November executive town hall: summary and audio

Xiola (l) with Oz, Patch and Grumpity Linden
On Thursday, November 15th, 2018 Linden Lab hosted a further Town Hall meeting at which questions were put to three of the Lab’s senior staff: Oz Linden, Grumpity Linden and Patch Linden.

Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via a Town Hall meeting forum thread (now locked from having further questions added, but remains available for viewing). The following is a summary of the answers to questions asked during the Town Hall session, audio extracts and video time stamps provided as reference. The video is embedded at the end of the article.

Table of Contents

When reading this summary, please note:

  • It is not a full transcript; rather replies to questions have been bullet-pointed for ease of reading.
  • Responses to questions have been grouped by topic, and are not necessarily in the order discussed at the meeting.
  • Some questions were very generic in form and as a result lacked any structured answer (e.g. Q: will Linden Lab be improving Groups? A: what would you like to see improved?). I have not included such questions in this summary, but have focused on those questions that yielded replies that offer insight on Second Life and Linden Lab’s thinking about the platform.
  • Audio extracts are provided. These have been cleaned-up in places to remove repetition or pauses, etc.
  • Both topic and audio extracts may concatenate comments  / responses to topics asked at different points in the meeting.

Specifically because of this last point, I’ve included time links to the points in the official video (also embedded at the end of this article) for those who wish to listen to the questions, comments and replies as they were recorded.

Also note that not all of the questions raised in the forum could be addressed at the meeting, so some may be addressed from within the forum linked to above by Linden Lab in the coming days.

Introducing Oz, Grumpity and Patch

Oz Linden

Oz is the Technical Director for Second Life, having joined in 2010 with initial responsibility managing the viewer open-source project and rebuild what had become a fractious relationship with TPVs, with his role expanding over time to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life.

As work on Sansar started to progress in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role of Technical Director of SL, building a team of people around him who specifically wanted to remain solely focused on Second Life and developing it. His team works closely with the product and operations team to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to as rebuilding the railway from a moving train.

Grumpity Linden

Grumpity is the Director of Product for Second Life. She originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab. Grumpity was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).

She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.

Grumpity jokingly refers to herself, Patch and Oz as the troika, responsible for the development and direction of all aspects of Second Life.

Patch Linden

Patch is the Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab. Originally a Second Life resident, he joined linden Lab in 2007, after being invited to apply to the company as a result of his work as a community leader and mentor from 2004 through until the invitation was extended.

His role is the only one of the three here that also encompasses Sansar, as he manages the respective support teams for both platforms. In this regard, he recently established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia. For Second Life, his work also involves overseeing the content development teams, the Mainland Land Team, the Linden Department of Public Works – LDPW, aka The Moles, and managing the account support team.

The view from the stage as the audience arrives

Opening Comments: The Fifteen Reasons To Celebrate Blog Post

Elements Already Delivered

Grumpity Linden started with a review of what has been delivered:

  • Mainland costs: as has been stated at previous Town Hall and Meet the Linden events in 2018, Mainland tiers costs were revised in March 2018, together with a doubling of “free” tier size.
    • The Lab continues to be pleased with the response.
    • Mainland ownership is at levels not seen in some time.
    • Response continues to be positive.
  • Animesh: Animesh officially reached release status on November 14th, 2018.
  • Marketplace:
  • Games and Experiences (via Patch):
    • Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches has been enhanced.
    • A new version of Linden Realms has been deployed.
    • Further updates and ideas are in progress, notably for winter 2018 / 2019.

