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Monday, March 09, 2020

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Fed Up

Does SecondLife have a 'game engine',though?

I thought that a Game engine was, in the strictest sense, a Game, with no pre-defined assets and no game logic. I suppose you could argue that Second Life is just that, but - in my mind at least - it's more of a client/server system, where the client handles rendering and the server composes and co-ordinates scenes.

And that's the issue. Both ends need to be improved - the Viewer can only be stretched so far but improvements or wholesale changes are needed on the server side, too.

Even OpenSim, where both client and server sides are open source, hasn't improved much over the default Second Life experience, has it? (Maybe it has - it's been some time since I tried OpenSim)

p373r

SL is not a game. Sl is like the internet .. You just need to upgrade the server system and the browser.

Adeon Writer

SL has an amazing engine. It's tailor-made to render novice, unoptimized content. It can render boardline abusive, benchmark-level stress test content for breakfast.

People wear shoes in second life that have more verts than a AAA game has in the entire map.

People say it looks like crap because it doesn't have shaders (or rather, has only one shader), and yeah, that's true, but in terms of not joking on polygon and texture memory abuse? I don't think any engine can render what the Second Life viewer renders, not without heavily optimizing it first.

Adeon Writer

*choking

Alicia

@Adeon?

That, in itself, is the problem. Unoptimized content versus optimized content. Everyone would use optimized content any day of the week over anything that will cause incessant lag.

Luther Weymann

This won't be popular.

“Right now. Linden Lab could not create ANY type of bridge between Second Life and any successor it makes because of the engines. SL's engine, and Sansar's engine are/were two different engines that were coded differently. Simply put, you cannot change game engines from one game and introduce it to another as the coding is different and will break the game entirely.”

I may not be able to accept that statement. I have a very long history of being told “you can’t do that” in the software business.

Back in 1998-1999, when my team and I coded what was then called “the first internet neural network web services” for the U.S. government and federal law enforcement use, we used the same principles we used in our decades of mainframe work.

Such as application and database code that works on OS/360 talking to VM talking to RPG talking to Unix, all were giving combined cross platform application data to a DOS-based report channel. By the way, the industry said that it was impossible to do back then. We built what we called “software factories,” which were boxes of code that figured out how to go through security and pass data from cross platform applications to cross platform applications.

Leave the SL code as it is, and create a software factory. So, in SL, when you walk into a “portal,” click on a unique teleport prim, or choose a menu, your SL user name and password log your same avatar name but different avatar into the next world. It’s not impossible to imagine your L$ being used in both worlds and your balance being maintained in the same database for both worlds. Much more difficult tasks have been accomplished with software. The telltale sign it can’t be done was recognized way back in the pre-PC era where a mainframe “expert” would say “that can’t be done” and management would just accept that. Meanwhile some smart person in development would figure out how to make it work. That is what the computer software industry was built upon, smart people not accepting “it can’t be done”.

Yes, all new things must be created in the new world. But at least it could be called an upgrade for marketing to those forty million people who tried SL. Maybe a new browser could ask you at the initial login where you wanted to go. Perhaps you could still have a single SL account login, a single SL Market that had two sections, and business people like Casper could report sales across both channels. You don’t have to run one “engine” under or on top of another engine, you have to communicate between the two, and when someone says that impossible, us old-timers just laugh because we have learned that it’s probably not.

10PeopleDontNeedACommunityManager

Returning to an old Second Life is a mistake.
Sure, maintain it, optimize it if possible.
But it will only extend a shelf life that is well past it's prime, and if LL are to survive, they need to be working on the next big thing.

Excuses, excuses, excuses, but refuse to look at themselves, their staff choices, and how they just squandered a huge opportunity away in Sansar, and then gave up.

The road to success is just waiting, but hubris will not allow them to see forward.

Pulsar

The problem with making successors and sequels is that it works better with single player games or regular multiplayer games. By regular multiplayer games I mean those games in which each gaming session lasts from few hours to few days, not years. You keep into account that not everyone will like the sequel, and you try to make one that retains your audience and costumers enough and possibly gaining a few further players.

But when you have a persistent world and a community is involved in a way that your world becomes also a social experience, you run into a different set of problems. It's like to make Facebook 2 hoping to that people move from Facebook 1, while that one is still around.

