« Top 5 Posts Last Week Including: A Top SL Brand Speaks Out On SL's Acquisition | Main | Xanax Blackout is a Bettie Page-esque Avatar Who Creates Amazing, Boundary-Pushing SL Imagery »

Monday, July 20, 2020

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

irihapeti

agree with Luther's sentiment "It's better to take the current profit and don't rock the boat."

stay on the steady and slow incremental improvement cycle SL has always been on

a part of the future incremental improvement will be the shift to Vulkan/Metal because Apple. Seems this is already happening with the mobile client SL is currently building. Also in the current viewer is Vulkan detection. Linden gathering data from users for this

is true that one day possibly Second Life will become uneconomic as a commercial investment, tho not any time soon I don't think

and when it does (if it does) then because of the vast amount of user-generated content, quite a lot of it of historical importance in terms of 3D worlds then I think there will be significant interest in putting Second Life into a foundation. Even if only a subset of content in a museum/showcase way which we can still log into and visit

Jub Jub Forder

I cannot take seriously the opinion of someone who lies in their opening statement...
"The software that runs SL cannot be radically changed or updated, too much will break and the time it takes to fix massive changes only results in more problems."

Fact: Software Code CAN be changed, code CAN be updated.
It's hard, and there is sometimes problems (which CAN be fixed), but to say SL software CANNOT is just a straight up lie.
As evidenced by SL's move to the 'cloud' which has been ongoing for a while but has barely been noticed by most of SL's users. Other historical major changes include the Windlight and render system changes, UDP to http, LSL to Mono, Mesh, Animesh, and several more - all of which went off without SL's sky falling.

Additionally, Second Life offers many things that other entertainment software simply does not. They've been a industry leader in some parts for many years, and still are in others. And Second Life has carved out it's own niche and despite many companies trying to mimic it, it's still the leader and is still massively successful and profitable.
Second Life is not going away anytime soon - it has many years of life left yet, and massive opportunities still yet to be tapped... for instance... the Marketplace is by far the worlds largest market of 3D content... if that content was to be opened up to distribution to other games/the world it would be huge.

Anais Aigner

Well that's one opinion. I guess.

The reality is SL brings in in the region of 40 - 55 Million per annum before costs. You can run it with a team of 20 people and ditch all the bloat (including that San Fran Address) and with the cloud project near completion, achieve profits of 30 plus million. Doing the BARE minimum. Easy math. Invest 5 Million on top of that into projects needed (not the shiny stuff but the stuff that brings in new customers and keeps them).

Tilia, is the real jewel and is where they can exploit it for profit. Not to compete with PayPal (it's not the market they would aim for). But to extend capabilities in virtual currency exchange and regulated transactions.

SL has a minimum of 10 more years in it. Just follow the math.

Alicia

@Jub Jub Forder, the code for SL is just over twenty years old. That is fact. What's also fact is that code that's twenty years old, or older becomes that much more difficult to code. The cloud will not help SL as people with older machines will still have problems with SL. Hell, even more up to date machines have issues with SL as it was always poorly optimized.

Now, to all the updates LL put into SL over the years. SL will always be a prim-based game. It's reverse-engineered engine was never meant to handle mesh, as it's proven to be true. High poly mesh (take your pick) and high textured items that are tied to them, are causing the vast majority or the problems in terms of lag. So in short, higher isn't always better.

As for them opening up the marketplace to other games... they can't and won't. Only the original creators can upload that content to similar games as they're the ones who created those specific mesh items in the first place.

@Luther Weymann, I swear you read my mind.

Anais Aigner

@Alicia - the Cloud is nothing to do with helping people with older machines. It's ALL about reducing their costs.

SL can handle mesh (easily). Lag problems from high poly and poorly textured items (looking at you Nutmeg) are bad yes. But limits and better basic stuff like documentation and costs for uploads can help with this. Oh wait this mesh costs 25K Linden to upload. Um let me go and retopo that and reduce the 300 x 1024 textures on this dress. etc etc.

That's why Patch, Grumpity et al need to go. They need proper leadership and people at the helm. I am hopeful.

Wagner James Au

A Linden once told me SL's source code has a programmer's note that reads:

"I don't know what this part of the code is for so I'm afraid to mess with it."

And they told me that 8-10 years ago.

Anais Aigner

@ Wagner James Au. That would not surprise me. Let's face it SL is coded on the back of a cigarette packet. I remember back in 2005 when they tried to change some of the teleports and the whole grid failed.

