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Cummere Mayo

Questions about new TPV policy. (Questions only please.)

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This is a thread for questions and requests for clarification to LL under the new third party viewer policy that I (and presumably others) would like to see adressed by LL.  I am kindly asking that this thread be limited to only questions (and any answers Lindens would be so nice to give).  Explanations or clarifications needed to understand the questions are okay.  There is already another thread with comments and speculation about the policy. 

To begin with section there are many questions I have regarding 2.k.

"2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer."

1) What is meant by shared experience?

2) What counts as the latest released Linden Lab viewer?  Do the Snowstorm and Beta viewers count as released?

3) Does this mean systems like RLV and integrated AO's are no longer allowed?

4) Does this mean that third party viewers may no longer experiment with and help test new features?

5) Does this mean that text only viewers or "voice only" viewers would no longer be allowed?


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Cummere Mayo wrote:

2) What counts as the latest released Linden Lab viewer?  Do the Snowstorm and Beta viewers count as released?


The latest released viewer is defined by LL as the 'full release' viewer (at time of writing 3.2.8) - so Beta, Snowstorm and project viewers are not applicable.

 

And I think you mean TPV unless we really have a viewer of Textured Vegetable Protein. :catwink:

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Unless LL answers these questions most of what anyone says at this point is just speculation. However, it is clear that RLV is not part of the standard "shared experience" under any definition of 'shared' as it effects more than one avatar and is a 'shared experience".  AO's though should not he affected unless they have features similar to the RLV and rely on a particular client.

 

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"2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer."

Greetings Linden Labs, i have some questions too...

Q ~ Why do i think i need a lawyer to understand the point above? 

~ Why do you shoot us this without anesthetic, clear explanations and maybe some examples and/or clarifications? For example does it affect  to windlight, RLValignment tool, temp. textures, inventory elements like collapse button or worn tab, what will it break? What will be forbidden to develop?

Q ~ What is bad with viewer tittle tabs? As mentor i find this useful to help residents to find options they want in their viewer (some newbies dont know what viewer they are using). Personally i dont care who use what.

~ Why do i have to find the information above asking to other residents? I understand that you have notified it on some meeting.. but still, i think this is not the way to communicate this kind of changes to everyone.

~ Why this hardness? Do you like have people bitching about changes O_o?

I think i am not the only one worried :S

 

Edited to add URL. (Nalates says that it will break viewer tags)

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According to everyone I've spoken to who was actually at the meeting,  Oz reassured people that RLV isn't affected.   And I see from Nalate's blog that Simon Linden was saying much the same thing at the Server UG meeting later on,  a transcript of which will doubtless soon be available.

Apparently the example that was given at the TPV meeting of the sort of stuff that wouldn't any longer be allowed was the old Emerald "illegal" attachment points, which looked ok on people using them if the person looking at them was using a TPV that could see them and otherwise looked very odd indeed.

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The people who wrote this, they aren't like the senators of the US? Vague in policy, and wanting to take credit when something goes right?

Okay, so someone else has sort of confirmed that features like RLV sort of wont be affected, but thats not what the policy changes state.

The online status thing I heard about, meh, I'm okay with that, more work needed now to fix some things I have in place, but not rocket science.

Taken literally though, that means you won't be able to set a nice sunset on your parcel, because Linden Lab doesn't want you to do that unless you're an estate manager using their viewer. Taken literally it means features like the align tool in Firestorm can't be used, it alters the build experience. Can't use the particle editor, Can't use RLV.

Sorry, but this was very badly worded, and I personally think you should take this and shove it in the bin, and redraw it. I did like the line about working with people to release it for all. Don't you already have this option anyway, as part of the agreement with releasing the snowstorm source. That additions made may be submitted back to the main codebase? Or is this a way for you to hinder development you don't want, so that you can take credit when you do want to? Because thats how the policy change reads to me, and about a dozen others in the the sim I'm presently on.

