SL15B: Meet the Lindens summaries with video + audio

Promotional poster for Meet the Lindens at SL15B. Credit: Linden Lab
Meet the Lindens is now a regular part of the Second Life anniversary landscape. Over the course of the week of celebrations, it gives Second Life users the chance to find out more about the people working at Linden Lab, find out about projects and plans, and the work being carried out on Second Life and Sansar, ask questions about matters of interest / concern to them.

For Meet the Lindens 2018, Saffia Widdershins sat down with six members of the Second Life team, and also with Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg.

The six SL team members attending the sessions were:

  • Xiola Linden (Community team)
  • Brett Linden (Marketing)
  • Keira Linden (Land team) and Patch Linden (Snr Director of Product Operations)
  • Grumpity Linden (Director of Product for Second Life) and Oz Linden (Technical Director for Second Life).

Each of the sessions was recorded by SL4Live and made available through YouTube as a part of the SL15B sessions.

For those who prefer to read about what was said, I have produced this set of summary articles of the different sessions.

Please note that these are not intended as full transcripts; some topics came up more than once through the week, so I have tried to focus on subjects that were answered in the greatest detail within each session.

Audio extracts are included with each summary. These have been edited to remove pauses, repetitions, etc., with care taken to maintain the overall context of comments and answers.

The full video for each session is also embedded with each summary for completeness, and timestamps are included for each of the topics in a summary, and will open the relevant video in a separate browser tab, at the point at which the topic is discussed.

Table of Contents

Please use the links in the contents list to the right to jump to the topic summary that interests you, or to a specific topic within a summary.

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Designing Worlds in conversation with Ebbe Altberg – Transcript + Audio

Ebbe Altberg in conversation with Saffia Widdershins

Note: the video of the show is now embedded at the foot of this page.

On Tuesday, May 15th, I was able to sit-down at a closed studio recording session which formed part of Design Worlds’ 10th anniversary. The programme featured special guest, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.

Ebbe had accepted an invitation to answer questions to him by Saffia Widdershins, focusing on the upcoming 15th Anniversary celebrations for Second Life and the infographic and roadmap blog post issued by the Lab in  April 2018, although Sansar was also touched upon as well towards the end of the session.

The questions were a mix of those submitted to Designing Worlds ahead of the session, and those formulated by the Designing Worlds team. What follows here is a transcript of Ebbe’s responses to the questions, with a précis of each question and an audio extract from my own recording of the session.

A summary of the topics / comments is provided below, with links to the relevant section of the transcript. Note that the audio here may differ slightly to the audio in the video, as my audio extracts have been cleaned-up a little to remove repetition, pauses and asides, to give a smoother flow of the core comments and thoughts.

The Short(ish) Form

For those who prefer, the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.

Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.

Opening Comments

  • 15 years a testament to users’ commandment to the platform.
  • Want to make it very clear to the world in general that Second Life is still going and improving.
  • The SL team is very committed to the platform, driving to make it better with new features and improved capabilities.
  • LL more optimistic than previously that they have the opportunity to grow the SL user base.
  • Jump to topic.

On the Infographic

  • While revenues are important, particularly moved by the value Second Life brings to users.
  • Fascinating that in 2017, users redeemed almost US$70 million from the platform, indicating it offers a genuine income opportunity.
  • 5 million items on the Marketplace (although some could perhaps be removed) indicates the breadth of creativity and opportunity for income generation available to users.
  • But the stories of how SL improves people’s lives, the way it can be used to raise money to help others (e.g. US $48,000 via Fantasy Faire in 2018),and the way it can change people’s lives for the better.
  • Jump to topic.

On Re-balancing the SL Economy

  • LL recognises land in Second Life is too expensive, and that they actually generate very little from the platform’s economic activity.
  • Hope is to pivot Lab’s income generation away from land tier and towards more of the economic activities – buying / selling L$, transactional and redemption fees, subscriptions, etc.
  • Through this shift, hope is to reduce the cost of land tier.
  • Witnessing steps already being taken – the private region buy-down programme, the Mainland price reduction, and more is cautiously planned.
  • Jump to topic.

