Category Archives: News-Opinion

Of islands and ideas in Second Life

Yet more island changes :)

Yet more island changes 🙂

So yeah. The island home; aka the job I’m always prattling on about, or “just when you thought it was safe to read this blog…” We hadn’t actually planned on changing things. Honest. But then I mentioned to Caitlyn that while the new layout worked, it was also a bit flat, She agreed. Thus, cue the unpacking of landscaping bits …

After spending time trying to integrate the northern and southern ends of the island into a “whole”, going back to rocks and cliffs might sound like things are being broken up again. However, what we’ve settled on  – we think – returns some of the character to the island, giving it more depth (or should that be height?) while retaining a unified feel.

The base of the cliffs - retaining the pond

The base of the cliffs – retaining the pond

In essence, the gardens and beach at the north end of the island have given way once again to the Fanatik Rocky Island. If I’m totally honest, this isn’t my favourite piece of landscaping; the baked textures aren’t entirely to my liking, and the lack of differentiation between vertical and horizontal faces means it cannot be reasonably re-textured. But in terms of natural look, with paths and differing levels on the plateau, I’ve yet to find anything in SL that matches it.

The upper two levels of this are now the location for our little stone cottage, with front lawns, cypress trees and back patio / lawns and just a little touch of the old castle ruins. Alex Bader’s Tiered Wall Garden set allowed for a degree of landscaping on the lower two levels of the plateau, allowing us to add lawns and the Trompe Loeil Dorina Outdoor Hangout, converted back to use as a pool.

The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boats

The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boat races through the channel south of us

One of the other positive aspects of the Fanatik rocky island is that it comes handed, so slipping it into the island and having the switch back path leading up one side match the moorings for our two ‘planes was nice and easy – and provided a route from house through island in the process. At Caitlyn’s suggestion, Alex’s Boardwalk set provided further integration between cliffs and fields by providing a wooden path around the rocks and over one side of our pond.

We also recently thinned-out some of the ruins, and shunted the old chapel across to the east side of the island. So in re-arranging things, we’ve been able to include an open grassy area at the base of the cliffs, Alex’s Ancient Stone Wall building set dividing it neatly from the “wilder” woodlands while a Stepping Stones set from Cube Republic offers a nice pathway to link everything together. Finally, a gift from John and Eles Briana means we now have a little “summer-house” in the form of the Trop Loeil Outcrop Hut, where we can watch the passing boats in the local sailing races.

I'm not the world's greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential

I’m not the world’s greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential

So, once again, a few more nips and tucks  – and a very big rock – at home. Now, onto the next project!

Places: a new gateway to your activities in Second Life

Second Life Places Beta Page

Second Life Places Beta Page

On Wednesday, November 11th, the Lab announced a new beta programme – Second Life Places.

In essence this allows region and parcel owners to create a web browsable page for their location(s) in-world where they can be shared through blogs, websites, etc. Included with each page are buttons to allow visitors to the page to launch their viewer and teleport directly to your location (assuming they are Second Life users – if not, they’ll have to sign-up  via the provided link to the main sign-up process).

In order for people to be able to use the Places pages to promote their own locations, certain criteria must be met:

  • You must own the parcel / region in question OR you must be assigned a the group ability to Toggle ‘Show Place in Search’ And Set Category within the group owning the land
  • About Land > Show Place in Search must be checked (recurring fee of L$30 a week).

The announcement itself was – frankly – vague. Whilst explaining the purpose of Places, and the fact it is beta, the blog post itself doesn’t actually provide information on where to find detailed information on the new pages – such as how to get started or even how to view the new pages. While there is a link to a forum post, it also isn’t that much more informative on where to find information for those unsure of how to proceed. This being the case, here are the key links:

A part of the Places page set-up by the Lab for the Innsmouth role-play community

A part of the Places page set-up by the Lab for the Innsmouth role-play community – click image to visit the page

As a quick run-down of the basics, providing you meet the criteria for establishing public Places page(s) for your parcel(s) / region(s) as defined above, you can get started by:

  • Visiting the Places home page – note you may have to log-in to it.
  • Hovering the mouse pointer over your name (top right of the page) and selecting My Places from the displayed drop down  – this will list all of your parcels and regions. You can then select those you wish to edit, and follow the instructions in the Knowledge Base article.
  • Note that A Places page for a parcel can also be “hidden” at any time by unchecking Show Place in Search in the About Land window, while all Places pages for a region, regardless of parcel settings, can be hidden by checking World > Region/Estate > Region >  Block Land Show in Search.

