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06/22/2014

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Melponeme_k

I agree the land issue is going to make or break this VR. It has to be addressed now rather than later.

As far as the future of Virtual Reality. I now believe that technology itself is making VR obsolete by their mere presence in childhood education. Technology is changing the neural connections of children in ways that we haven't seen the full effects of right now. Virtual reality is popular among the people who attended school well before new technology took hold. People from the 50's, 60's, 70's and a bit of the 80's. The young people have no interest in VR. In fact it repels them and they way they use tech is the number reason why it does. The only way to solve it is to get disruptive tech out of the classroom. But that isn't going to happen. VR's days are numbered when the last of oldbies pass into the beyond.

If it does survive it will be a rich person's game. Everyone else will have their phones. The super rich will have their VR compounds. In fact SL isn't too far from that kind of world.

Nebby

"I want to be king of my castle, not a serf in somebody else's content GULAG"

The answer seems obvious here cath. Learn an actual skill, put it to actual use and CREATE something, rather than living off SL like an aging infectious boil with a blog inherited from TSO. Think about it, you could be Czar of a whole new realm where technocommunists are not welcome!

Then we can laugh as you fall on your face after realizing how unpopular your crazy ideas are lol.

Desmond Shang

Not planning on starting up on SL #2, Prok.

Yeah, it's remotely possible, but remember I've got 3 businesses (Caledon is one ~ the only one related to SL) and am starting a fourth. I really, really, doubt it will be worth the time to mess with SL 2.

I'll stay with what I've got, with Caledon. That's it, unless it's ridiculously, embarrassingly, painfully obviously worth the time. Insofar as even now, an hour spent in SL is an hour I'm not making a lot more money elsewhere, for a whole lot less effort. It's been like that for a very long time now.

* * * * *

It will be very interesting to see what happens if some kind of 'tax' on content replaces land as a platform revenue generator. In a sort of 'be very careful what you wish for' sort of way.

Cristalle

If you're going to attack, at least spell my name right, kettle. And by the way, I bought my computer from Best Buy.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm not sure that LL will drop the land model entirely — I just think it will be completely different from what we have now :)

The main reason for keeping some sort of 'land business' is that it makes much more sense for LL that way. They can love content creators, but all they get from them is a slice from the sales made on the Marketplace. Land barons, by contrast, buy in bulk and pay hard cash. So they're the right people to have as direct business partners. 'Pleasing' content creators is necessary because land barons need content to be placed on land, so obviously it's important to make content creators happy, too.

The problem is rather to speculate what LL will actually do, because they have given zero information on how their new virtual world will work. Contrast that to Philip Rosedale's High Fidelity, which, while still under development at an early stage, has produced detailed specs on how it will work and how High Fidelity's business model will be. Ironically, in spite of everything, Philip is doing a virtual world where there will just be land baroning. Really! Because HiFi will not have any servers to host content. That's up to users. Your own laptop can be your 'server' and you will earn money when someone visits you. But 'land barons' in HiFi will invest in large arrays of always-on servers, parcel it out as they wish, and resell land and access to land there. It is, however, a much more complex model: HiFi will not 'dictate' anything. So, very likely, different competing models of 'land' will co-exist. One thing is for certain, though: if someone wishes to give away 'free land' — huge sandboxes where anybody can play — they will have to pay for everybody's access. In HiFi there is really no such thing as a free lunch! Why? Because HiFi will make money from selling the currency that allows people to visit other's land, so they want to make sure that everybody pays for access.

Of course, we have yet to see if that model works. SL residents are reluctant to pay for anything and expect much of it to be free. HiFi, by contrast, will force you to pay for everything. It might be very little, perhaps fractions of cents, but you'll be constantly paying. Will that work? It's too early to speculate.

Unless LL went completely crazy, LL's new virtual world will still have to address basic issues. For example, privacy. People will need places where they can refuse entry to others. That requires a 'space'. Whatever form that 'space' takes, it means paying a fee for having your 'own' space. So, people buying 'spaces' in bulk and reselling/subletting it will be the new land barons. Of course things might be very different from SL — 'space' might be measured in the amount of triangles you consume, for example — but there will be enough similarities for a 'land business' to emerge.

If that's the case, then it makes sense to allow current land owners to exchange the equivalent amount of tier/fees they pay in SL for something costing the same in the new virtual world. That would be fair. It would not be 'the same', but it would at least mean that LL would be able to start with people already owning resources/spaces, and have them push SL residents to the new world. Desmond has said that he wouldn't go to SL2, but suppose that, for what Desmond currently pays in SL, LL would offer him the equivalent 'space' in SL2. It would be in Desmond's best interest to make sure all his renters would switch, too.

