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5 hours ago, Tresia Beck said:

If SL upgraded to unreal engine 5 armature game creators could create games right in SL driving the gaming community to be part of SL

You probably meant "amateur". In animation, creating an armature means creating a skeleton and the "motors" that drive the joints. But anyway.

This is no longer a stupid question. Because 1) Epic has been making huge progress with Unreal Engine 5, and 2) Epic says they want to extend this into a metaverse. Right now, you can not only watch that demo as a video. You can download the new Matrix demo and run it on a PS5 or Xbox X/S. You can then explore 16 square kilometers of city, at a resolution so high you can zoom in on paper cups on the street. That's their new Nanite system in action. Later this year the demo will be available for PCs. UE says they will release the demo content, and you'll be able to compile, run, and mod it. I'm looking forward to that.

Not all the pieces for a metaverse are there yet. UE5 can stream content from a local solid state disk, but that's a very high bandwidth, low latency situation. That's how those incredible demos work. As yet, there's no good solution for doing this in real time from remote servers. That's an interesting theoretical problem, one that Epic probably has a large number of people working upon. I think it's going to take help from edge servers of the CDN to send just the right pieces to the client. A UE5 Nanite mesh is a big file from which different parts can be viewed at different resolutions. It's a much finer grained level of detail system than has been seen before. That's how they do those insanely detailed demos. For the demos, the huge meshes have to be loaded locally, which is slow. They need to be loaded with only some areas at high resolution, based on the viewpoint. Somebody server-side needs to create the proper customized mixed-resolution copy of the mesh and ship it to the client. That work needs to be offloaded to edge servers of the content delivery network. All this stuff creates the bookkeeping problem from hell. But Epic cracked that for the rendering engine already. Next, the network.

Then there's the problem of user-generated content. Unreal Engine relies on heavy preprocessing and optimization which takes place as content is built with the developer tools. In a changeable world, the developer tools for a single object don't see enough of the world all at once to do that. That's a problem for Second Life, which just skips that step. Un-optimized content gets into the asset servers, which is part of why SL chokes on complex content. That optimization job needs to be done somewhere in the pipeline. Probably on servers which are optimizing content in the background. SL has a bit of this, with Bakes on Mesh and the builder of the pathfinding grid. But not enough.

Then there's the big-world server problem. Improbable's Spatial OS was supposed to solve this, but it's too expensive to run and game devs who have tried it found it painful. But it's approximately the right idea. Spatial OS has regions, and can move the region boundaries while the system is running. So when more avatars are in an area, they divide it into smaller regions, to put more CPU power on the job. Empty areas are combined into big regions. So you can have a thousand avatars close by without choking the servers. At last, crowds are possible. There have been other attempts to make this concept work. Progress continues.

So, enough of the pieces are now working that you can see them starting to come together. Not enough is here yet for SL to move over, though.

Epic has a development budget of over a billion dollars to build a metaverse. Sony put up some of the money. Roblox is also putting a few billion into the general metaverse problem. Developing this kind of technology is above LL's pay grade. But it's getting done by others. Sometime around Unreal Engine 7, you'll probably be able to create a basic metaverse just by downloading UE and compiling some demo.

So that's the technology of the not too distant future. What will be done with it, who can say? But the Ready Player One quality level looks to be reasonably close. If you doubt this, go watch the Matrix demo.

 

 

Edited by animats
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3 hours ago, Rowan Amore said:

So basically, it'll be difficult and expensive so...not gonna happen for SL.

Maybe not. The real value in SL is the content and the users. If the tooling is developed with Unreal Engine 6 or 7 or 8 to make an SL clone easy, it could happen. Possibly from the Open Simulator crowd, if LL doesn't do it.

Figure out a way to port content, and provide teleporting between the old and new systems. Gradually convert. First the beta grid so people can debug, then the single region private islands, then the larger private islands, and then, finally, mainland continents. Kind of like the AWS transition.

