Lab Gab 20 summary: Second Life cloud uplift & more

Other Questions

Name Changes

[20:10-21:54]

Note: see also my week #14 Web User Group summary.

  • No ETA for the release of Name Changes is available, other than Real Soon Now™.
  • It will *not* be possible for Name Changes to be used to “hide” former identities / user name completely (so as to allow a user to make a “fresh start” without having to create a new account).
    • All the names a user creates / uses with their account via Name Changes will be tied to that account, although only a user’s current name will be visible to other users.
    • This is in part because SL’s systems and service need to be able to resolve and given name to a specific account in order to carry out basic functions such as redeliver items from the MP, forward inventory offers, etc. It also prevents those who get up to mischief with griefing, harassing, etc., from hiding their past from LL.

User and Concurrency Increases

[21:55-23:33]

  • Second Life continues to see a boost in users sign-up to the service and to general concurrency as a result of the SAR-CoV-2 pandemic situation.
    • Note; Ebbe Altberg recently indicated that daily sign-up were up by and average of 60% which appeared to be converting to around a 10% increase in concurrency.
  • In some cases, the increase has been to the point of April’s team having to adjust the Y-axis on some of their metrics charts to allow for the increases.
  • This is where the responsive scaling of cloud services has come in to its own for those SL services that have made the move to the cloud and are amenable to such scaling.

Why Can’t SL Be as Graphically Performant as High-End Games?

[23:34-27:36]

  • High-End games are very different to Second Life. Their environments are all highly-optimised and “baked” into complete scenes in which every aspect is finely controlled and budgeted in terms of model complexity (buildings, plants, vehicles, equipment, etc.), lighting and shading, use of materials and so on. In addition, they can exert control over things like the field of view of the user, so that scenes can only be seen in a certain way, so overall, scenes are tightly controlled, allowing them to be composited, optimised, and often pre-computed, smoothing performance.
  • Second Life relies entirely on user-generated content (which can often be poorly optimised) and imposes almost none of the constraints see within high-end games. This content then needs to be computed more-or-less on-the-fly, with users able to freely range around it without any restrictions on the paths they can follow, with all of the associated lighting and shadows also having to be dynamically rendered and re-rendered.
  • Thus Second Life has a very different set of challenges to meet compared to a high-end game. On top of this capabilities in SL are also used in ways the Lab never considered. All of which make it a lot less performant than a Triple-A game.
  • That said, efforts are being made to improve SL’s graphical performance where they can be made. This work is, and will, include involvements to the viewer’s ability to case information for rendering and a longer-term project to overhaul the graphics engine (which is now 17 years old) where possible, although this will not lift SL to the level of an AAA game.

In Brief

  • [27:38-29:29] Has having to work from home all the time affected the engineering teams?
    • While there has been some impact, it is relatively small. Not of the developers already worked from home prior to the SARS-CoV-2 situation, as did all of the systems operations team.
    • The engineering teams all make “heavy use” of meetings in SL and video conferences.
  • [29:44-31:47] What is the status of the mobile client?:
  • [31:49-33:30] Will there be a viewer revamp?
    • In terms of a Viewer 2.0 style do-over? No.
    • Obviously, the current viewer will continue to be improved and iterated upon, with regular updates and feature releases.
    • The current advantage with the viewer is that much of the work doesn’t conflict with the cloud uplift work, allowing it to continue to be developed.
  • [33:54-34:53] Can LL tell the difference between a new user account and a new account created by an existing user?
    • Yes, but to what extent and how is not going to be stated.
  • [34:56-36:08] Will you slow down “the graphics” to handle the increase in user numbers?
    • No. SL isn’t built that way, and can handle high volumes of traffic.
    • In terms of “the graphics” – this happens entirely in the viewer at the user’s end of things. So a) it’s not a load LL would want to control; b) depending on the hardware, it may have its own limitations.
  • [36:09-37:47] Is Linden Lab hiring:
    • [At the time of the show] Yes.
    • Go to the careers page for information on positions [note: LL only hires employees from within the United States].
    • Experience as an SL user is considered a huge plus.