Back in October 2012, I was pointed to an interview with former Lab CEO Rod Humble in Gamesbeat, in which he talked about the Lab’s (then) new products, the Lab and Second Life. In reviewing that piece, I picked up on a statement that Linden Lab is “still investing in 3D virtual worlds.”
In the middle of the comments following that article, Rod himself popped-up to reassure people that the Lab was (and is) still committed to Second Life. In this comment, he also acknowledged the use of the plural – “virtual worlds” – stating:
My comment about also investing in virtual worlds is correct. As you know I don’t like to detail things until we are close to something actionable, but we absolutely are investing in the large virtual world space which I think will make Second Life users, business owners and developers very happy…. but its a ways off 🙂
Making an unannounced visit to the TPV Developer meeting on Friday June 20th, Ebbe Linden (Ebbe Altberg, the current CEO at the Lab) went a lot further than hinting at “virtual worlds”. He made a clear-cut statement that not only is the Lab working on a “next generation” platform, he’s been actively talking to the media about it, and that things have reached a point where they are ready for internal demos at the Lab.
Obviously, the idea that the Lab is working on something “other” that Second Life – particularly given it is another virtual world platform – is liable to cause a range of responses from excitement through to misgivings and outright worry (many of which were expressed during the meeting).
His comments on this platform can within a wide-ranging discussion on Second Life, issues of user retention, how best to tackle bringing new users into SL (including the role the existing user base can play, how users and Lab can support one another, etc.). I’ll have more on this in due course.
For the moment, I’m including an audio file of the conversation on the platform the Lab is developing, extracted from the wider discourse, together with some key bullet-points:
- There are no clear details on exactly how the new platform will work and how it will be marketed
- It is not going to replace Second Life per se, but will initially run in parallel to it. Second Life is still a viable product with a strong revenue stream. How long the two run in parallel and whether or not one or the other will eventually be closed down depends on a lot of variables, not the least of which will be the volume of users and the success of both in terms of continued revenue generation
- It does not mean the Lab are stopping work on Second Life developments and enhancements – although it does mean that some projects (such as the introduction of a new scripting language or a complete overhaul of the avatar) are unlikely to go ahead within Second Life
- The new platform is not Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity, nor is it based on High Fidelity (although conceivably it could leverage some of what High Fidelity is doing – and possibly vice-versa). As I’ve frequently pointed out in this blog, and others have elsewhere, High Fidelity is an entirely separate technology development being carried out by an entirely separate company (although the Lab were an early investor)
- The platform may or may not have some compatibility with Second Life in terms of content, it is to early to definitively say which it will be. However, the direction which has been set is not to allow things to be constrained by ideas of backwards compatibility with SL or to become overly complicated as a result of thoughts about backward compatibility. Although there are some hopes for some levels of migration, given the new platform may well be revolutionary, rather than evolutionary, whether this will be possible , and at what level cannot at this time be determined
- This does not necessarily mean there won’t be a means by which content can be exported from SL to the new platform, although the Lab is understandably concerned over the quality of content
- It will initially be closed-sourced; whether this remains the case, hasn’t been decided
- Resources at the Lab will be split going forward: Oz Linden will be leading a team of engineers focused on Second Life, and the Lab will use other resources / resources recruited into the company to build-up is liable to be run starting in late 2014 or early 2015, with people invited in to it under NDA.
The comments on the new platform grew out of a discussion about SL and the media, and the audio extraction picks-up from the end of the chat about PR.
Note that in the audio, questions are included from the 8:11 mark onwards, and Oz Linden adds a comment between 11:12-12:00. Following Ebbe’s comments on people accessing the new platform under NDA from the end of 2014 or in 2015, the conversation wound-down and he departed the meeting.
Speakers: Ebbe Linden, Oz Linden, Jessica Lyon, Latif Khalifa, Takoda (Lassie)
57 thoughts on “Ebbe confirms: “we’re working on a ‘next generation’ platform” (with audio)”
Sigh, LL couldn’t even get the new starter avatars right. After 10 years experience with the platform. They either did not test them, or ignored testing feedback – so still ignoring actual users, the people that make their jobs economic.
Now they announce this, then hurry to cover their asses on the reaction. Again… lack of planning.
Now we know where LL’s resources have been going – on yet another wishful plan presuming users want it.
