A look at the new Belli Rub – I mean BelliHub – in Second Life

BelliHub landing area and new user tutorial

On Wednesday, April 19th, Linden Lab announced the launch of BelliHub and New User Tutorial regions – a new location within the Linden Homes Continent, open to all, which is intended to – quoting from Patch Linden’s forum post – provide:

A place where they can go to find information regarding Bellisseria, meet up with residents living in Bellisseria and have all of their questions answered. BelliHub features:
  • Information: Links to pages with details on things like how to get a home, Premium membership, using the land tools, the Bellisseria covenant, etc.
  • Bellisseria Events Centre: where members of the Bellisseria Performers Group can mark their events on the calendar for all to see.
  • Demo Homes: Finally a place where residents can rez and walk around all of the currently released home themes and models.
  • Hangout: A games area for residents to hang out and interact.
The BelliHub and BelliDemo regions are a resource for everyone who wants to help prospective new Linden Home owners, or just hang out and discuss all things Bellisseria.

– Patch Linden, April 19th, 2023

BelliHub: Linden Homes demo area

I will admit to reading the place name as “Belli RUB” at first glance, hence the title of this piece – I just couldn’t resist; however, the write-up and the Destination Guide entry left me curious enough to hop along and take a look just as soon as Fantasy Faire and completing setting-up my new PC allowed.

Sitting as a part of the New User Experience (NUX), BelliHub shares elements first seen at the new Welcome Islands I explored back in July 2021 to provide a tutorial area for new users and an introduction to Premium subscriptions, Bellisseria and Linden Homes. In particular, the kiosk-style approach to information areas seen within the Welcome Islands is repeated here, together with the garden-like layout and footpaths meandering between the different locales. However – and while I have not been back to the Welcome Islands to see how things may have changed since 2021 (makes a note to try to do soon in the near future), there are improvements here over that layout as originally reported.

Signage, for example, is much improved and less in-yer-face, giving progress through the various areas a more relaxed feel. Outside of the initial tutorial area / landing point, people are invited to touch the various signs to receive information, rather than having it shouted at them by detailed signs which can feel a little overwhelming. And talking of prior Welcome / Learning Islands, those with particularly long memories might want to to give a gentle pat on the head to the parrot at the Communications area, as he once again offers a call back to the Orientation Islands of old (all we need now is the old ball-and-table – which I think I’ve said at least once before!).

BelliHub new user tutorial
Progress is also assisted by the use of blue directional lines laid out along the footpaths, giving a needed sense of order to progress. In the 2021 version of the Welcome Islands, learning was a little more random as people could wander past kiosks without necessarily taking notice of them; here, the trails lead directly to the kiosks and through the areas to which they are linked, encouraging attention be paid to the information boards without any sense of being led by the nose.

Very good use is made of video media throughout as well – complete with auto-detect volumes which trigger videos when someone crosses them / stands on them (instructions are also provided on toggling video media manually in the viewer). The videos range from those produced specifically for the NUX (hi, Abnor!) to videos produced as a part of the Lab’s Second Life University series.

The path around the hub eventually reaches a gateway titled Bellisseria, after passing a Landmarks area where those who wish to do so can continue their explorations elsewhere in Second Life. The archway marks the end of the the “basic orientation” section of the hub, and the focus turns to the ideas of land holding – both Mainland and Private – and on Premium options, with links (including a globe of the Second Life world where those wishing to do so can upgrade to a Premium subscription (the globe itself a further link to the Welcome Islands).

BelliHub: Linden Homes demo area

Given the title on the arch of the gateway, it should come as no surprise that beyond it is a focus on All Things Bellisseria including an events area which includes the ability to book the various community centres for an event by Bellisseria residents (click on the name of any community centre to open the World Map to teleport to it). I’ll admit, reading one of the calendars, I was a little concerned that the last time Abnor Mole ate anything appears to have been April 13th…); and information on the Bellisseria Covenant and what is or is not allowed in the Bellisseria continent. Beyond this, the path ends at a Where Next? kiosk with a link to the Destination Guide and some further focus. Alongside of this end-point is a small dock where a sailboat can be rezzed for those wishing to take to the water: a nice touch.

North of the tutorials / information area and within a second region, and a looped path offering the chance to visit demos of the released Linden Home themes. Visitors can either walk the path or grab a bicycle from the rezzer at the start point and ride around the path. Again, in a nice touch, the house controllers for the demos are open to the public, allowing people to view the different styles of the various themes. Just keep in mind that if you use a bicycle from the rezzer and opt to hop off to look at a house, the bike will poof.

For those looking for a little socialising, BelliHub offers a number of seating areas, some of which also include the opportunity to play chess or draughts, whilst the beach adjoining the tutorial area also offers beach volleyball, 10-pin bowling and other activities.

BelliHub new user tutorial

Overall, the BelliHub is well designed and considered, presenting an engaging and interesting visit for established and curious established Second Life residents as well as those coming into SL who might be directed to it, whilst for those who have invested themselves in Bellisseria and its various communities, it offers a further opportunity to socialise and – possibly – meet and help incoming new users to Second Life.

SLurl Details

VWBPE 2023: Grumpity Patch Linden – What’s Up at the Lab? – a summary


On Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 Grumpity Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Operations and Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations, both of them members of the company’s management team, attended the 2023 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference to discuss Second Life.

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 to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.


  • 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.
  • Timestamps are included to allow a direct jump to a subject / comment.

A Little Background

Grumpity Linden: heads up Second Life Product team, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach. She originally started at LL whilst working for The Product Engine, and was involved in the development of Viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio), prior to joining LL full-time in 2014. As the Vice President of Product, she is responsible for coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life, liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, and so on; work which can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.

Patch Linden: originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in September 2007. He worked across a number of teams within the company – notably within the support and product spheres, and is responsible for developing the Land Operations team, and more recently setting-up the company’s support office in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2019, he has been Vice President, Product Operations.

