Heard the news? Me neither. I get the news about Second Life from the message of the day, which very conveniently appears every time I log on SL. Sometimes they post announcements there, and sometimes… well… classes.
Today’s one would be impossible to miss. Linden Lab have finally realized that Second Life is too deep in a hole for trying to bail it out with fitted mesh and made a decision to start over and create a brand new platform.
We decided to have a look at the video – and it confirmed that the new Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg, known in-world as Ebbe Linden, is intended to take Second Life to the new level with the next generation platform which have already been nicknamed “Second Life 2.0” by concerned residents.
He provided us with some general information, about the code not being open-sourse at least for the first time, about it being developed “in the spirit of Second Life”, about it being primarily oriented on content creators, about having possibly no backward compatibility with the current Second Life platform.
There were people expressing their concern regarding migrating to the new metaverse and starting their virtual life all over again. There were people expressing their concern regarding all the money they have spent in Second Life and losing it all for the sake of the new platform.
So, for the sake of not letting this ship sink very soon, Jessica Lion called out to people in her post at The Phoenix Firestorm Project website to write their ideas on improving the current Second Life experience. People eagerly responded – each of them with their own vision of the problem and the solution.
Well, this was a brief overview on what’s going on where we have no power. I want to talk now about us, mere residents.
Second Life, first and foremost, is us.
Linden Lab supply us with the servers and the environment – but we are the ones who populate it, who build it, who interact with it.
During the meeting, it was mentioned by Oz Linden that people keep complaining about lag, about crashing, about bugs – but they come back to Second Life. Of course, the technical side of Second Life is a great issue, but there is something about Second Life if people keep coming back. Something that wants people to be there. Crashing has no power in holding them away from Second Life.
Overall, people are the ones that give this world the shape. There is no mandatory quests for mandatory leveling up in order to advance in the game so it mkes sense for you – and people do what they want to do in Second Life. People create what they want to create. People participate in what they want to participate in.
Right now, what we observe is the eternal party fest mixed up with shopping for the 274th hairstyle (or obtaining it in any different way) and satisfying different sexual needs, from fancy roleplaying to brutal webcam show. My reference is the Events tab.
Which one of that is directly facilitated by Linden Lab? In fact, do Linden Lab actually facilitate anything at all in Second Life? Do they attempt to give the world a direction? No, this all has happened thanks to us residents.
On the other hand, we could say that Linden Lab have helped it indirectly.
There are many thing to do. You can play pool or table games. You can shoot zombies or ancient monsters. You can drive a car or a plane. But people barely consider any of those or many other activities. Because lag. Because illogical physics. It is much easier to stay in one animation in the club, even among other laggy/lagging people, than shoot the ball with high accuracy during a bowling game. It is much easier to take one picture in a brand new outfit and then spend the rest of your free time retouching it to post it on the blog afterwards instead of doing some actual exploration.
The other aspect, I believe, is the feeling of achievement. I mean this: When you go and socialize in the club, people get to know you, you have gained popularity. Since there is no universal leveling system, your high level in DCS would mean nothing to a model from Fashion Boulevard. So you have to rely heavily on social skills in Second Life – because the only way to be known is to let other people know about you, since they will not find you in the online leaderboard or in the Second Life news feed. There is no centralized ranking system. Your rank is what you make of yourself in-world, in the group of people you choose. Therefore, we can say that Linden Lab have indirectly facilitated the importance of the social aspect, along with big variety of in-world minorities, as well.
Next thing is what is called urban planning. Have you been to the mainland lately? Yes, that is the one with Linden roads you can drive. The road is fine, but how did you like the surroundings? Skyboxes, dance stores, treehouses, everything located with no order – it is not unusual to find an old cabin (residential) right next to a fashion boutique. Some people put on dividers with pictures of beach views or forests, to make it atmospheric within their parcel. The complete picture looks chaotic and hardly pretty. Total freedom of building anything you want anywhere you want led to that.
Now, instead of holding each other responsible, let us think a little. What is done with the Second Life Grid now is done by us residents – but this is what we have managed to make out of what we were given.
We do not know yet what will be introduced into the new virtual world. Nevertheless, we already have something – an experience of living in the most advanced and complex virtual world known on the planet, as Oz Linden stated in the video as well, and with which I can hardly disagree. We know what it’s like to have freedom from mandatory tasks and doing what we want instead.
The experience of running the virtual world (yes, each of us users participates in running it, our every little action has an impact on it) can be and should be carried over to whatever virtual world will take over next.
So, instead of waiting for the unknown and relying on that unknown, we should take into account what we have achieved by now, learn lessons from it – and take it from there to the next level.
Let us not be afraid of having to change, but get ready to ascend.