Lab announces “Premium pre-pay” for annual membership discount

via and © Linden Lab

On Monday, December 2nd, 2019, Linden Lab announced a 10% discount for Premium membership (see: Holiday Premium Sale – Save 10% on Annual Membership).

Such discount offers aren’t new to Second Life – they’ve been rolled out regularly for the last few years. However, the December discount is different in that it is offering 10% off the US $99.00 cost of Annual membership – the first time that the Annual plan has been included in a Premium membership discount offer (Monthly or Quarterly have been the subjects of past offers).

I noted in my December 4th Web User Group meeting summary, the Lab would “soon” be offering that same 10% discount for existing Premium members wishing to take advantage of the offer, and extend their membership by a further year for US $89.

Well, “soon” turned out to be sooner than I’d anticipated, as hours after that summary was published, the Lab announced the Premium pre-pay is now available for existing members. In short:

  • Premium members can pre-pay for another year’s membership beyond the end of their current subscription period, using the Annual plan at the 10% discount, providing they do so before January 2nd, 2020, when the current Premium promotion ends.
  • Existing Premium members on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans will have to “upgrade” to Annual.
  • For those in EU countries subject to VAT who are on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans, note that the Annual is additionally offered VAT-free (VAT was re-introduced on Monthly and Quarterly plans in July 2019).
Existing Premium members on the Annual plan or those “upgrading” to Annual from either Monthly or Quarterly can now take advantage of the 10% discount offer available until January 2nd, 2020, to extend their Premium membership by further year beyond the end of their current subscription period

How well this offer suits you will depend on your existing plan / circumstance. Given the overall pricing differential between Annual and Monthly or Quarterly, it’s hard to see how this offer cannot have appeal for those who are in a position to take advantage of it. For those already on Annual, however, it comes down to how the offer period falls compared for your usual renewal period (sadly, for me, the timing is not that favourable, but ho hum). For those who do find it favourable and are in a position to take advantage of it, I can only say, “go for it!”

The “Victorian” Linden Homes theme and a chance to win one

 

Linden Reveal and the 4th new Linden Home theme

On Thursday, December 5th, Linden Lab unveiled the promised 4th theme of Premium Linden Homes that will soon be made available on the Bellisseria continent, alongside the existing Traditional, Houseboat and Trailers & Campers themes.

The preview has been made available as a part of the American Cancer Society  / Relay For Life of Second Life 2019 Christmas Expo, (and I’ll have an article on that event available shortly), with the preview also offering the chance for one Second Life user to win a special Premium Subscription / Linden Home auction package featuring one of these new homes.

The Shelley

The new theme is called “Victorian”, and as with previous releases of Linden Homes offers Premium members a choice of four individual house styles within each parcel, all selectable as required from the “mail box” fronting each parcel. As with the Traditional homes, this new theme features wooden-clad houses, with the styles as follows:

  • The Shelley: a two-floor Queen Anne style house, complete with circular turret and a covered porch on three sides of the house with rooms laid out in a 3 down, 2 up configuration.
  • The Doyle: the one single-storey home, offering four rooms.
  • The Hardy: a two-floor house that might be considered a folk-style house, offering a large front-to-back through room that could easily be split into two individual rooms, and two smaller rooms on the ground floor and three rooms upstairs.
  • The Verne: a two-storey house with an octagonal turret (were it complete on all sides) which is suggestive of Gothic Revival (but could also fall into Queen Anne), comprising two ground floor rooms (one of which could easily be split into two) and two rooms at the top of a circular staircase.
The Doyle

Those of a literary bent might also note the houses are named for period writers: Sir Percy Shelley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, and Jules Verne.

The preview region for the homes also gives a sense of the region layout that will accompany the theme (see Bellisseria extension: new homes theme takes shape(?) for more on the regions). Commenting on both the houses and the region layout, Patch noted:

I left the design and structure, floor plan choices to be faithful period reproductions based on the research done, and that even extends to the layout of the regions for the era.

– Patch Linden, describing the new theme to me.

The Hardy

There is currently no official release date for these new homes beyond Very Soon™ – a clue to their approaching availability might be when the regions see in the SSP continent are cloned at Bellisseria.

Note that these Victorian theme house are available within the current Premium subscription packages they are not anything to do with the Premium Plus subscription offering that will be coming in 2020.

