Saturday, August 20, 2011

SLCC 2011: Game Mechanics, and Rod Humble’s Speech

Events last weekend, real life and in Second Life, kept me away from the Second Life Community Convention inworld. Daniel Voyager described attendance as “around 15 – 50+ at any given time during the weekend and i’m sure at Oakland there was a good attendance number.“ Daniel wrote several in-depth articles and posts on the event, such as this one for videos and pictures.

New World Notes also had a few articles. Among them, that it was announced in a keynote panel that game mechanics would be introduced as part of the experience for new users. Hamlet Au called this announcement “easily the most important of the panel, because the lack of a game-like structure is a key part of the confusion that causes almost all new SL users to feel frustrated and aimless, and subsequently, quit shortly after installing the client.”

"Second Life is not a game," spoke Executive Producer Michael "Gez Linden" Gesner during the panel, "However... you can use game mechanics and game systems to help people become more comfortable in Second Life... we're trying to get people over that initial hurdle."

The Linden team “now has specialty roles for specific varieties of SL content.”

Art - Durian Linden -
Gaming & Breedables - Gez Linden -
Roleplaying - Esbee Linden -
Adult - Charlar Linden -
Education - Geo Linden -
Music - Nya Linden -
Fashion- Cassanda Linden -

Hamlet Au also noted that ironically enough, people at the convention weren’t on Second Life that much while there,”this is the first one where I noticed a serious lack of SLCC attendees logged into SL.” Instead they were using social media sites such as Facebook. His readers responded that iPhones were easier to carry than the computers they felt logging onto the Grid needed, plus “not being able to plug into power means your battery is dead fairly quickly.”

The highlight was Linden Labs’ CEO Rod Humble (Rodnik Linden) giving his keynote address. Last year, Philip Linden dropped a bombshell when he announced the Teen Grid would be merged with the main one. Nothing so dramatic was announced this time, though there were a few subjects of interest.

A recording of Linden Lab's CEO Rod Humble/Rodvik Linden, giving his keynote address, taken last weekend at 1PM Aug 13th.

Rod committed himself to becoming more experienced with getting around on the grid, “this first time addressing you, (it’s) as a relative newb. Hopefully this time next year ... I’ll be a little more experienced.” He noted Second Life was getting 16,000 new sign-ups every day, “something that many games would kill for.” Talking about the “why people go in” Second Life, he admitted he couldn’t really put a finger on it. He felt this mystery was part of it’s charm. He went on to say that when he first came to Linden Lab, he had the impression Second Life was much like “the Sims.” He quickly found out it wasn’t like that at all, “everything created by others. ... everyone creates, even if it’s just relationships.” On the issue of “the point” of Second Life, he felt it was the need for people to create, “the creativity is what makes us human.”

He talked about such creativity being shared, and another important role being identity and being about to “segregate” the different roles one has. He commented he was “disturbed” by the rise of certain social networks which did not recognize any right to privacy of any of these roles. He commented that people act differently when they go to church from when they go to a sporting event, and admitted being part of an online soccer forum where he expressed a very different side of himself with his “obscenity-laden rants.”

Rod also expressed the goal for the company to give the family members of each a Second Life account, “right now, we’re about halfway through that project.”

Rod stated that Linden Lab planned to work more on region crashes in the Grid, “less features, more on fixes.”For the rest of the year, they would put a little more focus on costumer service, addressing concerns, and the lag. He talked about the quality of service. He also brought of the subject of griefers, wanting to “make life unpleasant for griefers, in an inhumane way.” Rod also mentioned improvements to Premium accounts, with new features added.

He also took questions via 3x5 notecards from the audience, and answered some. One of the first was about protecting content creators. Rod answered that “we have several plans.” He mentioned some new products, involving tablets, saying “sales of desktop (computers) had fallen flat.” Linden Lab would be working on products besides Second Life.

He mentioned Second Life was getting more new users these days. But they were not showing up on the Grid like before. They were different in that they were spending less time logged on, and spending more time socializing. He mentioned tools on the horizon, such as facial recognition and voice recognition. He commented at one point about “Second Life a killer ap for education. ... Best we can do is support. ... It is not for Linden Lab or me to push it’s users into a direction.”

Of Viewer 2, Rod commented that the Lindens didn’t want to annoy their customers, and if some residents didn’t want to use Viewer 2, that was “fair enough.” But they had worked a lot on the viewer, with new features in the codebase, and just couldn’t give it up. But Rod was willing to work on further improvements, adding more features from Viewer 1.

He mentioned getting a Twitter account, saying the only reason he got one was because residents has asked him to, “the best way to get in touch with me is through my profile ... or message me on Twitter.”

Of clothes being affected by long rezz times and lag, Rod seemed to be saying the improvements being worked on would be through Mesh.

A few times, Rod was asked about land pricing. Each time, he refused to answer, “I’m not going to be talking about that.”

He talked about the “new user experience,” saying the destination guide had been a big help, and the Lab would work on further improvements. He talked of setting up some newbie areas where they could go to chat.

One interesting point was when one of the audience asked about if the Lindens would bring back Community Gateways. Rod, admitting his unfamiliarity, asked, “what are those?” Someone explained they were branded web portals from a few years ago. Rod responded, “That’s a great idea. What happened to them?” The audience enjoyed a few chuckles of the CEO’s “noob status.”

Rod stated at one point that no other major companies had tried to duplicate what Second Life has, “except maybe Google.” Someone asked if Linden Lab was planing to “once again go overseas.” Rod answered they would. He talked about “localizing in languages,” such as Russian and Thai.

Daniel Voyager and Hamlet Au also have articles about Rod Humble's address. Others whom have posted about the SLCC include Modem World by Inara Pey, Ciaran Laval, and the Betterverse.

Sources: Daniel Voyager, New World Notes

Bixyl Shuftan

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