November executive town hall: summary and audio

Xiola (l) with Oz, Patch and Grumpity Linden
On Thursday, November 15th, 2018 Linden Lab hosted a further Town Hall meeting at which questions were put to three of the Lab’s senior staff: Oz Linden, Grumpity Linden and Patch Linden.

Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via a Town Hall meeting forum thread (now locked from having further questions added, but remains available for viewing). The following is a summary of the answers to questions asked during the Town Hall session, audio extracts and video time stamps provided as reference. The video is embedded at the end of the article.

Table of Contents

When reading this summary, please note:

  • It is not a full transcript; rather replies to questions have been bullet-pointed for ease of reading.
  • Responses to questions have been grouped by topic, and are not necessarily in the order discussed at the meeting.
  • Some questions were very generic in form and as a result lacked any structured answer (e.g. Q: will Linden Lab be improving Groups? A: what would you like to see improved?). I have not included such questions in this summary, but have focused on those questions that yielded replies that offer insight on Second Life and Linden Lab’s thinking about the platform.
  • Audio extracts are provided. These have been cleaned-up in places to remove repetition or pauses, etc.
  • Both topic and audio extracts may concatenate comments  / responses to topics asked at different points in the meeting.

Specifically because of this last point, I’ve included time links to the points in the official video (also embedded at the end of this article) for those who wish to listen to the questions, comments and replies as they were recorded.

Also note that not all of the questions raised in the forum could be addressed at the meeting, so some may be addressed from within the forum linked to above by Linden Lab in the coming days.

Introducing Oz, Grumpity and Patch

Oz Linden

Oz is the Technical Director for Second Life, having joined in 2010 with initial responsibility managing the viewer open-source project and rebuild what had become a fractious relationship with TPVs, with his role expanding over time to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life.

As work on Sansar started to progress in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role of Technical Director of SL, building a team of people around him who specifically wanted to remain solely focused on Second Life and developing it. His team works closely with the product and operations team to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to as rebuilding the railway from a moving train.

Grumpity Linden

Grumpity is the Director of Product for Second Life. She originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab. Grumpity was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).

She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.

Grumpity jokingly refers to herself, Patch and Oz as the troika, responsible for the development and direction of all aspects of Second Life.

Patch Linden

Patch is the Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab. Originally a Second Life resident, he joined linden Lab in 2007, after being invited to apply to the company as a result of his work as a community leader and mentor from 2004 through until the invitation was extended.

His role is the only one of the three here that also encompasses Sansar, as he manages the respective support teams for both platforms. In this regard, he recently established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia. For Second Life, his work also involves overseeing the content development teams, the Mainland Land Team, the Linden Department of Public Works – LDPW, aka The Moles, and managing the account support team.

The view from the stage as the audience arrives

Opening Comments: The Fifteen Reasons To Celebrate Blog Post

Elements Already Delivered

Grumpity Linden started with a review of what has been delivered:

  • Mainland costs: as has been stated at previous Town Hall and Meet the Linden events in 2018, Mainland tiers costs were revised in March 2018, together with a doubling of “free” tier size.
    • The Lab continues to be pleased with the response.
    • Mainland ownership is at levels not seen in some time.
    • Response continues to be positive.
  • Animesh: Animesh officially reached release status on November 14th, 2018.
  • Marketplace:
  • Games and Experiences (via Patch):
    • Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches has been enhanced.
    • A new version of Linden Realms has been deployed.
    • Further updates and ideas are in progress, notably for winter 2018 / 2019.

Video: 4:49-7:40

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Elements In Progress

  • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP):
    • Progressing rapidly, almost on a daily basis.
    • Lab keen to bring EEP out as whole, rather than bit-by-bit.
  • Land Auctions:
    • The updated land auctions were launched in July 2018.
    • There have been issues, which the Lab has been working to address, but this is taking time to fix as the auction system does involve people’s L$.
    • Resident-to-resident auctions are still coming, but probably won’t be deployed until early 2019.
  • Themed Learning Islands:
    • The Lab deployed the first of the themed learning islands in August 2018, and this is an ongoing programme.
    • The results have been “interesting” and provided a lot of ideas on what to provide next.
    • Because the Lab wants to have “clean” results from the work, this is not something that can be openly discussed in-depth.  However, Lab remains committed to improving the on-boarding experience.
  • Bakes On Mesh (via Oz Linden):
    • The last infrastructure updates (Bake Service) have been deployed.
    • Updates to the viewer should be appearing soon.
    • Its anticipated there will be further simulator / server deploys as well as viewer updates.
    • Users are encouraged to test the viewer as it moves forward and to provide feedback (see the Alternate Viewers wiki page).
  • Performance Improvements:
    • There have been a number of projects to improve performance, and more are on the way.
    • The viewer’s texture cache is being overhauled and improved.
    • The rendering system is being improved.
    • Region crossings have been touched, and more work in this area may be forthcoming in the future.
    • Performance is something the Lab is always working on.

