Archives for December 2011

Second Life Statistics for 2011

As we reach the end of 2011, I thought it would be inter­est­ing to take a look back on some Second Life stat­ist­ics for the past year. The last time I did this was almost two years ago, where I briefly ana­lysed the Second Life con­cur­rency stat­ist­ics for 2006 to 2009. This time I’m going to give a brief over­view of some Second Life stats for 2011 and see how it com­pares to 2010.

A good year

I’ve been reflecting back on how 2011 has been for Second Life. I didn’t make any predictions for the year, but on reflection, I believe it was a good year for Second Life. Perhaps the best year for Second Life that I can recall for quite some time.

“Surround Vision” : Turns TV Into Augmented Reality

“If you’re watching TV and you hear a helicopter in your surround sound,” says Santiago Alfaro, a grad student at MIT’s media lab. “Wouldn’t it be cool to just turn around and be able to see that helicopter as it goes into the screen?” Sure would. And Alfaro has realized that idea, in his thesis project, Surround Vision.

Linden Lab’s take on 2011… and 2012

Whilst catching up on news around the place, I noticed this post from Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble:

As we head into the new year, I’d like to share some highlights from 2011, as well as a glimpse of what’s to come in 2012.

First, if you haven’t already, I hope you will explore our recently launched Linden Realms, the Lab’s first-ever game prototype. For newbies, it is a very simple way to earn L$, so hop on over and start collecting gems.

One of the key goals of Linden Realms was to learn more about what tools Residents could use to develop richer experiences in Second Life — and boy, did we learn a lot! In Q1 2012 , we will be releasing new tools used to develop Linden Realms, which will allow Residents to create even richer original experiences in Second Life. To prevent abuse of these tools, we will introduce a “creators” program in which verified members will be given access to these very powerful capabilities.

In 2011, we also made strides to improve usability in Second Life. We launched a new version of the Viewer, which allows you to customize the user interface for a more flexible workspace with drag-and-drop buttons, among other key new features. The new Viewer also makes it easier for new Residents to discover essential, basic functions — so, with the simple click of a button, you can change your appearance, go to a new location, find inworld merchants or head on over to the Second Life Marketplace.

Speaking of customization, since we deployed Mesh earlier this year, we’ve seen more than a 16 percent adoption rate. I expect this to continue to grow at a strong pace as more and more Residents take advantage of all the features available to allow you explore Second Life and create even more engaging, exciting experiences.

This past year, we also improved the customer experience with expanded Premium subscription benefits that include virtual gifts, as well as exclusive areas where you can go and create. One of the other benefits of being a Premium member is ownership of a Linden Home, which I’m pleased to report has reached an historic high. For those of you who have enjoyed owning a Linden Home and are looking for a little more real estate, you can check out what is available on the Second Life Land Store and through private-estate purchases and rentals found through Second Life Search. In 2012, you can expect to see more value added to Premium in the form of additional features and content. If you are not yet a Premium member, you can sign up here!

In 2012, the primary engineering focus of Q1 will be server side performance and fixing bugs. In fact, you may have noticed one upgrade deployed this week which should reduce the number of restarts and increase performance for all regions. This kind of work makes for a poor headline, but has enormous payoff for the customer experience. We will also continue to invest in and focus on our customer support, reducing response times and increasing satisfaction.

For landowners, existing land tier pricing will not go up in 2012. In addition, our service and quality focus in 2012 also means that we will be delivering features and policies that we believe will significantly assist merchants and landowners in running a business more profitably.

For creators our first new feature for 2012 will be pathfinding. Because worlds feel most vibrant when they are full of life, one of our next focuses for Second Life is the ability to make high-quality “life” within it. So in 2012, we will be rolling out more advanced features that will allow the creation of artificial life and artificial people to be much smoother. For starters, in Q1, we’ll unveil a new, robust pathfinding system that will allow objects to intelligently navigate around the world while avoiding obstacles. Combined with the tools from Linden Realms this will make the polished creation of full MMORPG’s or people/animal simulators within Second Life easier and of high quality.

In addition to delivering new features and increasing our support for Second Life, we will be launching some completely different products next year not related to Second Life. Some of them will be very experimental, but all will fit within our company’s proud history of enabling creativity, which I hope may interest some of you.

Thank you again for being a customer have a great holiday and a Happy New Year!

So overall, some interesting stuff on the horizon including some non-Second Life products from Linden Lab. I’d be pretty happy if even half of the Second Life changes above were implemented, so here’s hoping.