They need to stop with the shiny stuff for the next few years. Cloud Project sorts cost.
What do their user groups want? Growth. How to get growth well (a) retain the users who joined during the Pandemic (b) expand it with a better onboarding experience (c) provide users with a secondary mesh body male/female so they don't have to spend 15K on crappy bodies poorly designs with awful topology etc. Let them get hooked while looking good. Finally (d) bring back things like mentors to help onboard users properly (yes we miss Spike Linden).

I am SO SO hopeful this change gets rid of those who have driven SL into the ground and starts to run it properly as a game studio that can do amazing things.

seph

Why so much focus on why did the buyer buy? They bought a profitable company, the reason just might be they think they can profit more than they pay. Simple enough.

The bigger motivator of the transaction was probably on the seller's side. Why did the seller sell? Well, Philip used a lot of money since leaving his CEO role at LL over 10 years ago starting with LoveMachine, then Coffee + Power, then original VR High Fidelity, then regular 3D High Fidelity, then workplace-only High Fidelity, now browser audio-only High Fidelity.

Philip is trying to keep High Fidelity afloat. Linden Lab invested in it's original seed round, but not since. High Fidelity is on its 7th year and Series D of investments, about 70+ million so far. Maybe Philip had no option for continuing to fund it other than a cash boon from selling his share of Linden Lab.

Of course Philip wasn't the only owner and I'm not sure how much he owned. Why did Kapor want out? Who knows, but Kapor Capital is focused on seed-stage startups in all sorts of industries, maybe Mitch just doesn't care about having a 15 year old virtual world investment to tend to.

Whatever the case, I don't find much intrigue in why a company that buys profitable companies bought a profitable company. More interesting is why did Philip sell, and it seems obvious after 11 years and probably over a hundred million dollars of other ventures that haven't worked out, his only big source of funding was to sell the most valuable thing he had.

Laura Roslin

I'm not sure how to communicate my concept, because it goes back to the very beginning of Your World, Your Imagination. Something that Linden Lab jumped the tracks on when they fell in love with their own Capitalistic reflection.

Code Schmode, toad in the road. The value of Second Life is what's left of Phillip's original vision that still lives in the hearts of the Residents. It's the people, stupid. It's their undying imagination. It's their world that lives in their minds. It's their desire to express their creation. They gave life to this and they don't want to die.

If someone could give them a viable path, they will travel that path and they will throw down their buckets of gold. Engineers need to take their place as the handmaidens of the artists. There is a way forward, but it has to be lead by the vision of those who aren't limited by their marriage of Silicon Valley and Wall Street narcissism. They can and should be replaced by someone who is up to the task.

This could be a new beginning. The people can adapt. Show them something promising. Feed their imagination before attempting to milk their udders.

SL always had the ability to be lucrative, but it was never supposed to be the dystopian capitalistic hellscape that those without imagination have imposed on it.

sirhc desantis

Nice to see some straight outta wiki scripts with a nice box on MP eh Luther.

That said, Laura Roslin sums it up. Thank you for being eloquent where I haz a lack. The only thing I can add is a hope that the cult of rosedale finally dies - face it, the dude did one massive thing (and rightly adored for it as I do) and after....

At 13 and counting I intend to be in SL until the lights really go out and SL taught me way back to make my crap portable. It all is now. Every last pixel =^^= My World my (usually lack of not through any fault of the platform) Imagination.

Joey1058

I still believe the golden egg is Tilia. SL came along for the ride because it's joined at the hip. "If" SL gets sold off again, they will have to find some way of severing the cord to Tilia. Without mangling the payments system for L$. Destroy the payments system as it stands now, and there is the glum specter of FinCEN waiting in the shadows.

Pooky Amsterdam

Is anyone selling Second Life Insurance......? Now could certainly be the time!

LittleNekoRose

I’ve been in sl since back in 2010 from prim and flexi hair clay people- mesh- fit mesh- bento mesh- now Bake On Mesh. I saw more problems with glitches back in 2011-2013 then I now see. The only thing I’ve seen more of is lag but 2013-2020 I’ve only seen them have login issues once, that is pretty good for a 3D game hundreds join every day and creators make things in every day, every transaction made, every inventory full of thousands of items. The increase of people with limited space = lag. It’s like ur computer data base, any gaming system only is made with so much space, if you over load it it’s going to start to have download speed issues. I went and listened to the NEW CEO he worked for SL already before buying it, he was a member of SL himself, he spoke of many projects the increase the life of secondlife with optimism and spoke of how much they’ve worked on without anyone noticing any Maher glitches as in Shut Downs and how that means they are doing an amazing job with the scripting and codes right now. If someone knew old code then someone else can learn it and upgrade it. It just means they have to go back to the past coding styles in order to convert it up slowly. Personally I am proud of how sl has progressed with little to no issues and I can run it on my HP LapTop the is a refurbished 3 year older since I got it (been running the secondlife viewer) no problem. I’m loyal till the end and I don’t care what others say I’m proud of our sl family, mentors I know some they still are around but yes it’s be cool if they brought them bake under employment of LL.

