SLCC: Social Life and Communities – highlights

Speaker

  • Mark Viale (Viale Linden), Integrated Marketing Team Manager
  • E-mail: community@lindenlab.com

General

To provide an update on community strategy and community tools, and examine the social experience within Second Life – where it is today and where it could go.

  • LL having a change in its community philosophy; LL used to push a lot of events and activities – newsletters, “kiss a Linden”, etc., but now want to focus on bringing the community forward & work with sustainable communities in-world
  • LL want this to be “organic”, so LL will be “Going out there and finding stuff that exists and then bringing it forward” in terms of promotion. Cited examples:
    • Event: Relay for Life
    • Product: Meeroos
    • Community: The Zen retreat within Second Life
    • Activity: Month of Machinima
  • LL want to work to promote “organic communities” by working with in-world groups and residents and harness what people have and promote it through the channels they have available (e.g. Destination Guide and the new Viewer 2 log-in screen)
  • Community Resources Portal: presents a series of resources people can use to help their community “come forward”
SL wiki: Community Resource Portal – http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Community_Resources_Portal
  • The portal provides a range of links to further information within the wiki (such as how to suggest a location for inclusion in the Destination Guide) and links to social media resources that can both be used for promotional purposes and for getting on LL’s radar:
    • SL Facebook wall: used by LL as a means by which LL can identify movements that are happening within SL which they can then promote
    • YouTube channel: subscribers can suggest videos that can be added to the channel, promoting both machinima and the events / destinations to which they relate
    • Twitter: those on Twitter can follow @SecondLife & get followed back; LL actively monitor Twitter for news and information
    • Flickr: users can join the SL Flickr group which is used to source the “picture of the day” on the In-world section of the official blog
  • Community Gateways have not “gone away”, but have been folded into the “new resident resources” within the Destination Guide
  • LL operate an Affiliate Programme for communities to bring people in to Second Life and get paid for doing so this is enabled through:
  • User Groups offer the opportunity for users to bring matters to LL and discuss a range of topics and provide feedback – venues and dates for UG meetings in the User Groups link of the Portal’s Second Life Resources

Social Profiles

  • Social Profiles seen as a means for users to keep abreast of all that is happening (via information appearing on their feed) and to inform others (by posting to their feed)
  • Can be used to promote places / tell people where you are and what you’re doing through the “Add your location” icon in the Feed Share Something box
  • LL see the Social Profiles as enabling users to express who they really are because there is no tie to real world links. This is also viewed as a powerful tool over the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
  • LL looking at means of enabling a “follow” function so users can follow one another, rather than having to Friend one another / have feeds totally public in order to make / receive comments
  • The feed will become “more robust” allowing greater potential flexibility of use
  • LL looking at ways of introducing the ability to create “groups” or “circles” within the feed capability so people can focus on information they want
  • LL look on SL as the only social platform “out there” with unlimited self-expression (within the ToS!), and see the additional of the feeds, etc., as a means of complementing people’s ability to express themselves howsoever they choose

Q&A Session

  • LL “thinking about” ways of making Friends list more granular (so business contacts can be grouped aside from social contacts, etc)
  • Suggested that the “love” option in the feed could be used in a yelp.com manner to help recommend places in-world, although admitted this needs to be “figured out” to prevent gaming
  • LL not going to promote communities “willy-nilly”: LL will seek to get behind communities that are sustainable (e.g. ACS / Relay For Life), i.e. can function without support from LL, so initial effort needs to come from those behind the community
  • New log-in screen may be personalised in the future, so that a new user would have more help & resources (e.g. newcomer-friendly island to check-out)
  • Reporting back to owners of communities / venues / events on things like click-throughs from Destination Guide, etc., may be looked at

 

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SLCC: Destination Guide – highlights

Speaker

  • Brett Atwood (Brett Linden), Managing Editor, Linden Lab
  • Contact e-mail: editor@lindenlab.com

Focus

The Destination Guide – what it is, how it works, how to be a part of it. Note this is not intended to be a full transcripts Brett’s presentation.