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I've very curious to see how SL handles the new whales in the virtual world pond. There have been others probably even before SL. I remember Playstation attempting and somewhat succeeding with their very watered down and kid friendly PS Home. That was actually my first interaction in a virtual world and I liked it enough to see what else was out there after Home shut down the servers. They did a lot of things differently and it was built on Unreal engine 3 i believe. It wasnt nearly the size SL is but they consistantly had a 5 digit user base in a world that wasnt spread across infinity which made a world seem to populate instead of the scattered thousands SL has. SL has a lot going for it but I'm affraid that it's biggest asset and attraction will also be what keeps it from being much more than what it is right now. The users built SL and thats pretty bad ass. The economy is alive and fairly healthy and the creative people do some amazing things, especially when a few team up. But as tech savvy and creative as so many are, we're not pro developers. We dont take the time or care enough about getting the most out of every spec of available digispace. A home built by a pro is beautifuly designed, built and then optimized to where it weighs nothing comparing that to a typical sl builder, designer, creator, a left shoe, thatll look amazing, will end up taking up as much space as  a city built by a prodev. Not only that, but pros also have to make sure their creation can be accessed and used by any. Has to play well with scripts written by someone who may not speak the same language or know more than the bare minimum of how to accomplish whatever the  task may be. I'm rambling but I say all that to say this, without a dedicated develpment team and standardized assests and limited commercial realestate it doesnt make much sense for SL to even try to move forward. There's no where to go that wont make this whole thing crash and burn.  There needs to be a middle ground between User generated and Dev team generated and still be able to have a real economy where users are inspired and encouraged to create like they are now.  Hearing Zuch spew sounds about how innovative his metaverse is and then goes on to describe things that have been common and basic in SL for over 10 years grinds my gears for sure. I don't know whats going on in front of the scenes let alone behind them and I hope LL is making hard, smart decisions about the future of SL I was there for the last day of PS Home, which was far sadder than i imagined it being. I can't even fathom how itd be if SL has to shut it down as well. Emotionally people would be torn apart but also the legal department would be working over time. How many hundreds or even thousands of dollars have you spent? When servers are shut off does any of your only recently nonexistant digital assets have any sort of worth that the thousands and thousands of SL users would undoubtedly try to recoup? I'm glad i don't have to worry about these things unless I want to because it's interesting to think about. This is going to be interesting to see how these online worlds navigate. LL better not be soft though cause say what you will about Zuch, the man's a roboshark that will eat you alive if given the chance.  And if anyone knows a good source to learn about the what and whens and hows of metaworld news please let me know. P&L  

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since the gates are not being ran into like some years ago.  we learned by watching that 89k was the top number of people hitting the gates and the system halting hard.   I'd like to see another test load of the systems again;  but I'm not sure LL would @Monty Linden   any idea if you guys have the ability to setup aws to do load testing like people are trying to get in?   would be curious to see if the system can pass 89k logins.

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So,

*  SL user-creators are rubbish. For a large part, this may well be true.

*  You can go anywhere and create, as an amateur, without needing to study for 3 years. Really?

Choose your poison!

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if I was the boss of SL (which I am not but if I was) then I would fork Blender and call it Slender

then I would slenderise the forked codebase to be able to create content optimised for SL. Reworking the Slender UI to incorporate much of the SL Viewer build interface methods (object/face selection, rotation, etc) while retaining the Blender mesh methods for things which are not possible with classic prim building methods in the SL Viewer

so that what we see in Slender locally will be the same in the SL Viewer after we upload it

 

 

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12 hours ago, bigmoe Whitfield said:

would be curious to see if the system can pass 89k logins.

Easily, if they're spread across the grid. Too many avatars within a region will choke the sim process. Too many within view distance will choke the viewer. But spread out over many regions, no problem. Look how empty the map looks with 50,000 people logged in.

 

16 hours ago, JustJephrey said:

I've very curious to see how SL handles the new whales in the virtual world pond.

Me too. The NFT clown car is slowing down. The Make Money Fast crowd turns out to be terrible at building usable worlds. Epic, Roblox, Facebook, and Microsoft, though, are staffing up and implementing stuff, with budgets in the billions. Those companies have a good record of shipping products. Interesting things are coming.

16 hours ago, JustJephrey said:

But as tech savvy and creative as so many are, we're not pro developers. We dont take the time or care enough about getting the most out of every spec of available digispace. A home built by a pro is beautifuly designed, built and then optimized to where it weighs nothing comparing that to a typical sl builder, designer, creator, a left shoe, thatll look amazing, will end up taking up as much space as  a city built by a prodev.

