On May 2nd, 2022, Linden Lab initially announced the release of a new region product, the Event region type (see the official blog post Event Regions).
Leveraging the additional capabilities available through AWS, this new product was intended specifically for hosting large-scale events. At the time the product was introduced, it was noted by many (including myself), that the initial pricing seemed a little high.
Since the initial introduction of the product, the Lab has been able to learn a lot more about how best to leverage it and looked at offering capabilities more reflected of the needs of event organisers and at prices better suited to their potential use.
As a result of this, late on Thursday, June 23rd, the Lab issued a blog post announcing updates to Event region products – which are new split between Event Pro and Event Elite, each with its own price-point.
Event Elite is considered the “all-inclusive” product, and Event Pro the “a-la carte” variant. The table below provides the prices and capabilities associated with both.
20%+ Script performance improvement
Extended chat range (upon request)²
Increase to 30K Land Capacity
Rollback service (with 48 hr of request)³
US $25 per request
US $50 per request
White-glove concierge support
There are no set-up fees applied to Event Pro or Event Elite regions.
Everyone on the region to see and participate in Nearby Chat if desired.
If you make a mistake with region content, or want to restore a previous build, you can request to roll the region back to a specific time.
Note that you may order multiple Event regions on the same support ticket
Private Region Rollback Service
In addition to the above, the post from the Lab indicates that the US $25 region roll-back service is now also available to all private region owners (another they remain at Linden Lab’s discretion and are not guaranteed).
In my original post on the May launch of Event regions, I noted a feeling that while the “introductory offer” price of US $599 sounded reasonable, the (then) proposed increase to US $899 at the end of the “introductory period” was more than a little steep, and could put people off the use of such regions. As such, this restructuring of prices is to be welcomed, and makes a lot of sense. It would still be nice to see these products offered on more of a pro-rata basis, but overall, this is a welcome move by LL.
Update, June 20th, 2022: Speaking at his Meet the Lindens session at SL19B, Patch Linden, VP of Land Operations, indicated that the fee for Event regions will remain at US $599 a month & no set-up fee. Summary notes with link to the video available here. However, the comments and thoughts originally offered towards the end of this piece remain unchanged, as they are historically relevant.
The number of avatars a region can support has often been a headache for those wishing to hold large-scale events – and something the Lab has long been aware of itself. Traditionally, to host a reasonably large number of avatars at a single event in comfort (e.g. 75+), it has often been necessarily to have two or four regions, with the stage space effectively straddling them.
However, during recent months, the Lab has been testing a new region type, capable of supporting relatively large numbers of avatars. This testing has included providing the new region product to a number of events in Second Life that have high numbers of avatars passing through them.
Most recently, when speaking at the VWBPE 2022¹, event, Patch Linden indicated that the new region type – called Event regions – were definitely on the product development roadmap.
On Monday, May 2nd, the Lab officially launched the Event region type via an official blog post, stating:
Have you ever dreamed of being able to hold large scale events in Second Life? Have you ever wished you could keep the lag monster at bay during large events? Perhaps you just want your scripts to all go vroom? Well wonder, wait and wish no more! Sporting the latest upgrades in grid technologies that have been enabled by our migration to the cloud, these regions have been tested running large events in real-world scenarios such as those really big monthly shopping events, and live performances! Our tests saw nearly 200 avatars successfully able to shop and party in these regions.
The post lists the capabilities / options that come with the new Event region product as:
A maximum avatar limit of 175 per Event region.
Up to 30,000 land impact.
While this region type will support up to 30,000 Land Impact, during testing, LL identified a few cases where exceeding 20,000 Land Impact will degrade performance with a large number of concurrent visitors.
Extended chat ranges upon request, allowing chat to travel further across the region.
RaaS: Rollbacks as a Service – Request to restore your region to a previous state as needed – some restrictions apply.
IaaS: Instancing as a Service – Request to have your region duplicated to another region.
Pricing for these region types is somewhat surprising:
From now until June 6th, 2022, Event regions will be available at US $599 per month, with no set-up fee.
After June 6th, 2022, the fee will be:
US $999 for the first month (including a $100 set-up fee, which is slightly less than that for a Full region’s $120).
US $899 per month after the first 30 days.
I say “surprising” because while the initial “offer price” of US $599 does not sound entirely unreasonable given the added capabilities / support options, the $899 month tier most certainly does. Certainly, in terms of events, this latter price-point will likely place the cost of these regions well outside the budget of many events they might otherwise be well suited towards handling (e.g. a one-off weekend concert, for example).
Conversely, the US $599 price point, whilst high, is a lot more comfortable than US $899, and could encourage more widespread adoption of the new product across a range of potential uses over a much longer period of time among users (corporate partners, obviously, may not find the pricing an issue, if it encompasses them).
Even so, and in terms of pure events, I would have thought something along the lines of a pro-rata system based on the proposed length of use might have been more all-encompassing.
