Wednesday, March 05, 2014

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Official Second Life App for Mobile Finally Here: Full 3D Experience on Tablets Via OnLive Cloud Streaming Could Herald New Era of Second Life

SL Go is the first official mobile app for Second Life which offers the full high-end 3D experience on mobile tablets (both iOS and for Android and eventually iOS), and I'm proud to disclose I did some consulting on its development and launch. Created with Linden Lab's authorization by OnLive, the cloud-based streaming service, this is a Second Life that's as graphically rich as pretty much anything you'd experience on most high-end desktops -- except now, you can literally hold the world in your hands. That's why I love how the promo video above depicts two people sharing their Second Life experience with each other: On tablets, sharing content with the people around you is far easier than it is on other form factors, and it's my hope that SL Go will make Second Life far more shareable than it’s ever been before.

Since I sporadically consulted with the OnLive team on this app over the past few months, I can say they’ve made a thorough, concerted effort to create a new mobile experience that’s appealing to the SL user community. And since I am clearly biased, I want to be open about some caveats with the service before I go any further:

  • As it's been optimized for mobile and streams the full client within the OnLive interface, using SL Go on mobile requires learning a new user interface, which by necessity, doesn't have all the features of the traditional viewer -- it’s a simplified and streamlined UI with the essential controls (moving, camera control, chat, etc) that takes some getting used to. (Tutorial video above.)
  • SL Go is probably not for new Second Life users, and is better suited for existing SLers who are already comfortable with the world’s complexities, and want to extend aspects of their SL experience to mobile.
  • As a cloud-rendered application which requires heavy server and bandwidth capacity, it's a metered, for-pay service. Having used SL Go extensively myself, I believe most dedicated SLers will find it worthwhile enough to pay for, at some level -- indeed, when I ran a survey about cloud rendering SL a few years ago, many said they were willing to pay quite a lot. But the price tag is worth keeping in mind.

Second Life for tablets OnLive

All that said, I want to talk about how SL Go feels like a new era of Second Life, as I suggested in the title above. That's not to say all the myriad challenges facing SL are resolved by SL Go. (The underlying UI and the revenue model, the poor new user retention, and so on.) But here is the thing that makes all the difference for the world: SL Go works, and almost paradoxically, is the first platform to present Second Life as it really is. It eliminates almost all of the lag and load times most SL users have learned to accept, and presents to you a Second Life at its best, and purest form. If you couldn't see dynamic shadows, you can see them now; if your draw distance was small, it's now broadened to the sky. You may have noticed I've been doing more in-world reporting than I have in many years (as here, and here), and that's entirely due to SL Go. As I said, it's probably not ideal for new users (at least not in this early stage), but I do think it will bring many back to Second Life, to see the world as they've always wanted -- and as they've always wanted to share it with their friends -- but up to now, have never had the means.

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Adeon Writer

As I predicted, it's a cloud rendering service. To me this means LL has no interest in developing a natively-run tablet application, which is probably for the best: This no doubt took far less development time than developing a native, locally-rendered tablet client.

We'll get to more easily see if the demand for mobile SL use even exists, without the risky investment.
Now we just sit back and watch, I suppose.

(I have yet to be convinced a tablet is useful.)

Ezra

Where's the mentioning that its $3 USD/hour, and at cheapest, $25 USD/10 hours?

Are you kidding me? This isn't a solution to anything. It's dead in the water.

Guntram Graef

This is another example for Linden Lab, yet again, chasing the wrong goose. Who exactly is going to pay $2.5 per hour for this? Unless they find a way to make this practically free it will just be another waste of time and resources.

Adeon Writer

Yeah I should clarify this free BETA is a chance to see if there is interest in mobile SL - I do not believe anyone would pay to use SL for 2.50 an hour when they can use Lumiya Viewer and get the near-same experience for free.

Iggy

Sounds clever, and while I might try it and pony up a few dollars, I'd have one problem using it in an educational setting:

Students would HATE me for making them pay money hourly for the sort of application they've long resisted, especially given the a college kid's expectation of "free unlimited bandwidth."

I'll be charitable about it in one way: if a class shared one avatar and the teacher paid, we could just hand the tablet around in class to experience something cool or run a simulation in SL.

