John (john.zhaoying)

Resident Since: 2006-12-14 (16 years, 11 months ago)

I worked more or less full time in Second Life from the end of 2006 to 2014 or so. As digital Editor in Chief of Dr. Dobb's Journal of Software Engineering (CMP Media), I used SL to build infrastructure for and conduct business-to-business and professional events, including two Life 2.0 Summits. Later, as Executive Director of the ZiffDavis Enterprise Internet and Community Laboratory, I did tons of simulcast SL video events for IBM SmarterTechnology and 'this and that' for other corporate players, while that was all still cool.

Once the penises started really flying around, that was no longer viable, so I went and did cloud computing and other kinds of software engineering and communications. Many such cases.

I've been waiting for (lol) 'metaverse' to catch on again, and of course, I'm still waiting. I write this on 8/22/23, having once again installed the vanilla SL client, which I'm happy to note actually works without crashing on my late-model AMD gaming system with NVIDIA graphics. And such was not true, six months ago -- neither for the SL client or Firestorm.

However, the platform clearly still stinks. The client still feels like a cross between a Boeing Dreamliner cockpit and World of Warcraft. The world is still sharded into sims and crossing between them still lags and rubberbands, etc., and there's a sense that actually being around people will still make things unpleasant once crowd size grows to mid-double-digits.

The graphics are fine. SL folks of 'my generation' (i.e., the epoch during which we moved from prim-torture to sculpted prims to mesh) were all on about the graphics, and the result was to create technical challenges sufficient to eat up performance improvements as these were slowly engineered into the platform. And the result of that was that SL was never able to make a transition to mobile, thin laptops, or otherwise follow the whims of client-side fashion, and thus was never able to scale to interesting numbers or lose the stigma of being 'a game.' As I explained to Phil Rosedale, Cory Ondrejka, Mitch Kapor, and others over the years, I need the ability to create a roughly four-sim total area region that can accommodate 500 avatars in a seamless shared experience with good perimeter and 'onsite' security. (These numbers derived from deliberations with the world's two largest b2b event producers.) And if they can reach 'wow, this is great' for noobs at those minimal scales, we can change the whole world (meaning: we can move thousands of real-world events with huge carbon footprints into this environment and contemplate doing things like 'moving Las Vegas into virtual reality' -- all to the tune of at least tens of billions of dollars annually). But no. We still have rubberbanding and client thrashing and 'OMG where am I, I can't see anything!' and so on.

Peoples' inventiveness? Never falters. I came in, tonight, following a SLURL to a sailboat store, where I bought a new Snipe, and I've been sailing that thing around the scattering of sims in the area, and god damn, it's as close to real sailing (I've raced sailboats for decades in RL) as you can imagine getting in a simulation. The boat is beautiful. Every detail is perfect. The control planes, HUD, popup menus, etc., are all well thought-out (within SL's architectural limitations, anyway). Absolutely first-rate craftspersonship. But OMG you hit a sim boundary and lol -- everything stalls, freeze, camera flies around, OMG OMG, and then we're back (which beats crashing, I guess, but come on). So there's clearly nothing wrong with the creator economy, peoples' technical acuity and artistic vision, or with the toolchains people are using to build assets.

Scale, seamless experience (no WTF moments), and simplicity, folks. Zuckerberg with all his billions hasn't the first idea how to do this. And SL _already knows_. Spend two years NOT evolving the graphics, but instead, just making everything run smoother and faster and bigger. Let's create a simplified client and onboarding process with some reasonable controls and affordances. Integrate the web and video and so on a little better. And we can change the world.

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