Video: 7:45-13:00

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Continue reading “November executive town hall: summary and audio”


November SL Town Hall with Oz, Grumpity and Patch – reminder

Just a quick reminder.

The next in the Lab’s in-world Town Hall series, featuring Director of Product, Grumpity Linden, Technical Director Oz Linden, and Senior Director of Product Operations, Patch Linden, will take place on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 at 10:00 SLT (18:00 GMT / 19:00 CET). The event will take place at the Town Hall meeting regions, with the landing point URLs as follows:

Selected questions from the Town Hall meeting forum thread (now closed) will be put to Grumpity, Patch and Oz during the session, and there may be an opportunity to ask questions from the audience, if time permits.

All things being equal, I hope to have a summary of the session up after the event, which will be similar in nature to my summaries of 2018 Town Hall meeting – see here for the September Town Hall with Ebbe, as an example.

September 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio

Ebbe is still into his T-1000 look. But then, he does keep to his promises to “be back” (and take people’s questions and offer thoughts and insight into the Lab, SL and Sansar) 😉
On Thursday, September 13th, Linden Lab hosted a further Town Hall meeting 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 September 2018 – A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, a thread that is now locked from having further questions added, but remains available for viewing.

As many of the questions require a technical response, the decision was made to have the Lab’s subject matter experts address them directly through the forum thread itself after the Town Hall meeting, a process which may take several days to complete. So if you did ask a technical question that wasn’t raised at during the event, be sure to check the thread to see if an answer in provided there.

The following is a summary of the answers to questions asked during the Town Hall session, audio extracts and video time stamps provided as reference. The video is embedded at the end of the article.

Please note that this is not a full transcript of the event. Producing a word-for-word transcript takes a lot of time. Instead, I have attempted to bullet-point the replies offered, and have included an audio extract and a time line to the relevant point in the video.

Also note that:

Table of Contents

  • These notes don’t necessarily follow the chronological flow of the session, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • There is a degree of choppiness in Ebbe’s audio (present on the videos as well). This is down to Voice issues in SL. Because of this break-up, some of the audio clips are edited to remove elements where the break-up is particularly bad, but hopefully without losing the actual context of what was being said.
  • Video timestamps will open the official video in a separate browser tab at the start of the specified time period, allowing readers the choice of listening to the audio extract, or the video recording.
  • Due to the brevity of some answers, not all replies given below have an audio extract – but they all have links to the official video.

Opening Comments

  • Exciting year for Linden Lab – 15 years in the business, lot of investment in SL going on + growing the SL team. There’s a lot going on that has the Lab optimistic about the future, and looking forward to being on the journey for a long, long time to come.
  • In March LL announced a very aggressive roadmap, possibly more than could be achieved within 2018, but goals have been pursued and people hired to help meet them.
  • Perhaps most noticeable work has been the re-balancing the economy: reducing the price of land and finding other means by which the Lab can generate revenue that are fairer for everyone – users and the Lab.
    • This means some things get cheaper [e.g. land], and other may get more expensive [e.g. transaction fees] for people as things are adjusted.
    • Overall response has been positive – particularly the lower Mainland costs – increased “free” tier, which is still keeping the land team busy in handling purchase requests.
  • Roadmap also noted new games and experiences, and the next one is “not far away”.
  • Themed learning islands were mentioned, for more vertical acquisition of new users, and tests have been run.
  • Marketplace improvements are starting to come in, with more on the way, helped by a new hired in the commerce team.
  • New land auction process was deployed, but has had issues, so user-to-user Mainland land auctions still to come.
  • There have also been performance improvements.
  • Animesh is very close to release, and the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) is close to public testing. Bakes on Mesh is following behind them.
  • More value for premium members is coming, but no announcements to make during the town hall.
  • Return of last names may not roll-out before the end of 2018; there’s still a lot of work to be done.
  • Grid-wide experience operation for users also may not be deployed before the end of 2018.
  • Work is continuing on Linden Home improvements, but not clear if this will be deployed all at once or in stages. The hope is to start releasing some of them before the end of 2018.
  • Moving SL to a cloud infrastructure will not be completed until “well into” 2019. Work is progressing on a server-by-service basis.
  • He is personally every excited with all that is happening, the SL team is dedicated to the work and is growing, and Lab is very pleased with the positive responses from users to the changes and improvements being made.

