Lab blogs Animesh RC deployment

Animesh will make it a lot easier to have animals roaming in Second Life (as well as other things) compared to current methods of achieving the same results

On Wednesday, June 20th,2018, The Lab completed an initial deployment of Animesh to the Blue Steel release candidate server channel.

For those not up-to-speed with Animesh, the goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

As noted in the official announcement, Animesh has been in development for some time, with the Lab working closely with the content creator community to develop Animesh, with weekly (more-or-less) meetings being held as a part of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meetings.

It is important to note that with this deployment, Animesh is still very much in development, and there may well be further changes before it is fully released.

Animesh Halloween boogie, October 2017. Courtesy of Alexa Linden

Those wishing to try Animesh need to note the following:

  • The server-side support for Animesh is currently only available on the BlueSteel RC regions.
    • Server support for Animesh involves adding a new message and some new LSL functions – see below.
    • If you try to run Animesh objects on a non-Animesh region, you will encounter problems: a) content won’t look right because the server won’t be sending you the appropriate messages; and b) you’ll get script errors because the region doesn’t like the new LSL calls.
  • The Animesh project viewer is required to see Animesh creations correctly. At the time of writing this was at version 5.1.6.516525, dated June 18th, 2018.
    • Animesh content will not render correctly in viewers without the necessary Animesh code.

As Animesh is still in development, and given the caveats noted above, content creators are asked not to start offering any products that are no-mod or such on the marketplace or in-world. Products should wait until at least the Animesh viewer has reached release candidate status – or even has been formally released.

Similarly, TPVs are – as usual when it comes the the Lab’s project viewers – encouraged not to adopt the Animesh viewer code for release purposes until it reaches release candidate status.

Animesh Resources

You can find further information on Animesh via the following resources.

Furthermore, I provide regular updates on the Animesh project via my Content Creation User Group updates, so you can keep up with Animesh development through these.

 

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Linden Lab announces major SL private region pricing restructure

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrPrivate region set-up fees and monthly tier rates will be reduced from July 2nd, 2018 – see below (region pictured: Isle of Mayblog post

Updated to include a quote from Ebbe Altberg

On Wednesday, June 20th, while speaking at the Meet the Lindens event, Linden Lab, and a a part of the SL15B celebrations, CEO Ebbe Altberg made a major announcement concerning private region maintenance fees (aka tier).

I’ve been saying for quite a while now that I think the balance between what it cost to have land versus what it costs to transact or buy and sell in the economy is a little off-kilter. Land is quite expensive but selling things in the world is quite cheap, comparatively speaking. So I a basically fell we have fairly high real estate taes but very low consumption tax. so we’re trying to adjust this so that it’s better. That was part of the Mainland price reduction, and today I can also announce we’re going to lower the cost of private estates!

Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO speaking at SL15B during his Meet The Lindens session.

As from July 2nd, 2018, private region tier will be reduced by 15% for full and Homestead regions. In addition, the one-time set-up fee applicable to Full and Homestead regions is being reduced.

This means that after July 2nd, 2018, private region set-up fees and monthly tier rate will be as follows:

New Private region pricing structure. Note that as from July 2nd, 2018, new OpenSpace regions will not longer be available as a product (see below for more). Table courtesy of Linden Lab. Remember set-up fees include the first month’s tier

There are some caveats to this restructuring:

  • Skill Gaming regions are not included in this restructuring.
  • This reduction does not include grandfathered  / “bought down” regions as they are already priced well below these new rates.
  • From July 2nd, the OpenSpace (“water”) class of region will no longer be offered as a product – however, existing OpenSpace regions already in use on the grid will continue to be supported, and will be subject to the tier discount.
  • Education/Nonprofit (EDU/NP) discounted full islands will be re-priced to maintain their 50% discount off the regularly priced full islands, with the new  tier rate of US $124.50 applying at the start of that island’s next invoiced billing term.

Linden Dollar Purchase Fee Increase

As noted above, Ebbe has previously indicated (see here for example), Linden Lab is attempting to re-balance how the company generates revenue through the Second Life platform to help reduce region tier pricing. This is being done by increases in fees charged elsewhere within the service.

Thus to help offset the revenue loss resulting from this reduction in private region fees, Ebbe also announced that the cost to buy Linden Dollars will be increasing to US $1.49 per transaction (compared to the current rate of US $0.99 cents per transaction).

Feedback

Over the last few years we’ve seen genuine efforts on the Lab’s part to try to ease the burden of tier for region holders.

  • In 2016, there was the region buy-down offer, which allowed private region holders to grandfather their regions for a one-time fee. This reduced the monthly cost of Full regions to US $195, and Homestead region to US $95.
    •   As noted above, these regions are excluded from the 15% tier-rate reduction.
  • In March of 2018, the Lab  reduced monthly mainland fees by 10%, while also doubling the amount of tier-free land available to Premium members (from 512 sq metres to 1024 sq metres).
  • (Note I’m excluding the 2011 Land Sale from this list, as it was a long time ago, and something of a different strategy compared to trying to lower tier costs.)

Both of these moves were very positively received by users, and given that requests to reduce tier have long been made, I’ve little doubt this announcement will be equally well-received.

