Aug 042014
 

Just over a year ago I blogged : Could Linden Lab Follow Amazon’s Lead In Fan Based Creativity? This was based on Amazon’s Kindle Worlds deal whereby they had struck deals for people to be able to write, publish and sell fan fiction via Amazon.

A year is a long time for my memory these days, but I was reminded of this issue when I read a press release from Linden Lab relating to Blocksworld.  The press release though does not appear on the Linden Lab website, it comes courtesy of Gamasutra and carries a headline of Blocksworld Adds MY LITTLE PONY Sets. Part of the press release states :

The new sets are the result of a licensing relationship with Hasbro, Inc., through which Linden Lab also recently added TRANSFORMERS characters to Blocksworld.

So apparently, Linden Lab have negotiated a deal with Hasbro for this content to exist in Blocksworld. Now of course Blocksworld is very different to Second Life and the content is more strictly managed. However Linden Lab may be able to agree terms to sell content from a Linden Lab store, whereby approved creators submit content. They may even require sim owners to apply to be able to place and buy said content. In short, they may be able to take a leaf out of their skill gaming policy and have approved creators and users of said licensed content.

However the last thing a roleplay sim needs is an increased tier fee, so it’s not straight forward, on the other hand, it should be feasible in some form for Linden Lab to find a way to allow users to make and use licensed content within Second Life.

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Nov 212013
 

Over the last few weeks Linden Lab have announced some changes for account holders. The first, back on November 11th was that new marketplace merchants would be required to put payment info on file before being able to open a store.

The second was more recently, on November 19th Linden Lab blogged about required tax documentation. These issues aren’t linked but I feel they should be and in doing so, Linden Lab would be killing two birds with one stone.

Wait wait wait, the tax documentation is only for those who have gross income of USD$20,000 and make 200 transactions in a calendar year, right? Well not quite, the tax documentation is certainly required if people meet that threshold, but at that point Linden Lab will file a 1099-K with the IRS, the documentation is required for Linden Lab to be able to file a 1099-K, but Linden Lab can ask for this information anyway.

Amazon do this with Kindle Direct Publishing. I haven’t yet published my international best seller and award winning novel, but if I wanted to do that via KDP, I have to fill out a W8-BEN for Amazon to file. The W8-BEN is the non US Citizen equivalent of a W9 form. When I logged into KDP today I saw this:

An Image Should Be Here

Tax Information Incomplete

The missing account information was soon revealed to me after I clicked Update Now:

An Image Should Be Here

Update tax Information

You may need to squint to read that so I’ll type it:

Amazon is required by US tax regulations to request information regarding your tax status under US law. Required US tax identification and information has not yet been submitted. Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.

Let’s just bold that last sentence to emphasise the point: “Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.” So that’s before I’ve sold a single book, before I’m anywhere near 200 transactions, indeed it prevents me from making 1 transaction.

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Jul 232013
 

I was reading an article over at New World Notes: Attack on Titan Fan Game in Second Life Attacked by Attack on Titan Publisher? This is an old concept, Second Life creators create world or roleplay based on a known product for which they don’t appear to have rights to do so. Here’s the thing, Attack on Titan is something I’d never heard of until I read Hamlet’s article. Obviously we all can’t know about everything, but the franchise gets free publicity via usage in Second Life.

Now of course Intellectual Property rights are a very important area and publishers need to ensure they maintain their rights, so ignoring IP is not a clever thing to do, no matter how much free publicity it brings to a franchise. However I’ve long maintained that companies should consider the potential of Second Life and the realites of what Second Life creators can afford, and come to a compromise that is sensible. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but Amazon have a model that could potentially be expanded to virtual worlds.

Kindle Worlds is the Amazon model, it’s where fan fiction can be published. There is a criteria but here’s some of the blurb:

Welcome to Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries; Valiant Entertainment for Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and X-O Manowar; Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga; Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels; Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series; and The Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Eric Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, and Cooper Moo. Licenses for more Worlds are on the way.

Now Amazon Kindle is a completely different platform to Second Life and has less of the chaotic nature of Second Life, as once published, a story is published, but the idea, bring licensed products to a user generated content platform is something that Linden Lab should investigate.

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Jan 252013
 

Wounded, but not out, Linden Lab have decided to launch another Amazon adventure (that’s Amazon the company, not the wilderness) with an announcement on the blog, which you can read here. This time the blog post contains more information about how the offer works, which is good to see.

This time lucky participants can pick up a hoverboard bonus pack for free until January 29th, the hoverboard bonus pack usually goes for USD$12.95, details of the offer can be found here. In order to claim your free hoverboard you will need to link your Second Life and Amazon accounts, utilising the Amazon game connect feature, which is aimed at free to play MMO’s generally, but as there’s no suitable place for Second Life, which is a Multi User Virtual Environment, it goes in the free to play games section. This is an Amazon issue, not a Linden Lab issue, they’re fitting these offers in the most suitable category.

At least this blog post explains that the offer is only available to customers based in the United States Of America (Boooooo!). Again, this is an Amazon issue, not a Linden Lab issue.

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Jan 082013
 

Tateru Nino has received word on why the weekend Amazon offer was pulled with a reply from Peter Gray of Linden Lab:

This offer was terminated early due to repeated attempts to circumvent the one-per-customer limit, but we saw great demand for the deal and hope to be able to offer similar special promotions in the future

Inara Pey has decided to award Linden Lab’s Amazon offer the inaugral SL Palme d’Face Award, for not seeing the blindingly obvious. However Linden Lab don’t appear to be the only people unable to see the blindingly obvious, Adobe have been at it this week too.

