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Friday, June 22, 2012

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Seven Overdrive

LL's customers have been at their mercy long enough. They need some competition to force them to lower prices and innovate.

Buying up the competition is a bad idea IMO.

Maria Korolov

Or Linden Lab could buy Cloud Party for the brain power, and use those guys to create a simple, light, Web GL-based viewer with which to access the existing Second Life grid.

Pussycat Catnap

The day Cloud Party gets off Facebook, SL is dead.

We all know that, I'd wager even the lindens are becoming aware of it.

It won't happen overnight - but it will essentially happen. People will start migrating over.

Granted, being on Facebook means that already - the day Cloud Party starts selling land SL will be yesterday's platform.

LLs needs to buy it out, or they will be irrelevant soon.

We've just become Everquest 1. World of Warcraft is in beta. Its going to launch soon, and once it does the only people who will want SL will be the people who want SL for what SL offers that Cloud doesn't: personal security and the chance to be yourself.

- That's a BIG offer. But its not big enough to compete with the YoVille crowd.

The thing is, Cloud Party will never get deep development and immersion without us. It will just be YoVille in 3D until it gets off the Facebook logins - but it will still manage to make money hand over fist for a few years, so it might not care...

Those of us who value the deep immersion made possible by personal security and the ability to be oneself are what keep a 9 year old platform alive. We are the only kind of crowd that can keep Cloud Party alive past its hype stage.

But in today's start-ups, companies don't care about being viable - they care about making it to the IPO and buyout before the hype ends. Most start-ups are engineered and run not with the goal of making a successful product, but with the goal of a get-rich scheme. Failure is somewhat built in on purpose - but with an aimed to be timed to happen -after- the buyout.

That's how Cloud Party is positioned right now. The Facebook logins assure a lot of attention, but also inject it with a shallowness that is not long term viable. The world it creates will just not be able to have deep enough content when its users become accountable for every 'prim' they rez to their RL employers, neighbors, newscasters, church, parents, and so on.

Its a hype engine. It can still kill SL, but the result won't be replacing SL, but the death of the entire concept of virtual worlds. Replaced with 'Virtual Timelines / Tagging fronts.'

shockwave yareach

LL should not buy CP or anyone else. What, didn't that megabux purchase of Avatars United fix all the bugs in the grid that we've had for 9 years? It didn't? Well, what makes you think their purchase of a newly born competitor would be any different?

The ONLY thing that is going to make LL get off it's fanny and work on some things is if its business is threatened. That's the long and the short of it. They don't care about customer care. They don't care about growth. Since there is no competitor worth speaking of (and the opensim systems need a company name and a money system to compete with SL) they don't have to do anything but lay back and shovel the cash into the bank vault.

But the instant someone else comes along that can from day one a) offers features users desired for years, b) offers a less expensive system, c) provides scaling, d) works the first time (unlike the viewer) then the money spigot will close within months. So while I'm certain LL will offer to purchase said startup, I hope that the startup folks have the brains to know that whatever LL offers, they can make 10 times over by refusing and taking LL's customers away from them. CP can potentially take LL's lunch away and grow far more numerous than LL ever could, just because they aren't being mismanaged like SL is.

LL didn't have to fix anything because nobody offered better. Now LL will have to solve the problems and offer the features we've been asking for for so many years, or find themselves out of business (and deservedly so).

froggie

Webgl and Java is a no brainer.... look for many many vertical market/genre virtual worlds made using this tech....

the idea of one major brand to run them all is silly.... just as not all 3d MMOs are run by one game company.

SL was the AOL time... now were onto separate web locations for portals by content/game/need.

taritoo:)

Hey ... SpotON3D has had a stable fully functional FB and web page app since like September 2012. Want to see the competition? Go check them out.

I can assure you that cloud party rooms will be laggy as fell and probably get way to expensive to maintain if a bunch of people jump in and fire up several cloud party rooms and invite all their friends. Especially 3D rooms with and creation options. Remember Googles golively?

