Monday, July 14, 2014

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Improved Permission System May (Finally) Make Second Life a Decent Game Platform

There's a lot of pretty impressive user-made games in Second Life, but for years I've hesitated to tell non-SLing gamers about them, knowing that any attempt to play them would mean hours of aggravation. Just announced in Beta (after some years in development) Linden Lab's new Experience Keys (viewer here) improves the permission system for SL game developers, and does a better job tracking game events. Watch it in action:

I love that they're doing this demo in the Corn Field, which Daniel Linden built as a purgatory for griefers. (I sat next to him in my Linden days, so got to watch him deploy it with wry glee.) That was back in 2004-2005 when Linden Lab still called itself a game publisher and Linden staff called Second Life a game, terminology the company mainly changed for marketing reasons.

But now with Experience Keys, Second Life may finally be ready to become more of a traditional game than the open-ended social sandbox roleplaying game it is now.

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Unfortunately, quality of shown 'experience' is below the level of what 16-year olds can achieve with Unity engine. These days people expect nothing less than a DayZ from a monster/zombie/demon-killing games, not some hovering around and spamming silly furry gestures on a 256^2m grass patch.
As for the tools, it sure is a great addition, and a lot of creators will find them extremely useful. It's just not a stupid shooter game is the way how you present them.


Considering SL still lacks basic abilities like being able to create animated NPCs (sculpty swapping and mesh hiding/unhiding isn't the same), no, its far from anything you wouldn't feel embarassed telling anyone its a game platform.

That ship has sailed. In a two years time Unity, Unreal, CryEngine, Maya, Photoshop and more platforms and tools for game development have switched from thousands of dollars prohibitively expensive things to easily affordably software ranging in tens of dollars a month each.

Meanwhile Second Life is still $300 a month for a 256x256 meter space. It ain't happening. Cross your fingers they design SL2 better for game developers.

Arcadia Codesmith

I visited an RP sim over the weekend, and while I had a perfectly lovely time roleplaying, I had to adjust my graphics settings to bare-bones minimum just to keep from lagging out at crucial moments. I know some people work very hard at kludging around the inherent limitations of the Second Life platform, but even if it was a top-notch game engine, land prices are still prohibitively expensive.

On the flip side, roleplaying is virtually extinct in so-called roleplaying games. Second Life is one of the few places it flourishes, probably due to the fact that space is limited, NPCs are crude (at best) and combat systems are quirky and frustrating. People are forced to actually talk to one another rather than rushing around on an endless series of "kill ten rats" quests.

So... yes, I'd like to have the tools available to tackle more ambitious projects (like dynamic instancing). I'd like the game development piece of SL to be price competitive with the content-creation tools of games like "Star Trek Online" and the "Everquest" franchise (hint: when people are volunteering to do development work that brings people into your world, give them rewards instead of hitting them up for dough).

But I'd hope the communities that are heavily based on RP would use such tools with discretion and maintain the RP focus that makes them unique.


That Ebbert sure talks big. Who cares if the things SL implements actually work well? As long as it brings in a few bucks in the short run, and keeps it in the media, some sucker should be ready to buy.


This development seems pretty ho-hum given the state that SL is in right now.

The world isn't dead, but the platform is in Hospice care and it's already been given a tombstone.

If you really want to breath some life back into the old girl, do something with those hobbling, rickety, shriveled up old avatars. Duh. The people are still alive and breathing.

Pussycat Catnap

So... um...

Is this basically a thing to keep me from having to click 'Yes' on the animate me dialog box for dance balls and furniture...

Or is it a replacement to a combat meter HUD - allowing those who opt in to be 'game controlled' for action based gaming?

Or is it an RLV replacement, allowing a game system to force animations and force location onto someone who opts into it?


Issa Heckroth

I think the biggest news here is the fact that LL have actually just gone and put tier UP!

The new "gaming regions" will be $345!!!! Plus some other "license fee" on top.

Everyone at LL is clinically insane. That is the only logical explanation. I mean, seriously?!?!?!

Issa Heckroth

If anyone at LL gets round to reading this, how about making the gaming license fee higher, keeping 295 as the highest tier level and giving your regular, long overpaying user-base 10% off "non-gaming" regions and homesteads?

Just as a token gesture and to show us all that you have a little faith in your product and your not totally freakin mental.

Archangel Mortenwold

That's nice, but as people keep saying — and as the evidence continues to indicate — if people can't afford to play the game, no amount of spiffy new features will attract people to play the games. Charging people more money than they can afford to spend for a product that is stagnant or declining is simply ludicrous.


The Experience Keys tools do not have anything to do with the skilled gaming changes. You could use the tools to create a game in SL, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a special gaming region to run it on. You would only have to do that if you plan on charging to play the game and paying out L$ for "winning". Other than that scenario the two are completely independent of one another.

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