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Monday, March 12, 2012


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"almost all third party viewers do nothing to address intuitive usability" I don't understand that sentence since the tpv I know are more user friendly and intuitive than LL infamous V2 interface.

shockwave yareach

What they created was a final bastion of TRUE FREEDOM in the universe.

A place where you can literally say what you want, be what you want, and do what you want with no real consequences. A place to live out whatever fantasy you may have and still be fine the minute you turn off the computer. A place to be as sacred/perverted as you want to be. A virtual world where nothing is impossible and you can "make believe" like you did as a child, have fun with others also playing make believe, and not be concerned with what the government thinks or whatever tyrant you live under thinks. It was a world as purely free as ever was created.

And they had to louse it all up by pouring the good-taste koolaid into the pool. A few common sense rules could have easily kept everything clean and safe for all -- PG = nothing erotic, M = erotic only where nobody can see from the road without camming, A = anything goes. Gambling could have required a max payout and that the house have that much in a LL held reserve. A G-rated continent for businesses and new users to arrive in. Etc etc. We've suggested and complained till we are blue in the face. But LL has never been exactly competent in its handling of the virtual world and its customers, preferring sledgehammers where tweezers are needed.

LL created a virtual world where people could do business and interact freely, and it made them rich. But rich wasn't good enough for LL -- someone was embarrassed that other capitalists were snickering about him creating a playground. So he banged SL up until it's no longer the happy go lucky freedom for all land it used to be. It's now the free as defined in volumes 1-24 of the TOS, and you own your own stuff as defined in volumes 25-47 of the TOS as well.

SL of old was fun and people paid to play. Now, SL has the excitement of watching lawyers argue about drying paint.

Kaseido Quandry

Shockwave, you just wrote my PhD dissertation in 5 paragraphs.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

SL could have been a great tool for DIY Roleplaying games had the Physics worked better (and that is a programming problem) or for educational simulations (I run one there and in OpenSim) had the company understood budgeting cycles for education and nonprofits.

What we got instead is a firm being run by coders and visionaries, without enough marketing and research staff to suggest a direction. The coders coded without regard to user needs at times, and the visionaries, namely Philip Rosedale, created a peak of expectations about changing the world.

Historians of technology will recall SL well. Not so sure about the rest of us.

Metacam Oh

Just as video game development and creation are being innovated, and the value of modding and user contribution finally realized, Linden Lab turns toward video game development, but circa 1995.

I think one of the biggest things to hurt them was their success. The success was too premature in 2007-2008 that everything since that time period has been an obsession with keeping up the profits of that era. That's why development has essentially stalled since 2008.

Deltango Vale

Linden Lab never understood Second Life. I wrote a comprehensive article on the subject two years ago (http://deltango.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/a-strategic-assessment-of-second-life-part-2/) that followed up on a similar article four years ago (http://deltango.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/a-difficult-year-for-second-life/). In my opinion, the only solution now is for Linden Lab to sell Second Life to a company that understands virtual worlds.

Pussycat Catnap

LLs meant to develop VR goggles. SL was made just so they'd have a place to demo the goggles.

Everything else is an accident combined with 'how can we make enough money off of what we've got to keep this ball rolling before the investors pull the rug out?'

They've never sat down and thought 'this is a great thing we have here, how do we put a shiny box around it that will make everyone love using it?'

- Or rather they have, many times - but never been willing to realize that being a code wizard does not equate to being a people wizard...

You've got to hire people who are trained in making things pretty, and them empower them enough so that they can.

Sooner or later, every company has to be handed off from its techies over to its marketing and community folks.

If you listen to Mich Kapor's keynote SL5B address:
He talks about the end of the frontier days.

A -LOT- of folks have taken insult with that, thinking he meant us residents needed to step aside for a new wave of residents. LLs seemed to think that's what he meant as well...

- But whether he meant that, or something else... The real truth at that SL5B speech was that the ones who needed to step aside were the techies.

