maximum stability?

elizabeth (16)

isn't this tho at the heart of the problem?

like i can only afford to do what i do on a grand simwide scale if someone else pays for it

once upon a time we would get a parcel and make our dream/vision based our own RL situation. then other people who shared our dream/vision would get the parcel next door and build/supplement it with their own

if we lost anything then i think was that. somewhere/somehow we changed our ways and went isolationist. as if my dream/vision is my own and i not want it tainted by others. can only come and gaze upon it. and i cant afford to pay for it myself. so you have to. or it be gone

+

i not mean to pick on the owner of this particular sim. but like Ezra said you Hamlet been running this line for quite a while now

is it a bad thing that others not want to pay any longer for another's grand vision?

i don't think so. if people do then they need to get a grip. get back some acceptance of their own reality

they can walk away i fthey cant afford. downsize. is no need to baw about. and they don't most people. they just go oh! well. was fun while it lasted. pack up their stuff and poof

+

reducing tiers isn't going to halt the decline in SL. people are leaving bc they are bored with it

there is no magic left in it. there is no sense of wonder and imagination left. no answer to the question: why are we here? no answer to: what is our purpose for being?

have to examine those questions and seek the answers to them. in an environment that begs the users to seek them for themselves
+

if was just about the tiers to damn high then we all be on OS. but they are not able to answer the questions either. or more correct. created an environment in which we can seek the answers for ourselves

Ciaran Laval

The central issue is that tier is too damn high for these sort of sims to prosper. That has always been a problem.

Hamlet used to blog about tier being too large a plank of the revenue model of Second Life, that is the more relevant issue, because unless Linden Lab can generate other revenue streams, tier will remain too large a plank of the revenue model of Second Life.

The old models of renting space for commercial rentals or using affiliate vendors, have been impacted by the rise of the marketplace, which leaves sim owners requiring donations, residential rentals or creating their own content.

Some sim owners find time challenging as circumstances change, which seems to be the case here as they haven't got the time to create the needed new content to help subsidise tier.

The arguments also become somewhat circular, people lose interest because there's not enough to do, there's not enough to do because the tier is too damn high, which stifles sims who want to provide people with things to do.

The thing is, if Linden Lab are struggling to come up with other revenue streams, then it's little wonder that sim owners are in the same boat.

The reason OS doesn't perform as well as Second Life is because Second Life is where the people currently are, this should not be underestimated, it's the same reason that World of Warcraft, whilst not as strong as it once was, can still prosper with a subscription model, whilst newer, shinier and technically more impressive MMO's struggle to last a year with a subscription model, WoW is where the people are.

Really, the ball is in Linden Lab's court, revenue is still healthy, but they need to get their thinking caps on.

I'd like to see them entering into strategic partnerships with Adobe, Blender and such like, people who have tools related to content in Second Life, they could even reach out to the likes of Renderosity.

They should also be looking to have advertising on their forums, blogging more often about the destination guide, having more paid options with premium memberships such as no tier more stipend or stipend, more tier and marketplace classifieds in a higher priced bundle, x amount of free uploads etc.

They could also look at introducing fees for storefronts on the marketplace, so you get one free store as you do now but if you want another store, there's a fee for it.

Stone Semyorka

We need some balance. Maybe there are appealing sims still in existence or even new beauties being built. Let's find and talk about those, too. Talking only about death depresses us and makes our view of the future of SL spiral downward.

sirhc DeSantis

Never heard of the place ... in six plus years.
But what the hey

Jo yardley

Just because you can no longer afford a sim, does not mean you should close it.
How about trying to find ways to make a sim pay for itself?
How about not even starting a sim till you figure out a way to make it pay for itself?

Iggy

Let me also put it this way, in response to William Smith's remark about mobile.

Something I've heard bandied about in academic circles, called "continual partial attention" explains why VWs are suffering at the expense of mobile tech.

(cue broken record)

The young people I teach just don't want to sit down for hours immersed, other than a minority of serious gamers. The majority want to socialize in person and "hang out" while texting, checking status updates, and arranging the next hang out.

As noted many times at my own blog and in my professional writing: their avatars? Themselves.

