Tag Archives: Second Life

Upcoming changes to land damage in Second Life

secondlifeAs previously reported in these pages, in April the Lab made some changes to the behaviour of Damage settings on land. At the time, the changes caused a certain amount of confusion in the way they limited people’s abilities to set Damage compared to previous behaviour.

As a result, a number of bugs were filed against the changes, including BUG-9098BUG-9253 and particularly BUG-9422, prompting the Lab to acknowledge there are issues, and promise to look into matters to see if anything could be done to improve things.

As a result of this, the Lab has now come up with a proposal on how Damage can be managed at both the region and the parcel level (there are no plans to offer Damage settings at the estate level) in order to provide region and parcel holders the greatest flexibility on how Damage can be managed on their land, as identified in the various use cases offered through the bug reports.

One of the issues resulting for the April changes to Damage: if the Allow Damage option is disabled at the region level, it could no longer be set at the parcel level - click to enlarge (image courtesy of Whirly Fizzle)

One of the issues resulting for the April changes to Damage: if the Allow Damage option is disabled at the region level, it could no longer be set at the parcel level – click to enlarge (image courtesy of Whirly Fizzle)

The proposal was unveiled by Oz and Grumpity Linden at the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, July 31st, and the detailed discussion of the changes can be heard via the meeting’s video (11:16 through 19:16). However, in essence, it is being proposed that:

  • The current Region / Estate > Region > Allow Damage function will remain, and is set to off by default – so damage will be disabled at the region level by default
  • A new setting, Allow Parcel to Override Damage will be added to  Region / Estate > Region, which will allow parcel owners within a region to set Damage for their land, even if it is disabled at the region level via Allow Damage. This will be set to on by default
  • The About Land > Options > Safe (No  Damage) option will be unchecked by default – so Damage will by default be on at the parcel level by default.

Thus, under this approach, and by default, parcel owners can still have Damage enabled if they wish, while the region owner can have it disabled in order to make places like public areas safe from unintentional Damage, for example.

However, region owners will be able to retain overall control for setting Damage on a region by unchecking Allow Parcel to Override Damage. This will cause the entire region to obey whatever is set via Allow Damage, and the Safe (No Damage) option in About Land > Options will be disabled / greyed-out for all parcels, preventing parcel holders from changing it.

In addition, further changes will be made to the viewer so that it will only display Damage icons in regions / parcels where Damage is enabled.

Currently, there are no times scales for when these changes (which will involve updates to both the simulator code and to the viewer) might be implemented; the idea at the moment is to gain feedback on the proposal as it stands. Furthermore, the Lab is still examining how they might ensure that any current settings for Damage people have on their land are correctly preserved when any changes are eventually rolled-out (although it is likely some people may have to manually readjust the Damage settings on their land once changes have been made, even with the best efforts on the Lab’s part to avoid this).

Once the changes have been finalised and time tabled for implementation, the Lab will hopefully communicate them ahead of release via a blog post / announcement and through the viewer’s MOTD. I’ll also be covering the changes when they are ready to be deployed.

Lab launches resident-focused Second Life promotional videos

secondlifeOn July 20th, 2015, Linden Lab issued two new Second Life  promotional videos on their official YouTube channel.

Both are entitled Second Life – The Largest-Ever 3D Virtual World Created By Users, and combine footage shot by the Lab (some of which has been seen in past promotional videos) with footage from Draxtor Despres’ outstanding World Makers series.

There’s nothing actually new in this per se; the Lab combined their own footage with some from World Makers in their December 2013 promotional pieces, which I reviewed here.

However, what makes these different is that overlaying the video footage are a series of audio clips taken from the World Makers series (and possibly elsewhere), featuring Second Life users talking directly about the platform.

Thus, unlike the purely music-based videos before them, these offer a very user-centric look at Second Life which makes them compelling viewing, and perhaps the best promotional videos yet produced for the platform.

