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Linden Lab

Ask the CEO

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As part of Second Life’s 12th birthday celebrations, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg (aka Ebbe Linden in SL) was interviewed by Saffia Widdershins and Jo Yardley. You can watch the video below, and Inara Pey has written up a transcript you can read here.

You can watch the video here on our Official YouTube channel.

The interview ended with some audience Q&A, but there wasn’t time to get to all of the audience questions, and of course not everyone was able to watch the interview live in the auditorium and ask their questions.

In this thread, we’ll start by addressing some of the audience questions we didn’t get to in that interview, but you can also add your own questions as well. Ebbe and other Lindens will endeavor to answer as many as we can.

Questions from the SL12B Audience:

Second Life:

Q. Does Linden Lab plan to make more protected space on the Mainland, like Blake Sea? Are there any plans for abandoned parcels on the Mainland? Does Linden Lab have any plans for future enhancements to Mainland in Second Life?

     A. Yes, we have added some additional areas like the Blake Sea and we are always looking for more opportunities and partners who would like to become involved with the Community Land Partnership Program.  We do sell abandoned land parcels on the mainland, or sometimes use them for infrastructure projects.  Anyone can request to purchase abandoned land from us.  We are constantly working on improvements for the Mainland, both for ongoing maintenance and new content or feature additions. 

 

Q. Are any improvements to Media-on-a-Prim coming?

     A. Yes! Work is well underway. Stay tuned.

 

Q. Will prims with rounded edges be introduced to SL?

     A. This is unlikely.

 

Q. Will SL work well with Windows 10?

     A.Yes.

 

Q. Any plans to integrate additional hardware (VR HMDs or control/input devices) with SL?

     A. We don’t have any specific plans at this time, but with our open source Viewer, third parties could certainly integrate new hardware and we’ll continue to experiment from time to time.

 

Q.Are there plans to upgrade SL rendering to support the latest GPUs?

     A. We recently modified the viewer so that it assesses the speed of your GPU and estimates what capabilities it has without our needing to make continuing code changes to support new models, so as far as we know we should be able to support any card whose drivers properly support OpenGL.

 

Q. Will there be improvements for SL media, like making sound files longer than 10 secs and making other types of streaming media other than the mov format available?

     A. We are working on a significant upgrade to the media capabilities of the Viewer (watch for a Project Viewer release). The new support will be focused on supporting modern formats and HTML 5. Content creators should be preparing to convert any older proprietary media such as Flash or Quicktime to the newer formats soon. Longer sound files has not been on the list, but perhaps it should be?

 

Project Sansar:

Q. In an interview, Danger Linden mentioned that Project Sansar may enable users to have a master account with several personas under it, each of which could access a shared inventory and virtual currency balance. Could that be done for Second Life too?

     A.This is the way we’re currently thinking about structuring accounts for Project Sansar. Unfortunately, it’s probably not something that could be retro-fit onto SL.

 

Q. Will there be something like Second Life’s Mainland in Project Sansar? Will there be a concept of contiguous land where separate land plots can be joined together to form vast spaces similar to mainland on Second Life? This will be important for vehicle-based environments.

     A. We’d like to give creators the ability to both create very large experiences and interconnect their creations with others’, and it’s likely that large public ‘hubs’ around themes, interests, and communities will arise. Especially early on, there will be some public shared spaces created by Linden Lab where creators can gather, but we’re currently not planning to create something directly parallel to SL’s Mainland.

 

Q. Will the Oculus Rift be required for Project Sansar?

     A. No, experiences built on Project Sansar will be accessible across devices. PC and Oculus to start, eventually mobile devices as well.

 

Q. Will Project Sansar work with VR HMDs other than the Oculus Rift?

     A. Right now, we’re focused on making Project Sansar an ideal experience with the Rift. In the future, we’ll probably support other hardware as well, but some of the challenges we’re solving for with the Rift - latency, frame rate goals, etc. - are things we’d need to get right for any HMD, and we don’t want to diffuse our focus by integrating lots of peripherals right now, when there aren’t any consumers who even have the hardware.

 

Q. Will people be able to sell items in Project Sansar, without having payment info on file? [copybot question]

     A. Payment info will be required to complete many kinds of transactions.

 

Q. When you say "Sansar will open to folks in a few months" did you mean your hand-picked creators or public access?

     A. The very first alpha creators will be invited in this month, and we’ll expand from there as it makes sense to. We probably won’t open up to a large-scale beta before the end of the year.

 

Q. Will Sansar still support the collada import model, or move to the OBJ format?

     A. Very early on (i.e. for the initial creators invited into alpha), creation will be done in Maya. We’ll enable importing FBX, OBJ, and a variety of other file formats as we move ahead. We want to make it easy for creators to use the tools they’re already familiar with.

