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Why has Linden Lab chosen to insult its existing Second Life user base?


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Why has Linden Lab chosen to insult its existing Second Life user base both by setting Project Sansar as a separate new product and allowing access to the developing future project by only those few it deems worthy?


LL has an asset that none of the other upcoming Virtual Reality worlds has and that is an established user base of existing virtual world users. But LL has chosen to ignore that advantage and go off and develop just another limited new VR world like all the others that are coming out.


I for one with my ten years’ experience in Second Life would have been pleased to be involved in helping to develop an updated SL. In effect I would have had “skin in the game“ so I would be loyal to a future LL project. Now like many of the other long term SL users I will ignore Sansar when it come out and I have no loyalty to Linden Lab’s future project.

Willow Dion

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From what we've been told, there's really not much to access in Sansar yet. Although they've been talking about it for months already, Ebbe said a couple weeks ago that there's still no scripting at all. Given that, I'd also guess that the mesh import is still changing regularly (so anything uploaded turns to garbage every so often, without notice).

They're not scheduled to open for public beta until end of the year -- and given the script situation, I very much doubt they'll make that target anyway.

Still, the Lab might well improve Sansar's chance of success by building more on SL's strengths. Well, we don't actually know much about what they're doing, but from what they've said, it's mostly about avoiding anything that was difficult in SL: no sim crossings, no Lab-managed "continents", no in-world creation (at least not at first), no Linux support, unknown social tools such as groups, etc. (To be fair, Sansar isn't as totally nerfed as highfidelity, which punts even basic text chat, but I don't think anybody takes highfidelity seriously as an actual platform so much as a built-for-acquihire start-up.)

If all the "lessons learned" are to avoid the hard stuff, they'll surely squander SL's competitive advantages, its barriers to entry.

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You are right we don't know. By now we should know more. Sansar would have a greater chance of sucess if frome the middle of last summer (six months in to Ebbe's tenure as CEO) LL  had emphasised it would be closer to SL and that current SL users would be more involved in develope of a next generation SL. I know they say SL and Sansar are seperate and that has been the major problem since the beginning of Sansar. LL had the potentional tools in existing SL users but they chose to ignore them.

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I’m glad it doesn’t bother you Phil. But the waste of resources does bother me. I’m also concerned with as Ebbe says Sansar will cannibalize SL. The extent of that cannibalization is important. If it is too great and SL’s user base shrinks too much will LL really upkeep SL when it is losing money? Of course with the glacial progress of Sansar Ebbe will be gone from LL and the new CEO may not care that the previous CEO said SL will continue.

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I have a few comments on this. As someone that manages IT projects and looks at them from both the business side and the development side, I think LL has done with Sansar exactly what I would do in a similar project. I do not like bringing in loads of people with diverse opinions when starting a new project. It does not help make a better product and tends to make the new product start to mirror the old, which is not always a good thing. You work with a smaller group of people, with a very defined set of parameters and skills to develop your new product. In the end that is just smart business.

My other comment is that in all of the things I have ready, and everything Ebbe has said it seems quite clear that Sansar is not SL 2.0 or even a replacement for SL. It is a platform on which developers and designers can build virtual world experiences. Where Second LIfe is meant for those of us without skills to make meshes and script to come in and live and play, Sansar will first require someone to come in and build the right expereinces. While I am sure there will be a market, and it will be possible to build shared spaces without having to actualy make meshes yourself, I do not get a sense that this is the purpose of Sansar. They have that already in Second Life.

In my opinion, Second Life is seeing a period of drastic change over the past 18 months. Changes on the viewer side to modernize code infrastructure. Changes now coming to update the avatar. Linden Lab is listening to people in Second Life about how to update this platform.

I often hear Sansar referred to as SL 2.0, and when I do I get the sense that the person making that reference will be very disappointed. Its a brand new world, made for a brand new world. New tools, new design. I don't think LL is insulting its SL user base.

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I have heard your point before about not involving users in the early development of a new software project. I spent twenty-three years professionally auditing software projects and the most frequent cause of failure was not including user feedback early in the design. How much to include is important but in my opinion LL’s minuscule inclusion is too small.


On you second point that Sansar is not SL 2.0 I know that and said so in the original post. But in my opinion that is the root of Sansar’s problems. It should have been.


Leverage that with using the extensive knowledge of existing SL user base there is a better chance of that Sansar will succeed. Not that it will guarantee success but that would improve the odds.

