Tag Archives: Linden Lab

The elusive Spirit of Second Life


…… [Sansar] will be in the spirit of Second Life, an open world where users have incredible power to create anything they can imagine and content creators are king.   -Ebbe Altberg-

I submitted a question for the recent LabChat. It was accepted and at the event Ebbe responded.
The question:

Ebbe, would you please discuss in-world building in Sansar.
How will it be similar or different from building in-world in Second Life?
Will we be, for example, building with voxels? prims? or something completely new?
Will there be a built in way to create or edit Mesh in-world?
Thank You in advance for enlightening us.
The response:
Currently, we’re focusing mostly on layout and great support for importing of objects from the outside, so that you could use whatever tool of choice to do your mesh work, and then just import it into Sansar and then lay it out with great tools to lay out and scale and position things within the world.
We’re also working on terrain tools, where there will also probably be some kind of mix of voxel and height map tech to try to stitch things together.
At some point, yes; like why should I have to completely go back to an external tool just so I can poke at an object to reshape it or tweak it to some degree, and then you get into editing. And at some point, when you have some of those basic capabilities to just shape objects, then you could also start with the option of people just dropping in basic shapes directly from in-world. You can just drop a cube on the ground and start poking at it to reshape it.
So, I think there will be a progression. Pretty much right now we’re specifically focused on by June, getting it so that you have really powerful layout capabilities, and maybe the ability to import. Maybe we’ll just start with .FBX or something like that, so that you can import objects from the outside world and lay them out in Sansar.
And then over time we’ll see if we’ll support additional file formats, and then over time we’ll also get into more and more, as we start to see what users need, how much editing we need to support in-world.
I mean, we do not want to be the superset of tools that everybody wants; there are so many tools out there from Maya to Blender to 3D Max. And then you have architecture, where there’s like huge suites of tools, that we’ll never try to be better than any one of them, and certainly not to some of those. So we want to make sure that you can use all of those tools, and bring content in, and then do the final positioning and layout of things as smoothly and easily inside.
And then after that, like I said, we’ll see where we start to allow for more direct manipulation of shaping things inside .
JY: But you are planning to eventually have some sort of in-world building tool? Because I personally think that’s essential, especially for people who are not very experienced with outside software.
I’m pretty sure we’ll get there too, in some way; but I just don’t know that we’ll get there this year. For starters, you might have to be 100% dependent on some external tools to create your objects.
My Take:
Second Life began as a sandbox world; it still is in many respects, although increasingly the work of building has moved to external programs. It now seems that Sansar will not be a sandbox at all, at least to start. I think this is a mistake but, my confidence in the long term viability of Second Life has increased as a result.
There are possible work-arounds. One might be Voxel Farm (a Second Life plug-in?) which exports in the .fbx format Ebbe mentioned. While I have no personal experience with it, what I see on YouTube looks very much like prim building (on steroids?). Since it is not free, I will wait on word from the Lab about compatibility and limitations.


 

On the topic of In-world Grid Status Notifications:
As Ebbe points out, it just won’t work, there is a reasonable expectation that a problem would effect the notification system. What would work would be a separate program (a Growl app?) that would alarm when the grid status page is changed, whether we were in world or not. This would probably be best done by the Lab in order to ensure the interoperability of the app and the web page.

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An Early Birthday Present


Today is the actual (well, generally accepted) anniversary of Second Life’s opening. You really should spend some time at the party, just open the map and search for SL11B, TP into any of the regions. Lag seems lower this year than in the past. I can not pick one exhibit over another, best you just wander around, get lost and cam everywhere!

But that is not what I came here to write about.

Last Friday Ebbe dropped into the Open Development user group meeting and rolled an open can of worms onto the floor. Linden Lab is, and has been for well over a year, working on a new and improved virtual world! Now before you panic, this is not the end of SL, the grid we all know and love will go on for the foreseeable future. Development and improvements will continue, although with a smaller team at the Lab.