This is a common plaint. I've written about the technical end of this before. I'd like to see technical fixes. Chic Aeon wants designers to do better, and routinely makes impressive low-LI objects. But she's moved over to Open Simulator.

One possible idea is to smarten up Marketplace, so that mesh analyzers look at what you're selling and score the efficiency of the objects on sale. Then use that to help determine ad placement.

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There are other game engines, such as Unity. They may all have the same general optimisation problem which can afflict Second Life.

There were design choices made in the early days of Second Life which would likely be made differently now. How many multi-core processors were around in 2002? How fast were our internet connections?

The world has changed. I do wonder if the people who succeeded in that old world are the people to cope with the new one.

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On 1/22/2022 at 3:14 AM, Tresia Beck said:

If SL upgraded to unreal engine 5 armature game creators could create games right in SL driving the gaming community to be part of SL

What you ssy is that linden lab need to make secondlife 3.0 and dump secondlife 1.0 with all the content and hope users move to 3.0. Hmm, not see that working. The failed sith sansar to and many other platforms struggled or died.

Also, not sure if you can change unreal in realtime platform like secondlife. It's extreme hard to replace secondlife for something modern that works like secondlife.

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For all of SL's problems with legacy stuff, I would think SL's content library is one of the largest for any virtual world. And that is where a lot of SL's value comes from. It's not entirely from the technology, servers, etc. It's the users and the content. LL abandoning the content in SL for an upgraded version of SL would put it directly in competition with all the other virtual worlds. Right now, SL is sort of on another level of existence because you can go on SLMP and buy almost anything you want. Not to mention, if you are a content creator you go to SL because it's got the users and it's the platform most likely for you to be successful on because there's more users.

If SL ever sees any sort of massive performance improvement and is able to scale to slower devices (like mobile), it would be because of some sort of clever rendering tricks for rendering poorly optimized geometry. There are more technical people out there than me, but you have 3d viewports in 3d modelling software that can handle a really lot of verts for geometry that's not really optimized and it runs fine. Trying to use an existing engine is a waste of time, SL is more like a content editor and world builder than an actual game, even if you aren't one to use the editor and world building features. SL needs some sort of math and render genius to fix some of the problems they have, and very sadly most programming today has gone away from that and shifted to "lets use some libraries or lets use a different engine" and not "how do we optimize our custom in house software?" There are a lot of small steps being made right now to fix some legacy code, and a lot of it is really paying off. Maybe SL can be made to run well with lots of smaller improvements adding up, maybe it needs more. But I think there is a lot of fixing and upgrading stuff without resorting to clever tricks that SL can be massively improved.

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Thinking that changing the render engine for an AAA game one would lead to a wider adoption and usage of SL is a total mistake, or so is my opinion.

First of all (and as pointed out in some of the above replies to the OP), the SL render engine is not about dealing with pre-made optimized contents, but about rendering anything its users could have decided to create or upload, and then throw at it !  We are speaking here of totally random meshes, textures, animations, and combinations of the latter, in any variable amount/concentration at any given place.

As also already pointed out, SL's existing contents cannot be auto-magically adapted to render engines such as UE, and SL's main advantage over any other emerging ”metaverse”, is precisely the enormous amount of existing user-made assets it contains, and the virtually unlimited amount of new assets it could see added by the said users: LL cannot decide to just throw away (even part of) the existing contents on the pretext it is no more compatible with a new render engine... They cannot either commit (again) the same mistake as they did with Sansar and adopt an engine that requires the usage of expensive or complicated external software to create new contents, with intricate procedures to get the new contents validated/uploaded. They would shoot a bullet in their foot (or several bullets in their feet) if they did since they would loose an advantage (and many old time users) over the emerging competition !

In my opinion, the future of SL might be brighter than what some may think it could be. But Sansar and High Fidelity utterly failed and lessons should be drawn out from these failures (so that bad decisions are not made about SL's future).

I can only speak for myself, but I do not seek ultra-realism (like UE is geared towards) in SL. Since I came to SL to role-play (which is, of course, only one of the many possible SL usages), I am happy to have some minimal realism (the fact that the avatars are not cartoonish, at least not until you want them to be, is a big plus to me when compared to other virtual worlds), but I do not want SL to become as realistic as real life, and I enjoy having at least a few things left to my imagination when I role-play.