And then there is the problem with the lack of moderation to keep 20-30% kids that wander into these rooms safe. If you've not heard about the Habbo Hotel mayhem and how its literally shut down their VW, might be worth checking out. http://www.channel4.com/news/should-you-let-your-child-play-in-habbo-hotel

Ezra

Linden Lab should either buy Cloud Party or start working on Second Life 2.0.

Look at how much time Linden Lab spent creating the "Basic Viewer", which eventually led to Viewer 3, which is indeed better than Viewer 2, but because of so many legacy issues and decisions from a decade ago that can't be changed, the client is still barely usable by anyone except the most patient.

Meanwhile, it seems the Cloud Party guys and gals, all five of them, built something full of much of what SL content creators have been asking for (custom avatars, materials, etc.), and Philip and Rod have been describing wanting to turn Second Life into (fast, easy, fun).

Linden Lab is still north of 200 some employees, right? At one point close to 300.

For what reason?

Yeah, I know, safeguarding a virtual economy that deals with 10+ million USD transactions a month and keeping 30,000 regions online 99.9% of the time is no small task. Five people couldn't do it, it probably takes 200.

But, Second Life has grown into such a behemoth that on the improvement end of things, only 1 or 2 meaningful improvements can happen a year. And most of the time those improvements are months-or-years-to-fix mistakes (Google Appliance for search), unfixable mistakes (display names) or quarter-baked (riggable mesh without usable avenue of fitting clothes).

I never bought the "Second Life 2.0" argument before, but now after using Cloud Party I absolutely do.

Chances are two or three more promising competitors will appear in the years ahead, and meanwhile we have Oz telling us Avatar 2.0, nevermind the fully swappable avatars Cloud Party has, is unlikely because its too hard.

It seems as time goes on Second Life is less and elss extendable. Either because the devs don't want to do the work, managers don't OK it, or the work simply can't be done because the viewer and/or server architecture is just too old.

Right now, due to Second Life showing its rust I'm of the opinion Linden Lab would be CRUSHED the moment a real viable competitor came. They say 'no' too much (cancelled C#, refuse to speak tier prices, so on), they unashamedly subject their customers to too much (kickstarters to finish features), so despite everything Linden Lab does great (run a currency I rarely second guess my trust of), they've done too much wrong, done too little, and have too maligned a product to have any kind of customer loyalty that'd protect them from a sudden flood of users leaving for greener pastures.

Even as Cloud Party is now, while I wouldn't move any of my projects from Second Life to it, or start building something in it vs. Second Life I need and expect to be around 1 year from now, it wholly has my attention for experimenting and messing around and seeing what I can create and have fun with.

If Cloud Party lives up to its promise, or something else in the years to come and 1,000 Second Life users come to feel the same as me, that is dangerous. If 10,000, that's deadly. Dam break, 'cause these virtual worlds aren't built on instant long term commitments made first day, it comes from snowballing fun from a first small idea and Cloud Party simply has the necessary ingredients to be more fun and creative an outlet.

JubJub Forder

Cloud Party will not replace SL because Facebook has a real names only policy.
It will force SL to compete on similar functions and pricing tho' (yay).

Adeon Writer

As a heavy Second Llife user, Cloud Party's play-in-a-browser is not it's killer app to me. I couldn't care less about facebook integration.

To me, it's killer app are the graphics toolset it makes available: It has normalmaps, speculars, reflections, rigged objects with custom skeletons - all the toolsets every graphics engine SHOULD have - that Second Life lacks. The same tools we have been begging for for YEARS - I can make my models look BETTER in Cloud Party than I can in Second Life.

That is why I'm interested in Cloud Party. That is ONLY why I'm interested in Cloud Party.

Linden should make it their top priority to match the graphics tool set that Cloud Party is making available to THEIR users.

Ehrman Digfoot

I second Adeon's comment. The only thing that interests me is the graphics toolset in Cloud Party. If five developers can get a VW up and running with these things in such short time, why can't LL?

WADE1 Jya

Love the idea of creating in a mesh-only world with JS instead of LSL. That's appealing. Yet thinking to login to 'Cloud Party' I cannot proceed. What bothers me is Cloud Party = Facebook, with facebook employee Cory Ondrejka at the helm.