Video: 4:49-7:40

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Elements In Progress

  • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP):
    • Progressing rapidly, almost on a daily basis.
    • Lab keen to bring EEP out as whole, rather than bit-by-bit.
  • Land Auctions:
    • The updated land auctions were launched in July 2018.
    • There have been issues, which the Lab has been working to address, but this is taking time to fix as the auction system does involve people’s L$.
    • Resident-to-resident auctions are still coming, but probably won’t be deployed until early 2019.
  • Themed Learning Islands:
    • The Lab deployed the first of the themed learning islands in August 2018, and this is an ongoing programme.
    • The results have been “interesting” and provided a lot of ideas on what to provide next.
    • Because the Lab wants to have “clean” results from the work, this is not something that can be openly discussed in-depth.  However, Lab remains committed to improving the on-boarding experience.
  • Bakes On Mesh (via Oz Linden):
    • The last infrastructure updates (Bake Service) have been deployed.
    • Updates to the viewer should be appearing soon.
    • Its anticipated there will be further simulator / server deploys as well as viewer updates.
    • Users are encouraged to test the viewer as it moves forward and to provide feedback (see the Alternate Viewers wiki page).
  • Performance Improvements:
    • There have been a number of projects to improve performance, and more are on the way.
    • The viewer’s texture cache is being overhauled and improved.
    • The rendering system is being improved.
    • Region crossings have been touched, and more work in this area may be forthcoming in the future.
    • Performance is something the Lab is always working on.

Video: 7:45-13:00

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Continue reading “November executive town hall: summary and audio”

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November SL Town Hall with Oz, Grumpity and Patch – reminder

Just a quick reminder.

The next in the Lab’s in-world Town Hall series, featuring Director of Product, Grumpity Linden, Technical Director Oz Linden, and Senior Director of Product Operations, Patch Linden, will take place on Thursday, November 15th, 2018 at 10:00 SLT (18:00 GMT / 19:00 CET). The event will take place at the Town Hall meeting regions, with the landing point URLs as follows:

Selected questions from the Town Hall meeting forum thread (now closed) will be put to Grumpity, Patch and Oz during the session, and there may be an opportunity to ask questions from the audience, if time permits.

All things being equal, I hope to have a summary of the session up after the event, which will be similar in nature to my summaries of 2018 Town Hall meeting – see here for the September Town Hall with Ebbe, as an example.

November 15th Town Hall with Grumpity, Oz and Patch

Patch Linden, Grumpity Linden and Oz Linden

Linden Lab has announced the next in their series of Town Hall meetings, this one again featuring three of the decision-makers for Second Life’s ongoing development: Director of Product, Grumpity Linden, Technical Director Oz Linden, and Senior Director of Product Operations, Patch Linden.

Like the September 13th event, this will be a single session, the date and time being:

Thursday, November 15th 2018 from 10:00 SLT onwards.

The official blog post notes:

Collectively, these three have over 28 (!) years of experience working on Second Life and work closely with all the Second Life teams to continue to improve this platform that we’ve all come to love.

They are some of the biggest stakeholders in the direction of the product development roadmap each year, and know the product inside and out!

If you have a question that you would like to ask these Lindens, please take a moment to post it in the Community Forum thread “Town Hall Meeting with Grumpity, Oz, and Patch Linden – November 15” in advance of the Town Hall. Questions will be selected from all submissions made prior to November 9th, so be sure to get your question in before then.

The Town Hall meeting venue

For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Patch, Oz and Grumpity, the following is a brief outline of their responsibilities which I hope may help when considering questions to submit for consideration at the meeting.

Oz Linden is the Technical Director for Second Life, having joined in 2010 with initial responsibility managing the viewer open-source project and rebuild what had become a fractious relationship with TPVs, with his role expanding over time to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life.

As work on Sansar started to progress in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role of Technical Director of SL, building a team of people around him who specifically wanted to remain solely focused on Second Life and developing it. His team works closely with the product and operations team to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to as rebuilding the railway from a moving train.

Grumpity Linden is the Director of Product for Second Life. She originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab. Grumipty was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).

She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.

Grumpity jokingly refers to herself, Patch and Oz as the “hydra” or troika, responsible for the development and direction of all aspects of Second Life.

Patch Linden is the Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab. Originally a Second Life resident, he joined linden Lab in 2007, after being invited to apply to the company as a result of his work as a community leader and mentor from 2004 through until the invitation was extended.