The Environment at the Lab and Use of SL

A general discussion on working at L:inden Lab – the environment / atmosphere -, on how often Lindens log into SL (and how some specifically do so using alts as well as their Linden accounts), etc. Please refer to the first 15  minutes of the video for details.

Product Development Path

SL Mobile

[Video: 15:42-23:40]

See also: Lab Gab summary: Grumpity, Mojo & Patch – SL Mobile, land, bots & more, March 2023.

  • A re-iteration that LL are working on a fully immersive Mobile solution for both Android and iOS.
  • Limited feature set beta in development, aimed primarily at existing users rather than trying to support the New User Experience (NUX).
  • The first release will be “broad but shallow” – rendering the world, teleporting, using chat, with the focus on getting as high a quality of rendering as possible.
    • Dealing with user-generated content (in-world and worn on avatars) which is largely unoptimised for a run-time environment like Second Life has been a challenge on the rendering side.
  • Capabilities such as complex interactions with in-world objects, the inclusion of Voice and similar will be added over time as the app is iteration on and enhanced. However, streaming audio (music) is liable to be implemented ahead of any Voice support.
  • However, while the capabilities will be iterated on over time, Mobile is not intended to offer full parity in terms of functionally as the full viewer.
  • [Video: 47:38-48:36] The initial BETA release of the Mobile app will likely not be before the last quarter of 2023.

NUX and New Starter Avatars

[Video: 23:48-28:40]

See also: Lab Gab summary: Grumpity, Mojo & Patch – SL Mobile, land, bots & more, March 2023.

  • LL is working on improving the whole user on-boarding and new user experience (NUX) path for those coming into SL for the first time.
  • This work includes new “full mesh”, one piece (head, body, hands, feet) avatars (previewed at SL19B), which will be supported by a full complement of clothing and accessory options
A preview version of the new, single mesh (head-to-toe) avatar, which will use by mesh clothing and Bakes on Mesh, and be open for creators to design clothing and accessories
  • The NUX process will involve smoother on-boarding from the web (sign-up, etc.) and include viewer-side changes to make getting started with SL easier and more intuitive, and making it easier for those coming into SL to get a good start.
  • The first part of this work to surface is likely to be the updated sign-up workflow and on-boarding from the web (including selecting one of the new avatars and carrying out some customisation at that point – thus avoiding the need to get into the complexities of using Inventory, etc., within the viewer).
  • The second part of the work “later on” will simplify the avatar customisation process within the viewer, and it is hoped the third-party viewer community will build on this work as well.
  • The new avatars, coupled with the new on-boarding path, are seen as a mean for communities leverage / user SL to develop their own on-boarding paths using the RegAPI to bring their particular audiences / users into the platform.
    • This could potentially extend down to the level of communities providing specific outfits / clothing for the users they are bringing into SL (e.g. a selection of uniforms or similar for a military role-play group; t-shirts and hoodies with a school or college logo on them for an educational group, etc.).
  • This will be leveraged by Mobile so that users coming into SL via the Mobile option will be able to customise their avatars through the on-boarding process.

PBR Materials and Puppetry

[Video: 31:41-35:40]

See also: Lab Gab summary: Grumpity, Mojo & Patch – SL Mobile, land, bots & more, March 2023, my Content Creation User Group meeting summaries and my Puppetry Project user group meeting summaries.

  • The next set of capabilities to be deployed will be the Physically Based Rendering materials capabilities and reflection probes.
    • The core of this work is to support a new approach to material maps / surfaces either directly on products developed for SL by content creators or which can be used modify personal items and creations. They are designed to give objects a sense of physical world lighting and reflection, drawing on the Khronos glTF 2.0 specification.
    • This work represents a significant technical step forward in graphical rendering for SL (in the order of 10 years), and will take a step towards facilitating things like dynamic planar mirrors which can reflect avatars in-world (with some constraints around the capability).
    • Documentation and materials in support of the PBR Materials and reflection probes is in the process of being developed.
  • Animation imports is a project that is in the pipeline, but is currently more an offshoot of the Puppetry Project.
  • The Puppetry Project is in progress, but has expanded beyond the original outline, and can be regarded as “coming soon™”. This work includes motion capture from devices as basic as a web camera, as well as potentially supporting more capable hardware, and broadcasting / streaming the results in-world in real time (so you can wave you avatar’s hand, beckon someone – even potentially reach out and pick up an object, etc.).
  • More information on the PBR work and what follows it, and the Puppetry Project will be made available as this work continues.

SL20B – The 20th Anniversary

[Video: 29:15-31:40]

See also: SL20B: theme, music festival & performer applications, March 2023.

via Linden Lab
  • SL20B is anticipated as being a “very large event”, given it is the 20th anniversary, with the event regions almost doubling in number.
  • When the exhibitor applications are opened, communities and groups from across SL are encouraged to apply and take part in the event.
  • As well as performances and entertainment, SL20B will open up for panels, talks and discussions, applications for which will also be opening soon.

Upcoming / Future Work

[Video: 36:08-42:32]

Translation tools

LL note that the current translation tools within the viewer are getting long in the tooth, so there will be a project to make sure they are properly supported. After that, it is hoped a project can be put together to move translation server-side. The specification for this work is still being developed internally at the Lab, and more details may be available for public consumption in the future.

Family Names

  • Linden Lab has long run a Custom Name Programme, allowing qualified users to pay for personalised avatar names.
  • This is being expanded to allow the introduction of a new subset of custom last names: Family Names.
  • Family Names will allow a user to purchase into a last name, and then elect / allow a certain number of accounts to use that last name.
  • This capability is something that has been requested by users, and is seen as having a number of use-cases.
  • Further information on Family Names will be made available as and when the capability is ready to be released.