The core theme of this project is to suck more dummies into facebook to datamine them. Beside this Linden Lab, in spite all their faults, looks golden. Sorry guys, but I find facebook way too creepy. If you think facebook is cool, do your research.

I consciously choose to not participate in this nanny state. Actually, I see it as a perversion of everything I imagined SL might one day become.

Dave Bell

A huge number of websites rely on using Facebook as the gatekeeper.

It frightens me. It could link my political opinions with what I do in a virtual world, and make it all accessible to an employer.

But what these people are doing makes me think that SL, and LL, are stuck in the ancient history of computing, and nobody has had the wit and the authority to look toward the future.

Hitomi Tiponi

After spending some time in Cloud Party I am not convinced it is a killer blow yet - but it could be.

The big question no-one seems to be asking is would social, consuming users switch out of Second Life and Facebook-based games to it. For 95% of it's users Cloud Party needs to be an exciting social space with goods you can buy to build your own world and dress up your avatar. We must remember most people in Second Life are not builders/creators/makers - they are buyers of such commodities. Facebook games already have that side covered and have a far better social experience. Second Life has better graphice and features making it feel much more like a 'world'.

There is a danger that Cloud Party just becomes a niche product in the middle - just try finding a person there who is not a Second Life user trying it out. It still needs to show it can attract the wider Facebook crowd - and I know it hasn't tried yet. Many SL users will see it's attractions but most Facebook users just want an instant fun experience with no hassle - Cloud Party has a way to go to get there.

imaginary

CP has the potential to become something SL will never be: A real name based virtual environment investors and advertisers would be actually interested in. For the time being, CP and the discussion about its future are being dominated by a bunch of SL fans taking their avatar names to the new world and trying to impose their views on pseudonymity and adult content etc. on the CP devs. Soon, the FB crowd with its millions of users will take over. They won't care about avatar names and they won't care about SL (they wouldn't even know what it is). They will want farmville in 3d and meet their real ife buddies with their real names. And this might actually work. Don't make CP like SL 3.0, you will fail.

Moni Duettmann

Can't open Cloud Party... :(

Ezra

@Hitomi "The big question no-one seems to be asking is would social, consuming users switch out of Second Life and Facebook-based games to it. For 95% of it's users Cloud Party needs to be an exciting social space with goods you can buy to build your own world and dress up your avatar."

Completely where its weakest right now. The only social experience it has is Local Chat which seems to span an entire island.

They haven't revealed any social plans other than their reliance upon Facebook to give this experience. Even though now they've killed the Facebook app and just use it for authentication, the 'phone' we're given still links to each other's Facebook profile.

If Facebook is their plan to compete with Second Life's friend lists, groups, direct messaging, etc. Then they'll never attract Second Life users who will refuse to socialize in that disjointed and controversial a way.

If they're refusing, or can't, build social implementations as robust as Second Life (they do seem talented enough to do so..hardly seems like the hard work vs. what they've accomplished so far), then they should at least rely on a different, less controversial social network. Plurk for example. Or Twitter.

Dizzy Banjo

Since stumbling on it, I haven't really had a chance to try everything in Cloud Party aside from wandering around and a quick go at building.

I think that if it mimics everything in SL and does it faster and better then it will impact SL's userbase.

However I don't think it will necessarily be a big mainstream success. As far as I can see so far, by mimicking SL so closely it also inherits its more fundamental user experience problems - which are not technical but sociological. I think they are mainly to do with the time needed to participate in synchronous virtual worlds and the attention preservation needed to achieve immersion. FB itself doesn't suffer from these problems.

Saying that I think Linden looking at this project and feeling a bit of a panic might be helpful in general ;-)

imaginary

Why would they want to attract Second Life users? They are only a tiny fraction of the social media population. Most people never heard of Second Life at all.

Eve Kazan

There is less one year, LL have tested a program with browser connexion. I was manager of an educative sim, registered to test, and i have seen those new sort of visitors. I think it's time to LL to work again on this !

But i dont think SL is dead, i think Cloud Party is for a new user base. Withtout the hot and dark side of SL (sex, roleplay ...) Cloud Party is a perfect world for teens :)

Ezra

@imaginary

There's attracting Second Life users and then there's having Second Life's attraction, there's a difference.

