SL12B: Ebbe Altberg on Second Life & Sansar – transcript and video

Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)
Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)

On Friday, June 26th, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg faced questions from Saffia Widdershins, Jo Yardley and the audience in the last of the Meet the Lindens series sponsored by Prim Perfect.

The session lasted just over the hour, after initial teething problems in getting everything working, in which he addressed a wide range of question on both Second Life and Sansar, and offered-up some information of his own.

The following is a transcript of the event, based on a video by Chakat Northspring, which is embedded at the end of this article. My thanks, as always, to North. The official video will be available in due course via the Prim Perfect website.

Are there any things that have changed since you’ve been in charge that you are especially proud about?

[0:01:04] There’s a number of things. I think primarily it’s the relationship between the Lab and residents., I think is much better today. It was a little bit tense, I would say, the relationship, when I came on board; and it seems to be much more casual and fun and collaborative. And I think many of you have seen  more of us than you had for a while previously.

I’m also proud of the quality of the product. The performance, we’ve made lots of strides, the quality; [group] chat had lots of issues. So we’ve made a lot of progress on just making it a more stable product, a better performing product.

And I’m also proud of the focus we have at the Lab. When I came aboard, there were quite a few projects sprinkled about, and today I feel we have what I call four very strong focus areas with really good drive across each of them. So it feels like a healthier environment, not just between us and residents, but also amongst us Lindens, and a better quality product, and a better focused organisation. So I’m pleased with the progress.

Can you tell us what those four areas of concentration are?

[0:02:56] Obviously, continued to improve Second Life is something that we do. And you guys often hear from Oz and Danger on our progress there. We have Blocksworld; a fairly small team working on this neat little app for a younger audience to be able to build virtual experiences on the iPad. We have obviously a very huge investment in Project Sansar, our next generation experience platform, and we’ve worked really hard for over a year now, and we’ll start to get some external customers on-board in just a month or so. Just a few, but it’s great progress.

And the forth one, I would say, is compliance; making sure we run a tight ship when it comes to the linden dollar and who can cash out, and just running a tight ship when it comes to compliance … whether that’s fraud controls, identity controls – a number of things we need to do to make sure we and banks are comfortable with the business that takes place in Second Life.

So those are the four areas of focus.

The last thing you said about cashing out. You’ve said before that you want to speed that up. [do you have] any idea when this is going to happen, or how is the progress to that?

[0:04:39] The progress is good. We’ve now managed to automate a lot of things so that we can see what percentage we would be willing to pay out rapidly in an automated fashion. We’re still tuning the rules as to who we would trust to pay out; to make sure that we’re 100% certain that people who would be paid out should be paid out. And we continue to increase that percentage by continuing to dial the rules and make tweaks,

When we get to a significant enough percentage, then we should be able to start automating the process as well. not just the data saying we could, but we actually will pay out. I don’t have a date for exactly when we can turn that on; but it’s our goal for the vast majority of people that we have a trusted relationship with, to be able to pay within 24 hours or something.

I mean, there’s obviously external processes a well, that we’re not 100% in control of; but on our end, when someone clicks the button that says, “I want to be paid out”, we hope to, within 24 hours, to be able to automatically say, “start the process”, and then like I say, there’s actually some external dependencies for how quickly that actually takes place.

I think it’s interesting that you’ve given on compliance an equal status with the other three projects.

[0:06:14] Well, I wouldn’t say they’re all equal; but it’s a focus area, and it’s very important for us to run a trusted, large-scale business, to make sure that fraud cannot take place. For the sake of us as a business, as well as for the sake of you not having bad things go on. So it is an important aspect.

Danger Linden was actually saying that it’s one of Linden Lab’s advantages coming into Sansar, because all the new virtual worlds that are planning to come on-line, and you’ve got to get this right, and you have a head start.

Ebbe-6_001[0:06:59] Yeah, we are pretty much alone in having had a virtual currency with a floating exchange with cash-out and all these capabilities. There’s no-one else like it. so yes, we have a pretty significant leg-up compared to others if your intent is to have a virtual economy as we do. I mean, there are other business models that one could apply, but the way we are doing it, there’s no-one else really doing it as well as we do. And so that’s something we’ll certainly leverage; both operational experience and [the] technology, as we move forward with Sansar.

Second Life still gets some negative feedback in the media, although it seems like it’s become a lot less recently … but which kind of negative feedback do you pick-up [on], both in the media and form people in second Life themselves, that annoys you the most.