So I would say that, as it is, the SL render and physics engines are ”good enough” for me. The render engine just could (and should) allow for (much) better performances, by being adapted to modern hardware (including mobile one, since it is one of the keys to a more widespread SL usage/adoption). Solutions exist: threading and Vulkan. LL already started working on pushing more tasks into child threads so to alleviate the load of the main thread (which is also the only render thread). With Vulkan, it would be possible to implement a multi-threaded renderer, but LL cannot just throw away OpenGL before all SL users can do Vulkan on their device !

My advices to LL would be:

  • Do not try to do what other metaverse competitors are trying to do. Keep SL's philosophy, i.e. users anonymity, no private data gathering, no profiling to push ads, etc: just keep monetizing the services via land fees, premium accounts, Marketplace sales, etc (the residents must not become the product, like in so-called ”free” services by Google & Co. Instead they pay for added services/bonus and in exchange have their freedom and privacy guaranteed by LL).
  • Do not loose your time on fancy hyper-realism features. I can already predict (just like I predicted Sansar's failure) that the new project about avatar expressiveness (based on a camera to capture the user expression and reproduce it on the avatar) will be just as much (or rather as little) used (and probably by the same persons) as ”voice morphing”... I.e. only by a tiny proportion of the SLers. We (SLers at large) want second life avatars, not real life clones (I do not even use voice; it's a total turn-off and mood killer for any genuine role-player) !
  • Add more build tools to the viewer (we cruelly lack tools to at least include simple pre-made meshes to in-world builds, or even to model the said simple pre-made meshes like clay with in-viewer build tools); it is important that we regain (at least part of) this marvelous feature that I discovered when I joined in SL back in 2006 (no mesh, not even a sculpty back then: everything could be created with the viewer built-in tools). (*)
  • Invest in Linux support because, you know, Android is ”Linux by Google”, iOS is ”BSD by Apple”, and mobiles support will indirectly involve Linux-like support anyway. There is very little effort to achieve this: just one Linux devel to hire (if I could develop and maintain the Cool VL Viewer for over 15 years already and alone, on my free time only, then a single Linux devel should be able to do it full work time for LL's Linux viewer), and the work already done be Linux TPV developers to reuse ”as is” for a start.
  • Develop a multi-threaded Vulkan renderer for the viewer. The per-CPU-core performances improvement curve is already flattening for several years (because the clock frequency cannot increase forever, and the architectural optimizations also have limits; we are approaching the physical limits of the quantic world); the future is to more cores, i.e. the need for more threads to exploit all those cores...
  • Once the two above points accomplished, invest in mobile platforms support (even though I do not even own a smartphone, this is the future of SL for all but old farts like me). And here I am speaking about rendering (even in a simplified way) the 3D world on a smartphone (i.e. it's not just about a chat/IM application).

These were my two cents.

(*) One tool I would love to see implemented would be some ”mesh hull generation” tool. Imagine selecting a prim-based build and asking the viewer (or server) to ”Make hull from object”, and you'd end up with a (preferably well optimized) mesh that would exactly enclose the object.

Edited by Henri Beauchamp
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I mostly agree with Henri, even if i see the use of a camera for more expressiveness (e.g. control of mesh head facial expressions) as a good idea, much nicer than gestures and clumsy HUDs, and unlike voice morphing, which needs the will to use voice as prerequisite.

But the vast marketplace and inworld content is a real plus. Like i wanna decorate my house, and i am 90% certain i will find everything i need in acceptable quality. A bit like going to Amazon and having the same expectation. Okay, marketplace search could use a few person years of engineering and tuning to be top notch, but the vastness is already there. Just imagine Amazon wants to start over and excised 99% of its existing content to focus on high quality. Would that work? Probably not. But of course, you can improve on the top to make older content obsolete. Like older prim, sculpty stuff. It kind of still works, mostly. But looks bad, so people usually move to more modern mesh things anyway. Add incentives like LI calculations that favour more modern things, and the old crap will fade out over time. So improve at the top, do not throw out the base.