While only a tiny tiny decimal amount of people apparently ever stick around in Second Life, 10,000+ sign up for Second Life a day. That number is indicative of Second Life's attraction despite what happens after downloading and installing the viewer.

Attracting existing Second Life users is a decent starting point towards those 10,000+ others signing up a day that Linden Lab fails at keeping.

imaginary

"But i dont think SL is dead, i think Cloud Party is for a new user base." That's exactly what I think.

Hamlet Au

"CP and the discussion about its future are being dominated by a bunch of SL fans taking their avatar names to the new world and trying to impose their views on pseudonymity and adult content etc. on the CP devs. Soon, the FB crowd with its millions of users will take over."

This is an interesting but somewhat ironic statement from someone who signs their comment "imaginary" -- if you feel so strongly about this, why not use your real life name for this conversation?

In any case, as I've often pointed out, it's a myth that most SLers are anti-Facebook/real names. Many are, sure. But many are not -- Second Life's Facebook page has 265K fans:

https://www.facebook.com/secondlife

Iggy

What I really really really want to know?

After CP gets, say, 10,000 sign-ins, could CP's team survey users about their prior use of virtual worlds? It would be fascinating to know if this new product pulls in more than SLers with FB accounts. Give those who do the survey a few Cloud Bucks.

For any non-SLers, moreover, I'd want to know what brought them in to CP and what their impressions are of other VWs are (if they have any).

Hint to execs reading this: if what Gartner calls "public virtual worlds" ever do lift themselves out of the Valley of Disillusionment to become a mass phenomenon, those sort of data would be worth their weight in gold.

Hamlet, this story sure has some legs. There was a feeling at our VWER meeting that the long-simmering mistrust and disappointment in LL was just waiting for an outlet like this.

imaginary

"if you feel so strongly about this, why not use your real life name for this conversation?" I do in Cloud Party. I do not in SL.

imaginary

"It would be fascinating to know if this new product pulls in more than SLers with FB accounts."

It would be the CP team's task "to pull" in users they want. So far, I have not seen any ads, for example on FB.

Eliza Wrigglesworth

As far as whether they want to pull in Second Life or The Sims users, where else are they going to find content creators with so much experience? If they want the regular Facebooker to enjoy Cloud Party, they're going to need quality content.

This is just my opinion, but advertising on Facebook would be a bad idea right now. If enough Facebookers try it and decide it doesn't have enough stuff to do, they'll just leave and tell their friends that they hated it.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Gwyn's Rule To Evaluate Start-Up Virtual World Wannabes: Where does the money come from? ;)

Without a solid business plan, Cloud Party will silently disappear the moment they've exhausted their venture capital funding.

I'm a bit tired of repeating myself :) but the age where you could start up a new service with venture capital, get millions of people into it for free, attract the media's attention, and survive, has gone. That doesn't mean that companies are always trying this model over and over again — and failing. Some are lucky enough to get bought or go public before their capital runs out, but these are one-in-a-million examples. There is no guarantee that Cloud Party, no matter how technically sound and socially exciting it might be, are that one-in-a-million company.

Still, there is a suggestion that their business model will include selling virtual currency. That might work or not. On the positive side, after being around Cloud Party for a while, I've noticed it's 100% SLers — it looks like the old days in Lively or Blue Mars, where only SLers were willing to test new VWs. SLers, however, are used to pay to get service :) so the next question is — how much currency will they need to sell to pay for all the maintenance & staff costs?

If we don't know any of those numbers, it's pointless to try to "predict" if Cloud Party will "take over" SL or disappear in 6-18 months (depending on how much capital they managed to get).

Oh, and since being kicked out of Facebook, of course you won't see me logged in to Cloud Party :) Obviously I have some alts on Facebook as well, but they're prone to disappear at a moment's notice (I'm just being patient and expecting that CloudParty launches Twitter or, well, anything-else-but-Facebook-and-Google+ integration to be able to register for my own account). Right now, it's fun to watch how my ancient laptop barely manages to log in and get perhaps 5 frames per minute (yes, per minute, not per second!), which is perhaps 100x slower than on SL on the same computer :) But I'm sure that it's not CP's fault but mine only...