On the Mainland Pricing Restructure and Private Estates

  • Extremely happy with the results.
  • Land team still incredibly busy handling orders.
  • Has also resulted in an increase in Premium subscriptions.
  • Still have to investigate the breakdown of figures: how many orders are from Premium users expending their existing land holdings; how many orders are from Premium users taking up land for the first time; and absolute net new Premium subscribers.
  • How do these changes balance with private estate costs?
    • Still being discussed, with no decisions as yet.
    • Idea is to make changes in steps and understand cause and effect – which is not possible if a lot of changes are introduced at once.
    • Potentially more to come in the future.
    • Jump to topic.

On Linden Homes

  • Not an exercise to convert exiting Linden Homes to mesh; rather the introduction of new homes which will take advantage of mesh, etc.
  • Will likely take advantage of the 1024 sq m land form, in line with the Mainland pricing change.
  • New houses will be showcased later in 2018, but no specific dates on the roll-out.
  • Some homes might make full use of a 1024 sq m footprint, some might be smaller to allow broader choice to users.
  • Jump to topic.

On The New Land Auctions

  • Initially, only Mainland land holders will be able to offer their land for auction, and individuals only, not groups.
  • Money will likely be held in escrow, so those who don’t win will get it back.
  • Lab will take a transaction fee on auctions, again as a part of trying to move revenue generation away from land tier.
  • No dates as to when the new auctions will be introduced, but getting “close”.
  • Jump to topic.

On Themed Learning Islands and Community Gateways

Are you considering community support for the new theme learning islands, and what are the themes likely to be?

  • Primary intention of themed learning islands is to provide more vertically specific user acquisition opportunities.
    • Attempt to make things consistent as possible, from initial contact through to arriving in-world at a location that is in context with the initial interesting in wanting to join SL.
    • Today, the process is generic, with no guarantee a new user will arrive in-world where they might have expected.
  • Currently in early testing, finding out what works / doesn’t work.
  • Hope is to bring-in and retain more productively (from the user’s perspective) and at a lower cost.
  • Have found that having greeters / helpers present at these islands doesn’t actually increase new user engagement. Might be a fault with testing, but might be only some new users appreciate personal help. Possible the Lab will look again at this.
  • Jump to topic.
  • Have some great gateways, but they are not necessarily contributing a lot of new users, but appear to do a great job in supporting existing users.
  • There has been success in the past – a Brazilian gateway supported by a local media company helped grow the SL Brazilian community.
  • Anyone wishing to apply to run a community gateway is free to do so.
  • LL spend a lot of money on user acquisition, but there are many different ways to do it.
  • Needs to be in contextually relevant places on the Internet where relevant audiences might be found.
  • Community gateways could be a unique way to provide user-generated themed user acquisition that the Lab may not have thought of; addressing niche audiences.
  • Jump to topic.

On the Marketplace Updates

  • Thoughts being given to clearing some of the “clutter” – content no longer managed by the creator for various reasons (e.g. no longer active).
  • User interface updates.
  • Specific (and requested) capabilities, such as being able to sell multiple colours for an item through a single listing.
  • Long list of possible improvements, and the aim is to work with the community [e.g. via the Web User Group).
  • Will be a big project, with many changes unlikely to appear until the end of the year; some (such as the clean-up) might become apparent sooner.
  • There is a commitment to make significant improvements to the Marketplace.
  • Already have certain points where revenue is collected (land, transactional fees, L$ fees, redemption fees, Marketplace commissions, etc.). Might be additional products deployed with fees associated with them.
  • Haven’t decided on the best way to engage in the transactional economy or whether Marketplace fees will increase from the current 5%.
  • Most digital economies on the Internet charge around 30% for participation. With Marketplace fees, L$ fees and redemption fees, LL charge around 10%.
  • With trying to lower land costs, the fees through the economy are liable to increase – but no decision on by how much.
  • Jump to topic.
  • Some LL’s focus is to try to find the right economic balance so that running a business in Second Life makes sense, and thus grow the economy.
  • Jump to topic.

