Note: An earlier version of this article appeared in error whilst still being drafted on-line, as a result of a mistake on my part and to my own embarrassment. Once again, my apologies to Linden Lab and readers of this blog for my carelessness.
It is something Second Life users have long wanted / wished for / desired / demanded: an increase to the basic land impact (or prim count, if you still prefer) available for regions.
And now the wish is being granted – although word came out a lot sooner than the Lab had anticipated (thanks in part to my aforementioned mistake).
However, on Thursday, November 3rd, the Lab officially announced that they are increasing the Land Impact allowance for Second Life regions. The new allowances are:
- Full Regions:
- Mainland: 22,500
- Private estates:
- 20,000 at the same tier price OR
- 30,000 for an additional US $30 a month (+a one-off US $30 conversion fee to add / remove the extra 10K allowance)
- Homesteads: 5,000 (Mainland and private)
- OpenSpace: 1,000 (Mainland and private)
All of the changes filter down to the parcel level, according to parcel size.
The changes to Mainland regions were made during the regular weekly deployments on Tuesday November 1st, and Wednesday, November 2nd, with official confirmation being given in part in a blog post from the Lab which indicated the increase to Mainland full regions alongside the most recent Premium subscription offer (note: that blog post from the Lab has now been updated).
So why has this change come about?
“We’ve finally reached the point where we have the equilibrium between technology and software performance on our side,” Patch Linden, Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab informed me, as we sat down to discuss this and other aspects of Second Life. “The hardware we use to run the simulators is in a really good place right now, and will continue to be. Of course, as time goes on, things will continue to get better in that department. And the simulators are running so efficiently now, with all of the back-end work that we’ve done with them over the past several years that we can now do things like this.”
“We started with Mainland being it’s obviously ‘ours’ to directly influence,” Patch said. “We could deploy, and watch, and listen to the metrics to see what they tell us. Then providing everything behaves, we’ll go out to the rest of the grid and all private regions shortly thereafter. It is such a fundamental change to the simulator that we want to make sure we do it right, and we don’t cause unnecessary harm in the process. So the more controlled we could do it, the better we felt.”
It was this need to watch and wait following the initial deployment which had caused the Lab to decided to hold back on a public announcement until Thursday, November 3rd. However, users noticed the change almost as soon as mainland regions came back on-line following the Tuesday rolling restart, prompting forum posts and support enquiries as to whether there had error. As a result, Patch issued a short forum post reassuring people there wasn’t an error, although the decision was made to hold off on any official announcements until November 3rd, due to the arrangements already in place – including a live Designing Worlds session featuring Patch, who would reveal more and take questions.
So given the Mainland changes are now deployed, a key question I had for Patch was: when would Private regions see their update. “We should have them up and running within the next couple of months,” he replied. In essence, the precise roll-out to private islands will depend upon the metrics gathered following the Mainland roll-out.
And the reasons for the differences in the full region allowances between Mainland and private estates?
“There are 2 reasons,” Patch explained. “The first is that Mainland regions have long been a slightly less costly, but also less feature rich product than private islands. But recently we rolled out the private region buy-down offer, which somewhat levelled the pricing between the products. So, we wanted to give a little something back to Mainland, and choose to give full regions there a slightly higher prim limit increase than private estates.
“The second reason is that private estate full regions have an additional advantage over all the other region types,” Patch continued. “This allows us to offer the additional 10,000 LI allowance to private estate full regions, for a total of 30,000. There is some additional maintenance work that comes with this, hence the US $30 a month fee (per region), together with a one-off US $30 conversion fee to add or remove that option; but the offer will be available for any price level full region, whether it be an older grandfathered region, a newer bought-down region, or a regular priced full region, immediately the increase in land impact / prim allowance is rolled-out to private estates.
“So you might say, it’s a little give, a little take, and a bit of balance between the advantages of the differing products :).”
In the meantime, the change to the Mainland was warmly received by most, with many land holders and content creators pointing to the home and garden / landscaping markets potentially gaining a significant shot in the arm as a result. This is significant, as a hope at the Lab is that rather than everyone simply adding more objects to their land, the extra capacity will encourage more content creators to make use of optimised levels of details on their mesh creations, rather than using very high LOD values across all viewing distances, thus helping to lighten some of the current load on older systems.
As we closed the conversation, I asked how Patch, as a long-term Lab employee and as a former resident, felt about the change.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for several years now,” he replied. “And we’re pleased to be able to do something as fundamental as this to change the product in a good way.”
With thanks to Patch Linden, Pete Linden and Linden Lab.