Shug Maitland wrote What Does Second Life Need? I like that she thinks. Now she has me thinking.
A recent article of Inara’s got Shug thinking. All signs are that SL1, our current Second Life, and what I call SL2, the new virtual world Linden Lab is building, will run simultaneously. Shug’s question is can SL1 compete with SL2? Good question.
I’ve heard and read lots of opinions. But, few include why they hold their opinion.
Shug and many of the rest of us agree we need a better avatar, Avatar 2.0. The starter avatars we have now are probably the direction the Lab will go with SL2. The skeleton, skin, and animation will likely all get better.
Since fashion is the big money maker in SL1, having a better avatar will probably be a BIG selling point for SL2. But, is that enough to pull people away from SL1? I think eventually, yes. But, think about this.
The big reason given for not changing the SL1 avatar is legacy compatibility. Hamlet has often pointed out SL1 is held back by fear of what users will do. Changing the avatar and making all our clothes useless has been a big thing in avatar change discussions.
Now that we have fitted mesh and new fitted mesh avatar bodies, hands, feet, and heads… and they are popular… that argument appears to be fading. People are abandoning their large wardrobes of system clothes. Something that was thought to be unthinkable.
The Lab has taken a path that allows each person to decide what they want to do. No one is forced to do anything. We can use the new avatar bodies or not. I have yet to get one. But, I do have sets of feet and hands. I haven’t had work done on my face, butt, or boobs… I’m not into the blimps some women wear on their chests.
I think the ‘choice’ available path has saved the Lab a lot of drama. But, I doubt there will be any choice in SL2. We won’t really need one. But, those that refuse to give up their system clothes will likely not want to move to SL2. I think those adopting the new mesh bodies will have an easier time moving to SL2.
Also, I suspect designers will find it easy to move their products to SL2. I am certain there will be changes needed. However, I think that the Lab will be making the move as easy as possible. They have talked about their focus on designers.
Will SL1 find a way to make use of Avatar 2.0 acceptable? Can Oz and crew mitigate the attraction of SL2’s Avatar 2.0 (well their avatar 1.0 but you know what I mean… I hope)
Shug gets into scripting. I think I am a bit more of a scripter than Shug, but not an expert by any measure. However, from all I have heard her idea of the Lab tackling scripting is something that won’t happen in SL1. Too many Lindens have said too many time, ‘No Way!’
That doesn’t mean we won’t see changes in the area of scripts. I just don’t expect to see the changes in the basic Linden Script Language.
We know the Lab has a or some big plans for large scale products/features/changes. But, we also know they want to make improvements that touch the largest number of people/users. That suggests to me it won’t be scripting languages.
Besides. To avoid the drama show the Lindens can’t do something that would force all scripters to change all their scripts. The screaming and frustration would be too much. Nor is the Lab likely to move toward giving a choice of language as it would mean maintaining two or more scripting systems at a time when development resources are exceptionally precious.
I do expect the Lab to provide more in-world-script control of the viewer. This is sort of spin off of RLV. We see some of it in the coming in the Experience Tools project.
Shug believes that SL1 needs a simplified way of building mesh items. Fitted/rigged mesh items are the rage. Done well they improve performance. But, done poorly they kill performance. We are seeing performance in crowds of avatars dying. I expect coming new features in the viewer to turn that around.
But, can the Lab build a tool like the Build Panel for prims that works for mesh? Good question.
Cloud Party was developing some interesting interfaces for building there. They had a hybrid free form mesh and prim type tool. But, I have yet to see anyone take on including a Blender/3D Max/Maya type tool into a virtual world viewer. I doubt the Lab would try that. I did see Blender for Android. But, I just don’t see it happening for the Second Life Viewer.
Some other type of simplified 3D mesh editor could be in the works or plans. We know the 3D mesh import feature is being worked on and we have a Project Viewer being used to provide feedback. (Project Importer Viewer version 188.8.131.528441) So, something is going in that area of development.
I have my doubts as to whether a simple 3D mesh editor would be a good use of Linden resources. 3D modeling is complex… way complex. Trying to make a beginners-3D-modeling-tool to reduce the learning curve just hasn’t worked all that well for anyone. Simplified tools always have a lot left out. Meaning they are very restrictive. I’m pretty sure people would never be happy with the result.
I basically agree with Shug something needs be done to help those new to mesh modeling get started. I’m just not sure there is anything that is better than what we have and I’m not just saying what we have in SL, but in RL too. Since no one anywhere has done a good job of creating such a tool, I think that is a lot for the Lab to take on and the risk of failing is high.
As to a simplified building tool, CP did have some interesting ways to work with mesh. As Shug suggests the Lab may be able to add something like that into the existing prim tools. But, will it make users happy? I suspect not.
Since both SL1 & 2 will have this modeling problem, it doesn’t seem to be an incentive or disincentive to stay with or leave SL1.
We got some new ways to interact with social media in the last year or so. But, Shug would like to see some better ways for SL to interface/interact with social media. Especially on the receiving end. Much of what happens on twitter is unknown by most SL users.
