August 24th: Please see my further update on this subject.
YavaScript Pod tours have been a part of the Mainland in Second Life for a decade, but news is now circulating that on the very day of their 10th anniversary, the automated element of the service is to be suspended.
Notification of the suspension was given by the system’s creator, Yavanna Llanfair, via note card, which was circulated initially through the in-world Pod Riders group, before being more widely circulated within the Second Life community.It comes as a combination of factors, including an issue related to Yanvanna’s account, and her continued need to take time in recovering from being stricken by COVID-19.
Following the start of their operations in 2010, the pod tours grew to become a staple of the Mainland landscape, following the major road systems across Sansara, Heterocera, Jeogeot, Corsica, Mãebaleia/Satori and Nautilus. In addition, they’ve also become a familiar sight at the Second Life Birthday celebrations, and others have taken to running their own services using Yavanna’s system.
The announcement of the decision to suspend the Mainland automated service reads in full:
Dear pod riders,
Today is the 10th anniversary of the first road pod – “YavaScript Pod V5.0 (MCT)” – MCT standing for Monowai Constant Tour, which I put on the road in the morning of Saturday 21st August 2010. I have set that pod running again; it will run until it is swallowed by some random event (like a sim restart or a crash).
However, I am sorry to report that it is also the last day of the pods as we know them today. I have made the decision to suspend all services as of later today. The reason is as follows:
For the entirety of the running of the pod service, I have said I will only run the service where I considered I had the approval of the Lindens and the community. Whilst there have always been a few who would criticise (sometimes quite vocally), they have been a very small minority. And I have always felt that the Lindens have tacitly approved of them, though they would never say so directly. Certainly a number of moles have expressed their approval, and to them I am very grateful.
On 27th July, my account was suspended for 24 hours because of a pod crash in Mieum (on the Wellington Road). At least, that is what I traced it to, because the Linden who suspended me would not tell me of the reason – merely that the object was returned to me. I explained that it is impossible to avoid crashes in all circumstances. I raised a ticket to the LDPW asking them to let me know if this meant my pods were no longer welcome on the roads. I said that I would take anything other than a positive to be a negative. My ticket was closed without comment.
It would have been a shame for the pods to have fallen short of their 10th anniversary, and so I have continued the service until today. And for now, I will merely suspend all operations by flicking a switch on my server. This means that the road pods will still rez, but de-rez shortly after (within 5 minutes). Pods will also still be available from the pod stations by clicking on the rezzer. But this is not a sustainable situation, as the vast majority of people come to know about the pods by seeing them pass on the road, so without that, the service is far less likely to be sustainable in the longer term.
I announced back in June that I was stepping back, due to a long Covid-19 recovery. That recovery is still not complete; whilst I have made progress, I still have some issues, mostly neurological. And stress is therefore something I have to avoid at all costs. Therefore I am not willing at present to fight anyone on this. Maybe one day I will. If the Lindens wish to get in contact to ensure me that the pods are welcome again, I will of course re-instate them. But I suspect that is not likely to happen.
I will continue to support pod owners who run their own systems.
Thankyou to each and every pod rider for coming along on the journey with me. It has been exciting and a lot of fun. It isn’t necessarily over, but for now autonomous vehicles from the YavaScript stable will no longer be on the Second Life mainland roads.
– Yavanna Llanfair, via note card
In terms of the suspension, pods can still be taken from the stations manually, but they will de-rez when the rider(s) alight off, rather than continuing on their own, and will no longer be seen travelling the roads on their own.
Commenting on the situation, Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers), one of those who passed Yvanna’s note card to me said:
The Pod Rider’s group has been busy most of today. We have all come to a decision as a group to express our memories/thoughts and feelings on how the pods have been an integral part of our virtual lives on Mainland. We are doing this in a positive way and would like for our memories to be shared.
Those with any enquiries regarding the service suspension, should do so via the Pod Riders group. If you have any memories about the pod tours you’d like to share, please contact Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers).
With thanks to Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers), and Holocluck Henly.
Update Saturday, August 23rd
The news of the suspension of the automated pod runs sparked speculation that there has been some form of change in policy at the Lab regarding Mainland vehicles / something else internal to the Lab. In response to such commentary, Patch Linden posted the following to a forum thread related to the news:
I am potentially as confused as everyone else. But then again I’ve been out of town this week and I have some catching up to do. In any case while standing in the house of mouse, this did make it to my attention to look in to. While I’m digging in to find out what happened there are a few things I can assure everyone of:
We’ve made no policy changes surrounding automated vehicles on the Mainland.
We like the Yavapods system
We use it in Bellisseria as the “engine” for the ferry boats, with Yavanna’s permission of course
We keep having it back to SLB every year
These items do not seem like a recipe for a change in policy. Hopefully things will unfold and we’ll get to the bottom of this in a positive manner. I can’t really see any other way forward, and the team and I have no reason to not support or help Yavanna.
– Patch Linden, August 21st, 2020
In terms of the order of events surrounding Yavanna’s account / support issue, Patch added:
This is where part of my confusion is. The LDPW and the Moles do not have a real ticket system. We sometimes receive JIRA’s for issues, but that’s not really a ticket and the Moles are not reachable directly through the support ticketing system. While I’m not here to dispute any of this, there also seems to be some real confusion on what or how this happened. If this took place in July, this is the first I’m becoming aware of it. There is no “fight city hall” here, again, we have no reason to do anything other than help with the system and the situation.
I’ll attempt to update this article or provide fresh input should more information / news be forthcoming.