Pathfinding still unuseable, new avatars still broken, a number of new projects abandoned, Marketplace a slow bogged down mess, inworld search almost useless, and a pricing plan that reflects realities of 5 years ago.
A new ‘exciting’ virtual world? Will be more expensive.
Even if everyone on Second Life ‘jumped ship’ – a cheaper grid would mean lowered income. Lowered income means LL peeps get fired.
So Mr Ebbe – explain to me why I would jump to a more expensive grid, with less people, and less content?
Or you could try what our 3 previous CEOs have failed to do, put real resources into making the amazing, profit generating platform you already have…better.
Start with avatar 2.0…. it doesn’t have to replace content – it just has to be a better alternative.
On second thoughts – start with the staff member who proudly admitted in interview he doesn’t really use Second Life. A person who does not use SL, should not be the person in charge of prioritizing it’s resources.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I hate new things. I would like some more older things please.
do you hate mesh prims, mesh clothes, server side baking, sculpties?
I know some folks don’t like Mesh. As a builder, I love it, in other grids! I can build quarter sims at a time in the mesh program, complete with it being texturized, and have it be used. (This is the case with Inworldz, where I have done my entire sim with Mesh, club, shops, homes, streets, swimming pools, all without having to have them be phantom! LL Needs to invest in that Physics engine, in my opinion. It works like a charm,and they would be able to make more money off of the mesh uploads, while allowing everyone to lower their builds prim counts. When LL does that, I will be in heaven.
I agree JubJub,
SL life has been 11 years on the making, It has been profitable to quite a few people, so now what? Do these creators want to go to another platform and start again?
Creators need costumers for their product. They want to sell the stuff they put endless hours perfecting. SL costumers want well made creator content. There’s already a lot of creators and they need their costumers
My dream new platform would be one that simply allows me to use the same skills I’ve learnt over the past 9 years in second life, rather than having to completely relearn.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It is a huge understatement to say that this is seriously world-changing news! My first reaction, however, is very positive! I know, I can already hear the oncoming stampede of hand-wringing and doomsaying about everything that we’re all about to lose – but that’s scarcity talking. It’s high time to stop putting lipstick on this pig and open our eyes to the future.
” closed-sourced;” and here things are going wrong. v means , especially for lindenm lab. expensive land. and thats just the part that bites slk to. if the drop full prim sims to 50$ including vat. it would be possible for many people to have a sim. if the dont ask money for the sim itself.
but linden lab keeps a bit greedy. besides , since mesh came in sl things maby look nice. but the fun of building things is lowered. because mesh keeps complex and much more time to create.
Anyway, you cant have a sim in sl. so whats the use of building ? one need the other.
“Closed-source” simply means the Lab won’t be offering open-source developers and coders (those who produce TPVs, contribute to the Linden viewer code, etc.) the means to do so, at least initially. It’s nothing to do with content creation or land pricing.
“Anyway, you cant have a sim in sl. so whats the use of building ? one need the other.”
You don’t need a sim to build in SL. A lot can be achieved in-world and without necessarily reverting to learning to work with mesh on even a modest parcel, as – dare I say it – my own home in SL demonstrates (house, garden, boat, furnishings, etc., all within 500 prims on an 800 prim parcel – now 470-ish compared to that post, even with further additions).
LikeLiked by 1 person
You can’t build in SL without a sim? Then what are sandboxes there for?
Try to build a whiole sim in sandbox with all the 15000 prims without getting it returned ?
i can tell you thats not going to work, without land in my case i cannot build hwat i want.
Keeping eye on the new ideaa, best is if you can run your own server on the new SL grid. and dont ask crazy prices is other way. or move the whole grid out of USA. makes it cheaper to.
what about the people that are on fix incomes that plays on SL that can not afford to get what is needed for Oculus Rift when it does comes out?what about the people that does not want to voice and wants to type out what they wanting to say?is it also true that LL is merging with IMVU?
“Is it also true that LL is merging with IMVU?”
I really hope not. That game is even more lock&key than SL.
Plus the people who overseer IMVU would rip out their hair when they see all the dicks in SL U:
As a old programmer, This is the exact, correct way to move SL forward, and into “Third-Life”.
When a new application (SL) is first developed, and released to users, it is the best thing ever. Then everyone wants changes, users and developers alike. At some point developers will re-write large parts of the software, but after several years of changes, and experience with the software, Developers know that they can make things much better by, starting from scratch and using their experience along with newer technology, to develop a next generation of the software. I look forward to “Third-Life.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Here are some simple business suggestions I would like to see in the new platform:
1) Content creation building tools – real tools that can make building much easier and faster for beginners. Collect all the cool tools that have been built into other viewers and merge them into one single powerful system. Give the creators a way to quickly move forward.