One thing it should do is confirm the Lab is committed to trying to improve Second Life for users – not only in technical terms, but also in making the platform’s revenue generation something that is more evenly spread among all users.

Tyche’s tweet on the relative fall-off in region losses between 2018 and 2017

Even so, this is a bold move, and one that can only be taken to mean that recent moves to pivot some of the revenue generation away from land (e.g. through the transaction fee increases (March 2016, June 2017 and November 2017), possibly coupled with more recent uptake of premium user subscriptions, has given the Lab confidence that they can reasonably offset revenue loss from the tier reduction through other channels.

Certainly, it shows how far things have come since 2013, when it was hard to see any tier reduction not hurting the Lab’s bottom unless alternative revenue sources could be reliably built-up.

With Tyche Shepherd of Grid Survey fame reporting that the rate of decline in private regions continues to ease, it will be interesting to see how this announcement affects the overall interest among those wishing to acquire land of their own, either directly through the Lab or through any of the major land realtor operations in Second Life.

In the meantime, you can read the full text of the Lab’s announcement here.

My thanks to Xiola and Brett Linden for their assistance with this article.

 

Lab announces private estate holders can now restart their regions via the web

On Friday, June 8th, 2018, Linden Lab announced that estate / region holders can now restart their region directly from their Second Life dashboard at secondlife.com, via the My Estates page.

The option to be able to restart their regions remotely is a capability private estate and region owners have been requesting for some time, as the Lab acknowledge in their announcement:

We’ve been listening to the feedback from our Private Region owner community and we know that sometimes it’s impractical or even impossible to access your region in-world to perform the more traditional in-viewer region restart using the Region/Estate menu. With this new feature, Estate Owners can pro-actively select and restart their regions directly from the website without needing to log in-world and travel to each region individually.

Private estate holders can now restart their regions view their Second Life dashboard

When using the capability, estate / region owners should make note of the following, as stated in the Lab’s blog post:

Since we know that sometimes the reason a region cannot be accessed easily in-world is due to active griefing scenarios, we have also included the ability to restart the region in safe mode, in which the region will be brought back up with all the scripts, physics, and collisions disabled, making it possible to enter and remove any lingering item that may be causing issues. To see the new features available to you as a private Estate Owner, just log in to SecondLife.com and visit your Land Manager page.

Please refer to the Lab’s blog post for further information on this update.

Lab issues a further e-mail on EU GDPR and user privacy

On May 25th, 2018 the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. While an EU regulation, the GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects.

Earlier in May, the Lab issued a blog post providing an initial outline of their compliance with the GDPR, which covers both Second Life and Sansar. In that post they promised they would provide further details on how EU citizens can exercise their rights under the GDPR. On May 24th, they issued an e-mail summarising updates to their Privacy Policy. The e-mail reads in full:

We value our relationship with our community and your privacy.  We have updated our Privacy Policy to increase transparency and comply with the European Union data protection law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25, 2018. We encourage you to read our policies in full, but here are some highlights of what’s changed:

  • We provide additional details about the types of data that we collect, the ways in which we use it, and the measures we take to keep your data safe,
  • We added information about new choices and controls for users to manage their privacy, and
  • We added information about user’s rights regarding their privacy.

The updates to our policies will go into effect on May 25, 2018.  If you have questions, please contact us at privacy@lindenlab.com.

Thank you for being part of the Linden Lab community!

The Linden Lab Team

The specific sections of the Privacy Policy that have been updated are:

Obviously, you should read the privacy Policy in full, rather than just these sections. The above list is provided only as a guide.

Linden Lab highlights GDPR – coming into force on May 25th 2018

On May 25th, 2018 the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. While an EU regulation, the GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects.

The GDPR applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location. As such, it not  only Linden Lab, who hold data on Second Life and Sansar users in the European Union, it can also impact those operating a business through Second Life and who collect data on customers which is stored outside of the servers operated by Linden Lab.

In preparation for the enforcement of the GDPR, on May 9th, 2018, Linden Lab issued a preliminary blog post on their compliance with the GDPR, which covers both Second Life or Sansar.

GDPR, in a nutshell.

Put simply, the GDPR puts in place new requirements for the collection, maintenance, and use of personal data for residents of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). It’s an important evolution in privacy practices, and one we’ve already started to account for: if you notice, our existing Privacy Policy already discloses the type of personal data we collect from you, how we use and limit any sharing of your data, and your rights to control our use of your personal data.

What you can expect.

In coming weeks, we’ll provide more information on how EU residents in Second Life can best exercise their rights under GDPR. In some cases, you may take actions through your account dashboard (to modify your personal data, for instance). In others, it may be necessary to file a support ticket and verify your identity (to better protect your privacy).

– Linden Lab May 9th blog post on the upcoming GDPR

The GDPR defines personal data as, “any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person.” This includes, but is not limited to: IP addresses, on-line identifiers (including avatar names), e-mail addresses, photographs, as well as the more usual name, address, bank details, medical data, etc.