That's true also for MMORPGs. World of Warcraft is about as old as Second Life. Blizzard made Warcraft, Wacraft 2, Warcraft 3... Diablo, Diablo 2, Diablo 3... WoW had several updates but it remained essentially WoW. Ultima Online (1997) is still UO. EverQuest had a sequel, that hadn't so much success (it faced WoW competition though). Ragnarok Online (2002) attempted two times to make a successor but failed, the original RO is still there. RuneScape had sequels, but I think the classic one is still the most played. There is an handful of MMORPGs sequels that worked (e.g. Guild Wars 2, although the gameplay is a bit peculiar), but it's not your typical case.

With social virtual worlds that's even harder. People will tend to remain where their friends are. Even VRChat isn't populated mostly by SLers. So you have 2 options left: either you make something new, instead of a sequel, or you try to upgrade your old system somewhat.

Second Life grid is modular enough. You could think of special regions in a special continent, that will run with a new engine (the client may switch automatically to the new viewer at teleports) or anything like that. You will have pros (e.g. no sim crossing issues, lower land prices, better graphic) and cons (old scripts, old avatars and some legacy stuff may not work there), but (the important thing) you will still retain your buddy list (and L$) and you will be able to chat with them from there. Imagine if in 2011, instead of an update, people had to switch from SL classic to an hypothetical SL2 with mesh and shadows (and fitmesh, animesh etc), just because of these features? Opensim offers huge regions, cheap prices etc. and won't even scare who is afraid of changes, as it's basically the same experience, so why isn't everyone there now? Why people go back to SL? Among other reasons, usually I hear: "my friends are in SL..."
These are social virtual worlds, we should look at the social connections, not just at the features.

Adeon Writer

@Alicia Then blame the users for making the optimized content, not the engine that can render it better than any other can.

Fiona Berry

It seems to me that one of the major problems with Second Life is that the management brought in to oversee it has treated it as though it were a game, when it clearly isn't. They have spent a lot of time and effort in providing a game engine for Second Life, when that wasn't what most of the residents were asking for. They have allowed content creators to plaster their meshes with huge textures (and do that themselves, with the premium gifts) when that has a significant impact on performance, and still, after 17 years, don't really understand what Second Life is good for, because the experience of being in world as a worker or with a job identity is an entirely different experience from being in world as an individual.

The community and social aspect of the world, which is so valuable in SL, was lost in Sansar. Visiting various boxes isn't the same experience at all as being able to explore a world - and you'd have thought they'd have learned from the Google Lively experience that this is the case. I applaud the idea that people were able to develop experiences without a big outlay of money, which is impossible in Second Life, but not only was it impossible to bridge the gap between the worlds, the people who are captivated by Second Life couldn't see anything (except free land) that they wanted in the new world, because they had heavily invested in the old.

If I were queen of the world, I'd make 1024x1024 textures at least ten times as expensive to upload, which might concentrate the minds of creators who think nothing of slapping ten of them on one small creation. Bringing back proper SL basics and other classes would help. I've said more than once that a properly organized mentor group would do more for retention than anything else.

What Second Life needed far more than a game engine, was a way of translating prim builds to optimized mesh. There are ways of translating prim builds to mesh already, but the optimisation is lacking.

What is frustrating for a long time resident like myself, is the fact that the new and shiny is not often what the residents want - they want things fixed and working better. Often they aren't after a more realistic graphic experience in the way that game engines have evolved, because the less realistic, more artistic, effects look better and less uncanny valley than the realistic - hence the success of Happy Mood greenery all over SL.

However, the model of business management that SL has used has brought in more and more people with very divergent aims from the residents of SL and a constant emphasis on introducing new! better! more! shiny! than applying the developer time to making SL more robust and improving the things that residents actually want. So often LL has been behind the curve and have had to take their lead (fitmesh, anyone?) from the community instead of the other way around.

cyberserenity Vella

Of course you can update SL. It is servers delivering data that then is rendered on a screen or a VR headset.
SL have been updated many times before. The weather system, shadows and all the mesh stuff.
In Opensim, that are the same tech as SL. A developer made some code that rendered in one of the big game engines but did not have the time to follow the work thru.
It is just code and data.
It is the lab that have to decide what to do.

