Dec 312012

Usually at this time of year, someone will post some predictions for the forthcoming year, although that seems to be light on the ground this year, it’s always a bit of fun to see those predictions and see what transpires. However predictions aren’t for me, instead I’ll post some hopes and wishes and look at what may happen.

On The Horizon

On the horizon we have some useful looking improvements coming to us from Linden Lab. Project shining leads the way and is already well under production. This includes server side baking via project sunshine, which will be a pain point for some as older viewers such as Phoenix aren’t coming along for the ride but it should mean improvements to how textures load and improved performance. This is also alongside the new http-Library project which is already being used in the beta viewer.

This comes on the back of Linden Lab improving hardware during 2012, as stated on the blog post about 2012: “in 2012 we made the single largest capital investment in new server hardware upgrades in the history of Linden Lab

So we should see the results of these hardware and software improvements during the coming months. We should also see the emergence of the open source efforts to improve graphics rendering performance such as the use of normal and specular maps during 2013.

Then we should see more work done on the good building practices wiki pages, which is turning into a bloody good resource.

Second Life expanding to Steam is still on the horizon. Changes have been made to the beta viewer, including a create account option, so it seems to be getting closer.

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Dec 292012

I’m not sure what surprises me more, the fact that a University have been studying whether male or female avatars show more skin, or whether it’s discovering there’s a Laval University in  Canada!

Geekosystem and abc news both cover this report and both appear to have their tongues in their cheeks, which isn’t that surprising.

The study was conducted by Laval University by researchers studying more than 400 avatars. The results were that 71 percent of male avatars kept at least 75 percent of their body covered, whereas only 5 percent of females did. At the other end of the spectrum, female avatars revealed 25 to 49 percent of their flesh, as opposed to just 9 percent of males.

I’m a tad bemused as to what the aim of this report was, you can tell that females reveal more skin from males from just looking at clothing lines on the marketplace, indeed there are often complaints that female avatars have too much choice of what is termed, slutwear, and nowhere near enough choice when it comes to a more conservative choice. I’m not a fashionista so I can’t really comment on how the land lies but female avatars revealing more flesh than males is not a surprise to me.

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Dec 282012

I was reading the Second Life Forums when I saw a post from Mecha Innis entitled Giulio Prisco of the IEET Declares Second Life Dead. “Here we go again” I thought and went to read the article itself: Snow Crash(ed) in Second Life (end 2012).

The article isn’t as ignorant as some articles on the death of Second Life, it’s clear that Giulio was a big fan and there are areas where I’m in agreement with him. However there are also areas where it seems clear that Giulio isn’t happy because people didn’t want Second Life to be as he wanted it to be, and that’s something I always find disappointing because the beauty of Second Life is that it can be what you want it to be.

The article is interesting because it brings up the old debate of Immersion vs Augmentation and has links to some interesting old articles:

Many early users of SL were very jealous and protective of the early SL culture, strongly centered on pseudonymity and non-disclosure of real life information, and vocally resisted all technical innovations that could facilitate the intrusion of reality into their “magic circle” (see for example the very heated debates that followed the introduction of voice in SL in 2007). Most of them were “immersionists,” mainly interested in SL as “another world” where they could live “another life” entirely separated from their “first life” (FL) and strongly resisted the “invasion” of “augmentationists” interested in SL as a communication tool for telepresence applications related to FL. I think the tension between these two communities played a significant role in the demise of SL. Henrik Bennetsen’s essay on the subject is not available anymore at its original URL but a backup is still on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

The thing I find odd about Giulio’s comment here is that in the first linked article, of which he is the author, he wrote: “I support that idea that everyone should be free to live her Second Life, AND her Real Life, as she wants to live it. So, though I use voice in SL routinely, I do not have anything against immersionists refusing to use it and support their freedom of choice. At the same time, of course I protect _my_ freedom of choice and resist immersionists trying to tell _me_ how I should live _my_ SL (or RL). The point is, I _am_ into making my SL a reflection of my RL – and want the freedom to use all options that permit doing so. Continue reading »

Dec 272012

The results of Prim Perfect’s recent poll are in and unsurprisingly, there’s large feedback on the tier being too damn high in Second Life. The poll received 246 responses, which in some ways makes it a representative poll, on the other hand the poll was self selecting, which means it might not be representative. That’s the way polls work but they are usually weighted in some ways to select certain groups of people to try and balance results, 246 out of Second Life’s user base would satisfy most professional polling organisations in their results, the self selection wouldn’t.