His role is the only one of the three here that also encompasses Sansar, as he manages the respective support teams for both platforms. In this regard, he recently established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia. For Second Life, his work also involves overseeing the content development teams, the Mainland Land Team, the Linden Department of Public Works – LDPW, aka The Moles, and managing the account support team.

September 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio

Ebbe is still into his T-1000 look. But then, he does keep to his promises to “be back” (and take people’s questions and offer thoughts and insight into the Lab, SL and Sansar) 😉
On Thursday, September 13th, Linden Lab hosted a further Town Hall meeting at which questions were put to the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg.

Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via the forum thread September 2018 – A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, a thread that is now locked from having further questions added, but remains available for viewing.

As many of the questions require a technical response, the decision was made to have the Lab’s subject matter experts address them directly through the forum thread itself after the Town Hall meeting, a process which may take several days to complete. So if you did ask a technical question that wasn’t raised at during the event, be sure to check the thread to see if an answer in provided there.

The following is a summary of the answers to questions asked during the Town Hall session, audio extracts and video time stamps provided as reference. The video is embedded at the end of the article.

Please note that this is not a full transcript of the event. Producing a word-for-word transcript takes a lot of time. Instead, I have attempted to bullet-point the replies offered, and have included an audio extract and a time line to the relevant point in the video.

Also note that:

Table of Contents

  • These notes don’t necessarily follow the chronological flow of the session, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • There is a degree of choppiness in Ebbe’s audio (present on the videos as well). This is down to Voice issues in SL. Because of this break-up, some of the audio clips are edited to remove elements where the break-up is particularly bad, but hopefully without losing the actual context of what was being said.
  • Video timestamps will open the official video in a separate browser tab at the start of the specified time period, allowing readers the choice of listening to the audio extract, or the video recording.
  • Due to the brevity of some answers, not all replies given below have an audio extract – but they all have links to the official video.

Opening Comments

  • Exciting year for Linden Lab – 15 years in the business, lot of investment in SL going on + growing the SL team. There’s a lot going on that has the Lab optimistic about the future, and looking forward to being on the journey for a long, long time to come.
  • In March LL announced a very aggressive roadmap, possibly more than could be achieved within 2018, but goals have been pursued and people hired to help meet them.
  • Perhaps most noticeable work has been the re-balancing the economy: reducing the price of land and finding other means by which the Lab can generate revenue that are fairer for everyone – users and the Lab.
    • This means some things get cheaper [e.g. land], and other may get more expensive [e.g. transaction fees] for people as things are adjusted.
    • Overall response has been positive – particularly the lower Mainland costs – increased “free” tier, which is still keeping the land team busy in handling purchase requests.
  • Roadmap also noted new games and experiences, and the next one is “not far away”.
  • Themed learning islands were mentioned, for more vertical acquisition of new users, and tests have been run.
  • Marketplace improvements are starting to come in, with more on the way, helped by a new hired in the commerce team.
  • New land auction process was deployed, but has had issues, so user-to-user Mainland land auctions still to come.
  • There have also been performance improvements.
  • Animesh is very close to release, and the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) is close to public testing. Bakes on Mesh is following behind them.
  • More value for premium members is coming, but no announcements to make during the town hall.
  • Return of last names may not roll-out before the end of 2018; there’s still a lot of work to be done.
  • Grid-wide experience operation for users also may not be deployed before the end of 2018.
  • Work is continuing on Linden Home improvements, but not clear if this will be deployed all at once or in stages. The hope is to start releasing some of them before the end of 2018.
  • Moving SL to a cloud infrastructure will not be completed until “well into” 2019. Work is progressing on a server-by-service basis.
  • He is personally every excited with all that is happening, the SL team is dedicated to the work and is growing, and Lab is very pleased with the positive responses from users to the changes and improvements being made.

Video: 4:05-12:54

Audio:

 

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Ebbe and Xiola at the September 13th Town Hall.

Q&A Session

Land and Pricing

What was the rationale the up-front higher fees for grandfathered regions?

