|On Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 at the SL17B celebrations, the second of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held, featuring Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided for ease of reference.
Note that this is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
|Table of Contents
In places, information that is supplementary to Patch’s comments is provided in square braces (.i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.
A Note about the New Linden Homes Theme Announcement
The session included discussion (notably in the last 15 minutes) on the new Linden Homes theme unveiled at SL17B immediately after Patch’s Meet the Linden Session. These elements of the session are not reported here simply because people can now see the theme for themselves. Instead, I refer readers to Second Life: looking at the new Linden Homes Stilt theme in this blog.
- Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in 2007.
- Initially worked as a support agent and then as a support liaison. From there he moved to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager.
- Shifted focus to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year, then moved to the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life.
- At Product he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).
- In 2018, he established the company’s support office in Atlanta, Georgia.
- In 2020 he oversaw the move to larger office space in Atlanta, although the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic means the new premises have yet to be used.
- In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations, and joined the Lab’s management team alongside Grumpity and Oz Linden (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
- Together with Grumpity and Oz, he forms what Grumpity calls the “troika” overseeing Second Life’s continued development.
- In his management team role, Patch continues to oversee all of the Lab’s user support operations (some 5 teams), including the LDPW.
- Despite his longevity at the Lab, his is not the longest-serving Linden, nor is he the “oldest” resident-turned-Linden.
Working with the Pandemic
- His teams have not really been impacted by the pandemic. LL is a remote-friendly company.
- As a result the company has always thought outside of the box in leveraging their own product as a work tool – running team meetings in-world, etc., – as well as running more “traditional” tools like Slack, Discord, etc.
- Patch himself started at the Lab as a remote employee, and worked as such for around a decade prior to developing the Atlanta office.
What are the Most Significant SL Changes You’ve Seen?
- Changes in avatar appearance – particularly when looking back at old snapshots.
- The arrival of different types of new content.
- Adding Voice to Second life , which was probably one of the “bigger ground-breaking changes for Second Life as a virtual world”.
- Admits to have probably having forgotten more than he can remember, and even today is still learning – such as only recently discovering the ability to completely disable the viewer’s UI in world view [CTRL-SHIFT-U (or ALT-SHIFT-U for Firestorm) – also toggles the UI back on].
Bakes on Mesh and Personal Business
- As a resident, used to run a fashion business for male avatars.
- Still has the inventory, but has not updated the clothing styles in years.
- Has “tinkered” with Bakes on Mesh to see if it works with his system clothing designs, but does not intend to convert them for use with Bakes on Mesh and flood the market, as styles now too old.
- Has found the “playing” with Bakes on Mesh to see what does / doesn’t work with older system clothing to be interesting.
Bellisseria and Linden Homes
What is the Most Popular Linden Home Theme?
- Probably the Victorian theme, although the Log and Houseboat themes run it a close second.
- It’s hard to separate into “most popular” as the demand for all of the themes has been equal. For example, even through the Traditional theme are currently fully occupied [and presumably no plans for further deployments at this time] – there is still demand for them.
- The 4,400 introductory release of Log Homes was filled quickly. Since then, the Monday / Wednesday / Friday region releases have been taken up almost as soon as they are made available.
Plans to Link Continents / Retire Old Linden Homes
- [Note: Bellisseria already now links Sansara and Joegeot.]
- As the Linden Home continent(s) continue(s) to be built out and possibly be split up for diversity), then it / they may well continue to connect continents.
- However, as this is done, LL wants to ensure that continents are connected where it makes sense to do so.
- Overall plan is that as the new continent(s) gain occupancy, to eventually start shutting down the old Linden Home mini continents or at least compressing them, to free-up resources.
- This point hasn’t quite been reached, as there is still occupancy across the mini continents either because people are waiting to try to obtain a new home of their choice, or because they may not actually be aware of the new home, depending on their log-in frequency.
- However, even with the old style Linden Homes being retired in time, their themes may not necessarily be forgotten.
Was the Popularity of the New Homes Anticipated?
- Knew they were going to be “super popular”, so tried to put out as much as possible without overly delaying the project as a whole.
- Striking the balance is hard: on the one hand, foreknowledge of popularity dictates making a bigger initial offering – but how big? On the other, delaying the deployment means sitting on something that people could otherwise be enjoying.
