Second Life: Lab provides statement after Sansar lay-offs

Update, February 21st: please also see Lab seeking a “plan B” to secure Sansar’s future.

As I noted earlier this week (and following Ryan Schultz’s lead on the matter – see the link in the referenced article) – there have been some significant changes at the Lab in respect of Sansar; notably multiple lay-offs.

The news of the lay-offs spurred a lot of speculation concerning Sansar, the Lab and Second Life – and given the last, on Thursday, February 13th, 2020, the Lab issued a statement specifically about Second Life and its future, indirectly touching on the matter of lay-offs in the process.

The statement reads in full:

There’ve been quite a few rumours about changes at the Lab and their possible effects on Second Life and Tilia. The truth is that we have made a few operational and personnel changes to ensure that we continue to stay strong for the next decade and beyond. This means that we had to say goodbye to a few employees, but at the same time we also strengthened our team by bringing back some heavy hitters who will help make Second Life better than ever.

So, Second Life is still here and still strong. We’re continuing to invest in its future and you’ll see the results of our commitment this year as we roll out a new mobile companion app, new Linden Home themes, performance and usability improvements, and a number of other new features and enhancements. The ability to change names will be available in the next few weeks, too.

These changes reflect our commitment to making SL strong for many years to come. To infinity and beyond!

The statement has resulted in further forum speculation on whether the changes mean Linden Lab will have “more time, more money and effort to spend on Second Life”. This prompted a response from Soft Linden on the increased effort now available:

100% what this was about! Second Life has THREE rock star graphics devs now, an engineer with a proven track record for asset optimization to make texture delivery and management fast and reliable, and so much more. The various teams will have more to say in coming months, or just watch the viewer and server release notes. Right now, some of them are literally re-learning to get dressed. They missed the era between Bento bodies and Bakes on Mesh. :)

It was a painful adjustment. But a lot of the old timers and hardcore off-hours SL users here believe these changes are important. It’s part of the strategy for breathing many extra years of life into our favourite world.

As Whirly Fizzle notes in the same forum thread (she and I have been poking to see what may have been happening in terms of staff moves), the “heavy hitters” mentioned in the official statement (and referenced in Soft’s forum post) may be Runitai Linden and Monty Linden (Monty actually popped-up in the SL forums in December 2019 to respond to a comment there, so he may have been back with SL for a while, or possibly bouncing between Sansar and SL), Kurt Linden (QA) may also of transitioned back it late 2019, while Maestro Linden (from the engineering team) appears to have most recently moved back to SL.

Certainly, nothing that has occurred with Sansar  / at the Lab doesn’t appear to have had any negative direct impact on Second Life, again as the official statement indicates.

Tansee’s Pearls of Wisdom in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom is the title of an art exhibition currently available in its own space at ArtCare Gallery, curated by Carelyna, and which opened on February 7th.

Produced by Tansee, it is perhaps best described as an examination of some of the viewer’s advanced rendering capabilities, notably Advanced Lighting and lighting projectors, together with surface environment and shine effects available through the Build menu, through the medium of art. It utilises both 2D and 3D elements and allows for audience interaction.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

Given the above, it is necessary to have Advanced Lighting Model enabled in your viewer (Preferences→Graphics and check Advanced Lighting Model); failure to do so means that most of the exhibition will not work for you. Note that enabling ALM does not require enabling Shadows, which tend to have the most severe impact on viewer performance; however if you can run with shadows enabled, they do give additional depth to the 3D element of the exhibition.

This comprises a large hall with animated spheres – the pearls of the exhibit’s title, illuminated by projected lights and with shine applied together with animated textures. These are set against walls illuminated by projectors and a landscape of pearl-topped plants to create a soothing, alien-like setting in which visitors are invited to relax and spend time, either on the lidos on the floor or the floating cushions within an airborne sphere.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

The L-shaped hall leading to the 3D element of the installation offers a range of 2D art, some of it using layering techniques and transparency settings, lighting projections to great effect, with some mixing digital images and techniques with images taken in the physical world. These again offer a sense of alien environments and ideas. It also includes the introduction to Pearls of Wisdom which should be read not only for the instructions on how to best view it, but also things to look for whilst spending time visiting the installation.

These pointers include hints at some of the element hidden within the images, and one notes the glittering pearls scattered throughout the exhibition. Touching these will offer pearls of wisdom in local chat. Further large silver pearls are scattered around the floor that use projected lights and can be pushed around by avatars when visiting, so “personal” lighting effects can be created as a part of the exhibition.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

An eye-catching exercise in digital art, lighting and viewer capabilities, Pearls of Wisdom is an engaging installation to visit and witness.

SLurl Details