Those who would like to both support the American Cancer Society and the RFL of SL 2019 Christmas Expo and win one of the new Victorian theme Linden Homes in a custom designed parcel can enter the One Of A Kind Linden Homes auction via the 2019 SL Christmas Expo website. The auction is open to Premium and Basic users, and the complete prize package comprises:

  • A 6-month Premium subscription package (the 6 months will be added to any existing membership for those who are already Premium).
  • A Victorian Themed house.
  • A parcel custom designed by the LDPW moles.

SLurl Details

December 2019 Web User Group summary

© and ™ Linden Lab

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019. These meetings are held monthly, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and when included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, the audio comments will be concatenated into a single audio extract for that topic).

Premium

Winter Promotion

  • As many have already seen, the winter Premium promotion is currently open through until the end of the month.
  • For the first time, the promotion applies to Annual plans (previously, any discount on Premium subscriptions have only applied to Monthly and Quarterly plans), with an offer of 10% off of the cost of the annual subscription (normally US $99) when an account is upgraded to Premium.
  • It is likely that, as with the mid-year Premium fee increase, there will be an opportunity for Premium users to pre-pay a further year’s annual premium membership “locked in” at the discounted price.

Other Premium Notes

  • There is no further news on Premium Plus or its benefits.
  • There are no plans at this point to add other levels of Premium either “above” or “below” the current Premium + benefits. This might change at some point in the more distant future.

Legacy Profiles Viewer

  • The Legacy profiles viewer has cleared the last issue blocking it from update, so a new version of the viewer should be appearing soon. This update will include the profile feed embedded in the viewer.
  • Once this viewer reaches release status, the web profiles are to be retired.
  • The removal of the web-based profiles means that things like the privacy settings (which only worked for the web anyway), will no longer be available. However (and if I was understanding Grumpity correctly), at some point the profile viewer will include the ability for a user to determine what information within their viewer profile is visible to others who view it.

Marketplace

  • Store De-Listings:
    • The Lab is work to fix the issue of Marketplace stores being de-listed as a result of using banned keywords.
    • It was re-iterated that, for a number of reasons – including people attempting to game it – the banned keyword list will not be made public.
    • Instead, the Lab has been working to make the algorithm used to scan for keywords is being made “smarter”, so it more correctly identifies banned words, which will hopefully reduce the number of unlistings occurring. There is still more work to be done on on this.
  • Improvements to the Marketplace search (demo items, gachas, etc), is now “very, very close” to being ready for release.
  • BUG-9984 “blank folder names” (in inventory) is another issue that has been looked into a number of times, but again, the Lab has been unable to determine the cause. However, they will give it a further pass in an attempt to find a cause or provide a workaround.
  • Feature requests BUG-227919 “Marketplace Sales Function” and BUG-227072 “Ability to give specific marketplace customers discounts” are both being considered by the Lab (but no commitment at this point in time that they will be implemented or when).
  • Overall, the Lab feel that the last 12-18 months have seen significant improvements to the Marketplace when compared to prior years.

In Brief

  • The last blocker for an update to the legacy profile project viewer has been cleared, and an update to the viewer, which will include support for the profile feed within it, should be surfaced for users to test Soon™.
  • As noted in my November summary, user-to-user land auctions will remain on hold for the time being, as the Lab is focused on other web-based work.
  • BUG-11555 “Setting certain characters in Display Name results in DN changing twice within minutes and resulting DN changes to Korean.” is a long-standing issue, and while it has been looked at, the Lab has yet to work out how to fix it.

Bellisseria extension: new homes theme takes shape(?)

What form might the upcoming Linden Homes theme take? We don’t yet know – but it would appear new regions in support of them are being developed / tested by the Lab

As those who follow the development of the “new” Linden Homes are already aware, a further theme is due to be previewed at the RFL SL Christmas Expo, and it appears that when released, this will take the form of a large-scale increase to Bellisseria’s southern extent.

This year Linden Lab, the Society’s partner in the fight against cancer, is joining the 9th Annual SL Christmas Expo. Not only will Linden Lab be decorating Linden homes as part of the Lights of Hope contest but the Expo will be the venue of the BIG REVEAL!  The long-anticipated ALL NEW Version 4 LINDEN HOMES will be UNVEILED at the Lights Of Hope!  Expo visitors will be treated with the newest premier member homes as well as some very VERY Special Linden surprises and incentives!

– from the announcement of the 9th SL Christmas Expo

The additional regions can be seen in the Bellisseria development / test SSP continent. If I’m honest, in their current form, that look like an artificial, rectangle-like bolt-on to the more organic form of the original continent – but this may well change as the new expansion grows over time. It this, it has something of the “bolt-on” feel of the original Houseboat expansion.