2) To stop folks from panicking, talk now about what will most likely move forward and what will be left behind. That way, we, the content creators can quickly decide where to start investing time and energy learning and be ready for the upcoming new platform. For stuff that will be left behind, provide ways to bring some forward with changes by content creators. Being transparent right now will help folks calm down and realize there may be better roads ahead.
3) Focus on pricing. Get the prices down to where the average “Joe” can really participate and invest. Today, I just feel the prices has just moved way beyond the average income of most to enjoy the game. Participants need a way to be “in” the economy, both giving and being rewarded for their work. However, with prices for land and sim’s so high, very few have the privileged of being able to join the rest, and thus leave.
4) Focus on content inventory management tools – provide easy ways to identify duplicates to allow deletion and removal of old or unused duplicate items. Build an inventory management system that provides organization and easier management of content.
5) Provide real group chat that works and is not laggy. Speed up communications and ability for participants to talk and share.
6) Music at altitudes: provide a way to not only have music selection at parcel level, but at different altitudes of the sim. This would be beneficial to those who lease or rent parcels and would like to have skyboxes on top of each other for renters to enjoy. Build the world so users can be creative and provide the services for others the want it.
7) Texture management tools: organization and development of better texture sizes to speed up game memory usage and education for content creators. Provide ability to know how much a texture will impact the game based upon size.
8) Ability to have content management windows outside of the viewer frame of sl. Make it work like any other window products that participants use in rl applications. The viewer should naturally flow and be familiar to other products the end-user uses in rl. Reduce the learning curve.
9) Use Marketplace to advertise and show products, but to purchase make it in happen inworld. This will help folks get traffic to their lands, force content creators to invest in parcels. and drive back the beauty of shopping in sl as it was in the old days. People love to shop till they drop. so give them the addiction. It was the joy of finding a product after searching that was so much fun, not the instant gratification of it. In addition, this will drive rental land fee’s and income to Linden.
10) Keep it Open Source – that’s the best way to keep ideas coming and competition forcing you to drive ahead. Don’t make the mistake of trying going it alone. Open it up, but with strict standards so new ideas are constantly flowing in.
11) Stimulate exploring and finding things again: Humans naturally want to explore and learn. One of the reasons I think sl has died to some degree was the introduction of islands and migration away from mainland. Marketplace did this as well with now being able to not even have to leave your home to find and buy things. Open the waterways – make it so one can sail, fly, swim, etc. to other islands, to mainland, to other areas of the world. Make it like real, so folks can explore and see the beautiful world that everyone creates here.
12) Whatever you do, make it fun, make it inviting, make it so that folks want to stay, learn, and grow with the rest of us.
Just some thoughts from a long time user…..
LikeLiked by 1 person
You describe for big part what am thinking, especially the priceing. so +1 for you.
And I would add to this reply that “Third-Life” (or 2^2-Life?) should also consider ease of use for people with all manner of disabilities. Many of the people I know in SL struggle with disabilities in their real life only to be confounded by those same disabilities in the virtual world:
1. Physical challenges: Complex keyboarding makes it hard for those lacking dexterity and coordination. The same goes for mousing. Keyboard shortcuts aren’t the only answer. Mouse short-cuts using easily (re)configurable palettes perhaps, starting with some kind of default based on context-sensitivity?
2. Auditory and visual challenges:Built-in speech-to-text and text-to-speech from the start. Options to control text size and presentation right in the chat windows, This would also be beneficial to those who want privacy or don’t want to listen to endless off-topic voice chat, or suffer from cognitive dissonance upon hearing the voice of an avatar. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the option of a description of a build spoken or displayed the first time you visit, especially if you have visual or auditory problems, or if you are exploring and want to get a sense of the creator’s intentions?
3: Cognitive and memory challenges: The currently overly complex interface, so well detailed in Bluefox’s post, are an incredible hurdle for people with cognitive challenges. It’s often difficult for many people to recall the non-intuitive, disorganized routine required to do the simplest of conceptual tasks in Second Life. The aliased “Outfits” folder is a great help to those who like to change their appearance often, but actually putting together an outfit in the mish-mash of the badly implemented inventory system with its poor tools for searching, organizing, and editing is totally discouraging. Perhaps a tagging system for inventory, so users can choose a sorting mechanism. The fact that a pair of shoes these days requires five different items: two prims, a base, an alpha, and a HUD is ridiculous, given that it is incredibly difficult to treat them all as a single item when putting on a pair of shoes.