  • The Editorial Team at Linden Lab comprises Brett (four years at the Lab), Gabrielle Linden (relative newcomer) and the inimitable and beloved Torley Linden
    • The team collaborates in helping and supporting Linden Lab initiatives and the community in getting news and information out about venues, events, etc.
    • Specifically focused on the Destination Guide, but also do support for messaging and the secondlife.com website,  producing the Lab’s own promotional videos and touches on the blog and social networking
    • Showcase (click to enlarge)

      Highlighted the various promotional opportunities for users, not all of which are the remit of the Editorial Team, but which include the Destination Guide, Events Calendar, Classifieds, SL Groups, my.secondlife.com, the SL YouTube channel, blogs, forum and social networks

    • Reviewed the origins of the Destination Guide in terms of the old Showcase feature (right), which itself arose from the 2006 machinima of the making of Suzanne Vega’s guitar (see below)
      • Video seen as a demonstration of the power of SL, which LL should be doing more to promote
      • Showcase performed two functions: providing a means for users to find things to do & places to visit, and also offered LL the means to showcase SL activities simply and quickly to the web at large
      • The showcase feed and data is still available for viewing at http://secondlife.com/app/showcase, while the new Search is also available directly on the web at Search.secondlife.com

  • One of the aims of the Editorial Team is to have new destinations highlighted in the Guide daily, including looking at real-world current affairs (used the example of the Middle East situation as an example, when related destinations in-world were refreshed and highlighted)
  • Destination Guide comprises one master feed of data, which can be broken down and used – third-party use included – to provide multiple channels of delivery:
    • Secondlife.com
    • Viewer 2 log-in screen
    • Inside the SL Viewer, both Basic and Advanced modes
    • TPVs
    • Maps.secondlife.com links
    • Widgets and RSS feeds
  • A significant portion of the Destination Guide audience comes directly from the web – seen as potential new users, and thought is given to how LL can inspire / tell a story in order to get people to sign-up (something that has been a focus of mine in the recent past)
  • LL aware of the mixed viewers from users on the inclusion of the Facebook “like” button on web pages Destination Guide. LL do not view the button as being about Facebook integration; rather it is seen as a means for peer-to-peer promotion outside of SL of venues as people opt to “like” entries
  • Alongside Facebook, indicated that the Guide could be integrated with new Profiles at my.secondlife.com “but that’s something we want to hear from you about”
  • As a part of the channel delivery concept for the Destination Guide, it is now available via the Viewer 2 Search, where it can be presented in multiple ways
One feed – multiple channels
  •  A “hot” icon (flames) indicating how popular a location is in terms of avatar presence has been added to destination listings
    • No flame = not many visiting; deep red flame  = very popular
    • Coded so that very busy sims are not over-prioritised in the listing to help throttle the number of visitors
  • Destination Guide central to the Basic Viewer mode to encourage people to explore & recognise the experiences available in SL, and where it uses a “newcomer friendly” channel
  • Destination Guide seen as a means of supporting high-impact events (such as SLCC), through the creation of limited-time categories within the Guide that contain relevant information (locations, etc.)
  • Create Ad Widget

    For those with entries in the Destination Guide there is a Create Ad Widget – this allows the code and image for the entry to be displayed and edited or taken for embedding to a website or blog elsewhere