In addition to defining requirements for how such data should be managed and protected by organisations gathering it, the GDPR also specifies a number of rights to Data Subjects who have their personal information stored by companies and other entities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The right to be informed: Data Subjects have the right to know what data is being collected, how it’s being used, how long it will be kept and whether it will be shared with any third parties.
  • The right to access: generally speaking, organisations are required, within one month of receipt of a formal request, to provide a copy of any personal data concerning the requesting Data Subject.
  • The right to rectification: a Data Subject can formally request that inaccurate or incomplete information relating to them is updated, and the update must be made within one month (exceptions can apply).
  • The right to be forgotten: a Data Subject can request the erasure of all personal data relating to them in certain circumstances (e.g. it is no longer necessary to hold it; if the data was unlawfully processed or it no longer meets the lawful ground for which it was collected). However, there are certain exceptions to this.

(In addition, the GDPR defines: The right to object (to data being gathered); The right to restrict processing; The right to data portability; and Rights related to automated decision making including profiling.)

For those running businesses through Second Life or Sansar which use services  – web sites, computers, etc.,  – outside of Second Life for the collection and storage of personal information on their EU Second Life  / Sansar customers, the GDPR might have significant import – and exposure to the risk of fines. For such businesses, the Lab’s advice is clear and straightforward:

If you collect or process personal data of EU residents on a website associated with Second Life or Sansar, or create or make use of programs that retain information about Second Life or Sansar users or their computers, you may also have obligations under the GDPR. You should consult with your legal counsel for advice regarding your site(s) or program(s).

– Linden Lab May 9th blog post on the upcoming GDPR

To help people get to grips with GDPR, if they haven’t been aware of its arrival, the Lab offer a series of links to articles and FAQs. To these I would add:

The following is a brief video outlining the GDPR in under a minute.

Premium subscription changes: a little more news from Grumpity

At the April 20th, 2018 town hall event, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Linden confirmed that as a part of pivoting Second Life’s revenue generation away from a heavy reliance on land, the Lab are looking at introducing a range of Premium account options which will have different levels of benefits associated with them – see here for more (includes an audio extract of his comments).

While details have yet to be finalised, Grumpity Linden spoke to some of the ideas under consideration at the Web User Group meeting. Because her comments are likely to be of interest beyond that meeting, I’ve provided a transcript of her comments, with an audio recording, below.

to précis Grumpity’s comments:

  • The Lab is looking at a range of Premium subscriptions, not just the single tier we know at present.
  • As per Ebbe’s original comments, how many and what they might each comprise is still TBD.
  • The over-arching idea is to make premium options so attractive, it would be “insane” to ignore them.
  • Simple examples of additional benefits being looked at is guaranteed access to in-world events / early access to in-world events, but overall, the Lab is looking at a broad range of benefits and (in the case of Basic accounts) limits.
  • With regards to Basic accounts, the Lab’s view is:
    • There are many things within Second Life which come at a cross to everyone’s in-world experience, but which are offered on an “unlimited” basis to Basic account holders – this may change.
    • Despite rumours circulating on the forums, there are no plans to prevent Basic account holder from rezzing things in-world.
    • The Lab wants to provide a Basic account experience sufficient to give incoming users an understanding  / flavour / taste (call it what you will) of all aspects of Second Life, while encouraging those who engage with the platform motivation to move to a subscription tier.
  • The coming changes are not about curtailing any use of Second Life or limiting what people can do or “nickel and diming” everything that can be done within Second Life.  they are about giving people more reasons to go Premium, make them happy / excited about premium opportunities, and hopefully of driving revenue generation.

Obviously, it would be nice to have more in the way of specifics – and these will come it time. As has been noted, it is still somewhat early days in what is being considered / planned, and I (and others) will obviously be reporting on things as the plans are made more public.

In the meantime, for those interested, here are Grumpity’s comments, and the audio recording of those comments as made at the April 25th, 2018 Web User Group meeting.

What’s coming on the premium tiers? We are looking at all of the existing premium benefits, we’re also looking at what is included with Basic accounts. Our goal is to make a basic experience that allows you an introduction to all areas of Second Life.

So I saw some fascinating speculation on the forums, and I don’t believe we’ve ever considered not allowing Basic members to rez. That would be probably insane on our parts, because this would take away from an integral part of Second Life.

But there are certain things that impact everyone’s experience on one hand, and are completely unlimited to a Basic account on the other.

So we’re looking at different ways of putting in limits that will actually improve everyone’s experience, give basic accounts a sufficient taste of what it is like but also; honestly, our goal is that if you’re committed to Second Life and  you’re invested in Second Life, the Premium benefits are such that it would be insane not to be Premium. And that’s the end goal.

And we’re looking at all sorts of limits, and we’re also looking at higher Premium levels that give you even more things. Like you could get into events even before all the other people, and you’d be guaranteed to get into the hair fair or something.

I can’t give away specifics, because this is so far away, and then when we announce you guys will be, “Oh, this is old news!”  So, we’d like to hold some stuff back. But our goal is to make you happy; it’s not to make your lives miserable and to nickel and dime you at every turn. It is to make Second Life more profitable and successful by making our residents happy [and] also by making new residents’ introduction to Second Life smoother.