On Premium Benefits (sort-of)

  • Mainland pricing has already happened.
  • There’s also Animesh, Bakes on Mesh and the Environment Enhancement Project, all of which will offer now opportunities for creators and shoppers.
  • There’s also work being done with Estate Management tools to make land management easier.
  • Project viewers in general either are available [Animesh, Bakes on Mesh] or will be appearing soon [Land Management, EEP].
  • Jump to topic.

On the Return of Last Names

  • Going a little slower than planned due to other work taking priority.
  • Important for scripter to switch to using agent IDs for identifying avatars, and not to use string names, as these will no longer remain constant.
  • New accounts will continue to have the “Resident” last name.
  • Premium users will – for a fee to be decided – be able to chose a new last name from a list, and use any first name they wish with it.
  • Last name lists will not include any last names previously used.
  • No-one will be able to use a name previously used by anyone else, so a name will always apply to the same user.
  • Jump to topic.

On Transitioning Second Life to the Cloud

  • First step is to make the migration and not have anything break. This must be completed before the Lab can start thinking about options and products.
  • Likely to be well into 2019 if not longer) before the Lab has transitioned from their own co-located infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Possible benefits from the move might be:
    • Running regions on more high performant hardware, offering users a choice of hardware capabilities, depending on their needs
    • Possibly taking advantage of geographic distribution of regions (e.g. regions heavily used by European users located in Europe).
    • Possibly offering dynamic availability of regions (where appropriate) – spin-up when someone visits, spin-down and store on disk when empty.
  • Constantly have to upgrade hardware, etc., and this involves significant capital expenditure. The cloud allows for these things to be paid for on demand, reducing expenditure / overheads.
  • It’s the right time to make the move, and Ll are now committed to it.
  • Not an investment that would be made if the company didn’t have long-term aspirations for Second Life.
  • Jump to topic.
  • Can do a lot without cloud infrastructure – improving code, making optimisations, etc.
  • Will continue to do this on the software side.
  • Jump to topic.

On Grid-Wide Experiences

  • Essentially making experiences a grid-wide opt-out, rather than a localised opt-in.
  • Land holders will have the ability to determine which (if any) grid-wide experiences run on their land [region or parcel].
  • Jump to topic.

On the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

  • Three new object types / inventory assets for water, sky and day settings which can be transferred / traded like other goods.
  • Can be set at region or parcel level, subject to permissions.
  • Close to getting a project viewer available and to start getting feedback for users.
  • Hopefully will make it easier for those without the necessary skills (XML coding) to set custom environments for their land.
  • Jump to topic.

On Animesh and Bakes on Mesh

  • Animesh uses skeletal animations on a mesh object, animating it in the same way as an avatar. Should be more efficient than current mechanisms for animating objects [e.g. no need for intensive alpha flipping].
  • Bakes on Mesh allows system wearable to be applied to mesh bodies and heads. Should reduce the overall complexity of avatar mesh bodies and heads.
  • EEP, Animesh and Bakes on Mesh should provide new opportunities for content creation.
  • Jump to topic.

On Games and Experiences

  • The aims of building games are to: make sure the Lab can make interesting content; showcase what might be done with emerging capabilities and options to creators; and understand what users find particularly engaging, and how the Lab might capitalise on that engagement in terms of tools and other capabilities.
  • Jump to topic.

On Sansar

Progress to Date

  • No – but this is fairly normal when building a complex system.
  • Sansar is essentially building a new games engine from the ground up with all the scripting, physics and rendering capabilities & building two unique interfaces: VR and mouse / keyboard
  • Work will continue in adding more capabilities and in making Sansar more performant, offering beet means for people to connect with content and with one another.
  • At present tests are in progress to improve user on-boarding.
  • Personally very excited about VR and its potential. However, VR does have a way to go before it achieves a large market.
  • Feels creativity in Sansar is starting to take off – creators are already doing things LL never imagined.
  • Now starting to look at getting growth. SL users are welcome to try Sansar. LL very happy if users opt to use both, or decided to stay with one or the other.
  • Jump to topic.

