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Future of the metaverse, and all that


animats
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44 minutes ago, Coffee Pancake said:

So .. WHY isn't there a published roadmap for SL going forward?

Whenever LL management has had a big plan in recent years, it resulted in a business failure and sizable losses. Sansar. Blocksworld. Tilia. With that history, grand plans coming down from top management are to be feared. Incremental improvements are safer.

We're seeing more entrants with mediocre virtual worlds. You can now bash together a virtual world now without too much new code, using components from Oculus for VR, Unity for content creation, Ready Player Me for avatars, Sketchfab for a content library, Crucible for authentication and payments, and some hosting service for the data center. The result will be mediocre, but you can be online in months, not years. Some such world might take off because people found it entertaining. Many of the new entrants are hoping that fandom, branding, or Make Money Fast will make their world take off. So far, there are no huge successes in that space. But someone might have a hit. It's worth paying attention to what others are doing.

 

Edited by animats
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27 minutes ago, animats said:

Whenever LL management has had a big plan in recent years, it resulted in a business failure and sizable losses. Sansar. Blocksworld. Tilia. With that history, grand plans coming down from top management are to be feared. Incremental improvements are safer.

Grand plans can be discussed and grounded in community feedback.

LL have a bad track record of going dark then announcing with spectacular fanfare a great new thing for community participation & feedback .. after the plan has been set in stone, the code written, budgets spent, ending in surprised disbelief at the inevitable push back.

 

27 minutes ago, animats said:

We're seeing more entrants with mediocre virtual worlds. You can now bash together a virtual world now without too much new code, using components from Oculus for VR, Unity for content creation, Ready Player Me for avatars, Sketchfab for a content library, Crucible for authentication and payments, and some hosting service for the data center. The result will be mediocre, but you can be online in months, not years. Some such world might take off because people found it entertaining. Many of the new entrants are hoping that fandom, branding, or Make Money Fast will make their world take off. So far, there are no huge successes in that space. But someone might have a hit. It's worth paying attention to what others are doing.

LL should be watching what these startups are doing very closely and aggressively working to keep SL on par.

It's absurd to think the architecture that got us the first 18 years will get us another.

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Roblox is implementing mesh avatars.

ea120b9571df1075ee53a8bab7c1572b3c341cc9

Roblox improved avatars, phase 1.

Their "cage mesh" system is interesting They have a way to make mesh clothing layer properly, without "alphas". The "cage" around the clothing mesh can compress the layers below slightly. No more lower layers peeking through.

Users can upload meshes and use all these features. This is currently in live beta test.

When they finish this round of improvements, their avatar system will be ahead of SLs.

 

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SL can't win the new rat race of virtual worlds and the dream of a metaverse.
It is based on  to many in hindsight early days designer flaws.

One example: The current avatar system is not 100% in LL's control because of all kinds of third party bodies, heads and other body parts, so moving forward in that field will be more difficult than for newly started competition.
Others will have put it on and it fits. We are doomed to fiddle lots and than lots again.

SL has no serious phone or tablet interface.

And we all know LL's track record when it comes to implementing new stuff.
Tunnel vision hampers new developments in general and LL are not at their best most of the time when trying to look outside of their own boxes.

Edited by Sid Nagy
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4 hours ago, Sid Nagy said:

SL can't win the new rat race of virtual worlds and the dream of a metaverse.
It is based on  to many in hindsight early days designer flaws.

One example: The current avatar system is not 100% in LL's control because of all kinds of third party bodies, heads and other body parts, so moving forward in that field will be more difficult than for newly started competition.
Others will have put it on and it fits. We are doomed to fiddle lots and than lots again.

SL has no serious phone or tablet interface.

And we all know LL's track record when it comes to implementing new stuff.
Tunnel vision hampers new developments in general and LL are not at their best most of the time when trying to look outside of their own boxes.

How much of this tunnel is made up of boxes of content produced by users that refuse to tolerate change that affects their creations?

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I agree, all that user content is a big burden for SL's further development especially since LL still sticks to their backwards compatibility mantra. They really should declare some stuff as being outdated by now  IMHO.

 

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7 hours ago, Sid Nagy said:

One example: The current avatar system is not 100% in LL's control because of all kinds of third party bodies, heads and other body parts, so moving forward in that field will be more difficult than for newly started competition.

The upstart competition is based almost entirely around externally created avatars rather than a standard, for the most part they avoid the dress up ecosystem we have by making clothing part of the avatar. Roblox is kind of the exception in that it's solving some of the dress up problems our method creates.

There is one key distinction in that in other avatar dress up systems have a way to denote one element as the base avatar.

