Lab pauses Blocksworld development and promotion

Blocksworld was a sandbox type game allowing users to create and build from blocks, purchase specialist packs, and even sell their own creations through a marketplace

Linden Lab has confirmed it has “paused” development and promotion of its iOS sandbox app, Blocksworld.

For those unfamiliar with it, Blocksworld has been a part of the Lab’s product stable since 2013. Initially developed by a trio of Swedish guys calling themselves Boldai AB, it was acquired by Linden Lab at the time the company was looking to broaden its product offerings under the stewardship of former CEO Rod Humble. This effort encompassed:

  • The in-house development of games like Creatorverse (Android and iOS, 2012-2013 – now defunct) and Dio (browser based, 2013-2014 – now defunct)
  • The acquisition of companies and their products (LittleTextPeople  and Versu, 2012 – IP released back to the original developers, 2015; and Boldai AB with Blocksworld).
  • Partnering with Free Range Games to produce Patterns (2012-2014, still available via Steam, but only in “off-line” mode, no shared worlds).
  • A short foray into owning a games distribution platform through the acquisition of Desura (2013-2014, sold to Bad Juju Games).

Since its launch, the game has been steadily developed and has performed reasonably well – including gaining some brand support through Hasbro (with their G.I. Joe brand).

More recently, the Lab made it available through web browsers (although it never really worked well in Firefox) and through the Steam Early Access programme. As a part of the Lab’s product family, it has always appeared on the More Products listing at the foot of the secondlife.com web pages – which is how I found something may have changed.

Blocksworld used to appear in the footer area of the secondlife.com web pages

In looking at my SL dashboard at secondlife.com on July 3rd, I noticed Blocksworld was no longer listed, leaving only Sansar. I also noticed the two websites associated with Blocksworld either redirected back to the Lab’s corporate website (in the case of blocksworld.com) or had an expired security certificate issue (playblocksworld.com).

Over the course of July, the footer area of the secondlife.com pages have continued to be revised so they focus on SL, Sansar and Tilia and appear to leave little or no room for Blocksworld to make a return. Nevertheless, the game continues to be available on the Apple Store App Preview, and on Steam Early Access, and to appear on the Lab’s product page.

The revised secondlife.com web page footers seem to leave little room for Blocksworld with their focus on SL, Sansar and Tilia

All of which made me wonder what was going on, so I reached out to the Lab in early July to ask. It took a little time to get a reply, and when it did come in, it was a little short, considering the length of time it took for it to arrive:

Our primary focus continues to be on Second Life and Sansar, so we’ve paused new development and promotion for Blocksworld. However, Blocksworld continues to be available in the App Store as it still has a healthy amount of users and many people continue to enjoy it.

Which is fair enough to a point. When one considers the Lab is now engaged in developing an iOS “companion” app for Second Life, then possibly stepping back from working on Blocksworld (assuming the skills used to develop Blocksworld are indeed still at the Lab) allows in-house iOS talent to be re-directed towards this new SL companion app.

Even so, something of a nagging doubt remains, for two reasons:

  • The last significant update to Blocksworld was March 2018 – well before  any work started on an iOS app for Second Life. This tends to suggest the app’s development cycle had perhaps already reached a ceiling in terms of resources at the Lab.
  • Also, if skill sets have indeed been diverted away from Blocksworld to focus on the SL iOS, then they are potentially going to be re-directed for some time, simply because of the amount of time app development and enhancement takes.

So it’s hard not to wonder what the future might actually hold for Blocksworld. How long is the pause likely to be? Is there a risk that  – given the amount of time since the last update  – this “pause” might also stall the apps ability to acquire / retain users? If so, what then?

Will it be considered to still be a worthwhile enough revenue generator to warrant future development, or at least on-going support? Or might it come to be seen as a nice little app that has run its course, left to slowly fade away over time? I’m hoping for the former, and will continue to try to keep a check on it, even if it only sates my own curiosity!

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2019 SL User Groups week #31

Tyraina; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrTyraina, June 2019 – blog post

SL Feature Summit

This week is the week of the Lab’s Second Life feature summit. This is the time when engineers, developers and product managers for Second Life get together in person to discuss and plan the next several months of Second Life’s development.

This means that most / all of the Second Life user group meetings for the week are cancelled.

Next Meetings

The following table outlines when the next SL user group meetings will likely take place.

User Group
Next Meeting
Simulator User Group
Tuesday, August 6th
Governance User Group
Tuesday August 6th
Open-Source Development Wednesday, August 7th
Content Creation
Thursday, August 15th
Concierge & Land Thursday, August 22nd
Server Beta User Group
TBA – possibly Thursday, August 1st

Server Deployments

Again, due to the Second Life Feature Summit, there are no planned server deployments for this week. However, channel restarts may occur in accordance with the Lab’s 14-day restart policy.

SL Viewer

It is likely that there will no updates to the current pipelines for the official viewer this week, again as a result of the SL Feature Summit, although some of the RC viewers have updates either queued ready for, or getting close to being ready for, update. In the meantime, the pipelines remain as follows at the time of writing.

  • Current Release version 6.2.3.527758, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer dated June 5, promoted June 18 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, June 5. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Isla de Sol in Second Life

Isla de Sol, July 2019 – click any image for full size

A little while ago I received an invitation from Noirran Marx to visit Isla de Sol, her Homestead region, which I gather is open to the public. It took a while for us to get there, but we did in July and found it to be a quiet, balmy tropical island that makes for an easy, gentle visit.

At the time we dropped in, the island offered a roughly north-south orientation, with the clearest signs of human habitation at the southern end, most notably in the form of a large house sitting within a low walled garden, with two trailer-style homes sitting close by under the boughs of tree that might be more at home in more northerly latitudes than suggested by the rest of the island’s styling.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

To the north, the island is more open and tropical in looks. Grass sits under palm trees and a Greedy Greedy table sits bracketed between and old adobe building and the (rather incongruous) cone of a volcano that appears to be erupting…

The volcano forms the highest point within the region, but does tend to a look a little “glued on”, so to speak. To us, it was slightly jarring visual element in what otherwise is a pleasant low-lying island where the aforementioned Greedy Greedy can be enjoyed, and the outdoor decks offer places to sit, think, cuddle and  / or chat.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

So far as we could tell, the house is open to the public; there were certainly no security orb warnings on approach. It is cosily furnished, but the garden perhaps offers the best opportunities for those taken with photography.

Off to the west side of the island, behind the screen of fir trees, a four-legged platform rises from the shallows. A rusting lifeboat slide to one side of it suggests it might have once been some form of small drilling platform, but it is now given over to a shack in need of some renovation. The sea lions on the raft and rock below it don’t seem to mind its presence, tho.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

Small, quirky and perhaps needing some of the bushes and plants to be made phantom (we bounced off of some of the palm trees while trying to pass under them!), Isla de Sol presents an easy visit for the beach inclined. There are opportunities for photography (rezzing is possible with a 5-minute auto-return) throughout, and it avails itself to a range of windlight options (I again used my default takes on Annan Adored’s End of Silence and Morning Dream in the four images here.

SLurl Details