This world my sandbox … and then what next?

Hamlet has looked at the recent figures coming out of the Lab showing a decline in the number of private islands and has once again called for radical changes that will have the missing millions flooding onto the grid.  Beyond saying that these changes must be radical, however, he is offering no real way forward – and personally, I remain unconvinced that the millions are out there, thirsting for a taste of Second Life that some radical change would give them – which could be accomplished without decimating the (declining) user base that is keeping Second Life afloat.

Al Andalus Alhambra Palace and Auditorium - a recent loss to the grid: Photograph by PJ Trenton
Al Andalus Alhambra Palace and Auditorium – a recent loss to the grid: Photograph by PJ Trenton

An alternative that many people are calling for is to cut tier.  But Tateru Nino has analysed why that would be largely impractical in a great article here – and Inara Pey, insightful as usual, has looked to the future and analysed why Linden Lab’s future revenue will be based not on Second Life, but on diversification into new products.

And I think she’s hit the nail on the head – no matter whose fingers are in the way.

It seems clear that Linden Lab have decided on a policy of revenue growth by diversification, and I imagine that for them the way forward is not only narrative games, but narrative games built for mobile devices (tablets and phones) that make use of user-generated content – possibly (and primarily) mesh-created.  The external creation of mesh products will allow porting into a new environment, but could be done through a marketplace rather than through inworld stores in the new application.  And that user content is already being eagerly created – by Second Life creators.

Could that developing mesh content be sold in Dio?

Dutchie's Mesh Kitchen, as seen at the Home and Garden Expo - will diversification allow for this sort of experience?
Dutchie’s Mesh Kitchen, as seen at the Home and Garden Expo – will diversification allow for this sort of experience?

So, for sake of argument, you could buy a house from Dutchie or Rustica to live in as your new “Dio” home as you follow your narrative but it would have to be purchased from the Marketplace.  And for all Second Life denizens enjoy the luxury of shopping inworld for their new homes, as buying over the internet increasingly becomes the first choice for real world purchases, so of course it is for apps and add-ons to apps.  Second Life’s re-creation of the shopping experience inworld is really rather old fashioned in that respect.

We are moving increasing to a world that breaks away from the big old desk-bound PC, the sort of power machine that is needed to run Second Life.  But many of the elements that people love about Second Life – the creativity, the involvement of many different creators offering a vast range of selectable content, the ability to form yourself and – perhaps more importantly – nest within the created world … these could be strong selling points for new Linden Lab products.

Maxwell Graf's new range of mesh furniture - for biggies and for petites: Photographed at the Fantasy Faire by Judith Lefevre
Maxwell Graf’s new range of mesh furniture – for biggies and for petites: Photographed at the Fantasy Faire by Judith Lefevre

And surely creators, offered the chance to get in on the ground with mesh products that they have already manufactured externally and sold in Second Life, would leap at the chance for increased revenue?

Second Life, in that scenario, continues its steady, gentle decline … but has validity for some while as a sandbox where creators can test out new products that will then be sold on the Marketplace for Dio and (perhaps) other applications.

The form Dio will take will be fascinating. To what extent will the application be game god driven, and to what extent user driven? Will it have the same pattern as Second Life (albeit with the balance slightly shifted in favour of narrative) where people can foillow narrative paths, play games – whether they be a hunt, a roleplay, a breedable game or a structured game created by a company like MadPea – and then go to a club to hang out with friends, or retire to their private homes for … ah … more private activities?

And will there still be a place for the extraordinary creativity that we see in art exhibitions like the Almost Flat Land created by Tyhrel Beck?  Or in the glorious user-driven events like Relay for Life, Burn 2 and, of course, the Second Life Birthdays?

Building at the Birthday
Building at the Birthday

5 comments

  1. Ive seen or heard NOTHING to suggest DIO will have any 3D content in it. I think its dangerous to speculate or risk being hugely disappointed :). But it would seem a bit crazy to have all these loyal creative artists at your door and not use them in some way with a new product. If Liltxtpeople is the DIO project, there are at least two other projects Rodvik mentioned the Lab was working on. Perhaps one of these would expand the user generated 3D content arena.

  2. Yes, this was a dot-joining post :-). I don’t think the new uber-project is necessarily Dio (how much better to toe-test first with something light!), but the introduction of mesh and the drive to the marketplace do suggest that something like this could be used for the Next Big Thing from the Lab.

  3. While i’m sure there is room for all these diversifications, it is kind of sad that those of us that were in SL for reasons other than the “toys” have just been left out. Al Andalus was a beautiful sim, but the best part of it was the interactions between the people. When the people go, it really doesn’t matter how many new gimmicks there are.

  4. Hello, everyone! I had the pleasure of encountering PrimPerfect for the first time at SL8B last year, and I’ve been reading along ever since.

    May I offer the voice of someone who, compared to most of you, is new to SL? I’ve only been here a year. I came, and I stayed. But I haven’t purchased land (I rent a bungalow).

    Old residents debate about whether or not it would be beneficial to lower tier, but I can tell you that yes, yes, yes, for those of us who are newer, it would be beneficial to Linden and to customer retention.

    I’ve always wanted to buy land, but it’s just been too expensive to get what I wanted (and I’ve shopped around). Furthermore, like many who have paid $15 a month in massively multiplayer online RPGs, I expect something decent for my money. If land is the primary thing that Linden offers, then it needs to be good – not some sad chunk of mainland bumping up against an ad farm, or one of the Linden home ghettos. Nope, I want beautiful coastline, and the rest of the experience of shopping, attending live performances, dancing at clubs, seeing great art exhibits, enjoying discussions … all that ought to be wonderful gravy. If my money is going to Linden for land, then that land should be meaningful and sold at a competitive rate with other online experiences (and, for better or for worse, those who aren’t familiar with it view SL as a rather odd sort of sandbox game).

    So, if they want to attract newbies to land buying, they should be offering attractive 1024 starter parcels for about $9 a month. So says this (comparative) newbie, anyway. 😉

    Oh, and they should offer last names again. Why on earth did they eliminate that? A goodly number of RPGs offer it – it’s just text, so it’s not like it’s a resource hog.

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