SL16B and marketing Second Life

For existing users, SL16B is part of the scrolling banner of images featured on the secondlife.com log-in page. It marks one small part of marketing work around the birthday celebrations

The celebrations for Second Life’s 16 birthday commenced on Thursday, June 20th at 10:00 SLT, and will run through until July 8th. It is a time of a lot of in-world events marking Second Life’s “birthday” – and it’s also an opportunity for Linden Lab to remind the world just how long-lived, – and potentially relevant – the platform is.

This outreach can take various forms. It can, for example encompass direct outreach to the media at large, as we’ve seen with SL’s 10th and 15th years, with media interviews with the CEO, press releases and the release of materials such as infographics offering snapshots of Second Life in facts and figures.

For 2019 the Lab has already produced a special Second Life landing page for SL16B. Landing pages are those seen by people attracted to Second Life via adverts and marketing campaigns, and I’ve covered how these pages work in my 2015 piece Landing Pages: marketing Second Life. However, given it is available, I took the opportunity to contact the Lab’s Marketing Manager for Second Life, Brett Linden about what else the marketing team are working on to promote Second Life during its 16th anniversary, and he was only too happy to talk me through some of the work.

The entire marketing team has been working to promote SL16B through multiple channels, including organic, paid, email and social campaigns. Most of our energies on SL16B have been on re-engagement of existing or lapsed Second Life Residents but we do hope that the event will draw the interest of outward (non-SL) media, as well.

Our Senior Marketing Manager Darcy has been promoting via paid display and search ads, most of which are being primarily used for [this] “re-targeting” [of] existing Second Life Residents to encourage (and/or remind) them to log back in. The landing page is referenced in some of the paid campaigns that link directly to it, [some of which] include 15 second and 30 second edits of our main SL16 “first look” promo video.

– Brett Linden describing the marketing work around SL’s 16th anniversary

While it may sound a little odd trying to market Second Life to users who have not logged-in to it for a while – after all, if they’ve not logged-in, then surely because they’re no longer interested? – it does actually make a lot of sense. There are many potential reasons why people might take a break from logging-in to the platform or who opt to put it to one side with the intention of coming back – but never quite get around to it. Thus, reaching out to “lapsed” users can be beneficial.

Certainly, it’s an approach that has yielded worthwhile results for the Lab, hence why it continues to be a staple part of their marketing efforts. If nothing else, re-capturing the interest of those who were once engaged in the platform is potentially a lot easier than trying to draw in an entirely new audience (not that this shouldn’t also be done / isn’t done).

Some of the paid advertising and search ads Darcy Linden has been working on in the run-up to SL16B that will be used in marketing campaigns around the birthday celebration

Part of this outreach will be in the form of e-mails. Target groups for these e-mail are being identified by one of the Lab’s marketing analysts, Maveric Linden, and e-mails will start going out during the week commencing Monday, June 24th. Part of this campaign will encompass active Second Life users as well, in the form of one e-mail promoting activities at SL16B, and another promoting the new Premium Gift released for SL16B (a retro ’50s diner already available through the Premium gift kiosks).

Social media plays an important role in marketing, both for SL16B and in general. In this the reach of a message can be greatly amplified through the likes of Twitter re-tweets, both by Second Life users and others.

Lead Community Manager Xiola has been leading the charge with promotion across all our social channels including working with the community to help spread awareness. It was exciting to see that founder Philip Rosedale tweet the video, but we’ve also had dedicated outreach to many Second Life vloggers and bloggers, such as yourself that allowed many influencers to get an advanced sneak peek to prepare their coverage for opening day.

– Brett Linden describing the way social media can help amplify a message

Of course, reaching out to vloggers and bloggers engaged in SL (you can catch my pocket guide to SL16B if you haven’t already) is to be expected. But what about more outward (non-SL related) marketing? Brett acknowledges that SL16B doesn’t specifically have a direct focus here, but that doesn’t mean the more mainstream media is being ignored.

We are engaged in ongoing efforts for outward press opportunities covering multiple other angles including reminding the media about our pioneering role in the mainstreaming of virtual worlds, virtual currencies/economies and VR. One of the things that we’ve noticed some recent media traction on is the “Love Made in Second Life” mini-series and some of the other non-romance ethnographic videos featured on our social channels.

For example, we already have a major cable news network and an established podcast creator working on extended pieces inspired by some of those videos. We’ve been very happy with the attention received by our “Made in Second Life” series and the recent Destinations videos since they serve the dual purpose of showcasing SL and surfacing great stories to both the existing community and external audiences.

A practical demonstration of this broader engagement with the media actually came as this article was being finalised, in the form of How Virtual Reality Is Changing Healthcare, a techopedia article by Terri Williams, which includes comments by the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg, directly referencing Second Life’s relevance to healthcare.

Marketing is a complex topic, but it is one in which LL are constantly engaged, even if we may not always see what is going on or the results – or even see it in the form of press interviews or similar. As such, I found it interesting to hear from Brett on just one aspect of the work; and I hope this article helps shed some light on work we, as users, don’t often get to see.

My thanks to Brett Linden for his time in allowing me to write this piece.

