The Revolution’s Still Huge Bandwidth Away

Hamlet Au over at New World Notes has produced a couple of excellent discussion posts recently. The first points out why Skyrim is nothing like Second Life. The reasons are of course technical, Second Life is a dynamic world, quite possibly the greatest dynamic virtual world on the planet. Skyrim is more static, I’m sure at some point there will be updates to this visually stunning and engaging looking single player game, but it is a single player game, the content is downloaded and it is far easier to get top notch performance in those circumstances. This isn’t intended to take away from the excellent game of Skyrim, but the reality is that dynamic content created by thousands of users is far harder to optimise.

The first post, where Hamlet points out how long it takes scenes to rez in Second Life is an important introduction to his second post, where has asks why the Linden Realms games aren’t included in the client download, because that would improve performance for people who are playing Linden Realms games, that Linden Lab controlled area is not as dynamic as other areas of Second Life, this is an important point to note. There was a time when Linden Lab’s tiny client was ahead of the game, downloading patches for the likes of World Of Warcraft could take ages, but with the rise of broadband internet, Linden Lab could make their client larger without much of an inconvenience to users, the Mac client is already bigger than the PC client and I don’t see many complaints about that.

The second post includes comments from former Linden’s Pathfinder and Qarl as well as a comment from Linden Lab CEO and  Aston Villa fan Rod Humble.

Qarl points out that welcome area textures were once included in the viewer download, but there were pressures to reduce the size of the client download, as I’ve pointed out already, this shouldn’t be such a big issue these days.

Rod Humble pitches in by saying: “Good thread. Thanks for the discussion on preloading.

It would also be cool to have new users go straight to an area if they came from that 3rd party referral site.

EG: if you sign up for SL referred from Crazy Eddies Viking RPG sim. When you log in you dont go to welcome island but straight to Crazy Eddies Viking sim. It gets us LL out of the way and people bringing in new customers get the new customers direct.”

Pathfinder points to the registration API, which is a fair point. However the registration API isn’t as easy to use as it could be.

In the past I’ve said that Second Life will have progressed when people aren’t coming to Second Life, but they’re coming to a community that runs on Second Life technology, people should absolutely be thinking of going to Crazy Eddies Viking Sim rather than thinking of going to Second Life. This isn’t what Mr Humble was suggesting by the way, I’m hijacking here. I’ve discussed this concept before, as has Tateru Nino a couple of years before me.

However I’m going off on a tangent here. The thing is, with the new improved login screen, which I discussed here, wouldn’t it be nice if when people set a certain sim as their login, next time they fired up the Second Life client they got news on that sim? They received information in the login screen regarding upcoming events on that sim? The gist of Hamlet’s post and comments is that they should also receive downloaded textures from such a sim to improve their user experience, if people are going to a sim regularly this would improve performance. However let’s not forget the dynamic nature of Second Life too, without which it would be nowhere near as appealing.

Therefore this is a difficult concept to deliver, certainly with the downloaded textures and larger clients. Ideally we’d have the bandwidth to deal with this comfortably, but the reality is that we don’t. However it’s good to see a healthy discussion about these issues. We are still waiting for the hardware and network improvements to make Second Life and streaming user generated content worlds feel like downloaded worlds with more static content.

The day will come eventually, for now it’s a case of one leap forward, two leaps back, will Star Wars: The Old Republic  get Second Life the sack, whilst we’re waiting for the great leap forward.

5 Replies to “The Revolution’s Still Huge Bandwidth Away”

  1. To be fair – Rod Humble isn’t the first Lab CEO to mention the idea of users going to locations other than wlecome areas – or, indeed, of “directed experiences” (the *big* Linden buzzword idea that has been doing the rounds since SLCC 2011).

    Mark Kingdon actually talked the same way – although he couched things in marketing terms like “silos”. The terminology may be different, but the idea is essentially the same – delivering people to the experiences they want to enjoy when they sign-up.

    Rod has probably taken the idea a step further by suggesting thet he who has the registration page gets to deliver the incoming users (his “Crazy Eddie” comments) – but nevertheless, this does seem to have been an idea that has been kicked around in LL for quite possibly two years now. I actually commented on Mark Kingdon’s comments concerning the approach some time beack in the latter half of 2009.

    It is something LL should be persuing more aggressively and why – frankly – they should be engaging with the community to discuss such matters, not withdrawing from it and giving some commentators pause to view their actions as swaying towards the more dictatorial as to what SL can and cannot be.

    1. “or, indeed, of “directed experiences” (the *big* Linden buzzword idea that has been doing the rounds since SLCC 2011).”

      Directing experiences is exactly what they should be doing and I’m very happy that you point out that the unfairly maligned Mark Kingdon had the same goal, it’s exactly what should be happening.

      1. Indeed.

        It’s just the fact that two-years down the road, LL are *still* talking in those terms; different buzzwords, same goal.

        On the one hand, one has to wonder at the glacial movement in actually bringing something of this nature about (again, we’re talking (overall, two years).

        On the other, it does tend to point to there actually being something of a strategy within the Lab that does live beyond any single incumbent in a post, be it the VP or marketing (as regards the overall communications policy) or the CEO (the “directed experiences” idea was around for Kingdon, was pointed to in some respects during Rosedale’s brief return (“breaking down the walls”), and now Rod Humble is rolling in the same direction.

        The strategy may not always be to our liking (vis-a-vis communications), but one has to take heart in the fact that it is there, rather than leadership and direction simply being a case of someone at Battery Street merely sticking a wet finger in the air on a Monday morning and seeing which way the wind happens to be blowing – which often comes over as being the case….

        As to Mark Kingdon himself, I’ve always tended to be sympathetic towards his position. The user community has, I feel, dealt with him pretty unfairly. Yes, he was the man sitting in the CEO’s chair – but he was the man employed by the board and – as Tateru has pointed out – seems to have been directly picked and groomed as much by Philip Rosedale as anyone else.

        Ergo, he may have been the man leading the march the LL took through 2009-2010 – but he was doing so to the beat of the board’s drum, not his own.

  2. When I first came into SL (August ’05) it was assumed you were using a desktop with a wired internet connection. That is changing fast. Most of the new tablets do not even have a wired connection as an option. When many people today think “computer” what comes to mind is a laptop.
    As more and more people use Second Life from a wireless connection of one kind or another, bandwidth is actually going down!!! Computer power is taking a hit too. SL is still a desktop/wired connection world if you want to experience it properly, but that will have to change as the hardware moves more and more to some variation on portable/wireless.

    1. Agreed, the fickle world of computing, SL wanted people to have better hardware and most definitely better graphics cards, the rise of mobile computing certainly has thrown a spanner in the works.

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