Within the pages are options to embed image slide shows, machinima videos and include social media buttons to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ for those wishing to use them, as well as basic information on the location itself. There is also the ability to include a 360-snaphot banner / hero image, and to include links to the Places pages for locations  / venues within the current location. For example, Loki Eliot’s Escapades Places page includes links to the Places pages for venues with his Escapades island, as shown below.

If you have a location with multiple venues / places to visit, you can create a Places page for it, and then link to the Places pages for each of the venues / places within it - as Loki Eliot has done with Escapades Island (click to go to the Escapades Place page)

If you have a location with multiple venues / places to visit, you can create a Places page for it, and then link to the Places pages for each of the venues / places within it – as Loki Eliot has done with Escapades Island (click to go to the Escapades Place page)

All of which make the pages somewhat flexible. And while they are fairly basic at present, they could evolve into exceptionally useful items and make the L$30 a week search listing fee more than worthwhile.

Note, however that as a beta, capabilities are both limited and subject to bugs. The Lab is welcoming ideas and feature requests, and asks that specific bugs (the linking to places described above is buggy, for example), are reported via JIRA. General feedback and observations should be given via the official forum thread,

I’m not sure how many actually have access to the beta programme, or whether this initial deployment is restricted to those who actually OWN regions. However, I’ve been unable to access those parcels / regions where I have the required group rights as an Estate Manager and the land is listed in Search. Others in a similar position to myself have also reported they cannot view the Places pages for  their regions.  This being the case, and in addition to the screen shots above, here are some Places pages links for those wanting a closer look at things:

Horizon land auctions: the half-way point

Horizons: looking at the auctions to date

Horizons: looking at the auctions to date

On Tuesday, November 15th 2016, the Lab launched the Premium members’ Horizon community, a “retro-futuristic” mainland environment featuring 36 residential regions each with 24 parcels available for auction to Premium members, with auctions commencing on Friday, November 18th 2016, with parcels being auctioned in batches of (generally) 10.

Obviously with 864 parcels to auction, it would take some time to get through things. However, the holiday period marked the half-way point in the auctions with 432 parcels auctioned across 18 regions. As Whirly Fizzle and I started monitoring things (largely out of curiosity), and I gave a snapshot at the end of the first weeks of auctions, the half-way point seemed a good opportunity to provide a further snapshot, based on how those 432 regions looked as of Friday, January 6th, 2017.

GENERAL STATUS OF PARCELS FOR BATCH 1 (10 regions) AND BATCH 2 (8 regions)
 Auctioned Parcels Available For (Sold / Rented) Original Auction Others
Sale Rent Either Sold Rented Comm. Resid. Aband Pend Unkn
Batch 1 240 95 55 9 (30) (13) 4 18 1 13 47
Batch 2 192 44 66 23 (3) (3) 7 13 1 0 36
Totals 432 139 121 32 (33) (16) 11 31 2 13 83

Notes

  • Parcels Available For = those parcels bid for and placed immediately on sale / for rent / either
  • Sold / Rented= number of parcels actually sold / rented whether placed for sale  or for rent or either. These set subsets of the Parcels Available For figures, and further breakdowns are provided below
  • Original Auction = those parcels which went directly to private residential use / commercial use during the original auction
    • 4 of the residential parcels may in fact be rented out by bidder
  • Others:
    • Aband = parcels already abandoned by original bidder
    • Pend = regions obtained for sale, but either currently not on sale by bidder (6) or removed from sale by bidder (7 – see sales review, below)
    • Unkn = regions which are not currently in use, nor are they apparently for sale or for rent, and where parcel holders have not responded to enquiries.
RENTAL PARCELS SUMMARY
For Rent Total Rented (16)