They do tend to enjoy a VW assignment with specified goals, links to graded work and course goals. Then they never return to SL or OpenSim. They have augmented RL avatars that are just too busy to commit to the hours of engagement needed to really enjoy something like SL.

We don't need to look much further in the US as to why Millennials are not flocking to immersive VWs. In other cultures, I cannot say.

While this won't explain the loss of a particular sim, it does show us the trajectory of VWs and why they are still in Gartner's "disillusionment" stage.

Ciaran Laval

@Jo Yardley people have had models to make sims pay for themselves, the marketplace shifted some goalposts and as some of the comments exemplify, the owner was a creator who no longer has the time to create new content to help subsidise sim costs.

Orca Flotta

1) tiers are too steep
2) marketplace backfired from the getgo, was just a lousy concept
3) user expectations changed over time. The new breed want a quick fix to satisfy their SL needs, spend 5 minutes in world and not really be involved in building a virtual world with all its aspects
4) the grid is borked and non-functional too often

Yes, yes, yes and yes. All 4 major points occur and they can be fixed easily.

And yet they are only facets of a much bigger underlying problem, a problem LL isn't able to fix easily:

P E R F O R M A N C E ! ! !
Performance in all aspects, technically and strategically.

The fact that we discuss these problems in countless forae and bloggies, and often come up with astonishing new ideas and solutions, but LL doesn't follow up or can't think of those solutions by themself; that, my dear friends, is the real problem.

How and why can we put trust in a host company that up to this day didn't even come up with a definition of what SL really is? How much they are going to be involved in it? What they are really selling us? How to make the grid run smoothly? SL is in its 10th year of existence, for fux sake!!! Don't you think these basic questions should have been cleared long ago, say in 04?

How are we supposed to trust a host company that in many aspects doesn't show half the imagination, the fantasy and the sheer technical brillance of its customers?

Pierre Ceriano

Sims are like anything else : they are born, live and die.

BUT

What shocks me in some reactions, is the ambient defeatism. So it should not do anything because there is nothing to do ? There is no more magic in Second Life ? There is no more hope in our hearts ? Virtual worlds have lived ?

Whenever I go out of my cave, I see pretty things and meet talented creators. Whenever I am interested in other virtual worlds, I see good initiatives, but never accomplished as well as Second Life.

Second Life is what you make of that. It is your world, your imagination.

In life, there are those who mourn, who give up. There are also those who are struggling, who resist. NWN and other bloggers show everyday people who have ideas and suggest actions.

LL are not our enemies. They are a business. Its residents are their goodwill. The first respect of which the creators and merchants. Let us be a force of proposal and not a bunch of whiners.

Bouncer Criss

@ Pierre

best response on this blog in weeks!!

A.J.

Money makes this virtual world go round.

I can't help but think that LL has dropped the ball on it's almost non-existent relationship with the most valuable people in this virtual world... the one's who come here and infuse their RL hard-earned money into this reality.

Without the money-infusers, this place is a community of needy, egotistical, takers who live in a small town bubble believing their wisdom, talent, and narcissism are the most valuable commodities in the world. But this world is dying in their hands.

LL needs to get into the game with customer service and rewards for the ones who spend more than they take. The spenders are the real royalty in this world and they need have true advantages in this "game".

Pussycat Catnap

1. Tier is too high.
2. And merchants no longer contribute to the SL economy, they merely drain from it whereas before they put some amount back by helping fund tier.

These two factors combined mean articles like this are now daily news.

But there is also a third factor which is not a problem:

3. Old sims eventually become no longer relevant if they aren't serving an active community. It is natural for places to go and new ones to come. The only problem is that issues 1 and 2 are speeding up the pace of 'go' and slowing down the pace of 'come'.

But almost every Sim Hamlet posts are 'going away' turns out to be one I've never heard of, and I've been active in SL since 2009 (originally here in 2006). So I do wonder if for his list, factor 3 in my list plays a big role. Though that said, different interests will lead us all to know about very different places.