Slhamlet

As I mentioned in the post, an NWN survey had 35% respondents saying they'd be willing to pay for streaming:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/01/cloud-streaming-second-life-market.html

As for OnLive's specific price point, I definitely recommend at least trying it out before deciding.

Iggy

Don't see any iOS compatibility mentioned at the site linked. So much for trying it on my iPad.

TracyRedAngel

If it were a one time fee...I would definitely consider paying that, even if it was something around $25-30. But the hourly rate fee is pretty limiting. Even at the best rate of $25 for 10 hours, it's not a realistic fee for long-term use. I could see people maybe paying $3 if they absolutely had to log into SL for some reason or another and had no other access to a regular desktop, or other free mobile app. But that hardly makes it an appealing option. If they had a free limited trial that you could upgrade with a one-time fee...I think people would use the service.

TracyRedAngel

The prices in your survey Hamlet were far more generous than Onlive's pricing. There's a huge difference between paying, for example $30 for 80 hours time, or even $40 a month for unlimited use.
It's not the very notion of paying for the service that is going to be a huge hindrance, but HOW MUCH they are charging that will be.

Ms. CC Creeggan (CronoCloud Creeggan)

$3 an hour is a non starter for anyone who uses SL for any length of time. Yes it's effectively running on a high end system, and sure it might be okay for some mobile-obsessed casual user who doesn't really use SL that much...but for anyone else..no. Can't really use this for serious socializing or fashionista picture taking.

There's always Lumiya or if you need the full client, remote desktop/VNC into your home machine with your mobile device. After all what is online other than you essentially paying for RDP/VNC access to somebody elses machine.

Besides SL users aren't usually the kinds of people who would want to "share" their private SL experience directly, indirectly via Flickr, video or blogs is another matter.


Adeon Writer

If I moved all of my SL use to a tablet, and used SL Go instead on Singularity, I'd be paying $562.50 a month.

Ezra

@Hamlet "As I mentioned in the post, an NWN survey had 35% respondents saying they'd be willing to pay for streaming"

You have finer grain info than that. Only 1.6% said they'd pay $2/hour, which is the closest to the $2.50/hour volume and $3/hour non-volume price points.

Your survey -condemns- this, strongly.

A.J.

I am surprised this actually impressed me. It's a great technical achievement.

But it's like a 5-star luxury flight to Somalia.

Sure, that'll bring em' in.


Rosemackie.wordpress.com

Lumiya is very good, one-time cost for app is low. Why pay so very much? It's like the old time pre-paid minutes phone card.

http://www.lumiyaviewer.com/

MetacamOh

I won't even pay 5 bucks for wifi access on a plane.....

Ciaran_Laval

As a proof of concept it's absolutely brilliant.

As a consumer model for a service as a whole, the pricing is way too high.

If Onlive want to be able to deliver MMO's via this service, which I strongly suspect is where this is trying to head, then they have to lower their prices substantially otherwise it will remain a brilliant example of something that could have been a game changer.

Ilsa Hesse

Hamlet,
I am a raging SL addict and I would not pay 3 dollars an hour to play. I most times keep my av logged in all night.
If my computer died (knock on wood) I would go to an internet cafe and just load it on the machine... for the same price I could get a better viewer on a better computer.
I have an iPad and I use it for SL, but I see no reason to use it for anything but just random "is anyone on" checks.

Esusia Frevet

This app looks good but the pricing is ridiculous! Who is paying that much when you have Lumiya for less???
The only reason I see a person needing to use this is if they have a business but even Lumiya is still a better choice. Hell even Radegast on low resolution desktops.
Linden's marketing needs serious help if they think this will take off.
I even complained about 15$ a month on ESO. This is a laugh.

Draxfiles

Folks listen to the podcast this FRIDAY because we have two senior OnLive managers talk about = iOS coming soon with polished version [this is BETA for Android folks to try!] & what the pricing is about among other things!
I think folks should try it - it is simply amazing.
If they do not see the value of something that renders better than a high-end local machine or they choose not to pay for it, yes there are alternatives to staying in touch with mobile.
However this is pleasure pure because it shows SL at its best and immersion is more fun that way!

