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Friday, April 08, 2011

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Adeon Writer

So this report is assuming mesh to not be a game changer (or entirely non-existent), right?

I'll wait to form opinions like this until after I see SL's graphical facelift in full swing.

Many SL content creators that I know personally have stopped making new content for Main Grid for quite some time, building up mesh content in private.

I wouldn't doubt it if that has something to do with the slowing down of exchange and resident traffic. There has simply been fewer new areas to explore and things to but lately.

Wait for it.

Noirran

I don't think mesh will be a game changer at all, because after buying your pretty new mesh av you are left with the same dilemma, now what is there to do? Take a picture of myself in my new mesh prettiness and post it on FLICKR, try to find a place populated by other pretty mesh AVs and sit around looking at each other? User content is great, but interactive user content is what needs to be developed.

Jon Brouchoud

I think a certain degree of community ownership is the only way a community-created world like Second Life can thrive in the long run. Without it, residents will always be subject to the often alienating whim of outside forces that perpetually act on motivations that aren't necessarily congruent with what the residents need or want.

If we don't gain some ownership at some point, it's as though we're building a vast mandala that could vanish at any moment, without notice, since we have no real stake in it. Some of the more bazaar interventions by Linden Lab make us acutely aware of the fact that, like it or not, believe it or not, we're in the back seat, with little or no recourse. We're at the whim of the Lab and their investors, and have no control over what gets handed down from the top. That's not always a bad thing, but it's the truth.

No matter how much time and energy you've poured into creating this world - it's ultimately theirs to keep, not ours. I'm ok with that for now, because the metaverse is young, and I'm still evolving - it really *is* a mandala for me. But sooner or later, I'm going to want to truly own and keep the stuff I build, and we will never fully achieve that without some degree of community autonomy.

Building a system where residents enjoy some ownership would be a frustrating, messy and incredibly complex process, but then again, democracy always is. At some point, the Second Life community is going to need its own Tahrir moment, but I don't think we're quite ready for that yet.

Adeon Writer

Norrian, rigged avatars are just a tiny sidenote when it comes to mesh. It's mostly about the rezzed content.

The two biggest problems with SL are the lag and the sub-par visuals. Mesh solves both.

Professional-grade 3D content will finally be possible, regions designed with it will have unseen quality with even less lag then before.

With chatlag already fixed and hitting maingrid soon, scripted ray-casting allowing more interactive scripted content, 1.x-like viewer skins appearing for v2 left and right, and havok10 promising the end of floaty physics, the long whined problems within SL are quickly vanishing.

Ciaran Laval

Joint ownership of venues and sims needs to be made easier, at one stage LL were toying with the idea of allowing people to donate their 512M of free mainland tier you get with a premimum membership (so it's not really free) to private estates.

Ossian

I confess I don't understand how it would work (not having the business sense, me), but I have wondered whether LL is caught between its users and its board -- two radically different (perhaps perfectly antithetical?) groups.

If what I said is so, would ownership by users eliminate that dichotomy?

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Adeon may well be right.

I am no gamer, but as I shoulder-surfed a friend's Xbox 360 session with Mass Effect 2, I realized that we might get more professional-grade content in SL if meshes were enabled.

Even with mesh enabled, can SL ever be a game dev platform? Will LL's physics engine be up to par for the sort of content that developers would like to bring in?

Will I be able to drive my fake car against a bunch of other drivers? That's the operative question for me...

Ann Otoole InSL

If LL wants to sell SL to it's customers then all they have to do is IPO and get it done. Users can then buy stock if they have the money to do so. They can right now on Sharespost if anyone is selling private stock.

If the Board and execs think community involvement would make a difference (I think it would but I am a nobody) then they can examine Eve online and the user council idea that appears to do remarkably well there. Some microscopic number of vocal critics will always cry foul over that idea but what LL would likely be interested in hearing is what the vast majority of customers think.

My personal observations (IMHO) are that, with the exception of the LL commerce team (who remains closed to the public (zero transparency)), LL has recently displayed every sign of listening to the customers and expediting highly valued features while continuing to work on high priority defects as well as developing new ways to solve difficult technical challenges.

IMVU has been aggressively targeting everything SL on the internet. Soon SL will have features IMVU is unlikely to ever have. So LL can target IMVU's customers the same way IMVU targets LL's customers. All is fair in the marketing game.

In addition LL could create a user group to discuss ideas like maybe hiring highly skilled creators like Sextan (Nemo creator) on a contract basis to construct new user experience areas that will elevate new user retention significantly. Right now there appears to be no means of communicating these type ideas to LL at all.

Oh, and BTW, people have been forecasting the imminent demise of SL (because they won't meet some specific demand) for how long now?

kanomi

Thanks for the callout Hamlet, I appreciate it.

Anne, that's not how IPOs work. Hedge funds, short-sellers, pension funds, and day traders are not LL's "customers."

As for mesh, the reason I didn't address it is because it's not going to make any splash outside SL and virtual world users, unless the technology is like "omigod wake up Jesus, this is amazing!"

When is the last time you were persuaded to join an eight year old mmo/virtual world that you are not regularly involved in, just because they *gasp* rolled out a new tech feature? Like, OMG Eve Online now has a 3D avatar creator where the end result is still a 2D picture on your multiplayer spreadsheet?

