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.
Now onto hopes, I’m hoping that 2013 will see Linden Lab improve their communucations via the blog and forums. The server guys do a good job in the forum, but we see little on the blog. The wiki and user groups should be made more visible, as they are both useful resources.
On user groups themselves, they could do with being extended. Merchants have no user group, nor do communities, this never used to be the case. Even if these meetings are only monthly or quarterly, similar to the old town hall meetings or four sim meetings on big issues, they’d be an improvement on what we have now.
The Marketplace, ah the marketplace. My own preference would be for them to rip it up and start again but I know that’s likely to lead to people pulling out pitchforks and torches, so we are where we are with it, but it really could do with some tender loving care and addressing of the issues and it really requires some communications from a Linden, CommerceTeam Linden will probably do but a regular post in the forums about the issues and how they’re progressing would be most helpful.
The Jira undergoes several reverse gears so that we can at least search other reports. The changes were just horrible. Even if they introduce a system similar to the forums where what you can see and do is based on rank with swift moderation applied to people who abuse their privileges, it would be a vast improvement on what we have now.
Linden Lab continue with their google adsense advertising.
The Mesh Clothing Parametric Deformer sees the light of day, this will really give Mesh clothing a boost.
Now is where I can get a bit more fanciful. I’d like to see rigged skeletons to make pathfinding NPC’s becoming more viable. Pathfinding has a lot of potential but I’m getting tired of watching my patrolling prim cubes!
LL build on mysecondlife.com and give us group pages with added richness. This aids inventory because we shouldn’t need to be sent so many notecards, landmarks, textures and objects if people can pointed to a group profile page. Facebook and Google + have pages and it would be nice if Second Life did too. A nice feature rich events calendar could be added to these pages too.
Internal LSL HTTP servers are made more efficient by an object DNS system. Currently inworld URL’s are temporary, this means cumbersome solutions, such as using llEmail to update remote objects about a new URL, are required. If we had a DNS system we could make better use of HTTP communications inworld and HTTP communications do seem more reliable from my limited testing.
Linden Lab offer internal database hosting, this could be useful on many levels but currently you need to go outside of the Second Life network for database storage, it would be beneficial if there was an option to have your databases within the network.
Premium accounts get more options. Some people don’t want a Linden home, some people don’t want the stipend, some people would rather have a larger stipend and no tier free 512M option. Options are always popular.
Linden endownment for the arts is extended to roleplaying and entertainment ventures. Some sort of limited deal is made available with a temporary reduction in tier for x amount of applicants. Whereas this won’t deal with the tier issue overall, it does give people a chance to get some breathing space whilst creating something for people to do. People having something to do helps with retention, so it is something worth exploring. This wouldn’t be straight forward to achieve.
Tier, ah yes tier. Some of the suggestions I’ve made above could be fee based services, I strongly feel Linden Lab need to widen their scope of income streams, tier is currently too large a plank of their model. An option, which has been discussed by Linden Lab in the past, is to allow premium members to donate their tier free allowance to an estate sim. Any system such as this is likely to encounter some billing issues and may provide extra workload but something needs to be done about the tier issue. Whereas I’d love to see Linden Lab slash tier costs, that’s not likely to happen whilst things are the way they currently are, so looking at ways to help make tier less of a burden for sim owners would be welcome.
Hopefully 2013 will be a very productive year, there are some good improvements to look forward to and potential to make Second Life more visible again. Income for Linden Lab remains healthy, but I do feel they need to get their thinking caps on regarding tier, it’s a massive barrier to progress.