The new Linden Homes SSP extension regions

What’s interesting about the new extension, however, are the individual parcels. These are somewhat different to those seen with the Traditional Homes and Houseboats. Also, whereas the Traditional Homes sit alongside what are clearly roads, the profiles of the houses in the extension regions not only have a different outline, that also appear to be built around a different style of road / footpath.

Nor is that all. The south extent of the existing regions of Bellisseria show the continent’s railway line passing through a cutting in the mountains and onward into the new regions.

The Traditional Homes parcels in Bellisseria (l) compared with a parcel from the extension – note the different house profiles and road / footpath elements

The extension of the railway lines tends to demonstrate that – as promised – they will be a prominent feature of the continent and the new Linden Home theme. On the flip side, the new regions do not appear to include Houseboats – which might disappoint some – but they do appear to offer beach houses and island homes.

In his SL16B Meet the Lindens session, Patch Linden indicated that there are likely to be commercial opportunities arising in Bellisseria – at the time suggesting one of these opportunities might come with the Trailers and Campers. Such opportunities have yet to appear, and whether or not they will as a part of the eventual deployment of the new Bellisseria extension (whenever that happens) remains to be seen.

Within the development / test regions, the Bellisseria railway lines appear to be a core part of the new extension’s infrastructure

Another point of interest with the SSP development regions is the demarcation of a series of SSPXT regions (located to the east of the main continent and shown in teal or green). It’s not clear what these are to be, but one guess is perhaps the green regions will be shaped into outlying islands, and the teal regions might form some kind of archipelago. Then again, they might be something else entirely – time will tell as to whether they stay and are developed (and become clearer) or not.

In the meantime, and beyond the promise of previewing them at the 2019 SL Christmas Expo, it’s not clear when the new Linden Homes theme will become available – but doubtless, many are watching the SSP development regions with interest. However, those wishing to obtain one of the new homes – whether Premium or not – might want to enter the Christmas Expo’s One Of A Kind (OOAK) auction – on offer is a 6-month Premium subscription and one of these new Linden Homes provided on a specially designed parcel, and with extras. See EPIC OOAK Linden Home Auction @ 2019 SL Christmas Expo for more on this.

Lab blogs on Name Changes, Marketplace fees and events updates

via and © Linden Lab

With typical timing, I’m taking time off from the blog to enjoy an evening at the theatre (seeing Jonathan Pie, aka comedian Tom Walker, in case you’re interested!), when Linden Lab blogs about Name Changes, the updates to events I’ve mentioned in my Web User Group updates, and on Marketplace updates!

You can read the official post – The Return of Last Names and Changes to Marketplace, Events & Premiumin full on the Lab’s SL blog. However, here are the key points:

Name Changes

  • Linden Lab is working to make Name Changes “available by the end of January”.
  • As per my previous reporting on the subject, Name Changes will be an Premium (and Premium Plus – see below) benefit.
  • Changes will incur a fee (yet to be disclosed) which will be levied as a single transaction for “one or both of your First and Last Name.”
  • Last Names will be be list-selectable, and users can help LL curate the list.
  • Between December 16th, 2019 and January 15th, 2020, the Lab will hold a Last Name competition for SL users (Basic and Premium) to suggest suitable last names to add to the first list of names to be made available. Five will be selected, and those submitting them will be able to change their names completely free of charge. Details to follow in a later Lab blog post.

Note that in addition the to official blog post above, Linden Lab have also indicated that:

  • Those signing-up to Second Life will not be required to pick a last name, but will continue to have “resident” appended to their name until such time as the opt to go Premium or after they have completed the sign-up process, if they opt to go directly to Premium when setting up their account.
  • The fee applied to Name Changes will likely be in US dollars, and will be at a lower rate for Premium Plus (once available) than for Premium.

For further information on these latter points, please refer to:

Premium Plus

  • Again, as I’ve previously reported, there will be a new Premium membership subscription level, sitting above Premium.
  • This new subscription level is to be called “Premium Plus” (previously referred to by the Lab as “Elite”).

Again in addition to the official blog post:

  • Premium Plus will be made available on a monthly or annual subscription basis.
  • It will be made available some time after Name Changes have been made available.
  • Likely benefits will comprise a mix of “enhanced” Premium benefits and benefits exclusive to Premium Plus.