Carlos Loff

Instead of keep selling bad-lag server sims for 250$ and make, for example, 10 Million this year and 8 Million next year and 6 Million afterwards, they can do this - Make land/server prices half cheaper, double servers dedication per sim (much less Lag) and take in again thousands of new users and soecially small-fish land buyers/creators that can afford 125$/month full sims but not 250$... Land and content is everything in SL regarding evolution and people that closed old sims will flock back or people that never dared to buy one will than dare... This way they will loose some profit right now and just start making, for example, 4 million this year, but 8 million next year and so on, exponentially... When you buy a second hand car or home that has some heavy issues you must upgrade it somehow to see how far it will be of use... With too much complications regarding coding, the change by commercial approach I described makes it, at least, possible to hugely change future outcomes... And being the new owners along with new server migration allows for the perfect Company SAVE-FACE regarding lowering prices significantly... Users dont need a new platform as Samsar prooved, they have too much content and social investment on SL, users will be 100% happy to invest more cash in less laggy and cheaper sims... This means for now less profit per sim but many more land customers in the end, largely compensating in 2 years... People reading this, that at some point closed their sims, will surelly come back into land purchasing projects if land prices went to half and server dedication capacity doubled per sim, and you guys know Im right...

Adeon Writer

The wolf was crying that he was falling from the sky or something.

I don't know I'm bad at analogies.

Nothing ever happens.

Lina Pussycat

SL is never going to get a "huge re-write" in some veins, but there are things that can be done like bringing in some people that may understand code and graphics pipelines far better to actually optimize some stuff.

The attitude of "I don't know what this does so not going to mess with it" should not be in a competent coders lexicon as they should know what they are doing. The people that are detractors here and act like this is a slow loss investment or the like are also somewhat clowning pretty hard. SL is a guaranteed income and these guys are more generational investors so time will tell.

Also a few corrections for you in this article. EA never has sold off Ultima Online. It still operates under their branding, uses their login system (EA account or origin account) Broadword is just Mythic's rebranding as of 2014 which while EA shut down the Mythic studios (as far as them developing things). Mythic themselves were an EA studio so.. Basically the history there is that Origin Systems was bought by EA and EA kept working on stuff. Mythic was bought by EA later in 2006 and renamed EA Mythic and the point there was to operate both Dark Age of Camelot and UO as well as new games and expansions for those games. EA Mythic/Bioware mythic developed Warhammer Online a UO expansion, dragon age 2 and some mobile games before being "closed" during broader restructuring.

That restructuring happened, however the assets were never sold off and EA Mythic are still in operation under EA as Broadsword. Broadsword is a registered trademark of EA. The only sale that has ever happened in regards to anything making up mythic or origin systems (not to be confused with origin from EA, but rather the original developers of UO) was the sale to EA and their eventual closures.

To specifically put this in a TLDR - Despite the studio's closure, Dark Age of Camelot will continue to be supported by ex-Mythic staff under a new studio, Broadsword, which is also responsible for maintaining Ultima Online. As of 2018, the name remains a registered trademark of EA.

To reiterate a point here though. When we talk studios in the gaming world these days it often means internal to a publisher. EA has never sold off Ultima Online nor Dark Age of Camelot and has no plans to do so.

Now to the issue at hand. The likelihood of second life shutting down is kind of slim unless bad decisions are suddenly made that cause the virtual world to start hardcore bleeding users. There has been a spike in new users since this pandemic started which could see an overall growth trend. Also while people may detract Second Life actually tends to have a higher concurrent userbase than some more popular things such as VRChat which despite having a large amount of people doesn't actually have a lot of logins. Concurrent user count has SL higher than those products by about 3 - 5 times.

Alicia

"SL can handle mesh (easily). Lag problems from high poly and poorly textured items (looking at you Nutmeg) are bad yes. But limits and better basic stuff like documentation and costs for uploads can help with this. Oh wait this mesh costs 25K Linden to upload. Um let me go and retopo that and reduce the 300 x 1024 textures on this dress. etc etc."