- As it was, in April 2019, he felt there was sufficient quality and options in home to launch the product. This has allowed LL / LDPW to continue to improve the overall process of provisioning and deploying Linden Homes.
- This is reflected in the major release cadence from 700-1,000 in initial releases to 2,800 and then 4,400. When it comes, the Stilt Homes initial release will likely be 4,000-5,000 units.
How Important is the Bellisseria User Community?
- Impossible to over-emphasise the importance of the Bellisseria user community.
- It is a huge part of not only what the LDPW do with Bellisseria, but also why the do it.
- Thanks them for the passion, ideas, support, feedback and more that they continue to give. Viewed as a “super critical” part of Bellisseria’s development.
- Has been a major conduit in bringing the Linden Home product to market and making it a success that all SL users can enjoy.
General Bellisseria Questions
[16:12-17:47] Is there a trick that can be used to obtain a desired Linden Home?
- Not really. The system is what it is, and it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. People do move homes a lot, so that presents opportunities, and LL / LDPW are trying to roll out homes as fast as they can. So the real trick is to be patient and keep trying.
[23:38-24:16] What is the correct pronunciation for “Bellisseria” – “Bellis -SEY-ria” or “Belles-SAR-ia”? Belles-SAR-ia, but could easily be either, like “To-MAH-to” and “To-MAY-to”!
The Bellisseria Railway and the SLRR
- The Bellisseria railway is unique in that it offered the chance to completely re-imagine what the content forming the basis of the rail system should be.
- Also offered the opportunity to experiment with ideas for taking what has been learned / implemented from Bellisseria to the Mainland.
- The Mainland rail road currently has ageing continent in terms of looks and in its scripting, physics, etc., with the latter perhaps now operating in a way that would be considered “best practice” today.
- So Bellisseria offered the opportunity to build a rail system in what might be considered a “best practice” approach, updating their look, their control systems, etc.
- This will be a long-term project, and given the West Atoll Rail Road is abandoned, but LL still hold the land for it, so it might be a place where the LDPW start working on updates and moving the new rail system and the lessons learning in building it from the “constricted” model (in terms of land impact, geography, other land use, etc.) in Bellisseria to the Mainland.
- One of the first benefits would be the more efficient (LI-wise) rail bases used in Bellisseria, which all have far more efficient LOD models and texture use associated with them.
- In updating the rail road system, it is likely parts of the Mainland may be renewed.
- There is an historical argument to say older builds in the Mainland shouldn’t be touched / updated, simply because of their history and links to the past.
- Is very much an advocate for preserving SL’s history where possible, but ware that relocating it elsewhere doesn’t always work. Plus it is not always possible to relocate a build if LL don’t have access to all the permissions set within it.
- There has been elements within the Mainland that have been updated in the last year or so, but on the whole, LL / LDPW want to be careful with what they touch.
SLRPS – Second Life Region Preservation Society
- Established by Patch to try to preserve historic regions. Examples include:
- SS Galaxy [see SS Galaxy refits for a new role, SS Galaxy lowers her gangways to visitors once more and SS Galaxy drops anchor at Bellisseria]
- Mont Saint Michel [see Mont Saint Michel returns to Second Life]
- The Lost Gardens of Apollo
- [and not mentioned, ChouChou – see: Chouchou set to remain in Second Life – and there’s more and Chouchou: The Babel re-opens in Second Life].
- The first region to be added to SLRPS was Svarga [see: Svarga: of memories old and new].
- Anyone with a region that has a genuine historical context that they do not wish to see lost, but cannot continue to operate it, can approach Patch and his team to see if it might be a candidate for SLRPS preservation.
- Regions that are about to be closed / lost can also be nominated for possible preservation by concerned users [as happened most recently with the Chouchou regions].
- Not all regions can be preserved. The owner of a region, for example, may not wish it to be preserved, and there might be other reasons why a region cannot come under the SLRPS remit.
- SLRPS is really a last step in attempts to save regions – it is much preferred users find a way for regions to continue under their own steam [e.g. via transfer to a new owner].
- Regions can also take a lot of support when being preserved and can need a familiar hand involved. Lost Gardens of Apollo is an example [as are the Chouchou regions].