For further information on these latter three points, please refer to:

Events Updates

  • Events are being overhauled to present more functionality, such as the ability to set an alert on an event you want to attend, to follow your favourite events hosts, share event calendars, and more.
  • This work will include a new look for events (see the concept art below, courtesy of Linden Lab).
  • The updates will be accompanied by the introduction of event listing fees, at the rate of L$50 er event for Basic members, and L$10 per event for Premium members, who will – as a follow-up update to these initially changes – be able to schedule recurring events.
Concept design for the new Second Life events pages. Note the final version, when deployed, may differ to this. Credit: Linden Lab

For further information on this, please refer to:

Marketplace Fee Changes and Updates

As from Monday, December 2nd, 2019:

  • The Marketplace sales commission will increase to 10% of the item price.
    • This marks the first fee increase on the Marketplace in a decade.
    • It is seen as a means of off-setting the cost of on-going improvements and enhancements to the MP.
  • Marketplace Product Listing Enhancement fees will be reduced by 10%.

The blog post also points out further Marketplace enhancement that are close to being ready to be deployed, or are in development, including:

  • The ability to filter limited quantity and demo items (close to being ready for deployment).
  • Improved navigating shopping and order history for shoppers.
  • A means to prevent limited-quantity item redelivery for the Merchants.

Longer-term, the Lab is working on Mobile-friendly layouts for the Marketplace and planning both a complete facelift for the Marketplace and on a vendor system “that better connects in-world sales and tracking with Marketplace transactions”.

I’ll continue to report on all of the above as news surfaces on them via in-world meetings and / or official blog and forum posts.

November 2019 Web User Group: Premium Plus & Events

© and ™ Linden Lab

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019. These meetings are held monthly, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and when included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, the audio comments will be concatenated into a single audio extract for that topic).

Premium Plus

  • Premium Plus is now to be the official name for the upcoming new Premium subscription level, this having changed from “Elite” following feedback from users.
  • It will not be ready for deployment until after Name Changes has been deployed, and the Lab is currently aiming for “early 2020”.
  • Full benefits for Premium Plus subscriptions have not been disclosed, however it has been indicated that:
    • “A lot” of the current Premium benefits are going to be “even better” for Premium Plus.
    • There will also be benefits that are obviously exclusive to Premium Plus.
    • There will be Marketplace benefits available to merchants upgrading to Premium Plus – but again, what these are has not been disclosed.
  • Despite a rumour being dropped into a public meeting that the new subscription will be “three times” the current Premium subscription, no official word on the pricing for Premium Plus has been given, other than it will be available on a monthly or annual subscription basis (see: 2019 Web User Group week #40: Name Changes and new Premium option).

Events

  • The Second Life Events service is being overhauled.
  • The first pass of this work is to clean-up the service to prevent event spamming.
    • This will involve levying a fee for events to be listed.
    • The fee will be in Linden Dollars. However, it will not be “prohibitive”, but rather enough to “incentivise better event content”.
    • The fee will be lower for Premium accounts compared to Basic accounts.
  • The follow-on work will include providing the means for Premium account holders to set recurring events.
  • Beyond this, there is a much larger tranche of work to overhaul what events look like and the events functionality, which is targeted for an early 2020 deployment.

Marketplace

  • A range of fixes and general code clean-up.
  • New notifications options now available via Marketplace → Account → Notification Options.
    • The options displayed are split between Shopping and Merchant notifications, with the latter obviously only available to those actually selling through the Marketplace.
The new notifications (shown side-by-side for convenience). Note the Merchant options will only be displayed for those selling through the MP. Click for larger size, if required.
  • The Place Order button has been moved to the top of the advert listing page when ordering L$0 items, to make completing the order quicker.
  • Filters for removing demo and / or limited items / gachas from Marketplace searches are very close to being ready for deployment.
    • This work is part of an overall refactoring of the Marketplace search that will continue to see incremental changes and improvements to the search functionality.

In Brief

User-to-User Land Auctions

  • User-to-user land auctions have been suspended due to instances of “abuse” (no specifics provided) that require the Lab to make changes to the system.
  • There is no indication as to when user-to-user auctions will be re-opened, as the Lab has to consider how best to change the system to prevent similar misuse in the future.

Other Notes

  • There has been a general clean-up of the secondlife.com pages.
    • For example: the Account → Contact page has been removed from users’ dashboards as it provided redundant information (your own user name and e-mail address) – this does not impact the Change Password option.
  • Recent general work on all SL web properties has included updating the servers to a new operating system and installing a new site defender that can respond faster to attacks.
  • Release notes for updates to the web services (similar to those for simulator and viewer release notes) are in the works, and could be ready for deploy before year-end.
  • The official viewer log-in splash screen now includes a section for the SL Blogger Network, as well as now displaying the current Second Life time.