Charlar Linden Interview

Yesterday (9/9) Kim(RL), who is Gianna Borgnine in SL, put up an audio recording of an interview with Charlar Linden. Most of us know him from the Mesh Project, at least I do. Charlar is a senior project manager at Linden Lab in charge of creators, those that make things in Second Life. The following is an index of the audio tape and my take on it.

The tape has problems and the volume is inconsistent, making it hard to listen to and understand. Charlar is, I guess, close to the mic so he can be understood.

Reed Steamroller and Draxtor Despres participate in the discussion. Unless you already know their voices, I have no idea who is who.

You’ll find the audio here: A Chat With Charlar on Metareality. There is kidding around that I have left out. Charlar seems nice enough and gives some candid answers.

01:20 Charlar is explaining what he does and why he came to SL. He is still trying to get his head around the insane amount of content and diversity in SL. In the way of creative stuff one of the things Charlar is now tangled up with is Adult Content. (03:15)

04:40 – Did you know mesh clothing would be such a big thing? Charlar says people in beta were telling them that would be the big mesh thing. The Lindens were not sure what would be the case.

05:45 – Discussion of Prim Equivalence (PE). It is not true that a South Park wheel of fortune and chicken is used to decide PE. Because there is no prim charge to prim limit for mesh clothes, many thought it would be the bigger use for mesh.

06:45 – Body Image – You may not know but mesh clothes only conform to bone sizes. So, most of the appearance sliders do not affect mesh clothes size. So, an avatar with broad shoulders might have to change shape to fit in a mesh hoody.

07:30 – Charlar is asked about Maxwell Graf’s JIRA to allow mesh clothes to change with the appearance sliders. Charlar explains that Maxwell presents the problem and then describes the solution he wants. Charlar says the Lab sees it as important to solve the problems. However, they are considering whether there is a solution that would be faster. Its unclear if the ment to be faster to implement or better performance. I suspect both.

They may decided Maxwell’s solution is the best and set a priority and place it in the cue. Or they may come up with something better.

10:50 – Prim Equivalent and Prim Count is explained… again. If you read my mesh articles you’ve read the information on how prim equivalence is calculated… more than once. Charlar’s explanation is well done. So, if you’re and audio learner listen to the explanation.

The new poinit in this section is that the Linden’s know people are having a problem understanding PE and how it changes. To get mesh out, they have not given residents the tools to see what is happening with the components used to calculate PE. They will be releasing tools so people can better see the factors that make up PE.

18:30 – Charlar reveals they will be getting rid of the term Prim Equivalence and moving to resource weights. Plus in the Mesh Project viewer they are already adding more ways to see the resource weights.

20:21 – Tips for optimizing meshes. There are no real tips given. Charlar mentions a place called Mesh Mellows that is setting up a demo to help people understand. May be it is something like the Prim Palace.

23:30 – nVidia Problems with Viewer 3.0: Long question. In some cases turning off Anti-Aliasing (AA) solves the nVidia problems and low FPS.

24:30 – Charlar responds: Mesh and the AA aspects of the viewer were being worked on at the same time. So, to many it appears that mesh is what is slowing down the viewer. There are some render problems unrelated to mesh that are causing crashes. They are working on resolving those. Unfortunately there are some mesh issues that have been causing crashes too. Several of those have been fixed and are rolled out and others are coming. They want to get these problems solved and are working on them.

26:10 – Discussing the problem of knowing about problems being fixed, working on them, knowing they will release soon, and the not being allowed to say anything until it ships.

29:40 – Charlar provides some insite into Rod Humble and how well he fits in with Linden Lab and SL residents.

31:20 – Normal maps and shaders – Charlar explains that soon they will not be talking about a ‘mesh project’. It will just be another part of SL.  Materials and specular maps and lots of neat stuff are things they want to do. While he can say they are considering them, he can’t say when or even if certain features are definitely in the cue.

33:35 _ Talks about the best place to get suggestions and comments to the Lindens. As one might guess, each Linden has a preferred way to receive suggestions and feed back. Charlar likes the forum and private messages are good. Email works too: CharlarATlindenlabDOTcom.

This discussion runs to 37:30 and covers the amount of You Suck email the Lindens get and some interesting insights into how people complain. Charlar’s feeling is if they didn’t get so emotional and got to the point he might be able to help them. He has to wade through all the descriptions of his intelligence and biological ancestor to try and find the problem, which just wastes time. He has more patience than me. I hit mute pretty fast.

Also, use the JIRA. It does work. Lindens do pay attention to it.

39:10 – Send in crash reports. They help.

40:00 – The Lindens want people off the 1.x viewers. It is a matter of enticement rather then forced updates.

40:30 – Speculation on the impact of mesh on non-builder residents. Over the next six months Charlar expects there to be a significant visual change in SL from mesh. Prim/Mesh combo builds will be more prevalent. Charlar doesn’t really like Sculpties and hopes they will go away.

The market place is getting lots of new mesh items.

45:30 – Farmville is addictive verses Second Life is engrossing. Meeting and talking with people in SL happens at a level that just doesn’t happen in WoW or other games. The immersion in SL is much greater.

Lag is one of the things they are working on to improve immersion.

48:21 – SL is not a game. for Charlar it is still unclear how to describe SL.

50:00 – Resource weight and sculpty replacement should lead to better performance. As the resource weight tools reveal more of the real resource cost of objects the performance of SL should begin to improve.

53:00 – Charlar wants things to be easier for prim building. If all building goes outside SL, as mesh must, it would fundamentally change SL in ways the Lindens feel would be detrimental.

54:00 – Nothing like Blender will built into SL Viewer any time in the foreseeable future. But, some way to edit mesh, may be.

Summing Up

The interview gives one a good impression of the nature of Linden Lab development and small clues as to the direction.

It is interesting that one of the major developers of the Mesh Project is so pro prim. I suppose it is not surprising that sculpties are not that popular with Lindens now that mesh is out. Once the tools are out so residents can see the actual resource costs of prims, sculpties, and mesh then people will realize how to make more efficient builds. Prims, sculpties, and mesh will be used as intended to make fast rezzing builds. Each will have their place.

6 thoughts on “Charlar Linden Interview

  1. ” 40:00 – The Lindens want people off the 1.x viewers. It is a matter of enticement rather then forced updates. ”

    I am a little confused here. That just came out of nowhere. Was that a question, remark, comment?

    • Its an interpretation. Charlar does say they want people out of the 1.x viewers. I also know several Lindens have said they will not be blocking 1.x viewers or forcing upgrades from 1.x several times. Any time a Linden even hints they want to do away with the 1.x viewers people tend to over react. So, I wrote it as I did.

      • Many things are too complicated for most people. I have never been able to master blender to the point where I could do much with it, yet with SL and opensim I have had a great time creating worlds. I hope that something is developed similar to SculptStudio, ,Sculptcrafter and other in world programs that allow one to build complex sculpts from prims. Something that would allow building mesh from prims(and possible, sculpties) would be very useful.

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