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Thursday, February 25, 2021


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Good review from actual developer - SL is old, it's content creation pipeline is old, and that kind of legacy cannot evolve much further (guess SL takes insane effort just to keep SL on float with every new tiny modern feature added like mesh avatars).

Nodoka Hanamura

Honestly, as much as it pains me to say this, I feel Linden Lab has to step on some toes to keep SL competitive. If it means sunsetting support for things like flexiprims by converting them in bulk to mesh and no longer supporting uploading (as an example), or updating the basic avatar to not look like it came straight out of 2003, then I'm in favor of it. If it means keeping my virtual home alive, as long as it doesn't rip out its' very heart and soul, I'm willing to make some sacrifices. Question is, how willing is the rest of our population to do the same?


Second Life is at a crossroads for me lately. I've been very loyal, but I'm seeing worlds that hold so much more potential. All of them have their attractions and drawbacks. Will I stop using SL? Doubtful. But I'm seeing the writing on the wall. And that writing says to embrace the new and retire the old.

Nodoka Hanamura

My apologies, I meant Sculpties, not flexiprims, my bad.


It was old over a decade ago already, it's really an ancient engine by now. It was originally meant to render simple cartoonish avatars and basic but tweakable primitives with which you could create anything.
But was that bad? A game doesn't need an awesome graphic to become popular and can be fun even if made just by cubes (you know, Minecraft).

However, then Linden Lab took a different path and targeted a different kind of people. They hammered new features into SL (sculpt, mesh...), they failed at turning SL into a conference tool, but they pleased the niche who uses SL as a doll-dressing game or as a porn simulator, who is happy to see every detailed bit up to skin pores. So SL has became prettier, but the added complexity distanced the crowd who enjoys construction sandbox games.
Coincidentally, it was May 2009 when Minecraft has been released and later took off; SL had started its decline around that time.
It almost feel like LL missed a train by following those marketing ideas, instead of focusing on the construction game... and they missed it again in 2017 with Sansar, that among many other issues, it started serious a bit like a VR museum experience; while the most successful VR social game so far, VRChat, is a weird, funny, anime crowd - and although someone found a few more serious uses for it later, VRChat remains a crazy, colorful anime crowd.

And now SL is this mess.
User-friendliness and a good first user-experience are still lacking, but it may look prettier than before. Still it can't compete with modern engines anyway and it's falling behind more and more. At the same time it is no longer a fun prim construction game, because to make something considered good now you have to learn Blender or Maya. Still for creators the engine is too limited. And yet the virtual fashion and the virtual adult-stuff folks want photo-realistic avatars in SL: you could still make something decent, but inconsiderate folks who don't know or don't care of optimization make it severely worse without improving the visuals; but Linden Lab doesn't help about it either.
Now you can't go back: by taking that path, SL ended up with these SLers, who rightfully are happy with their niche stuff.

But could Linden Lab hammer further stuff into SL, to keep it somewhat update? Maybe something, but the problem isn't just about the broken legacy content.
Linden Lab even did that a few times. E.g. physics updates, but also invisprim are broken since deferred/advanced lighting has been implemented. Of curse they added alpha layers to compensate, but SL lacks of volumetric water too: invisprims were also a workaround for boats, that now look flooded unless you make them to float unrealistically higher above the waterline.

The point is that even willing to break the legacy content, you can do only so much with SL.
According to Oz, for example, the Lab felt that implementing mirrors wasn't a good idea in SL: https://youtu.be/FpU3rxxpeqQ?t=28m15s
You would need a full rewrite, that somehow can import the old asset and can maintain your friend list. Linden Lab bet otherwise and lost that bet. Now I don't expect they are going to do anything so radical.

Unless the new owners decide that SL is no longer profitable, I don't think SL will poof tomorrow, but I don't expect many improvements either. I'd be glad if they work on that, though. For sure SL has some competition now.

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