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I have been on SL for over 4 years  and my partner and I have literally a fortune tied up in this game, and my question is, why do you always "fix" things no one wants?  Things that we ALL complain about are ignored. Do you realize we are the consumer and that literally there are a lot of new competing games out now? Why are you trying to make SL like Facebook?  Why are you taking away the titles that say what viewer someone is using, hmm, so that others will not see that the majority do not like the SL viewer, oh yes, you will be getting the benefits of developers of other viewers free now, maybe all the developers you have should be fired and get some developers with ability to integrate good features?  Oh wait, now you will get their ideas free or we can't have them.  I am totally upset about the online indicators I have in my club that have our employees pictures and status on them not working now.   Does LL plan on compensating all who have them and the makers?  My employees can now be elsewhere during events and not attend, because I won't even know if they are on line now.  And... how is that going to work anyway, as now you can choose who you want to see if you are on line or not, but does it now mean all or none can see if you are?  The way it was announced does not make sense with what I am hearing was said about some features, actually it was rather vague but implied things like RLV and a lot more could not be used, yet hearing it can, guess it was vague for a reason, that way you can pick and choose what you want? Once again you have your entire base of users confused and upset.  Thank you.

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Any concern about seeing online status is a joke.  Many people have, over the years, requested a way to truly make online status private.  LL has ignored them.  All you have to do to find out if anyone is online is send an IM or look at a group you both belong to.  So what's the problem if a viewer makes finding out a little easier?

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Sofar most people seem to have concerns about the "You must not provide any feature [...] not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer." 

Let's be honest, that is a big pile of steaming poo. TPVs are there because they provide extra features that LL's own development plan didn't cover or include. Demanding that TPVs conform to a set of features limited to LL's own viewer is certainly going to hinder things.

Don't take me wrong - "Shared Experience" is an interesting concept and should definitely be endorsed. However, enforcing it with restrictive policies is eventually going to turn against LL themselves, and against the whole userbase. Wouldn't it be much more reasonable for LL to set up a semi-public SVN, CVS, or any other versioning system, and encourage TPVs to share their features with others (and with LL)?

The policy in question would then be reworded to something like "If you provide feature(s) not included by or accessible to users of the Linden Lab viewer, you are obliged to submit the code into Linden Lab's public [sVN/CVS/Mercurial] in the form of a plugin." 

Not only the authors of the implementation would be rewarded by keeping a slight edge (being one release cycle ahead with their feature), but LL and other TPVs could also include the useful feature in their next release which would, in turn, improve the "shared experience" and speed of development for everyone. And all of that at no or very little extra cost for LL.

Now that I've explained all of this, my question to LL would be: Where on Earth do you see any advantage or reason for applying a restrictive policy instead of endorsing and encouraging TPV developers to share their features with you (and everyone else)?

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By all means, please, Linden Lab, define explicitly what is meant by "altering the shared experience".

Firestorm lets me choose to not see an object, so I don't have to see bothersome billboards, objects that are spoiling my snapshot composition, someone who's bothering me... or whatever. That means I don't see those things and others do (unless they use Firestorm and choose to also not see them). Is that an alteration of the shared experience? (Goodness knows that was one of the arguments against the Emerald breast physics code.)

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Melissa Yeuxdoux wrote:

By all means, please, Linden Lab, define explicitly what is meant by "altering the shared experience".

Firestorm lets me choose to not see an object, so I don't have to see bothersome billboards, objects that are spoiling my snapshot composition, someone who's bothering me... or whatever. That means I don't see those things and others do (unless they use Firestorm and choose to also not see them). Is that an alteration of the shared experience? (Goodness knows that was one of the arguments against the Emerald breast physics code.)

lets say i am on a tpv viewer and you are on a LL viewer..

if i have a feature that will impact us both in world but in different ways..that is altering the shared experience..

like if i had more attach points in my viewer than you did..and you saw my boots 5 meters over my head ..where i saw them on my feet..that is a tpv viewer feature altering the shared  virtual world experience...

if i had more attach points than you and we both saw them on my feet or in the same way..then it would be ok because we are sharing the same virtual world experience..

 

they are basically trying to get it where everyone has the same virtual world experience no matter what viewer you use..

it doesn't mean they want all viewers to be the exact same as the LL viewer..it just means they want the same  second life world to be the same..

all the client side features are safe..and the features that don't alter the world to other users on other viewers..

so you can have different features in different viewers..but still have the same world..basically hehehe

that's what they are shooting for anyways hehehehe

i guess we will see how well it all pans out in the future..

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Thanks for taking the time to pull your questions together, Cummere. I know a number of others have had similar questions, and I wanted to take a minute to address them here. I hope this will help clarify things.

1) What is meant by shared experience?

Making a simple statement that covers all possible cases is not easy ... there is an unavoidable element of judgement in interpreting this rule; I'll try to answer below, but that should not be taken as modifying the policy itself.  We will certainly help developers with proposals to understand whether or not a feature might fall under it.  It's worth noting that the vast majority of all changes made by third party viewers have certainly not been a problem.  The fact that there have been some problems in the past motivated our adding this rule so that in the future developers would work closely with us to prevent any more like them.