Video: 4:05-12:54



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Ebbe and Xiola at the September 13th Town Hall.

Q&A Session

Land and Pricing

What was the rationale the up-front higher fees for grandfathered regions?

  • The 2016 buy-down offer was to encourage people who knew they were going to keep land for at least 6 months to obtain lower tier.
  • The structure meant that the up-front cost (US $600) could be recouped in 6 months, allowing the land holder to continue to enjoy a much reduced monthly tier.
  • The transfer fee of US $600 for grandfathered / bought-down regions (compared to the US $100 for “retail” prices regions) is intended to operate the same way: to encourage those who wish to obtain grandfathered land and will hold on to it for a period of 6 months or more to do so, and so continue to enjoy the lower monthly tier.
    • The US $100 transfer fee can still be applied to grandfathered regions, but they will revert to the full monthly tier rate, so the US $600 isn’t necessarily a barrier to selling the land.
  • Currently no plans to make further changes to tier rates – Lab still absorbing the data from the June private region pricing restructure.
  • However, there is still a commitment from the Lab to do more where land is concerned, once with economic situation resulting from the June 2018 change can be fully understood.
  • Personally has a belief that those who commit to holding land for a period of time should be able to benefit from doing so.
    • This may again involve a higher up-front cost that is recouped over a period of time.
    • Does mean that tier pricing differences (e.g. grandfathered to retail) could vary over time – just as the June reduction narrowed the gap between grandfathered and retail monthly tier.
  • But even with the June retail price reduction, those who used the buy-down offer are still enjoying a lower tier than those who buy at retail.

Video: 18:42-23:15



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Will there be further land pricing reductions / increases in land capacity (prim allowance)?

  • Both are things the Lab wants to do.
  • Land price reductions depend on the Lab being able to generate revenue and remain healthy as a business via other means – increased transaction fees, increased check-out fees, increased and broader Premium subscription options, etc., all of which are constantly being looked at.
  • Increasing the land capacity is a matter of performance and hardware improvements. If these continue to be made, then further increases to land capacity might be possible.

Video: 23:28-24:54



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Continue reading “September 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio”

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.

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 [Profile feeds] be improved to help make connections a-la Facebook? – connections and building communities are important, but whether 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.

Lab Chat #3 in 10-ish minutes

Lab Chat #3: Troy, Oz and Ebbe
Lab Chat #3: Troy, Oz and Ebbe

Friday, May 6th saw the third in the Lab Chat series take place in-world, featuring guests Oz Linden, the Director of Second Life Engineering, Troy Linden, a Senior Producer of Second Life and of course, Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg, in his alter-ego of Ebbe Linden.

You can find the full transcript, with audio extracts, as previously published in these pages by following this link.

However, I’ve been asked by a number of people if I could summarise things, rather than them having to read the entire transcript or just having a list of up–front links. I’ve therefore produced this summary, complete with links to the full answers within the transcript. If this approach proves popular with readers, I’ll adopt it as the lead-in to future transcripts.

Work in progress: Aki Shichiroji demonstrates a wearable wyvern utilising Bento bones for animation.
Work in progress: Aki Shichiroji demonstrates a wearable wyvern utilising Bento bones for animation.