Change is scary, and taking virtual worlds to the next level means a boatload of change. I’d like to hear more before passing judgement, although the lack of backward compatibility is concerning. Like the gentleman said in the audio, I’ve got tens of thousands of RL dollars invested in my SL inventory, and the thought of starting over just makes me sick. On the other hand, it’s exciting to think about this cutting edge technology!
I’ll have to remind everyone that OpenERP moved forward, switching to Python for release 6 and later. So, components written for release 5 won’t work at all with 6 or 7, as we found out in my RL work. Right now, it’s a totally different product.
Drupal. Joomla. The list of open source products that stopped working with ‘legacy code/extensions’ after major overhauls is endless. In fact, few open source products remain ‘compatible’ over a decade. I think that right now the only one I remember doing so is WordPress; no wonder, thus, that it powers 20% of all websites in the world.
And WordPress is notorious for several issues it has…
Ebbe said what he said because he was under pressure by a SF Chronicle writer to offer some “vision” about 3D headset and the future of VR. So he dusted off the old, “we are building a new virtual world” chestnut that the LL board likes to throw around now and then to seem like they are doing something.
In actuality, the ski school grad has no $%^& what he is doing in this industry.
The idea that Ebbe was “under pressure” to say what was said is unlikely. As Rod Humble before him demonstrated, if a CEO doesn’t want to be drawn on a subject, he / she will not be drawn on that subject. Ebbe has also demonstrated since his arrival at the Lab that his words translate into actions, and by-and-large, so far he has yet to say anything of substance with regards to SL that hasn’t materialised. As such, I see no reason to doubt him on this.
And in actuality, I’d venture to suggest that the “ski school grad” (who has also helmed multi-million-dollar business enterprises to success and proven himself an effective and capable leader in market sectors which depend heavily on user engagement and retention – as does Linden Lab) probably has a far greater idea of what he’s doing and where the Lab might need to go in order to remain both relevant and successful in “this industry” than you give him credit.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think you forgot to add “Go Ebbe Go!” at the end of your ridiculous rant.
Not a ridiculous rant, a simple reply to what reads as a ridiculous rant.
From the structure of your arguments, it is clear that you should be made CEO of Linden Lab. Why don’t you send them your CV, along with a business plan?
Let’s be clear on one thing, next weeks will show how much this announcement will impact Linden Lab revenues. Then we can speak about the new virtual world.
Impact on the week’s revenues? I’ll quote Douglas Adams on this one.
“None at all.”
Funny, why wonder who many more upfront Usd LL will get from those who want to buy full sims and how many more premium memberships will keep being added?
But here is for sure not the place to be negative, only good things can come for lab announcement it seems.
Generating more Premium memberships seems to be focused more on new users coming into SL than on trying to convert exisiting members to Premium. It’s also unlikely that most Premium members will immediately start cancelling their subscriptions. Once we know more about the new platform, what it has to offer, and – importantly – when we can access it, if it really does turn out to be something we want – tthat may well change, but we’re likely to be at least 18 months (possibly longer) away from that point.
Land – that really depends.
In terms of residential land, while some may well be discouraged from leasing a region from either LL or an estate for their home, it’s unlikely it will have a massive impact on the Lab’s revenue in a downwards direction because they aren’t currently leasing a region. In these situations, the most it will do is potentially prevent a small uptick in revenue as those who may have been leasing a parcel somewhere and were eyeing-up a Homestead now won’t do so.
There is a risk that some might opt to turn in their existing land and go without a home – but again, SL isn’t going anywhere soon; there is still enjoyment to be had within it and there’s actually no reason to stop doing what we enjoy here and having a place in which we can enjoy it with friends and close ones. The deciding factor in this is how people look upon the money they spend in SL – is it disposable income they put towards something they enjoy and can face writing-off, or is it something more?
Those providing activity-focused regions certainly have pause for thought; any expansion plans they may have had may well be put on hold. However, the current population of SL most likely won’t be going anywhere, so again, there is no immediate need for them to dispense with their existing regions (unless this prompts a mass exodus of users from SL, which is probably unlikely). They can still continue to draw revenue (if that is their aim) and / or provide experiences just as well now as they could before the new broke – and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do so for a fair while yet.