  • The Destination Guide within the Viewer 2 log-in screen is “version 1” and will be subject to revision, with feeds a mix of editorially-managed and automated
    • The What’s Hot section operates so that id a sim exceeds 40 avatars, the entry “goes away”
    • The idea is to connect people quickly through the log-in process
    • LL want feedback from users on this approach
  • Venues, etc., can get on to the Destination Guide in a number of ways:
    • Via user recommendation using the on-line Destination Guide form
    • E-mailing the Team at editor@lindenlab.com
    • Being involved in the official blogs
    • The team also actively monitor user’s blogs, social media (Twitter, Facebook, my.secondlife.com, etc.), YouTube, etc., in order to identify what is catching attention
  • There are pros and problems to getting noticed and addressed (below)
Destination guide – getting noticed pros and problems – remember, Destination Guide is not a classified ads page!
  •  The Team monitor Destination Guide both on the web and its in-Viewer use to see which categories are popular month-by-month
  • The Destination Guide is a non-paid, editorially-moderated tool and should not be confused with classified ads
  • In addition to the Destination Guide, the Editorial Team are engaged on promoting SL machinima via the SL YouTube channel and into locations such as the website log-in page, as machinima recognised as a valuable tool for SL promotion in turn (something else I wrote about some time back)

Further information

 

SLCC: The Future of SL – Highlights

On Sunday 14th August, as a part of SLCC 2011, members of Linden Lab gave a presentation “The Future of Second Life” as a part of four keynote addresses at the convention.

The panel itself comprised John Laurence (Durian Linden), who has only recently joined Linden Lab, but has worked previously with both Rod Humble and Jeff Peterson (Bagman Linden); Sarah Kuehnle (Esbee Linden), who recently made a popular return to Linden Lab (and who brought a prim with her to the presentation!); and Michael Gesner (Gez Linden).

After introductions, Esbee recapped on some of LL’s recent user-facing activities over the last six months, including:

  • The arrival of new avatar selections as a part of the sign-up process, stating more are to be added
  • The new log-in screen for Viewer 2 (/3), which will be further iterated in the future
  • The new Search, described as being faster and with better relevance

She also made mention of the Basic mode of the Viewer, the new region & estate settings, dynamic shadows & deferred rendering … and mesh.

Learning Experience

The core of the presentation revolved around demonstrating a new game developed within Second Life by Lab employees as a learning experience because, Durian Linden explained:

“As Rod was a newbie and certainly I was new to Second Life as well, one of the first things we wanted to do was to make something in the world…We wanted to try and challenge ourselves as Lindens, to use our toolset to make an experience…basically for new users to be able to have fun using the Basic Viewer without a lot of the advanced functions and with just a very simple style of UI.

“So we gave ourselves about two weeks to pull this together, working with a team of in-world builders. We wanted to see really first-hand what the limitations are and then how we can try to overcome those limitations.”

The Linden-developed game…

The game uses the Basic Viewer’s point-and-click approach (although it may be re-visited to make use of click-and-drag as well) to guide an avatar through a setting, collecting and placing various objects, which avoiding hazards and traps. It is specifically designed to see what can be achieved within Second Life while avoiding the need to have to navigate inventory or gain familiarity with both the concept and use of things like HUDs – or indeed without having to rely on on-screen pop-ups or delivered notecards for assistance.

Using point-and-click to achieve goals

During the process of building the game, the team encountered a number of problems not found in “traditional” game development: their monsters would chase them through the sim while they were building, and guns sitting on build platforms overhead waiting to be placed within the game would also open fire on those below!

Gez viewed the development and construction of the experience as being valuable to understanding the power of Second Life as well as some of the limitations and issues. He also, later in the presentation, emphasised that the game is not intended to replace the new user experience – or even be released in its current state; it is a prototype for learning within Linden Lab. However, he did acknowledge the wider potential value such an approach may have for users:

“I do think that there is some value in creating an experience which is simpler, it’s more guided, it gives you prompts, it gives you almost quests or achievements, things that tell you what you need to do next to learn how to use Second Life, but I will completely agree with the fact that Second Life itself is not a game.  However, you can make some great games inside of Second Life, and you can use game mechanics, and game tutorials, and game systems to help people become more engaged and comfortable in Second Life.”

Some have angry birds. The Lindens have angry boxes!