Project Bento

  • How will creators make poses and animations for the new bones (wings, fingers, facial expressions, etc)? Creators will be able to use existing plug-ins (MayaStar, Avastar) to create animation content for Project Bento as is currently the case. Full answer.
  • Will there be any in-world tools for Bento pose and animation creation? At this point, Second Life doesn’t have any in-world animation creation tools, and Bento does not attempt to add them. Instead it leverages existing out-world tools. Full answer.
  • Will Bento have the ability to animate (or pose) separately?  Yes. Second life does already support isolating animations to certain parts, and Bento is no different.  Full answer.
  • Will any of the work on the Bento facial bones be incorporated into the default/system avatar for expressions, etc? The default system avatar has not at this point been re-rigged to use the new Bento bones. However, custom mesh heads, when rigged to the bones, will be able to make use of them. Full answer.
  • Will there be, or are there any plans to introduce animated mesh into Second Life (e.g. animated pets, etc)? No comment on whether or not animated meshes will be supported in the future. However, Bento bones can be used to provide a level of animation of creatures, objects, attached to an avatar (e.g. bats flying around your head). Full answer.
  • Will any attempts be made to have the new bones be scriptable for the use in user-created animation rigs like Anypose?  There are no plans to add scripting capabilities that are specific to Bento at this time. Full answer.
  • Can some Bento UG meetings be held at an “Asia friendly” time? It will be looked into. Full answer.

Second Life

The new Experience Keys based Social Islands
The new Experience Keys based Social Islands – see below
  • Can we have tools inside inventory to help manage it?  The Lab is focused on improving inventory operation robustness, and will have a new viewer offering this soon. Better inventory management interfaces and tools are a terrific idea, and something TPVs could even contribute. Full answer.
  • Will we see similar edutainment-type experiences as the new social islands, but aimed at more advanced users? Yes, very probably in time. Full answer.
  • Why doesn’t Second Life have gift cards which can be purchased in stores like other games? Probably more interesting to think of ways to sort-of refer a friend, maybe, with an associated gift card to get them into the world. But something to examine. Full answer.
  • Any plans to provide more robust photography tools similar to Firestorm’s Phototools? Will existing tools be updated? Lab prefers not to comment on things until close to release; photography floater updates an excellent opportunity for TPV / open-source contributions. Full answer.
  • Can sound files be increased in length beyond the 10 second limit? Yes, and animation file sizes can be increased. By how much isn’t clear, and the work will be dependent on moving the assets to CDN delivery first. Full answer.
  • Will we be able to texture more than 8 faces when editing mesh in-world?  The change made in Sept 2015 refers to allowing more than 8 textureable faces as a part of the upload process, not to in-world editing. No further changes planned at present. Full answer.
  • Will any similar incentive to the private island buy-down offer be presented to Mainland owners? Not at present. Time is required to analyse the other impact of the buy-down offer and determine its overall benefit (or otherwise). So nothing planned for Mainland at the moment or immediate future. Full answer.
  • Will anything be done to address vehicle region crossing issues, particularly with large vehicles, which have become worse over the past year? Lab not aware of any changes that should have made things worse, but will look into matters. However, large vehicles have always been problematic on region crossings, so no promises. Full answer.
  • Will RLV functionality be added to the official viewer? Longer-term, Lab will add more capabilities to Experience Keys which will be similar to, but not compatible with, RLV. Full answer.
  • Will Experience Keys be opened to Basic members to create Experiences? Experience Keys will remain Premium-only do to potential griefing abuse. Premium helps ensure accountability.  Full answer.
  • Will Experience Search (and other search) be improved? The  current focus is the Marketplace search beta, using Elasticsearch. This will likely become the default MP search engine soon. The Lab may then use Elasticsearch on other search capabilities. Full answer.
  • Will the Marketplace Listing Enhancement issues & JIRAs be addressed? The Lab believes they have a fix for a major cause, which is in the process of being implemented and may clear up most issues. Full answer.
  • Can the number of Estate Managers be increased? Will be looked at. Full answer.
  • What’s the best way to report group spammers? Single or Multiple reports? Via the Abuse Report, Quality of report, not quantity is important. Many reports aren’t actionable as they are incomplete. Full answer.
  • Does LL give employees time to use SL? Yes & all staff are encouraged to spend time in SL when first starting. Oz Linden also looks to recruit from SL users where possible. Full answer.
  • Any thoughts on Vulkan graphics support for SL? For SL, no. Sansar, yes.
  • Can we have an update on Linden Realms and the grid hunt games available through the portal parks? New Linden content is coming, but no details given.

Continue reading “Lab Chat #3 in 10-ish minutes”