 

Q. How will the selection process work for Alpha Testers with Sansar. Will you have an application available or is the Lab going to just hand pick and/or approach specific existing residents/content creators in SL?

     A. The very first creators to be invited to the platform are being hand-picked and are people the team is familiar with, and who we know are skilled with creating in Maya. We will open an application process for future alpha and beta users and will let more people onto the platform as quickly as it makes sense to.

 

Q. Will Linden Lab be using OpenGL or DirectX for Project Sansar?

     A. Depends on the host platform!

 

Q. Does Sansar have a similar scripting architecture as SL? Or will that be quite different? Will Project Sansar use Mono-based LSL or Javascript?

     A. Project Sansar won’t use LSL, but will instead use C# as its scripting language. 

 

Q, What Physics engine is in Sansar? Any parth interpolation?

     A. This isn’t a detail we’re sharing at this point, but we’ll just say Project Sansar has a modern physics engine that will let creators make incredible things.

 

Q. Will skill gaming be allowed in Sansar?

     A. The rules for the platform are still being determined, but we want Project Sansar to enable a great degree of creative freedom, as Second Life does.

 

Q. Will our SL inventories be available in Sansar?

     A. No. Project Sansar won’t be 100% backward compatible with SL.

 

Q. How far will avatar customization go in Sansar? Would there be only humanoid avatars natively, or some more sophisticated skeletons altering functions as well? Four-legged avatars are quite popular here in SL, for example.

     A. Stay tuned!

 

Q. Will there be a "history" in Sansar? like Magellan Linden in SL, and many more things that are like a "oral history" which make SL appear like a WORLD not just some virtual space?

     A. Different experiences created in Project Sansar will probably have their own histories and mythologies, created by their communities, rather than a singular, universal virtual ‘culture.’

 

Q. Will there be boating and flying in sansar?

     A. Sure, and much more!

 

Q. Could Sansar eventually act as the platform for running or supporting Second Life in some capacity (he hinted at this at VWBPE in March)?

     A. We didn’t mean to imply that SL would be ‘ported’ to the Project Sansar platform - there are no plans for that. What we’d meant was that if someone wanted to create a virtual experience as large-scale and varied as all of SL today, they should be able to accomplish that with Project Sansar.

 

Q. Will Project Sansar have third party Viewers, or just one official Viewer? Will Sansar offer plugins as an alternative to third party viewers?

     A. We’re not planning to allow third party viewers with an open source client at the start at least, but in the future, it may be possible for developers to contribute valuable tools like plugins that meet the specific needs of some users.

 

Q. Will you involve existing TPV developers and teams to provide feedback and recommendations for the Project Sansar Viewer?

     A. Yes

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Will Project Sansar have instancing for terrain and inworld mesh objects?

Will Project Sansar have an advanced material system (e.g. support for normal maps, ambient occlusion maps, specular maps, etc.)?

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I've been in Second Life long enough to be considered an "Oldbie." During that time, I've lived primarily on the mainland, particulatly in the Bay City area since 2008. I am a hug fan of the mainland, especially when boating or flying, as it can give kilomter after kilometer of contigious travel.

Much of what I've heard about Sansar implies there will not be anything alalogous to the mainland. Are there any plans to have a large, contigious mass of regions that Residents such as myself can enjoy? 

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Indulging in a second question

 

As Second Life continues on as a viable product for Linden Lab, what future improvements might be on the table or in consideration to keep Second Life fresh, even as we begin to see more of Sansar come to light? 

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What new emerging VR/VW technologies excite Linden Lab that perhaps we would not expect and have nothing to do with VRGoggles and strap ons?

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In Second Life it is easy to copybot someone's creations, open up a shop in-world and sell them. We also see numerous accounts on SL Marketplace that sell empty boxes - just using pictures of well known photographers as their vendor images. If the account is reported, the shop gets closed and reopened in a few days under a new alt account. This ruins the experience and made many talented artists give up SL. It also creates a bad image about Second Life. I speak only about copyboting items created in SL, we all see how many items are stolen from various 3D websites and sold here. I even saw photos on Marketplace that show real life clothing! Do you have any plans to avoid this in Project Sansar? Or will it be same old saying "we can't do much about it"? 

 

Concerning the newly created accounts, where many of them give up 5 minutes after logging in in-world because they landed on some island with a bunch of other new residents and had no idea what to do from there, will there be any changes to fix this? I am thinking of some kind of a program/school thing where people could spend a week or two, learn and socialize with other new residents. Program that would make them involved in this new experience so that they wish to stay and spend their money here, instead of feeling lost and going back to WOW because its easier to understand.

Where will you go for summer holidays? :)

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This is one of the questions covered up at the top of the thread:

Q. Will there be something like Second Life’s Mainland in Project Sansar? Will there be a concept of contiguous land where separate land plots can be joined together to form vast spaces similar to mainland on Second Life? This will be important for vehicle-based environments.