- That was the key moment, back that far, when the techies needed to hand SL off to the sales and social folks so that it could become a polished product appealing to regular people.

Somebody needs to go watch that video again and learn something, and that somebody is not us residents.

The frontier isn't over for us. Its over for them. They're just not yet willing to accept it.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Deltango...and who does understand virtual worlds in all their possibilities? Not game companies. Not even universities, though Ball State's purchase of Blue Mars intrigues me.

VWs are not games; they are big sandboxes full of game-like UGC. Some of the content reeks and some is brilliant. Much lies in between.

Who would be a good new owner, if you had your "druthers"?

Arcadia Codesmith

It's the community, stupid.

Nalates Urriah

Virtual worlds have a huge learning curve for new users. TPV Dev's are power users. Those of us that change to TPV's do so because of features we want. Consider the build tools.

None of these things help the new user. Can't make it in grade school, oh just move up to MIT. No Problem.

Today a few hours old user was trying to friend me. But, I couldn't talk to him in IM, may be he was on the web site. But, I could not find him, talk to him or anything.

There has to be some way for noobies to function in a VW before it is ever going to be highly popular.

Deltango Vale

@ Ignatius

I have puzzled long and hard over who should buy Second Life. On the one hand, professional engineers are needed to rebuild the technological infrastructure; on the other, a real-world entrepreneur is needed to develop the business.

The problem is that Second Life is much more than an IT platform or a business. Perhaps only an economic historian can understand Second Life because it is a political economy similar in many ways to Jamestown 1607. Those with a solid background in American history know exactly what I'm talking about. At the same time, only an economist will understand the concept of a 'virtual service economy' as the new, fourth 'layer' in a national economic 'structure'.

I'm not trying to be arcane. Engineers have their language and concepts. So do economists and historians. Could an economic historian manage Boeing or IBM? Of course not. So too, a pack of engineers can't manage a political economy.

The peculiar twist in the history of Second Life is that an engineering concept (VR) mutated rapidly into an entirely new product (an icon-based political economy, a metaphorical social geography) - a product for which there was massive demand and for which there is huge commercial, economic and social potential.

So, who should buy Second Life? I don't know. I can't think of any person or company smart enough to buy Second Life. It's a product 20 years ahead of its time.

Me, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to pay $100 million for Second Life. Nor would I hesitate to invest another $100 million rebuilding the infrastructure. A mere $200 million for a future $100 billion company? I'll bet Warren Buffet snaps it up.

Pepys Ponnier

It is what it is, why waste time moaning about it, ffs?

Ann Otoole InSL

@Deltango: Consumers like facebook games and minecraft more. Because it gives the positive feedback stimuli with no effort. I don't see things like SL, that require some brains and effort, ever competing with stupidity.

As for LL? I would love to see some evidence that Rod Humble has any power at LL instead of the apparent he was hired as a known name for a bobble head and the same people that have been driving SL into oblivion are actually in charge of Humble. As evidenced by such results as the customer wanted last name situation which the LL staff overrode the new CEO on. What else will we see? The long customer opposed only US Citizens that pay a fee and provide 3 forms of ID and a credit card can sell content initiative that favors Modavia and Stiletto Moody?

Tateru Nino

@Minty: The viewer 1 user-interface was the one almost everyone hated, and complained about and even won "awards" for its lack of usability.

That is, until something 'worse' came along, and the viewer 1 UI suddenly was no longer "the worst ui in the world" (I believe that was what one of the awards was called), but instead was just the lesser of two evils, and by that standard was suddenly almost everyone's favourite.



Didn't Microsoft go through similar pains on Window's UI iterations?

Ann Otoole InSL

@Adromaw: To say the original Windows UI was bad is to say the Apple UI is bad.

Anyway the v2 UI has it's good points. Where LL went wrong was forcibly (and rather rudely) preventing customer involvement in the new UI development.


I joined SL in January, and I really enjoy its virtual worlds. However, I absolutely agree with this criticism.