And turning to the capabilities and options offered with the new Event region product, there is one element in the bullet list that could do with further exposition: “Instancing as a Service” – as I enquired on the forum thread related to the announcement:
Does this genuinely mean simultaneous instancing, on an on-demand basis (e.g. I can simply request another instance of my event to be spun-up based on the demand I’m seeing – and request it is taken down when demand drops below the level where it is no longer required)?.
Is it limited to just the one instance (as the wording perhaps implies), or multiple instances?
Is instancing covered by the “original” region’s tier, or is a surcharge applicable? If so, how much?
Those with a similar interest in this aspect of the product should keep an eye on the thread for any official response.
In the meantime, complete information on the launch can be found in the official blog post.
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Whilst coming a week late to the party, but Protocol, the on-line tech publication, presented a brief but punchy interview with Philip Rosedale on his return to Linden Lab, a piece that makes for worthwhile reading.
I admit that a small part of my attraction to Second Life’s founder doesn’t believe in VR, by Janko Roettgers and Nick Statt, lay in the fact a couple of Rosedale’s comments on the state of VR as it is today, pretty much echo what I was saying a good few years ago (that the current generation of VR headsets are inherently anti-social in the way that cut the user off from those immediately around them). However, that’s not the reason for me to point to the article; there is far more of relevance within it.
What makes this article a particularly pleasant read is the direct approach taken by this authors, with key points neatly broken down into sub-sets of bullet points. These start with a refreshing – and, I would state – fair summation of the state of consumer-facing VR before moving to to some of the challenges faced by “the metaverse” is trying to reach a significant global audience, and what’s on the horizon for Second Life in the future.
This third sub-set of items has already been covered to some degree and includes the topics we’ve already heard about / surmised:
The use of tracking technology for avatar expressiveness.
A renewed move towards mobile support for Second Life (again, related to the “decentralised environment patents” transferred to LL?).
Improved communications capabilities.
No specifics are offered, admittedly – but what is recognised and – allowing for the fact that Rosedale is only (currently?) a part-time advisor to the Lab – a recognition that Second Life is long in the tooth with a heavy reliance on legacy technology / approaches – and that at some point it is entirely possible that at some point building a new platform alongside of, and eventually replacing, Second Life as we know it, may well become a necessity.
And before anyone says, “but they did that with Sansar, and look at what happened!”, it is worth pointing out that a) Sansar was never developed as some kind of “SL 2.0”; it was made clear from the outset that the Lab was looking to address two different environments: Second Life and what was believed to be the coming wave for VR users, with agendas / needs that were very different to the majority of Second Life users. As such, there is no reason why, if LL did embark on an actual “SL 2.0”, it would likely be far more in respect of retaining the current user base and growing it, rather than seeking other horizons, as was the case with Sansar, whilst also allowing the platform to pivot more readily to newer technologies.
I actually find this point-of-view – which again, is a personal perspective from Rosedale, and not at this point anything we know to be part of the Lab’s plans for the foreseeable future – to be refreshing. Linden Lab has perhaps been too afraid of the spectre of “content breakage” and Second Life users a little too attached to inventory that they (probably) haven’t used in years, that it’s about time someone voice the reality that in order to move forward, there may well come a time when a break from at least some of the past is required.
For me, a particular point of interest within the article is what Rosedale states about the challenges facing “the metaverse”, and specifically the need to get to a point where avatar-centric communications can be “as effective as a simple Zoom call” together the need for Second Life to provide “a better communication experience to take on Zoom calls.”
I find this of a point of interest because it both underlines the coming of “avatar expressiveness in SL, and what the Lab hope to achieve with it, and also a continuing disconnect that is still evident in thinking around what “the metaverse” “must” do.
Within SL (and for the metaverse as a whole), there is no doubting that there are a range of use cases that can only benefit from avatar expressiveness. Picture, for example, a teacher within a virtual classroom being able to recognise a student who is experiencing difficulty or confusion during a lesson just by witnessing their facial expressions, and thus provide assistance.
However, the idea that “the metaverse” can gain traction among users just by emulating tools already at our disposal – Zoom, Skype, Duo, Viber, etc., – is potentially misguided. Such tools are already too ingrained into our psyche of ease-of-access and use to by easily replaced by carrying out the same task in virtual spaces. If “the metaverse” is to gain a mass appeal that isn’t centred on one particular environment / limited demographic – again, note Rosedale’s comments about Fortnite, Roblox and VR Chat – then it has to have a broad-based and compelling set of attractions rather than risking being seen as “just an alternative” to what can already be done using this, that or the other app or programme, etc. that is already at our disposal.
But in this I’ve said more than enough – or al least the article from which it is drawn, so I’ll close here and leave Roettgers, and Statt’s piece for you to read directly. And in doing so, I’d also recommend taking a look at what amounts to a follow-up piece by the same authors. With In the metaverse, everyone can sound like Morgan Freeman, Roettgers and Statt talk to Philip Rosedale about spatial audio and the company he currently runs: High Fidelity; it’s another informative read.