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2019 SL User Groups 25/2: Content Creation summary

Hors du Temps; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrHors du Temps, May 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, June 20th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • Graham Linden continues to work on the shader / rendering issues.
  • A simulator-side RC update went to the Magnum and LeTigre channels on Tuesday, June 18th, with a number of bug fixes that should hopefully have addressed some of the current rendering issues:
    • BUG-226815: “[EEP] Since the grid was rolled to 19.04.15.526263 yesterday, region windlight is broken for all legacy viewers”.
    • BUG-226252: “[EEP] Please create an internal error code for llReplaceAgentEnvironment() & llSetAgentEnvironment() that distinguishes whether an agent does not have the experience allowed and if the experience is not allowed at their location”.
    • BUG-226917: “EEP Environment, New Sky should default to midday and not 6pm”.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

  • As noted in my Simulator User Group summary, the Bakes on Mesh RC viewer has been pulled due to a significant bug surfacing.
    • The viewer remains listed on the various official viewer pages, but cannot actually be downloaded.
    • Anyone attempting to run a previously downloaded version will be forced to update to the current release viewer.
  • It is believed the Appearance Service has been fixed for correctly handling alphas on the new “universal” channels.  However, this cannot be tested until the viewer issue noted above has been rectified.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir believes the basic ability to adjust the visual parameters of an Animesh object via LSL (i.e. changing its height, length of arm, etc.), is now working as expected. However, he’s like to get a little more functionality in to the capability before a project viewer supporting it is provided.
    • The capability allows parameters to be looked up by name or ID, and the command uses ranges from 0 to 1 to make adjustments.
    • It has been suggested many of these values (e.g. head shape and facial parameters – lip size, thickness, angle, etc., – breast size, torso muscles, leg size, butt size) require non-zero values to better define a neutral state for those bones. However, the problem here is that many of the slider values on which bone manipulations are made are entirely arbitrary within individual bones (one might have, day, a range of -1 to +1; another might be 0 to 10m etc)., so defining a value of 0.5 (being the mid-point between 0 and 1) to a bone might not actually correctly map to the “neutral” position of the bone as defined by the slider values.
    • Note that there are obviously sliders that morph the avatar shape rather than directly manipulating bones, and these cannot be manipulated through this LSL mechanism.
  • The Bento Skeleton Guide has been further updated and now: with a list of So this page now attempts to:
    • Define all sliders that directly affect bones and which might therefore be manipulated using the new LSL command(s) with Animesh.
    • Define the sliders that affect collision volumes, to help with things like fitted mesh that could potentially be used with Animesh objects.

UI Panel for Manipulating Animesh Object Shapes

  • A repeated request has been for the Lab to provide a viewer UI panel for manipulating sliders associated with Animesh objects to allow their shapes to be edited a-la he shape sliders UI for avatars.
  • The major issue here is that for such a panel to work, Animesh objects either:
    • Would require an associated body shape, which they currently do not have.  While this has not been ruled out, it is not something the Lab is committing to at this time.
    • Requires an extensive project to not only develop the UI, but to develop a means to represent and manipulate all bones, etc. that someone might want to individually move on an “on the fly” basis, and then present this through a UI element. As such, this approach isn’t being considered at present.
  • Instead, it is hoped that the LSL parameter manipulation noted above would perhaps provide the means for Animesh creators to offered their own HUD-based “slider system” that is specific to adjusting the shapes of their Animesh creations, rather than being a generic UI element in which assorted options may not apply to their Animesh.

General Discussion

Rigged Mesh HUDs

  • As we’re all aware, HUDs are objects that are taken by the viewer are effectively attached to our screen space without being displayed in-world when attached.
  • However, rigged mesh HUDs which have been produced by some behave differently: when attached, these HUDs appear to the person using them as being attached to their avatar (although no-one else can see them as such, as HUD rendering data isn’t sent to other viewers).
    • This has been described as an “unexpected” behaviour, but given such HUDs are – as the “rigged” in their title implies – rigged against the avatar skeleton, it perhaps shouldn’t be that surprising, given the viewer would naturally assume rigged objects to be associated with a skeleton (avatar or Animesh), regardless of the selected attach point.
  • The Lab is now looking at some way to warn people when this happens, to help prevent people being caught by surprise (e.g. by having clothing knocked-off by the HUD as it attaches).

In Brief

  • Feature request BUG-202864 “Change Mesh Uploader to preserve Scene File object names when a full linkset is uploaded”: viewer-side work has been carried out for this, which should be appearing in a Maintenance RC viewer soon™. However, it is dependent upon some yet-to-be-done back-end work.
  • Feature request BUG-227171 “Bring Avatar Cloth to Mesh”:
    • Bento and Animesh have, to a degree, allowed some cloth behaviour to be seen in mesh (e.g. the skirt of a gown moving with an avatars legs, rather than the legs extending through it. However, these solutions can be labour intensive.
    • Currently, LL have no plans to work with cloth-like motion for mesh clothing, but this request has been imported for future reference.
  • Project ARCTan: this is the project to re-align the impact of rendering content.
    • It’s still on the back burner at the Lab, although it is hoped focus can be returned to it soon. There are obvious concerns as to how it might affect land impact with in-world objects; given this one suggestion has been to only apply it to new content uploaded to SL, effectively making it something of an “opt-in”, a-la materials.
    • However, there is nothing official to report on how ARCTan will be implemented, as there is still a lot to be done before thing get to that point.
  • Script processing issues: the music at the SUG meeting this week meant this didn’t get to be discussed. In short, Rider Linden is leading the investigation into understanding what is going on and possible causes, and what can be done to correct  / mitigate the problem.