The Viewer is a nightmare.

The colour design of light text on dark background gave me migraines, so the first thing I had to do to be able to use it at all was to find some third party skins for it.

It's also incredibly awkward to use and not at all user-friendly and inuitive. How is it possible that something as simple as changing clothing requires so many menu elements?

Oh, and all the interface elements you need constantly that clutter up the screen like crazy! Add to that the need to change standard values to display sculpts and mesh objects correctly, and the constant need to adjust graphics due to lag ...

Plus, besides the Wiki, good, comprehensive tutorials are hard to find. The notecard system in-world is incredibly awkward, and there's very little to be found online via Google.

And what I still can't believe is how atrocious the search function of the Marketplace website is. No advanced search that lets you exclude/include? No tag cloud/tag lists? And if I search "bed" I get not only beds, but trees and what not? Bzwh?!

There's a LOT of room for improvement there.

Henri Beauchamp

"though new user growth is crucial to Second Life's survival, almost all third party viewers do nothing to address intuitive usability or user-friendly UI for new users"

I disagree on this simplistic view... Mind you, the problem is not with viewers being complex pieces of software with many options.

When I joined Second Life, back in October 2006, I found the UI of the viewer quite intuitive (I loved the pie menu, for example) and easy to use, even if I hardly used one tenth of all the available features and options back then.
It took me about 2 months to figure out all the options and features, but it was an entertaining and pleasing learning curve that I pursued while I was enjoying role-plays in a 3D virtual environment (something indeed new for someone who came from the MUCK/MUSH/MUX world).
As soon as mid-December 2006, I was already selling my first Cool Product (meaning I figured out building and scripting in under 2 months and was quite at ease with the UI).

No, the problem is NOT about complexity (which is inherent to Second Life, because unlike classical 3D games, you can do ANYTHING in SL and are not restricted by a finite world with strict rules and no scripting). The problem is about usability. By trying to "dumbify" the UI in the hope to retain users that are in search of a 3D game instead of a 3D world, Linden Lab made a tragic mistake with the v2 viewer.
While I'm all for providing new users with a leaner interface (and if you remember well, back in 2006, the crowded "Tools" menu was invisible by default in the viewer menu bar and you had to activate it from the View menu: this was a Good Thing), I'm AGAINST anything that makes the tools harder to use for seasoned users (because what finally counts is to retain these users, the paying, long term ones that are also the most active creators and contributors in SL), or worst, to remove useful features !

That's why I revolted against the UI "dumbification" and "clumsification" (and this starting with the voice viewers new UI and the stupid, enormous, 3D-screen-estate-predatory "Communication" floater) and made the Cool VL Viewer (which UI didn't change since day one of its first release, but which got many new useful and handy tools implemented, both for the power users and for the newbies: I'll just cite the "Group Titles" selection menu for the newbies: right click on your avatar, choose "Title..." and you can change your group title with just one more (double) click of your mouse button when it takes many menus and clicks to do the same in the official viewer).

Orca Flotta

LL don't have the faintest idea what a raw gem SL is. They are doing more harm than good on their own product. The original viewers are getting worse and worse. They got and still getting it all wrong!

We are complaining about Lag - LL pushes even more sims onto one server.

We want more immersion, more identification with our avies - LL takes away the last names.

We want an intuitive way to handle SL - LL turns their viewer into a bloody website.

We want to spend our time inworld - LL outsources more and more stuff to external servers.

SL needs more care and administration - LL fires 1/3 of their employees.

We all want SL to grow exponentially - LL are not lowering the tier fees.

Yes, they do it all wrong, counterproductive and stupid. Still, if you ask me what company would be stupid enough to even try to handle the SL behemoth, my choice would be LL. They are probably the only ones who might have a small clue about this product.

I honestly don't wanna see what IBM, Apple, Google, Amazon or any gaming company would turn our beloved SL into.

Masami Kuramoto

"Ball State's purchase of Blue Mars intrigues me."