Irie Vibes, which has probably been around as long as this article's sim, and is still active, just lost its sim. They're "moving" which I suspect will be to some place cheaper... But that's probably not one bit of news Hamlet was aware of, as I suspect its not in his interest list. If I were to write up an article on it, I suspect the average reaction would be "who is that again?" despite it being a busy place. :)

Pussycat Catnap

"I'd like to see them entering into strategic partnerships with Adobe, Blender and such like, people who have tools related to content in Second Life, they could even reach out to the likes of Renderosity."

I was quite baffled by the whole issue around Collada format for mesh - which came out just before Blender proposed dropping Collada support...

It kind of spoke volumes to me that LLs was launching into a "brave new frontier" of content creation without first making sure there would be a cheap and easy way for its users to make that content...

A more insightful company would have started by making an agreement with the Blender team, or some other 3rd party 3D modeling app (blender is not the only choice. Its well known, but in the 0-$300 range other choices exist which are quite good) - and then used the format that agreement resulted in.

What it said to me is they made what was a revolutionary change to how content is made for SL, without any planning as to how that content would actually be made... They were flying blind with no real plan... and betting the business on it...


Since the day I got to SL in 2006, its been "obvious" to me that there should have been some kind of agreement between LLs and Renderosity or Daz3D or both. And when Mesh came out, Blender as well (if not beforehand for making sculpties).

- These are all natural partners. It should be a trivial matter for me to buy a model on Daz3D, and have a copy of it delivered to my SL avatar seamlessly.

If I were a 3D modeler, I'd think I would want to be able to sell my model on Renderosity, and have any customer who gave me an SL avatar name get a full-perms pre-rigged copy sent to their avatar - with appropriate licensing. And maybe even the reverse, I buy an object in SL for enough linden $s, and get the 3D model sent to my renderosity account.

That's just the "obvious" ways to have them partner... I'm sure more business savvy folks could think of other better ideas, or fix the flaws in mine.

Adobe yeah, a million ideas there too. But LLs is small potatoes, and Adobe is more likely to just look at them and Lol.

Like it or not, SL is now basically no more than a small MMO. About as big as City of Heroes was...

Hopefully we're not as close as they were to getting cancelled...

Still, there is Gimp...

Hamlet Au

"If this is the biggest problem of the day for Linden Lab, why not ask them to comment on tier?"

I did, of Rod Humble, he refused to even comment:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/08/rod-humble-linden-lab-ceo-keynote.html

I've asked them in other contexts, and also got no comment. There's many reasons for this silence, and I've talked with many sources to understand why, and that's part of what informs my explanation. But even looking at publicly available data, it's sufficient to see the problem - lowering tier to any significant degree would kill their profit margin:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/09/second-life-private-sim-loss.html

Ezra

@Hamlet "I've asked them in other contexts, and also got no comment."

Excellent of you, and hopefully if Rod gives you an opportunity to interview him again, you can touch on tier.

In the meantime, spinning the wheels and aiming at the weakest rationale for not lowering tier (it'll cut into profit margins), while ignoring how every other product and service ever has reduced prices when need bne: offer less for less a price.

Kim Anubis

It is no longer, "your world, your imagination." Now it's, "fast, easy, fun." A world we co-created (where even a discussion on the forums could lead to official policies and features) is being exchanged for 3D Barbie's Dream House with accessories purchasable in an online store as thrilling as shopping for socks on Amazon. Or, if you still create, instead of hanging around a sandbox or workshop slinging prims with friends, you can stare at a four thousand dollar copy of Maya all day alone in a room.

There are all sorts of reasons for the grid's shrinkage.

