5 Minutes Isn’t Enough

Drax’s World Maker’s video interview with Rod Humble is great. But, there is much more information than what Drax could fit into five minutes. Also, video is suited more to right-brain thinking, at least as Drax made it, a blend of words, sounds, and images. I find it an emotionally uplifting video that is invigorating.

Jo Yardley's Blog

Jo Yardley’s Blog

But there is more left-brain information that came from the interview. There are things that fit into the “If this… then what about … and mustn’t this mean…” thinking.

The additional information can be found in an article published on Jo Yardley’s blog: The Rod Humble Interview

To Come

There is a part of the interview I think supports my thinking that Rod’s time scale and the users time scales are very different. In the previous article on Episode 7 I pointed to Rod’s SLCC 2011 speech where he spoke of things he was planning to do. Now in May/June 2013 he is saying some of that work is 30% to 40% complete and doubts much of that work is even evident in SL. He expects much of that work to be coming out in this 2nd and the 3rd quarters.

This would mean it has taken 2± years to for Rod to get his initial changes 40±% completed. I’ve listened to Gianna Borgnine, Qarl Fizz, and others complain about how long things take and even whether or not things discussed at SLCC 2011 were even going to happen. I think such thinking derives from people not understanding project scope, difficulty, constraints, and resource limitations. No matter where it comes from I take this as prima facie evidence the Lab and users are on way different time-scales.

Rod says for years the company had not dealt with performance issues. When Danger Linden came on board after the first week he spoke to Rod about how slow everything worked. Since then there has been a HUGE effort devoted to improving performance. Danger is lead on that project.

In the interview Rod says there are some really nice improvements coming and most of them will arrive this year. While he did not say which one was coming and expected to be out by SL10B, I suspect it is Server Side Appearance. But, he refers to “some really significant ones” that will be great for everyone. I guess we have to wait to see what those will be.

He also points out the things they have added; mesh, pathfinding, and a flexible user interface (CHUI would apparently be part of that implementation). He tells us more is coming. For now we know about Materials, which is in the current Beta viewer now. But, what’s behind it? Well, I expect Experience Tools, but that is a guess. Beyond that, I don’t know.

We do know Oculus Rift is being added as a display device. Rod points out that getting OR to work with SL is not difficult. But as I’ve been saying and is pointed out in Oculus Rift 2013-21 the user interface is going to be a problem. Watch the video in that reference (22 minutes) and then think of all the panels that float around in our viewers. It is the UI that Rod has the Lab focused on getting right.

I wonder if the changes for the OR will have an influence on interface design for the non-OR viewers? Will these be separate viewers? I wouldn’t be surprised.


Rod talks a bit about Second Life’s reputation in the interview. At one point he mentions being asked about the single largest misconception of Second Life. He relates, “I was actually on stage last weekend and I got asked about the biggest misconception about Second Life and my answer is; We have the same amount of interest in adult content as Google does but you don’t think of Google as the Adult search engine, which it is!”

At another point he says, “I think it is because video games, at least in the UK and United States, it’s always been very taboo. It’s okay to have genocide, blowing people’s heads off, but heaven forbid you show an act of love.”

I have started research on the reputation of Second Life. There are some interesting facts I’ve found. I may get around to publishing it.


In some ways I would take what Rod is saying in the interview as more about the health and longevity of Second Life than just the economy.

Rod, in the video and interview, tells there are a million unique users per month logging into Second Life. Additionally 400k new users sign up per month. That is impressive.

We know and Rod confirms that SL is losing land, private regions. But, while we lose land the economy is growing. Go figure…

Rod says, “It is always amazing to me as a businessman seeing the way that the Second Life business evolves and it is so driven by the users, it changes in ways you wouldn’t expect.”

Well, that is what a free market does, changes in ways people do not expect… which is why excessive control stifles innovation.

Rod sees SL as robust and healthy. It is a group of users and bloggers that think SL is dying. I get around to those people in my ‘reputation’ research. I am finding these are mostly people ignorant of what is really happening and base their opinions on their limited experience of matters.

One of the things that happen as land area deceases is population density increases. The likelihood of meeting and interacting with other people goes up. The study by Chun-Yuen Teng and Lada A. Adamic show this is the single most important factor for player retention. So, as land area decreases there is likelihood player retention will improve.

I think there is some point where there is an ideal land to player ratio. Either side of that point would see less player retention. I think we could lose lots of land before such loss becomes a negative thing for player retention. But, I have no hard data on that.


The interview provides lots of food for thought.

4 thoughts on “5 Minutes Isn’t Enough

  1. I think your comments and Rod’e interview are very interesting. SL has never been a game to me, any more than any other important area of my life – and it is one of the most important, somewhere I live, laugh, cry, build, sing and love all the time. But, yes, but …… the most negative area of Second Life for me, and I think other people, is griefing – it impacts negatively out of all proportion to the number of griefers I believe.

    However, nevertheless and but again ….. I don’t want more control or a bigger governance team, just more land options and control over things like particles and object spam to be able to deal with griefing myself. Please Rod!

    [ ….. oh well, perhaps apart from perhaps something to stop known griefing tools being sold on MP, but that’s less impoortant.]

  2. One thing that occurred to me that is related to Server Side Appearance and really is an ‘elephant in the room’ is the way the viewer handles other avatars it can see. I believe that after SSA comes in we may see BIG improvements in performance in crowded sims because a lot of the load of handling this will be pushed back to LL’s better hardware. I may be completely wrong of course, but hopefully I am not.

    • They seem to be doing lots of things to take load off the region servers. So, you could be right.

      I’m not sure any single thing like SSA will make much difference. But, as lots of little changes pile up, it should be significant. Or as you say, we may see a bunch of improvement with SSA.

  3. While I have not always been a fan of the decisions and priorities made under Rod’s command (loss of last names and pathfinding for example), we are moving in a positive direction! There were big / deep problems when he arrived and those are being addressed.
    One of the most significant issues is communication between the community and the lab. Improvement on that one problem is enough to give me hope.
    On the technical side, big problems can not be resolved overnight or all at once. A year by year schedule of improvements reflects a sensible approach to a better SL the takes advantages of an ever-changing technology without tearing everything down and starting over.
    Hopefully next year we will see LL continue down this path. – – – Avatar2 with integrated mesh deformer anyone?

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