A shared experience change is one that modifies the definition of the elements that make up the virtual world, or how they behave, in such a way that users on other viewers don’t experience the same virtual reality. 

This rule does not affect changes to rendering, user interface, or the controls a viewer offers for interacting with the world.

2) What counts as the latest released Linden Lab viewer?  Do the Snowstorm and Beta viewers count as released?

The Release viewer is the benchmark, but the difference in time is normally quite small (a few weeks).  If the relative release schedules of our viewer and that of some TPV are causing a problem, then we will discuss making allowances for that if the stability of the feature makes that a reasonable thing to do.  The whole point of the Development and Beta viewer builds is to test things - which implies that those tests may reveal the need to modify the feature, potentially including changes that would not be compatible with the earlier version, so the likelihood of this kind of problem would have to be taken into consideration.

3) Does this mean systems like RLV and integrated AO's are no longer allowed?

No.

4) Does this mean that third party viewers may no longer experiment with and help test new features?

No - if the feature would fall under the 2.k rule, then it is faster and easier for everyone if the primary development and testing of it be done based on the common upstream code we make available to everyone, but parallel work by developers in test versions (not the default downloads) of TPVs will usually be ok as long as everyone (including the users of those test viewers) understands that the feature may change in incompatible ways, or even in an extreme case be withdrawn (such as if it is found to be harmful in some unresolvable way).

5) Does this mean that text only viewers or "voice only" viewers would no longer be allowed?

No - failing to provide a common feature is not the same as adding a new feature.   Users who choose to use such viewers are making a choice that is up to them. 

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"A shared experience change is one that modifies the definition of the elements that make up the virtual world, or how they behave, in such a way that users on other viewers don’t experience the same virtual reality.  

"This rule does not affect changes to rendering, user interface, or the controls a viewer offers for interacting with the world."

So does a "derender" feature count as a change to rendering, or is it forbidden because not seeing something that others see means that they aren't experiencing the same virtual reality?

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1: Clause 1 of the TOS.

1. CHANGES TO THIS AGREEMENT

This Agreement may be changed by Linden Lab effective immediately by notifying you as provided in Section 13.4 below; provided that Material Changes will become effective thirty (30) days after such notification. By continuing to access or use Second Life after the effective date of any such change, you agree to be bound by the modified Terms of Service. A "Material Change" is a change to this Agreement which reduces your contractual rights or increases your responsibilities under this Agreement in a significant manner. 

Section 13.4 is about how to give notice, and includes pu8blication on this website, so the Forum post on the 24th is valid notice. It is less clear what the status is of Oz's voice recording of the in-world meeting with developers. Is these new clauses a "Material Change"? If you're working on a TPV, arguably it is. It is explicitly increases your responsibilities.

2: Section 13 lists what is and isn't part of the contract established by the TOS:

14. ADDITIONAL TERMS AND POLICIES

The following additional terms and policies are incorporated by reference in and made part of this Agreement, and provide additional terms, conditions and guidelines regarding the Service.
Linden Lab Privacy Policy
Intellectual Property Policy
Second Life Brand Center
Second Life Trademark Guidelines
Snapshot and Machinima Policy
Second Life Fee Schedule
Second Life Billing Policy
Second Life Marketplace Fee and Listing Policies
Community Standards
Second Life Mainland Policies
Gambling Policy
Banking Policy
Age Play Policy
Maturity Ratings
Policy on Third-Party Viewers
API Terms of Use
Online Safety Guidelines

Any other communications or Content made available by Linden Lab on the Service is not part of this Agreement and should not be relied upon as such, or consulted for contractual purposes, but rather is provided to assist and enhance the user experience in Second Life. 

 So a "Material Change" to the TPV is subject to the 30-day delay before it becomes effective, and what Oz Linden said at the developer meeting is explicitly not part of the agreement and not to be relied upon. "the Service" is defined as "Second Life" or the "Service" means the multi-user online service offered by Linden Lab, including its Websites, Servers, Linden Software, Linden In-World Content, and User Content (as those terms are defined in this Agreement)

Conclusion: Nothing Oz Linden says, unless the TOS is amended, can be relied on. He in known to have said that the new TPV clauses take immediate effect, but he isn't apparently able to make that statement, and the clauses appear to be a "Material Change" which cannot take effect until 30 days after the announcement.