I see this as akin to a new Operating System on your computer. There are limits to what the Lab can do on a twelve year old platform. Back in 2003 when SL opened it’s doors to the world you were probably running Windows XP or earlier (or Mac OS 9.2 / OS X 10.2). Things have changed and every time we upgrade some of the things we loved about the old system were lost.

Ebbe made it clear that while there will be an effort made to allow the transfer of content, he will not allow that to get in the way of making the best virtual world they can. While I agree with that in principal, I believe as much transfer as possible is key to enticing us away from the SL inventories we have invested heavily in. That transfer must be at the user level, not the content creator level and I think he understands that. In order to accomplish that there will need to be some kind of interaction between asset servers for the 2 platforms (which goes a long way toward understanding the latest TOS changes, although they are still overly generalized).

It is likely to be over a year before we get an opportunity to take a look at this new endeavor but I look forward to a steady stream of teasers and discussion. That discussion is essential since LL still does not really “get” SL like the residents do.

As for me, I look forward to the new world ([SL2] ?) and the drama of the discussion between now and rollout. I will wait and see before I move all of my second life to a new grid.

Danger ahead, kupo! Do you still want to go on, kupo?”

Update: To follow the progress of this I suggest Jo Yardley’s blog http://joyardley.wordpress.com/tag/sl2/

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A Meeting with the Big Cheese


I attended this week’s Server/Sim/Scripting user group meeting today. Oz, Simon and Kelly Linden were there for the entire meeting. Ebbe Linden arrived about half way through and stayed for nearly half an hour after the meeting closed, fielding general questions, suggestions and comments.
Probably the most significant announcement was that the server code for Group Ban will be grid wide after the RC sims roll tomorrow. There is a Linden viewer with the appropriate code available at the Alternative Viewer Downloads page. You will need this viewer to use the group ban features but your actions will be in force no matter what viewer anyone else is using, even if you change viewers after taking the action.
There was a discussion about problems when terraforming land with pathfinding enabled.
[12:18] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): so if we do a significant amount of terraforming we should restart the region before continuing with whatever we are building?
[12:19] Mona (mona.eberhardt): Not exactly, Shug.
[12:20] Mona (mona.eberhardt): If you do a significant amount of terraforming, it’s advisable that you do NOT rebake the navmesh before you’re done. And when you’ve rebaked, do a region restart. Because, if you rebake repeatedly, you’ll eat up the memory that can be allocated and you won’t be able to rez a thing.
I am not sure I fully understand all of that since I do not use pathfinding, but you should look into it if it pertains to your work.
From Ebbe:
[13:06] Ebbe Linden: Experience tools are getting closer…Simon may know better how close….we just did a big test of them earlier today…but I’m not sure when they’ll be ready for prime time…soon I hope…
[13:07] Simon Linden: It’s getting closer but I’m not familiar with the plans on making them available for others
[13:07] Bagheera: yes please, what are experience tools?
[13:08] Simon Linden: They’re a set of functions and permissions that lets someone build a more immersive experience. So things can happen that won’t nag you with permissions — you opt-into the experience, for example, and a few regions later it can still animate you without re-asking all the time.

[13:11] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): re. new avatars; can we expect more sliders to work in time
[13:11] Ebbe Linden: Shug? Sliders work now….
[13:11] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): not all of them
[13:12] Ebbe Linden: face?
[13:12] jira.phoenixviewer.com (whirly.fizzle): Well not all of them. You can’t for example mod your face with the sliders like you can with a classic avatar
[13:12] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): yeah
[13:13] Ebbe Linden: Yep, face is not doing anything with the new avatars…bummer…we’re looking at that to see if we can get eyes and mouths cranking again…
[13:13] Nal (nalates.urriah): That would make lots of people happy
[13:13] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): that’s good news, the face mods are probably the most important for individualizing your av.
[13:14] Shug Maitland (shug.maitland): and I should point out, face customization is one thing SL was way ahead of everyone else on in the beginning.
[13:16] Ebbe Linden: I agree face is critical and having a stone face like my current avatar is not cool…a couple of steps forward and a step backwards…

It was very encouraging to see Ebbe interacting with those there. Is it possible that the us vs. them divide is getting smaller and the ivory tower is, if not crumbling, getting more accessible?


ps. I took some editorial liberties with the clips from transcript, consolidating thoughts and correcting spelling for example.