Product Team

Following the presentation, Durian expended on the role of the product team, stating things had been broadly divided into two main areas:

  • Usability, designed to answer such questions as is SL the kind of product a reasonably-intelligent person can come along and start to use; can they operate an avatar or the camera, can they use the basic functions in order to meet others, have fun, etc. As a part of addressing this the team have been, and are, looking at:
    • Avatar rezzing time and rezzing priorities (i.e. giving avatars a higher rezzing priority)
    • Improved access to the Viewer’s avatar customisation tools
    • Basic / advanced Viewer integration to bring together tools from both and ease the transition for new users from the basic tools to the more advanced tools (interestingly, as a part of this, the team are looking at the issue of what to do with the Sidebar in terms of improving / changing it)
    • Developing Direct Delivery from the Marketplace (due to go live in a couple of months)
    • Improving overall inventory management, especially for making inventory easier to understand from a new user perspective
  • Engagement, defined as answering the question of how do people find the things they want to do & how can LL provide better tools to content creators, both of which are aimed at keeping users engaged with SL. As parts of this element he pointed to:
    • The new Viewer 2 log-in screen with the destination guide options
    • Mesh as a means of encouraging new content and content developers
    • Prims themselves, as a “directed experience” and means of getting people engaged with building within Second Life and the collaborative aspects of content creation, both  for pleasure and for profit
    • Scripted non-player characters that can be used to populate areas and enhance the experience of visiting such areas

As the focal point for all development, working with the rest of Linden Lab, the product team has divided itself into specific Subject Matter Experts in order to fully understand various aspects of SL use:

  • Durian – art
  • Gez – gaming and breedables
  • Esbee – role-play
  • Charlar Linden- Adult
  • Geo Linden – Education
  • Nya Linden – Music
  •  Cassandra Linden – Fashion

These roles will not replace the normal community relations channels, but will accept input from the user community.  Hamlet Au suggests means of contacting the team.

SLCC: The Future of Mesh

Speakers

  • Charlar Linden
  • Runitai Linden

Historical context given by Runitai

“So before mesh, the only way to build anything in Second Life was to use prims. If you’re a builder, you’re familiar with the prim system and how difficult it was to cobble together anything that didn’t look like it was made out of Legos.

“To combat that, with as small a platform change as possible, we introduced sculpted prims a few years ago, which sort-of let you use a very loss-y compression mode of making a deformed sphere-mapped mesh. A sculpt is basically a mesh with very little artistic control over what actually goes into it.

“Now, with mesh import, you can actually use any industry-standard 3D modelling tool to create 3D content and import it into Second Life….What this means is anybody who is a classically-trained 3D artist can come in and start using the tools of the trade to make content in-world. You’re not limited by any toolset that we provide; Linden Lab doesn’t have to devote resources trying to compete with companies like Autodesk which makes 3D Studio and Maya, and the creative space, therefore, is not bound by the Second Life platform itself, it’s bound by anything that you can imagine and that create with any external programme available to you.”