Some people have financial setbacks, and there has been a recession. Others just went on to the next new thing, because they stay on the bleeding edge. Some got bored and found another hobby. Some in the rental business gave up because of Linden Homes, or because their mall couldn't compete with the Marketplace. Some prim artists have been unable or unwilling to eat ongoing tier payments while trying to learn mesh, or maybe after years of perfecting their skills didn't want to start all over again, or enjoyed cocreating a world IN that world and find sitting in a room alone staring at Blender just isnt the same. Some folks were shaken out during the switch to Viewer 2. Others by the end of the nonprofit and educational discounts and the loss of all of the programs and support and resources that used to be available to them. Some went to other platforms, like OpenSim or Unity. Some volunteered or worked with the Lab and were bitter about how it turned out. Some were lured in by marketing and found their experience didn't resemble it. Most Solution Providers went out of business. Some people couldn't keep up with the hardware requirements, and others couldn't do their thing because of policy changes. Others became frustrated by having their creations broken over and over, faster than they could re-script them. Some were discourged by IP theft, or problems with permissions, or DMCA enforcement. Ongoing problems with core features, and new features that never came or were released broken contribute, as well. Tech support is an issue for some. And others leave because of a bad breakup with a partner, an illness, or a group dispute. Some found their customers quit, or the trendy items they were selling had gone out of fashion, or a new SL feature made their product obsolete, or a competitor came out with a far better product, or none of their friends were around anymore. This list could go on.

The point is, there is no one reason for the grid to shrink, and some of the reasons are beyond the Lab's control, and some are their fault. It isn't all about tier, though lower tier would be enough to change some minds or delay some decisions. But I know I am not the only person who ever skipped meals to afford their tier when it felt worthwhile, but wouldn't do it today. The money is just one factor.

I dislike this Sim Deathwatch stuff. It just makes me want to (and sometimes actually does cause me to) stop reading your blog, Hamlet. Everyone already knows someone who gave up a beautiful build, or has done it themself. I'd rather find out what happened to Wilde Cunningham.

Mariko Nightfire

LL can give landowners more for their tier. Triple their prims and land area. Landowners can then create more residential rentals for revenue that can be made very attractive and still have land and prims with which to create the marvelous builds that attract many to SL

Gaga

@Kim Anubis

A number of the long list of reasons you give for the grid's decline are actually becoming serious issues now. The rest are the usual turnover to be expected. I think Linden Homes, Market Place and the end of Education discounts are the main reasons for the decline. There are fewer people in world and there is absolutely no growth. Mesh aside, most things that can be made have been made in every shape, size and colour. There is little or no incentive to new people to create anything. The market is saturated and the old timers have all they need. The Lab can't even keep hold of a fraction of the 10,000+ a day signup's it gets. Actually, that last point is hardly surprising when you look the stark difference with the way other virtual worlds like IMVU or Cloud Party handles first timers against the way Linden Lab does it.

Also, I wont say never but it seems the Lab is between a rock and a hard place on the question of Tier and, frankly, I think they are too scared to drop it or the setup fee because it would almost certainly under mind the economic balance of the Second Life land model. I think it's like this; the Lab leads with a high price for land when dealing with single customers. ie, the masses, but gives favorable discounts to Land Barons who buy for large estates then rent out to the masses that can't afford the setup fees and, as we know, many renters want Homesteads to further keep their costs down. And, of course, one has to own a full sim to buy a homestead anyway. If Linden Lab messes that model up the Land Barons who guarantee LL a huge part of their revenue regardless whether there is full occupancy might just pull out. So, does anyone seriously think the Lab will cause problems for the Barons by dropping tier and setup fees?

The Lab has been in crisis before with the Open Spaces fiasco and weathered it. I think they are trying to do the same again and hoping the mighty Rod saves their bacon with his video game products.

I'm not sure where that leaves Second Life but perhaps we need to face the fact it is being left to rot. Thus, I heartily recommend getting your build on to Sim on a Stick or into an Opensim grid and very low cost or even practically free with Kitely Virtual. Better than just closing it down.

Metacam Oh

The tier is unsustainable because the pyramid scheme that is the Linden Lab business model for SL in land tier relies on NEW people coming in and money being spent. How many people do you see these days with the .Resident last name? It shows you most people that have come in and stuck around have been around for a long time, and new user attrition is horrific. Like I said in another thread you can have a great idea, but your limited to SLs walled garden, and even then how do you reach other SL users? There's no one main channel to do so, so even if you did hit the mother load with the most genius idea, you still would have trouble getting the word out.

295 was fine back in the day when the economy was good and breaking even had a more than a shot in hell of happening. Without the economy picking up and new users coming in the product is a waste.