Businesses perhaps have a tougher choice; but that comes down to the users and how they perceive the money they spend in SL.
So, for the immediate future – and yes, I do caveat that intentionally -, I don’t see any reason to assume that there will be earth-shattering changes to the Lab’s revenue levels.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s funny how ‘know-it-alls’ know pretty much nothing while presenting their “facts” based on you guessed it) nothing.
And what “facts”, precisely, have you presented?
Your original post was based on supposition – that he was somehow coerced into making a statement and was forced to roll-out an old “chestnut”, and a preconceived notion that Ebbe Altberg has no idea as to what he’s doing. I merely replied based on what we’ve seen to be the case. That Ebbe Altberg has delivered on almost everything he’s stated to date, and would seem to have a very clear idea of what he’s doing:
As to my comments on his background, I’d direct you to his LinkedIn bio for an overview of his career history. Or there is my profile of him.
So, sorry if I’m clouding your suppositions with facts, but that’s sometimes how life goes.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Your pom-poms allow you to cherry pick your way into making yourself believe only what you want to see. I could, if I had the time, could write an equally scathing retort on Ebbe’s blunders over the past few months.
But nobody here takes what you say seriously because you lack balance and take a one-sided view. No need to apologize to me, apologize to your parents.
Anyone seen Patterns http://lindenlab.com/products/patterns if this is a sign of things to come may the Prim save us 😦
Patterns is a product of a different colour, born out of the idea that the Lab should diversify its portofolio and try to open-up new revenue streams; as is the case with Blocksworld. I wouldn’t take it as a sign of things to come where the Lab’s development of a new VW platform is concerned!
I’ve actually followed its development, although I admit, I’ve drifted away from it over the last 12-15 months.
Compatibility with Second Life would be nice, but if that can’t be done without holding back the new effort I’ll live without it. The one thing that I really really want to see from any future world from LL, and one that isn’t difficult for them to do, is protection of our identities. That is, we would be guaranteed the right to use our names in any future LL virtual world, and we would be guaranteed that nobody else would have the right to use them. I’m talking about primary identities, not display names as those aren’t even protected now.
LikeLiked by 1 person
No matter which way you slice it… Sex and/or being Sexy attracts a lot people to SL and sells A TON of content . Will the new SL 2.0 allow for Sex, BDSM, RLV/RLVa, Fetish, Escorts, Adult Content, Penises, Breasts, Sex Furniture, BDSM Equipment, Scripted Collars/Cuffs/Devices, Sex or Adult related content, Adult photos, Adult clothing? SL is one of the few places where Sex and Adult Content is allowed. Perhaps…. SL 1.0 will become Adult SL and the new SL 2.0 will not have Adult Content Allowed. Oculus Rift and other types of VR Sex could be HUGE in the very near future (Sooner than we all think) and SL could be a leader and relatively safe portal in this area in SL 1.0 and or SL 2.0.
LikeLiked by 1 person
[05:07] Serenity Kristan-Faulds (serenity.kristan): if they don’t allow adult activities..somebody better make some nice mesh tumbleweed to blow around the ghost towns lol
LikeLiked by 1 person
A few comments:
Technology: It is naive considering Facebook’s acquisition of the Rift, Apple developing metal, Pixar releasing Renderman and seeing so many other big shifts on 3D in just a few months that big changes aren’t bound to happen within the 3D social arena. Big companies are spending billions and SL it’s on a very good spot at the moment to become more mainstream. I can only hope Linden Labs will actually listen to what needs to be and how this time around from its users.
Market collapse: It will be interesting to see the next six months. The trading market in SL is bound to slow down. It’s already slowing down when LL pissed of so many content creators last October. Many of them have left or moved their stores to Marketplace. This is just another blow but this time to the consumer. The apocalyptic death spiral has begun and by that I mean no Hollywood drama. If the government tells you. We are all moving to Mars because earth is doomed but your currency and goods can’t come with you. First thing that goes would be the global markets and its trading channels.
Open source: Imagine if you are the lead developer for Firestorm and someone tells you over night all of your work is now deemed obsolete. However, I don’t see anyone jumping off a bridge from this post. That means they know something we don’t. They are aware of a future we can’t be told about yet. I first logged into Second Life nine years ago. It was shitty. I could have never imagined what it would become not only for the world itself but even for me personally. I may be overly optimistic but I see a bright future opening up with many possibilities ahead of us.
