I am seeing a huge number of miss quotes of Ebbe comments and what I’ll call hallucinations about Ebbe’s Friday comments about a new Second Life.
I’ve heard in several places that MOST of the Lab’s resources were to be directed at creating a new Second Life type virtual world. Ebbe said the MAJORITY of resources. That could be anything from 99% to 51%. So, when you hear some say MOST, salt the rest of what they say too.
I suspect that for this year and until SL 2.0 is running there will be something like a 30/70 or 40/60 split in resources. Remember. SL 1.0 is the cash cow. Cutting off its life blood (man power) and allowing it to fall behind the technology curve could collapse the company if SL 2.0 is not the hoped for success. While they plan for it to be wonderful, they can’t know that it will be accepted. A smart manager would protect the company by hedging. Thus the Lab started diversifying. I suspect Ebbe is doing that hedging thing with SL. But, I can only base that on his choice of words.
There are numerous statements that Oz Linden is in charge of a SMALL team that will improve SL 1.0. But, it is a small team in comparison to what they have had for the last couple of years. So, does that mean half the size? We don’t know. The Lindens aren’t saying.
If 100+ software engineers were the size for the past couple of years would a small team by comparison be 50? If it is, consider that 50 is still bigger than a number of game development companies. The point here is not to be jumping to conclusions.
Third Party Viewers
There is also a conclusion that since what I call SL 2.0 will start out 100% propriety there will be no third party viewers. But, that presupposes there will be viewers. There may not be any viewers. We simply do not know.
We do know that having to download a viewer has been considered a major obstacle to Second Life’s acceptance. So, they may find a way to avoid having a viewer. Unity and Unreal are coming up with ways to have high quality images in the basic Internet browsers. I would say there is a reasonable argument to be made both for having a viewer and having no viewer.
This is a significant unknown. There is also a lot of confusion, ambiguity, and misunderstanding in what many are saying. But, Ebbe did tell us that compatibility is not a requirement that is going to be allowed to hold back making a BETTER virtual world.
There are several problems with SL 1.0 that we know people are unhappy with. A big one is AVATARS. So, the chances of our system clothes (shirts, skins, pants, etc.) being directly transferable are slim.
On the other hand, since content creators are king, there may be an easy way for them to convert creations to the newer format. We know that every modeling system in use and most conceived use mesh, UV Maps, and textures. The hardware is optimized for that. Even HyFy is expected to use that paradigm for nearby objects and then their system will start converting things to voxels as levels of detail decrease. So, it is reasonable to assume the same will be true of SL 2.0.
We can reasonably assume the new avatar will be a better model, it will have a better mesh layout, it will have better weighting, the skeleton is likely to be better and more flexible, and animations will improve how it moves and increase the parts we can animate.
Consider what Cloud Party and Blues Mars were doing. Those are the most recent endeavors to build a virtual world with the newest tech. What new tech is out there that can be used right now… that you did not see in those two? Have you looked for voxel modeling programs? The largest number of people are modeling with mesh. That suggests that systems like a SL 2.0 or HyFy will be finding ways to convert mesh to voxels and not making users learn a new modeling style. I am expecting Sl 2.0 to continue to use mesh.
Google new 3D modeling technology. What I see is a large number of programs that turn what we see in the RL world around us to data that can be made into mesh objects for use in existing computer systems. But, there are new interesting replacements for mesh. But, will a SL 2.0 try to make that jump and use them? Probably not, that is HyFy territory.
I suspect most of a new SL will be the support code. Ebbe’s mentioned reduced hardware requirements and more efficient programming suggests to me much of the change will be in infrastructure changes. I don’t see anything that suggests they will try to use voxels or other new tech. But, may be. I just hear Ebbe says better, not revolutionary.
Ebbe repeatedly says better, not different.
The announcement of a new SL 2.0 being in development brings uncertainly. But, is this uncertainty any different than the announcement of Blue Mars or Cloud Party? We had a number of people that moved to those worlds. How much of an imapact did they have on SL? Was their time in those worlds wasted? That is probably a matter of opinion. But, their creations in those worlds is for most purposes useless.
No matter what anyone says the announcement points out and brings home we do not know what is to come. That is uncertainty or at least focuses us on uncertainty that has always been there. Uncertainty is the death of businesses in a free market. We will find out first hand why that is true.
- Will you stop spending money in SL?
- Will you spend less money in SL?
- Does the idea of SL 2.0 make a difference to your plans for spending?
For myself, it makes little difference. I am still going to be trying to figure out how to make render efficient mesh clothes and mesh furniture and texture them well. And I plan to enjoy SL while I learn.
But, if I were renting a region and paying for it with sales… I would be uncertain of what you guys are going to do and thus uncertain of what I would do. I certainly would not be expanding my business until I could decide based on events. This is much like what we see happening in real life in the U.S.
Until the uncertainty can be removed, SL is likely to have some problems. Over the next couple of months we will see what happens with region leasing. More or less or no change in trend?
If it starts to decrease and we see people dropping regions we can assume the majority of the movers and shakers are tightening their belts. If it stabilizes, we can assume people are riding out. If it starts to grow, we can assume people see an investment in SL as being an investment toward having a customer base in SL 2.0. Think: if True Hair is good here (SL 1.0) then it will be good in SL 2.0 and you’ll buy it if you see it there.
We have no way to know what the majority of people will decide. Until we do, we can’t know which way to jump. Since I don’t have a large cash flow in SL or expense, I don’t have to jump. So, I can ride it out.
Osborne – if you go back in history you’ll find a computer company named Osborne Computer Corporation. It was successful, going gang busters. They had lots of orders for the existing model. So many they had a hard time filling them. Just as all the newly built machines came in to be shipped out, they announced a new model to be released at some future date. Everyone called up and canceled their orders. The company could not sell the warehouse full of the current model. They went bankrupt. There is a lesson in here.
There are those like Jessica Lyon, Firestorm Viewer Team, that are asking people to do something. See her post: Second Life Needs You! She wants you to come up with the feature that will make SL 1.0 (I think she means 1.0 because she refers to Oz) bigger and better… like we haven’t been doing that? Well, whatever. If you have ideas, help her out.
There is another crowd of people that are just negative. Their venomous opinions are not founded on anything. Their speculations and claims ignore what we know and what reliable people in the Lab have said. But, I see the negative thinking spreading. Avoid being influenced by ignorance and negativism.
We can only hope that Ebbe has not pulled off an Osborne style blunder. I think things are different enough that it won’t be a similar case. If Ebbe can get this new world up and running in 2015, the year the Oculus style headsets will probably go retail, he may have the newest virtual world for those wanting to play with VR.
If he can pull it off, SL 2.0 may explode. Linden Lab is certainly well positioned. Ebbe seems genuinely interested in the SL users and seems to like talking with us. He certainly seems to understand who the users are. I suspect he will take good care of the customer base. While we hear often that Content Creators are King, Ebbe is not a content creator and is thus well aware of the general consumers needs. You won’t hear that part of his comments quoted. But, he has talked about it and gather he isn’t forgetting the ‘consumer’ type users.
So, I am hopeful that significant parts of what we have will in some way transfer to SL 2.0. Ebbe won’t allow compatibility to hold 2.0 back. But, I believe he is going to take care of the majority of users as best he can. It will be interesting to see how well he balances things and what we can and cannot transfer to SL 2.0.