Decent, easy to use build tools are a great way to attract and keep users. Just watch the joy of building stuff. Thats kind of 99% of Minecrafts glory. The entry level tools in the viewer should be good enough for satisfying results for average users. Sure, having power tools like Blender etc, and the steep learning curve attached is a must for good content, but a vast amount of mediocre content beats singular great items by lightyears. At least in the eyes of users. Even if it makes developers and artists cry...

I could also imagine, that a lot of people would like "temporary land" options, and with the cloud and getting servers on demand, it could even work out. Like imagine you only really have some time at hand at the weekend. So you would love to have your magical island appear on friday afternoons and vanish monday early morning but when the land returns next friday, the builds are as the last weekend. Great to build stuff, enjoy it etc. Offer it for 1/4 a homestead and you would get a lot of people interested i guess. That would allow more people to have some great building options, without the rather high cost of permanent land.

The render engine must be good enough to let people with average notebook devices (iGPUs) or mobile GPUs to enter the world and enjoy it. It would be cool if it could scale up to provide VR headset ready fps, but thats a stretch goal. Nice to have, but not essential.

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29 minutes ago, Kathrine Jansma said:

i see the use of a camera for more expressiveness (e.g. control of mesh head facial expressions) as a good idea,

Wait until you try it while role-playing... The camera will capture your concentrated expression as you are typing your post in chat, mouth closed, eyebrows furrowed, while your previous post was indicating that your avatar was giggling... Your role-play partner will be even more confused to see your avatar expression, because they were likely doing something else IRL while you where giggling (ridiculously, will think the real life witnesses around you ! 🤣) at the camera earlier, and just see your so serious avatar expression now as you elaborate your next paragraph-long post. O.o

The avatar expression was one of those things ”left to my imagination” (based on the role-play posts), and LL is about to rob this from me (well, likely not, because my viewer will allow to turn it off on my screen for avatars using it).

Also, I'm impatient to see (just to have a good laugh), the result of this feature for someone using, say, a horse avatar ! 🤣

I suppose the feature could have some use in virtual meetings and voice chats, but otherwise, it will see a small hype at its debut before its usage will dwindle down and end up in the category of the gadget features of SL...

Edited by Henri Beauchamp
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2 hours ago, Kathrine Jansma said:

I could also imagine, that a lot of people would like "temporary land" options, and with the cloud and getting servers on demand, it could even work out. Like imagine you only really have some time at hand at the weekend

That might translate into "Limited Hours" subscription? If a full year of Premium (includes a land allowance) costs US$99/annum, a "Mon - Thur only" subscription might be be only US$40 but a "Fri-Sun only" subscription would be US$60? Something like that?

 

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18 hours ago, Odaks said:

That might translate into "Limited Hours" subscription?

Not quite. Currently when you buy a private island, you have it online and processing scripts, being visible for visitors etc. 24/7. This means LL has to fire up the server and have it run, used or not, even if no one is around. So LL must charge high land prices, as the property is available 24/7 and creates costs to LL 24/7. But now LL moved the system to the cloud, which offers spot prices for computing resources. Now land has at least two significant parts: 1) Persistance of what you build there, e.g. things look the same when you return the next time. 2) Being accessible 24/7 for everyone to look at/visit. If LL limited the 2) part, it could shave off a lot of the costs.

The costs of running a region are probably in part CPU costs of the simulator and some costs for the shared inventory database and traffic. If one keeps the persistence, the costs for shared inventory stay the same. But the costs for CPU/outgoing network traffic is billed by minutes used by AWS, so LL could offer a private island that was just around temporarily and reduce the costs. Obviously this would only work well for private islands, not so much for mainland/partial regions.

So one could imagine a scheme, where you buy a full region for 175$/month, on top of your premium account. But you select a "weekends only, Fr-Su" option, and the costs drops to maybe 80$/month, as LL has less infrastructure costs to pay and could pass on the savings.

 

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21 hours ago, Henri Beauchamp said:

Wait until you try it while role-playing...

I did some live action role playing, so i know it can work even for role-playing. But for paragraph style roleplay it might be detrimental, sure.

But on the other hand, its just the difference between wearing a mesh head and not today. If you do not wear one, you do not have the expressive face either. It just makes it easier to use the expressiveness the mesh head already offers, just avoiding the clumsy HUDs and gestures needed now.