Tie-ins and Opportunities

  • Sansar has significant architectural differences to Second Life.
  • Instancing experiences is one difference, visual fidelity is another. Sansar also has a monetisation model based on economic activity.
  • All these may serve to encourage brands and companies and organisations opt to select Sansar as the platform for publishing their VR experiences.
  • Jump to topic.

The “WordPress Analogy”

  • Broad spectrum of platforms for content creation from Minecraft to Unity and Unreal.
  • Second Life and Sansar sit between the two extremes, with Sansar between SL and something like Unity.
  • Sansar aims to offer freedom to create and publish of 3D environments, coupled with scalability and the ability to target VR hardware, rather than just consume content.
  • Still a learning process – discovering what works and what doesn’t; plans have to be revised as users get involved, company has to be nimble to meet evolving requirements and needs.
  • Content creation falls into different categories. Second Life supports a lot of in-world original content, Sansar utilises a more sophisticated external toolset.
  • Both off huge opportunities not only for the actual creators of content, but for people to obtain content and utilise it to create unique spaces. This is particularly what Sansar is aimed at.
  • Jump to topic.

Ebbe Altberg: discussing the future of Second Life

Ebbe Altberg in conversation with Saffia Widdershins, discussing the future of Second Life, Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Update: the transcript and audio of the session is now available. The video can be seen on SLArtist.

On Tuesday, May 15th, I was able to sit-down at a closed studio recording session which formed part of Design Worlds’ 10th anniversary. The programme featured special guest, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.

Ebbe had accepted an invitation to answer questions to him by Saffia Widdershins, focusing on the upcoming 15th Anniversary celebrations for Second Life and the infographic and roadmap blog post issued by the Lab in  April 2018, although Sansar was also touched upon as well towards the end of the session.

The programme will be shown at 14:00 SLT today, Monday, May 28th, 2018 at the Designing Worlds studio, and Second Life users are invited to attend the showing. For those unable to get into the region, it will also be shown on the SL Artist website, again starting at 14:00 SLT on Monday, May 28th.

As a part of the event, I’ll be featuring a transcription of Ebbe’s answers to the questions put to him, here on this blog. As is my usual approach to these things, the transcript will include audio recordings of Ebbe’s answrs, which can be listened to either alongside of reading the transcript, or in place of reading it.

In addition, the video will be available later in the week on the SLArtist.com channel, the Aview TV Designing Worlds channel – or on the Prim Perfect or Designing Worlds blogs. I will update the transcript with links, once the video is available.

SLurl Details

April 20th 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio

Strike the pose: Ebbe and moderator Xiola Linden at the first Town Hall session, Friday, April 20th

On Friday, April 20th, Linden Lab hosted two Town Hall meetings at which questions were put to the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg. Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via the forum thread A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, although outside of the core meeting, Ebbe took time to answer questions from the audience present at the event.

Some 200 questions were asked, many of which were technical in nature. As many of the subjects of these questions were no things Ebbe could respond to directly, the decision was made to have the Lab’s subject matter experts address them directly through the forum thread itself after the Town Hall meetings, a process which may take several days to complete. So, if you did ask a technical question that wasn’t raised at either Town Hall event, be sure to check the thread to see if an answer in provided there.

The following is a transcript of the core questions and answers offered at both sessions, with audio extracts provided as reference.

  • These notes don’t follow the chronological flow of the sessions, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • Due to the nature of the event, some questions of a similar nature were asked at both sessions, which elicited very similar answers in each case. Where this is the case, I have generally provided the answer which – in my opinion, admittedly – offers the most information.
  • Similarly, Ebbe’s opening comments at both events followed similar lines, so I have only provided a transcript of the remarks made at the first session.
  • Questions are given in bold.
  • The “back to summary” links will take you back to the blog post summary of the session, and can be used by those who prefer to “subject hop” rather than work their way through the entire transcript.