Professor Merryman

GREAT! Another hype cycle coming. Love it!

The people who are involved in this could possibly, actually, maybe, stir the right momentum to get some ground breakers interested enough in investing their time in this. We all know this could revolutionize the world of gaming and education in so many ways. The problem is that we can’t get the right people in the right position to actually make it happen. It costs money to make money. Risk is something you do in your 30s.

OK. They will certainly get the message that pay-for-kitely-play won’t work, BUT what they ARE learning is the possible ROI (Return On Investment) by proposing a pricing model beyond what they think the consumer will pay yet somewhat realistic in order to find their break even point.

Look, one of the best ways to seek out new game market pricing, in my lowly bachelor of eBusiness thinking, is to do a press release from some major names and then gauge the market's response. They’re doing that now.

*I’m not entirely sure who we are dealing with here, so give me some latitude.

For me, as an educator (M.ed.) and gamer, I can only hope they will follow a pricing model that is simply geared towards revenue made from players in-game. The rest can be cloud based. Heck…make me a server. When I’m online, I’d be happy to give up 200MB of CPU or whatever.

I’m hopeful LL will understand that they have a HUGE support group. I’m sad they won’t reach out to us to make all of this happen in-house.

Hey LL, you’d be surprised what the world will do for you!

Karl Jacob

wouldn´t it be much less hassle for everybody just to give them full access to all our bank accounts and stuff, so we don´t need to worry anymore what and how much and for what and for what not we should or have to pay them or not?

Iggy

For goodness' sake, Dontgethairy, give it a rest. To read your incessant plugs for it, you'd think Garry's Mod would end world hunger and prevent bad breath.

2014

Judging by the comments here, SLU, and a couple other privileged bloggers who got to review it, the price is the deal breaker!

cathartes aura

So, Eb's answer to LL/SL's many, many, many, self-inflicted wounds is to promote a browser that is priced so high that no more than a handful of people will use it and to open up the JIRA again. Wow!! What a way to not hit the ground running... Everyone knows LL/SL's major problem is tier pricing, grandfathered regions, and the Atlas program(landbarons and selected others get major discounts on tier - double digit discounts which never go away). Discounts on setup fees is one thing for someone buying a bunch of regions. I could see that. But permanent discounts on tier to a few selected region owners is crony capitalism and most SL landowners know it. That's why over time as folks wise up to the rigged economic game that is SL, the number of region owner grows smaller with more and more control given over to the top landowners(landbarons). This is and has been the major problem within LL/SL and the uppity ups refuse to acknowledge it or even to discuss it. Major Fail! And this is why "new boss same as the old boss".

TracyRedAngel

@ cathartes:
if you read Inara Pey's full review, it mentions that Ebbe had little to nothing to do with any of this. If he had...my god what a feat to get all that up in running in the uh...month he's been with the lab, right?
OnLive approached Rod Humble about a year ago with the collaboration. Read Inara's review, it's pretty insightful.

cathartes aura

@Tracy: You miss my entire point... Releasing a new viewer shouldn't be eb's top priority. It should be doing away with all the goodies the top folks are getting thru unequal tier - grandfathered regions, Atlas Program. Until that happens, LL/SL are going nowhere. Regular folks will not buy regions and pay tier until that happens. And the landowner base will continue to shrink into just a few folks at the top and other regular folks who are oblivious to these insider deals or who choose to ignore the 1%'r goodies and pay anyway. Equalize tier, lower it across the board and SL will prosper. Ignore the "elephant" in the room and SL continues a slow painful death. I repeat - "new boss same as the old boss". Anyone ever ask why? It's not him. It's the VC's, and the SL insiders who call the shots. Not Eb's. He's just one more in a long line of them since 2006 or so.

Pussycat Catnap

I feel that aiming for already existing users that for some reason can no longer use a laptop or desktop, but has a top end tablet, is aiming for a very small possibly near non-existent userbase.

That is basically aiming for people who cannot afford a $300 Laptop, used to have a $500-1000 laptop or desktop they can no longer use, so instead bought a $600 tablet.