The problem with social media is the name problem. Real or alternate? I don’t even use my RL name on my RL Facebook, the major source of information for ID thieves. But, that does complicate things in the smart phone age where accounts are tied to phone numbers. As we get more and more phone numbers that are life long, we’ll probably see that increasing. This makes it hard not to link alternate names, which defeats the point.
Resolving this ‘name’ problem is outside the Lab’s ability. They don’t control Facebook and other social media apps.
I don’t see the Lab improving our use of Second Life and Social Media until Lindens actually deal with the issues in a personal way. I believe they give it intellectual lip service, that is my way of saying reading a book about racing cars is different than driving one in a race. They intellectually understand the problem. But, personal experience in this area is something I think they lack.
As it is now I have a web browser, and sets of social accounts, and email for my avatar. I have another set of these for my RL me. That pretty much works but it is also a PITA. Until one deals with this there is way to really understand.
What Else Does SL! Need to Survive or… GROW?
Shug asks for what others think SL1 needs. Another good question.
Since people are in Second Life for so many diverse reasons we probably need to look at a collection of things. But, we have been asking this question for years now. Slightly different as, How do we get more people into Second Life?
My favorite thing is the easy access challenge. How do I get my region and shop into Bing/Google/Yahoo search? Billions of people can then find me if I can do that.
Next, how do I get them from Bing/Google/Yahoo search to my region in one easy click? OK. This is no simple challenge. But, if I am General Motors or Samsung I am not about to spend big dollars on a region in SL1 or 2 that no one will see.
As it is now I can probably get my region into Bing/Google/Yahoo search. But, when a user clicks on it they land on a SecondLife.com signup page, unless they are already a user. Then signup, download viewer, install viewer, and figure out how to use the viewer. By then they’ve forgotten why they came to SL…
It has to be easier.
They are talking about using Oculus Rift headsets with mobile devices… I have no clue how that will work. But, we have to consider mobile. Smart phones, tablets, and smart watches are taking over much of the digital world.
Clicking on a Google search result and going to SL Go is not a better solution than what we have now. So, how do we deal with mobile?
Will SL2 be able to handle mobile devices? We don’t know. We have a few Ebbe Linden statements saying they are working at it. I am willing to bet they are working on making it so for SL2. But, can Oz Linden and team make that happen for SL1? I don’t know. The SL1 and SL2 devs are sharing tech. So…
Or maybe they will buy SL Go and develop something that renders in the server and runs in a web browser. It has been at least a couple of years since they tried anything like that.
Browsers are advancing. Microsoft will release a new browser this year with Windows 10. Google has been moving Chrome toward handling more graphics intense applications. We may be able to have a pretty decent experience in the web browsers. If regions are modified to deal with HTTP requests and deliver up a region, we may be at one-click-to-in-world-tech.
May be they can build a server that will deliver a region to a mobile decide. It is certainly going to be needed. If SL2 has it and SL1 does not, that is a big draw to SL2 for millions of people.
Mobile could be the single biggest draw to SL2.
Right now having 20+ avatars in a region is a problem. We have to give up our genitals and clothes to attend a concert or other event. Well, some high end machines seem to be able carry the load. But, that EXCLUDES mobile devices and most cheap computers that use Intel HD CPU graphics engines. Intel is advancing their tech. But, they are nowhere near NVIDIA. My NVIDIA 560 still only runs at 20 to 40% load when I am bogged down to 7 to 9 FPS. My CPU’s (quad core) seldom gets over 80%.
The Intel people have developed the tech to place 1,000+ avatars in a region with minimal lag. We have seen the tech as it developed in OpenSim. But, no one is using it. Will the Lab add the tech to SL? This is a big thing. We have complained about maximum population limits per region for a long time.
If SL1 does not have the ability to support crowds and SL2 does, that will be another big draw in SL2’s favor.
Finding People and Places
Things improved when we got the destination guide. But, new users still ask where everyone is… or where to go.
Better ways of finding crowds would help. But, that isn’t so much a problem of not having the tools as it is people not knowing how to use them or that they exist.
We have a complex world. SL is every bit as complex as RL. The result is the viewer is complex and has a high learning curve. We like to think it could be made more simply. But, no one has achieved that yet. I think of all the viewers that can be used with SL the SL Viewer by the Lindens is the easiest to learn. Firefox is far more complex. I class it the power users viewer of choice. I don’t recommend it for new users. BUT… if I can get a user to go to Firestorm classes, then the FS Viewer is WAY WAY easier to learn.
All the third part viewers have more complexity. I’m not aware of an easier to use third party viewer.
The Lab tried using a beginners and pro user version viewer. They gave that up.
While I think this is an area they could improve, I can’t see WHAT could be done. I think the viewer tools are there. So, this is more of an education problem in a ‘game’ where no one wants to spend time learning. I and others do not want to go to college to learn how to play on the playground. I don’t see a way to overcome people’s natural behavior. So, we see this problem in SL and RL.