I’m not trying to invalidate the results, largely because I agree with them mostly, but I think it’s only fair to put some perspective on the poll. Prim Perfect do the same, they’re not trying to hide anything, which is good to see.

I’m not going to cover all of the poll, you can go to the Prim Perfect blog for that, but I’ll look at a couple of results. I’ve covered the decline in private estate ownership on this blog, most recently with news that private estate ownership is down 12% this year, a result found because of the wonderful work of Tyche Shepherd. Prim Perfect’s poll also pays homage to Tyche, although at that time the losses were 11%.

What do you think are the major factors causing the decline of private landholding in Second Life?

  • The high cost of tier in Second Life – 84%
  • The economic situation in the real world –  66%
  • The dominance of the Marketplace making holding land less viable – 41%
  • A sense that Second Life is outdated –  27%
  • A move to other forms of social gaming – e.g. Facebook, phone apps –  16%
  • Other – 21%

Wait wait wait! That’s more than 100%! Yes that’s because it was a multiple answers question.

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Dec 272012

There I was reading the forums when I noticed two forum posts about a roleplaying venture called The Chronicles Of Xcalibur. One in the role play forum and the other in the games in Second Life forum. I am glad I read this in two places because this is an amazingly ambitious proposal that requires a double take.

The idea is to create a massive roleplaying space within Second Life, by massive I mean four hundred sims massive. Yes 400! Now it does appear that there is some funding available for the person behind this, however I don’t think the funding will run to 400 sims, this is a venture aimed at attracting other interested parties. The blurb opens with:

Our goal is to build the biggest Fantasy sim on the grid, consisting of 400 Sims.Each sim will represent a town, all Unique. For each town there will be a King elected.For example, The King of River-stone. A Peaceful elven community.”

As I said, this is a mightily ambitious project but one that if it works, could be a real boost for roleplaying in Second Life. I’ve done a bit more digging and found the official website, which gives some more information on how they’re going to try and build this.

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Dec 262012

This will be a rather long post as it’s a review of the year, this is the fifth in a series of annual posts, the other four look at different years… I think you’ll have worked that out already! This post isn’t made any easier by Linden Lab not being as active in their blog as they once were. This was also a very difficult year for me personally which meant I took a large break from regular blogging between April and September, with only sporadic posts appearing, so I’ll have to delve elsewhere for some information for the year, fortunately there are plenty of resources such as Inara Pey, Nalates Urriah, Tateru Nino and New World Notes amongst others, as well of course as Linden Lab’s underused blog, it still has some useful posts. Also a special mention for Tyche Shepherd and her awesome surveying which provides so much useful information.

I’m also doing things a bit differently this year as these posts are getting pretty epic. This is the full post but as it’s pretty TLDR, I’ve also broken the post down into four quarterly posts elsewhere, the information will be the same other than this initial commentary, but it may be easier on the eye to read in smaller chunks. To read the quarterly reviews go here.

2012 brought us viewer improvements, Pathfinding, Advanced Creator Tools, Direct Delivery and a lot of bug fixes by Oz Linden and his team as well as new scripting functions. I’ll miss plenty out in this review, I’ll also include trivial aspects. Some of the issues can be summed up in the following photo:

Protest Gnomes

However there’s a lot more than that to cover, so let’s get this rolling.

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Dec 262012


Away from Second Life, Kitely announced that were now offering unmetered regions. Prior to this Kitely had charged for metered usage… I think maybe you could have worked that out yourselves!

Linden Lab emailed those who had signed up for their affiliate program to inform them it was ending on October 16th.