[0:08:15] Well, it’s not that much that annoys me … I’ve only had the opportunity to hear negativity for about a year … but I hear very little of it. whomever I talk to, it’s mostly … surprise that it’s still around, or more neutral. It’s very rarely that I’ll run into people that start off with the negative. So that’s a very small percentage of the population. Usually the negative people tend to be quite loud, but it’s not something I stress about.

I guess my biggest annoyance is people intolerance for various types of content. and when you look at the content in the real world, and people’s tolerance for that content in the real world. Then suddenly, when it’s in a virtual space, then it’s, “Oh my God!” Then there’s like a different level of acceptance for all kinds of content for some reason.

And that annoys me. So whatever the subject matter is, I can always draw a parallel to how it’s always “so much worse”, or it has just as much interesting stuff going on in the real world as in Second Life, whether it’s art, whether it’s sex, whether it’s whatever it is, all of this stuff is all around us in the real world, so why would it not be completely reasonable and acceptable to also have it in a virtual world. That’s maybe the most annoying part; when people don’t get that.

I know that your family have come into Second Life as well, and you actually have a family home here in Second Life and have actually had that for some time before you became CEO. So presumably, they get Second Life as well. But when you talk to friends … when they’re new to it, how do you explain what your job is?

[0:10:31] Well, it sort-of depends a little bit on the context of whom I’m trying to explaining it to; and it also really depends on their experience with various things. Bit generic when I explain that we’re trying to create a three-dimensional canvas that users can chose how to fill it, and how to populate it with what type of experiences, and that we want to create as much freedom as possible to allow people to create as much stuff as they can imagine.

So, kind-of suggesting that in something like Second Life, you can be whatever you want and do whatever you want and create whatever you want, as long as it’s legal and as long as it’s somewhat appropriate for the rest of us.

But then you can go into the incredible breadth of things that are really already working so well in Second Life; whether it’s education, health, art, role-playing. There’s almost as much variety of hobbies and interests and creations and experiences in something like Second Life like people can enjoy in their real lives.

So yeah, sometimes it’s tricky because it’s so broad. It’s so many different things to so many different people. So usually in a conversation, you usually have to figure-out what is of interest to the other person and figure-out how to relate to them with subject matter that they can get into or understand. And that’s part of the challenge of trying to explain something that’s so broad, because it’s obviously easier to explain a product that is narrow in its application or focus. So it’s usually a bit of dialogue that usually makes it easier than just a simple statement; it’s hard to think of a simply statement that sort-of captures it all for everybody.

Have you had a chance to Look around SL12B yet?

[0:12:50] I was around, I think it was two days ago. I was probably in there about half an hour or so; so I didn’t get too deep into too many things. but I really enjoyed some techno music over in the corner somewhere for a while. saw some fascinating art and creations, all kinds of interesting music, but not really enough time to have a chance to see all of it.

Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves
Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves

Continue reading “SL12B: Ebbe Altberg on Second Life & Sansar – transcript and video”

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Sansar: news and updates from the media and from the Lab

Danger Linden (centre left) and Troy Linden (centre right) discuss Second Life and Project Sansar with Draxtor Despres and Saffia Widdershins at SL12B
Danger Linden (centre left) and Troy Linden (centre right) discuss Second Life and Project Sansar with Draxtor Despres and Saffia Widdershins at SL12B

Linden Lab’s next generation virtual worlds platform, code-named Project Sansar made the news in Second Life and in the media on Thursday, June 25th.

In the media, Bernadette Tansley, writing in Xconomy covers how Second Life Creator Linden Lab Prepares To Test Parallel VR Universe, delving into the forthcoming closed alpha testing for the new platform, which we know to be code-named Sansar.

In terms of Sansar news, the article specifies:

  • It can already run at 75 frames per second
  • The Lab plans to accelerate the platform to 90 frames per second to sync with specifications expected for the Oculus Rift and other headsets
  • The initial closed alpha, involving a limited number of creators experienced in the use of Maya, will commence in July 2015
  • If all goes according to plan, the programme will gradually be expanded to a more public beta testing phase around the first half of 2016
  • A “version 1.0” of the platform might be ready by the end of 2016.

Outside of LL and Sansar, the article is interesting in that it suggests Cloud Party, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2014, is still in the running to develop a virtual world that can be operated with the upcoming new range of VR headsets, etc.,  alongside the Lab, Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity and new start-up AltspaceVR.

You can read the entire piece by following the Xconomy link given above.

