Project Sansar: What’s Different? Has Linden Lab Learned Anything from Second Life?

Stephanie Condon wrote Second Life™ Lessons: What Linden Lab is doing differently with its new VR platform for ZDNet’s Between the Lines, a sort of technology meets society section of the site.

Let's party

Let’s party

Stephanie points out that Second Life (SL) was thought to be the tech revolution to take over the web, way back in 2006-2007 when an Internet in 3D was imagined. But… it didn’t happen. SL has remained profitable. It just didn’t catch on as people expected. 

With Virtual Reality (VR) we have the same types of predictions. A company called Digi-Capital predicts that in just 4 more years (2020) VR will be a US$30 billion a year business.

Stephanie has the idea that Linden Lab has learned what works for people immersing their selves in a virtual world (VW). She quotes Linden Lab’s (LL) CEO, Ebbe Altberg’s words, “…a lot of things that really constrained how successful Second Life could be. It could’ve been much more successful.

One problem with any VW becoming popular is a lack of content. I suppose the idea is like, if the world had only one tree and you came and saw it… you would quickly be ready to move on to something else. So, the Lab is building and enlisting others to build content for Sansar. But, the under lying idea is to make Sansar a simple easy way for anyone to build 3D virtual content. The more people building, the more content there will be.

Stephanie points out that VR content is currently being built in complex systems like the UNREAL gaming engine, or Cry or Unity or whatever. Not the everyday person’s tool. Her next Ebbe quote gives those of us following Sansar a bit of spin on what we have previously heard and likely think, “Creators won’t need to worry about figuring out how to host and distribute their creations [or] host their own servers. Instead, they’ll be able to simply publish their creations to our cloud, where they can be easily discovered and accessed by their audiences.

If you have ever hosted your own VW in OpenSim using your personal computer or a leased host you are well aware of the learning curve involved. What Ebbe is describing is somewhat like what we see in SL. We can lease a server, call it a simulator or region… however you think of it, and build our whatever.

The same idea is being designed into Sansar as a solution for a problem facing those wanting to build VR experiences. So, it is easy to say the Lab has learned the whole hosting and server setup thing is something of an obstacle and has to be moved out of the way, made easy.

Access – This is a big problem in SL. How do people find out about places in SL? In general, they don’t. You can’t Google for places in Second Life. Well, you can search on the phrase ‘places in “second life”’ and get results. But, the typical searcher is looking for places without knowing about SL. They don’t know to use that phrase.

Search for ‘virtual world combat games’. SL isn’t listed in the first 3 pages of results. A paid ad pops up. But, no one is going to find a listing for NoR or Sin City in Google without specifically knowing those names.

This is being done differently in Project Sansar. The idea is Sansar VR-VW’s will show up in Google/Yahoo searches. And it is in this section of Stephanie’s article that Ebbe clearly points out that Sansar WILL run on a desktop without a requirement for VR gear. But, for full immersion one will need VR gear.

Scalability – Ebbe is quoted pointing out SL was built ‘ad hoc’. Meaning people solved problems encountered rather than planned for. This is where the Lab was learning.

With Sansar the overall SL system is considered and a better “property system” designed so that less than fully optimized user created content can be rendered at 90 frames per second (FPS). The system will allow an unlimited number of concurrent users to experience the content. That eliminates the 7-80 concurrent user cap we see in SL, which is mostly about 40 concurrent users these days.

Another page follows, link below.

2 thoughts on “Project Sansar: What’s Different? Has Linden Lab Learned Anything from Second Life?

  1. If people are complaining about “a lack of content”, then they’re mistaking SL for a MMORPG.

    It’s not a game, people, it’s a Virtual Reality. Let’s just get that fact out of the way first.

    In this virtual reality, you can learn more than you could learn at any RL university or college (for free, no less, at in-world classes like the Builder’s Brewery ) and put that knowledge into creating RL wealth via SL’s marketplace and the LindeX currency exchange, so let’s stop talking about ‘content’.

    SecondLife is what YOU create within it and what YOU make it – for YOU.

    But, to get to the point at hand, in my opinion, LL has learned absolutely nothing; this is evidenced by the fact that they’re flushing away $20m on Project Sansar, rather than fixing what they’ve already created (SL).

    It’s also further evidenced by the fact that only a ‘chosen few’ creators are allowed in – for now.

    Worse still, when anyone else is eventually allowed in and they create a new avi for Sansar, they will be forced to use their RL names via FB – a move that will further kill Project Sansar before it even properly sees the light of day. It’s a disgustingly and blatantly dictatorial move by LL.

    Furthermore, the fact that LL management is a mess and they can’t hold on to good devs, should create alarm bells for everyone.

    The fact that they’re calling for free labor disguised as something to feel honored about (aka asking in-world creators to come be code monkeys and do their work for them), should be further cause for concern that they haven’t a clue what they’re doing and they’ve been losing staff like crazy. Something’s terribly wrong with LL management.

    Personally, I and several other SL residents will be avoiding Sansar like the plague it is.

    • You have an odd viewpoint…

      Whether LL has wasted their Sansar investment or not has yet to be decided. If Sansar succeeds, it was a good investment. But, if it fails, it still had to be tried.
      SL is simply not up-gradable. Technically, yes it could be. Socially an upgrade that destroys most existing content is unacceptable. Users would have abandoned SL in rage for having their inventories made obsolete and never returned. Look at the SL hated in OpenSim often from imagined slights.

      That legacy problem could not be solved any user acceptable way. Poorly optimized content in SL and user demands for legacy compatibility are the reasons Sansar is being built. There simply is no way to support VR with existing SL content. Plus a load of other technical problems.

      Chosen few… yep, it is a basic design tenant. All the sandbox apps start with a few chosen developers. Those with knowledge of what they are doing. The novices and ignorant are kept out so the developers can hear and work with the voices of the most knowledgeable people. Allowing the ignorant in creates chaos and time is wasted trying to educate them. LL is choosing the most knowledgeable people based on what they have done in SL and other development platforms… not who they are… but what they have done… accomplished. They are helping the achievers.

      No one is going to be forced to use their real life names. Ebbe has been over this several times. To stop the griefing we have in SL, Sansar will limit what you can do with a free anonymous account. To do more one has to share more personal information with LL. Even when completely identified that identification is only for LL’s use. Ebbe has said we will have control over how much personal information we share with other users.

      Sansar is not a democracy nor is SL. Both are privately owned simulations/businesses. We are guests in their place of business.

      LL has done a good job of providing SL users a high degree of creative freedom. I see no evidence that they have changed their thinking regarding creative freedom.

      Code moneys… AFAIK, LL is paying all their programmers. At this point people building content for Sansar are there because they want to be and see a possibility for future profit. Whether that happens is in the future. At this stage they are shaping Sansar so it will meet their needs. Just as the Bento participants have changed Linden thinking about how the Bento avatar should work. I suspect the same is happening with the Sansar development team.

      As to LL management being messed up… they have helped SL users, several hundred thousand, collectively make US$60 million in 2015. How many did you help make money in 2015 and how much?

      I suggest you study up on transference.

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