Unless "mesh on SL" is a story on the level of Apple is now pre-installing SL on all iPads or Unreal Engine 4.0 showcasing SL as the new tech for Third Life, this "mesh" isn't news. Most gaming sites don't even cover SL any more.

Jon Brouchad's comment is absolutely in line with what I was thinking.

Jon Brouchoud

I'm reasonably certain that true community ownership within a world like Second Life would need to be very different than a typical IPO, but I don't really know what it would look like.

Karma Avedon

I am still fairly new to SL, and i would like to hear from veterans on this, but it seems to me that the bottom line is that Second Life is a great product that is very poorly marketed. Friends that regularly use Facebook or Youtube have never heard of it. Friends that fall into the more immersed online crowd (the Everquesters and the multiplayers) have heard of it, but no nothing as to how it works. When I talk about how much control they have over the environment(building, shopping, land ownership) they jump all over it! WHen I explain that they can RP as various creations in various worlds, or be a Dj or run a business..they get really excited!..The fact is,despite comments to the contrary, SL is MORE interactive than just about any virtual environment out there...but no one has ever heard of it..or they did, but they even know it still exists. Mesh will be great..but how will anyone not currently in SL even hear about it?

Kaas Kistensen

SL was developed with the idea of users creating the content. At the beginning that was possible very fast and intuitive within SL. EVERYBODY was able to do it ...
Now with mesh and sculpties and whatnot this content can only be created outside of SL and then imported. Without advanced 3Dmax, Maya, PS etc etc knowledge one can forget the idea of creating content.
LL should start to think of providing the tools so EVERYONE can create (current, relevant, up-to-date) content again within SL.
Else this show will only be run by a very small group of rl professionals who have learned to use these professional tools.

Adeon Writer

I like to think the opposite - I think this will encourage the development of -intuitive- professional tools. While I think it would be great for LL to develop easy-to-use mesh creation tools in-world, it's a very complicated process, and if they were to do it, everything else on SL would be put on hold - they have VERY limited resources. You'd have to ask if it would be worth it. I don't think it is.

Residents created sculpted prim creation tools that made them easy to use for someone like me, and I've never touched a real 3D modeler. I'm assuming the same will be made for Mesh.

Almost all clothing was already made out-world in things like photoshop, so this isn't much different.

John and Dagny Galt

What is it worth when the electrical and internet grid are down, damaged, or destroyed?

Hamlet Au

"I think this will encourage the development of -intuitive- professional tools"

It would be great if Linden made that part of the creation toolset, at least some rudimentary version based on the Blender code or something (if that's feasible.)

Ann Otoole InSL

@Hamlet - A full fledged 3D modeling tool in the viewer would just add too much complexity to an already over complex chunk of code. However, a simple voxel sculptor limited to making sculpties would be neat. Unfortunately you still need to texture it properly so no matter what you do you wind up needing to use one or more tools in a pipeline to get professional results.

Too much trouble. LL needs to improve the social aspects and try to get things back where they were when SL was a social ecosystem and thriving. Then maybe consider a special developer client. They also need to do something about LSL which is more important. We have no choice with scripting like we do with what we use to make content.

Nathaniel Flores

It really isn't neccessary in my view to add sculpt or mesh tools to SL. It is nice to have the capability to use sculpts and mesh (and I am working, when I have time, on learning how to better use those tools) but an awful lot can still be done and sometimes more easily with prims as long as you make good use of them.

In addition to that, the -only- reason I even started to learn to use Blender and took a class for Maya is because I started prim-building in SL, and believe it or not my prim building experience gave me a great jump on my Maya classes for a couple of reasons:

1) I was already used to operating in a 3D modeling environment and thinking in 3 dimensions, and SL uses the same 3 basic rotation, move and stretch tools.

2) Even in Maya unless you start with an 'empty mesh' and build it yourself, you start with basic prim shapes. Being familiar with the geometry and how to combine polygons into familiar objects is a basic concept in 3D modeling that best comes with time and practice to develop the eye. SL is actually a great tool for learning those concepts in a relatively uncomplicated 3D modeling environment.

3) The basic texturing tools in SL also give a good 'primer' to figuring out texturing in other programs.

To sum up, I believe that SL already has what amounts to a wonderful 'entry level' 3D modeling environment that helps develop skills that can be transferred to other software and better than that helps spark interest in learning those skills in the first place.

It may be that prim objects may not wind up being as competitive in the marketplace in the long run as selling mesh and sculpty objects, although sculpts have problems in certain architectural uses and mesh objects I see at least initially as being expensive so prims may compete on price. That said, I think there will always be a place for prim builds and I think it's still a great introductory tool. It's certainly better than having an environment where you have to have a 'developer' account to even rez anything and -have- to use an outside program to even create.

Arcadia Codesmith

Content creation is a killer app for Second Life, and a robust integrated toolkit would go a long way towards capitalizing fully on that strength and eliminating a barrier to entry.

On the primary topic of the post, community ownership would not suffice by itself to save Second Life, but community ownership in combination with reforms to the revenue stream might turn it around.

Investors and shareholders are like leeches; while their initial contributions to a venture are of value, their continuing drain on the company's vitality often drives it to unwise and desperate attempts at rapid growth to satiate the parasites.

We need instead to have sufficient recruitment to offset attrition, and perhaps a controlled level of modest growth beyond that. A slower pace gives time to make well-reasoned and carefully-considered decisions, with sufficient input from affected residents.

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