It turns out that Blue Mars wasn't purchased at all. Avatar Reality gave it away for free. Check out the story here:


It's a PR stunt and the equivalent of a reach around: Now Blue Mars claims to be relevant to science, while Ball State University claims to be "a national leader in hybrid worlds" due to the privilege of being granted the rights to a dead platform that no one would have paid a dime for.

foneco zuzu

IBM, US ARMY and more and more, trusts the tools the LAb provide the World with!
See their regions In Open Sim!
What those companies didnt trust was the fact that they couldn't handle the regions with their own rules!
Since Open sims exist, Ibm alone already offered to community a simple thing, Any region can host up to 1000 avatars!
Many more will make the tool that the Lab created, involve and grow!
Its so easy to host your own grid now, to be able to connect it to other girds and tlp via Hypergrid, that the future of Open sim Community seems more and more a brighter 1!
But I make Maria Korolov wishes mine, please Tpv developers, check Open sim, create new Tpv, some need them more adapted to open sim new features only avaible in there, others will need light basic viewers, to bring their clients, friends and so on, to visit, without having that learning process we all had on SL!
And Second Life, as shockwave yareach posted, they created the Utopia and now are letting it die!
The good is that now, Second life can die, cause there is already other choices.
The bad, Second life for the good or worse is still the Last freedom bastion any can find.
To let that achievement disappear into the dust of times it will be some World will regret with time!

Seymore Steamweaver

Anyone who wants to really envision what SL Should be like needs to read the book "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline.

That's the SL I'd like to see.

The Commizar

You know I hear a bunch of negativity about SL from many of it's users and I don't get it. I like Hamlet and Penny a great deal too so I'm not trying to be critical of them. Maybe it's just me but I like Second Life and I feel positive where it's going. I also really liked the changes in the new viewer from Linden Labs. I thought it made it very easy to use. I don't think that Second Life will be something that everybody uses until there's more AR and VR in our lives. Sure there are things that could be better but I want to put it out there that there are plenty of us that like SL and don't feel that the sky is falling.

Seymore Steamweaver

I like where The Commizar is coming from with his post.

Just as in real life, things aren't incredibly bad for everybody.

Orca Flotta

Sure, comrade Commizar, V3 is a bit better than that still birth V2, but still an atrocity. And how come the best and most versatile viewer used in SL is Phoenix? Phoenix is a V1 btw, just packed with the most awesome feature set and total V3 compatibility.

But viewers are only one point of many why LL, not SL as such, are critisized so often. Of course we all love SL, that's exactly the reason for our complaints! No one says the sky is falling. Obviously you have misunderstod most of the posts here.

And I don't only think, I hope that SL won't become something everybody uses". Everybody uses Facebook, everybody uses Twitter; do we want to be SL reminding us of those??? SL isn't a webservice, SL isn't a social platform, SL isn't a messager, SL is of no use for the masses! SL is living SciFi, it's for world builders, it's for creative people, it's for experiments with new political and demographic models, it's for really silly sex too, it's for new designs, new technologies. You need a variety of skillsets to "play" SL sucessfully.

And that's good! I don't want it to change.

Arcadia Codesmith

"Ready Player One" is cool, retro, visionary and I am totally on-board with it being the blueprint for the future of VR.

But to get there from Second Life is a tall order. We need performance that matches or exceeds dedicated game engines with big client-side footprints. We need full programming and design capabilities with industry-standard formats and languages. We need cheap and plentiful space to build entire planets in.

That all drives an engineering/programming focus. But here's the catch; to get from here to there, you also need a happy user community. If you can't keep that core base engaged, enthused and invested, you will fail. There is no path to success without buy-in from the creators and consumers.

So, community first. Live and breathe that fundamental principle, and everything else will follow from it.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Deltango, you got a metaphor for SL nailed here:

"Perhaps only an economic historian can understand Second Life because it is a political economy similar in many ways to Jamestown 1607."