At a minute in length, the first video can afford to offer a more visual lead-in, with a series of clips from around SL. It can also obviously offer more audio content, and I have to say that the inclusion of a clip of Zachh Barkley talking about his own attraction to SL is particularly effective in adding depth to the piece.

The second video, just 30 seconds in length, offers a more defined view of Second Life ideally suited to the shorter attention span, but which is no less compelling or effective than the longer version.

I’ve long been an advocate of the Lab collaborating with users to produce suitable promotional material for Second Life, both by working with machinima makers and using the creative talents of users themselves.

While these videos move in a somewhat different direction to the one I imagined when writing on the subject, they are nevertheless a move entirely in the right direction. Both showcase Second Life beautifully and in a manner that really speaks to the audience. As such, I hope we’ll see them used widely in promotional campaigns – and see more pieces of a similar nature in the future.

Kudos to the Lab and all involved in their production.

A look at Dr. Phil’s show “featuring” Second Life

Dr. Phil McGraw is a psychologist turned television talk show host who first rose to prominence in The Oprah Winfrey Show in the 1990s prior to migrating to his own show in 2002, simply entitled Dr Phil. In it, he deals with a wide range of topics, offering advice in the form of “life strategies” based on his professional experiences as a psychologist.

Dr. Phil McGraw (courtesy CBS Television)

Dr. Phil McGraw (courtesy CBS Television)

The show is a staple in the diet of US weekday television, and in the run-up to the July 14th show, Won’t Work, Won’t Go to School: “My Son Just Wants to Game All Day”, there was much brouhaha about the announcement that Second Life would be featured in the segment.

“Featured” tends to suggest a major role; as such, there were many efforts to promote the platform’s inclusion in the show through social media. There were also a number of blog posts expressing some concern as to how SL would be represented in the show.

Such reactions are understandable. This is our platform after all, so promoting it when the mainstream media shows an interest is a natural reaction. At the same time, given the focus of this segment was advertised ahead of time to be about computer game addiction, it was not really surprising that a certain nervousness as to how the platform might be portrayed was evidenced.

In the event, any concerns regarding just how Second Life might be portrayed proved to be without cause. not so much because it is shown fairly positively within the programme, but rather because, quite frankly, the role it played was actually very minor; the overall focus for the programme was  squarely on the stated subject of computer game addiction.

Yes, Dr Phil is shown in-world at places like Creations Park and Mont Saint-Michel, but really, SL is completely secondary to the show's focus

Yes, Dr Phil is shown in-world at places like Creations Park and Mont Saint-Michel, but really, SL is completely secondary to the show’s focus

We often joke about being “addicted” to this or that – including computer games; but the truth is that in extreme cases, “addiction” is precisely the correct term. Those suffering from it demonstrate the same responses and reasoning as those caught in more “traditional” forms of addiction such as drugs or alcohol; so much so that it is now beginning to be treated as a clinical condition by healthcare specialists.

Such is the case with the focus of the show: 23-year-old Justin, who is in every sense of the word, an addict. He is almost completely dependent upon playing computer games to the exclusion of all else (other than marijuana), including caring for his own body.

To be honest, in reading about the show on the Lab’s blog and elsewhere, I was somewhat concerned about what might be presented – but not because of the manner in which Second Life might or might not be presented.

Justin - the young man at the centre of the show

Justin – the young man at the centre of the show

Addiction of any sort can be a traumatic situation for all parties caught within it; be it the person with the addiction or their family or loved ones. As such, I couldn’t help but wonder just how Dr Phil  –  a programme I’ve admittedly never seen before, but which have been accused in the past of taking a “simplistic” approach to the topics covered – would handle the issue. Would it, if not sensationalize the issue and Justin’s situation, opt to reduce it to platitudes and sound bites for the sake of daytime television?

