- LL announced Premium Memberships were getting an overhaul & then offered them at a conditional discount for a weekend; support items were added to the SL search, and they also issued a “casting call” for a new ad campaign which eventually lead to a so-so video
- Both Imprudence and Phoenix celebrated birthdays while Metabolt and Radegast issued updates – the latter featuring its remarkable 3D scene renderer; Firestorm, Dolphin and Catznip all gained mesh rendering
- With mesh in general, changes to the official Viewer started to appear, I interviewed the remarkable Claudia222 Jewell and looked at using the Beta grid in mesh content creation while LL downgraded the JIRA for a parametric deformer
- A new V3-based Viewer arrived in the form of Exodus, which also incorporated combat functionality
- There was sad news from Kirsten’s Viewer, followed by a ray of hope and positive feedback from the team
- September saw quite a build-up for BURN2, with announcements on the invited artists, land rushes & the main schedule while I managed to preview the sims at the end of the month; at the same time, LEA announced their participants in the Full Sim Art Series
- LL caused upset and consternation with not one, but two code breakages in the month, as well as upsetting merchants – all through potentially avoidable errors
- There was a fascinating presentation from the US Army on their use of OpenSim for non-military research
- We saw a lot of people get their pants in a paddy over region losses in SL
- After a light-hearted round of bantering on Twitter involving a number of people, I became an early recipient of Rodvik’s Pwnie
- Away from SL The Blu was launched as a Beta, and I dived in; while InWorldz hosted a major homes and residences exhibition
- Rod Humble shared a few tidbits on the official blog, prompting me to reply with some thoughts of my own; little did we know then just how close changes were – or how radical
- OpenSim beat SL to the line with NPCs as they and mesh rendering together with other goodies “officially” launched with the release of server version 0.7.2
- Thanks to an almost throwaway comment by Qarl Fizz (nee: Linden, if I may use that term, otherwise known as Karl Stiefvater) on Hamlet Au’s blog, Maxwell Graf put together a project to try to resolve the issue of getting mesh clothing to fit avatars, rather than vice-versa. This resulted in $5400+ being raised in 20 days, allowing the project to formally commence, and I took time out to talk to Max about it
- Also on the mesh front, Land Impact became official, and the V1-based Singularity Viewer gained mesh rendering
- The inaugural installation in the LEA’s Full Sim Art series saw Second Life literally go to hell as Rebeca Bashly’s stunning Inferno opened, as did LEA’s The Path, the first of four three-month exhibitions; LEA also announced a 20-sim deal with LL; at the same time, the absolutely stunning Through the Lens of Dreams opened at Art Screamer; I visited Postcards Home at Originialia and also attended Shenchai’s Library’s Halloween presentations of The War of the Worlds
- Code relating to Direct Delivery started arriving on the Main Grid and Direct Messaging came to Web Profiles and we had some reasonably good economic metrics for Q3; things then went somewhat awry with another grid-wide megaprim removal
- The Lab somewhat surprisingly launched a private region sale which, while not stopping the weekly losses of sims from the grid, actually did much to reverse losses to date; unsurprisingly, those who had made a big song and dance about revenue losses in September failed to comment on this reversal of their doomometers…
- The Adult Gateway situation continued to boil when a notecard circulated in-world revealing the winning bid while LL kept quiet in meetings; meanwhile, and in contrast to predictions that LL were trying to “kill” Adult content, the Adult Forum “went public“, joining a number of other moves through the year to make Adult content more visible & accessible
- Following on from September, Lee Quick announced a Crowdfunder project to try to secure the survival of Kirsten’s Viewer
- The marvellous Login2Life had its premier at long last, followed by a week-long free streaming on German TV channel ZDF’s website
- It emerged Will Wright had joined LL’s Board sometime in late summer
- The new Linden Realms game unofficially launched for Premium members
- News came that built-in translation would continue to be available (but would not necessarily be free); the snapshot floater would receive a nice overhaul and two new avatar attachment points officially arrived
- The new UI itself rolled out as an official release and a number of JIRAs suggesting improvements popped up, although a spell checker is already on the cards; while Web Profiles moved more towards Twitter with a new Trending tab that suddenly appeared
- I took the plunge back into the world of Premium accounts and got myself a Linden Home and looked at Premium Sandboxes – although the re-tread of the conditional Premium discount offer had nothing to do with my decision
- I also discovered Able Clarity’s single-prim work and fell in love with it
- Linden Lab officially engaged with the parametric deformer project; some saw this as a cynical move, to me it seemed the common sense thing for the Lab to do
- The new Adult Gateway hubs came on-line, and I had a chat with Serjourn Daxter about them.
