On Thursday, December 8th, Linden Lab announced the core Lab-supported / provided winter / Christmas seasonal events for 2022 in Second Life.
Winter Wonderland and Annual Snowball Fight
As usual, headlining the season is the re-opening of the Winter Wonderland regions. These bring with them the familiar Village of Lights, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice-skating, snowy walks and more. Plus, as always the snowball fight arena, open for casual and group games – and, of course, the annual Lindens (and Moles vs. residents snowball fights.
The battles take place on Monday, December 19th, 202 from 10:00-11:00 SLT and 14:00-15:00 SLT. Spots are limited, so be sure to get there early to grab your free snow-launching weaponry from the vendors around the arena, and be sure to read and accept the local Experience.
Seasonal Gifts and Offers
This year, gifts are available through two options:
Limited Premium / Premium Plus subscribers seasonal gift – a holiday light kit for your Linden Home available through the Premium Gift kiosks.
The December Premium / Premium Plus land offer in Second Life – no set-up fees on regions ordered during the month, as previously announced – read here for more.
The 2022 Holiday Shop & Hop this year with 320 participating Merchants across 16 shopping regions, bringing you loads of festive fun! Every store will have at least a 20% discount on all items and a free (non-group) gift for shoppers or a gift certificate valued at L$300 or above! Check the Shop & Hop blog post for more – including the event SLurls.
TheDickens Project, a seasonal celebration of the life, times and work of Charles Dickens with a focus on what is perhaps his most famous story, A Christmas Carol, officially opens to the public on Thursday, December 8th 2022s.
Now a tradition within Second Life – the first edition of the event was held in 2012 (and which itself grew out of a special presentation made in 2008), the Dickens Project offers a mix of reading, storytelling, music, events and activities, each year introducing something new to the mix to add a little more magic for visitors to enjoy – and 2022 is no exception.
Organised by Seanchai Library, The DickensProject presents visitors with an immersive environment across two regions evocative of Victorian England in Dickens’ time and which is both home to settings from A Christmas Carol and stage upon which a range of events and activities take place throughout the Project’s month-long run, which concludes on January 3rd, 2023. However, this year’s event brings with it some changes.
This year we challenged a lot of assumptions about how we configured the land to tell the story, so Dickens Project fans will discover is a layout that is very different from past Projects, but still has narrative sense. It feels like a lot ‘more’, somehow, and yet will still have the friendly familiarity that many will expect.
Caledonia Skytower, Seanchai Library
One of the key changes this year is the use of an Experience based teleport system and a skybound Landing Point. The latter provides a map of the event’s two regions, information in events and requirements for visiting The Dickens Project (e.g. Victorian era costumes are not required, but if visitors wish to dress the part, they are welcome to do so). This landing point also includes a series of teleport portals to different points within the setting – and this is where the Experience teleport system comes into play.
On walking through any of the portals for the first time, visitors to The Dickens Project 2022 visitors will be asked to accept the local Experience, allowing the portals to teleport them to their destination. Note that in keeping with the SL Experience system, acceptance only needs to be done once; thereafter all teleports through any portals will be seamless. This approach means that the regions themselves lack a common welcome area visitors to previous Dickens Project events might otherwise anticipate, but it also means visitors can have a greater freedom of exploration.
Joining Seanchai Library in presenting the event this year are Virtual Community Radio, Innsmouth in SL and The Community Virtual Library, who will again provide research and information on Victorian life in the time of Dickens’ works. For 2022, the Project and its activities include:
Two scenic regions to explore and enjoy.
Live music, DJ sets, spoken word, dance events and performances.
Dozens of performers, presenters.
Educational and interpretive content featuring different aspects of Victorian life.
Horse rambler tour, and a hot air balloon ride.
Four different dance companies – Idle Rogue Productions, TerpsiCorps Dance, Misfit Dance and Performance Art SL, and Virtuoso Dance – will present unique performances through the event.
Eclipse Club and Resort will contribute music sets in addition to a variety of independent DJs and musicians.
SL Hawks Aerobatic Team will return for a single performance of their popular “Ghost Flights of Christmas” air show in the skies above Dickens Harbour, this season with wing walkers.
Of course, no edition of the The Dickens Project would be complete without Carol Week, featuring readings of A Christmas Carol. However, for 2022, things will be done a little differently. The week will begin with The Big Read on Sunday, December 18th at 12:00 noon SLT. This relay-style presentation involves a chorus of voices in a continuous reading of Dickens’ famous novella from the beginning to end. Following this, there will be daily readings of the story from December 19th, 2002 through to December 22nd, each day presenting a stave of A Christmas Carol within the various locations within the regions inspired by the story.
Seanchai Library (pronounced Shawn-a-kee, which means “Storyteller” in Irish Gaelic.) was founded in March of 2008 in Second Life. The program remains dedicated to promoting the power of stories to transform and inspire through live voice presentations: “We bring stories of all kinds to life, in Second Life and other virtual worlds.”
In presenting The Dickens Project 2022 Edition, Seanchai Library acknowledge the support and sponsorship of Linden Lab and the particular support of Patch Linden and the Land Team.
Are usually chaired by Reed Linden, who is the Lab’s Product Manager for the Second Life front-end web properties (Marketplace, secondlife.com, the sign-up pages, the Lab’s corporate pages, etc.).
