The latest edition of The Drax Files Radio hour (without Jo Yardley this week) features an interview with Dennis Harper of OnLive. Dennis’ role at OnLive was as Product Manager for SL Go, so he knows his stuff.
The interview is a fascinating and emotional one. There are some cold hard truths about what happened with SL Go, why OnLive’s patents were sold, the power of virtual world communities and why a virtual solution for Second Life would still be welcomed by many
We learn early on how the way companies envisage something working, aren’t always the way they turn out. For example Dennis explains that OnLive thought that the people who may want SL Go would be power users, landlords, content creators, people who are in Second Life a lot and may see SL Go as being a good addition. However they soon realised, landlords and content creators often already spend a lot of time working on their home computer, which in many cases is quite a decent spec. The people who ended up embracing SL Go? People on older hardware.
This sort of thing always interests me, it happens a lot, a company think they have a target audience and find out they do have a target audience, but it wasn’t the one they originally envisaged.
However as much as I love (it hasn’t gone yet) SL Go, it’s not perfect and Dennis points out some of the flaws. The number one complaint was regarding voice chat, or more to the point, the lack of voice chat. However Dennis did let us into a little secret. Voice chat via OnLive servers was possible, but only to other OnLive users. Therefore if two people were using SL Go, it would have been feasible to voice chat, but not inside Second Life, the chat would be via their OnLive accounts.
Another issue people complained about was the fuzzy looking world SL Go could produce. The reason for this was that OnLive is 720p, not 1080p, therefore on smaller screens it looks fine but on large monitors, it could get a bit fuzzy.
Dennis also talked with glowing praise about the Second Life community. When SL Go opened their island people would come and visit, they’d join in the chat, some people wouldn’t quite understand what cloud computing was, they wouldn’t understand what SL Go could do, but they would give it a go and then, in many cases, they’d be extremely excited about the results, seeing Second Life in a new light. This was the power of SL Go, but having the inworld island helped people to learn more about SL Go before giving it a try. The richness of the conversations people could have within a virtual world aided their experience.
The other side of the community issue was that Dennis himself was a noob. He had no idea how to use Second Life initially and his comments here are comments that Linden Lab should take note of. The way Dennis learned about Second Life was by someone else showing him how to use Second Life. Someone showed him how to dance, how to groom his avatar, where to go shopping, where to hang out and how to overcome some inworld quirks. Dennis suggests that without that sort of support from other users, he imagines many users may turn away from Second Life before they’ve really got started.
However how about OnLive and SL Go? What really happened, this is interesting indeed.
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