Voice and voice morphing instead opens a whole new parallel communications channel that does not mix well with parallel chat based roleplay. You use one or the other, and struggle with accents, mumbling and all kinds of background noises and technical issues. Not to mention the fact that people might be uncomfortable using voice for a million other reasons like gender identity, no nice sounding voice or voice not matching the character they want to play. Voice morphing only goes so far.

I see the cheering of my business colleagues about gestures and facial expressions using comic style VR headset systems to do sales talks or just sitting around the fireplace and talking with people in a very stripped down VR environment. It really makes a world of difference to them. But those are the same people that insist on voice or even video chat instead of just dropping emails or chat notices or tickets for trivial stuff. Or wanting a video as explanation for everything, because they hate reading textual instructions. Just totally different type of people.

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25 minutes ago, Kathrine Jansma said:

This means LL has to fire up the server and have it run, used or not, even if no one is around. So LL must charge high land prices, as the property is available 24/7 and creates costs to LL 24/7. 

Actually the CPU/hardware cost to run a region 24/7 is just few dollars/per year, especially on AWS. Many of us had/still have OSGrid Regions on AWS that run 24/7 for years because the cost is extremely low . Of course Linden Lab is a business not some charity institution which means there are salaries to be paid and profit to be made, so it's understandable why the prices are similar to paying rent for a real apartrment (in many countries).

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50 minutes ago, Nick0678 said:

Actually the CPU/hardware cost to run a region 24/7 is just few dollars/per year, especially on AWS.

Sure, the true hardware costs alone are probably very small. But one could spin a plausible sales story, why offering "part time" sims is in some way cheaper, without directly cannibalizing the full sim rent and cashflow. LL probably does not have infinite deep pockets, so keeping a stable cashflow from land is essential for survival.

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On 1/21/2022 at 11:55 PM, animats said:

Epic has a development budget of over a billion dollars to build a metaverse. Sony put up some of the money. Roblox is also putting a few billion into the general metaverse problem. Developing this kind of technology is above LL's pay grade.

Not only are they throwing more money at it, but they're also putting more capable people on it, too. Let's be honest- all of LL's best minds are gone.

 

On 1/30/2022 at 7:39 AM, Kathrine Jansma said:

So LL must charge high land prices, as the property is available 24/7 and creates costs to LL 24/7.

LL's markup on land is off the charts. Running entire physical servers costs less than the price of one region. Up until recently, they used to put multiple regions on a server. The price for one private region is something like 50x what it would cost me to host a few regions on the hardware I have available. Chances are they were paying a lot less than me due to bulk deals, too.

That's why they never explored the technology for people to host their own. They'd be immediately and instantly undercut.

Now, with AWS, it's even cheaper. Or at least, easier. Which translates to cheaper.

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On 1/21/2022 at 6:14 PM, Tresia Beck said:

If SL upgraded to unreal engine 5 armature game creators could create games right in SL driving the gaming community to be part of SL

Just so you know... SL was originally conceived as a rapid prototyping platform for games. Which is why there are a number of games within SL. But, SL is what users made out of it.

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44 minutes ago, Paul Hexem said:

LL's markup on land is off the charts. Running entire physical servers costs less than the price of one region. Up until recently, they used to put multiple regions on a server. The price for one private region is something like 50x what it would cost me to host a few regions on the hardware I have available.

I agree, it is really expensive.  I paid more for a 4096 parcel in SL than I did through an OS grid which provided me four regions to play around with.  I've since moved to hosting my own grid for free, with as many regions as I want.  If SL offered us the ability to host private regions ourselves, the company most certainly would lose a significant amount of money.  I'm sure there would still be fees to hosting your own, as even hosted on our own servers we would be using all of the assets stored on theirs so perhaps that would be enough to cover some of their losses.  While I would maintain my premium membership, I think many others may decide to drop theirs as it would be cheaper to rent from the multitude of landlords that would appear.  It would definitely open a can of worms, and goes beyond my own knowledge of SL and the ramifications of allowing us to host our own regions - I mean os with hypergrid shows us that it is possible but I personally don't know if it would be a good thing for SL and what kind of impact it would have on everyone.

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