Inventory: It’s not the thousands of dollars you spent to fill it up with shit. It’s what you’ve done with it. It’s how much it’s grown you as a person. How much fun you had with it and how much you learned from the experience which now makes you way ahead of the game on what’s coming. That gives you plenty of opportunities to go and create the SL on the new platform you never thought you could have due to limitations of the current one.
If SL became what it is now it’s because people thought big. I imagine most of the people making SL happen today in-world aren’t even on this forum or are worried about this. Visionaries like the ones I’ve met and seen pushed SL over and over are the kind of people who can see through this change and make something awesome out of it. Furthermore, I would like to give my many thanks to the Firestorm team. I will see you on the other side.
LikeLiked by 1 person
well, this certainly discourages me from putting any more money into SL. I have a huge inventory which SL keeps losing now and then they tell me that I won’t be able to use it in the new platform? Yeah, so why would I bother to move to that? And since it’s highly likely they WILL drop the current SL after that platform is working, why should I bother purchasing further?
Reblogged this on THE FALLEN PATH.
Hhhhmmmm…. Seems like what Steve Jobs did between Apple and Mac, way back in the olden PC days or the late 1980s and Early 1990s. (I am a relic technician from those old days, and I remember them well!). It seems as though, LL is going to pit SL against it’s new Virtual World, in similar fashion as Apple Inc. did.
Financially, I see this getting to the point of Linden Labs bankruptcy, after all, that is what ousted Steve Jobs, Co Founder of Apple Inc. What worked for Apple Inc, was switching the Apple brand to Mobile Devices from Computers, and keeping Macintosh around for Computers.
I can not see or imagine, a new product that would be able to turn around the Lab, if it does a dual platform. This seems like it is going to be a costly mistake, by the Lab.
I personally think, that the way the Lab could do a new platform, successfully, would be to have it completely OpenSimulator compatible. This would allow for current items to be backward compatible, but would also allow new creativity in SL, as most folks, that I know, use an OpenSimulator based grid to build and create.
Another way, I believe, is to find a physics engine, that would allow for complete, 1 piece Mesh buildings to be usable in Second Life. Currently, there is only one grid that I know of that does this, and ironically, it is based, very loosely, on OpenSimulator.
Another suggestion, for the Lab, is to eliminate the $1000 USD set up fee for private Islands, and to lower the current monthly price of a Private Island, to one that is comparable to it’s competitors.
Well, these are my opinions, and ideas.
I know this is completely besides the point, but I love how he almost says “furries” twice there @03:48 . “You might wanna be female instead of male or what have you, or completely different animal. Like we have f… we have plenty of f… examples we have in this .. this space here right now.”
I did not laugh out loud, but I smiled, I might have done the same.
The point about avatar versitility is important.
I admit that this is a bit unexpected for me, and it requires a bit more thought to figure out what’s really going on.
Ok, so LL is an investor in High Fidelity… but clearly doesn’t trust Philip with his product, because they prefer to develop their own. What does that say about High Fidelity? What does that say about Linden Lab’s new product? Philip did attract some key elements from LL to work with him; although Cory, now happily at Facebook, has grabbed his share as well.
Ebbe comes to the Lab, looks around at their diversification, and finds that they’re not enough to cover up the reduced income flow from SL. So, clearly, he continues Rod’s ‘secret project’ and is now confident enough to announce ‘Next Life’ — clearly not something in the line that their ‘diversified’ products addressed, and clearly not the line that Philip Rosedale is taking. So what exactly is the Lab doing, and why do they believe they can be successful with an entirely new product, designed from scratch, not backwards-compatible (although it might be very reasonable to assume that most meshed content can be re-uploaded… by creators, not consumers)? Why should ‘Next Life’ thrive when everything else fails — and High Fidelity (or Facebook’s upcoming virtual world) is still an unknown wildcard? (But looking at HF’s proposed business model, I have to wrinkle my nose).
There is really a huge amount of unsaid things that we have no clue about. Ebbe sounds like a reasonable person, and that means — literally — that he is using reason, not emotion, to make decisions. I can understand that he might have made a lot of questions to his tech team — ‘why can’t we improve X? Why can’t we fix Y? What’s so difficult to do about Z?’ and finally concluded that there is no hope to improve/fix a 10+ piece of insanely complex software that is being put to uses that nobody ever thought about. So, sure, the tech has to be changed — radically so. Starting from scratch.