The Short Form

For those who prefer, the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.

Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.

Opening Comments – First Session

  • Linden Lab remains committed to Second Life, which is managed by a dedicated team covering Product, Engineering, Support, Marketing, etc. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab remains focused on growth, for Second Life as much as Sansar; Sansar does not signal the end of Second Life, nor are there plans to “transition” SL users to Sansar.
  • A lot of focus is on pivoting LL’s Second Life revenue generation away from a land-based model to one more balanced between land tier and other fees. Jump to topic.
  • Major effect and investment in being put into moving all of Second Life to a cloud based infrastructure, which will hopefully bring benefits. This should be seen as a sign of commitment to SL. Jump to topic.

Revenue: Land, Fees, Subscriptions and Compliance

Note: this section includes answers to questions about upcoming US SEC regulation changes and the incoming EU GDPR, which were primarily responded to in terms of compliance data management.

  • Land costs following the move to the cloud. – Land costs many not dramatically change, and revenue rebalancing has the potential to do more. Cloud benefits potentially more technical in nature, but may offer some fees benefits. Jump to topic.
  • How can Linden Lab sustain itself on a free-to-play basis? – Free-to-play, revenue and subscriptions: Free-to-play accepted norm in the industry and not changing with Second Life. However, as part of a re-balancing of revenue generation, what can be done on a free-to-play basis versus what might be possible through subscription options is being considered. Jump to topic.
  • Can you explain how LindeX and transaction fees are constantly increased with no perceived added benefit to users?
    • Providing an economic model that globally allows people to pay money into it and withdraw money from it requires regulatory compliance a state, federal and global levels, and this costs.
    • Increases in transaction fees, along with subscriptions, etc., may offer a means to reduce the cost of SL land.
    • Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s policy on user data protection? – taken very serious, vis: compliance (above), LL does not participate in any business models that feature the use of user data. Jump to topic.
  • Have you considered charging for additional accounts, say US $10 per account? – Not come up, will pass it on to the team.
  • Are there going to be adjustments to Premium accounts? – Yes, and considerable work is being put into this by the Product team to determine the types of Premium account / subscriptions should be offered and what their individual benefits should be. Jump to topic.
  • Will the changes to Premium accounts also see changes to how arrears are handled, e.g. not lock accounts out? – time is provided for people to catch up on payments. Jump to topic.
  • Will any reduction in land fees apply to Skill Gaming regions? – in time, hopefully, yes. Jump to topic.

Technical / Project Questions

  • Will there be updates to Lab-owned in-world infrastructure – InfoHubs, themed private regions, etc? – already in hand. Jump to topic.
  • What are the plans for Second Life on Mobile? – It’s under discussion, but no firm plans, with a hope there might be a good business case to move in that direction. Jump to topic.
  • Will the return of Last Names allow people to freely choose their last name, or will it be ‘choose from a list’?
    • Also see my audio updates from Oz, Grumpity and Patch Linden on the return of Last Names – comments referencing that post are including in parentheses in the following bullet points).
    • Pre-made list (but suggestions on last name options may be sought from the community to help with refreshing the list with new options).
    • Will also be able to change your first name.
    • Will involve a fee (in US $) and might be a Premium benefit.
    • As a warning to creators: if you script items to identify avatars, don’t use names, use the avatar Agent Key.
    • No time frame as yet on when it will be rolled out.
    • Might be a Premium-only benefit; if available to all, Premium may have a specific advantage (TBD) over Basic.
    • Jump to topic.
  • When will Animesh Bakes on Mesh and Windlight EEP be available? –  No precise dates, but Users actively involved in testing. Hopefully in the next couple of quarters. Jump to topic.
  • Will the Teen Grid ever come back? – Not being discussed. Probably better to work on ensuring proper controls in place to allow people to use the one grid. Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s commitment to the open source project? No change. Can’t really take it back and wouldn’t want to due to TPV synergy. Jump to topic.
  • Will any features from Sansar be back-ported to Second Life, such as the rendering engine or Marvelous Designer support? – rendering engine, no. Marvelous Designer support – possibly a question for the Second Life team. Jump to topic.
  • Will my.secondlife.com [Profile feeds] be improved to help make connections a-la Facebook? – connections and building communities are important, but whether my.secondlife.com is a part of that is unclear, as there are other potential channels. Jump to topic.
  • Would it be possible to spin-up a second instance of a region being rebooted, and transfer avatars to it and maintain traffic, rather than forcing them to teleport elsewhere / log off, and then letting the original just shut down? Jump to topic.
  • When is Second Life going to be optimised to run well on high-end client systems with good Internet connections and graphics? Jump to topic.