Merchants were calling for a meeting with Lindens regarding concerns. This would lead to further issues later in the year as Merchants struggled to be heard.

Tyche Shepherd’s weekly survey on the size of the main grid revealed that private regions were down 9.9% for the year to date, this would get worse before the end of the year.

Linden Lab reported performance improvements, informing us that there had been a 7% improvement in teleport performance in peak concurrency hours and an 86% reduction in group query times. Good stats.

The Communications Hub User Interface Project Viewer was unleashed as Linden Lab worked to improve communications in Second Life. At this point I pondered whether these recent blog posts indicated that Linden Lab were going to continue to make better use of their blog, unfortunately they didn’t.

Linden Lab continued to work on improvements as Oskar Linden posted in the forums that the snack release channel being used to test large group fixes.

Copyright infringement reared its head as claims were made that CBS were clamping down on infringing Star Trek related content in Second Life.

Buzzfeed carried an article as part of a tech confessional from a former Linden who talked about walking in on users having (virtual) sex, being a Second Life celebrity, and why it was such an inspiring job, oh and furies!

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Dec 262012


Nalates Urriah informed us of a new informal user group, the content creation improvement user group. The user group still appears on the wiki, but is not listed under the official user groups. The meetings were chaired by Geenz Spadz, Siddean Munro and Oz Linden. More on some of the aims of this group would come with an August announcement.

AvaCon announced that due to changes in terms and conditions from Linden Lab they had declined to organise the Second Life Community Convention. Fleep Tuque posted a personal opinion on the matter in which she suggested the organisers had been chewed out for not producing an event like Blizzcon. There were similarities to this year’s Blizzcon, that didn’t take place either!

The Linden Endownment For Arts announced that they were going to commence round three of grants. These allow arts themed ventures to use twenty regions that have been donated by Linden Lab for five to six months.

Linden Lab announced that the first set of advanced creator tools had been launched, these were Teleport Agent and Temporary Attachment.

Relay For Life’s themed lap weekend was on Saturday July 14th with a host of participants and entertainers assisting. Overall this year’s relay for life in Second Life raised USD$375,385.

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Dec 262012


The teething problems with Direct Delivery meant that initial migration deadlines for getting rid of magic boxes had to be pushed back, there is still no definite date for migration.

Pathfinding started to get rolled out for testing and I volunteered a sim for the tests. I experimented with some patrolling prim cubes, unfortunately I haven’t got much further!

Image For Fantasy Faire 2012 Should Be Here

Fantasy Faire 2012

Fantasy Faire 2012 ran from April 21 – 30th, it was extended by one day, I took a look at a few stores.

Inara Pey reported that Linden Lab had obtained the rights to sublicense Havok. Linden Lab produced a page on the Wiki for this. The result was that TPV’s had to abide by LL’s agreement to obtain the sublicense, which is perfectly fair.

After their call to bloggers earlier in the year, Linden Lab made a more quiet call to specific artists regarding images for their website. Strawberry Singh being one of those asked to produce work for Linden Lab. This created a small ripple of damned if you do or damned if you don’t when there was some criticism of the nature of this call for assistance not being open to all. However the results were widely greeted in a positive light.

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Dec 262012


The year started with the news that the mesh clothing parametric deformer, paid for and funded by Second Life residents, was going Alpha.

Mesh itself got a boost with the news that the 1920’s Berlin sim was embracing mesh.

Direct Delivery, the new funky way of selling items on the SL Marketplace went beta.

Bryn Oh’s art installation of Immersiva, which had been previously subsidised thanks to the generous nature of Dusan Writer, had to close due to financial difficulties.

llSetMemoryLimit a new scripting function to set the upper limit a script can use in terms of memory usage, got rolled out.

The Simple Inventory Project Viewer was launched for testing, this was a project aimed at improving how inventory performs.

Avatar Rendering Cost was replaced by Avatar Draw Weight, with this being a new performance tool to show us how costly our avatars are.

Duran Duran got their very own section on the destination guide, it’s still there today.

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