Update, July 1st: the video of this session has been released by Linden Lab on YouTube, and is embedded at the end of this article.
Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.
Friday, June 24th saw Dee and Patch Linden sit down with Zander Greene and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my recording of the event.
About Dee and Patch
Dee Linden is the Land Operation Supervisor for the Lab, and her introductions often includes the phrase, “older than the terrain itself”, reflecting her experience from the physical world realty market. She discovered Second Life in 2003, and quickly decided she wanted to be a part of the Lab’s and of Second Life’s growth, taking to dropping note cards on various Lindens, including Char and Philip, encouraging them to consider hiring her.
This happened in around 2005, when she was recruited as a liaison, prior to joining the concierge team, where she was responsible for training Patch. When he moved to set-up the land team, she lobbied him to join the team, where she has a particular interest in supporting non-profits and groups seeking land for events.
Patch Linden started as a Second Life resident, first joining the platform in 2004, and has been a male fashion designer, mentor, and community lead. His efforts with the latter brought him to the attention of the Lab, and it was suggested he consider applying to work for the company.
Initially working as a support agent, he worked his way up through the concierge team, eventually becoming the team’s manager. He later moved to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely and joining the Product group at the Lab, the group responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life. Here he developed the land operations team, which includes the Land Department of Public Works (LDPW) and the Moles. He’s now the Senior Director of Product Operations, a role in which he is also responsible for the Lab’s support organisation.
Can you tell us about the LDPW and the Moles? They’re actually residents, aren’t they?
Patch: They are, they’re resident contractors … most of them have been working for us going on over five years, and the bulk of the core team is still together today. And we’ve added a good few, many more, to that number; I think we’re up to 22 now. And they run around and enjoy building experiences and fun things for residents to engage in in-world, like PaleoQuest.
And We’ve got another new big and exciting project that’s on the horizon that’ll probably come out in the near future that I’m not going to talk too much about, but there’s something coming, and its going to be pretty big … It’s a big project, I think the count of regions is somewhere above 20, maybe below 30, and it will be an addition to the Mainland, and there is an actual gaming experience attach to it.
How many sims is PaleoQuest? I know it is six, but there are several iterations aren’t there?
Patch: Right, the region count itself for PaleoQuest is six, the core gaming regions. And there are, I think we’re up to three or four instances right now … But we load balance the traffic across the regions so that the game play remains smooth and stuff when it gets busy, in the evenings especially.
Linden Realms is, surprisingly, still the biggest experience out there. It’s about double the size in region count and we have the same amount of instances on it, and it sees about three times the amount of traffic that PaleoQuest still does today.
It’s kind-of built its own community around itself, hasn’t it? With people who go and play there regularly.
Patch: Yeah, there’s actually a lot of in-world groups that have formed around it; residents just love playing the game, and socialising and stuff while they run around and collect crystals and complete the quests and such. It’s actually really interesting; in the rare occasion that we ever have a breakdown in the experience, we have to take it down and repair something and bring it back up, the amount of people who reach out to us and say, “Hey! What’s going on? When is it coming back?” and stuff. And we actually have to post status blog messages and stuff just because of the pretty big following that it has …
And a lot of the work that we do, and the experiences that we build, that is one of our primary goals. We want to see people build up communities and enjoy what we do and socialise in them, have a good time; find something to spend some time doing. And really most importantly, to answer the big golden question for us, which is what is there to do in Second Life, especially with new users when they come in. We put these experiences out there so that they can go in and get a taste of the various things that they can do.
Dee … you talked about being around since ’03 … Take us back to 2003 and some of your first impressions, and how some of those have maybe evolved and changed as the platform has over these 13 years.
Dee: Wow! That’s a big question! 2003 we were paying for teleports, we were paying prim taxes for every prim you have rezzed, and the higher up off of the ground that it was, the more you would pay per week. We had the leader boards back then.
Back then there was so much transparency between residents; every week you would see who has the most Linden dollars in-world right now, and I took a screen shot of the week I was number one with L$20,000! That was huge! We’re talking about when there were 17 regions on-line … There were who has the most calling cards, that was one of the leader boards, who has the most land, but like I said, the one with the most money, that was, “Oh my god! I made it! I made it! I’m the richest woman in Second Life!” So I took a picture of it.