As we approach the start of the new year, we want to spend a few minutes reflecting on 2013 - Second Life’s tenth year was a big one indeed!
This year, we marked Second Life’s tenth anniversary with inworld celebrations, special events, an infographic of some fun factoids and stats, and gave away thousands of festive free gifts and special-edition avatars. We hope all of you who joined us in the celebrations had as much fun as we did!
The boundless creativity of Second Life users that fills the virtual world showed no signs of slowing this year. The Marketplace remained busy, merchants gained new advertising opportunities, and creators submitted more than 3,000 new entries to the Destination Guide. If you follow this blog closely, you’ll note that we also began periodically highlighting some of the new and interesting entries here as well.
On the technical side, 2013 saw significant improvements to Second Life. Project Sunshine brings faster and more reliable avatar loading, while Project Interesting greatly reduces the load and time it takes to draw objects in regions. These releases represent the culmination of some long-term and complex efforts, but more importantly, they mean that as we head into 2014, Second Life simply runs better than it ever has before.
This year we released new tools to give users more creative power in Second Life. Materials support enables users to create photorealistic textured objects inworld using normal and specular maps (in fact, we used this to create the special-edition anniversary avatar!). The Fitted Mesh Project expands the creative potential of mesh in Second Life by enabling creators to make dynamically fitted mesh garments for avatars. We’re looking forward to seeing even more amazing creations built using these tools in the coming year!
We launched new tools to make it easier to communicate inworld and to share pieces of your Second Life experiences with online friends outside the virtual world. CHUI (the Communications Hub User Interface) brings Second Life’s communications tools together into a flexible UI that users can customize to fit the ways they prefer to communicate inworld. SLShare is an opt-in feature that makes it easy to update your status, share photos, and check-in from inworld locations on your Facebook wall so your friends can ‘like,’ comment, or come and join you in Second Life. That feature’s still in testing, and we look forward to bringing the option to everyone soon.
New technology, offering new ways to experience Second Life, helped make this year an exciting one and promises to make 2014 even more so. At the start of the year, we shared our experiments using the Leap Motion controller to interact with Second Life. As we come to the end of 2013, we can confirm that early in the new year, you’ll see new options for experiencing Second Life on mobile devices as well as the full integration of the Oculus Rift.
Whether you’ve been in Second Life from the start or are just joining today, we’d like to thank you for being a part of this incredible experience we’re all creating together. This year has been a big one for Second Life, and 2014 promises to be even better!