@Anais Aigner, then explain why everyone lags in SL because of mesh. Or, better yet, let me explain. The reason why most people lag in SL is because of people creating unnecessarily high poly/high quality/high textured items which include clothing, accessories, etc.

The engine itself, a reverse-engineered custom built engine with Havok middleware in it, was developed back in what... 1999-2000? If memory serves, graphics at that time for all games and MMOs were prim-based with polygonal avatars that were shaped the best they could to have characteristics in the best possible manner they could. I've said this before, but there's a reason MMOs like EverQuest were never updated to mesh. The engine is that very reason. They (Daybreak Games, nee SOE) knew full well that if they had updated EQ to mesh, then performance would deteriorate because of eye candy. In older games, updating the eye candy (graphics) is a bad thing because the servers would run more slowly. When an older engine has to process all of that, problems become very noticeable.

Angelina Sinclair

This sounds like a guy who doesn't know it is SL he is talking about. Sure that would make sense for just about any other online MMO game, but not SL, not by a long shot.

SL is the golden goose for investors. It makes mad money regularly because content is constantly being created and released by users where other users buy it! So not only do you got the world's largest cash shop ever, who's content is funded by users. They also got their monthly subscription too.

Where LL screwed up is trying to move to VR when there is no real large scale VR adoption. Like with consoles and computers this new technology will take few iterations and several milestones before it is as common as a PC, console or even a phone.

Updating SL isn't really all that hard cause they have done it is how we got mesh and rigged mesh and now animesh. They can continue to keep layering new content and it'll work just fine.

Now if they are smart and redo the physics engine for example then they can greatly increase user activity. You got combat sims that would boom with traffic if that got better. You got people using vehicles who would love it.

Honestly, they can do nothing and make bank. They can re-write things and improve upon it and make even more. LL already hit the bottom of the barrel with us given how they neglected SL for years to work on Sansar other side projects. They only got one way to go and that is up.

Russell Skyther

The issue isn't that you can't update SecondLife's code. or even rewrite it from scratch. BOTH have been done, see: OpenSimulator, an Open-Source clone of SL functionality that's close enough most 3rd party clients support it out of the box.

But ability isn't the same thing as willingness. And far from being 'not all that hard' as the above comment states, each one of the examples features: Mesh, Rigged, animesh, and now Bakes on Mesh are all hacks onto an engine that wasn't designed for it. Now you *can* do that, and they did. But that incurs a serious performance penalty unless you redo the *entire* graphics pipeline (which they didn't). That's what this guy's talking about. It's not that you *can't* update or rewrite SL, it's that it's not cost effective to do so on a level that would give you acceptable performance.

To better explain SL's codebase issues. This is what I would consider a minimum for a true SL-like game in 2020 (VR Chat isn't really an SL like, but more of a Sansar that worked):
>Graphics pipeline efficient enough to give 50 FPS *minimum* regardless of how much content is on screen. This can be done.
>True 'client side' code in it's scripting language: Pathfinding shouldn't be the server's job. Collisions shouldn't be, either.
>modern procedural animation engine: Because multi-character animations of all sorts show just how bad SL deals with animations. Short guy hugging taller girl aught to show just how bad that is for the curious.
>official world scale: On the above, SL isn't 1:1 with the real world on most servers. and it's not consistent what scale folks use, usually 1.25:1 I do believe. but it means you've got to mess with half the stuff you buy to get it looking as it should.
>Modern shard-based Servers/64 bit worldspace/way more mainland: The big thing SL has, even over it's Marketplace, is the ability to, at least in theory, virtually travel the virtual world from one end to the other. The Marketplace is great, but actually damaged the viability of this unique trait just by it's existence. There's also not enough mainland, the roads and airways aren't contiguous on said mainland anyway. Even when they are, going between servers is incredibly janky at times. You could ditch the overworld for a list of servers like VR Chat uses and nobody would notice. That's a shame.
>Modern content-streaming pipeline that means 9gb of cache is actually *enough*. This is where most of the lost frames go to die, and nothing that I've just said above would work unless this whole cache system where overhauled as well.

Is all of this doable? Yes. Will it happen? Probably not, unless it's Open-sim deciding to make it's own from-scratch Viewer. Someone, at some point, will come along and make an actual SL competitor with Unreal, Unity, or some other recent game engine. In that way, SL's legacy would live on, but at 60 FPS with reasonable lag this time. I really hope that competitor is SL 2.0, but I'm not terribly optimistic.