Streaming Solution Option

  • Aside from the Mobile app, LL is looking at a streaming capability for Second Life (that is, running a viewer instance on a cloud server and streaming the results to a browser).
  • If developed, it would “come in at a more reasonable price-point” than past efforts (SL Go and Bright Canopy).
  • Even so, it would not be intended to be a means for day-to-day access to Second Life, but more something that could benefit specific communities / events / activities.
  • LL may well take further steps to solicit wider feedback on this idea.

General Q&A

[Video: 42:40-46:36]

  • Will there be a payable “lifetime account” option? “Maybe. Time will tell”.
  • Is the Education Discount still available – Yes.
  • Will the new features being developed prevent users on older hardware from using SL? Not necessarily – although very , very old hardware may not be able to run some of the newer features, so may have to rely on “legacy” modes (where available).

Lab Gab with Grumpity and Patch – summary notes

via Linden Lab
On Friday, October 21st, Linden Lab streamed a special session of Lab Gab featuring Vice President of Product, Grumpity Linden and VP of Product Operations, Patch Linden.

The session was built around questions submitted by users in the wake of the announcement of the session, together with those asked via You Tube chat during the live stream.


  • The following is a summary, not a full transcript of everything said.
  • A glitch during streaming meant the session extends over two videos. Both are embedded in this summary.
  • Timestamps to each video are included within each topic / sub-topic.


Table of Contents

A Little Background

Grumpity Linden

  • Heads up Second Life Product team, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.
  • Originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab, and she was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).
  • She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.
  • Prior to working for Linden Lab, she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.
  • Holds a Master’s in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology, both from Johns Hopkins University. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

About Patch Linden

  • Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in September 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, and in 2020 he oversaw the move to larger office space in Atlanta, interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations.
  • Together with Grumpity, Mojo and Brett Linden, he forms the leadership team 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.

New Announcements

[Video 1 – 1:13-5:23]

Land Economy and Pricing

  • Lower-priced Premium option to allow more access to Mainland for users.
  • The amounts paid for the different Mainland tiers are to be reviewed with a view to drawer them closer together.
  • Premium Plus will be able to hold a Homestead regions without having to pay for a Full region (so Premium + subscription + $109 a month tier for a Homestead).

European Premium Subscriptions

  • It was hinted that Premium (P+) subscribers in Europe will hopefully get some good news in the near future (removal of VAT from all subscription options?).

These are all to be formally announced in November.

Recent Announcements

[Video 1: 5:35-15:35]

Tilia and JP Morgan Payments

  • As per the official announcement from Tilia, plus my own blog post, Tilia has received a minority investment from JP Morgan Payments.
  • This partnership will allow Tilia to expand its services (again, see my blog post).
  • This does not change the relationship between Tilia and Second Life, and Second Life users’ data remains as secure as before the partnership JP Morgan Payments do not gain access to this data.
  • In the future it may also lead to further benefits to SL users in terms of payment / cash out options for obtaining L$ or processing L$ amount to fiat currencies.

CasperTech Acquisition

  • LL have had a long relationship with CasperTech, and the services and tools offered fit with a lot of the Lab’s needs as well as being heavily relied upon by a lot of users an businesses.
  • The acquisition was therefore seen as both a means to help grow the CasperTech business and ensure its continued longevity and stability.

Premium Plus and Speedlight

  • At the start of October, LL announced Premium Plus members can make use of a special tier of access to the Speedlight Second Life client.
    • This benefit is purely as a result of an agreement reached between LL and the Speedlight team (Speedlight remains a third-party viewer in terms of its definition).
    • Speedlight is not part of the Lab’s own mobile development efforts.
  • Within the own Mobile plans, the Lab is working on an option that gives “as high as” visual fidelity as can be obtained on a desktop system.
    • There may be some in-progress teasing of this option “in early 2023”.

Puppetry Announcement

  • Originally referred to as “avatar expressiveness”, this project is still in the early phases of development.
  • IIt essentially allows a user’s head / arm movements to be captured via webcam and translated into avatar head / arm movements (but not facial expressions at this time), and more capabilities may be added as the protocols and functions are added.
  • The project is in very early development, and is being worked on in concert with user-developers within the Puppetry User Group.
  • Those interested can join the Puppetry User Group meetings or can follow development via my Puppetry Project summaries.

New User Experience (NUX)

[Video 1 – 15:00-19:38]

  • LL ran a survey among users who have joined since 2018 with the aim of getting feedback from a good cross-section of users who have joined and stayed with the platform in more recent years.
  • The feedback from this survey is being used to help guide LL’s thinking WRT the NUX and going forward.
  • A specific question in the survey was (paraphrasing) “what was the one thing that almost saw you walk away from Second Life when you first started?”
    • Performance issues was one of the most frequent responses to this question, and it is hoped that the Performance Improvements recently deployed, and those coming upon the Performance Floater / Auto FPS viewer (at Project status at the time of writing) have and will help overcome these shortfalls.
  • Alongside of this, popular reasons for almost quitting were (presumably in order): avatar customisation, finding things to do and getting to meet people.
  • As a result, LL will soon be rolling out “some big improvements to a first-time avatar customisation process”.

New Starter Mesh Avatars

  • These were previewed at SL19B. and are now very close to being released – which may happen “in the next couple of months”.
  • There will be an initial ecosystem of hair, clothing, skins, etc., that will be available when the new avatars are launched.
  • In advance of the release, a developer kit + documentation will likely be made available to creators who also want to get involved in the NUX avatar ecosystem and develop clothing and accessories for the line, which they can sell.
  • These avatars and their accessories might even form a special element within future LL Shop’n’Hop events.

