Yesterday’s Second Life convention (which I approached with some trepidation) turned out to be quite enjoyable. There were enough familiar names from in-world and the forums to prevent me from feeling entirely lost at sea and the overall energy was good. A few take-away thoughts…
Cory gave the most enjoyable speech, even for a non-engineer like me. He spoke about scalability needing three things: 1. the better SIM resource allocation we shall see in 1.7; 2. HAVOC 2 (still no ETA, and he dared anybody to say that this was more painful for them than it was for him); and 3. Mono and the accompanying increase in script execution speed. He also spoke about some other enhancements
- Robin’s focus: group tools and a new reputation system (he stated, and I agree, that DRM does not work and social / reputational pressure may be the only effective protection for creators),
- the new rendering engine (which he believes will transform how people view SL when their view horizon becomes so much bigger and they realize they are really part of a huge world)
- enhancements in the use of 3D technology, such as vertex and pixel shaders
Philip gave a fun pep-talk, even if it was a little light on substance. But then, he gets to be the “big picture” man. Both he and Cory talked about open-sourcing parts of SL, and enabling people to host their own sims. They did not detail out this future business/pricing model, but hinted that they have something in mind. Naturally they all loved Jerry Paffendorf’s (Acceleration Studies Foundation) J-curve growth chart (1 million users by 2007). Of course, every venture capital pitch in Silicon Valley shows a J-curve, and few actually achieve it. Can SL?
2007 feels aggressive, but it may be possible if both sides of the boat pull their oars. LL needs to solve technical problems, and users need to create truly great content. If there is one thing that Prokofy and I agree on, it’s the desperate need for better group/collaboration tools. Prok (who I enjoyed speaking with yesterday, even if we go toe to toe on a number of issues) has some excellent land management reasons. For my side, I look around the world and largely see solo productions. Bigger, cross-skill (building, texturing, coding) projects require teams, and teams need to be more than groups of trusted friends like Bedazzle (why? well that model simply won't scale). Residents will also need to create team projects/businesses if they have any chance of competing against the inevitable inroads of RL corporations, who can sell a product at a loss simply to gain the branding benefits.
Jeska spoke for a few minutes on the volunteer program, and how it needs to expand as SL grows. I am skeptical that this will scale adequately if SL starts to grow exponentially. I think Robin and Jeska still need to put more effort into getting “how-to” tools and exercises in the hands of new players. The wiki and the forums are not enough because few new players know about those resources. LL needs to build self-education tools into the client.
That’s all the time I have for immediate comment… more later.