Kim Anubis

Gaga, like you said, some of these have been serious problems for some time, and some are just expected turnover. A combination of these causes are what add up to some landholders feeling that the tier that they have been paying is now no longer worth it. Only LL knows which are the main causes, because they aren't going to share data from the exit surveys presented to those who give up sims. I think your theories make sense, though.

I am and have for years been baffled by the SL new user experience. I've asked about it many times, and remain unenlightened as to why it is allowed to suck like a Hoover. It is one of those Lab mysteries that, from the outside, can only be explained by substance abuse or Martian mind control rays. There must be some aspect of it we don't know about, because I know for a fact there are smart people at the Lab and they can see what we can see. It is so unbelievable that it is frustrating to think about it at all.

Land Barons are a buffer, as you said. They also do a lot of customer service, maintenence, and marketing work that the Lab would have to do if they rented this land out directly. Perhaps a Land Baron managing vast holdings is less of a support expense for the Lab, even with an Atlas discount, than all of the individual renters. Maybe it saves them a lot on staff. Maybe the content and community some offer, like Caledon, hangs onto customers better than Mainland with Mole builds or isolated private islands -- I bet it does. Only the Lab knows for sure, but I suspect they make plenty on the Barons, or else they'd just GOM them. It could be that a reduction in tier fees, if it came, would accompany new types of Linden rentals and the end of Atlas. But the Lab has always had a strange aversion to hiring community management staff, so they'd probably have to do a partnership with communities like they did with the sailors when they put in the Blake Sea.

Used to be no one worried about market saturation when they built stuff. Now I know people who won't stick two prims together unless they believe there's a market for their two-prim masterpiece. When I joined in 2004, there really wasnt any market, and we just built for fun. Now, even if you aren't caught up in the shift to a dualistic creator/consumer world, building with prims isn't the same because working with obsolete prims in a mesh world is just not as satisfying. I say that from my own experience.

elizabeth (16) has a point. This is no longer the world where everyone used to go to Show and Tell for a good natured build competition with a whopping 200L prize, and if you had land it was probably 512 or 1024 m2 on the mainland, because no one had islands yet. Instead, it's become the world where you need to study 3d modeling software outside of the world and compete with professional artists who are trying to make a living, and people who give up an island would rather quit than move to the mainland.

There are things the Lab could do to help newbies be creators, or give them a start, but instead the Lab seems to want to focus on treating them as consumers in a Linden Realm and a Linden Home, giving out no-mod premium perks instead of full-permissions objects containing usefully commented example scripts. I would hope and assume they have data that informs this choice.

Perhaps they plan to make up for the weakening income from tier with targeted ads, or intend to -- once enough creators rely on it completely -- take an App Store-like 30 percent commission (or more) on Marketplace sales. I don't know if it is a better financial bet for them in the long run than staying more like a sandbox sort of world. I just know I don't like it myself, and that there are more people sandboxing in Minecraft than are shopping the SL Marketplace for a prefab.

While the new products from the Lab just aren't my thing, I kinda hope they are profitable enough to take some of the pressure off of SL to make heaps of dough immediately. It is conceivable that if the new apps are profitable some of those funds, or some of what the Lab learns, might be used to the benefit of SL.

I've been reading about the impending doom of SL on various forums and blogs for seven or eight years, and even made some comments about it myself a time or two. I've heard it said very convincingly, for various reasons, so many times that it doesn't wind me up like it used to. Especially not if you believe the rumors that some of the top investors are only in it to prepare themselves a home for after the Singularity (Martians, it's gotta be Martians). Sim Deathwatch doesn't make me fear for the grid. It just makes me feel bummed, and annoys me because it makes me think about when I gave up my islands, and I don't like thinking about that.

I came to SL in its idealistic time. We were convinced we were really creating our world from our imagination, together with these cool folks at Linden, and it was going to be a BETTER world. Now, the Lindens don't talk with us and work with us anymore, and we have to hang around here guessing at their apparently Martian Mind Control Ray-driven sudden, repeated, destructive changes in direction. Now, we don't talk about Wilde Cunningham, or about making a more peaceful and understanding world by being virtual neighbors with people from around the world and building cool stuff with them just for fun. We don't talk about how we're making a positive example for the future of the real world, or that this is really the start of a wonderful Metaverse. We thought and were told we were getting in early on and helping to shape a future bigger than ourselves. But now it's more and more becoming an experience of unadulterated online consumerism. What kind of fun place is that? It doesn't make me happy anymore, because despite making money in SL, that isn't why I came here, stayed here, or why I'm still here.