New Viewer and Simulator Capabilities

[Video 1 – 1938-end]

PBR Materials + Reflection Probes

  • This is an in-progress project which I am covering in my CCUG meeting summaries.
  • As noted by Grumpity, this work will include reflection probes, which are not dynamic mirrors in the way that most people will think of mirrors when that word is used.
    • However, it has been suggested that a  future enhancement to the work might be used to provided some limited degree of planar mirrors (i.e. like those you might hang on a wall) – but contrary to the video, this work is not part of the initial PBR / reflection probes work.

Linkset Data

  • See https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/LSL_Linkset_Data.
  • Allows data to be stored within objects within a linkset, which can be read by scripts within that linkset.
  • This could revolutionise create types of in-world object and vastly improve the lives of scripters.
  • The back-end support for this work will hopefully be deployed to RC channel simhosts on Wednesday, October 26th, subject to LL’s QA.
  • I hope to have a special Gust Article explaining this capability in this blog shortly after the RC deployment.

General Topics

Second Life Search

[Video 2 – 1:14-4:21]

  • SL has a number of Search instances:
    • The web search (powered by Elascticsearch) at search.secondlife.com and which appears as the first tab in most viewer search floaters.
    • Marketplace search (also powered by Elasticsearch).
    • People Search.
  • Web search was recently updated, notably with a search relevance engine, with the intent of making returns and results more accurate.
    • Relevance in particular should continue to improve due to the “learning” nature of the AI-driven relevance engine.
    • This work also folded-in adding a full range of Boolean search options.
  • A decision has yet to be made on how often web search should be indexed. This currently occurs twice a day, but more frequent updates would allow more recent additions – stores, etc – in-world, to be recorded.
  • Similar work is now in progress with the Marketplace search, and it is hoped these changes will be deployed before year-end.
  • People Search uses a different back-end system, and there are currently no plans to make changes to this.

Marketplace Updates

[Video 2 – 4:21-4:54]

  • For the latest on Marketplace updates, please refer to my monthly Web User Group summaries, which include current status and promised updates such as listing variances (aka Styles), etc.

Linden Home Updates

[Video 2 – 6:03-7:11]

  • Plans are still “on track” to get new floor plan these released for some of the existing Linden Home designs before the end of the year.
  • The First Premium Plus selection of Linden Homes will be the Ranch theme, and are being targeted for a possible end of 2022 / start of 2023 release.
  • There will be more themes for both premium and Premium Plus.


[Video 2 – 7:13-9:33]

  • Improvements and updates to the Mainland roads is part of the on-going general work of the LDPW.
  • Allowing users to provide intersections between LDPW roads and private roads is a good idea – but overseeing / inspecting the work when carried out by residents can take time away form other work, and so is something that may be considered in the future.
  • The LDPW already provides switches, branches and connections between resident-owned rail lines and those of the SLRR. However, these are easier to handle as they are a lot fewer.

HiFi and Second Life

[Video 2 – 11:41-12:21]

  • As I reported at the time, at the start of 2022, High Fidelity Inc. invested in Linden Lab and Second Life.
  • The investment took the form of cash, expertise (several members of the High Fidelity team moves across to Linden Lab) and patients.
  • The latter sparked speculation (including by myself) that some of High Fidelity’s work is full spatial audio could be coming to SL.
  • This is something that has been discussed internally at LL, but would require a lot of changes being made if SL and the viewer are to support the HiFi audio. As such, it is something that is still “under consideration”.

VR Headset Support in SL

[Video 2 – 12:29-14:05]

  • VR has traditionally been limited by the requirement for sustained high frame rates (around 60 fps with modern headsets). This has tended to be problematical for Second Life, although the current and upcoming performance improvements go some way to alleviating the issue.
  • VR headsets are also very much in the minority in terms of general computer use, and their usage still represents a small sub-set of SL users, and headsets are certainly not as ubiquitous as mobile devices.
  • As such, while moves have been made to “bring SL to VR”, it is not a priority at this time and is certainly not an active project.

Closing Comments

[Video 2 -14:20-end]

  • Please refer to the video.

Tilia LLC gains strategic investment from J.P. Morgan

Tilia LLC, founded by Linden Research Inc., as a wholly-owned subsidiary specialising in virtual currencies and providing money services business solution to virtual platforms, has announced it has gained strategic investment from J.P. Morgan Payments, a part of the world’s largest bank (by market capitalisation), JPMorgan Chase.

Tilia has been running Second Life’s US $650 million dollar economy for the past seven years, handling over US $86 million is payments to users in the last 12 months alone. Tilia’s services have also been used by the likes of Sansar, Upland and Avatus, and leverages in partnerships with Unity (allowing Tilia’s API and services to be made available to Unity developers as an integrated end-to-end payment solution) and Applovin.

E. Drew Soinski, Senior Payments Executive, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Payments joins the Board of Tilia LLC

While an (unspecified in dollar terms) minority investment, J.P. Morgan Payment’s involvement is liable to allow Tilia to increase pay-out methods and the number of currencies it can support, thus allowing it to provide a pay-out in local fiat currency for creators to pretty much anywhere credit cards work.

The deal has been in motion for almost a year, with effort being put into ensuring Tilia’s services are interoperable with those of J.P. Morgan Payments as well as structuring the overall financial elements of the deal. With its completion, E. Drew Soinski, Senior Payments Executive, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Payments, has  joined Tilia’s board of directors, serving alongside Brad Oberwager, Raj Date and Aston Waldman, who is also the company’s CEO.

From Tilia’s perspective, the partnership means the company will be even better placed to serve the emerging stream of “metaverse”-related companies, providing a wide range of currency services.

Tilia is money into the metaverse. It’s money moved into the metaverse and money moved out of the metaverse. And why this is so important is because you cannot have this concept of the metaverse without a social economy. It is both the social aspect and the financial aspect. Those two things must work in harmony. To do money, you need some virtual token to make money work. Money has to be rock solid. That is JP Morgan. That’s the partnership. What’s the value of Tilia? You can’t build a metaverse without user-generated content. You can’t build a metaverse without social interaction. You can’t build a metaverse without some sort of financial token that allows people to build a world.