Main Presentation – Charlar Linden

  • High-level bullet-points for  mesh defined as the abilities to upload them, see them, interact with them (touch, move rotate, link, texture, etc), there are additional Havok physics attributes and 64m prim sizes
  • Re-stated that PE (Prim equivalency) is a measure of the resource-impact a mesh object has on the land that it is on
  • Prim count, which everyone is familiar with, has no relationship to PE “You can have a tortured torus…that counts one prim, but it really doesn’t. It’s really actually much more expensive [resource-wise] than a little 1 x 1 plywood cube – or, for that matter, a fairly elaborate mesh.”
    • Believes it is up to LL to better inform users as to the real cost of objects on land, and that mesh starts to show this
    • Outlined the major resource weights: network bandwidth (how much information is being transmitted and to how many people), server resources (what the server has to do and run (e.g. scripts)), and physics (the impact on the Havok engine, collision detection, etc.)
  • Commented simply visiting 3rd party websites (used Turbosquid as an example) and uploading objects directly from them, saying that while it can be done, the results will be inefficient and “you’re going to get stuff that look really poor, it’s not going to look very good initially, and as you back away from it, LODs go to crap” because the system cannot determine how things are supposed to look without assistance and, “that’s where you guys come in,” as LODs, etc., need to be worked out in order to import successfully &  efficiently into SL
  • SL currently supports COLLADA  1.4.0, but 1.4.1 being worked on (but may already work)
  • No expectation or desire to see prims rendered useless due to unique capabilities, including the in-world collaborative opportunities for building & are central to the creative aspects of SL
  •  Mesh is viewed as better than sculpties in terms of defining custom UVs, LODs, etc; however,  would like to see focus on “filling in the blanks” to improve mesh where sculpties are currently “better” (presumably in terms of usage)
  • Admitted some work on rigged meshes/ avatar-related features  have been deferred from the initial roll-out in order to ship mesh, but LL acknowledge the requests and that they will be dealt with “later”
    • During final Q&A, stated arbitrary skeletons would be “cool” to have, but is not a “small bit of work” so LL “don’t know yet”
  • Re-iterated that mesh isn’t some kind of “tremor” that is going to come through SL and everything is suddenly going to look better; it is a matter of content reaching the marketplace, etc., and people buying things & create experiences
  • For non-professional content creators, suggested trying Wings3D, and commented LL would like to encourage people to try out 3D content creation whether or not they intend to sell it
  • Technically, LL will continue to work on mesh, and there will be “at least one more non-trivially sized set of improvements”, a combination of feedback from Beta testers, discovered bugs and features LL would like to include, to be “released in the very near future.”
    • Indicated it is likely the uploader UI will be changed to make it easier to use and understand, admitting that some people get poor results with uploads because, “We’ve confused the hell out of them with the uploader”
  • Encouraged people to use the mesh forum for questions, feedback, etc.
  • Demonstrated mesh in-world, showing 48-PE vehicle scripted as driveable & with colour-changing options, etc; a 52-PE house with texturing, floors, rooms, windows, working doors; a 3-PE scripted (with animations)highly-detailed rifle;  a 55-PE tree house as well as work by other creators and artists
  • Indicated that ideas around providing marketing / showcase assistance to demonstrate mesh to non-SL 3D artists / creators have been “floated”, but there is sensitivity about being perceived as helping some SL creators and not others, and that such activities are not something LL do well, but will take into consideration
  • Responding to a question on DAE/COLLADA support, Runitai stated the specification is huge, and LL’s focus in on supporting a subset – how applications like Blender, Maya, Wings 3D, 3D Studio and Zebra., export to COLLADA & ensuring the SL importer works with that subset
    • Indicated that Google Sketchup’s exporter does not create content that is efficient for the SL importer
  • Indicated that the upload fees will be increased, but will not be to the L$150 x PE that was discussed during the beta programme. Fee seen as a means of “throttling” uploads
    • Indicated a DD is available for testing as should be used to avoid being repeatedly charged when testing a model
    • Better previewing mechanism is something LL may come back to, depending on how well the DD mechanism works out.

SLCC: LL Commerce Panel Summary

Speakers

  • Jeff Vogt (Vogt Linden) – Senior Director, Business Product, responsible for strategies, plans, initiatives – economy & platform
  • Brooke Linden – Marketing Team
  • Thor Linden – strategic initiative and “economic aspects of the company”
  • Colossus Linden – Lindex, payment system
  • Delby Linden – Land and partnerships

Session Summary

Sitearm Madonna introduced the session as a discussion of “the visions and practical steps to grow the Second Life economy, enable businesses and service providers to flourish on the Second Life platform.”