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From my POV the only insult is that they aim for a shiny new world (with a hopefully okay name like Sansar, even Project Sansar for all I care or else) and leave the old world and it´s residents with it´s insult of a name. But maybe that´s supposed to be taken care of with the 'cannibalization'. Bad naming, again, there. I think it will be more along the lines of Sansar some day being able to 'host what will remain of SL', all under one roof.

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Willow Dion wrote:

I have heard your point before about not involving users in the early development of a new software project. I spent twenty-three years professionally auditing software projects and the most frequent cause of failure was not including user feedback early in the design. How much to include is important but in my opinion LL’s minuscule inclusion is too small.

 

On you second point that Sansar is not SL 2.0 I know that and said so in the original post. But in my opinion that is the root of Sansar’s problems. It should have been.

 

Leverage that with using the extensive knowledge of existing SL user base there is a better chance of that Sansar will succeed. Not that it will guarantee success but that would improve the odds.

Seems to me that if you're developing a new product in addition to your old product, the people happy with your old product should be the last ones you should ask how it should be. You should ask the people who thought they'd want your old product but decided they didn't want that product after using it.

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I don’t agree. If you don’t include sufficient current user input you are setting yourself up to make the same mistakes as in the original product. Just because users are generally happy with an existing product does not mean it can’t and should not be improved.

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seanabrady wrote:

[... ] Where Second LIfe is meant for those of us without skills to make meshes and script to come in and live and play, Sansar will first require someone to come in and build the right expereinces. While I am sure there will be a market, and it will be possible to build shared spaces without having to actualy make meshes yourself, I do not get a sense that this is the purpose of Sansar. They have that already in Second Life. [...]

I agree with everything else you said, and with what I understand to be the spirit of the bit I quoted above, but maybe I'll riff a bit on the detail of Mesh and Experience creation.

First, whatever gets created in Sansar, much of that must be monetized by folks who act as end-product consumers of that user-generated content, just as in SL. Yeah, some of us are always daft enough to pay real money just for the fun of creating stuff, but most "serious" content will be with the intent to profit the creator -- and I read LL to intend Sansar to appeal more to "serious" creators than SL does, and to appeal less to the casual creators among us. (Presumably the masses are expected to pay to play indy games developed as Sansar experiences, but there could be other revenue models, too.)

Second, I think mesh modelling isn't the new hotness in Sansar as it has been in Second Life. It will be tablestake -- or maybe "commodity" is more apt -- more its usual role in 3D games and animation: there's a lot of it around, and there's some money in it, but it's not sufficient for success. Rather, the real money and control is in interaction design: narrative and game-play. That is to say, the pretty-pixel mesh products that drive the Second Life economy now aren't likely to be top dog in Sansar.

Rather, I think "Experience" design -- storytelling, interactive fiction, alternate-structured narratives -- that's the sort of thing likely to drive success in Sansar. But if you have such talent, will Sansar really be the best, most appealing way to bring it to the public? We shall see.

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Qie Niangao wrote:

From what we've been told, there's really not much to access in Sansar yet. Although they've been talking about it for months already, Ebbe said a couple weeks ago that there's still no scripting at all.

Doesn't seem to be much to show of visual content either. By now there shuld be a steady trickle of teasers to keep up the interest but so far all we have are a few "conceptual pictures" which some over-ethusiastic and shortsighted PR person tried to foist off as genuine inworld Sansar photos and apparently a 4 second video (haven't seen that one).


Qie Niangao wrote:

They're not scheduled to open for public beta until end of the year -- and given the script situation, I very much doubt they'll make that target anyway.

I'd be really worried if they did. That would look like a rush job.

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Willow Dion wrote:

But the waste of resources does bother me.

You know what? I have a very strong feeling the current LL management tend to agree with you, at least sometimes to some degree.

It is important to remember that Sansar did not start with Ebbe Linden. By the time he took over the steering wheel and broke the news, planning and dvelopment was already well underway. It would probably have been too late to just cancel the whole thing.

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Seems to me that if you're developing a new product in addition to your old product, the people happy with your old product should be the last ones you should ask how it should be. You should ask the people who thought they'd want your old product but decided they didn't want that product after using it.



Love it!  What a clever person you are.

Lots of misquoting of official statements here I noted, but that isn't unusual.  

For anyone actually interested in the official info there is a very good synopsis (witih bullet points) of a video here:

Official opening is almost a year away -- and that if all goes well. Historically, looking at other game platforms that could easily mean Spring which is actually a MORE than a year away.

Yes, SL is "in decline". It has been for many years, Sansar wasn't the starting point of the drop in users.  It is still a very viable world AND product. There are a ton of folks that have invested many years and or plenty of money in this world. At best they will be in both worlds. I don't see them leaving -- or not many of them.

