Lab divests itself of Desura

LL logoIn a press release made on Wednesday, November 5th, Linden Lab announced the sale of Desura, the on-line digital distribution service which they acquired under Rod Humble’s leadership in July 2013.

Desura has been sold to Bad Juju Games, the Indie Game and Middleware Tools Developer for the Mobile, Console and PC Gaming markets, and based in Aliso Viejo, California. In the brief press release, the Lab state:

As has just been announced, Bad Juju Games has acquired Desura from Linden Lab.

Bad Juju has taken over all day-to-day support, maintenance, and ongoing enhancements to the Desura website and service platform. The Bad Juju team will be reaching out directly to developers with games on Desura and are happy to respond to any questions they may have.

Transitioning Desura to a new owner is great for Linden Lab and our customers, as it allows us to further enhance our focus on creating the ambitious next-generation virtual world, while continuing to improve Second Life and growing Blocksworld.

Desura is a fantastic platform for game developers and players, and we look forward to seeing it continue to evolve and grow, now as part of Bad Juju Games.

Desura: just 16 months in the Lab's portfolio
Desura: just 16 months in the Lab’s portfolio

A press release from Bad Juju themselves indicates that negotiations over the future of Desura have been underway for some months:

Indie Game and Middleware Tools Developer Bad Juju Games®, today announced that it has officially acquired Desura™, a comprehensive digital distribution service for PC, Mac and Linux gamers from its former owner and operator Linden Lab®. The move comes after several months of coordinated planning by the companies to ensure uninterrupted operation of the Desura service as well as a comprehensive roadmap of new features that will significantly benefit both its users and game developers during the upcoming months and beyond.

It is unclear what the sale of Desura may mean for Scott Reismanis, if indeed it means anything at all. Reismanis, who founded the digital distribution service, and who joined Linden Lab as “Director of Digital” not long after the acquisition. With his experience in empowering creators to benefit from their digital content, Mr. Reismanis may already be involved in the development of the company’s “next generation” virtual worlds platform.

While this may sound a little like 20/20 hindsight, I confess to being unsurprised by the sale of Deura; I’ve actually been expecting news of this kind for the past couple of months, and particularly since the Designing Worlds interview with Ebbe Altberg. During that programme, Mr. Altberg referred to the Lab being in a process of cleaning up their product portfolio (some 3 minutes into the show), with the use of the present tense suggesting to me that the process was still going on, rather than him simply referring to the company’s removal of Versu, Creatoverse and dio from their portfolio. Given the statements of support that have been repeatedly given about Blocksworld, the comment in the DW show seemed to indicate something would be happening to Desura and / or Patterns.

To be totally honest, at the time I felt it more likely that Desura would be let-go than Patterns, as the latter at least seemed to fit with the Lab’s sandbox creativity philosophy, while Desura always seemed more of an awkward fit, and something more likely to generate a decent return if offered for sale. Of course, as it turned out, Patterns went first.

Confirmation also seemed to come when an enquiry on an unrelated matter led to a response from the Lab that all remaining advertising including Desura, would be removed from their remaining web properties (my.secondlife.com and search.secondlife.com). The reference to Desura chiming as odd, given it was ostensibly a Lab product.

I was broadly supportive of the Lab’s attempts to diversify their product portfolio, even iff the effort always did seem half-hearted. Companies with all their eggs in one basket tend to by very vulnerable to any number of circumstances not always of their own making – although equally, they can also sit very comfortably in a niche and enjoy a long life. Even with Blocksworld still on the books – and another repeated statement that the company will be standing beside that product – it now seems that for better or worse, the Lab has opted to keep only their golden egg, Second Life, and focus on perhaps producing another they can nurture alongside it.

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A trip to Holly Kai park

Holly Kai Park
Holly Kai Park

I’ve not had too much free time in SL of late; visits have comprised attending meetings or visiting destinations for blog articles and little else. It’s that time of year when demands are being made on my time elsewhere, and even my reserve of articles “in preparation” is starting to look a wee bit thin.

However, I did get the opportunity to go sailing of late, and decided to make my way to Holly Kai, part of the Hollywood estates north of Blake Sea. Until recently I had my home on a corner parcel in the region, and while flying over it a while back, I’d noticed that there was some large-scale redevelopment going on. So, curious to know more, I boarded my little Loonetta 31, Exotix 2, and set out to poke my nose in.

Holly Kai Park
Holly Kai Park

For those unfamiliar with Holly Kai, it’s a residential region, with several private parcels located around a central public park area – and it was this area (together with some modifications to the parcels) that I’d seen undergoing redevelopment. The work has been undertaken by a small team comprising Fred Uralia, Autumnx Rain and Conte Alchemi (who has been responsible for the park’s design), the aim being to enhance the park and offer it as a suitable stopping-off place for those sailing through or exploring the waters to the north of Blake Sea. And I have to say, the results are impressive.

The new park combines a tropical beach area with a summer green park through which streams flow, water falls from rocky banks, trails wind through trees and around rocks, and moorings offer plenty of space for boats to tie-up alongside for a while. It runs from west to east through the middle of the region, with the beach area to the west, although this does admittedly have one of the mooring areas sitting between it and the open waters, although the strategic positioning of palm trees means that it doesn’t spoil the view per se.

Holly Kai Park
Holly Kai Park

One the east side of the region is a further mooring area, this one located alongside an events / party area built out over the water. Between this and the beach sits the main park, separated from the latter by the sweep of a stream as it runs between steep rocky banks. Here visitors can wander as thy please, following the trail that leads the way around the river bank, or climbing the slope up to a flat, grassy plateau and a weathered wooden deck overlooking the river, while another path winds through tall oak and beech trees, linking the park and beach together.