I might pick Roanoke Island...but even Jamestown had its near-death experience. My license plate (I live in VA) reads "Farming since 1614."

As we now say, XD. It took those lunkhead Cavaliers seven years to figure out how to begin to be self-sufficient. That will apply with this new world, too, or whatever one does make virtual worlds with user-generated content happen for a mass market.

@Masami, Thanks for the correction about the relationship between Avatar Reality and Blue Mars. I stand corrected.

But you imply that Ball State was not already an innovator. Perhaps not in "hybrid worlds," but in my field, technology in the humanities, they have done some astounding work. Great teaching and research happen there side by side...not an easy balance to strike.

shockwave yareach

@Commizar - consider what I said. And before you start fuming that I'm just a naysayer and a hater; I USED to be one of the LL Cheerleaders. Yes indeed, I was a bonafide card-carrying member of the Legion of Phillip, with the pom poms and everything.

But this was back starting about 2006 when SL's problems were technical in nature. As the years rolled by, the tech problems did not get solved, and the lab deliberately broke a great number of things that the users cared deeply about. They didn't like the free-wheeling digital world they created, so they began to reign in the chaos rather than be laughed at for creating a successful money-making playground for adults. They started by banning gambling, which could have been modified so gambling winnings could only have been used to pay tier and stayed legal. They then began forcing people off their property and justified it by then saying that nobody OWNED anything in SL -- never mind what the years of advertisements and your receipts say. Then they got rid of last names, forced the teens into the mainland, forced the V2 viewer (designed by blind idiots) upon us all... I mean seriously, you expect me to know that a black icon is present on the black background and that I have to hover there to turn sound on and off?

The problems in SL are not technological, for those can be fixed. The problems in SL are managerial, and it appears that the gross incompetence of command in LL cannot be fixed. The CEO is but a bobblehead nodding to whatever whim someone else in LL decrees from his throne. So until that person gets hit by a bus, LL will continue to mismanage the virtual world it created and lose out on the wads of cash they COULD be making by a) Selling us a product at a reasonable price, and b) leaving us the hell alone to enjoy our purchases.

Since the source of the managerial head-in-sphincter condition is not going to leave LL, I'm afraid that the future for SL looks bleak. And this is coming from a former card-carrying cheerleader.

foneco zuzu

We all love SL, We all feel it can gives so much more.
It's a tool for dreams.
How can such tool be owned by none then their users?

Pussycat Catnap

I would say that the ideal owners for SL -would- in fact be a game company.

One that caters to online gaming, such as cryptic or blizzard or activision. Even Zynga.

Like it or not... for most of SLs users, it -IS- a game. Its a social game. Just because you don't kill elves doesn't mean its not a game. If you think trading and making money inside of it means its not a game, look at the auction house of any MMO.

Just because you can cash out doesn't mean its not a game. That's one trivial thing. something doable in one form or another in many other games.

Just because you can rez a prim doesn't mean its not a game. I rez prims when I play with legos. Likewise in 'The Sims'.

Just because you met your BFF in it, and now you and your be-otches are all so kewl and tough and won't let anyone mess with your family cause you're that epic, and leet - despite all really being 47 year old mid-life-crisis folks pretending to be back in high school again, and this time you are the cool kids you swore you would never want to be like when you were really in high school, yet now your little cartoon character looks -JUST- like they did, back in 1987, and even dances in a club to the same music that was cool in 1987...
Um... well, some of that is kind of why it -IS- a game... :)

A game company understands community, and understanding letting people have their 'escape' and make their 'dreams come true'.

- Techheads don't get these things. 1s and 0s are their dreams come true, so what's the problem, you kane and barbie wannabes need to STFU already by their outlook... they want your money to keep their tool alive, but they don't want your money because they hate you... Not because they resent you, that's -soooo- high school, but because they don't understand you - and they know everything, so if there's something they don't know, it must be wrong.

Mich Kapoor's speech way back in the day... was really a call that the techies needed to be locked back up in IT, so the frontier could end and the tool could be handed off to people who understood its customers.