My concerns were somewhat unfounded; what we actually get is a reasonable study of Justin’s life and the factors which have contributed to his situation. These include long-standing family history (suicides, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse); his mother’s own reticence to constructively deal with his childhood obsession with video games; his own personal trauma of being hit by a car at age 15, with a possible undiagnosed closed head injury that brought about a subsequent change in his nature; all of these are covered in a manner which is not accusatory or gratuitous. In addition, Dr. Kenneth Woog of the Computer Addiction Treatment Program, discusses the similarities between computer gaming addiction and more recognised forms of addiction, such as drug abuse.

There are the inevitable elements of drama in the show – notably around Justin’s examination by Dr. Rachael Ross and the clips of his home lifestyle, but on the whole what is presented here is a balanced look at a young man’s addiction. Also, it has to be said that given the segment is just 38 minutes in length, some matters are only lightly touched upon; at several points I found myself wanting Phil McGraw to follow-up more closely on comments passed by both Justin and his mother.

However, for a show that does get critiqued at times for its manner in addressing some issues, as noted above, this one did seem to offer a solid means by which Justin could obtain further help, both through the Lawlis Peavey PNP Center (often used as a referral centre in the show) to further evaluate Justin’s condition, and the offer of a stay at a dual diagnosis treatment centre to help Justin deal with his addiction, depression and anxiety. I’d also hope that some measure of support was also extended to his mother and step-father, both of whom could perhaps use some counselling in how to more positively support Justin in handling his addiction.

I’m still not overly convinced as to the amount of clinical good that comes out of programmes like this, and there is certainly a good deal that could be debated about their merits or otherwise. As it is, and strictly in terms of this particular segment, it would be interesting to see a follow-up, say a year or so hence, so that we might learn how Justin has managed with his addiction and the results of the assistance offered to him.

As far as Second Life is concerned, the show references it twice. The first time is just after the opening titles, when there is around 90 second of footage showing McGraw’s avatar in-world (and McGraw initially manipulating it). Then, around two-thirds of the way through the show, Ebbe Altberg gets to talk about the more positive influences of virtual environments, overlaid with further clips from in-world, for about 60 seconds. In both instances, the platform is used to underline the fact that engaging in computer games and virtual environments is not in itself necessarily toxic, and to counterpoint any generalisations that might be drawn that this is the case.

If you’ve not seen the show, here’s a video (but not from the official Dr. Phil channel).

Lab invites users to “Ask the CEO”

secondlifeOn Friday, June 26th, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg faced questions from Saffia Widdershins, Jo Yardley and the audience in the last of the Meet the Lindens series sponsored by Prim Perfect.

I have a transcript of that discussion / Q&A, as recorded by Chakat Northspring, available in this blog. Since posting that blog post, the Lab have posted the official video footage from the session.

However, as the Lab notes in a blog post published on Tuesday, July 14th, there were a number of questions asked (many in chat from the audience) which didn’t get to be addressed. There are also doubtless many more questions people have about both Second Life and Project Sansar they hope might be answered.

To this end, as again as indicated by the Lab’s own blog post, a new forum discussion thread has been opened, and residents are invited to Ask the CEO questions about either platform which he, or designated staff members from the Lab, will endeavour to answer – starting with those that didn’t receive an answer during the show.

Ebbe and Saffia getting ready for the SL12B discussion on June

Ebbe and Saffia getting ready for the SL12B discussion on June 26th – now you can put further questions to him on Sl and Sansar via the forums

This isn’t the first time the Lab has taken such an approach; following the initial news about Sansar’s development being given by Ebbe back in June 2014, he spent a considerable amount of time within a forum thread attempting to answer questions from users (and at the time, unfortunately being faced with no small amount of trolling by some determined to try to derail the discussion).

So, if you need to refresh you mind on what was said during the SL12B interview, feel free to check-out the official video or cast your eyes through my transcript. Then, if you have questions for the Lab on either Sansar or SL (or both), why not head on over to the forum and write them up?