New Users and the On-boarding Process

  • Is Linden Lab planning to advertise Second Life to attract new customers and keep the population size healthy and sustainable? – this is a constant effort, and the Lab is investing time, effort and money into the entire end-to-end on-boarding process to not only maintain, but to hopefully grow, SL’s user base. Jump to topic.
  • What are Linden Lab’s plans to bring-in new users and incentivise past users to return? – partially answered above, plus the improvements to the platform, the content users continue to make, etc. Jump to topic.

General Topics

  • What is the Lab’s view on adult content and the future of adult content? – No change. Jump to topic.
  • Will there be more sessions like the Town Hall or like Lab Chat after SL15B? – There are in-world technical meetings, but the hope is to have more general in-world meetings and discussions going forward. Jump to topic.
  • How do you compare the Oasis [from Ready Player One] as an educational place with Second Life? – Second Life is probably the closest to the Oasis in the world today and has a broad range of uses and involvement which is inspiring. Jump to topic.
  • Do you see Second Life lasting for another fifteen years? – Yes; Second Life is still successful on many levels, so why not keep it going?
  • Can you give a positioning statement between Sansar and Second Life? – two products with some similarities, but also significant differences, each managed by a separate teams. Jump to topic.
  • What have you found to be the biggest challenges for Second Life with regards to your planned vision, and how are you overcoming those challenges? Jump to topic.

Linden Lab announces Town Hall series for Second Life

Courtesy of Linden Lab

To mark Second Life’s fifteenth anniversary, Linden Lab has announced a series of Town Hall meetings at which Second Life users can hear members of Linden Lab and well-known groups within SL talk about the platform, their work, and answer questions offered by users.

The announced sessions will comprise:

  • Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.
  • Members of the Firestom team.
  • Residents of Bay City.
  • The Designing Worlds team.

The first of these town hall meetings will feature Ebbe Altberg in a double session on Friday, April 20th, at the following times:

  • 09:30 SLT.
  • 13:00 SLT.

User are invited to offer questions for Ebbe via the forum thread A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg. Questions will be selected from those submitted, and as many as possible will be answered within the time frame set for the meetings.

Users can attend the meetings by teleporting to one of the three following landing points at Town Hall Island:

Not: none of the above SLurl may be open to the public prior to the day of the event. 

Other Town Hall meetings, to be “held in the coming months”, will be announced in due course.

2018 SL project updates 11/2: TPVD meeting with Ebbe Altberg

Realm Of Light; Inara Pey, February 2018, on Flickr Realm Of Lightblog post

Update: the 43-bit viewer KDU issues has been updated based on feedback from Ansariel Hiller.

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 16th 2018. A video of the TPVD meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

This meeting was somewhat extended  – lasting 1 hour 30 minutes – as a result of the presence of Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab’s CEO, who commented on some of the item of discussion that came up at his session at VWBPE 2018 (see my notes and transcript here), as well as more broadly discussing Second Life and Sansar.