FlipperPA

SL's various systems have been upgraded in place throughout the years. There isn't a single "god engine" that powers the entire thing. MySQL powers the backend database (all hail the central asset server); Havok 2 was the physics engine for years (remember the clamoring to upgrade to Havok 4?); OpenGL 2 was the rendering layer. All of these components have been (and could be) upgraded and changed individually.

Many of us decried the lack of incentive to force creators to build and create efficiently. As early as 2003, we could see our framerates take a nosedive when certain avatars or items would appear in world. There was sometimes an attitude of, "screw your framework as long as *I* look good."

An early example was creators not understanding texture rendering costs. Until I learned better, I was as guilty of this as anyone. Uploading a 1024x1024 texture with an alpha (transparency) layer for a small surface that didn't need to be transparent was a regular occurrence. There should have been some kind of training wheels: for example, it should have cost L$10 to upload a 128x128 texture, L$40 to upload a 256x256 texture, L$160 to upload a 512x512 texture, and L$640 to upload a 1024x1024 texture. Triple the amount to add an alpha layer. This would teach people to be efficient with their textures really quickly, and as those textures spread throughout the world, the lag wouldn't spread with them.

Similar systems could have been implemented in the early days for prim count attachments, and later, for mesh upload polygon counts. These "training wheels" wouldn't put the blame on anyone, or create finger pointing; instead, they'd be a natural way for residents to make efficient building another vertex of creativity, while creating a framework that doesn't bring the different systems crunching zeroes and ones to their knees. It is pretty amazing SL renders the amateur created content (mine included) as well as it does... but with a few restrictive systems, it could have been so much better.

Acuolo

The creators make thing with much vertex and textures because the customers prefer high graphic than performance... This is a reality.

Second life can be updated, just needs MONEY.

Alicia

"The creators make thing with much vertex and textures because the customers prefer high graphic than performance... This is a reality."

THANK YOU @Acuolo!!!

Supply and demand folks. Customers want better graphics, so the creators are forced to make things more graphically pleasing at the cost of performance.

So, practically everything I said in @Hamlet's Comment of the Week stands. And @Hamlet, thanks for that tidbit about Cody being the one who made, and understood the engine's capabilities and limitations, regardless what elements of any middleware (Havok) were implemented into the core engine itself. Much appreciated :D

Folks, everything I wrote was, in fact, a history lesson, with exception to the tidbit I didn't know about with Cody. This was a history lesson literally everyone needed. No one wanted the lesson, but the lesson was needed.

Now do you all understand why I looked at this from an historical viewpoint? It's because I had to.

Summer Haas

SL is not and will never be some high speed shooter game. 99% of the time people stand around and chat. They just want to look amazing doing it. I don't really see this as a problem at all, you don't need 60fps doing this. If, for whatever reason, you do want those framerates, then stop using a potato as a computer.

With that said, I don't think the engine is a lost cause. If they spent even a fraction as much as they did on Sansar adding multi-threaded support and better shaders, that would go a long way.

I also don't think Linden Lab "needed" to create Sansar. That was a knee-jerk reaction to High Fidelity to maintain marketshare just in case HF took off. That money would have been far better spent on overhauls to the existing system. Thinking the existing engine cannot be upgraded for the amount of money they spent on Sansar is ridiculous. Of course they could have done it, it's just for the amount they spent it would have never paid off. Their only justification now to the investors is some pipedream of selling it to recoup the losses.

Joey1058

*sigh* the game engine arguement again. The people at Unity have started using a unique rerm. It's called a "creation engine". People will still call them "game engines" out of habit. But with today's economics all pointing to XR use in the foreseeable future, I rather like the term "creation engine".

Candy68 Resident

The problem here is it’s about making the buck,not about investing into what they already have it’s called whoever had the shiny penny everybody’s going to run to,at least that What they believe in . it doesn’t always work that way and you should’ve learned that with the great failure of Sansar.It’s time to bite the bullet and realize that you have a product that people use and will continue to use so you should invest in it. And not try to find a bigger better deal that everybody will run to.

Clara Seller

It's fun to beat a dead horse for a while, then it's just gross.