Yesterday it went viral that you could download the Adobe CS2 suite for free, this included old versions of Photoshop and Illustrator, which generally won’t play nicely with the latest operating systems. This rumour started due to Adobe announcing that the activation servers would be turned off and they placed  the serial numbers on their site, in no time at all word spread that CS2 was now free, people were downloading away like mad and then the links stopped working and Dov Isaacs of Adobe quashed the rumours in a forum thread:

On behalf of Adobe Systems Incorporated …

 You have heard wrong! Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2!

What is true is that Adobe is terminating the activation servers for CS2 and that for existing licensed users of CS2 who need to reinstall their software, copies of CS2 that don’t require activation but do require valid serial numbers are available. (Special serial numbers are provided on the page for each product download.) See <http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1114930>.

 You are only legally entitled to download and install with that serial number if you have a valid license to the product!

 - Dov

When I say this rumour about CS2 being free went viral, I’m not talking about forum threads, it was reported by the likes of CNET and Forbes.

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Jan 062013
 

Well the Amazon offer was a nice idea, I’ll give Linden Lab credit for that. Alas it has ran into a few, shall we say, teething problems. A few things have came to light over the weekend. One being that Second Life had apparently expanded to Amazon in December. Inara Pey has some thoughtful commentary on the issue, pointing out that there were issues with how this was being marketed on Amazon full stop. Inara comments on the lack of information about what Second Life is.

Tateru Nino is also critical of the way this was marketed, with Second Life being listed as a game. Now the question then arises, what category should Second Life be in if not game and as someone else on Tateru’s blog post points out, Linden Lab are using Amazon game connect, that’s where the linking of your Second Life account to your Amazon account comes into play. Amazon game conncect is aimed at free to play games who want to sell digital goods, so it’s the right fit. However whereas Tateru’s criticisms may initially look different to Inara’s, further reading shows they are not, Tateru is basically criticising the lack of information about what Second Life is too and points out that in terms of expectations, listing Second Life as a game is going to lead to people having different expectations as to what they will find when they enter Second Life.

There have of course been other issues, one of which has been that people were able to link more than one avatar to their Amazon account and therefore receive multiple bonus payments in Linden Dollar form. The way to deal with this going forward is for us to have a master account for Second Life, but I’ve blogged on the benefits of the master account before.

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Jan 052013
 

So back in August Second Life was talking about expanding to Steam. Back in August, Peter Parker was Spiderman.

Fast forward to January 2013. Second Life announces it has expanded to Amazon, not yet Steam, much to our surprise.

Fast forward to January 2013 and Peter Parker dies and Doctor Octopus is the new Spiderman! Apparently Peter Parker switches his memories and morality into Doctor Octopus and he becomes Superior Spiderman, rather than The Amazing Spiderman. Here in Second Life we have a case where in a battle the Steam deal might have died but the memories and morality have been transferred to Amazon!

Coincidence? Almost certainly but I can’t have fun with it it that way!

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Jan 052013
 

Ok, so, this is a shocker! Back in August Linden Lab announced they were expanding to Steam. However, today comes the extremely surprising news that Second Life has expanded to Amazon! I have to say, I didn’t see this coming at all, is Jeff Bezos still an investor in Second Life?

Now to use Amazon for your Second Life purchases you need to link your account:

Link your Amazon account with a new or existing Linden Research account so that you can purchase virtual items on Amazon.com and send them directly to your game.

1. Link

2. Download and Play

3. Equip

Your Amazon account will be linked to a new or existing game account using a secure, shared token

You can download your game, install it, and start playing

Purchase virtual items like currency and upgrades on Amazon.com and use them in your game

Important: When linking, you will be asked to create or sign in to an account for this game. Amazon will not collect your game account’s password. Amazon will not share any of your Amazon.com account information with the game company, including your Amazon.com username, Amazon.com password, credit card information, address, or telephone number.

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Nov 052012
 

So my ususal Monday trick of listening to Digital Human on BBC Radio 4 for blog inspiration failed this week because they were talking about Cyborgs, transhumanism and whether we are all subsconsciously becoming Cyborgs and try as I did, I couldn’t find an angle to get to Second Life from that material, a jolly good listen however.

So I decided, after urgings, to investigate e-books. This was a tale of woe, first of all I tried to get an e-book from Waterstones. However to read e-books on the PC I needed to download Adobe Digital Editions, this was a breeze and now I was cooking on gas, all I needed to do was remember my Adobe password and I could install my soon to be purchased e-book on different mediums, if I didn’t register, I’d only be able to read it on my PC. At this point things went tits up, I couldn’t remember my password. Aha, there’s a password reset request and sure enough, I was informed an email was on its way. Several hours later and I’m still waiting.

So instead I went to Amazon, installed their Kindle for PC reader, realised I’d forgotten my Amazon password… oh heck but this time a password reset request actually worked. The only annoying thing left was having to pay VAT on my e-book, in the UK we don’t pay VAT on physical books but an e-book is considered an electronic service, not a book, even though it is a book, I’ll save that rant for another day, although Remember Remember, the fifth of November is an ideal day for a rant about The Government! The real moral of this story is to remember your passwords.

Then I read a little and decided to quickly take a look at the Second Life storytelling scene and popped to the Seanchai Library.

Seanchai1

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