6:07PM: Confirming unofficial reports from earlier today (which I've moved below), Linden Lab just sent me this statement about the new virtual world it's building:
"Linden Lab is working on a next generation virtual world that will be in the spirit of Second Life, an open world where users have incredible power to create anything they can imagine and content creators are king. This is a significant focus for Linden Lab, and we are actively hiring to help with this ambitious effort. We believe that there is a massive opportunity ahead to carry on the spirit of Second Life while leveraging the significant technological advancements that have occurred since its creation, as well as our unparalleled experience as the provider of the most successful user-created virtual world ever.
"The next generation virtual world will go far beyond what is possible with Second Life, and we don't want to constrain our development by setting backward compatibility with Second Life as an absolute requirement from the start. That doesn’t mean you necessarily won’t be able to bring parts of your Second Life over, just that our priority in building the next generation platform is to create an incredible experience and enable stunningly high-quality creativity, rather than ensuring that everything could work seamlessly with everything created over Second Life’s 11 year history." (Emphasis mine.)
"Does this mean we're giving up on Second Life?
"Absolutely not. It is thanks to the Second Life community that our virtual world today is without question the best there is, and after 11 years we certainly have no intention of abandoning our users nor the virtual world they continually fill with their astounding creativity. Second Life has many years ahead of it, and in addition to improvements and new developments specifically for Second Life, we think that much of the work we do for the next generation project will also be beneficial for Second Life.
"It's still very early days for this new project, and as we forge ahead in creating the next generation virtual world, we'll share as much as we can."
"If we had one message to share with Second Life users about this new project at this point, it would be: don’t panic, get excited! Again, Second Life isn’t going away, nor are we ceasing our work to improve it. But, we’re also working on something that we think will truly fulfill the promise of virtual worlds that few people understand as well as Second Life users."
I have revised the post's title to reflect this confirmation and moved the original post below:
Ciaran Laval just passed on an unconfirmed report to me that Linden Lab is building a follow-up to Second Life. The word first came from Second Life third party developer Latif Khalifa, who was at a recent developers meeting in SL which was attended by Linden CEO Ebbe Altberg (pictured):
"He told them (summarized)," says Cieran, "[That] Linden Lab is working on a next generation virtual world. Most of [the] Lab’s development resources are already working on it. A smaller dev team headed by Oz Linden remains working on Second Life."
That's not all, at least according to Latif -- this isn't an extension of Second Life, but an entirely new, incompatible virtual world:
"The new world," Ciaran relays, "will be closed-sourced, and not backward compatible with content from SL." He adds, "I've seen no official words on this, but it could cause quite a stir when the YouTube video [from the TPV developer meeting] is uploaded." More from Latif here on SL Universe. Yes, if this early report is accurate, it would cause quite a stir. It's possible Ebbe is referring to Philip Rosedale's High Fidelity, which Linden Lab is partially financing; in any case, I'm contacting Linden now for a more official response -- until then, I recommend holding off on drawing any conclusions. The video from this meeting is supposed to be available in the next few hours, so I'll add that to this post when it's up.
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