For those exploring the waters north of Blake Sea, Holly Kai park offers a relaxing stop-off point for any trip – auto return is set to 60 minutes, which should allow good time for exploring, and boats can be rezzed at the mooring areas.

The park officially opens on Saturday, November 8th, but visitors are already welcome. Once open, the park will feature an open-air art display, with pieces from artists displayed throughout the grounds, and pieces and artists rotated every so often to keep things fresh.

Holly Kai Park
Holly Kai Park

All told, a lovely new addition to the waters around Blake Sea, and one worth watching.

Related Links

SL project updates week 45/1: server, viewer, texture rendering

France Portnawak, Dreamland volcano; Inara Pey, October 2014, on FlickrFrance Portnawak, Dreamland Volcano (Flickr) – blog post

Server Deployments, Week 45

  • On Tuesday, November 4th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance package deployed to all three RC channel in week 44. comprising some minor improvements described by Maestro Linden at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday, October 30th, as, “just some code cleanup and some extra optional debug logging.”
  • There are no planned RC channel deployments for week 45.

SL Viewer

On Friday, October 31st, the Lab issued a new Snowstorm contributions project viewer. Version 3.7.20.296071 includes a number of contribution, including Geenz Spad’s work on projectors STORM-2056STORM-2067, a number of Mac OS X issues, a fix for editing an objects rotation with the rotation rings causing the object to jump to position <0,0,0> on the region and rotation changes to <0,0,0> (STORM-2078), and more. See the release notes in the link above or the full list of updates and known issues.

The snowstorm project viewer includes Geenz Spad's improvements to projector reflections (STORM-2067) and
The Snowstorm project viewer includes Geenz Spad’s improvements to projector reflections (STORM-2067) and issues with projected reflections failing to respect the environment intensity (STORM-2056)

 Texture Rendering Issues

There have been mixed reports of texture rendering issues since the arrival of the HTTP Pipelining viewer and the CDN. The reports can be variable in nature, but are apparently quite noticeable. The common symptom is for certain textures to remain fuzzy, as if stuck at a low resolution value (e.g. 64×64), with the higher resolution values failing to load until the mouse is placed over the object displayed the blurred texture or the object is physically clicked upon.

The issue appears to be particularly noticeable when using the HTTP pipelining viewer (I’ve encountered this myself running both the current SL release viewer version 3.7.19.295700, and the latest Alchemy viewer version 3.7.19.34077. It is also not the same issue as texture thrashing (which sees texture change from blurred to clear to blurred, etc., as a result of low video memory) nor is it the same as the interest list issue where panning the camera so that an object is off-screen and then back to it again causes the textures for the object to be re-loaded / rendered.

Gibson Firehawk has raised an JIRA on this issue, BUG-7700, which the Lab sees as a duplicate of BUG-7698, raised by Whirly Fizzle, which is being investigated. If this is a problem you are encountering on a persistent basis within one or more locations in SL, please consider raising a bug report and providing as much information as possible, including steps to reproduce. The more information the Lab has, the better position they’ll be in to poke at things.

Transcending Borders: L$115,000 in prizes for audience participation

Friday, October 31st marked the closing date for submission to this year’s combined 5th University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Grand Art Challenge and MachinimUWA VII challenge. In all, there have been 105 entries – 67 pieces of art and 38 machinima films.

The challenge presented by Transcending Borders has been for entrants to interpret the title of the competition in any fashion they deem applicable, and produce a 3D artwork or film based on their interpretation. So the title might be seen as transcending borders between space and time, or the past and present or the present and future; it might be interpreted as divisions between dimensions, real and virtual; or borders separating nations or cultures or languages; it might even combine several of or all such idea, or something else entirely – such as the many borders we encounter as we navigate our physical and virtual lives.

Pixel Sideways
Pixel Sideways “Transcending Borderz” (click images for full size)

Now, with the closing date reached, the task of judging the entries begins, and with it the opportunity for all residents in Second Life to share in the prizes on offer as a part of the Transcending Borders challenge. On offer are two prize pools, totalling L$57,500 apiece, one for the Machinima challenge, the other for the art challenge.

All you have to do is visit the art exhibits on display at the UWA gallery area and / or watch the machinima entries and then submit a list of the entries you think will finish in the TOP 10 in order 1st – 10th as decided by the official judging panel.

  • Entries should be submitted by e-mail to  jayjayaustralia-at-hotmail.com or via note card submitted to Jayjay Zifanwe in-world
  • All entries should include your name, and be titled either “Transcending Borders 3D Art Audience Event” or “MachinimUWA VII Audience Event”, according to the category being entered
  • You can enter the art participation event or the machinima participation event or both (make sure you submit one “top ten” list for each category in the case of the latter).
Luko Enoch: Borderless
Luko Enoch: Borderless

Each category (art and machinima) offers a total of five prizes, which will be awarded to those entrants whose lists come closest to the final order decided by the judging panel:

  • 1st Prize L$ 20,000 + an invitation to be on the panel for the next grand art challenge
  • 2nd Prize L$ 15,000
  • 3rd Prize L$ 10,000
  • 4th Prize L$ 7,500
  • 5th Prize L$ 5,000

(A total of L$57,500 in each category.)

In addition, the five winners in both categories will receive a special RL prize pack.

Entries for both of the audience participation events should be received no later than Midnight SLT on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014.

Remember, this is not a popularity vote. Your top 10 entry / entries should be your prediction of who the actual top 10 will be according to the official judging panel.

Related Links

Note: the images and machinima included in this item should not be taken as any indication of my personal preferences as a member of the  Transcending Borders jury. They are included purely for the purposes of illustrating the article.