Ms. CC Creeggan (CronoCloud Creeggan)

@Pussycat

Actually this WILL run on low-end tablets. All it needs is Honeycomb. Even my old Dell Streak 7 will run it, because what it's doing behind the scenes is basically running a RDP/VNC session with OnLive's servers.

Which brings up a couple of benefits. Really there are benefits even if the pricing scheme is no go.

1. There's a OnLive Viewer for Windows and OSX so you can actually use this on the desktop. That will probably run in Wine on Linux too.

2. There's an OnLive gizmo that attaches to the TV, you can also use SL Go via that.

There are a few other notes, OnLive DOES have a monthly pricing scheme for at least some of their content but SLGo isn't a part of that.

I wasn't able to try it out because it wants credit card info for even the 20 minute trial. Bad OnLive!


Pussycat Catnap

Will it run on a Nook HD or Kindle Fire?

- Because that, the $150 tablet, is the market for people not able to afford a laptop.

But still... if its marketed to existing users and not users - those existing users are... already existing. They don't have the mythical "can't run the viewer" problem that is promoted around here so often (that I am skeptical of).

If it were to be marketed at new users, it'd have to be a $0.99 to $9.95 app in the Google Play Store at the most... New users will buy that app, and expect to be done buying / subscribing. Especially as you also have to "buy" goods in the "game".

If I paid $2.50 and hour, I'd expect to get an unlimited free inventory and a free sim in the package - every outfit and object in SL I can find should be mine free at that price range...
-it should come with a built in legalized Copybot...
- At that price range its suddenly the most expensive subscription based MMO on the market.

Obviously that CANNOT happen...

So I'm not sure where the market is for this.

Tablet is for low end people who lack computers, that are actually as cheap as tablets... Yet this thing is super expensive.

Slhamlet

"So, Eb's answer"

No, not really -- OnLive has been working on this for quite some time, long before Ebbe became CEO.

cathartes aura

@slhamlet. I never said Eb's was responsible for this viewer. I said that it shouldn't be one of his top priorities. Getting rid of unequal tier, grandfathered regions, and the atlas program should be at the very top of his list. And that it isn't is very telling about what he, the VC's, the SL insiders, and the SL media all refuse to discuss or acknowledge. It is the main reason SL is dying a slow death and everyone knows it. Why isn't anyone at LL allowed to discuss Atlas? why doesn't the SL media discuss Atlas? What is Atlas? How many landowners are getting this deal? What are the discounts given? Etc Etc.

The silence on all this is deafening...

DontGetHairy


This is actually a double-whammy compounded scam deal...

If you use this tool, you also get LL's predatory August 2013 Terms of Service 2.3 with Vendor Lock-in + Intellectual Property Piracy.

The JIRA agreement terms goes a step further with predatory Patent terms...

http://wiki.secondlife.com/w/index.php?title=Linden_Lab_Official:Contribution_Agreement

You pay a double-whammy to get your content ripped off in the final!!

DontGetHairy

This offering from Hamlet violates EU Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

Information to be communicated before contract formation
http://en.wikipedia.org/.../Consumer_Protection_(Distance...

Sellers: If you want to be compliant with eCommerce + Consumer Protection regulations in 28 countries use:

Online Shopping Assistant from eConsumer.gov
http://www.econsumer.gov/.../shopping-assistant-text.shtm

Customers: Report your International Complaint in 28 countries here
http://www.econsumer.gov/english/report/overview.shtm

and International Blacklisting with

- Scam Alerts here
http://icpen.org/for-consumers/scam-alerts

It is a Buyer's market, not a Seller's market!

This posting was censored...

Pathfinder

I tried it out today. Wow, it's beautiful and fast. Seriously impressive from a technical perspective. Could defintely make mobile a more viable access point for SL users. And beyond simply viable, I can imagine new ideas for expanding SL's functionality on mobile devices to make it even more engaging (e.g., tying in GPS data, augmented reality using mobile device camera, etc.)

As for the pricing...

The entire game industry has come to the conclusion that the future belongs to freemium, free-to-play, and pay-once-play-forever.

Metered usage?

The 1990's are on the phone and they want their business model back.

SL Go is a great idea that will die in the nest if it doesn't move to a modern-day pricing model.