SL Viewers

[0:17-2:20] There have been no further updates to the current release, RC and project viewers in week #11, leaving the pipeline as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts :
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

General Notes

  • The Media Update RC viewer is unlikely to be promoted to release status in the immediate future, as it has some Windows 7 update issues which need to be resolved.
  • The Love Me Render viewer is making good progress, although it also has the Windows 7 problem.
    • [7:30-8:30] This viewer also has a KDU issue which can cause the 32-bit version of the viewer to crash when uploading textures larger than 512×512. One workaround for this until fix is obtained – depending on how long that takes – is for an older version of KDU to be used for 32-bit viewer versions.
  • Despite the issues with it (see my update here), the 360-snapshot project viewer is not getting a lot of attention.
  • Animesh project viewer is getting close to a possible RC release and the Animesh project close to a move to the main grid.
  • The Bakes on Mesh viewer has cleared LL’s QA, so a Bakes on Mesh project viewer for use on Aditi should be appearing soon.

New Viewer Caps

[3:51-7:04] The lab is introducing two new viewer caps they’d like TPVs to adopt quickly:

  • One will be used when the viewer first logs-in to read all of the deferred IMs received while the user was off-line, which are being moved from UDP delivery to HTTP in an attempt to overcome issues of off-line IMs failing to show.
  • The second is to read the correct set of abuse report categories from the server, so only valid categories are displayed within the viewer, allowing users to more correctly file ARs, rather than using invalid categories held viewer-side.

 

General Discussion with Ebbe

Highlights only – refer to the video for the full discussion.

Economic Model

[9:20-14:35]

  • The Lab is looking to try to pivot the SL economic model away from a heavy reliance on land fees, and then in time hopefully reduce the cost of land.
  • This will see a shift from land to revenue generation through fees in other areas.
  • The Lab cannot simply drop land fees and raise fees elsewhere, the two have to be balanced, so while the Lab is hoping to “aggressively” tackle pivoting revenue generation, they will also be cautious in making changes.
    • The hope of reducing land fees can be seen in the reduction in Mainland fees.
    • [10:50 via Oz and Linden] The Mainland price reduction has already seen a significant uptick in interest for abandoned Mainland, with support being “overwhelmed” with requests.
  • There is currently nothing planned for Private region fees, simply because the Lab has to be cautious around revenue.
    • It might be a case of (a) fee increase(s) elsewhere first, followed after a time by consideration of what can be done with Private region fees.
    • It is however, something the Lab would like to do.
    • The steps must be measured not only to safeguard LL’s revenue stream, but also so as not to upset the SL economy.
    • For this reason, the Lab will take a little time to measure the Mainland restructuring before they make other changes, so that they can more accurately measure cause and effect between different types of change.
  • These ideas were also discussed that the VWBPE session with Ebbe – see my transcript notes (with audio from that session) for more.

Sansar

[15:39-18:36] A general overview of Sansar – which is still is  Creator Beta – including the drive this year to gain an audience for Sansar, plus improvements to the VR aspect of the platform. Most of this is covered in my weekly Sansar updates. For Ebbe in particular, the Sansar team is at a point where he feels comfortable pivoting attention away from that platform and back to Second Life, including spending more time in-world.

Sansar and SL

[18:38-22:09]

  • A re-iteration that Sansar was never intended to be a replacement for Second Life.
  • Both products now have completely separate teams working on them
    • At VWBPE 2018, Ebbe indicated that the core SL team – engineering, development, operations, support – is “close to” 100 in number.
  • There is an area of overlap between the two products, but there are also very clear differentiators.
  • Proof that Sansar isn’t a replacement for Sl is the level and speed with which LL has continued to invest in SL (overhauling the viewer and simulator build mechanisms, bringing more performance and stability to the platform) and to add new capabilities (Bento, Animesh, Bakes on Mesh, EEP, rendering enhancements, etc.).

Moving SL to the Cloud

[22:09-32:00]