As for being impossible to move prims and sculpties to the new world... that's not true. Any major, recent third-party viewer exports prims and sculpties neatly to mesh. I have toyed around with these tools, and they are simply awesome — it works just as advertised. The resulting mesh looks precisely like the original prim/sculpty-based object. They did a great job with that, and it's really just point, right-click, Export to COLLADA, and wait about a second for the mesh to be saved. So, yes, prims and sculpties can be very easily ported, and LL is completely blind if they say 'sculpties' are a problem. They're not. Just grab the code from any major TPV. It's free!

Of course, this will only work if you have created everything — yes, each prim/sculpty must have been created by you, and all textures have to be created by you. Ownership is not enough. Group deeds, etc. are all ignored. Either you're listed as creator on everything, it won't work. So someone who got a free, full-perms texture pack and built a prim table will just get a mesh without textures.

In fact, this tool — or, rather, extra menu option — bridges neatly the gap between people knowing how to build with prims, and people knowing how to work with mesh. You can just build with prims, save as mesh, and re-import it as mesh — hey, now you're a mesh designer, too! Of course, the resulting meshes will be a nightmare in terms of triangles — but so are the original prims! In fact, one might get better results by saving prims to mesh, and re-uploading the mesh, because the end result might be slightly better (specially in those cases with many inter-penetrating, heavily tortured prims).

The main issue about porting content right now is not really prims/sculpties/meshes, but rather the ToS, as Ciaran Laval has noticed. The current ToS gives LL permission to use created content in SL only. Also, even if they change the ToS, high-end content creators might not want their early content to be uploaded to the bright, new, shiny world. They might wish to have a choice of what crosses over and what stays behind.

Anyway, for my other comments about LL's huge mistake in shutting SL down, see my blog :-P Briefly said, appealing to the content creators is important (it might be even crucial to have them around as an argument for people to switch over — if we know that the same shops will be around in SL2, we might be happier to switch), but it will all fail or break when it comes to consumers. And the main point here is that LL now has competition. In 2016, or whenever they will launch SL2 as beta, there will be HiFi and Facebook VW. Both will be shiny new tech as well. Both will allow users to create their own content. Both will have exactly the same arguments as LL has. If LL is providing a new virtual world without any clear migration path — in fact, hinting that no migration path will be possible — what is the advantage that SL2 has over the competition?

While SL exists, nothing can compete with it. It can remain around forever. But if LL shuts it down, suddenly the competition is important. They have forgotten for so long what it means to pull customers away from the competition and remain faithful to them, that I'm afraid they have never considered that. They're automatically assuming that 90% or so of their customers will eagerly follow where LL is leading — just because LL is LL!

Well, not really. If SL is shut down, people will look for alternatives. One alternative will, of course, be LL's new virtual world. But it's only one of many. Facebook VW might suck, but Facebook will have users and unlimited funds to keep it running. HiFi might appeal to the hippies, but there are a lot of hippies in SL.

Will LL's new virtual world capture enough customers to allow them to continue to be financially solid?

Probably not. Every 'new' virtual world — and we have seen many in the past ten years! — quickly attracts many early adopters: a few thousands. That's the easy part. The problem is knowing if it's worth to keep a VW running with 'just a few thousands'. Oldtimers might remember how LL, around 2003 (a bit before my time) considered shutting down SL because they only managed to get a few thousand subscribers. They decided to risk for a while longer, but soon had no choice but to change their revenue model, giving free access — then, yes, it started to grow.

Philip's High Fidelity can survive with 'a few thousands' because their company is tiny and they don't have any servers to host content. So they can hold on for a long time, even if they grow slowly. Kitely has a similar model: they grow on demand, thanks to their cloud service (although recently they had to revert their decision to allow so many freeloaders on their service...). Facebook has no money issues; they can afford to wait 5 or 10 years.

The problem is that LL is a multi-million dollar company and their Board expect a similar return from SL2. I have no idea how they can dream about that being ever possible. They took almost 5 years to reach that level starting from scratch. Even taking into account that the new virtual world will have a much lower running cost than SL — I expect a tenth or even less of the cost — how long are they able to wait until they get, say, 100,000 users again?

What scares me on LL's announcement is not that they're launching a new product. It's their sales pitch that scares me. It's the total lack of absence of a business model. It's things like 'give us five good reasons to keep SL around'. What about giving us customers five good reasons to move to SL2 and not to the competition?

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