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Wednesday, January 06, 2010


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Metacam Oh

Dead on Hamlet, where avatars congregate in large numbers so does the lag and experience goes down. Really to say its a ghost town is just someone being lazy not knowing how to use the SL client. Its not hard to find other people if that's what your looking for.

Eddi Haskell

I think it is a pure matter of economics. The price for maintaining real estate, either through payment to an estate, or to Linden, is still low enough that people do not feel compelled to shut down empty sims or consolidate. If the price were to increase say 50% there would be a much higer density per square meter of online residents than there is now.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Students reported that taking even a single friend along with them on trips around SL made the world seem less empty. Most of my recent class traveled in groups of 2 or 3 after their first trips in-world. They began to enjoy the experiences a lot more.

Metacam Oh

Maybe Linden needs to institute the Buddy System :)

Bettina Tizzy

Darn, you so trounced Barry Collins that there isn't anything left of him for me to grind my heel in.

Caliburn Susanto

That SlashDot article really crumbled your cookies, didn't it, Hamlet? ;-D

Hamlet Au

Heh, not really, it's just a topic I've wanted an excuse to blather about for a long time. It came up on the panel Cory O. and I did, for example.

Madame Maracas

What I would find interesting is to see what the population per sq m is now during peak and average concurrency vs. years gone by.

Is the world more occupied, the same or less than in the past? I'd bet that in the days before island sims, the mainland was a bit more occupied per sq m during peak usage than now, but that off peak usage might be very similar.

Just guessing. I'm sure there's someone out there that can crunch those numbers more meaningfully.

To me, an empty sim, when exploring, means faster rez time, less lag and an unimpeded stroll about, that may be selfish but it's nice.

Valentina Kendal

55,000 people randomly spread over ~25,000 island sims (I don't know what the number is now since the land crunch and birth of Zindra) - not gonna be a high density. And for every sim with 40 people, that means a bunch of empty ones. I wonder on a night when 60,000 people are on, how many are on Zindra?

Hamlet Au

Good point, Valentina... I did some quick math, and to have every sim with 40 folks, we'd need like a concurrency of 1.2 million!

Eirik Haefnir

Honestly, if you were to drop a human onto a random spot on earth in the real world, even if you disregard all the ocean and sea surface, there's still a 99% chance they'll enter a place that seems abandoned or with maybe one or two people around who won't even talk to them.

Humans have a natural habit of congregating in groups.

Caliburn Susanto

I'm with Madame Maracas, fewer people per region = better experience (less lag). Not selfish, pragmatic! Seriously, under current load balancing schemas the fewer people per acre the better.

Someday they'll fix that; until then spread out! :-D

Wizard Gynoid

Do the math. As of 1/4/10, there are 29,681 sims (24,033 private estates & 5,648 Linden owned). Let's assume median concurrency at 55,000. 55,000 avies divided by 29,681 sims equals, tada, .54 avies per sim. This correlates nicely with my own anecdotal observations.

Wizard Gynoid

Do the math correctly! (not like me.) 55,000 divided by 29,681 equals 1.85 avies per sim.

Vax Sirnah

Measuring avatars per sim isn't really an effective way to measure much in Second Life, other than effects of lag. I think that the general point here is that space means something different in SL than it does in first life. Space is not a fundamental facet of the virtual world - it's more of an add-on.


This is probably a taboo subject, but even 75,000 concurrent is an overstatement, as many of them are either bots or campers.

I've wandered into many a sim where 99% of the avatars were camping, afk or greeter bots.

Rodion Resistance

Reminds me of something I saw in Carl Sagan's old "Cosmos" tv show. Sagan asked what if we sent a spacecraft into a distant world, and that spacecraft landed in a desert and there was nothing there, would it be then safe to conclude that it's a "lifeless" world?


Lum Lumley

evidence of massive concurrency, currently about 75,000 at peak, and in the 55,000 range at median. (I believe this is still the largest concurrency of any single-sharded virtual world or MMO.)

Point of order, SL is difficult to describe as a single-sharded VW/MMO due to its severe sim-limited concurrency limits. Although 55,000 may be on at once, having more than 50 in one place will cause issues. Of course, they can communicate, but that is true of many MMOs, especially heavily instanced-ones such as Champions Online (where all users are technically on a single server, at least for purposes of talking to one another). World of Warcraft's servers are rapidly merging as well, as more and more features are cross-server in nature.