Free texture downloads for Second Life / OpenSim grids

A source for free downloads of many original creations for you to use on your virtual world grid. Royalty free textures. Use any way you want.

WonderSchool streams world to a tablet – Hypergrid Business

Open Wonderland — an open source, Java-based alternative to OpenSim — is now available on a tablet. According to WonderSchool, a subsidiary of Germany’s THINSIA, clients can now access the platform on an iPad by having their user session streamed to the device.

Virtual world to help kids overcome trauma – The Times of India

Doctors in a domed laboratory in Canada are designing a virtual world where they hope to one day treat traumatized children with colorful avatars using toy-like medical gadgets.Sensory stimulation could be used to make a burn victim feel she is encased in a block of ice. Three-dimensional images of a child’s bedroom at home could make him forget he is in a hospital.”You could take a child suffering from burns and put him in a polar environment, crossing the threshold of reality , to dull his pain,” said Patrick Dube, who is leading a team of medics from Montreal’s Sainte-Justine hospital and software engineers at the Society for Arts and Technology . “We know that cognitive illusions have an effect on the perception of pain,” he said. At the Satosphere, in an 18-meter-wide dome, the team has set up a hospital room, or ” living lab” , to try out new treatment ideas.

Massively’s MMO predictions for 2012

2010 will be the year to change it all! No wait, I mean 2011 will be the year to change it all! Darnit. OK, 2012, help us! You’re our only hope.While picking stocks or guessing baseball playoff scores is probably more lucrative, in our little corner of the world, we enjoy nothing more than predicting the rocky future for our favorite hobby.But between studio closures, surprise indie hits, and million-dollar investments, nothing is certain in entertainment trends, which is why we have so much fun throwing out educated guesses. Which game will topple World of Warcraft? Which studio will be shunned and ridiculed for a stupid decision?

Augmented Reality in Education: Making The Leap To Immersive Learning | daqri Blog

Could augmented reality be the one missing piece of the learning puzzle? If you’ve been in a classroom recently, you may have noticed that children have different approaches when it comes to learning. They take in most information through three senses: Visual (eyes), Auditory (ears), and Kinesthetic (touch). However, most children who prefer learning kinesthetically miss out on most of the information in school and perform poorly. How can educators better cater to these differences to create an environment where every student thrives?

2011 virtual worlds predictions review

Star Wars: The Old Republic - not a WoW killer, yet

Another year, another look back at predictions made a year ago. It’s been quite a year in some ways and a little stagnant in others.

More on that in reviewing the predictions, but first here’s my hit rate over the years – some of the predictions themselves are good for a laugh at least:

2010: 4 out of 9 correct

2009: 7 out of 10 correct

2008: 5 out of 7 correct

Onto 2011, here’s the predictions made and the actual outcomes:

1. Second Life

It’s fair to say that Linden Lab had a mixed year during 2010 with Second Life. 2011 is likely to be even more turbulent. I’m not going to fence sit on this one too much: the next 12 months will see Linden Lab finally sold to a big tech player based in the US. Whether it’s bought out or not, expect some more significant user-interface improvements but an overall decline in number of hours in-world per user. That decline will be driven primarily by diffusion as dedicated content creators, educators and long-term residents increasingly spread out to OpenSim grids, Blue Mars etc . Second Life might see an increase in concurrency, coming from the more casual / social users attracted by an easier to use interface. That seems to be Linden Lab’s strategy anyway. Oh – and legally compliant gambling will be provided in-world by Linden Lab.

Giving myself a half-pass, based on the user hours and user-interface improvements, but totally missed the mark with Linden Lab provided gambling and concurrency increases.

2. OpenSim

The safe prediction here is ongoing growth, but beyond that it’s a pretty murky picture. Consolidation is one of the clearer trends: a handful of grid providers will probably hold some dominance, with a skew of smaller / solo grids running. Hypergrid protocols are ever-improving, but for wider-adoption the larger providers will play a key role assuming they can keep delivering good service with a growing userbase. So overall: continued growth and emergence / consolidation of larger grid providers.

Pass – this was an easy prediction anyway, but I’m sure all would agree growth has continued, albeit at a slower pace than some would have expected.

3. Blue Mars

Over the past year Blue Mars has been continuing to evolve and has picked up a cohort of Second Life content creators. Assuming the funding keeps coming in, that growth is likely to continue although it’s doubtful that 2011 will see Blue Mars reach full launch and if it does, expect a slow but promising level of uptake by new users. Unless Second Life has a major stumble, Blue Mars won’t be in its league as far as content or user numbers during 2011 – 2012 may be a different story though depending on how things pan out with both camps.