I disagree that we can't win based on early design decisions. New content types are entirely possible and most old content will fit into any future system as a subset.

There are some fundamental architectural points that would cause massive breakage should they be replaced, but that isn't the deal breaker LL make it out to be .. everything currently maintained can and will be updated to the new systems.

Old content isn't so much "old types of content" more "abandoned content".

 

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On 9/9/2021 at 1:16 AM, Sid Nagy said:

One example: The current avatar system is not 100% in LL's control because of all kinds of third party bodies, heads and other body parts, so moving forward in that field will be more difficult than for newly started competition.
Others will have put it on and it fits. We are doomed to fiddle lots and than lots again.

 

On 9/9/2021 at 9:05 AM, Coffee Pancake said:

I disagree that we can't win based on early design decisions. New content types are entirely possible and most old content will fit into any future system as a subset.

I'm with Coffee on this. I've been rather deep into the internals of the viewer, the network protocols, and the asset formats. Reusing existing assets in new ways is not impossible. I've been talking about that in another topic. I also have a more serious discussion going over on GameDev, to find out what's been done in that area. Making clothing Just Work, even with existing items, looks quite possible. Basic goal: if it fits in pose stand position, lower layers won't peek through in any other pose.

SL's value is in the user-created assets, the user base, and the society of the world. Without those, you have another Sansar. The point I keep making is that it is far, far easier to fix SL's technical problems than to acquire as many users as SL has. It would take more developers. It's not free, but it's possible.

Edited by animats
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The metaverse will never really advance for one reason alone..  Most people don't want to deal with others, we can see that happening now as automation slowly takes over, people would rather work with machines.  The only place you typically see such a desire is with a younger audience, who will likewise over time come to the conclusion that they would rather not put up with other people.  The dreams of the past were fatally flawed because of the fact that most of us can't stand one another.  

Even on this forum, most people can't stand one another and threads often result in long winded arguments.

Edited by Istelathis
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25 minutes ago, Istelathis said:

The metaverse will never really advance for one reason alone..  Most people don't want to deal with others, we can see that happening now as automation slowly takes over, people would rather work with machines.  The only place you typically see such a desire is with a younger audience, who will likewise over time come to the conclusion that they would rather not put up with other people.  The dreams of the past were fatally flawed because of the fact that most of us can't stand one another.  

Depends what you are doing on the metaverse. The desire (or not) to interact with others is situational with an individual, regardless of age demographic. 

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7 hours ago, Akane Nacht said:

Depends what you are doing on the metaverse. The desire (or not) to interact with others is situational with an individual, regardless of age demographic. 

I'm speaking in general, the metaverse appeals mostly to a younger audience and retains such a demography.  As people grow older, they are less likely to feel the need to log into one and opt toward a 2d environment to socialize with others.  The metaverse simply does not appeal to as many people as they grow older.  I find a metaverse environment is more immersive, and that may be a flaw in of itself, and I blame that flaw on society in general being much more asocial than we had originally thought.  I gather that opinion from the trend of people embracing automation, as well as preferring to work away from others, and so on.

I think even having a virtual 3d meeting place for employees would be less desirable for most, as they would rather maintain a less immersive environment.  

Buuuuuuuut.. this is my own opinion, which clearly is formed from my own bias and observations.  I think it would great if we could have an actual study to determine why the metaverse has not been as successful as I had hoped it would be.  Personally, I think second life should be far more popular than it is, I am surprised more people have not embraced it but, after seeing how people behave toward one another online I attribute it toward such behavior which tends to be anti social in general.

Edited by Istelathis
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For a future Metaverse  ever to be really successful and attract the masses IMHO there are a few things that are inevitable:
It has to be extremely easy to use, it needs at least to be accessible from smartphone and tablet, it needs usability in many different settings including RL commerce and education and it has to be affordable for many.

Doesn't really sound like SL as it is today, does it?
And combine that with LL that doesn't seem to have outlined future development plans at the moment ...*

 

* If they do have them, they are really masters in hiding them for everyone outside the company.

Edited by Sid Nagy
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4 hours ago, animats said:

The point I keep making is that it is far, far easier to fix SL's technical problems

I would (do, actually) agree with you, except the responses I kept hearing at the Server User Group meetings from the Lindens regarding such problems was "it's hard".

How to get over that mountain and find our way to happy-valley?

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I always wondered why we are scrambling to create a "metaverse" when nearly every metaverse featured in every science fiction novel ever is a dystopian corporate nightmare that people use to escape from the fact that the planet is falling to pieces around them. Its almost never portrayed as a good thing. 