  • Vogt Linden: focus for the last six months has been on a progressive approach to “funnel” users through from new joiners to engaged users within the SL community through progressive changes to the new sign-up process, new avatar selections, etc., coupled with usability enhancement (new user experience, improvements to the Viewer, etc.) to get users engaged “early on”
  • Service and performance improvements, for existing users seen as part of the process to encourage user retention to further stimulate the economy, including land acquisitions
  • 2011 Q2 economic figures (released over the conference weekend), describing as showing “some pretty compelling growth statistics in certain areas” which present “A really good story of stability, growth in certain areas and a vibrant in-world economy, if you will.”
    • Sign-ups: upswing in sign-ups following the release of the new sign-up process as a “radical improvement” compared to historical data and re-iterated they are running at an average of 16K per day, and “speaks to the number of new users who are making it all the way through registration, with all the improvements we’ve made, coming in and sampling the service and…based on the usability improvements we’re making…staying.”
    • Averaging monthly users: “An improvement over the last four quarters, with users taken up by a nominal percent, but its directionally a positive trend..that the numbers of users coming in each month are on the uptake.”
    • User hours: “We’re fairly flat to slightly declining by around a percent, a little less than a percent, over the last quarter. This is obviously what we’re trying to solve for us.”; “As we’re making these usability improvement and trying to engage users on the front end, the expectation is that we’re going to start to reverse this trend and folks will stay longer, they’ll interact more and ultimately they’ll transact, and I think that’s what we’re striving for.” 
    • Average monthly economic participants: “Again, this is flat, relative to the last quarter, and this represents all of the L$ that flow between users where they’re either gifting, buying, selling, acquiring, L$…..A flat story; expect that will change as more users come in and participate in the transaction economy.” 
    • Average exchange rate: “I think we’re seen a steady strengthening of the exchange rate over the last year plus, a nominal improvement over the last quarter. This just really speaks to the stability of the Lindex, of the exchange, and the stability of the economy… Its a positive story and we expect this to continue and we’ll continue to report on this quarterly going forward.”
    • L$ supply: “A positive trend over the last five quarters, it grew a little bit over the last three months and it continues to grow in terms of the overall volume of Linden Dollars that are available in the economy and kind-of highlighting the purchasing power of the community.”
    • Lindex volume: “A slight dip from the prior quarter…but that’s more due to seasonality than anything else. If you look back to the second quarter of last year, we’re actually up about 4.4 percent…So generally a good story for year-over-year, with a slight dip for seasonality.” 
    • Web merchandise sales volume: “You see a nice trend over the last year-and-a-half of overall volume of merchandise being sold on the marketplace steadily improving.”
    •  World size: “It’s been relatively flat to slightly down over the past year and that’s just consistent with what we’ve been seeing over the last several quarters.”
  • Brooke Linden: Highlighted that despite issues, there has been market growth:
    • 11% growth in unique economic (i.e. not freebies) sellers
    • 7% growth in unique economic buyers
    • 9% GMV growth overall
  • Linden lab is now “Trying improve some of the things we know are impeding those numbers from growing more quickly.”
  • Direct Delivery: “To streamline the purchase experience for users.” With the goal of making it “A simpler process with a simpler user interface.”
    • Marketplace will support both Magic Boxes and Direct Delivery for a time
    • New, clearer notification interface for users in-world when a delivery occurs & API provided for TPV developers if they wish to use it
    • Capability for “other alerts” will be provided for TPVs that don’t support new interface (toast notifications)
    • Some limitations on merchant’s outbox (e.g. no more than 200 items in a folder)
    •  Marketplace UI being revised to make listing / inventory management easier & provide additional information for merchants
    • “Very close to the end”, but not giving any dates, other than expecting Direct Delivery roll-out to happen in the next 2-3 months; goal is stability first because, “Inventory and money? Those are things we want to be sure we get right!”
  • Thor Linden:
    • Search has moved from a web-based approach to something more tailored to SL (less reliance on page rank / updates, etc., as per traditional GSA approach). Improvements have improved usability; fewer clicks, better results relevancy, etc.
    • Classifieds seen as a tool for everyone in terms of advertising, and keyword capping seen as helping to increase relevancy
    • Advertising Beta discontinued due to limited appeal to niche, large-scale SL businesses and it didn’t provide a real opportunity for people to grow their businesses
    • Premium accounts seen as an important means of getting people into currency transactions, land, etc. LL looking at how Premium Accounts can be attractive from the perspective of both consumers and merchants. Changes to be announced soon
  • Colussus Linden: looking at means to streamline the process by which more people can have access to more money & can purchase things more simply.
    • Reworking the payment system: LL have hit hurdles but still on track to allow more people in countries outside the US to be able to use more local payment methods and allowing people to put money into SL in ways “that are comfortable to them.”
    • Highlighted work being undertaken to simplify the Lindex pages and make them more user-friendly for those not familiar with using them & to ease the process for those just wishing to buy L$
    • Also looking to improve how users can add new payment methods both reducing the number of steps in the process & providing better guidance
    • Viewer the principal means for new users buy L$. LL looking to giver users an experience that “Makes them feel interested, happy, excited, fun about buying L$…We want to make it something where they feel confident they know what they’re getting, how much they need…and really streamline that as well.”
    • Overall goal in streamlining processes in ‘time to L$’, encouraging people to participate in the economy a lot sooner than at present
  • Vogt Linden: summarised:
    • Time spent on front-end improvements in the belief it will drive more people into the economy & increase their participation in the economy
    • Looking towards better enablement – how to bring users to businesses and communities in a more focused and deliberate way
    • Going to be looking at promotional tools, more marketing-type activities, more partnering-type activities
    • Reconsidering some of the core economics of how LL has operated and explore new ways of trying to encourage repeat log-ins not only from the perspective of what people enjoy in SL but also from a commerce perspective
    • As the Marketplace delivery system is cleaned-up, will start to look at in-world transactions