A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.
The drive to get the MP search updates release is continuing.
It had been hoped that this would be completed by US Thanksgiving, but last minutes issues resulting from the sheer size / volume of the MP (which cannot be replicated in test environments) prevented this from being achieved.
The aim is now as soon as everything is working as anticipated.
Those using the Marketplace recently may have noticed some glitches with search – this has been due to the Search team banging on things under the hood in order to get the updates deployed.
This work is essentially the same kind of back-end update as carried out with Web search a few months ago, with the emphasis on faster, more robust performance, together with new search options, including:
Merchant and store names will no long be searched in product searches.
Wildcard (e.g. using *) will be possible.
Better exact matching against search terms
The back-end supports fuzzy matching to better handle typos when inputting searches.
There should be a noticeable increase in speed of search results being returned.
Once running, these updates will allow LL to add-in the relevance engine AI to the Marketplace search (as a separate API entity to the relevance engine already running on the web search).
Work will resume on Marketplace Styles (allowing multiple colours, etc., for an item to appear within a single listing rather than each requiring its own listing) as soon as the MP Search updates are officially enabled. As such, Styles will not be deployed in 2022, but will be the first MP update for deployment in 2023.
It will obviously be up to merchants as to whether they use it to group variances in a product within a single listing or continue to list them separately – single listings for multiple versions of an item will not be mandatory.
Marketplace Refresh / Rebuild
This is still being looked at as a primary project for development and possible initial deployment in 2023, and as such will likely form a focal point for discussions and feedback through Web User Group meetings in 2023.
The work will at least comprise a refresh of the Marketplace appearance and the addition of further desired functionality; because of this, there is a push within LL to completely rebuild the Marketplace from the ground-up.
[Video 13:54-14:05] Any rebuild of the Marketplace would not require merchants to re-upload there items: a migration of listings from the current MP to any new MP would be provided.
Work is continuing to bed this in alongside of the other subscription options.
The Lab is generally pleased that the majority of users appeared to understand what they were trying to achieve within the introduction of Plus.
Plus is the last of the currently-planned subscription options the Lab has on the boards, and there are currently no plans to make further offerings available.
However, consideration is still being given to providing future possible options, such as:
A “Premium A-la Carte” level whereby your subscription fees are based on the options you select from a list.
Subscriptions based on specific interests (such as a “creator subscription”.
BUT these are only in the “Soon™” phase, indicating they are a feature or capability Linden Lab would like to implement, but which is not far enough along in development to determine if or when it might / could / will be implemented.
This is being considered, although the overall implications, etc., have yet to be fully understood.
In particular, it could have ramifications on the status of the Linden Dollar (which is not at present regarded as a virtual currency, but could be if it were to become a recognised payment system for benefits.
As such this is an idea that is not even in the “Soon™” criteria of thinking; however, there is an internal goal to make it possible to pay for “all things” SL-related in L$ – the questions are really what will this do to the Linden Dollar in making it a virtual currency; how will that effect how the LindeX will function / be regulated, how Tilia can support such a move, etc.
The Lab is working on improving the ability for the Destination Guide to provide a real-time reflection of the number of avatars within a specific in-world location.
Should this be achievable, the capability will be extended into Search so that Places searches will return the number of avatars within the location at the time of the search.
This work might be completed by 2022 year-end.
[Video: 14:20-14:54] Concerns were raised over the use of unregistered bots (i.e. avatars not correctly flagged as Scripted Agents) to game the numbers. LL is aware of the unregistered bot issue across Second Life, but outside of users reporting them on finding them, there is no easy solution to this issue.
[Video: 19:00-19:36] With the acquisition of CasperTech, will Caspertech Drop Boxes and vendors be integrated into the Marketplace? Yes. However, what form this will take and when it might be undertaken has yet to be determined internally at the Lab / with Casper Warden.
[Video: 23:22-29:42 + via text earlier in the meeting] The suggestion was made to make OpenSpace regions (aka Void or Water regions – not to be confused with the 2008 OpenSpace offering which morphed into Homesteads in 2009) as a part of a “Super Premium” offering (+ a nominal tier fee on to of the subscription fee) purely for use as private homes.
These regions have a Land Capacity of 1000, and are limited to 10 concurrent avatars, and are regarded as being for light use and a special purchase via support with the requirement that the purchaser must hold at least one Full private region.
While the idea was taken under advisement, such a offer could still impact the existing private estate market, and so would have to be considered carefully.
The OpenSpace discussion further raised the idea of having these regions potentially on an on-demand basis (e.g. only spun-up when avatars are present within the regions. H
However, it was pointed out that regions, whether “up” or “down” require grid slots, and the infrastructure configurations means that grid slots have underpinning hardware, so there is still a potential hardware cost, regardless of whether a region is spun up for use or not.
As such, this cost impact would have to be resolved in order for regions (or a specific region type) to be made available through an on-demand system.
As noted in previous WUG summaries, this is a complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
A focus at the moment is on defining what “land” and the associated terms around it actually means (e.g. what is “renting land”? Where can land be rented? How is it rented?, etc.) .
The first element that will be surfaced is a new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
For all other discussion points, please refer to the video below.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2023. Venue and time per top of this summary.