If we ever do get to that stage, oh my, humanity is irreparably, irredeemably screwed. If we are not already.

But until we either have chips in our brains or at the very least, lightweight, discreet and affordable AR glasses, the metaverse will never be a thing in the "ready player one/snow crash/neuromancer, etc" mass parallel reality sense of the word. 

I think of all the current crop, NeosVR is probably closest to "the dream/nightmare" right now and its super impressive (or embarrassing, if your LL) to see what 1 person with passion can do. I have had a scootch around on desktop and its petty impressive even without a headset. Kicks the crud out of Sansar (not that that was hard).


 

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59 minutes ago, Profaitchikenz Haiku said:

I would (do, actually) agree with you, except the responses I kept hearing at the Server User Group meetings from the Lindens regarding such problems was "it's hard".

This translates to:

"Sorry we spent too much of your tier on hair-brained projects. Broke now. Give us some more and will think about it in a decade, provided no new shiny has come long for us to throw your money at".

Or

"We are too lazy to be bothered". 

Neither is really what you want to hear from a company that (we assume) still wants to be around in 5-10 years time.

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1 hour ago, Profaitchikenz Haiku said:

I would (do, actually) agree with you, except the responses I kept hearing at the Server User Group meetings from the Lindens regarding such problems was "it's hard".

How to get over that mountain and find our way to happy-valley?

Meh. Every developer thinks their job is impossibly more challenging than every other developer's, and it's always somebody else's fault. Developing from or refactoring a large existing code base? It's always krufty "spaghetti code" written in an obsolete language by cavemen, and if only we could start from scratch it would be just a weekend's work.

Sansar is a perfect example of what happens when actually starting from scratch: just watch those pages fly off the calendar while requirements drift into a backwater of market irrelevance.

That said, SL avatars specifically have accrued so many layers of mostly incompatible functionality that it's now impossible to learn all the ways they can be visually and functionally broken, let alone how to fix them. A "newbie" after a few months will have stumbled on most of the failure conditions for their specific choice of avatar and can safely attend public events as long as they don't try a new head or skin or push the wrong shape slider, or any of the myriad other ways to uncover incompatibilities across the many strata of avatar customization detritus that we worship as Creator-blessed content.

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2 hours ago, Qie Niangao said:

Meh. Every developer thinks their job is impossibly more challenging than every other developer's, and it's always somebody else's fault. Developing from or refactoring a large existing code base? It's always krufty "spaghetti code" written in an obsolete language by cavemen, and if only we could start from scratch it would be just a weekend's work.

It is ironic that I spent a large part of my working life maintaining or porting legacy systems, the conditions you mention were just part of the environment, and now, when I'm retired, the place I would have hoped to have settled into is plagued by the problems which I was accustomed to having to cope with butt the people aren't around anymore. I can't believe I was *that* unique.

You're right about Sansar though, starting afresh is like rotavating the ground for planting seeds, the weeds - sorry - indigenous vegetation - outgrows the seeds you plant.

Feature-creep, I've heard it called in the past.

Edited by Profaitchikenz Haiku
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On 9/9/2021 at 10:53 AM, animats said:

Roblox is implementing mesh avatars.

ea120b9571df1075ee53a8bab7c1572b3c341cc9

Roblox improved avatars, phase 1.

Their "cage mesh" system is interesting They have a way to make mesh clothing layer properly, without "alphas". The "cage" around the clothing mesh can compress the layers below slightly. No more lower layers peeking through.

Users can upload meshes and use all these features. This is currently in live beta test.

When they finish this round of improvements, their avatar system will be ahead of SLs.

 

This is big, hopefully LL can start making much needed moves in time before the odds are getting worse

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3 hours ago, AnnabelleApocalypse said:

This translates to:

"Sorry we spent too much of your tier on hair-brained projects. Broke now. Give us some more and will think about it in a decade, provided no new shiny has come long for us to throw your money at".

Or

"We are too lazy to be bothered". 

Actually, I feel that's a little harsh. As others have pointed out, people going to work for Linden Lab are expecting to be working on cutting-edge tech, not providing geriatric-care, and as I knew as a freelancer, you struggle to get a fresh contract that isn't exactly what you were working on at your last place, so wise-head freelancers might tend to avoid anywhere that suggests they're going to be involved dead-heading old flowers instead of growing new ones for fear of then doing nothing but that for the rest of their lives.

I suspect the reality is they've been advised not to break stuff trying to fix things.

It's possible I've misinterpreted the response "It's hard" as an actual description of the conditions they face, maybe they just switched from "This is the way Meroos come about" as their response to probing question to a less dismissive one. "It's hard" could cover a multitude of situations.