Fail – Although Blue Mars is still pumping along as a predominantly mobile platform, from what I can see progress has remained slow and development of the PC client was discontinued.
The final sentence of my prediction remains pretty pertinent however.

4. The casual phenomenon

The casual worlds on platforms like Facebook will continue to fragment. Numbers will continue to grow but at a much slower rate. Fatigue with the limitations will also grow as people debate the merit of these worlds versus more traditional casual games (think Bejeweled etc). Not surprisingly there will also be a lot of underperforming worlds that close – exacerbating the fatigue with the genre from more experienced users.

Pass – growth has continued, with more offerings (including the launch of Sims Social on Facebook) and plenty of under-performers.

5. Media and societal acceptance

The coming year will see increasing focus on how we interact in virtual environments. The Microsoft Kinect is already receiving a lot of attention, and the media are likely to latch onto the theme of improving physical activity whilst highlighting the odd case of severe addiction/injury. Nothing new there really – the difference over time however is the growing acceptance that these developments need to be incorporated into society’s thinking on a range of issues. Key educators and policy-makers have known this for years but that widespread acceptance (if not understanding) is certainly taking a big step during 2011.

Pass – although measuring this one is difficult. The Kinect certainly did create a lot of interest and acceptance and overall media coverage of virtual environments as a novelty has decreased dramatically. The continued growth in use of social gaming worlds and rapid uptake in smart phone usage has further embedded virtual worlds into the developed world mindset in particular.

6. Government

The momentum with virtual worlds at the US Government level is significant, driven primarily by intertwined military and health-care needs. Beyong that 2011 seems a pretty arid zone on the government side. Although there are potential cost-savings in the longer-term, most European governments aren’t in a financial state to invest heavily in ‘cutting edge’ work. In the Asia-Pacific I’m always surprised at the lack of overt work in the area and don’t expect 2011 to be any different. On the home front, the national political scene is favourable only from the viewpoint of the National Broadband Network rolling out. Government 2.0 initiatives are at a fairly early stage and virtual environments aren’t playing any active role in that anyway at this stage.

Pass – the US Government continue their predominantly military focused work in the area, but most other governments haven’t progressed dow the road far, if at all.

7. Browser-based evolution

Like it or not, people want the ease of a browser-based virtual world without losing too much of the complexity. This year will see that trend continue with some good new options emerging. Using Second Life as an example, development is well underway both at Linden Lab and externally. What you definitely won’t see this year however is a browser-based experience as good as the standalone offering. That’s well over 12 months away but it is coming.

Pass – excellent progress has been made, but still lots more work to do. Kitely was one offering demonstrating that this year., but there are plenty of others.

8. Gaming Worlds

2011 is actually a huge year for MMOs. The key event will be the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). We’ve been following it pretty closely and so far it’s looking like it’ll be successful. There’ll be a lot of talk about SWTOR being a World of Warcraft killer. That’s a lot of hyperbole (for 2011 at least) but expect it to pick up a very significant user base in a short time. To be more specific, by end of 2011 I’d expect subscriber numbers to be sitting between two and three million minimum.

World of Warcraft itself will see fairly steady or slightly declining numbers maintained by the recent Cataclysm expansion, with continued dominance of the market for the coming year.

Pass – World of Warcraft has dropped some subscribers but easily maintained its dominance. Star Wars: The Old Republic launch just this month instead of April, but has already hit a million subscribers a week after launch.

9. Business

Absolute status quo: there will be no increased level of traction with business beyond some further acceptance of virtual meeting solutions. The ROI equation for business till isn’t clear enough, making adoption of virtual worlds technologies an exception to the rule. Good research (see Point 10 below) will be crucial for this to change.

Pass – sadly.

10. Research and Development

The number of virtual worlds research projects will continue to increase, with a particular focus on areas such as simulation and the neuropsychological aspects of virtual reality. The simulation research will be pivotal in building solid cases for business, non-government and government adoption of the technology. In an environment where more and more human services professionals are needed in an ageing population, simulation makes huge sense and will be a key driver in the medium term.

Pass – virtual worlds research continues to grow in a range of areas. I can personally vouch for this with my own studies, as I monitor weekly any new research and its frequency continues to increase.


8.5 out of ten this year, although a couple of the predictions were pretty safe ones. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the year that was, or to post links to your own review of predictions!

Previous Posts