– Tilia Director (and Linden Lab Executive Chairman) Brad Oberwager to Dean Takahashi in Gamesbeat

He further noted that in strengthening Tilia’s ability to provide these services to platforms, J.P. Morgan Payments are helping to both fuel new economies that directly benefit creators participating in them, allowing such economies to step away from the route of revenue generation through the invasive use of data farming and advertising.

“This is a good thing when creators can make money. There are people around the world who make their living by building things in Second Life …  Here’s why I think it’s so important: these universes are social economies. If you don’t allow people to make money, if you don’t allow this economy to happen, if you don’t support creators, you’re going to have to rely on an advertising model to make your world work. That is a disaster. That would be the worst thing that could hit our society — an advertising-based metaverse.

– Tilia Director Brad Oberwager to Dean Takahashi in Gamesbeat

A great strength with Tilia is that it utilises virtual tokens rather than blockchain-powered crypto-currencies. This means that it is better placed to offer day-to-day virtual currency stability. Crypto-currencies are all too often treated as a speculative securities; they are therefore vulnerable to market volatility, going up and down in value by the day. Such volatility can potentially damage the foundations of any social economy using them.

Add to this Tilia now having such a well-regarded name within the financial markets / payments environment as a strategic partner further enhances Tilia’s standing and reputation – with Oberwager noting that new clients are already “lining up”. At the the same time, the partnership provides J.P. Morgan Payments with access to a market sector that might otherwise prove difficult to access.

More on the partnership can be found in the links below:

SL19B MTL – the Moles (new starter avatars + Linden Homes)

via Linden Lab

Friday, June 24th, 2022 saw the final Meet the Lindens special events take place for the SL19B(irthday) celebrations, featuring Patch Linden and the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

Unlike previous articles in this series, this is not a detailed summary of the session, but focuses on information relating to the New User eXperience (NUX) and the upcoming new Starter Avatars, and on plans for Linden Homes for Premium Plus and Premium accounts. Also provided is information on who the Moles are, and how to apply to become one, if you believe your skill sets are suitable.

New User Experience / Starter Avatar Project

[Video: 12:27-20:56]

  • NUX is a multi-phase, multi-faceted project that is fairly constantly in motion.
  • Currently, the focus is on the new user starter avatars, given the current avatars are a mix of the original system body and mesh attachments.
  • This project is intended to replace all of the starter avatars with fully mesh offerings. These will utilise the Bento skeleton and sliders, support Bakes on Mesh (BoM) and be an all-in-one, head-to-toes avatar, complete with new animation overrides.
A preview version of the new, single mesh (head-to-toe) avatar, which will use by mesh clothing and Bakes on Mesh, and be open for creators to design clothing and accessories
  • These avatars:
    • Will be provided with an “array” of outfits/looks/ethnicities from which new users can choose during the sign-up process, with everything being an unisex as possible, so as to work across the full gender spectrum and the avatars themselves also available through the system Library.
    • Won’t necessarily be as robust and extensible as some of the “best-in-class” bodies and heads, but are seen as a means to help those coming into SL get started and ease them into the wider creative ecosphere.
    • Will be supported by developer kits so that creators can produce clothing and accessories for them, and again further encourage new users into the broader commercial ecosystem.
A closer view of the preview avatar head / face. Note this is not necessarily indicative of the final versions of these avatars; the project is a work-in-progress.
  • The work is still very much at a pre-release status, with the preview shown at the event not necessarily represent the finished product; there is a lot more to come with the project before it is ready for release.

Linden Homes – Premium Plus and Premium

[Video: 36:31-44:55]

  • At the time of the Moles MTL, 34,845 Premium Linden Homes had been made available and 1,913 regions released, with a further 172 “under construction”.
  • Premium Plus Linden Homes:
    • Entirely new “ground up” themes with a new approach to implementation.
    • The “ranch” theme Patch mentions at his MTL session [video ; blog summary], is one under consideration, although exact style, etc., is still TBA.
    • The fact that ideas are still in development is why Premium Plus Linden Homes will not be appearing until the end of 2022 “at the earliest”.
    • The increased land offering (2048 sq m) means more opportunities to use different parcel sizes.
  • Premium Linden Homes:
    • Both the Traditional and Victorian theme will be getting a refresh with “open-plan” variants on their styles.
    • Houseboats to get four new floor plans.
    • Updates will include a pass to bring the control panels up-to-date with the most recent home releases.
    • All of this will be rolled out before the end of 2022.
  • New large-scale community centres for Bellisseria are also in the works.
  • No plans at this time for a “city style” theme with apartments and the like.

About the Moles

Who or What are the Moles?

  • Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW), originally formed in 2008, Moles are residents from all over the world hired by Linden Lab as independent contractors to undertake specific tasks.
  • Their work was originally focused on the Mainland, adding the infrastructure – road, bridges, etc., and the landscaping, as noted in the official LDPW wiki page, although they actually do a lot more than this.
  • Notable major projects carried out by the Moles include:
    • The infrastructure within Nautilus City.
    • The development of Bay City.
    • The Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria (including all topography, flora, infrastructure and housing).
    • The facilities for events like Shop & Hop, the Second Life Birthday, town hall events, the turn-key regions available for businesses, starter avatars, etc.
    • The Lab provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • They also provide support / input for / to technical projects (e.g. Project Bento and the avatar skeleton extension), and work with marketing, QA and other LL teams.
  • In keeping with their name, Moles were originally given a mole avatar, complete with hard hat. However, over the years, most have moved to having a more individual and personal look, although some say with their Mole look.
  • As well as being paid for the work they do, Moles also receive and allowance from the Lab, which is primarily intended to go towards the cost of uploads (texture, animations, mesh objects, etc)., but which can also be put towards developing their individual looks.