 

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8 minutes ago, Profaitchikenz Haiku said:

Actually, I feel that's a little harsh. As others have pointed out, people going to work for Linden Lab are expecting to be working on cutting-edge tech, not providing geriatric-care.

 

It IS probably a little harsh (a little). But if your applying for a job at The Lab, I assume you will do a bit of background research. So you will know that SL is their only successful project. And that everything else they ever tried basically blew away in a fart of overhyped-underbaked fugazi fairy dust.

So if your going there expecting to be working on the cutting edge, uuuh, why? Unless you want to work on the next cutting edge "thing" that's almost guaranteed to fail. 

IMHO the biggest single problem with The Lab is that they (as a company) always seemed to want to be something other than they are, pathologically so.

And this means they are always reaching for the "next thing" and falling flat, rather than figuring out what it is that they do well and doing it even better.

Huge, massive generalisation, I know. And to some degree, that is what companies must do to survive. But not at the expense of delivering and improving on the service that made them in the first place.

If I look at the history of Linden Labs, I see a company that invented digital-anarchy-sexytime-land and then spent their entire time either running away from it or trying to pitch it to groups that don't want it, while ignoring the groups who do.

If a fraction of the resources they deployed on every. single. other. project. that never worked had been deployed to SL, the grid would be a much different place today. 

And thats why they find themselves in the position they are in today. Still with a unique product, but one that's getting less unique by the day.

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8 minutes ago, Coffee Pancake said:

LL are trying to boost attendance to in world meetings, but there is nothing new to talk about.

There is no roadmap.

No plans.

🥺

I've made one and showed it to the Lindens based on what I think can help, I'm sure they also have their own internal one, let's hope for the best c=

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1 hour ago, Coffee Pancake said:

There is no roadmap.

There might be an internal one that isn't for the likes of us.

After their experience of Sansar they might now have thought twice-thrice... about trying to give us what they think we want and have settled to seeing what we currently like and just extrapolating a bit - such as - they spend lots of time beautifying themselves for pictures, so lets give them a way of super-enhancing their visual surroundings...

The metaverse is still a new concept, the closest to it is probably the Victorian-Edwardian theosophy ideas of how mankind fits into a greater spirit world. That took a while to peak and then fizzle out when the demand for it waned (and the evidence failed to appear). The metaverse is still on the rise, but that doesn't mean it can be road-mapped, monetarised, advertised, incentivised. Nobody really knows what it is going to be, but apparently everybody thinks they do.

Edited by Profaitchikenz Haiku
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Where we are going we don't need roads.  I once broke a CEO from saying "roadmap" when he got stuck riding with me on a really long, slow, drive through a blizzard.  I had refused to let him drive in that and insisted he rest and let me drive.  I knew how he was, always looking so far ahead he was making catastrophes up close, both in his driving and his business planning, so this was a self-preservation move.  Having survived the previous five days with him I no longer cared if I continued to have a job working with him or not, so I talked, calmly, quietly and frankly.  He found my demeanor and driving to be soothing, under the circumstances, which he really needed after the mess of the previous week.  When I noticed he was actually listening to me, instead of doing his fake-listening-while-scheming, I, the CTO of the company, laid out before him all the recent problems, where they came from, and why "our" plans to deal with them had almost all failed completely.

It was very much like some are saying here.  Linden Research, Inc., DBA Linden Lab, has a product that appeals to multiple demographics, but, apparently, not all.  Trying to make Second Life something else, to make it appeal to another demographic, is going to risk current business.  Trying to make something else that is to replace Second Life, likewise, is harmful to the health of Second Life when it parasitizes resources.  The CEO where I was working at the time was making the same plans.  He doomed the business by trying to be everything to everybody and parasitized resources to do other things to an extent it harmed the successful business he had already built.  The road trip we were on that almost claimed our lives was an example of him parasitizing the primary business to try to be a service contractor for other businesses in other locales.  He stopped some of the madness after that failed and almost fatal endeavor.  Unfortunately his life was cut short by stress induced health problems that had been building for years.

I remember Andrew Linden telling a group that he would like to try reimplementing the Second Life Simulator and some of the supporting services while keeping it on the same account, inventory, asset and financial systems.  Some "troublesome legacy content" would NOT be supported on a continent consisting of regions run on this simulator and some new content created there would likewise not be supported on the rest of Second Life.  When information about Sansar started floating around I was hopeful Andrew had gotten what he had described that day.  Alas, Sansar was not to be part of Second Life.  Sansar did not appeal to much of the established Second Life Residents and the fabled "larger general demographic" did not arrive.

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