For Second Life residents, this time of year usually generates a lot of interest due to the Second Life Community Convention. There’s no shortage of that interest this year given the tumultuous year to date and the return of Philip Rosedale to the CEO role. In a fairly relaxed presentation, Rosedale laid out Linden Lab’s plans for the remainder of this year and into 2011. Some of it he’d covered previously in communications on the official Lab blog and in-world, but there was also plenty of new information. Highlights included:
- A rebuttal of press and resident perceptions that Linden Lab are financially challenged, emphasising that the Lab have been profitable “for years” and that they remain on a “stable footing”
- An outline of the strategy-setting process undertaken on Rosedale’s return to the CEO role (not surprisingly there was no substantive comment on the previous CEO or layoffs) – the aim is now to make Second Life “Fast, Easy and Fun”. There was an admission that currently the platform isn’t meeting those aims on a regular basis
- The tactical plan for delivering the faster, easier and more fun Second Life involves:
- a “back to basics” approach to identify fundamental flaws in user experience and to fix them – lag being the biggest target.
- a focus on “winning back the lead” that involves further innovation in-world around content creation, with the promise of software updates as often as weekly, to deliver a much-improved Viewer in addition to background improvements
- working on “the economy” in a way that ensures growth and makes digital content delivery easier – removing the ‘box on the head’ syndrome that new residents can experience
- Specific improvements promised by end of 2010:
- Fixing latency of group chat and problems with region crossings / teleports
- The time from logging in to being able to effectively use Second Life will be improved by a factor of two
- Reducing crash rates further
- “Markedly change” the number of avatars per region – the actual increase isn’t being committed to at this stage, but the intention for 2011 is to deliver “big, big jumps”
- Controls on avatar complexity in order to help deliver the previous four points
- A second list of longer-term commitments:
- Second Life mesh-based content now that bandwidth and highly complex prim constructions make it an option performance-wise (a beta-version will be available for testing by year’s end)
- A more sophisticated naming system including elimination of the surname restriction and further name customisation options
- Background downloading of Viewer update
- Teen Second Life is officially on schedule for termination, with 16 and 17 year-olds allowed to access the main grid given the clearer boundaries around adult content
- A nod to the iPad as a potential Second Life delivery platform
You can watch the full 45-minute presentation plus all the follow-up questions below – it’s worth listening to the Q&A session as it covers key areas like Search problems, interoperability :
The take-home message from the presentation? Philip Rosedale is certainly back in the company with a vengeance, and the announcement of the roadmap and proposed changes is encouraging. That said, the Teen Grid closure and avatar complexity controls are likely to generate significant debate.
Rosedale said himself in the presentation that delivering the promises is what counts – there’s been no shortage of promise previously, with some of it delivered. The ratio between the two needs to get to 1:1 for Second Life to have a fighting chance of long-term survival. The most encouraging aspect is that Linden Lab’s CEO seems to understand that this is likely the last big strategic route change they can make before concerns on Second Life’s viability become an urgent issue for the company.
Over to you: what stands out for you as the positive and negative aspects of the Lab’s proposed direction?