  • The 2016 buy-down offer was to encourage people who knew they were going to keep land for at least 6 months to obtain lower tier.
  • The structure meant that the up-front cost (US $600) could be recouped in 6 months, allowing the land holder to continue to enjoy a much reduced monthly tier.
  • The transfer fee of US $600 for grandfathered / bought-down regions (compared to the US $100 for “retail” prices regions) is intended to operate the same way: to encourage those who wish to obtain grandfathered land and will hold on to it for a period of 6 months or more to do so, and so continue to enjoy the lower monthly tier.
    • The US $100 transfer fee can still be applied to grandfathered regions, but they will revert to the full monthly tier rate, so the US $600 isn’t necessarily a barrier to selling the land.
  • Currently no plans to make further changes to tier rates – Lab still absorbing the data from the June private region pricing restructure.
  • However, there is still a commitment from the Lab to do more where land is concerned, once with economic situation resulting from the June 2018 change can be fully understood.
  • Personally has a belief that those who commit to holding land for a period of time should be able to benefit from doing so.
    • This may again involve a higher up-front cost that is recouped over a period of time.
    • Does mean that tier pricing differences (e.g. grandfathered to retail) could vary over time – just as the June reduction narrowed the gap between grandfathered and retail monthly tier.
  • But even with the June retail price reduction, those who used the buy-down offer are still enjoying a lower tier than those who buy at retail.

Video: 18:42-23:15

Audio:

 

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Will there be further land pricing reductions / increases in land capacity (prim allowance)?

  • Both are things the Lab wants to do.
  • Land price reductions depend on the Lab being able to generate revenue and remain healthy as a business via other means – increased transaction fees, increased check-out fees, increased and broader Premium subscription options, etc., all of which are constantly being looked at.
  • Increasing the land capacity is a matter of performance and hardware improvements. If these continue to be made, then further increases to land capacity might be possible.

Video: 23:28-24:54

Audio:

 

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Continue reading “September 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio”

September SL Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg – reminder

The Town Hall meeting venue

Just a quick reminder.

The next in the Lab’s in-world Town Hall series, again featuring CEO Ebbe Altberg, will take place on Thursday, September 13th, at 09:30 SLT (17:30 BST / 18:30 CET). The event will take place at the Town Hall meeting regions, with the landing point URLs as follows:

Selected questions from the Town Hall meeting forum thread (now closed) will be put to Ebbe during the session, and there may be an opportunity to ask questions from the audience, if time permits.

All things being equal, I hope to have a summary of the session up after the event, which will be similar in nature to my summary of the April 2018 Town Hall – see here for more on that.

September 13th 2018: Town Hall meeting with Ebbe Altberg

Linden Lab has announced the next in their series of Town Hall meetings, this one again featuring Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg. The event will take place.

Unlike the April 20th event, this will be a single event rather than offering two time options for users to chose from when attending. The date and time being:

Thursday, September 13th 2018 from 09:30 SLT onwards.

Once again, users are invited to offer questions for consideration via a forum thread.

The blog post announcing the event reads in full:

With SL15B behind us (and SL16B to look forward to!) we thought it was time to have another Town Hall, and give Residents a chance to ask about Second Life and hear the latest news on what is being worked on and planned in Second Life. We’ll also share specific updates on our product development roadmap, as discussed earlier this year.

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg will be appearing at a  “Town Hall” chat session on Thursday, September 13th 2018 at 9:30 a.m. (SLT/Pacific). This is your chance to interact directly with Ebbe as he discusses 2018 and beyond. 
Got a question you want to ask? Post it in the Community Forum thread “September 2018 – A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg” in advance of the Town Hall. Questions will be selected from all submissions made prior to Sept. 10, so make sure to weigh in now!

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Sept. 13 to see if your question is selected. On that day, you can join us live for the Town Hall meeting. Location will be publicized closer to the event – stay tuned!

I have a full transcript (with audio and video) of the April 20th event for those wishing to catch up with what was said then, and I full plan to attend the September 13th event and offer both a transcript / summary of the session, again with audio recordings of the answers given to questions.