Ciaran_Laval

@Pathfinder "The entire game industry has come to the conclusion that the future belongs to freemium, free-to-play, and pay-once-play-forever."

Well the entire gaming industry except Zenimax Online it seems who are launching Elder Scrolls Online with an upfront fee and subscription only model, they will need good luck with that after the initial rush.

As for the 1990's, they address that in their blog post:

"This variable-rate billing model seems very 1990’s, but is inescapable since so many MMO users spend large fractions of their lives connected, sometimes only in the background."

I feel they are somewhat missing the point there but it's early days and they need more data to try and find the right model.

Monalisa Robbiani

There is no reason a modern day tablet cannot run SL like a desktop PC does. We got NVIDIA graphics, a lot of memory, and even CPUs faster than on some older PCs that run SL. And since most tablets are used at home on the couch, we got WIFI as well. So who exactly needs a service that costs 2 euros an hour?

Desmond Shang

Two topics.

The first, OnLive.

OnLive's pricing isn't terribly effective for most people. Neither is the pricing of a Bentley Continental GT. But their mere existence shouldn't offend. Given time, I can see OnLive transition into a value add proposition; realise that SL Voice is also a paid for, streaming service that is 'free' to everyone. They have to start somewhere. Even if horses are the obviously most practical solution, things can and do change.

* * * * *

Second Topic, Fantastic Tales and Conspiracy theories.

In particular, addressed to cathartes. I'll leave it to you, to figure out how informed I am. Bluntly stated, I have old tier regions and am not part of any special program. Period. The End.

Further, I would direct you to google the following phrase: "moving and renaming private regions." Hmmm, the devils, hiding such things in plain sight! Genius! The first link is the SL Knowledge Base. And lo, behold: Discounts and Advantages for those with lots of regions, for all to see! Not only that, Available To All. That information has been there for *years*. I have enough regions to vouch for its accuracy. Of course, conspiracy theorists rarely check the knowledge base...

Are there further discounts? I don't personally know, but this may shock you: I doubt it would even matter. What, how could that be, you say? An Advantage is an Advantage, right?

It's elementary, cathartes. Ever manage even just 50 regions? It requires manpower, and hours; customer service systems, accounting, round the clock staff. Not just some friends with estate powers. That means hiring actual, real employees who take home real paychecks. Not trivial! Even in 3rd world countries. Given enough regions to manage, no matter if regions were *given* away, the large barons would have trouble competing with estates like mine: old tier and no employees whatsoever. The 'sweet spot' is a lot lower number of regions than you'd think. Of course, actuarial assessments and cost benefit analyses are boring, compared to conspiracy theories. My apologies for that. But there it is.

Addressing your point, tier being too high ~ yes I agree. The time to change it would have been 2010. As it is now, if my tier went up to standard, I'd simply have to close shop. I'm inconsequential with only 3 dozen regions, but the big barons would likely close also. That leaves lowering the tier for everyone, as a possible solution. In this, you may be right; I personally think you will eventually be right. I certainly do believe that there are *incredibly viable* ways forward for SL. But as there are Top Men being paid the Big Dollars to figure it out, I'm happy with just watching until they do. Observing them sort it out whilst I relax... it's... forgive the phrase, rather cathartic.

Amanda76

LL fixed the grandfathered region prices several years ago by making the grandfathered price non-transferable. There are no new ones and when their gone their gone forever. You would have to be pretty petty to begrudge someone who has been in SL for that long having a grandfathered region.

The Atlas program is just a quantity discount. Most businesses have quantity discounts, that's just good customer service. The grocery store pays less per can of Coca Cola than I do when I buy one. That's because their buying it by the pallet or even truck load. That's normal.

Most businesses don't highlight their bulk sales prices in advertising to the general public either. If they did someone would demand that price for the single item they buy which would be ridiculous.

Alad

And what about those of us who can't even pay to use the mobile service due to having no monetary income whatsoever? I got my iPad as a birthday gift a couple of years ago and have been looking for apps that I can use on it (preferably free) since my primary PC is an older model that doesn't have hardware sufficient enough to even res it. Any assistance on that inquiry?

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