Had Oz Linden said that the new clauses would not take immediate effect, and referenced the 30 day rule, it would have been legally safer. It would likely have been possible to attach a limited communication privilege to Oz's job title to cover the issues arising from the TPV policy  If we can trust Oz, there's no immediate action being taken against any customer, so why not invoke the 30 day element?

 

Note that I am not a lawyer, I am just an ordinary guy, a native English speaker who has experience in business. It doesn't seem to make sense that anyone unleashes lawyers over this, they cost too much. But it looks so simple to avert this obvious error.

 

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No, but what is clear is, first, that nothing in existing viewers -- other than parcel windlight, which gets a free pass since LL's working on it anyway -- does give cause for concern, so there's no need to worry about suddenly not being allowed to derender stuff or use enhanced building tools or whatever.      Second, it's clear that improvements or alterations to controls and the UI aren't part of the shared experience, to the extent that devs are encouraged to do what they like with those.   And, third, that if you're a dev and in any doubt about a new feature you're planning, it's clear that it's very advisable to seek Oz's advice on the specific case.  

That, to my mind, makes sense, since it's clearly a lot easier for all concerned that people can go along to Oz and say "this is what I'm thinking of doing, and how I'm thinking of doing it" and see what he says, rather than study a detailed definition and then try to figure out if what they're planning is caught or not, and, if they decide it's not, hope that LL agree with them when they get to see the results.

To my mind, Tateru's complaints that the policy doesn't make a good guarantee or end-user agreement miss the point.  Precision is important there because those create rights and obligations you might one day need to ask a court to enforce, so it's important that they be as clear and unambiguous as possible, so the court can understand the issue it's being asked to decide.   But since TPVs connect to the grid at LL's discretion in the first place, I don't see how the circumstances could ever arise that a viewer developer is asking a court to decide if some particular feature of his or her viewer contravenes section 2.K.   

If I were a viewer dev, after listening to the audio and reading Oz's comments, I'd have a pretty clear idea, I think, of what I can and can't do without prior reference to LL, and I'd also know that, if I was in any doubt, I should ask him about the specific case.   What's wrong with that?   I might not be happy that I can now no longer introduce certain new features to my viewer without LL's approval, but I can't see that I'd be in much doubt about where I stood, and I'd know I didn't have to take anything out of my viewer as a result of this..    

 

 

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I want to know how you figure this is a good policy, keeping the third-partiy viewers from innovating. If it wasn't for Emerald/Phoenix giving me a sensible viewer back when Viewer 2 came out, I wouldn't be on SL now, spending my money. The third-party viewers saved this game for me, and I'm sure many others. Why are you giving them senseless rules to tiptoe around? Isn't it enough that they volunteer their time to enhance your game?

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Brandy Squall wrote:

I want to know how you figure this is a good policy, keeping the third-partiy viewers from innovating. If it wasn't for Emerald/Phoenix giving me a sensible viewer back when Viewer 2 came out, I wouldn't be on SL now, spending my money. The third-party viewers saved this game for me, and I'm sure many others. Why are you giving them senseless rules to tiptoe around? Isn't it enough that they volunteer their time to enhance your game?

what tpv's  gave back then has nothing to do with these changes..

all those client side great features are not what is falling under these changes..

it's the features that can mess with the world itself for people that decided not to use those viewers..

there were not too many of them really compared to the client side features..

i think emerald may have had one or two at the most features that would have fallen under todays changes...i can't remember really..but it wasn't many compared to all their other features that made it worth getting..

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Ceka Cianci wrote:

what tpv's  gave back then has nothing to do with these changes..

all those client side great features are not what is falling under these changes..

it's the features that can mess with the world itself for people that decided not to use those viewers..

I think you perhaps misunderstand the technicalities of how Second Life works. The Viewer does not "mess with the world". Everything the Viewer does is "client side" -- the Viewer *is*  the "client".  This is not about security exploits on the server side. The policy is only about Viewers; it is about how Viewers will show you the world.   The problem is that TPVs have been showing some people an improved version of the world with more features.  Historically, if you use a Linden Lab Official Viewer, you see something less than what you would see using a TPV.

Examples of features created by TPVs, which would not be allowed under this policy, include things like: multi-attachment points on avatars, avatar physics (jiggley bits), parcel Windlight, and mesh deformer (improved avatars).   However, since Linden Lab has already picked up (or plans to pick up in the near future) those particular features, they will be given a pass for the moment.

