Jeff Petersen has joined Linden Lab as the new VP of Engineering. Going under the name of Bagman Linden, Petersen is the second major hire the Lab has made from the gaming community, following-on from the recruitment of Rod Humble as CEO.
He’s certainly an interesting choice, as he notes himself:
For me, the challenges and the opportunities at the Lab are a perfect fit for my background. I come to the Lab with over 20 years of experience as a game developer and engineering lead, primarily in the MMO area. Prior to joining Linden Lab, I spent 10 years working for Sony Online Entertainment doing MMO RPG development (with a focus on the networking, servers, and core technologies), along with PS3 and PSP development. Some of the titles that I worked on include: Everquest, Everquest II, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, Untold Legends PS3, Field Commander PSP, FreeRealms, and CloneWars Adventures.
Old timers may remember an early entry into MMO gaming that I developed in a game called Subspace, published by Virgin Interactive Entertainment in 1996. The unique relationship I had with the player base of this product mirrors the relationship between the Lindens and the Residents in many ways. If there is one thing I’ve learned about MMO gaming over the years it is that MMO products have a life of their own, and the player investment in the product is a key aspect of that. Second Life is no different in this regard. The Residents of Second Life want to see the product succeed every bit as much as Linden Lab does.
Reading this, one cannot help but think that Humble himself had a direct hand in the recruitment of Petersen: the words may be a little different between the two of them, but the sentiment is the same. It is certainly refreshing to hear yet another senior at the Lab talking in terms of player investment in the platform; something that has been a theme of mine for a while now – and to which I’ll be returning.
Another theme that Humble himself has frequently raised in various interviews is the fact that one of the biggest impediments to people getting to grips with Second Life remains the Viewer; and not just new users. From the comments he has made, it’s pretty clear that Humble would like to see the Viewer overhauled for the benefit of the community as a whole. Given this, it is going to be extremely interesting to see what Petersen brings to the table in terms of Viewer development.
Beyond that, it is also interesting to note Petersen’s extensive background in console game development at Sony. There have been more than a few suggestions made that one way in which SL might reach a wider audience might be through the development of a console-based Viewer. It’ll be interesting to see if, over time, any moves are made in this direction as a result of Petersen’s appointment.