Residential Commercial
153 13 3
  • 153 is the total number of parcels available for rent (121), and those offered for rent or purchase (32)
  • Of the 153 parcels currently for rent / rented:
    • 89 are offered through one group of rental operators
    • The remaining 64 are offered through 11 rental groups, with between 1 and 14 parcels on offer per group
  • The average weekly rental for those parcels offered for rent is L$885 (low: L$550; high: L$975)
  • The average weekly rental for parcels offered for sale or rent is L$608 (low: L$495; high: L$800)
PARCEL SALES REVIEW
 Total for Sale Sold (32)
 For Sale Below Bid Price
Residential Commercial Both Re-sale
139 17 10 1 4 20
  • Total for regions on sale does not include those parcels offers for sale or for rent – see rental figures above
  • Of the 139 parcels currently available for sale / sold:
    • 98 are offered by three land sales groups
    • The remaining 41 are offered by 12 land groups / individuals, with between 1 and 12 parcels per individual / group
    • 5 parcels are on sale at prices above L$100,000, ranging from L$112,000 (58.98% mark-up on bid prices) to L$249,000 (255.67% mark-up on bid price) by two land holders
  • Average sale prices:
    • Among all 139 parcels for sale:  L$45,408.
    • Among the three biggest parcel sellers (98 parcels): L$37,360
  • The margins between bid price and sale price vary hugely, between just 2.42% (L$41,000 on a bid price of L$40,033) through to 231.38% (L$199,999 on a bid price of L$62,232)
  • Some 45 parcels have been reduced in price since first being offered for sale
    • The average mark-down on their original price being approximately 25.88%
    • 20 are current for sale at below their original bid price
      • Average drop below bid price: 17.44%
      • Largest drop 50.02% – sale price of L$15,000 on original bid of L$30,010
      • Smallest drop is 0.3% – sale price of L$38,000 on original bid of L$38,010
      • The majority of these drops have been to parcels auctioned in the first batch, and bring prices down to more closely match the prices of parcels the same bidders are selling on other Horizons regions
  • Of the four regions purchased and flipped for re-sale, 3 are by residents without an associated land group / business; one is by another land company active in Horizons.

Commercial Activities

Commercial activities are largely stores (avatar accessories, building materials etc.). Two adult club environments are within Horizons and one sci-fi themed bar.

Approximate Revenue Breakdown

The following table gives a breakdown of approximate revenue across the 18 regions auctioned to date. The US $  value is based on L$260 to the $.

APPROXIMATE AUCTION REVENUES – BATCH 1 AND BATCH 2
Auction Batches Approx L$ Raised Through Auction
Approx US $ (at L$260 / US $)
Batch 1 (10 regions / 240 parcels) 8,714,966.00 33,519.10
 Batch 2 – (8 regions / 192 parcels) 4,309,833.00 16,576.28
TOTALS: 13,024,799.00 50,095.38

Unsurprisingly, the two regions with direct access to open water (that is, parcel which directly access water, with no intervening protected land) – Apollo and Pandora, both located on the south side of Horizons and facing Zindra across water open for sailing / boating, drew the most competitive bidding.

BATCH 1 BY REGION (All 24 Parcels per Region)
Region Total L$
Approx US $
Highest
Lowest
Direct Water Access
Apollo 962,882.00 3,703.39 L$80,000 L$29,787 (x2) 6 parcels
Astrid 749,142.00 2,881.32 L$45,009 L$27,087 (x2) None
Galatea 882,008.00 3,392.34 L$70,010 L$27,010 None
Halley 857,738.00 3,298.99 L$60,010 L$27,111 None
Mercury 903,371.00 3,474.50 L$60,010 L$28,110 None
Nova 857,107.00 3,296.57 L$65,010 L$27,110 None
Pandora 1,029,400.00 3,959.23 L$102,454 L$27,110 (x2) 6 parcels
Polaris 960,663.00 3,694.86 L$60,020 L$27,111 None
Thule 785,673.00 3,021.82 L$45,565 L$27,087 None
Triton 726,982.00 2,792.08 L$40,033 L$26,010 None

The second batch of regions auctioned drew considerably lower value bids, with the third batch of regions more-or-less matching the second thus far.

BATCH 2 BY REGION (All 24 Parcels per Region)
Region Total L$
Approx US $
Highest
Lowest
Direct Water Access
Atlas 542.964.00 2,088.32 L$40,010 L$15,010 None
Celeste 495,317.00 1,905.07 L$30,010 L$12,022 None
Halo 461,464.00 1,774.86 L$32,010 L$13,038 None
Neptune 583,522.00 2,244.32 L$40,121 L$12,121 None
Orion 589,377.00 2,266.83 L$37,799 L$15,009 None
Pluto 521,321.00 2,005.08 L$40,000 L$13,039 None
Sirius 580,799.00 2,233.84 L$42,010 L$12,455 None
Venus 535,069.00 2,057.96 L$40,033 L$26,010 None

General Observations

Outside of those bidding on the parcel lots, there appears to be little direct interest from Premium members in obtaining a property within Horizons. Some may be put off by the Adult rating, others by the lack of any covenant. While the high price of bids places during the first batch of auctions might be considered a reason, the second batch of auctions averages close to half the per parcel bid price of the initial batch, and still generated little direct take-up. This appears to be the case with the third batch.