Still, 75,000 users in a single-sharded world, even with the sim limits of SL is still impressive - the closest competitor would be Eve, who achieved 56,000. Eve also has issues with hundreds of players in the same area, to the point where they request that large-scale battles be scheduled with support in advance so that the company can redirect computing resources to that area.

Coughran Mayo/Dick Dillon

in 1524, Giovanni de Verrazzano was the first European in recorded history to make landfall in the area which is now New York City. It took 276 years before the daily population of the city hit 60,000. If the average concurrency of Second Life is around 60,000 after only 6 years and a few months, I'm thinking that's not so bad!

Karen Poppy

I think the issue here isn't really one of numbers but one of user experience. I'm in a similar boat to Barry Collins in that I was really involved in Second Life three years ago or so—I felt like I knew my lay of the land, the places to go, things to do. Then I left it, more or less, for the better part of two years and recently started to return and have had more or less the same impression he was left with in his article. it may be busier than ever by the numbers, but it feels a lot emptier than it used to. (Not that too busy is good. The one place I have come across that is consistently busy, Frank's Place, is laggy and unusable a lot of the times I've been there.)

While I don't necessarily agree with all of his theories as to why it feels like it does, I have to say that returning has put me in the shoes of a new user again and gets to the heart of one of the problems with Second Life: how to find the experiences you can have in Second Life. In the comments to Collins' article, someone accused him of not wanting to find rich places with active communities of people and gave three or four examples. They all sounded interesting except I'd never found them in Second Life itself. If there is a good way of finding out what is going on or the cool places where the "cool kids" are hanging out, Second Life certainly doesn't make it easy to find them in-world. The featured spots picked by the Lindens may be neat, but like Collins, I've found most of them empty when I've visited. Maybe I am romanticizing the old days, but I don't remember it being this difficult in the past to find these places and find others there to share the experiences with.

Part of the problem may just be that the world is larger now so even with more people than ever, it's easier to spread out. Intellectually I understand that. But as a user, the take away experience I've had the past handful of times I've been in-world, is very similar to Collins': for a place experiencing its highest numbers ever, it sure does feel empty a lot of the time.

Fogwoman Gray

And if he landed in a newcomers area now - he would find quite a few folks :)
Looking at the map of Caledon on any given day, you might see a stack of green dots at an event somewhere, but otherwise it will be generally less than 10 in any one sim. But Oxbridge (our Gateway) will generally have 2-3 times as many folks as any of the other sims. This is a combination of newcomers, frequent visitors and volunteers. I suspect you would find similar things at other Gateways as well.


What i realized when i build for myself is that i tend to make my objects much too large. Well i think it is hard because you have no other relation than the avatar size, which is often much too large, too. My avatar is 2,30 meters height. So the doors become to large, the cars, the rooms and so on...

But i think like websites today, the way of building second Life land will change, people will begin to envolve strategies how to design a land, to attract more users, or to increase the conversion rate.

I am sure the future Second Life land will be more compact in average, which will make it fuller in average.

simon turboy riccardi

ciao James,
we met us at the first VWeurope in 2007. I have almost finished my Phd research period and I would like to confirm that this kind of empty perception is not only in SL, but is everywhere in the sprawl of our physic cities. Take a look here: http://snurl.com/tzs2l or here: http://snurl.com/tzs24 (aren't this places a crowded empty?)

Zigmunt Bauman speaks about the over-crowded desert. For this reason is not only a phenomenon related to SL but to the earthly social-model. In facts Sl remain still a human production.

Arcadia Codesmith

I hadn't thought much of the impact of the visual vocabulary, but it makes sense. If you find yourself alone in a park/wilderness sim, it's much less jarring than finding yourself in a Times Square devoid of people.

It would not be at all remiss to have Linden-owned, operated, zoned, staffed and moderated hubs to catch people fresh from Orientation and give them a place to get their bearings. Perhaps that would also give us fewer commentators wandering lost in the admittedly post-apocalyptic ambiance of the mainland.

Doreen Garrigus

Whoa,Simon. That link was fantastic. Thank you.


Second Life is what ever you make it, the more social you are with groups and looking for activities then it will be a fuller experience. Sit on your platform all day and create and its that. So the writer of the piece just fullfilled what he perceived as his take on it. I think back to when I first rezzed in to SL and the first few weeks was all welcome center/ explore and learn based. I think I have not been to a welcome center in over a year now. The deep inworld you go and interact with people the fuller Sl becomes. Its like RL its what you make it.

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