- On the art front, I attended Tyrehl Byk’s amazing Catharsis and his phenomenal Particle Phantasmagoria; UWA announced a Vote And Win competition for their art competitions
- Firestorm 3.2 came out, and I took a look at the Android Mobile Grid Client for SL
- Kimberley Salzer left LL, promoting a lot of commentary on LL’s communications and other aspects of the company’s management
- Saw Linden Realms open up to all, although not without a slight problem, and it included some new elements
- Migrating from Phoenix to Firestorm, applying Viewer preferences across multiple computers and using lighting projectors got the Pey treatment
- I celebrated five years in SL as Inara
- There was a push on a number of blogs (including mine) to try to get more to fund Kirsten’s Viewer; sadly, the target wasn’t met
- The next Premium membership gift from LL arrived in time for Christmas, and Rodvik offered another Xmas present with news that last names would be returning and Rodvik’s December blog post, although communications elsewhere raised concern again
- In the Viewer stakes, Phoenix gained mesh, Niran’s Viewer reached Beta and then final release status; both Dolphin and Catznip went FUI, and Milkshake arrived
- Frank Ambrose (FJ Linden) departed the Lab, sadly
- Mesh gave rise to a couple of articles in December as well, one on the misplaced idea that LL is somehow malicious, the other on perceptions relating to the suitability of mesh and it’s take-up on the grid
- December 23rd marked the first year since Rod Humble was appointed LL’s CEO, and he marked the event with a blog post
2011 also saw me resume my travels around SL, some of which I blogged about over the course of the year. On the high seas I visited Black Spot with its pirate theme, and the 3-sim wonder of the SS Galaxy. Architectural masterpieces such as Alpha and Omega Points, Al Andalus Alhambra and Mont Saint-Michel were all on my itinerary, as were photographer’s dreams like The Looking Glass, World’s End Garden and !Lost World! I also relaxed in scenic sims such as Calas Galadhon, took time to visit living museums including the International Spaceflight Museum and historical sims like the Duché de Coeur as well as a number of SL historical sites.
A Personal Perspective
Despite code breakages, cock-ups on the Marketplace, the angst and drum-pounding over region losses (Rodvik, if you’re reading this – that’s your Moria Moment, not the new UI 😉 ) and the like, I personally feel that 2011 has for the most part been on the “good” side of the balance.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but Rodvik has done much during his tenure over the last 12 months that I believe has been to the good of SL as a whole, and that while there are going to bumps and bouncing to come, the future is actually brighter now than, say, 12 months ago. Certainly, the company continues to report strong revenues ($75 million), and are generating good profits.
Like it or loathe it, there is no denying mesh is something users have been demanding for years and has at last been delivered. While the initial uptake may well be slow, I’ve little doubt it will make its presence felt in 2012. We have new tools for creativity coming on-stream, and unlike some, I don’t have a problem with LL positioning SL as a platform upon which games can be developed. Let’s face it, games are a large part of the SL experience – from role-play through combat to board and table-top games. I also don’t I don’t begrudge LL rolling-out and promoting the tools via Linden Realms or with their statement that access to the tools will be gated – although I do caveat the latter in that we’ve yet to see what the gateway will be, but I doubt it will be as hideous or segregating as some are already predicting.
For 2012 we’ve been promised lots: more efforts on performance and stability, yet more tools, the arrival of Direct Delivery, and so on. However, one thing I really would like to see next year is a resumption of direct, informative and open communications between LL and its users. Communications this year seemed to dry up faster than a puddle of spilled water in the Atacama.
It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what LL are going to present to the world in terms of new products. Of course, the doomsayers have already used LL’s pending diversification as yet another hook on which to hang their end-of-the-world pronouncements. So, here’s my prediction for 2012: All predictions of SL’s forthcoming demise will be comprehensively proven wrong.
Happy 2012 to one and all!