     A. We’d like to give creators the ability to both create very large experiences and interconnect their creations with others’, and it’s likely that large public ‘hubs’ around themes, interests, and communities will arise. Especially early on, there will be some public shared spaces created by Linden Lab where creators can gather, but we’re currently not planning to create something directly parallel to SL’s Mainland.

 

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Pete Linden wrote:

<snip>

     A. We’d like to give creators the ability to both create very large experiences...

</snip>

 

What will the standard SIM size be?

Will SIMs larger than 256sqm be available?

ETA, Or should we be thinking in terms of cubic meters?

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Maybe I am just not seeing this in my head since all I really have is the Second Life perspective.  Why would resident created areas be any more interconnected than privately owned sims of SL are today?

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I realize it is early days, but Could you please comment on intent if not specifics.
1- Names. It is tempting to assume that our SL names will be reserved, but I have learned not to assume. (Can you immagine the chaos if they are not?)
2- L$. Given that both platforms will be using the same currency, will we be able to transfer cash between them? Any clues as to how that might work?

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I suppose, like some, I am more concerned with sl, as it stands, than I am with Sansar. Given the current issue of removing the ability for third party linden resellers in August, does LL have anything in store for making certain they accept more valid forms of payment?

(ie, prepaid cards which are accepted, no problem, at nearly all other businesses, but not accepted by LL, and LL claims it is everyone else at fault. Despite this no one, including the card manufacturer/issuer can understand where the problem really is, because it's really on LL's end and LL will not explain)

On the same note, are there any other plans in the works for increasing payment methods accepted?

(personally, I don't care about more payment methods, only that existing ones work properly, but others seem interested in more options, so I ask for them)

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Yes, we're planning to support instancing of entire experiences. 

Yes, we have support for physically based materials with spec, smoothness, "metalness" and normal maps. 

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shug Maitland wrote:

I realize it is early days, but Could you please comment on intent if not specifics.

1- Names. It is tempting to assume that our SL names will be reserved, but I have learned not to assume. (Can you immagine the chaos if they are not?)

2- L$. Given that both platforms will be using the same currency, will we be able to transfer cash between them? Any clues as to how that might work?

Yes, we want to support single identity (name) and ways for currency to move back and forth. 

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Tari Landar wrote:

I suppose, like some, I am more concerned with sl, as it stands, than I am with Sansar. Given the current issue of removing the ability for third party linden resellers in August, does LL have anything in store for making certain they accept more valid forms of payment?

(ie, prepaid cards which are accepted, no problem, at nearly all other businesses, but not accepted by LL, and LL claims it is everyone else at fault. Despite this no one, including the card manufacturer/issuer can understand where the problem really is, because it's really on LL's end and LL will not explain)

On the same note, are there any other plans in the works for increasing payment methods accepted?

(personally, I don't care about more payment methods, only that existing ones work properly, but others seem interested in more options, so I ask for them)

We support PayPal and Skrill today and between those two there are a lot of options available. We will always look for additional options but they quickly become very minor in use or expensive. 

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For those of us who want to ditch the 'Resident' surname...will there be a surname option on Sansar? Or even better, can we pick our own first and last name there? Thanks.

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Thank you very much for your answering the questions posed at the session. I have two questions with regards to the new user experience, one question regarding target marketing, and one about general positioning:

A) As a result of the A/B testing that you've been conducting during the new user acquisition process, what specific (or general) things will you change in Second Life - after registration - that you believe will improve new user retention?


B) What are the most important things you have learned from your testing of the new user experience in Second Life that you will apply to Project Sansar?

C) is there a target market - that you feel is under-represented in Second Life - that you will be specifically targeting for Project Sansar? (e.g. corporate, health, or education sector, etc.)

D) Lastly, a bit of a general blue-sky question, if you could cite the number one problem that virtual worlds solve for people, what would you say it is?

If you'd rather respond to any of these questions privately - you can reach me at canarybeck@gmail.com - thanks for your time, I really appreciate it!

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Loki Eliot wrote:

What new emerging VR/VW technologies excite Linden Lab that perhaps we would not expect and have nothing to do with VRGoggles and strap ons?

Getting HMDs and Controllers and Software right should be enough of a problem to crack for now.

Other than major optimizations of these things I have not seen anything that made me jump. 

 

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About a missing Mainland, I have the same concern, Marianne. At the East River Community we have always been supporters of a large continent. Being on mainland has always been our choice.

It sounds as LL wants to follow the same approach taken by High Fidelity and other VWs in the past, that is some shared spaces with most of the virtual land provided by users. I am not too happy about this but I suppose  communities may join forces to create a vast continent. Perhaps having a better control of that land may avoid the chaos we have in most of mainland today.

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