The thing is... SL isn't ahead of its time. Its a little dated. And folks know this. This isn't some grand VR or augmented reality. This isn't a Gibsonian Cyberspace.

Its a game with cartoon characters that make little cartoon sexbeds they sell to each other to romp around in. The cartoons aren't even all that modern...

Its needs to be sold to someone who understands letting people play.


Just remember.. this nightmare version of social media business/community was created by a guy who now wants to get (more) rich on your public promised failures....

wise up folks.

Hiro Pendragon

@shockwave @kaseido:

Not sure why I never blogged it, but I had proposed zoning as an ad-hoc way to revolutionize Second Life. Rating was only 1 aspect. Let people tag their own land things like:
- commercial / residential / park
- low density / high density
- theme


Then let these tags be publicly readable, and you could thus create maps of where different things are. People would naturally buy land in areas that were desirable to what they wanted.

Additionally, years and years ago I told LL to replace the whole land store with a PHP script. Automate placing and renaming of islands, and stop charging $100 / $150 for it. Make it $5, or $10. Then suddenly you have all sorts of private islands organizing themselves into continents based on common interests. You'd have universities parking together for an event, and then drifting apart, etc.

foneco zuzu

Second Life can be all we want, even a game for many, but tell Me, Would any that would play a simple game, support and donate as much?

foneco zuzu

But to be honest, the more I hyperglide the less i care about Linden Lab, the ones that once created it or its faith.
The users that matter, if that day arrives, will just move to already reliable competition and most of it, free!


Second Life is by and large inhabited by women of all ages who like to putter around, role play and coffee klatch with one another. They are interested in the ready made community that SL offers. They are the reason that SL, compared to many virtual games, has a sheen of in world calmness (despite the craziness the media likes portray). These women are not going to run off to be tech crazy in open sims.

But this is the problem. SL has a large mix of socializers and a small vocal minority of techs who want to push the envelope. LL has been trying to satisfy the vocal minority. But I'm not surprised they do. Game companies are stuck doing the same thing by trying to cater to hardcore raiders. Blizzard's WoW lost a lot of money going down that road. LL has as well.

Sylvie Jeanjacquot

Orca Flotta! Very, very well spoken! In both comments. Thanks a lot, indeed.

foneco zuzu

Rod Humble interview:

Account Deleted

Oh, the "SL is a programming problem" mindset surely persists in everything SL does.
Deltango Vale hit the nail on the head: Linden Lab never understood Second Life.
But Ignatius Onomatopoeia is right: nobody understands virtual worlds in all their possibilities. Neither Linden nor us. Yet! Maybe it's really 20 years ahead of its time.

Ada Radius

I'm mostly a content creator (live virtual theater, machinima). I'd be happy with SL and live there forever IF LL would come up with a business model that made sense. 1. Fix the search engines, both inworld and Marketplace 2. Fix land pricing and MAKE IT SIMPLE. 3. Fix the ratings - a G continent so we can bring our children. M for discreet but not uptight, X for raunchy. Something like that. 4. Fix the software and hardware issues. 5. Fix Sound and Talk.


Melponeme_k; Well said!


I really do not understand why they took so long to decide to try and fix the viewer issues. As well as the server issues. I ran clubs for 5 years. 3 years of it was battling region crashes and failed services. Now they want to "copy" the guy next door because they have succeeded in a different type of platform and situation.
I have no idea why such an original company (SL) would try to become copycats of facebook or twitter. If everyone in SL wanted to hang out on twitter and Facebook they would already be there. Trying to make SL like both of them is absolutely ridiculous and takes residents away from in world interaction. I dislike Facebook and twitter both and now they want to force my only refuge into a copycat service. No wonder so many people in Sl copy other residents works. They learn it from the top ..... Sighs. I know Sighs.. Sl definitely is not what it used to be... I said it once before. When you make your service less about the resident and more about your self. You will see your business and interest levels decline....... DDilweg

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