How to Become a Mole

  • Positions in the LDPW are open to application by residents who believe they are qualified to work in the team, and the team may also approach specific residents and ask if they would consider joining them.
  • Applications are made by dropping a résumé (note card or email) of qualifications / experience (including links SLurls, Flickr, You Tube, etc.) to Derrick Linden (derrick.linden-at-lindenlab.com) or to Patch Linden (patch.linden-at-lindenlab.com).
  • Applicants have to go through a former interview process.
  • Successful applicants get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing agreed tasks are completed on time.
  • As they are from around the world, this can allow some projects to move forward on almost a round-the-clock basis.
  • Those who are more fully-rounded in skill sets  – content creation, scripting, etc., – are encouraged to apply, but LL will also take on specialists.
  • Motivated, outgoing, communicative people with a passion for SL and willing to self-teach themselves new skill sets are particularly considered.

SL19B MTL: Grumpity and Mojo Linden – summary with videos


via Linden Lab
Thursday, June 23rd, 2022 saw the fourth in the SL19B Meet the Lindens events, this one featuring Grumpity Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product and Mojo Linden, the Vice President of Engineering.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The full video is located at the end of this article.

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

Also, information given in braces ([ and ]), has been provided by myself and does not form a part of the conversation.

The TL;DR Summary

  • Platform Improvements and the Roadmap:
    • Viewer performance: Graphics team working to overhaul the viewer’s graphics performance, with updates already released (Performance Improvements viewer) and more (at the time of writing) on the way (Performance Improvements Floater viewer).
    • SL environmental work in development / testing: reflection probes; glTF materials support; moving towards “full” PBR support [progress on this work available via my CCUG meeting summaries].
    • Managing technical debt: dealing with long-term issues; re-visiting features; under-the-hood improvements.
    • The Marketplace: recent small-scale improvements; the Styles project to add variances(e.g. colour options) to listings; future considerations.
    • Event regions update: new products released with revised pricing – see: Lab announces updated Event and Event Elite Regions + pricing
    • Roadmap: search relevance overhaul; Group Chat.
  • New User eXperience: overview of new starter avatars and hopes, but see the Meet the Moles session for more details.
  • Mobile Update: not a lot to report; LL still has mobile / web ambitions; a streaming solution is in development.
  • Second Life and the “Metaverse”: being a part of the discussions of “the metaverse”; being aware of the challenges;
  • thoughts on joining the Metaverse Standard Forum.

A Little Background

[Video: 0:00-4:00]

Grumpity Linden

  • Heads up Second Life Product team, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.
  • Originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab, and she was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).
  • She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.
  • Prior to working for Linden Lab, she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.
  • Holds a Master’s in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology, both from Johns Hopkins University. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

Mojo Linden

  • Joined Linden Lab in August 2021.
  • Has overall responsibility for managing both the viewer and the simulator engineering teams at the Lab.
  • Holds a degree in Computer engineering from the University of Washington.
  • Has over 20 years experience within the games industry, and he has worked on iconic franchises such as Halo, Forza, Motorsport, Fable, Crackdown, and Wheel of fortune.
  • His expertise extends across multiple platforms: PC, console, mobile, cloud and web.
  • Prior to joining Linden Lab, held senior positions at Level EX, Zume, Doubledown Interactive, IGT, and Microsoft.
  • Since joining the Lab, he has demonstrated an intuitive understanding of the platform and the viewer, and has sought to make himself available at in-world user groups such as the Content Creation User Group, the Simulator User Group and the Third Party Viewer Developer’s group.
  • Loves being a part of Linden Lab, finds the users “dynamic” and enjoys working with his colleagues.
  • Is grateful the the move to AWS was largely completed before he joined, as it has opened a lot of opportunities.

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Platform Improvements and the Roadmap

Viewer Performance Improvements

[Video: 4:11-5:39] – Mojo:

  • Performance has always been important to him as an engineer, and is aware of how poor performance can spoil an immersive experience.
  • The Graphics team has been working on performance improvements over the last six months, with Runitai Linden’s work in particular leading to a near doubling of FPS on the official viewer [see: Looking at the SL Performance Improvements Viewer).
  • Further viewer-side changes to come include: performance auto-tuning [within the Performance Improvements Floater RC viewer], texture streaming improvements; and using all available video memory.
  • [Note: several of these improvements are covered in my CCUG meeting summaries.]

Environmental and Lighting Improvements

[Video: 9:51-15:11]

  • Mojo:
    • Global illumination / bounced lighting [a form of radiosity lighting]  is “on our minds”.
    • Currently in development is support for reflection probes, which could be used to approximate global illumination and bounced lighting.
      • [In short: reflection probes will exist / can be added to a scene or build, and used to generate a cube map of a defined area, and the cube map used for generating illuminations / reflections on other surfaces within the specified volume. ]
    • Reflection probes are an adjunction to implementing support for physically based rendering (PBR)
      • [The first phase of this work is to allow the import of materials to Second Life as inventory assets which can be applied to object faces. This work is following the giTF 2.0 specification – specifically metallic roughness; and will go on to provide better support for tools such as Substance Painter (aka Adobe Substance 3D)].
    • This work is being carried out in direct collaboration with members of the Second Life creator community and developers working on TPVs to ensure as many use cases as possible are considered.
    • This might be seen as a step towards mirrors in Second Life.
  • Grumpity:
    • In terms of weather effects, points out the the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) carried general environment rendering in SL significantly forward, but at a resource / time to implement [it also moved SL further away from the Windlight baseline code].
    • As such, “weather” is something that is going to have to wait whilst the focus is on other aspects of the platform.

