Linden Lab acquires CasperTech for Second Life

On Wednesday, September 14th, 2022, Linden Lab announced it has acquired CasperTech, the multi-product and service company founded by Casper Warden.

Established around 13 years ago, CasperTech is perhaps most famous for its business support services such as CasperLet (for rentals) and – most particularly – CasperVend, a comprehensive, easy to use networked vending and sales management system for Second Life, together with a number of products from rezzing systems through to security orbs. The company even made a foray into providing an on-line market presence as an alternative to The SL Marketplace, in for the form of PrimBay – a service I looked at back in 2013, and which had been designed for merchant operating in SL and other virtual worlds.

Over the years, CasperVend in particular has proven a reliable service to merchants across Second Life, providing a comprehensive range of in-world point-of-sale and produce redelivery solutions, backed by a tools and capabilities that have made the system indispensable to SL content creators and merchants in the sale of their goods.  It is this service which likely featured largest in the Lab’s decision to acquire CasperTech.

Commenting on the acquisition in the official announcement, Patch Linden stated:

This acquisition will ensure that all of the existing CasperTech services in Second Life will continue to operate without interruption into the foreseeable future, but it also opens up brand new opportunities to vastly improve the experience for our users as our next step in the CasperTech and Second Life journey.  
You can expect to see the same great services that you know and love continue on, with all of the same functionality you enjoy today, but with closer integration into the Second Life ecosystem – and as such, an even more reliable and convenient experience.
We wouldn’t have gone forward with this move if we weren’t absolutely confident that it will be a positive change for all Residents and CasperTech customers.

Understandably, the Lab acquiring a business such as CasperVend is liable to raise concerns among those using the service. To this end, the Lab have opened a forum thread where questions and  / or concerns can be raised, and replies provided directly by the Lab – if you do have questions, either as a user of CasperVend or other CapserTech services and products, please ask your questions there; there is no guarantee questions asked in the comments following this article may not be answered.

In  addition, and broadcast shortly after the announcement, a pre-recorded Lab Gab session was streamed featuring both Patch Linden and Casper Warden,  and it is embedded below.

Links

Lab announces updated Event region products + pricing

via Linden Lab

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.

Event Pro Event Elite
Monthly fee¹ US $449 US $599
Avatar Capacity 175 175
20%+ Script performance improvement Yes Yes
Extended chat range (upon request)² Yes Yes
Land Capacity 20,000 30,000
Increase to 30K Land Capacity US $30/mo n/a
Rollback service (with 48 hr of request)³ US $25 per request Free
Region cloning4 US $50 per request Free
White-glove concierge support n/a Free

Table Notes:

  1. There are no set-up fees applied to Event Pro or Event Elite regions.
  2. Everyone on the region to see and participate in Nearby Chat if desired.
  3. 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.
  4. The region must have 100% original content.

How to Order an Event Region (Elite or Pro)

  • Submit a request via the SL support ticket system.
  • Select Land & Region > Region Purchase
  • 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).

Feedback

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.

Lab extends MFA to the official viewer for Second Life

via Linden Lab

In September 2021, Linden Lab introduced Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) as an opt-in service to provide additional account security to users who wish to use it.

The implementation was promised to be the first pass at MFA within Second Life and its services, and the capability would be extended and enhanced over time.

On May 4th, 2022, and as part of extending the current MFA implementation, the Lab announced that MFA is now officially a part of the Second Life Viewer (SLV), with the promotion of the MFA RC viewer to de facto release (and download) status.

This means:

  • Anyone who has opted-in to MFA will be required to provide an authentication token the first time they log-in to Second Life using this viewer.
  • The token is requested after the user name and password have been entered, and should be generated using the preferred authentication app before being entered into the field shown below.
The MFA token prompt, displayed after entering your user name and password into the viewer
  • Once a valid token has been entered, clicking Continue will complete the log-in process.

Important Notes

  • Once a token has been entered into the viewer, it will remain valid for 30 days – so you do not have to provide a token every time you log-in to the viewer.
    • However, after 30 days, the token will expire, and the viewer will once again prompt you for a new token when logging-in.
  • Some authenticators generate their token as 2 groups of 3 digits (e.g. XXX  YYY). Where this is the case, you can enter the code with or without the space.
  • Third Party Viewers (TPVs): MFA does not currently extend to TPVs, so if you are a TPV user and have opted-in to MFA, this functionality will only apply to you after your preferred viewer has updated to the MFA viewer code base.
    • Linden Lab is allowing all TPVs a “grace” period to adopt the MFA code.
  • Again, if you have not opted to enable MFA on your Second Life account, logging-in to Second Life, regardless of the viewer you use, will not change.
  • You can also disable MFA on your account and viewer log-ins by opting-out (Account → Multi-Factor Authentication, entering a code from your app and clicking on the Remove MFA button).