- Should also be pointed out that the SS Galaxy can be used for public events – contact the Land team.
Are There Any Other LDPW Projects in the Works – New Games, Zindra Expansion?
[Note this section of the video includes pauses to deal with sound issues.]
- Not in the short-term, although there has been some thinking around ideas.
- Rather than new games, it might be better to update some of the existing games. for example, Paleoquest is still very popular, but could perhaps benefit from an update to allow Animesh to be used within it – dinosaurs that actually chase players.
- Lindens Realms has thus far been the only game to be revamped [see: Linden Realms revamped and The further revamp of Linden Realms in Second Life].
- No plans to expand Zindra at the moment. Key focus is Linden Homes, plus there is the current constraint of not being able to put out new regions.
- Zindra is, however, on the list of potential Mainland projects for the future, but again, it’s not at this point clear what form this projects might take or how much focus they might have on renewing / updating infrastructure.
- It might be that a preferable route in some cases might be to build new and move, rather than attempt to renew existing environments and replace / update content.
What is Happening with the New User On-Boarding & Experience?
- A lot going on in the background – a lot of testing in the various learning island experiences against “old” on-boarding centres.
- Also tested against some of the community gateways – actually putting some community gateways in the main Linden Lab operated registration flow so new users are delivered to a community gateway learning experience.
- Have carried out testing with / without mentor group involvement within the initial learning spaces to which new users are delivered.
- Aim of latter tests is to see how different approaches affect the new user experience and user retention.
- The tests do take a lot of time, generally running for 2-3 months to ensure LL get enough “solid” data as possible that is statistically of significance when making further decisions.
- Tests may also be repeated more than once to ensure consistency of results prior to (or even after) opting to see how they work at scale.
- There are currently around half-a-dozen active community gateways. Those that have been involved directly in the user registration process have given good results and comparatives.
- Comparatives have enabled LL to adopt approaches taken by gateways, and also vice-versa, depending which his been shown to be working better.
- Community gateways also obviously bring in their own traffic to SL through their own registration processes, all of which is beneficial to the platform.
- Generally, users coming through a gateway that has a specific focus tend to be those that are more likely to be retained.
Support, Governance and Dealing with Hate Speech
- Support and Governance going well.
- Support enjoy dealing the users – suggests that those Premium with linden Home problems try calling live chat support rather than trying to get hold of a Mole.
- Governance and Land teams hold in-world meetings where users can find out more about them:
- With hate speech, the Second Life Community Standards have always been geared towards protecting users from hate speech issues, and it is a normal thing for LL to be on the watch for such issues.
- If a user does encounter issues of hate speech – please report it via support, filing an Abuse Report, etc.
Other Topics and Answers
What is the Difference Between a “Sim” and a “Region”?
- In brief:
- A Region is the virtual space in which avatars operate – the 256m x256m land mass we can see, build in, fly, drive, etc.
- A “sim” [short for “simulator”] is the binary code and services on which a region runs. [In effect, a region is a process running within the simulator code.]
- The “region” is a the “product” LL sells: Full Regions, Homesteads, etc. The company does not “sell” simulators.
- [Note that the official definition of a simulator is available on the SL wiki, as is the description of a region.]
Will We See Virtual Landmarks in SL?
- Virtual Landmarks were first proposed by Toysoldier Thor as a means over overcoming issues of constantly having to update landmarks after moving your store, home, club, etc., by providing a type of Landmark than can be updated automatically following a move.
- Working with Toysoldier, I documented the original idea in Virtual Landmarks: solving an age-old problem?
- At the time, there was an Jira feature request on the idea as well: SVC-8082.
- As the idea stalled, the late Darrius Gothly stepped into the breach as developed a system – see: Virtual Landmarks: offering a solution to the age-old problem.
- Sadly, following Darrius’ passing away, his VLM solution is no longer available, demonstrating the need for an in-house SL solution.]
[Also note: this section of the video also has an interruption whilst audio issues are dealt with.]
- Is familiar with the idea, which unfortunately got pushed well down the priority list.
- There is a possibility it is something that might get picked up once the cloud uplift / AWS move has been completed.
Is it possible to Still Get OpenSpace (Void) Regions?
- Yes, but they must be purchased directly from the Land team, as they are no longer available through the land store.