So, 2012 is done, reviews are written and the New Year has arrived. Now it must be time to stop looking back, and look a little ahead.
The Lab has given some indication of what to expect for 2013. Some items of note, together with some of the things not mentioned, are:
- We have the upcoming deployment of server-side avatar baking – which the Lab calls Project Sunshine – bringing with it the promise of no more avatar bake fail issues
- We should see the roll-out of initial improvements to interest lists and object caching
- Further work on platform performance and stability
- We’ll also see the deployment of what is hoped will be the “first phase” of normal and specular maps which, over time, could revolutionise the physical look of in-world objects be they made from prims, sculpts or mesh – but not for avatar skins or system layer clothing
- The viewer should also see enhancements such as:
- The new Communications Hub User Interface (CHUI), currently available in a project viewer
- The arrival of the new HTTP texture fetch capabilities (currently in the beta viewer), as well as further HTTP enhancements
- The arrival of gamma correction, improved texture “Shiny” capabilities and in-world scene reflections on shiny surfaces
- The viewer will finally be made available through Steam
- Further work on a 64-bit official viewer, plus improvements to the Mac and Linux flavours
- Additional things which will hopefully see the light of day in 2013 will be:
Doubtless more will be announced during the course of the year.
For the Company
- LL’s new products, Dio and Versu will arrive
- The company will continue to develop their ideas for “new virtual worlds” – and will hopefully share more information with users
- Patterns will progress towards a full release, currently scheduled for the end of the year, and will introduce several features requested by users
- It would appear likely the Lab will announce further new products.
For the Community
- 2013 marks SL’s “official” tenth anniversary, a such, and building on the success of SL9B, the community is doubtless going to come together with it own celebrations to mark SL10B whether or not LL try to involve themselves
- Bay City also marks its 5th birthday and will be hosting a wide range of events and activities
- RFL SL 2013 promises to continue a long and stunning tradition in which the community comes together to raise funds to help in the fight to eradicate cancer. The focal weekend for events will be the 13th / 14th July 2013
- BURN2 will again return.
What Would be Nice to See
I’m not that into making predictions for a New Year (as the old joke goes, I’m a peripheral visionary – I see into the future, but only way off to one side…). Instead, there are some of the things I’d like to see in 2013:
- The Lab finally make a concerted and persistent effort to use all the channels at their disposal to communicate with and inform their users
- The public JIRA closure amended so that everyone can at least see JIRA items (comments don’t have to be re-opened)
- Someone finally takes the Commerce Team firmly in hand and takes responsibility for:
- Ensuring Marketplace issues are dealt with
- Merchants are actually kept informed more fully on matters
- Direct dialogue between the commerce team and merchants is resumed – such as through in-world user group meetings
- my.secondlife.com is better leveraged, both as a communications platform by the Lab and, more particularly, to enable better and more in-depth communications and interaction between users, such as suggested by Estelle Pienaar
- Rather than gearing the attractiveness of Premium accounts purely towards new users, LL seek to increase their appear for existing users. For example by:
- Offering more flexible options (e.g. offer a larger stipend or a Linden Home stipend / free land tier; or offer a Linden Home or 1024 sq m land tier)
- Allowing the tier allowance to be donated towards private estate holdings
- Linden Lab re-engaging with the community as a who in a concerted and constructive attempt to address the core issue of new user retention- which still remains a major issue where growth within the platform is concerned.
What Is Likely to Remain a Concern
This can most probably be summarised in for words: tier and declining revenue. While it is not the sole issue facing SL (see matters such as user retention, for example), this has dominated conversations about SL’s future, fuelled most recently by the news that around 12% percent of private estates have been lost to the grid in 2012. However, calls for tier cuts need to be tempered by the fact that, like it or not, they are not so easy for the Lab to make.
Certainly, given that the current decline is unlikely to reverse itself in the medium term, this is liable to be a subject we’ll be returning to during 2013, and it would be nice to see the Lab give some comment / assurances on the matter.