Drax, Danger Linden, Troy Linden and Saffia at the Meet the Lindens at SL12B
Drax, Danger Linden, Troy Linden and Saffia at the Meet the Lindens at SL12B

During an interview with Danger Linden, Sr. Director, Product, Virtual Worlds and Troy Linden, Senior Producer, held as a part of the SL12B Meet the Lindens series of conversations, the subject matter inevitably came around to Project Sansar, and the following tidbits of information were given.

Further confirmations of Known Basics

  • SL users will be able to use there SL identities with Project Sansar if they wish
  • Linden dollars will be the transaction currency / tokens on Project Sansar
  • Both voice and text will be supported in Sansar for chatting / communications.

However, neither of the above mean you’ll be able to teleport directly from SL to Sansar or vice-versa; both are separate entities.

“Master” Accounts

Users will be able to have a “master account”, under which they can then have multiple avatar accounts they can use.

  • The “master account” will be known only to the user and Linden Lab, and will use an e-mail address as the main form of authentication
  • Users can create multiple avatar accounts (or “persona names” as Danger Linden referred to them) under this “master” account, which they can use to access Sansar, and will be known to other users only by the avatar account they are using
  • Inventory and account balances will apparently be associated with the “master account”, allowing them to be shared between the avatar accounts under the master account
  • It is not clear what format avatar / persona names will take, and whether it will be a first name, last name format.

(The idea of having a “master account” with this kind of flexibility has long been on users’ wish lists for Second Life for a long time – see JIRA SVC-6212 and my own article from 2011 on the subject. As such, this is liable to be a popular move among those SL users interested in trying Second Life.)

Anonymity and Trust

Sansar users will be able to have as much anonymity as they wish. However, the more information that users provide to Linden Lab – be it wallet identity, a verified e-mail address or payment information – the more capabilities they’ll have in-world.

The idea here is to try to address the issue of griefing while still maintaining a relatively low barrier to entry – obviously, the easier it is to access the platform, the easier it is for muppets to run amok. So, the idea is that as more information is provided, the greater the level of trust established between user and Lab, allowing people to “do more” in-world and participate more. However, the exact relationship between platform capabilities awarded, and the information users will be asked to provide in order to access them, is still being determined.

Obviously, the content of the information you provide to the Lab remains private and confidential (i.e. if you supply a verified e-mail address, that e-mail address is not revealed to any other users). However, if a verified e-mail is required to, say, publish a Sansar “world”, then the fact that you have published that world will tell other users you have a verified e-mail with the Lab.

Mesh, Terrain and Building Tools

  • Sansar content will obviously be focused on mesh – but not necessarily exclusively mesh
  • The terrain will be voxels
  • Subject to further confirmation, it should be possible to also build in-world objects using voxels
  • Maya is the tool that is being used purely to assist with testing when the closed alpha commences. It will not be the only tool, and it will not be the sole tool for content creation (see Ebbe Altberg’s comments on alpha access and tools from the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education, March 2015)
  • A goal for Project Sansar is for people to be able to build in-world and to share in collaborative building
  • Sansar will include a full “professional” (in terms of its capabilities not in the need for people to have to be professional animators in order to use it) animation system, which will be based on Havoc animations (Havoc being the SL physical system),  overlaid with additional capabilities  / code directly from the Lab
  • All objects in Sansar will be fully scriptable and animated; it is not clear whether on-the-fly modifications to mesh items in-world will be possible
  • It is acknowledged that content creation tools can be a barrier to adoption / use; it is therefore a goal with Sansar to “make it easier to make things in Sansar than it is in Second Life”

Continue reading “Sansar: news and updates from the media and from the Lab”

Art and artistry at SL12B: a personal selection

Piz-3_001
David DuCasse celebrates the work of visionary and dreamer, Georges Méliès

Art is always well represented at SLB events, and 2015 is no exception; there are a lot of art focused parcels scattered throughout the celebratory regions, as well as those which have been judged by the organisers to be worthy of special recognition.

It’s fair to say that the event can offer a great introduction to the many and varied forms of artistic expression that can be found within Second Life, and such is the range of art on display throughout SL12B, I’m not going to attempt to cover everything; rather what I offer here are some of the parcels that I’ve particularly enjoyed visiting this year, and why.

Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

Digital mischief maker Loki Eliot is one of Second Life’s great creative talents – his magnificent cake stage from SL11BCC remains one of the stand-out build from 2014, while his SL10BCC Behemoth will long stand in people’s memory, combining originality, mesh, storytelling and metaphor into one of the most entertaining visits of the 2013 celebrations.