It really feels like there's no "there" there anymore. Me and my husband used to love SL. No regrets. It was fun. I can't even complain about the money anymore. It was worth it. The people we met from across the world were such joy. The game engine was the people and our shared fantasies and the tools that SL provided to let us make that happen with our own hands. Content creators and community builders seemed eager to spread abundance. It was something to share with friends.That time was too short, but It's a part of my life that I will always treasure.

My husband just packed his SL up yesterday. I was surprised. We never even talked about it. That's the problem. We haven't talked about it in a long time.
We never discussed Sansar before yesterday. He wasn't interested in any of the SL social happenings outside of the inworld experience. It's sad. SL deserved so much more from my husband than to just fade away like any other old computer game thingy. It was once a part of him and us. It was alive.

I hope something like it resurfaces one day. Hopefully it will come from a place far away from dregs of Death Valley, where imagination and spirit seems to go die anymore. This new world needs to be born of another culture and values, preferably one that isn't so sexually prudish and economically vulgar. Something like that would be an interesting adventure again.

Ezra 2.0

Sorry to hear the disappointment in SL coming full circle for you Clara,we always love to hear your thoughts on things, it should not be you leaving, just the ones who are tone deaf upstairs, I guess we all can only take hearing the wheels spinning but never moving for so long, I think your right the spirit of SL in another time & place in the right hands.

Kitely offered to licensee the region on demand technology they developed & to help them integrate it into SL, linden lab completely ignored them .

Everyone has made some very good points, maybe we all need to do a peaceful million avatar march in RL outside linden lab with a 30 day campout? we could all hold signs over our heads with our SL names.

Angelina Sinclair

I don't agree with that opinion about the game engine. You can certainly update it and tailor it to your needs. The real question is if LL has the talent that can accomplish such a feat.

Case in point: Warframe. They've created their own in house engine and have continuously updated it to perform better and better. So this idea that game engines fade and become obsolete is a false one. Especially when that engine was built in house. Now if it wasn't built in house then that's another story but I wouldn't call it impossible.

LL can replace the SL engine with Sansar especially since they know both intimately. It is not like textures and mess objects change from their original formats. The tricky part is making sure it does everything the SL engine can do with out breaking anything on the user side. I know that's a lot to ask from LL not it can be done.

Also the experience learned from Sansa taught them what the LL engine is missing and can figure out how to implement the missing components or update the engine to allow them.

So honestly I believe they can do this and can make SL better. Question is what path are they taking and how long until we see improvement.