I wish Hamlet would roam the grid and report more on Bebop Reality. Find Salazar Jack to come tell us us a myth about our history. Because that is what is missing now, the thing that made SL different from competitors that have been derezzed. There are other shared worlds, but we used to have a shared DREAM.

Backups, of course, are always a good idea. The grid won't last forever, just as none of us will. Archive your work if you can, and don't bet more than you can afford to lose. This isn't Sim Deathwatch sky falling advice -- it's everyday advice.

Gaga

@Kim Anubis

You make a very good point about Linden Lab's attitude towards Second Life residents. The Lab treats us as consumers, pure and simple. In the early years when the slogan "Your World, Your Imagination" was phrased I think the Lab tended to treat us more as partners. We were, after all, going to be making all the content and develop the sims in diverse and entertaining ways for the benefit of the whole community. We were partners!
But it's just not like that now. Linden Lab just seems to want to pull the rug out from under the commercial life of SL and hog lucrative parts of it to make more money on. They don't seem to understand that virtual worlds become more than a product on which to make money. They develop a life and culture of their own just like a small country does (do I recall Phillip saying he was building a new country?). The residents breathe life into the product and become an essential part of it. Linden Lab does not own the resident culture and community of Second Life. All they can ever hope to do is form a partnership with them. Alas, they just don't seem to get it.

As for tier and setup fees, if the Lab wanted to reduce it but protect the balance of the land economy then I reckon they could reduce the charges across the board for everyone, residents and Barons equally at about 5% every four months until it is down by at least 20% - that is 20% reduction in both tier and setup fees. 5% to start would not impact so heavy on the Lab finances and it would allow time to gauge if the reductions are working to halt the decline. If there is growth then it must be working and the next reduction could go ahead, and so on. They also need to seriously do something about every aspect of the new user experience.

elizabeth (16)

about the magic

is the magic of the avatar that has been lost. a little avatar in its own little world making its own way. learning about its environment. seeking the truth about itself and others. is a self-idealising condition this. thru the avatar we can express ourselves. and in time we learn things about ourselves and others thru our own actions and theirs

+

we do this by reshape our avatars and the lands/parcels they inhabit. we learn to express through the tools that enable us to make stuff. by ourselves for ourselves firstly and then for others. with tools we can make ourselves and our lands/environment

+

without tools inworld that allows our avatar to create for itself then is just a shop. if so then stick it on the web just like all the other digital shops. and when that happens then the inworld just becomes a promenade. which is what SL has become pretty much. is nothing magical about wandering up and down a promenade saying hi to people. is about as magical as doing the same mallcrawling

+

so why would i pay for this? if this is all that the storyline of SL has become

Iggy

@Kim, you sound like all my fellow "Orphans of Apollo" in 1973, when Apollo 17 splashed down. Certainly we'd not stop going to the Moon! And didn't NASA just say we'd have a human presence on Mars in the 1980s?

When the word "dream" gets capitalized, look out for the disillusionment.

I'd like Hamlet to roam the Grid again too, and see what magic persists. But that won't stop the trajectory of things.

Kim Anubis

Gaga, elizabeth, and Iggy, I think we're on the same page.

It's funny you should mention NASA, Iggy. In SL, I actually got to work with NASA. Imagine that! It made me feel like a little kid again. My clients let me use prims and scripts to help them try to make the world better. I've been a lucky, lucky girl. But you know what's happened to educators and nonprofits in SL. It's a loss for the whole grid, and the larger repercussions ... well, that's a digression.

There is still magic for Hamlet to find and report. It'll be sprouting out of a crack like a weed in a shopping mall parking lot. But dreams grew better before they paved the green meadow.

I've already gone and let my idealism hang out, and now I'm starting to get poetic -- so I've probably already said too much. It hurts less to complain about tier fees, and is easier to explain.