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Dealing with Technical Debt – Bugs, and “Incomplete” Features

[Video: 16:15-20:09]

  • Technical debt does get constantly addressed; however there are constraints on what can be done, due to both legacy code and legacy content + the risk of breakage.
  • A lot of what is addressed is not necessarily user-visible: updating to more modern code languages and libraries to run systems and services and the viewer, updating to more capable database systems, etc., all of which directly benefit users.
  • In terms of users providing input on bugs and ideas for improvements, there are the following options:

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The Marketplace

[Video: 27:32-29:30] – Grumpity:

  • Marketplace improvements tend to be rolling over time. Recent small-scale improvements include:
    • The ability to sort by orders you’ve reviewed.
    • Some initial improvements to search results and improvements to the back-end of MP search, with more to come.
    • Improvements to the speed of order recipients search.
    • Major project to implement “Styles” (e.g. thing like colour variance in products) to product listings. The back-end work is now done and the front-end work should become visible “in a few cycles”.
  • Still thinking hard about the Marketplace, up to and including a potential complete re-build, which will be “quite a project”.
  • [Note: on-going work on the Marketplace are reported via my Web User Group summaries.]

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Event Regions Update

[Video: 31:45-37:08] – Grumpity:

  • LL have noted that while Event regions tend to run best in a “standalone” mode, rather than connected to other regions (particularly other event regions), where child agents¹ can become an issue. This has yet to be resolved, and is being worked on.
  • In the interim, the tier tier of Event product are being made available – Event Regions Pro (at US $449/mo) and Event Region Elite (and US $599/mo) with no set-up fees for either.
  • LL believe the revised product offering and pricing will “hit the spot”.
  • [Please also refer to  Event Regions: New Pricing and Offerings – Linden Lab and Lab announces updated Event and Event Elite Regions + pricing – this blog.]

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The Product Roadmap

[Video: 20:40-26:38]

  • Grujmpity:
    • A lot that has been on the roadmap has been, and is being rolled-out, including Premium Plus; Event regions; performance improvements (with more to come, as this is a constant focus).
    • Further work encompasses the New User eXperience (NUX), with a current focus on Starter Avatars and customising avatars – with discussion of this to be found in the Meet the Moles session [+brief notes below].
    • Web properties [the secondlife.com dashboard, the various SL Pages, the Marketplace, etc.] are a focus of update and improvement.
      • Land ownership – buying regions, obtaining Mainland, choosing a Linden Home, etc.,  is the next major focus for this.
  • Mojo:
    • Group Chat is a current area focus (responsiveness and reliability).
      • This is something that has been complicated by the raising of Group limits for Premium Plus, so more people are liable to be in more Groups, which places a great load on the Group Chat service.
      • LL recognise the importance of Group Chat, so it will continue to be an area of focus and improvement.
    • Search relevance: a major project to overall search (web, Marketplace, etc.) in terms of relevance and accuracy.
      • This includes work to track search results so that if a result that appears will down a list is the one the vast majority of people go to, it will be moved up to the top of the list.
      • At the time of writing, this project is still in progress so it will take time to be fully deployed to properties like the Marketplace.
  • [Note: on-going work on projects such as search relevance, land ownership, Marketplace improvements and updates, etc., are reported via my Web User Group summaries.]

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NUX – New User eXperience

[Video: 30:02-31:10]

  • Mojo:
    • Making it easier to on-board new users.
    • Major current focus, easing the process for new users to customise their avatars. This includes a new body type and clothing that “just works”.
    • Hope that there will be an opportunity for creators to test their clothing against this new body type.
    • Wants to encourage creators to cater for the new body type and sell good for it to new users.
  • Grumpity:
    • More details in the Meet the Moles session.

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Mobile Update

[Video: 40:08-42:09]

  • Mojo:
    • LL was working on a chat app [initially iOS] but has “shifted gears”.
    • Appreciates third-party solutions such as Speedlight “filling the gap”.
    • LL still has ambitions in the mobile / app environment, but is not ready to discuss everything as yet, but there are initiatives being examined, including using web functionality in the mobile space.
    • Wants to be able to give users the power to managed inventory, shop, find things to do, manage their accounts, etc., via mobile and on the web.
  • [Video: 47:47-48:34] Grumpity:
    • Also working on a streaming solution (again).
    • Believe LL has found a sweet spot for a streaming solution in terms of pricing.
    • This cannot be free as it is running on some server, somewhere.
    • May offer a better option for 3D viewing of Second Life on mobile devices than dedicated apps.

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Looking Ahead – Aspirational Aims

[Video: 42:19-48:34]

These are not things that are about to be shipped; they are “R&D projects”, some of which may be in progress.

  • Grumpity
    • Puppetry [aka “Avatar expressiveness”]
      • Controlling an avatar via wbecam – e.g. so if you use a webcam and roll your head, the avatar mimic by rolling it’s head; if you smile, your avatar smiles, etc.
      • Sees this as an a alternate, more cost-effective means of bringing emotional expression to avatars than using VR headsets.
      • A future step is to put a demo of this work together and present it for input from the community.
    • “Chat Roulette”: improving the ways in which people can meet, converse, find answers to questions and generally feel a greater sense of engagement.

  • Mojo:
    • Performance improvements, notably in the area of fidelity.
    • Increasing a sense of presence within SL by removing / overcoming the limitation of draw distance in being able to see vast open spaces like on Mainland, when exploring or whilst flying.