Session Q&A

  • Vogt Linden on land sales: “We know that the land-buying experience is in need of re-visiting. It’s not good…..We’re going back and trying to fix some of the foundational flows so that we can make payment easier and people can purchase land and they can put a payment method on file; all sort-of infrastructure-style improvements that ultimately impact usability. We’re also going to be doing a lot to see if we can re-investigate things that we can do to raise the visibility of certain opportunities, like land sales, like marketplace sales, like our premium offering….so it’s not lost on us that we need some foundational improvement to be made.”
  • Vogt Linden clarifying ‘economic participation’: how many users acquire and spend L$ by putting them in context: why should new users acquire L$, what can be done with them, etc.
  • Colossus Linden of freebies and policy: LL are monitoring through Marketplace search (could not speak for in-world activities around freebies), but the issue is difficult to rule on; there are positives and negatives to the matter, and the commerce community should perhaps consider forming groups to discuss.
  • Vogt Linden on providing detailed data & analytics for developers: aware of the opportunity to package data around usage (incl. at the parcel / sim levels) as a value-add; but becomes an issue of focus. As usability issues are addressed, issues including data-gathering and partnering opportunities will be looked at going forward
  • Vogt Linden on what has been the impact of Linden Homes on user retention & the economy: has been good for retention, but the product has grown stale after initial rush & is being re-visited; would not be drawn on specifics, as still being defined.

 

Rodvik at SLCC 2011 – The gist

LL CEO Rod Humble

Rod Humble gave a polished, if short-term and purely tactical, overview of Second Life for listeners at SLCC 2011.

His talk came just after lunch in Oakland, and he couldn’t resist making a few light-hearted comments, as he opened the talk by commenting on what people told him they wanted to hear.

“People were…before I was doing the talk, were like, ‘we want big news, give us big news!’ I, ah, don’t have any big news….wait a minute…. We’re shutting everything down! Thank you for all of your service, it’s been great!”

This earned him warm laughter and applause and set the tone for a relaxed 40 minutes, during which he talked about Second Life, Linden Lab and took questions.  Here are the highlights.

