Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Phoenix Team Leader Jessica Lyon Speaks Out About New Third Party Viewer Policy

Yesterday on Feb 28th, Jessica Lyon made a public appearance to speak about the recent changes Linden Lab announced of their Third Party Viewer Policy. The Phoenix "office hour" took place at the Rockcliffe University area, and was in front of a packed audience with up to 150 residents in and around an auditorium at the intersection of four sims (Rockcliffe I, Rockcliffe Library, Agile 3D, and Rockcliffe Conservatory). Despite delays, sim crashes, a restart, and a troublesome griefer, the meeting went on and most of the people stayed or came back to listen. There was also the option to see the event over live.

Appearing with Phaylen Fairchild, Jessica told the audience she wanted to give her side of the matter, but be objective in doing so. She told the audience that the features showing users of the Phoenix and Firestorm what Viewers others were using and what their online status was would soon be gone. Other than that, the viewers would not be changing, and it was her impression Linden Labs would not be asking for any more.

Jessica told the audience that Linden Lab had first come to her several months earlier asking about the possibility that Phoenix could do away with the feature showing what viewer others were using. They told her there were reports coming in of "bullying" by third-party users on users of official viewers. Jessica stated she then went about with an alt using the official viewer, and had a few encounters that gave her the impression there was some truth to the Lab's claims.

What Jessica felt was the policy change that would have the biggest impact was the one about any further changes to the viewers would have to be approved by Linden Lab for use on official viewers, stating they wanted to preserve the "shared experience" of the residents. "I get it in principle, but," Jessica felt this would have a detrimental effect on further innovation as developers would be less inclined to spend weeks or months on a new feature and have no guarantee it would be approved by the Lab. She stated Linden Lab had the contrary opinion, that they honestly believed that their policy wouldn't affect further third party research.

She brought up the former Qarl Linden's work on a mesh deformer viewer tool to allow users to correctly wear mesh clothing, and how it had been Crowdfunded by donations. She cautioned anyone else interested in crowdfunding a viewer development would be subject to Linden Labs vetoing the project, and "all the money the community paid ... is wasted."

Jessica told the audience they were going to go ahead and do what Linden Lab was asking: submit further developments to them first for use on official viewers and awaiting approval before using the new features on new viewer updates. She felt as in the past year the Lab has been more active in updating new features, there was reason to hope, "We'll see how things go."

Jessica took some questions from the audience. Among them, would they design viewers for other grids. She answered, "Good question," saying it has never really been discussed by the team, but "not out of the question."

She did feel there would continue to be third party viewers and teams behind them, "(Like you) we're residents. We deal with the community more directly. ... I don't think (Linden Lab) will ever truly understand (it's users)."

Jessica gave the audience a number of links they could read about various perspectives on the Third Party Viewer policy changes,"Policy Changes" on the Official Second Life forums, Your Nymph, the Andromeda Media Group, "Stiffle Competition" on the Official SL forums, Inara Pey, Tateru Nino, Nalate's Things, Prim Perfect, Tonya Souther (the Phoenix Mac development leader), Ciaran Laval, and The Torch. Daniel Voyager also posted a number of screenshots of the meeting on his Flickr. Presumably, there will be a recording of the event available soon.

Bixyl Shuftan

*Editor's note* This article was slightly edited later in the day due to the rush job to get the news out due to public demand.


  1. I wanted this done by the time I headed off to real-life work, so it's a bit rushed. I'll make a few small corrections later.

  2. Ensuring the RELEASE versions of TPV are the same as LL's, I have no issue with. But LL saying what other people may or may not do with their own code base? I'd tell LL where they could go, personally -- especially if the change is only for display on that computer and doesn't change what others see (which is permissable by their new rules).

    What needs to be modified on this new approach is simply this : "New features being tested on TPV may be implemented and tried out in BETA releases for the grid. Popular features will then be brought into the main LL viewer as well as everyone's release viewer as well." This requires LL to actually act on consumer's demands for once though, so I'm not confident the lab is able to do it.

    As it is written, what will happen is thus: LL's viewer and all the viewers in SL will stagnate -- not changing and not improving. Other grids and their viewers, on the other hand, will be free from LL's meddling and can attempt to improve rendering speed and fix the max number of people in a sim problem. This will turn the tables on SL's superiority and then Opensims will be cheaper AND better with superior tech.

  3. Shockwave may be right regarding innovation. But, I've been reviewing viewers for over a year. In the last 8 months TPV Dev's have had a challenge keeping up with the Lab.

    In 2009 TPV's were better than LL's viewer, less memory leaks and faster.

    Since the release of Mesh TPV's seem to be playing catch up. FS/PH in just the last release got most of their features working in FS. They are just now starting to new features they have planned. Exodus and Nirans since Dec 2011 seem to have caught up and started adding new features.

    The Lab has changed a lot since the arrival of Rod. Lots of staff changes have changed how the Lab works. I doubt the Lab will hold TPV Dev's back on any thing that does not change the world. And things that change the Lab's world will have to be done the Lab's way... it is their world.

  4. This reminds me of the early days of AOL trying to become an island onto themselves. The LL wording is similarly on a slippery slope. (Try saying that 5 times fast)

    Let LL be AOL 2.0. You true innovators should spend your time freely doing what you think you need to do. You don't need children holding you back.

  5. Article edited to include a few things I didn't have time for earlier. Thank you for your paitence.