Ezra

@Gwyneth

Read Hamlet's interview with CP's CEO or read the FAQ on the Cloud Party site. They're going to sell private islands, and they're working to have that ready in days, not weeks or months. It seems they're smart enough to pursue revenue with growth rather than burn VC cash and think about revenue later.

Jo Yardley

I don't see cloud party (what a stupid name) enable me to recreate something remotely like our historical roleplay community any time soon.

But I also think that this could be good for SL if LL takes steps quickly.

Cloud party may not what I want it to be but if combined with SL, like a SL Light sort of online version, it could bring in LOTS of people and enable the old garde to go into SL from any computer to do some of the things they do in SL from behind their big computer at home.

Metacam Oh

To me, it doesn't seem to make sense. It appears they are just really copying Second Life even with all of its limitations. 25 people on a sim? Islands? Tier? its looking backwards not forward. Not to say Linden Lab doesn't need a fire lit under their ass, being 5 people coded an entire virtual world while they have been picking their rear end.

Masami Kuramoto

"It appears they are just really copying Second Life even with all of its limitations. 25 people on a sim?"

It's not 25 people per sim but 25 people per sim instance. While the SL sim will be full (and laggy as hell), Cloud Party will just launch another instance of the same region. And guess what, you will still be able to find your friends, because their tracking coordinates include the sim instance number. How clever is that?

Masami Kuramoto

By the way, I noticed some cognitive dissonance regarding the Facebook login issue. Remember how everyone literally begged Linden Lab to require RL ID info for mesh uploads? And now the same people suddenly see Facebook logins as a privacy invasion!

Yes, Facebook as a real names policy, but they're not forcing you to unload your private life on their site. Just delete your tracking cookies after each Cloud Party session, and FB will know nothing about you.

Ezra

@Masami

I don't think that's hypocrisy. I'd distrust L$ and the people I socialize with a lot more in SL if I didn't know that Linden Lab knew their real life identity.

If Linden Lab automatically filled out everyone's first life tab and made their avatar name their real name, you'd see similar complaints to what Cloud Party gets. In fact it'd be fairly disastrous for the grid as it is.

So there's a difference between the host company knowing and every other user knowing.

shockwave yareach

Ezra - I don't object to LL knowing my credit card number, email address, and such. Because I know LL is only using it for the purchase of L and payment of tiers.

Facebook on the other hand wants to tie what I'm doing in a game (and to me, it's recreation, pure and simple) and sell the info to anyone with a nickle in their pocket. Not to mention telling my friends, family and coworkers all about my "adventures" in virtual space. It may come as a shock to the millenials, but many of us don't want our high-paying jobs jeopardized by our boss seeing that we went to "Mama Juggs Bukake Palace" or wherever, even if we weren't just passing by on the way to the "Hello Kitty Sim".

Alazarin Mobius

And that's the difference between LL and FB. Once someone registers with LL, that's it. Their RL identity info is kept separate from their avatar identity. LL doesn't pimp its customers RL info to all and sundry. FB [and Google+] does and because of that it's dangerous in a way most people aren't even aware of.

I'm sure CP will be a big hit with the realos. I might drop in from time to time on an anonymous account but that's about it.

Alazarin Mobius

Yeah, let's check out the Vincent Furnier and Reg Dwight fan pages on FB.

Ezra

@shockwave

Except Facebook doesn't sell anyone's information, and you aren't forced to show in your activity stream any activity you don't want to.

Anyway, rather than fight misinformation like that, the Cloud Party devs are better off just supporting pseudonymity and their own authentication scheme in addition to Facebook (Twitter, Plurk too would be nice) so that everyone is happy.

Metacam Oh

@Masami

I guess that's clever if you're building some sort of MMORPG or something, a shopping sim perhaps, but what for events? A musician performing for example?

Its another closed virtual world, where the owners will police everything and nothing new is innovated.

May be nice alternative to SL at the moment, but this ain't the future, sorry kids.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

@Ezra: I stand corrected. Thanks!