But if SL were about the tech, it would have died half a decade ago. Lots of start-ups were launched with far better tech. They all failed. HF hasn’t really ‘launched’ yet, and while we can download and compile it and make comments about its tech, it’s not a ‘virtual world’. Yet. And we have absolutely no clue what Facebook will be releasing and when.
So what assurances — what business model — what guarantees do we have from Linden Lab that they’re on the right track? Their own ‘track record’, so far, has just shown that no matter how hard they try, they cannot figure out what will turn SL into a mainstream product. I’ve been arguing for the past years that the main reason for that is that SL is not a mainstream product, and, as such, it’s pointless even to try.
The Apple vs. Macintosh example is a good example on how a company can internally ‘compete’ against itself — specially when it has two products addressing exactly the same market. Well, if Ebbe wants to follow the steps of Jobs, that might be an idea. But it might completely backfire. And the problem is not that people might to try ‘Next Life’ (or maybe ‘NeXT Life’ — pun intended, for those who still remember ‘Jobs’ other company’…) and go back to SL in disgust. It’s that in 18 months they will have High Fidelity, and probably FaceWorld or VirtualBook or whatever Facebook’s VW will be named, to test out. All will be ‘unproven’ tech — even if they will look awesomely cool compared to SL. But more important than that, they will be empty VWs struggling to catch the attention of a tiny market.
While I also like LL’s new stance under Ebbe, to be more communicative and to involve the community, asking them directly what they would like to see in a forthcoming VW… I would also say it shows a certain weakness from LL: it means that they are able to admit that they’re clueless about the future of virtual worlds, and are asking the opinions of those who have been using virtual worlds for a decade, to try to figure out what makes their own virtual world tick. Hmm. That doesn’t sound so good, does it?
Oh well. We have 18 months or so to fret about it… and then, sure, I’ll be happy to join ‘SL2’ for a while, and see it fade and disappear as every other virtual world in the past decade. My only hope is that LL keeps SL running for long enough until they figure out the mess they got into — and revive it before it disappears as well.
I wouldn’t read too much into LL and High Fidelity and separate paths. Yes, LL did invest in the first round of HF funding in early 2013 (I’m honestly not sure about the second round; can’t find the info), but they appear to have been one of the smaller investors. True Ventures and Google Ventures appear to have been the big players. The stakeholding may have been simply to give the Lab a degree of dibs on anything interesting HF might develop. Ebbe’s also indicated that there’s a relaionship there, but they are very separate entities.
Your comment on mainstream markets and SL not being mainstream are spot-on (and I’ll actually have something to say on this myself very shortly 😉 ).
I also tend to agree with you on the degree of uncertainty this has created given the way the “announcement” was made. I don’t think it was in any way planned; just that Ebbe does shoot from the hip, and as he says in the audio / video, he’d been taking to the press about it, so, hey, why not? Probably is, we’re a far more demanding bunch than the press – and rightly so.
As such, I’d rather there had been a more structured appraoch to handling this (and I suspect Ebbe does as well!). The main thing now really is for the Lab to take what they’re seeing in the forums and in blogs and on SLU and try to formulate a level of feedback which can help provide a firmer foundation on things and also counter further FUD. No easy task, but it needs doing.
Turning to your comment on asking the community – I’m not so sure it’s a case of showing a sign of weakness. There is the not insignificant issue that were they to cast the net wide is asking for feedback, they’d get so many different viewpoints the result would add up to a lot of contradictory noise with only the broadest of brushstrokes. Try to focus down on the number of people they ask, and they’ll immediately be accused of trying to favour the Feted Few of the FIC.
I’m also not entirely convinced that the Lab fail to understand what makes their virtual world tick. I’ve spoken to a fair few Lindens over the years and heard a good few more in interviews and they all seem to understand more than perhaps we give “the Lab” credit. and leave us not forget that from 2008 onwards, the Lab was being driven towards very specific goals in an environment which appears to have been not overly conducive to expressing opinions outside of proscribed parameters.
One thing I don’t share with you, however is the pessimism you express in your last paragraph. As I’ve noted in other comments in related articles, we simply don’t know for certain what will happen. As such, I’d rather have more facts to hand than jumping either way.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Comments are closed.