Additional Information

LL launches Event region product + some thoughts

via Linden Lab

Update, June 23rd, 2022: Linden Lab has officially announced updates to the Event region product(s). Please refer to Event Regions: New Pricing and Offerings – Linden Lab and Lab announces updated Event and Event Elite Regions + pricing – this blog.

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.

from Linden Lab

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.
  • White glove Concierge service.
  • Over 20% Improved script performance.

These new regions can be ordered by submitting  a support ticket.

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.

Footnotes

  1. Patch’s comments can be heard in the What’s Up at the Lab VWBPE video:

Linden Lab adds CMO + CISO roles “to support rapid growth”

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Monday, May 2nd, 2022, Linden Lab announced it has added two new leadership roles: those of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – the first time that either role has been embodied within the company.

Interestingly, the news came not from the Lab (at the time of writing, the press release had yet to be officially posted) but via prnewswire.com. Both roles will embrace Second Life and Tilia, the Lab’s virtual economy payment processing platform.

Both roles will span across Linden’s full portfolio of businesses to support growth driven by the rapidly expanding consumer interest in metaverses and the technology platforms necessary to support them as well as other virtual worlds and marketplaces.

– Linden Research Inc.

Steven Feuling – Linden Lab’s new CMO

Taking on the role of CMO is Steven Feuling, a 30-year marketing veteran and former CEO. He has worked with and for some of the world’s best known brands including Microsoft, Bloomberg LLC, The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, E*Trade and General Motors, as well as several successful start-ups.

Having held senior roles with clients, agencies and media partners, most recently as President of MDC Partners’ Assembly, he offers a unique perspective to support both Second Life and Tilia. In his role as CMO, Feuling will oversee all marketing and communications efforts across the Lab’s portfolio.

Peter Capraro, joining the Lab as the new CISO, has spent nearly half of his career focused on financial services cybersecurity. Most recently, he was the deputy CISO at fintech start-up, Akoya, a spin-off from Fidelity Investments, and held security roles at Bank of America for 10 years.

Capraro’s wealth of experience within the cyber security space is seen as “instrumental” to the Lab’s information security and compliance initiatives, which span both Tilia and Second Life. In his role as CISO, he will serve as the strategic leader responsible for maintaining a corporate-wide information security programme to protect information assets, and ensure security for the company and it users.

Steven and Peter are filling critical roles for Linden Lab, as the virtual world landscape takes front stage again. Each of their respective expertise at both successful start-ups and world-renowned companies will have a tremendous impact on our leadership teams for both Second Life and Tilia.

– Brad Oberwager, Executive Chairman of Linden Research Inc

With thanks to Cube Republic for the link.

Second Life University: Land & Group Basics Class – Notice

via Linden Lab

As has been recently announced, Linden Lab has formulated the Second Life University, a programme to assist those who may be new to Second Life, and / or are finding it hard to get to grips with a range of aspects of using the viewer and Second Life as a whole.

The idea is to bring together information, tutorials and videos that are of benefit to both new and existing users together, making sure it is both up-to-date and gathered within one place for ease of reference.

This is clearly a major piece of work – particularly making sure all the information can be referenced from a single place (which we have yet to be notified about), which is an important aspect of the work given the range of resources it is designed to bring together. However, in the interim the Lab is pushing ahead with a new series of video livestreams of their own.

The first of these was streamed on Thursday, April 7th, and covered Viewer Basics.

Izzy Linden with be presenting the second in the Lab’s Second Life University video series

The next in the series will be streamed at 12:00 noon SLT on Thursday, April 28th, and will feature Land Product Specialist Izzy Linden, who will be talking Land and Group basics.

The aim is to walk people through a “best practices” approach to the basics of basics of land and group related activities / options in the viewer, offering a mix of tutorial and Q&A session. As such, it is something that may well prove to be a hand resource for rental estate owners to have as something they have point to help their renters (particularly those new to the whole idea of land rental in SL) in addition to the information they might supply to renters.

The livestream can be watched directly on You Tube, or below, depending on your preference.