Shockwave Yareach

Every one of you saying that "Oh, it's the Recession killing SL..."

Explain to me how the recession started in 2008, yet the decline of SL began in Jan 2012? The ENTIRE recession, SL has treaded water and even grown during the early days. Only now, a little more than a year ago, did we start losing sims.

So no, your worldwide recession from over 4 years back is not the reason for sims disappearing starting 1 year back.

T.D.

If kids are too busy on mobile devices as suggested then why is there as yet no SL mobile client? Blue Mars, which is more graphically advanced, had/has one if I'm not mistaken? Getting SL on mobiles/iPad/etc., on Steam (what has happened with that?), and if at all possible on Xbox Live and PSN should have been a priority. Even a Facebook app that lets you use SL from there if it's possible at all.

Seven Overdrive

@Shockwave, Where are you getting that the grid decline began in January of 2012? I went and looked at Tyche Shepherd's weekly reports and see many weeks of grid shrinkage as early as 2009. I also know that online concurrency has been in decline well before January 2012 as well.

Just curious where you got the idea that things didn't start going south in SL until Jan. 2012. Was that when you started to notice?

Kara Trapdoor

Thanks! I hope everyone gets to see it before it's gone. I did make a little tribute video here: http://karasecondlife.blogspot.com/
It would be nice if this sim could be archived.

Shockwave Yareach

@Seven - From the same files you are: Tyche sheppards.

http://gridsurvey.com/charts/gridsize.png

There is a local peak 28Nov11. Then it starts to go south, and stays going south for all of 2012. So while we COULD say that the current fall off began in Dec2011 rather than Jan2012, that's splitting hairs.

The main point is SL land INCREASED starting in Jun2009 and plateau started about Sep2010. It wiggled about the plateau until Dec2011, then started falling again. We were in the recession this entire time. So no, blame cannot be cast on the recession as the cause for the land loss. If recession was the problem, there would not have been land increasing from 2009 through 2012.

Archangel Mortenwold

It's not an open question. LOWER THE [BLEEP]ing tiers! You can't keep a region running for $1,000 USD down and another $295 per month for server maintenance if you don't have the financial resources, and fewer and fewer people have those resources. Demand is way down but prices remain way up. It's a business-killing revenue model and even the land barons are getting out while they can without losing their shirts.

This isn't rocket science. Lower tier across the board back to what it was before 2008 and people will come back, and new ones will appear.

Penny Patton

There's a number of issues at play here, but understanding them helps to reveal multiple solutions.

I am not saying LL should pick one of these solutions and call it a day. I am saying they should consider ALL of these solutions, together.

Tier.

Sure, reducing tier will make it easier for people to continue paying for sims. However, this is only a partial solution and not the only solution.

Scale.

The average avatar is about 7' tall. SL's camera placement is set far higher and further back than your average 3rd person virtual environments (ie: most videogames). Combined, these issues necessitate environments be double or greater scale, which means they eat up about four times as much land area and at least twice as much LI costs.

There are several sims in SL which demonstrate that if you build to a more realistic scale you can fit four times as much content into a sim. People are essentially paying four times as much money for their land than what they actually use.

If all you've thought of is reducing tier as a solution, you may want to consider the implication here.

Finding Places.

Finding places in SL is hard. I can practically guarantee most SL users have never heard of Lost World.

Why is it so difficult to find SL's amazing places? I went looking for The Well, an immersive sim which lead you through a short story. I knew the name of the place, I'd been there only the day before, yet it took a lot of searching for me to find it again, and I had to use a website SLURL link to do it.

In the best cases, SL's search functionality is flawed. At worst, it is horribly limited, relying on a simplified version of website search engines.

Why aren't profiles, groups, land information pages and other social features utilized for connecting people with content?

Why is there no listing structure for SL? If I have a sim I've no way to tag the kind of sim it is other than its maturity rating.

Why can't a new user log into SL and easily begin browsing sci-fi roleplaying sims, historical recreation sims, job training simulations, discussion community locations, etcetera?

The Destinations Guide is a baby step in that direction, but hardly a solution itself.