“Some of the best lessons are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom of the future.” Dale Turner

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Some perspective on The Force


By now you are all aware of last week’s login crisis. A little perspective is in order.

Week to week overlays of SL concurrency (users on-line) gives a good visual of the scale of the event:

SL population graph 21 May 14 week to week

As you can see a similar event happened three weeks before, although for the most part we did not notice it. This is the type of disturbance you are likely to see any time the Lindens are working on the Second Life back end. They usually have the situation under control. The problem on the 20th was, if not unique, very unusual. I will take these bumps along the road any day in preference to the old “Shut down the whole grid while we bang on things” method.

http://etitsup.com/slstats/ is my go to site for up to an minute (well, 5 minute) view of the health of the SL grid (The Force). When things are going smoothly the sine wave of SL population is remarkably consistant.

http://status.secondlifegrid.net/ is the official word from the lab, it understandably lags a bit and does not inform of every little hiccup. I go there for advanced warning and explanation of ongoing events.

The fact that LL is actively working on the networks and back-end systems that make SL work is very encouraging. We may not see the improvement with each and every improvement they make, taken together they can not help but improve our experience.

“Some of the best lessons are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom of the future.” Dale Turner

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An interview with Flat Ebbe


Strawberry Singh suggested that we should share our thoughts about second life with you. Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule. I hope you are comfortable talking at our office here in Brocade.

Interview with flat Ebbe_004 cropped

Since you are still new to Second Life, I would like to take this opportunity to explain my perspective of why most people who are in SL for more than a look around stay.

Whether we see SL as therapy, fantasy, business or entertainment; we are almost universally fulfilling in a virtual sense what we can’t or won’t in RL. The graphic artist who sits under-appreciated in cubical all week gets to express themselves and perhaps make some money. The frustrated business person who will never make it beyond lower management can prove themselves as a land baron or marketing executive. The socially challenged often find that they blossom in SL. Those who long, from a stuffy apartment, for a home of their own can build castles, or live on a tropical island. Yes, for some it is about the sex they would rather be having in RL. I could go on and on – – .

There has been much made of the new user experience and how SL is hard to learn. More to the point, people need more information about what Second Life is! Much more needs to be done with advertising and publicity to overcome the tawdry reputation we have gotten due to Linden Lab’s lazy PR. You need to be asking who stays in SL, not for a day or two but for months; these are the people who keep the SL economy going, and who are most likely to move beyond the most basic accounts. It is a hard nut to crack, I know. A positive attitude and PR promoting the best aspects of SL will go a long way.

Thank you for coming Ebbe, you are a very good listener.

Some of the best lessons are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom of the future.”Dale Turner

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Filed under Advertising SL, Blogger Challange / Meme, Linden Lab, Newbies

Second Life – World of Spycraft?


We are being watched! In a recent article ProPublica details massive spying in gaming environments.

Second Life gets special mention – “— so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions –”. This has been a poorly kept secret for years. Importantly they are plying their trade in-world, which is good for a giggle; picture your basic CIA superspy in skimpy latex 🙂 . Under the circumstances LL’s “no comment” is expected, although a more nuanced explanation would have been better.

Of greater concern is NSA and the British GCHQ spying on (as opposed to in) SL. At least potentially they would not need to be in world to capture the streams going in and out of the SL servers. As tempting as it may be to satisfy their curiosity about what is going on on some private island, it is a violation of everyone’s privacy to do so.