There have been MANY improvements in Second Life since the announcement of Sansar. They didn't just hang the world out to dry and concentrate souly on their new project. Paleoquest is pretty impressive although not my thing and look how fast our databases load after a cache clearing or when returning from the beta grid.  Project Bento etc etc.

I am not an alpha tester type gal, but those that are CAN APPLY with the first folks going over in the summer. Others after that (this according to that link above). If you wanted to actually give some input then probably being more SUPPORTIVE of the project would have been a better plan. I am pretty sure you are on their block list now.

I have always said, "this is their platform and their investment". We CHOOSE to be a part of it. We can walk away any time we are unhappy enough. I don't always agree with the decissions made, but they are not my decissions TO make. Linden Lab is a for profit company; they are not Firestorm who strives to keep the most people that they possibly can happy. There is a BIG difference in the outlook. That is not going to change.

 

 

 

 

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seanabrady wrote:

I have a few comments on this. As someone that manages IT projects and looks at them from both the business side and the development side, I think LL has done with Sansar exactly what I would do in a similar project. I do not like bringing in loads of people with diverse opinions when starting a new project. It does not help make a better product and tends to make the new product start to mirror the old, which is not always a good thing.

That is true but you would do some kind of market analysis, wouldn't you? Until recently LL's work was always about finding a solution and then see if anybody happened to have a problem it would fit. Every now and then that did actually happen, often enough for SL to succeed. But this is hardly a good long term strategy. That's how Sansar started and it's extremely hard to turn it around later.


seanabrady wrote:

In my opinion, Second Life is seeing a period of drastic change over the past 18 months.

More like two years actually. But they're still fumbling. It's not that they don't want to change, it's just that old habits die hard. And of course there's this backlog of old sins to deal with. In the meantime SL keeps evaporating. Today there are 186 fewer sims than a month ago and it seems LL may even have started to take down mainland sims. Turning this trend will be a Herculean effort and they've only just started on it really. Then again, every big journey begins with a single step so there's still hope,

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steph Arnott wrote:

Then please answer this fundamental fact. How many people whether SL users or new are going to shell out a US$1000 just to try out sansar?

Sansar might be designed with VR headset users in mind, but there's never been anything to suggest that will be the only way to access it. In fact...

"Experiences created with Project Sansar will be optimized for VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, but also accessible via PCs and (at consumer launch) mobile devices."

 - LL Press Release

I don't plan to shell out $1000 to try it out because I won't have to. Nor will anyone else.

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Agreed.

 

It has been stated many times OFFICIALLY that headsets will not be mandatory any more than they are mandetory in Second Life.

 

I suggest that a bit more research to the OP might be in order. Heresay IS simply that.

 Please feel free to link to your sources.  I am out of here. Not an enabler :D

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I disagree.  LL is not insulting existing SL users.  You may have taken it that way.

In my opinion Sansar has to try and attract a different customer base than SL.

Sansar also has to be a separate product from SL so as to not have to try and bring over content that is based on running on outdated technology.  I am not talking individual's computers I am talking bout server code and equipment.

If all Sansar was to be a replacement for SL making Sansar SL 2.0 what would end up happening is it wouldn't draw hardly any new customers. It would just draw the same ones they already had.  Then nearly all of the SL 1.0 residents would divide their time and money in half between SL 1.0  and SL 2.0.

Since LL isn't shutting down SL 1.0 they still have all the expense of running SL 1.0 plus all the new expense of running SL 2.0.  Could either SL 1.0 or SL 2.0 survive if all it is doing is dividing up the same amount of revenue that SL 1.0 has now?  I doubt it.

Being upset or feeling insulted that LL is developing Sansar to be a product that stands on its own is like being upset with EA Sports because it decides to make a new golf game when you are a big fan of their current football game.

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“They're not scheduled to open for public beta until end of the year -- and given the script situation, I very much doubt they'll make that target anyway.”

From what I understood from the drips and drabs that is the Sansar communication the end of the year is Ebbe’s goal for the full production version of Sansar. Given the way Sansar is floundering  in my opinion that is even less likely that a public beta by the end of the year.

.
BTW you’ve found another person that doesn’t take High Fidelity seriously. I found it interesting from a technical standpoint but as you say they have punted such basic things as text chat.


Didn’t Ebbe respond favorably about a centralized official source for Sansar information back in November? Given the drips and drabs way Sansar information gest out that is needed to kill the rumor mill on the subject. But I haven’t heard anything else about that since then.

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