Premium Tier.

Why is it I can use my Premium account's tier on a mainland sim, but not a private estate? Sure, at the lowest Premium tier that's only 512sq.m., but it would alleviate my weekly/monthly costs in land on a private estate if I find mainland doesn't suit me.

Sim owners could use this, too, and communities could easily support sims they enjoy by donating their Premium tier. Linden Lab is still getting paid, Premium accounts cost money, and it would enable the very community driven microtransactions upon which SL thrives.

Phadrus Karu

"2. And merchants no longer contribute to the SL economy, they merely drain from it whereas before they put some amount back by helping fund tier."

Although I personally have no land holdings as a content creator, I do have expenses in the form of upload fees.

I create mesh objects for Second Life; specifically combat aircraft. Often, the models I upload contain a significant amount of geometric detail and thus, by necessity, are complex in nature. The amount charged during the upload process can range from 25 lindens to over 100 with size, land impact and physics factored in.

On average, I tend to utilize five texture maps per aircraft model – adding another 50 lindens. Customers in the aviation sector tend to enjoy a variety of paint schemes to choose from however; so multiple sets of textures are needed. In one particular case, I created fourteen different liveries for one product; bringing the cost of texture uploads to 700 lindens.

During flight tests, it’s not usual to detect flaws affecting the operation of the aircraft such as a physics shape in need of refinement alongside a component that must be merged with or separated from other components. Just as common are the discovery of flipped normals, shading errors and improper material settings that somehow evaded inspection on the Aditi grid. In either case, replacement geometry must be brought in at additional cost.

Typically, my total expenditure amounts between 600 to 2500 lindens per aircraft. This only covers the assets I have created myself.

In other sectors of the SL economy, capital investment becomes substantially more expensive if you’re a merchant who is reliant upon template kits, animations, audio files and custom scripts sourced from third parties.

Comparatively speaking, the cost to develop and deploy a product on the marketplace is dwarfed by what sim owners pay monthly for tier. Nevertheless, to state that merchants do not contribute to the economy is a fallacy (granted, much of the activity consists of merchant to merchant transactions).

Phadrus Karu

With that said, I’d like to take the opportunity to demonstrate my own limited, if not total lack of understanding of SL economics by throwing this out there:

What if residents were allowed to selectively support sims that are struggling to make tier through asset upload fees?

Essentially, when an individual uploads an image, audio file, animation or mesh object, the fee incurred is credited, (based on the exchange rate) towards tier payment for the sim on which the avatar that initiated the upload is physically present.

For instance, a photographer who snaps a photo of a scenic vista is charged the normal fee of 10 lindens. That same amount (factoring in market rate) is then deducted from the tier owed by the owner who maintains the sim where the photograph was taken and uploaded.

By rerouting upload fees from the abyss that is the default Linden Lab money sink, content creators are able to passively support community efforts simply by uploading assets while on their favorite sim – at no additional cost to themselves or Linden Lab.

Again, I won’t pretend to have more than a menial understanding of the economics on which the grid operates, but a few issues come to mind:

Crediting individual parcels where a sim has been partitioned is where it gets complex. Sim owners and especially land barons need tools to track the amount credited by asset uploads and from which parcel. In short, an automated process of some kind will need to be developed.

Credit earned through upload fees must apply only to tier. It should never be in the form of a tangible sum that can be cashed out or spent. Instead of being deposited into the US balance in the sim owner’s account, a new category such as “tier credit” could be created instead for this purpose.

Residents must be able to view the tier credit status of whichever sim they visit. If a sim has met its goal for that month, merchants can choose to visit their second-favorite sim prior to uploading content.

Content creators who already own land are more likely to subsidize their own tier. By the same token, this may encourage merchants to rent a small parcel knowing that asset uploads can be written off as a business expense when it’s time to pay rent.

christy lock

It's the social media as well as tier. People are using handheld devices and not stuck in front of computers all day. The immersion into virtual reality isn't as good as immersion into mobile reality. I think that's true for most people but not for me.I love creating things not just chatting endlessly to people I didn't want to talk to 10 years ago. Opensim people. It's the future of virtual worlds.

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