It is hard to know what anyone is thinking when they don’t tell you. One tries to figure it out by watching actions and pondering statements made. In the case of Linden Lab, we have lots of people analyzing what is known about the Lab. Recently we have seen the Alpha release of Pathfinding and the acquisition of Little TextPeople. So, speculation swirls around those new items.
When Hamlet at New World Notes posted on the acquisition of Little TextPeople Rod Humble, Linden Lab CEO, commented:
Hey Hamlet. Just by way of clarification this team is working on product 3.
I first started to talking to them December (although I have known them personally for longer).
When we chatted about IF/Adventure a few months ago it was in relation to product 2, which is also still in production, not this product 🙂
Hopefully things will become less opaque in the near future but yes this team is working on a separate product (one of several we have in development).
Sorry for the cloak & dagger stuff, shouldnt last to much longer.
Posted by: Rodvik Linden | Friday, February 17, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Hamlet follows up with some speculation based on the comment in: Rod Humble Drops Hints About Linden’s New Projects. Hamlet’s speculation is rational and suggests some directions the Lab may have taken.
I couldn’t see how Little TextPeople, a text based gaming company, could add to any creative game made by a visually oriented development company. As I learned more about Little TextPeople I am thinking the company and its past games are of less importance than the company’s people with Artificial Intelligence (AI) experience.
Pathfinding is a form of AI. That it is as fast as it is I find amazing. That it makes developing in SL much easier could be a big boost to Second Life’s popularity. I now suspect more game AI is coming.
Developing games is something many of us are playing with. I come from the Myst community where Myst Online: Uru Live (MOUL) was a gaming phenomenon. Cyan Worlds, the developer, never got the mix right and the game never became massively popular before it ran out of money. But, like other games it gained core fans. Many of its players have become some level of game makers. Of the 600+ fans that are active in Second Life some majority portion of them are making things in SL. A few are rebuilding Myst game ages in Second Life and OSGrid.
Many of the Myst fans wanted more of Myst and were willing to build the ‘more’ of need be. But, building for MOUL is no easy task. One first has to learn 3D modeling and texturing. Then one has to learn how to use the Plasma game development system, which only works from 3DS Max version 7 or 8 (open source is fixing that). That is a steep learning curve and requires some money for 3DS. So, some MOUL fans use the Unreal Engine, some Plazma, and some are in Second Life or OpenSim.
If you have played with the Unreal Engine, you know you can develop the game in it and export your game to PC’s, Mac’s, tablets, and Smart Phones. This export is becoming more common for development programs. To model your game you still need to understand 3D modeling. Hamlet has realized that Linden Lab may be looking to circumvent that high learning curve part of the process.
As Hamlet suggests the Lab may be developing tools rather than games. The tools would probably let you build a game using Second Life style building, prims, to avoid having to learn 3D mesh modeling and texturing.
I expect that as the Lab develops tools we will see the Lab using Second Life users, creators building in Second Life, as a test Lab for polishing user interfaces, processes, features, and API’s.
I do not see the new tools and applications as a threat to Second Life. I can’t imagine a company risking the cash cow they have on any new unproven game. I can understand building a new Second Life Lite that people can use to play at building, meaning one could do something creative while waiting at the airport, doctor’s office, eating lunch, or whenever they have a few minutes. I suppose that building stuff could be set up in a game like environment like Minecraft.
I can also see it being something they can share with others as Second Life is. Some type of Facebook like group building where only your friends can access the build/game you are making. Groups could have club houses rather than Circles.
The idea may have self run simulators hosted at some reasonable cost as is possible in OSGrid. This could effectively remove the griefer problem. Someone bugs you, lock them out. It’s your build. It effectively removes the Lab from having to mount a police force.
Second Life would survive as it would be the market place for buying and selling stuff to use both in Second Life and my imagined Second Life Lite. Many of us build in OpenSim and move things to Second Life for sale. It’s a faster cheaper process than building in Second Life. But, one can’t easily or safely sell in OpenSim, IMO.
I see possible directions, but it is all speculation for now.