The RLV ("restraint") feature in TPVs, but not in the Linden viewers, is also given a pass, but that's hard to understand by the policy.  Perhaps it's just too popular and would upset too many people to take it away. 

The thing to understand is that TPVs innovated many features that affect the shared experience, and Linden Lab does not want that happening anymore.  The policy is designed to prevent third parties from future innovation in that area.

You can innovate on things like: how the Chat windows are organized, how the Inventory window looks, what color the border around the screen is, and such.  If you don't go too far, that's still allowed.

Something that frustrates developers is that Linden Lab never gives an explanation that can be clearly understood or relied upon.  Before people invest hundreds or thousands of hours in projects, they want some assurance that their work will not be for nothing.  Under the TPV Policy guidelines, and the way LL operates, there is no way to tell whether a feature will be forbidden.  Determining which things "affect the shared experience" are like how judges rule that something is or isn't pornography: Linden Lab "knows it when it sees it".  It means whatever LL wants it to mean on any given day, and only they can tell.  (Moreover, if you ask ahead: hearing an answer from one Linden doesn't mean that it's true, or that it will be true tomorrow, or that they won't change their minds later.) 

If LL had never opened up the possibility of TPVs, people would not be upset.  However, many people say that were it not for TPVs, SL would be dead and LL out of business, because the official LL Viewers have been so awful.  Most people on SL nowadays use TPVs.  LL doesn't like that fact, which is why you are not allowed to advertise which Viewer you are using in your nametag anymore.  Too embarassing for LL that every time a new customer asks someone for help, the answer is, "Oh, I see you are using the LL Viewer.  Don't know how to work that one anymore. Maybe you should try downloading Firestorm?"

It is not normal for an MMO video "game" company to allow TPVs at all. On the other hand, Second Life is not quite like other video games.  It's more like the World Wide Web, and it's also something that nobody quite knows what to do with or where it can lead.  Hence, the idea of allowing (and even encouraging) TPVs was consistent with the innovativeness of Second Life.   But now LL seems to feel that it's out of control and not conducive to business.

Linden Lab is reasserting their control over their world, their imagination. 

 

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Feldspar Millgrove wrote:


Ceka Cianci wrote:

what tpv's  gave back then has nothing to do with these changes..

all those client side great features are not what is falling under these changes..

it's the features that can mess with the world itself for people that decided not to use those viewers..

I think you perhaps misunderstand the technicalities of how Second Life works. The Viewer does not "mess with the world". Everything the Viewer does is "client side" -- the Viewer *is*  the "client".  This is not about security exploits on the server side. The policy is only about Viewers; it is about how Viewers will show you the world.   The problem is that TPVs have been showing some people an improved version of the world with more features.  Historically, if you use a Linden Lab Official Viewer, you see something less than what you would see using a TPV.

 

No.  It's not about how some viewers "will show you the world".  It's about stopping viewers from introducing stuff that either you can't see or, more to the point, looks downright wrong if you're not using a particular viewer.     No one's complaining about the enhanced graphics in Niran's viewer, for example, which certainly make a huge difference to the way the world looks.

To my mind, the problem is that all TPVs can do is play round with the client -- obviously they can't do stuff to the servers.  This means that they can demonstrate how cool it would be to have such-and-such a new feature, but often only by doing, in a hacky way with the client, stuff that's far better done properly on the servers.    Which leaves LL with the problem of, do we have people using the  hacky way of doing it, in a way no one in their right might would do it if they had an alternative (which TPVs don't but  LL do) or do we see if we can fit it into our planned schedule or work, or do we drop what we're doing and try to do this instead, right now?   

 

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It's refreshing to see an actual response by a Linden. Thank you.

My question is: under the new terms, I'm unclear why something like parcel windlight would be categorized as "shared user experience" when it's a wholly opt-in choice of view, by the viewer, as is RLV. From listening to the recording, I gather the decision is as much about a bad hack, as it is a potential 'shared experience.' I realize this is a moot issue, for this ONE issue, but the premise of the question is what concerns me.

For example, if one of the TPVs should find a way to actually prevent someone from camming into another parcel (not just not see avatars, as is now provided with the new viewer), would that fall  under the new 2-k TOS?

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I think the difference between Parcel Windlight and RLV is that if you and I walk together around a sim that uses it, you and I are going to see completely different things because we're using different viewers.     With RLV, in contrast, particular scripted objects may very well behave differently for each of us if one of us is using RLV and the other isn't, but things aren't going to look any different (unless someone's doing something horribly hacky with @setenv, but in general, I mean).

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