Rentals  – which should allow non-Premium members to gain a parcel within Horizons if they wished – are currently gaining little traction, although this could be own to lack of promotion on the part of the rental groups. Obviously, the advantage of Mainland holding is they are not a tremendous drain on resources in the way that partially occupied private regions can be.

There may be a follow-up report at the conclusion of the bidding. Or at least a summary of potential revenues. Putting this report together was too much like hard work!

Looking at the Second Life 2016 year-end Grid Survey report

The Prim Rig, ANWR Channel

The Prim Rig, ANWR Channel – blog post

On January 2nd, Tyche Shepherd issued her year-end summary on the general size and state of the Second Life main grid.

In all, 2016 has seen a slightly larger loss of private regions compared to 2015: 992 private regions (Full and Homestead) removed from the main grid in 2016 compared to 825 the previous year. This represents a reduction of some 5.6% over 4.4% for 2015. In terms of grid size, the loss of private regions was slightly mitigated by an increase in Linden owned regions, leaving the grid with a net shrinkage of 884 regions overall for 2016.

Taking the year-on-year figures from 2010 onwards (that being the last year the grid exhibited a growth in the number of regions), we get the following breakdown for private regions:

2010 2011 2012 2013
2014
2015 2016
24,483 23,857 20,994 19,273
 18,600
17,775 16,738
Increase
%age
Loss
%age
Loss
%age
Loss
%age
Loss
%age
Loss
%age
Loss
%age
810 3% 626 2.56% 2863 12% 1719 8.2% 673 3.5% 825 4.4% 992 5.6%

While the loss is something of an acceleration over 2015 and 2014, it is still not as drastic as the declines in private regions seen in 2012 and 2013 . Nevertheless, it does indicate a further drop in approximate gross monthly revenues for the Lab. Working on the basis of Tyche Full Private Region surveys I have to hand, a breakdown of recent monthly revenue from private regions can be given as:

  • November 2013: US$3,857,000 (+/- US $52,000)
  • March 2016: $3,385,000 ( +/- US $43,000)
  • December 2016: US$3,162,000 (+/- US $39,000)

This represents around an 18% drop in monthly revenues over a three-year period. While uncomfortable, it’s not outright alarming at this point in time, representing an average loss of about US $19,305.55 per month, compared to the staggering US $63,500 (approx) per month loss the Lab experienced in  2012.

Of course, a loss is still a loss, and sooner or later, continuing revenue decline will have an a visible impact. But it is hard to determine when that might actually be. The surface evidence seems to be that at this point in time, while of concern, the decline isn’t adversely affecting the Lab’s ability to do business. They are still continuing to invest in both Second Life and Sansar, including recruiting for positions working on both. While it is hard to be precise, a reasonable estimation suggests that the company is generating around US $49 million in revenue through Second Life. While we don’t know how much of that is bankable as profit, it’s still a tidy sum in terms of operating revenue for a company of LL’s size.

Some have raised concerns over how much of an impact Sansar will have on SL’s landmass in 2017. I actually don’t think it will. While I anticipate the decline in land will continue (but hopefully at a slower rate than 2016), I simply don’t think Sansar will have any immediate impact on Second Life one way or the other. Not in its first year, at least.

To me, the more interesting question is what can LL do to further offset revenue drops incurred by region losses (and sadly, the answer isn’t simply to reduce tier: that could actually do far more harm than good, given the amounts involved). The Horizons initiative, for example, is one way of spawning additional revenue. We’re now around half-way through that process, and I estimate the Lab has generated around US $45,000 from it thus far. 2016 also saw the private region buy-down offer, which appeared to be enthusiastically received, although numbers are far harder to ascertain on that. Are we liable to see further initiatives in 2017? I’d actually be very surprised if we didn’t.

Private estate numbers ups-and-downs in 2016

Private estate numbers ups-and-downs in 2016

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