Update: Inara Pey has a more nuanced and in depth take on this at her blog.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.”

Helen Keller.

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Are your friends looking sick? Get in the Sunshine!


SSB (Server-side Baking (or Appearance)rolls to the entire grid

today (Tuesday). If you are not using a properly equipped viewer avatars will not be seen properly. Jessica Lyon has a good post at the Firestorm Blog which applies to all viewers. There has been a long run-up to this new feature. No one can say they were not warned! LL and many private blogs have been talking about this for many months! This is a major improvement to the avatar rez process, a major improvement!

I am sure there will be wackadoodles who will be crying “the sky is falling” and the end of Second Life. Ignore them.

Those accessing SL with very old equipment will have the most problems, some will find they can not access the grid at all. My best advice to them is to try various Third Party Viewers in the hopes of finding one that works. Text viewers will of course get you on line but with limited or no graphics. You knew that sooner or later all computers become obsolete.

Bugs will appear in one part of a working program when another ‘unrelated’ part is modified.   Murphyism

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Some thoughts on Firestorm


There was a Questions & Answers meeting with the Firestorm team last week. Inara Pey has a transcript (edited for clarity) on her blog, along with the entire 2 hour 45 minute video.

Some highlights and news:

CHUI– It was last year when the Lab decided to revamp the Communication interface (why they chose to name it after a rather uncommunicative Star Wars character is speculation for another day). While I respect their choice to “do it the right way”, this resulted in complex and deeply embedded changes to the underlying viewer code Firestorm is built from. As of now those changes are not yet finalized. The challenge this set before the Firestorm developers has been huge! They anticipate it will be another 2 or 3 months before they have a new version that has this integration incorporated sufficiently to release a good-enough viewer update. It will not be perfect or even up to their usual quality standards, that will likely take a few months into next year.

Materials– This is the much anticipated feature that will give textures a 3D look. This is almost ready in the Official viewer pipeline but the Firestorm team can only integrate one thing at a time and retain their sanity. It should also be included in the next viewer update.

Version Control– This will probably upset some people, an explanation is in order. The Lindens report that of the 1,800 viewer versions logging in to Second Life, 1,600 are Phoenix/Firestorm! The grid-wide deployment of server-side appearance/baking will break a large number of them. Firestorm will take the opportunity to limit the number of allowed versions to 3 (the current version and the 2 most recent old ones). There will perhaps be a few days of a warning period when there will be 4. This is a huge problem for people limping along with old, outdated equipment! There is a harsh message for those people; Firestorm is a high-end, feature and option rich viewer! It was never intended for use on minimal system hardware! Perhaps the Official viewer, or Singularity will work.

The Firestorm Team deserves high praise for openly communicating with us,their users. They promise more meetings like this in the coming months.

 

 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clark

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Lindens Threaten Grid-Wide Shutdown?


At about 11:30am today people throughout the grid began receiving automated notices that the region they were on was being restarted. It was a false alarm, but one has to wonder why nothing about it showed up at the time on the Grid Status Page.

 

Wh-Wh-What’s going on!? Kupo!?

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New viewer release process implemented


Finally an explanation I can understand of the new release process the Lab is using for LL viewers. Well done Inara!

Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

Update July 23rd: As release candidate viewers are now available for download on the Alternate Viewers wiki page, I’ve added some notes on manually installing and running multiple release candidates to this article.

secondlifeThe new viewer release process announced by the Lab in May 2013 has officially been implemented.

Officially called the Viewer Integration and Release Process, It is designed to improve how the Lab can put new viewers before users and progress them through to a release status while avoiding bottlenecks such as those witnessed in late 2012, when an issue with the Viewer Beta channel effectively stopped any new viewer releases for around a two-month period.

With the new system, early versions of viewers will still be made available through “dedicated” project and beta viewers, all of which will be available for download via the Official Alternate Viewer wiki page. However, the major change to…

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