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Second Life and the “Metaverse”

[Video: 5:43-9:35] – Grumpity:

  • The hype  / interest has allowed her to represent Linden Lab / Second Life through various mediums – printed, television, etc., and to participate in various discussion and panels (e.g. the “metaverse” and the law, hosted by Stanford University with the likes of Lawrence Lessig).
  • Thinks it is “fantastic” to see this resurgence of interest in virtual worlds, although there is a lot to consider carefully.
  • Notes that a lot of the discussions around the “metaverse” – inhabiting digital selves, engaging in digital transactions – are things that have been occurring in Second Life for almost two decades, allowing the Lab to be a strong player in such conversations.
  • In terms of business models for “metaverse” platforms:
    • Reiterates that LL is “very proud” that it does not monetise users’ personal data, in keeping with comments from Brad Oberwager and Philip Linden [video here and my summary here],
    • Notes that LL believe that moving an adverts-based monetised model from the 2D social spaces into immersive environments could be “dangerous”, even though it does allow the virtual world to be “free” in terms of direct cost to users.
  •  It has presented LL with the opportunity to innovate, notably with the initiatives noted above.

LL and the Metaverse Standards Forum

[Video: 1:02:47-1:04:15] – Mojo

  • LL has started a discussion to join.
  • Feels that as the OG among virtual worlds, it makes sense for LL to be in the forum.
  • Believes it will be interesting to see if common standards can be developed in terms of information exchange, presence exchange (possibly even avatar exchange), etc., so could be beneficial in having a seat at the table.

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General Questions

This section covers the majority of questions that were responded to in some detail. Note that questions specific to the topics given above are included under those topic headings.

  • [Video: 26:56] Will users get more Picks options in their in-world Profiles? It’s possible, but not being worked on at the moment. It may, however, be a Premium feature.
  • [Video: 56:11-57:30] What is the status of VR support in SL? Re-visiting VR headset support has been discussed, but there should not be an expectations of anything being released in the foreseeable future, and it sits behind a number of other things in the “aspirational aims” pile.
  • [Video: 58:01-59:31] What is the status of any move towards using the Vulkan API for graphics?
    • It is definitely on the docket for work, and is contained in the overall bucket of performance improvements, but no direct work has as yet started.
    • There is also a matter of timing to be considered – how much further can SL move along the OpenGL in respect of Apple’s plan to deprecate OpenGL support.
    • Also the concern as to how many PC users in SL can run Vulkan.
  • [Video 59:42-1:00:57] What does the future support of Mac OS look like? There is “every plan” to continue to support Mac OS, including investment in a graphics API to move beyond OpenGL.
  • [Video: 1:01:21-1:02:14] Would it be possible to have “lightweight” Groups, purely for notices? Interesting idea; would point out that Group issues are not so much the chat itself, but the presence updates (reporting to all other members when Group members log-in / out); so this is one of the possibilities that can be turned to.
  • [Video: 1:04:25-1:06:22] Would it be possible to access and organise inventory via the web and without having to log-into the viewer?
    • This is a “passion project” for a Linden, and discussions have been held on how it might be achieved.
    • However, there are many caveats  / concerns about any implementation (e.g. risk of account hacking); so if done likely to be gated by multi-factor authentication; what happens if you make near-simultaneous changes to inventory from both the web and when in-world?
    • Even so, is something LL would like to provide.
  • [Video: 1:06:37-1:10:21] Are there plans to improve the in-world building tools? Believes in-world, collaborative building is a core aspect of Second Life. Some ideas are being discussed internally, but would love to have user feedback on improvements and ideas [Feature Requests via the Second Life Jira].
  • [Video: 1:10:49-1:11:40] What is the status of official Linux support in the viewer? Recognises there is an application for Linux support, and some TPVs do support it. However, from an official LL standpoint, it’s not something the company has been investing its time.
  • [Video: 1:11:56-1:13:05] Will SL support the nVidia ray tracing functionality? If there is a demand, and it can be done without impacting performance or degrading the experience – possibly.
  • [Video: 1:13:12-1:14:07] Can an updated FAQ on “lag” and ways to mitigate it be produced? It will be considered as will a possible Second Life University video on the subject.
  • [Video: 1:14:15-1:15:37] Will SL move to a more off-the-shelf graphics engine? LL is currently investing in improvements to the existing engine (e.g. the updates noted above. Which is not to say they are unaware of engines such as Unity or Unreal; there are no current plans to move to a commercial engine.
  • [Video: 1:16:14-1:17:12] Will sound in SL see any improvement? There have been discussions; there’s also the potential for improvement audio / spatial audio via High Fidelity, so again – Feature Request Jiras.
  • [Video: 1:17:22-1:20:28] How is the Meta platform regarded? Meta has considerable resources to throw tat their platform, particularly as grasping at the “metaverse” concept is something of a Hail Mary for them. As such, it is the elephant in the room for virtual worlds.
  • [Video:1:20:50-1:22:09] Will it be possible to “tag” inventory items for easier categorisation (clothes furniture, etc)? This has been a subject of discussion at LL. However, it is not easy to implement due to the impact on things like database schema, etc. As such, it is not as yet on the roadmap.
  • [Video: 1:23:22-1:24:41] Will there be improvements to region crossings? There is a lot of complexity involved in both teleports between regions and physical region crossing (one foot or on a vehicle). LL has been, is continues to work on getting a deeper understanding of the complexities and making improvements.
  • [Video: 1:25:05-1:26:56] When will there be a fix for regions removed from the grid still showing up on the world map? And when will the Mainland default EEP be brightened? The first is awaiting improvements to the map generation service, and a resource has been assigned to look at that service as a whole. The EEP issue is a LDPW issue.
  • [Video: 1:27:29-1:27:57] Will residents be able to add graphics to the world map tiles in the same manner as seen with the SL19B regions? LL can do this, but it’s not clear if this is something that would be opened to users – but “maybe”.
The SL19B logo added to the world map below the SL19B regions, courtesy of Simon Linden

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  1. Simply put, a Child Agent refers to a secondary agent (avatar) presence associated with your own, then can exist in regions physically adjoining to the one you are currently in, allowing you to “see” into a connected regions (and have it render in your viewer).

Child agents are not physically rendered avatars but a simulator resource, as such they can directly influence region performance.