@Masami: What CP does is sharding an island. If 50 people log in to the same location, they go to two different islands with exactly the same content. If you send the URL to a friend to come to your place, and that's user #51, he'll be landed on a completely empty island where he's the only avatar, and wondering where you are. If you teleport back to him then you'll miss your other 24 friends :)

Sharding is great for a lot of things, but not for holding a 2500-person-event where all need to attend to, say, a live performance — since the performers will be on only one of those 100 sharded islands :)

Still, it's much better than what SL allows: which is lag and an upper limit on avatars on a region...

What we need is Intel's Distributed Scene Graph technology implemented in Second Life and/or Cloud Party. Right now it only works on OpenSimulator (but only on a few grids).

Masami Kuramoto

@Gwyneth:
If you end up on an empty shard, you can invite all your 24 friends to join you there. If you have more than 24 friends online at the same time, tough luck, but people have to understand that the 2500 avatars island will not arrive any time soon, and it wouldn't even make sense.

@Metacam:
Music performances in multiple shards won't be a problem at all. In case you didn't notice, CP can animate objects in pretty much the same way as avatars. Everything can be rigged with custom skeletons. That means every object can look like an avatar and move like one. Add some scripts to the mix, and you'll have an entire band of fake avatars reading a shared stream of instructions from a remote website. No matter how many shards pop up, the band will appear in all of them and do exactly the same thing.

shockwave yareach

What CP should consider is a type of island called a Performance island. The island has two states - open and onair. When open, anyone can tp in, and the performance can be setup. But when the island is switched to Onair, no more avatars can come in and all people coming to the island are immediately sent to a new shard.

And on all the mirror shards, everyone sees the avatars and movements that are going on in the original island. Each shard simply echoes the avatar update data from the first island.

Tada, you can have a performance, and 2500 people can see the exact same thing. The only negative is the band won't see anybody, and the crowd won't see each other. But I have to wonder if any design could update a user with data from 2500 users moving and talking in the same place.

Metacam Oh

@masami

Sorry Im not buying it, part of the magic of an SL music performance is that the artist is there and can see everyone, what you describe is cheeseball. We're talking about the future of virtual worlds, not some work around to clone SL to the web.

shockwave yareach

Metacam - I cannot imagine any VR system were 2500 people will all be visible to each other, and their movements and speech will be sent to everyone else's viewer for graphing.

take 100 people in the sim. Each has an update data packet to the sim of say 2K, 10 times a second. The sim will then collect that to send out to 100 people, packets of 200K, 10 times a second. That's 20M of data at 10hz update for avatars alone. I'm pretty sure this is what's breaking the server's back in SL today.

Alternating data to every other user every other click of the sim heartbeat can be used to get better response up to 100 people. But 1000? 5000? Wow.

Masami Kuramoto

LOL, Metacam, in case you didn't notice: SL music performances have been cheeseball for quite some time. The artist isn't "there", it's nothing but scripted puppetry. Case in point: Chouchou, arguably one of SL's most successful music acts. When they perform in SL, they appear as a band of four or five people. In RL however, they are only two. Guess what the other band members do during a performance? Hint: It has very little to do with music.

Mark my words: Cloud Party will be used for music events, and these will reach more people at the same time than SL ever could, thanks to sharding and the fact that anyone can join CP instantly just by opening a web page. CP is exactly where SL always wanted to be, remember Project Skylight?

Metacam Oh

@Masami: Oh I will mark your words, and I will probably forget about them too, especially when this SL clone fades away just like the other virtual worlds that decided they would build a world without any user input. Blue Mars, Lively, now Cloud Party.

Masami Kuramoto

@Metacam:

The Cloud Party developer team is very open to user input. All you need to do is go to their forum and tell them what you want. Of course you won't do that, but that is no one's problem but your own. The world is run by those who show up.

Ice Strawberry

Linden Lab ignored the needs and the wishes of their users for years.

It definitly would be an excellent idea for Linden Lab to buy Cloud Party, but from a users point of view this would be a worst case szenario.

From a users point of view the virtual world market needs more competition as competition is the only garanty for a better user experience.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 29112021
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