Luther Weymann

In February of 2004, through June of 2004, I wrote over fifty original scripts that I could not find in SL. I put them in my Ancient Homelands (first avatar) store for free. I think I remember putting them in those Xboxes or whatever they were called sometime later. All the original scripts I wrote back in the first few months of 2004 were given away full perms, and lots of that code now shows up uncredited on the Wiki, which is fine with me. I remember on some rainy Sunday at least ten years ago doing some math and determining I had probably given away at least 300,000 full perm scripts. They have since been mutated hundreds of times by other coders into many present-day products. I don't sell or give those away anymore, they are all retired. At some point, perhaps about 2009-2010, someone from SL contacted me about working for LR. I was based in Sacramento and often spoke at tech trade shows in the Bay Area and was published regularly, so I sort of fit the mold. I met them in-world at some Linden land office, and we talked in voice. One of the questions I had was about the code viability and testing method of the code. By this time in my life, I'd had enormous experience in the mainframe world and had owned two internet-based software as a service company. My so-called claim to fame at that time was that I was a known web-based neural networking guru, so why SL was interested in me, I never did know. I had learned what code development mistakes had been made in the decades I had spent consulting in many hundreds of F500 software shops. And also in my own software companies. What I learned during that SL meeting told me that the LR developers were mostly in charge of the development of the different software that power SL. They did not at that time have a senior software engineer with an iron grip on the master plan managing the developers. Nor was the testing methodology sound. Combined, this is a methodology proven to produce "spaghetti code" that, after a decade or so of not being thoroughly rewritten, becomes easy to break something while fixing something else. Which is where we find ourselves today with SL. I have always promoted extremely clean well-documented code, that when moved to the testing platform and run through a $100,000 piece of testing software, will come clean to the end. Alas, this was not the process at LR. I moved on to my final software company, which retired me. After seventeen years playing with the only "hobby" I've ever had, SL, I'm still wishing the folks at LR the best. But I now know there is not going to be rewrite and a new dawn for SL. Perhaps I am wrong about the long term viability of SL after another sale. I hope for all of you I'm wrong.

Soda Sullivan

@Joey1058 is probably the closest to accurate on this.

Everyone, including Weymann seems to think that Linden Lab IS Second Life and Second Life IS Linden lab. This is simply not true anymore. Tila is very successful, continues to grow and has much more potential for further growth than SL does. That is what the investors are buying - one of the first successful forms of transferring virtual "game" cash into real cash on the internet. Second Life is just a tag along that will likely only stand to benefit greatly from the investment that its big brother Tilia is bringing in.
Weymann's comments also directly oppose Phillip Rosedale and for some reason I am more inclined to listen to Rosedale, who would probably rather chew his hand off than see "his baby" go away.

What is most frustrating is that we are relying on off the cuff remarks form, so far, the owner of Blueberry and a guy who is not affiliated with LL, Second or the investors - essentially clickbait. LL and the investors should dispense with the brief press releases and hold an open conversation soon, and then go on their merry way and leave us to gnash our teeth and cry about how the sky is falling.

Luther Weymann

I never gave a timeline. I would base the SL life on a couple things. One is the number of people using SL has remained mostly constant for about ten years. And two the number of new items that keep being put on the SL Market means that creators are doing that because people are buying new things. My SL business does over 98% on the SL Market and 2% in world. And my sales have been steady and trending up for a decade now. The investment company bought LR for the cash flow because LR is profitable. I can easily imagine Linden Research being cost-effective at least for another decade, possibly much longer. People talk about "what if another virtual world comes along," which I don't think will make any difference. IMVU is crushing it for the number of logins if you want a comparison of what people like in virtual worlds, and it has not affected SL. I was at Muddy's dancing the other night. When I looked at the near avatar list, the average age was mostly over 2000 days with many over 3000 days. These people are not leaving. SL will outlive me, that's for sure.

Fed Up

"The attitude of "I don't know what this does so not going to mess with it" should not be in a competent coders lexicon as they should know what they are doing"

I'd suggest that said coder knew exactly what they were doing, which is why they left it completely alone. As would any 'competent coder' faced with undocumented, opaque, legacy code where the effects of making a change are, at best, not well understood or at worst, completely unknown.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Wagner James Au
Dutchie ad SL couch
Sinespace virtual world Unity free home
Breakroom virtual meetings conferences-GIF
Ample Avi  SL avatars
my site ... ... ...