Monday, August 20, 2012

Eye on the Blog: Second Life is Expanding to Steam

A few days ago, Linden Lab Lab made two announcements on their blog. One was about team behind the Exodus Viewer having worked on a project to improve graphics. But the one that's gotten more talk was about making Second Life accessible to users of the Steam gaming platform.

As some sharp-eyed developers have speculated, we’re going to make Second Life available on Steam in the next month or so.

Many of us have friends who are avid Steam gamers, but if you’re not familiar, Steam is a very popular online game platform that offers a wide range of titles (and will soon also offer other software as well).

What does this news mean for Second Life? You’ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won’t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal.

We’ll make an announcement on the blog when Second Life is actually available on Steam, but in the meantime, if you have friends who are Steam gamers, let ‘em know it’s coming!

I couldn't find a thread of comments in the official forums about Steam, though there was one in the SL Universe forums. The residents there had mixed feelings about it, many feeling it would bring in easily bored teenagers whom were expecting a top performing system with little patience for the lag. A few thought the only ones whom would stick around would do so only for virtual porn and sex. Hamlet Au whom also talked about the Steam access, had among the most optimistic feelings about it, though the majority of those commenting were less cheerful.

There are a number of places and communities in Second Life that would appeal to gamers, such as Aria Clash, New Bastogne, WW2 Tribute, MadPea, and the Warbugs. Not being a top-end gaming system, the Grid would take some getting used to for them. Those looking strictly for "pawnage" may be hard to retain.

So what advantage does Second Life have? Unlike many other games made by multimillion dollar companies, those here are created by what amount to small businesses at most and teams of hobbyists at least. These are not made up of wealthy men (and women), but working stiffs whom are also amateur historians, sci-fi geeks, and programmers whom are more accessible and reachable to any questions and complaints.

There is one more advantage. Some gamers have more imagination than others. Seeing that the games in Second Life were created inworld not by Linden Labs but by other users, some may start getting ideas. Maybe a better-looking uniform, an idea for a new weapon, or perhaps a new villain/boss. In the historical combat RPs, players can work their way up the ranks. In both cases, talented gamers can not just play games, but become part of a team that develops them.

This, in my opinion, is what is most likely to keep any gamers Steam may draw in Second Life.

Of the "New Open Source Project to Improve Graphics Rendering Performance," the "normal and specular maps" for textures may not be the benefit for gaming on the Grid people like Hamlet Au and the Lindens are hoping for, but content creators should find these new tools useful.

Bixyl Shuftan

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