(Update 2010-08-10) After Phillip Rosedale’s July 30th meeting many of us, while cautious, were more optimistic about the future of SL. Many things in this latest round of layoffs are puzzling and shaking our optimism. But, none are more puzzling and disconcerting than the layoff of Qarl after the 30th meeting. In this article I’m writing about what I have learned about issues in and changes coming to SL and comparing Phillip’s talk with his walk.
Much of what was said Friday the 30th comes under questioning with the subsequent layoff of Qarl. The reason for that is the contribution Qarl was making to SL. How can a company that has a highly productive employee, that apparently consistently solves complex problems with innovative solutions, be released if the company is about fixing problems? This is sort of like a coach with the best pitcher in the league claiming he is going to concentrate on a pitching game and then trading off the pitcher… everyone is going, “WTF?”
We have seen protests in SL before. We are seeing them again over the Qarl layoff. Many of the protesters want an explanation. I would love one too.
Communications & Programming
For a company that says they are changing how they will communicate with residents, one has to wonder how they could let Babbage Linden go. Followed by letting the creator/implementer of sculpties and the Collada Meshes go pushes many off the end of the pier.
Phillip said performance was a big issue and a desire to have ‘transparent’ SIM crossings. One of the big problems with crossing SIM’s is the Mono Scripting. For non-scripter’s in SL, understand that Mono is a big improvement on the Linden Scripting Language (LSL). It allows more memory and larger scripts while providing better performance (faster) and reduced SIM load (less lag), all great except for Mono Script start up. Walk into a SIM wearing anything with a Mono Script and the SIM literally freezes for a few seconds as it processes and adds the script.
Also, additional programming languages are being added to SL. The additions are dependent on the modular nature of Mono. Sort of paraphrasing the process, consider one module is the editor in which scripts/programs are written. The idea is that one can write in a language of their choice, i.e., LSL, C#… The next module is the compiler which reads all these languages and changes scripts/programs into something a computer chip can understand. The last module is the engine that actually runs the program and makes things happen.
If you read the Babbage post (link above) you know that the team doing this work and trying to fix Mono initial rez freeze problem are being or have been let go. The new languages, bigger programs, and the faster processing are things needed by residents. Plus they are needed to compete with Blue Mars and OpenSim. OpenSim already has great additions to LSL that make programming in OS much more fun. So, how does Phillips talk fit with his walk? I don’t see a fit.
However, this month we should see Babbage’s work coming out to beta. If communication is really changing, I would expect to hear about it through LL’s main channels of communication. If nothing is changing, we’ll have to hear about it through the grapevine. The reaction to the beta scripting changes will likely decide how much effort goes into completing the features
Meshes and Their Effect
Blue Mars and other virtual worlds are using Collada meshes. LL has been working on them for a couple of years now. (See: Second Life Meshes Update) Qarl is a big mover in implementing Collada meshes. I suspect many non-sculpty-builders don’t understand why this is a big deal. Consider those neat sculpty feet and shoes one sees in SL, from Cheeky’s L$25 to others L$4,000 and up versions. These are often made from dozens of sculpties. With Collada meshes they could be made from one mesh. Plus, they would be easier to make and cause less lag.
The Collada meshes could be used to make a jacket or skirt that moves with the avatar (AV) like cloth. We are seeing this in Blue Mars now. The meshes could also be used to make replacement avatars. Instead of using the current AV mesh and wearing things over it and hiding it, one could substitute a different mesh and have a different AV.
How all this will work is Qarl’s forte. If you have read his job performance review, it certainly looks like he is the man for the job. If you read Qarl’s blog (See: and a linden is slain) you might think he is a bit cocky… I don’t. The guy is a heavy-weight in the virtual world development segment. He worked on the Matrix movies…
So, once again I don’t see how Phillip’s talk fits with his walk.
Many bloggers that are long time SL residents are puzzled. When things don’t add up we are usually missing part of the picture. Whatever the whole story is, the release of Qarl is not something I see as a good thing.
Update: New World Notes has an interesting follow up about Qarl attending SLCC. Qarl’s No Longer a Linden, But He’s Still Coming to SLCC!