  • Progress is being made.
  • Experimental regions have been run in the cloud, and they worked.
    • There are a lot of functional limitations that must be addressed before regions users can access can be run in the cloud.
    • The regions did achieve a reasonably high concurrency level (precise number not given).
  • Much of what SL does natively – dynamically spinning-up a new set  of inventory management servers or a new set of log-in services, etc. – is similar in nature to a lot of what cloud service providers do, so a lot of the back-end work involved in moving to the cloud is taking what the Lab have, and adapting it to run within the infrastructure of the cloud.
  • It is a massive engineering undertaking that will take time.
  • Once completed, it is hoped operating SL in the cloud will allow LL to offer benefits to users, which might potentially include:
    • Reduced costs for regions that are spun-down and stored to disk when no-one is using them, should this be explored for Second Life
    • Ability for simulators and services to be more geographically based (e.g. simulators used largely by an audience in South America could be hosted in facilities in South America)
    • Ability to potentially have a broader cross-section of land product based on server types, with a broader range of performance / pricing.
  • It is hoped that, for the most part, users won’t be aware of services being switched from the Lab’s dedicated infrastructure to running within a cloud infrastructure
    • Some non-user facing services are already running in the cloud.
    • The work will be done progressively, and not a “flipping of the switch” for “everything”.
    • There is not end-date for the work. The Lab is approaching it as aggressively as possible, but there are a lot of technical hurdles to be cleared along the way, some of which will only become apparent as attempt are made to shift things and put them into production via the cloud.
    • To deal with potential issues / hurdles, it is possible that further ahead, there is a simulator RC channel “in the cloud”, while others are still running on the Lab’s own infrastructure.
  • Also see Ebbe’s comments from VWBPE 2018.

Upcoming New User Experience

[1:01:23-1:07:11] The Product Team is doing a lot of work with the new user flow, and are getting close to where they can start experimenting with ideas.

Part of this work involves a themed learning island reached via a new user clicking a themed ad which takes them to a themed landing page on the SL website, where they can sign-up, obtain an avatar in keeping with the theme, and are delivered to a learning island that also follows the theme.

This approach will be tested alongside the current on-boarding routes.

Interesting tidbits:

  • The lab spent over a year building a “fairly sophisticated” tracking system to gather data on new users and see how they are doing, i order to try to learn more about on-boarding / retention.
  • The Lab’s data / testing suggests new user retention is no better in welcome areas with greeters, than for those without greeters.
  • A test the Lab carried out using a (non-public) browser-based means of accessing Second Life from sign-up (no need to download the viewer) also did not achieve better retention than the “traditional” sign-up and download route.

Other Items

  • [32:10-34:07] Mirrors in SL: the inevitable discussion – and no, mirrors aren’t in Sansar!
  • [34:08-37:08] SL and VR: re-cap of why the VR viewer was dropped from Second Life – unable to maintain the comfort-level VR frame rates (90 fps). Also segues into a discussion of the Sansar / SL Edit mode differences (also see Ebbe’s comments from VWBPE 2018).
    • [37:10-37:40] Sansar benefits to SL: Oz confirms that some of the rendering work with the atmospheric shaders to improve SL’s appearance is leveraging lessons learned with Sansar.
  • [38:35-43:50] Texture caching: the project to improve the viewer’s texture caching is still very active, and once completed, the Lab plain to look at other aspects of how the viewer caches data.
  • [44:17-47:09] Linux Viewer: no real change from my last update.
    • TPV have the same problem as LL re: Linux developers.
    • LL would like to see more from the Linux community get involved.
    • Suggestion is for Linux users to try running the Windows viewer under Wine.
  • [47:10-49:25] OpenGL and GPU/CPU divide: discussion on updating SL’s OpenGL version, which is already under consideration at the Lab. Broadens into a discussion of modifying SL’s rendering capabilities to make more use of more GPU shader capabilities for calculation (rather than being reliant on the CPU), and the risks (to users) this entails (as many SL users don’t use more modern hardware with GPUs capable of taking the load).
  • [51:58-59:58] Community Gateways: Discussion on the Community Gateway programme and attracting users. Includes mention of partners, Place Pages, etc. Ideas raised seen as something that could be put to the SL Marketing team under Brett Linden.
  • [1:12:52-1:14:14] Feature Requests: when filing a Feature Request JIRA, it is better to keep the request focused on a single idea which can be easily digested. Multiple ideas should be submitted via separate JIRAs so that meaning don’t become confused / the JIRA becomes to complicated to understand, etc. Multiple JIRAs around related ideas can also be related via identifier.