Loki Eliot - Childhood Dreams
Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

This year, he uses the forthcoming Experience Keys to take people on a journey; a story combining drawings, mesh constructions, voice and imagination to demonstrate the freedom Second Life gives people to rediscover the joys of childhood and childhood dreams, and show just why child avatars are so popular within the platform.

Loki Eliot - Childhood Dreams
Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

He does so with a beautiful story visitors are invited to travel through and share; a story without  the need to couch anything in matters of unhappy childhoods or metaphor or anything else; but which rather shows the unbridled joy of escape that can be found, of sharing something which – for whatever reason may have been lost or denied at an earlier age. In doing so, he also blows away the fog of misconception surrounding people’s self-expression through child avatars and offers a gentle, engaging challenge to those who persist in looking upon other who use child avatars with doubt and suspicion. This is a brilliant and captivating piece, and one that should not be overlooked by anyone visiting SL12BCC.

Juliana Lethdetter – Second Life Maps

I first visited Juliana’s marvellous collection of Second Life Maps back in 2012 (you can read about that visit here). For anyone remotely interested in Second Life’s history, it is a must-see destination (and one overdue for an update visit for this blog!). So it was with delight that I found her display at SL12B enjoying a prominent position just across the road from the main auditorium building.

Juliana Lethdetter - Second Life Maps
Juliana Lethdetter – Second Life Maps

In many respects, the idea that Second Life is a world is actually an illusion; while we can cross the mainland continents, and in some cases travel between continents and some estates, it simply is not possible to travel the entire “world” without resorting to the use of of the teleport – even, at times, for the simple act of visiting a neighbouring region.

But, the fact is that the illusion is a consensual one; we all freely engage in it; and through it, we gain more of a sense of place within Second life than might otherwise be the case. The rich diversity of maps which have been created over the years, both by the Lab and by residents, is both testament to the power of this consensual illusion, and a means of really understanding just how vast and diverse this digital realm really is – as Juliana beautifully reminds us:

 The collective dreaming of Second Life Residents past and present
has resulted in the creation of a unique consensual reality:
a shared imaginal space far greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

When it comes to SL photography, I wish I had just an ounce of the talent Ziki Questi consistently displays in her work. She has a eye for subject, composition, depth of field, colour, and framing that always has me in awe.

Ast-5_001
Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

Matter and Memory presents a series of Ziki’s images captured from around Second Life between 2011 and 2015, which range from landscapes through unique takes on art installations through to the “not possible in real life” category, where the builds and creations to be found in Second Life far outstrip anything to be imagined or created in the physical world.

Ast-4_001
Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

The images displayed represent regions past and present, offering something of a glimpse of Second Life’s history through the lens of an exceptional photographer, all of which are shown in what is, for me, one of the most visually appealing pavilions in SL12B, designed Anthony (ADudeNamed Anthony).

Continue reading “Art and artistry at SL12B: a personal selection”

The Second Life Music Fest

L12B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2015, on FlickrSL12B: Ixtlan Stage – Cube Republic, June 2015 (Flickr)

To mark SL12B, Linden Lab announced in May that they’d be holding a live Music Festival, and went on to hold auditions for artists and groups at Feed A Smile’s Lavender Fields.

On Wednesday, June 24th, the Lab announced the official dates and schedule for the Festival (although the keen-eyed would have already noted it on the SL12BCC event schedule, where the line-up has been available as well).

The event will take place at Cube Republic’s excellent Ixtlan Stage over the course of Friday, June 26th and Saturday June 27th.

The full line-up for the event reads as follows – all times SLT:

Friday, June 26th
Saturday, June 27th
11:00: Alazarin Mondrian 20:00: Mavenn Resident
11:30: The Pink Vampire 20:30: Oblee
Noon: Tamra Hayden 21:00: Collin Martin
12:30: Effinjay 21:30: Taunter Goodnight
13:00: Amforte Clarity 22:00: Donn DeVore
13:30: Isabella Rumsford 22:30: Zak Claxton
14:00: Tempio Breil 23:00: LuvofMusic
14:30: Phoenix J 23:30: Ren Enberg & Quai Franklin

The line-up has been selected to represent a broad cross-section of live music in Second Life, and the auditions proved popular among musicians and residents in the audience alike.

As well as hearing great music, the festival offers a further opportunity for exploring the Ixtlan stage build. Cube’s design really is amazing, and time taken to enter the caverns and walk through them really is highly recommended.

Ixtlan Stage - Cube Republic
SL12B: Ixtlan Stage – Cube Republic, June 2015