Elwe Thor

@Luther Weymann
Extremely wise words, and SL have a ton of "we can't do(es)" which have been "done": just one of them, the "integrated AO" 3rd party viewers like Firestorm (now) have come from a "we can't do it" solved by (now gone) Emerald guys, the same as the "multiple attach points", etc. etc. etc.
As you told, it's mostly to figure "how to do" such things.
There are, instead, other things which have already been done, which SL can take a lot of profit from: I'm speaking about things like "MegaSim" support that OpenSim have since like 2009. It can be used, especially in open, not-that-crowded places like Blake Sea or some part of mainlands (or, even more, to rent a bunch of sims which reside all into the same physical server), and helps a lot to have no cross-sim effect (as a matter of fact it become cross-memory), which is one of the giant plagues in SL for who, like me, likes to roam, sail, fly, exploring the world. As Opensim is opensource, it's like 10 years I'm wondering why LLs don't implement it at least in some parts of the world or, as I told, to give the residents a chance to make "bigger maps" by grouping their (rented) sims into wider estates with no real "cross" (jump from server to server): it also can help the whole SL infrastructure as, I think, a server-to-server transfer can take an heavier toll than a much simpler cross-memory-same-server one. It's the same it have been done with integrated AO: it helps the user, client-side, which had a way to manage far better than with object-AOs his own movements, but it greatly helped SL too, as an integrated AO generates NO lag at all, server-side.
About "Sansar": I believe one of the main reasons people didn't go there, short visits apart, was the harsh fact to leave behind a ton of PAID contents they (we) made in the years (along with friends, groups, etc.) so, if I personally have to choose to "go elsewhere", my choice was sure towards OpenSim, not Sansar, despite the different technolgies involved.
As you told, it's not to "physically bridge" the two worlds/engines. In the years I wondered about having two SL connected, with different engines too, like main and bets grids are (I called the 2nd one the "SL gaming grid", in honor of TRON the first movie ;)): your account is the same, 1st and 2nd SL (as they can point to the same login cluster), your inventory CAN be "certified" (AKA tested and copied from 1st to 2nd grid, to be used there only), so that in the traditional SL creators can keep going building things for both grids, expanding their business a lot. If I buy a jet plane in SL, I can see the creator "certified" it to SL-gaming grid too (so I would like to buy it even more) and I'm sure to find it there too, in MY inventory (as I already bought it).
The difference of SL-gaming grid is it loses the "sim" meaning, like Sansar was doing, for a wider openworld sandbox like the games we're seeing, with contents crafted directly there (still buyable via MP) or even in SL-traditional (but with the certification to work there).
How to "certify" then? Well, a mesh is a mesh, scripting is a completely different thing, which must be added later, to an object, and can't run the same way in both worlds, but why, if Sansar uses meshes, my SL ones can't be copied there? (and nowadays people have their inventories full of mesh items)
I can bear with being unable to copy there the SL-traditional clothes (the "classic" ones) but, as far as I can see, not that much people are still using them and, ok, two worlds, two needs. Scripting have a logic (let's call it flux-diagram) so an LSL script can be "translated" (by hand, I bet) into a Sansar "program" (C, C#, Python, whatever): it's NOT the script, which have to be the same, but it's behavior.
Currency: exactly the same as for account data, currency is to one side a number, to the other side, the security one, we're speaking about an(other) "closed grid" totally managed by LLs, not about OpenSim where, to have it done, many had to create (close) subgrids, or contents could be easily stolen (I tested that by myself, in 2009, via my own server in OS).
So, after all, there is A LOT Lindens can do, both in traditional SL, and even creating a "teleport" to SL-gaming-grid, so now the question is: will they do it?

Heartstrung Resident

What they need to do is go back to when Second Life was a fun, creative building community. And I mean COMMUNITY. Yes, mesh looks nice, but so did a lot of prim items -- plus, building in-world gave Second Life an element of interest and interactivity that most other things didn't have. How many games let you build or landscape in the world, thereby affecting said world a little more permanently than Fortnite's resets every round? Not to mention more variety/uniqueness than either Fortnite or Minecraft offers. And no mods to download requiring more hard drive or solid state drive space to have, for that extra pizazz. lol

David Cartier

Actually a reset like Fortnite would be genius. If you want your content to remein you have to log in on a regular basis. The problem is that a lot of the really old content on the mainland was created by people who won't log in, because they are dead, but dead or not, most of it is crap and keeps things looking crappy. Being able to build was always a unique feature of SL, but I'd guess that fewer than 5% of users ever built anything. Just go and kill the prim-based building system and delete everything made of prims, and Linden Lab could integrate a newer, faster, more efficient engine. It doesn't need to be state of the art, certainly.

Alicia

@Angelina Sinclair, you do realize Warframe came out in 2013, right? What year did SL come out again... 2003? So, Warframe, by all standards can be updated as it does have a more modern engine and coding; whereas SL's engine and coding cannot be updated without literally killing SL itself. Game engines, especially the first generation game engines, do become harder to update as the game itself becomes older. That is fact. You can run them as emulations, but the fact remains that they simply cannot be updated unless you're willing to sacrifice the game entirely.

Point number two... you do understand that SL and Sansar are/were two different games entirely. Thus, two very different engines. As I've stated before, over... and over again, you simply cannot swap game engines or you will literally break, or even kill the game itself. That means that the engine, and for that matter... specific stuff that was built specifically for Sansar is incompatible for SL.

Game developers know this. That's why they create successors, and new games when the time comes. They have to. The only true bridge they can do are expansion packs to the original game. They cannot, and will not create bridges from one game to the next as they would rightfully want everyone to start all over again.

other1

Ultima Online is still going and keeps going. Enough said.

Jason Teeves

The game is just outdated completely. The more updates they roll out the more laggy it gets. If you are looking for free mesh and prim items that’s on marketplace go here .secondlifecopybot .com

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