On Wednesday, March 10th, 2021 Patch Linden attended the home and Garden Expo to talk about his role, Linden homes and other aspects of SL and Linden Lab, and to answer questions from the audience.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. 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.
- 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.
- The last 20+ minutes of the session is a general Q&A session where Patch was addressing questions and comments put into local chat, which is not visible in the video. Some of these are highly specific questions based on an individual’s experience, other more generic – please refer to the video directly for this part of the session (commencing at 56:50).
- 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.
- 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. From there he took on 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.
- In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations, and joined the Lab’s management team (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
- In this role, he has two major departments reporting into him: those of Support and Product Operations, the latter of which comprises the Lab’s internal content creation team (which includes the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works) and the Land Operations team, which he originally established whilst working within the Product group. Together, these make up the largest teams at Linden Lab.
- Together with Grumpity Linden, who is Vice President of Product and Acting Vice President of Engineering since Oz Linden retired, he oversees Second Life’s continued development.
- He is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and was responsible for establishing the Lab’s support office there.
Linden Homes And Bellisseria
- The “new” Linden Homes, as launched in 2019, came about in part because of the Premium “free” tier being upgraded from 512 sq m or 1024 sq m. They were also driven by the “ageing” design of the original Homes themselves (i.e. using older capabilities, being non-mesh, etc), together with their relatively high density tending to make them less appealing over time.
- Developing the new Homes has been both a learning process and an exercise in incorporating additional capabilities within the different themes.
- The release of the Silt Homes (see: Linden Stilt Homes released in Second Life), the first release to be made following the move to AWS services, did bring with it a number of issues (e.g. the infamous “blue window” issue), but most of these have now been resolved or have fixes in the works.
- The release of the “Alpine” – or fachwerkhaus, as Patch would prefer them to be called – theme is now “just around the corner”, and may be occurring in the “next couple of weeks”.
- Preparations for the release have seen an large extensive in Linden Home regions to the north-east of Bellisseria beyond the Silt Home / Houseboat regions, such that the estate now almost reaches Satori.
- While the regions containing the fachwerkhaus theme will have hilly / mountainous areas, they will not be “snowy”. The Lab has learned through various channels that predominantly snow-covered regions tend to be polarising: people either love them or hate them, so prefer keep it seasonal.
- However, were there a demand to make such regions “snowy” in theme, it may be something the Lab could look at doing in the future.
- Right now the overall drive with Linden Homes is to get all the planned themes – fachwerkhaus and beyond – released by the end of 2021.
- Once this has been achieved, it is likely that the retirement of the “old” Linden Homes will commence.
- There are currently no plans to directly replicated the themes found in the “old” Linden Homes beyond what has been seen (e.g. the Log Homes offering a similar environment to the Tahoe theme).
- This is something that might be contemplated some time after all the currently planned themes have been released, but no guarantees.
- In terms of the “old” styles, only one – the Meadowbrook (the “suburban” style 1- and 2-storey homes) – proved to be particularly popular, beating the other three styles by “leaps and bounds”.
- There have been requests to allow groups of people to select Linden Homes that are located close to one another, so that they might establish little communities of friends, etc. This is actually difficult to achieve, but might be something that could be looked at some time after the roll-out of Home themes has been completed.
- [33:20-34:55] The next NEW theme for Linden Homes (to follow the fachwerkhaus theme) will be previewed at SL18B in June.
- It is promised that it will “Blow your socks off” and be the “most impressive theme released to date”.
- It will have “unique” capabilities not previously seen in Linden Homes
- It is unlikely the theme will actually be released during the SLB event, but will likely be available some time afterwards.
Bellisseria and Community
- It was anticipated that some form of community would develop around Bellisseria, if only going by lessons learned from Bay City. However, the speed with which it developed and grew has been surprising to Patch.
- Has been watching the growth of the many sub-communities with the continent, which now cover all interests and social aspects – boating, flying, merfolk, LGBTQ+ – even Adult.
- While it was not with a specific aim of building “community”, having public spaces to visit and explore within Bellisseria and venues that could be used was key part of planning the estate.
- These remain a focal point of effort through seasonal events and activities – such as those in Millbank such as the Halloween build there.
- There is a dynamic between the community and the Lab – the latter listen to the former, may adopt ideas from the former, and the former may take ideas and facilities from the Lab and run with them (as with the use of the Bellisseria Fairgrounds), etc.
- An example of this is the adoption by the Lab of the house number system introduced by the community.
- Also, the Bellisseria Bureau of Bureaucracy “passport” system will be adopted, with the Lab providing their own kiosks within the various locations within Bellisseria they maintain, allowing visitors to have their passports uniquely stamped.
- There are no plans to name roads in Bellisseria – it is hard enough to come up with fresh region names [although I admit to having an amused groan over the likes of Salmon and Gillfunkel, OccupenSea (together the neighbouring xxxSea regions), Lone Shark, Miniature Gulf and so on!].
[Note: details on several of the issues relating to the AWS migration and the on-going follow-up work on it can be found in my weekly Simulator User Group meeting summaries and on my notes from the February Lab Gab AWS update.]
- The move to using AWS services that was completed at the end of 2020 was just that: relocating services to AWS without making significant changes to them, unless absolutely essentially to their smooth running [what Oz Linden and his teams referred to as “lift and shift”].
- Unfortunately, this met that certain services (e.g. the Map tile generation and the Land Store) did break.
- [The major cause of these breakages was down to the code having certain assumptions about the operating environment “baked in”, which are no longer true within the AWS environment.]
- The Land store issue is now fixed, and the Map tile issues are well on their way to being fixed [there are still issues around the “stitching” and rendering process when zooming out from the Map].
- With the migration work completed, the emphasis is not on performance tuning and on bug fixing.
- Broader issues – such as Search (notably People search) are also problematic, and these issues are also on a priority list for fixing.
- As always, if people come across a specific technical issue (particularly if it can be reproduced using the official viewer, please raise a bug report.
- [If you’ve never raised a bug report before, please refer to my bug report tutorial.]
SL, the Lab and the Pandemic
- SL has seen numerous examples of increased activity during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In particular, merchants across markets are seeing increased sales; charity events are seeing increased fund-raising, etc.
- The Lab remains sensitive to the issue, particularly around issues of people who may have lost loved ones or are struggling with increased financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
- The latter was a significant contributing factor behind the decision not to roll out Premium Plus in 2020.
- Obviously, the Lab is pleased that Second Life has provided a positive outlet for people, and they have noted upticks in “old” users returning to the platform an in “new” new user accounts being created.
- The latter is particularly being noted through the use of the platform by the likes of the education, business and non-profit sectors, which has in turns spurred renewed media interest in the platform.
- Patch [and others at the Lab?] appreciate the greater freedom using Second Life gives them over other other business tools they use – Zoom, Google Meet, etc. – simply because it offers the chance to have a change of surroundings and relax into their avatars.