  • One of the reasons he was attracted to Second Life is the fact that it is still growing, something which sets it aside from other massive multi-player games. As examples of this growth he cited:
    • An average of 16,000 new users are still signing-up per day
    • There is an increase of total monthly uniques
    • User retention appears to be increasing
  • Second Life has longevity because it is a unique creative platform on both the physical level and the social level; that it engenders a sense of ownership whether you are physically creating something in-world or whether you are creating and cultivating friendships and engaging in social interaction
  • He touched on the identity element and the importance of being able to have the freedom to define our own virtual identity, and to put barriers between the different identities we use in much the same way as we create different personas in real life to deal with different aspects of our lives. He sees SL as being very unique in this when compared to other on-line social mediums (which he defined as “intrusive”) and views it as the correct (“traditional”) stance
  • Clearly stated that “customer privacy will always come first.”
  • Hinted that Linden Lab is diversifying, “You are going to see Linden Lab working on other products as well as Second Life,” (my emphasis). He suggested that the new productions would be related to “shared creative spaces” (a term he is fond of using in relation to Second Life itself), which he believes has a potentially large audience
  • Defined his personal ‘first year’ goal at LL as being to be able to give every family member within Linden Lab a Second Life account, for them to be able to send the account to any “intelligent or above average intelligence computer user” for them to be able to use it to get into Second Life, use it and be grateful, and this has effectively drawn a lot of what has been going on regarding the sign-up process, the initial experience for new users and changes to the Viewer (Basic mode, etc.), and issues such as dealing with lag
  • He touched on the recent cycle of rapid development and roll-out of features, etc., which has been followed by almost immediate nips, tucks, updates and revisions, stating that if a company tries to put something big out to the online community, it is going to break, either “spectacularly” or “elegantly”, but it will break. So he prefers to get small features developed and implemented and then “test, polish, test, polish”
  • The rest of this year will be focused on the “polish”, and he again specifically mentioned customer service (such as quality of service), lag and “bugginess”
  • He indicated that one initiative will be aimed towards griefers and that he hopes to make “life unpleasant for griefers”, although no specifics were given
  • A Linden-made, Linden-curated area in-world will go live in the next couple of months. the aim of this area is to both enable Linden Lab to learn how to make tools aimed at the users – he cited an example of being able to go to a role-play area and not having to worry about HUDs – you just press a permission button and, “everything happens”
  • Premium Accounts will be improved, with new features specifically aimed at adding value “at no extra cost to you.”
  • Towards the end of the year / 2012, LL will have a marketing campaign “of significant investment” to drive traffic into Second Life and hopefully towards SL merchants

This brief presentation was followed by almost 30 minutes of Q&A which included the following:

  • He refused to comment on a number of questions relating to pricing, although did indicate that there would be “no radical” change to current pricing mechanisms in place
  • There will be moves from LL to further protect content creator’s IP rights, although he declined to be drawn on specifics. He also linked this with the question of griefing
  • He addressed hardware issues in two ways:
    • Increasing the avatar count per sim
    • The “threat” of tablets and mobile devices – and he stated that LL will be addressing tablets with Second Life and “at least one new product” as well as doing, “some mobile stuff as well”, as the increasing levels of sales of tablet and mobile devices means that LL “needs to be there some way – and we will”
  • Indicated that SL has a new demographic among users: people in their 20s who are spending less time in-world, but more time socialising via message boards, Twitter, their SL profile feeds, etc. Also that more time is being spent socialising about activities as well as doing the activities, and he indicated that LL will be looking to enhance this
  • He doesn’t see it as LL’s place to define where SL goes in terms of technology development / integration in terms of “making” it a “killer app”, but rather sees LL’s role as taking its lead from its users and customers
  • Acknowledged that Viewer 2 has issues around the UI, etc., and while hoping people recognise efforts that have been made to improve it this year, further work is required BUT at the same time, too much new technology is embedded in the Viewer to “just give up on it” Also indicated that “at some point” he would like to see:
    • Removal of the Sidebar from the Viewer
    • In-world communications channels for merchants
    • New creativity tools for in-world creation
    • HOWEVER – emphasis for the present will remain on fixing broader issues
  • Indicated (again) that LL’s “top line” is over $75 million, and that they generate cash every month and are “very profitable”
  • SL is one of the most popular games in Russia and the most popular on-line game in Thailand – both as a result of localisation efforts!