This morning/afternoon, Strawberry Linden hosted VP of Product, Grumpity Linden and VP of Product Operations Patch Linden at Lab Gab for a discussion of upcoming plans. Some of the key topics included: mainland tier pricing, more Premium Plus benefits, the Tilia announcement, CasperTech acquisition, search, marketplace improvements, puppetry, physically based rendering, Linden Home. There’s a huge amount of content for a fairly brief Lab Gab.
[As usual, I have attempted to capture the substance of what Strawberry and her guests said. Unless I employ quotation marks, and I don’t think you’ll find any in this post, then what you read here does not represent direct quotes.]
Following some quick introductions, Strawberry dived right into questions.
SL: What are upcoming plans for land economy and pricing?
GL: We’ve been thinking about what’s going on in the world and how we can support our residents. Things are tough. SL has been a place of support for many people. How can we do more of that?
PL: What can we affect that a lot of folks see, use, and interact with in their second lives?
Premium subscription models: Linden Lab are working on a lower tier premium subscription model. It will allow access to mainland ownership.
Changes to tier pricing: They are also looking at lower pricing for upper tiers of land pricing. Jumps between tiers will not be as big.
New for Premium Plus subscribers: Next month, Premium Plus residents will be allowed to own a single homestead region without the requirement of already owning a full region.
GL: It’s been tight for a lot of our European customers. About the same time as the new premium tiers More features, more opportunities, lower prices.
SL: What’s the ETA on these changes?
PL: Homestead, November 1st ish.
GL: The rest, end of November.
SL: Regarding the recent announcement about Tilia (see post Tilia Secures Strategic Investment from J.P. Morgan), how will that impact SL residents and will their data be safe?
PL: Relationship between SL & Tilia will remain largely unchanged. The investment will allow Tilia to grow and expqand their offerings. In the future, this may allow Tilia to bring additional capabilities to SL residents. It’s all good news.
GL: Change is always a little bit scary. In this case, we are truly excited about the changes that are coming. It is good for Linden. It is good for Tilia. It is good for SL. Win, win, win all around.
[The issue of data security got glossed over in the excitement of getting on to the CasperTech topic. SL brought back up a few minutes later.]
SL: Will resident data be available to new investors in Tilia?
GL: The data is [are!] secure. There are no magical pathways that allow a 3rd party to access to user data. Your data is secure. It’s not being sold to a 3rd party, ever.
SL: How does the acquisition of Caspertech impact residents? (See post Linden Lab acquires CasperTech in Second Life)
PL: After explaining what CasperTech is and does, Patch goes on to note that LL wanted to bring it onboard so that we could help it grow and such.
GL: Because Casper has become so well loved in the community, we wanted to make sure that the service continues pretty much forever. Sort of an insurance policy.
SL: Mobile? There’s a new mobile option for Premium Plus members.
GL: SpeedLight, a wonderful 3rd party viewer service. They allow mobile access, web-based access to SL. LL have been in touch with them. Recently, they decided to partner with SpeedLight to allow Premium Plus members unlimited online time. (See post Premium Plus subscribers now get extra benefits in the SpeedLight viewer!)
LL do have their own mobile plans. They are working on a high-fidelity mobile viewer. It’s a little early, so not much can be said. Look for in-progress results early in 2023.
Where can you learn about premium plans? https://secondlife.com/premium
SL: SL puppetry? How is that progressing? How can users get involved?
(What’s puppetry? See post Introducing Second Life Puppetry)
GL: The response around the topic has been exciting. There has been a misunderstanding from the early on, people were thinking the hints meant it was ready. Not yet.
There is a lot of interest. Twice monthly user groups. Open-source groups have been sharing a great deal of knowledge. If you are a content creator, and have an interest in the topic, information on the user group can be found here.
SL: Can you tell us more about your plans for improving the new user experience?
GL: My favorite subject! Lots of background work and research is going on. There’s been a recent new user survey. “What was the thing that was the hardest? What was the one thing that made you consider walking away?” Performance issues were a common theme. Hence the improved performance viewer, a dramatic improvement.
After that, avatar customization, finding things to do, finding ways to meet people were common threads.
Improvements to the first-time avatar customization experience are underway. SL avatars are gorgeous, highly customizable, but can be a little difficult.
SL: NUX (New User eXperience) bodies? Any news on these? Maybe a recurring shopping event for them?
PL: They might be released in the next couple months. There are many moving parts. An entire suite of related products, clothes etc. to go with the bodies is also in the works. Maybe incorporate content into shop n’ hop. We’ll see.
SL: Physically based Rendering? When can we expect this? When can I have a mirror?
GL: Work is underway. General reflection probes could be going into alpha in a week or two. (These are not dressing room mirrors yet.) Maybe mirrors for Christmas? New Year’s? You can go into the new year with mirrors on the ceiling. I’ll just leave it at that 😛
The feature is going to spend some time in alpha. (She’s sure it will break breedables… somehow.) [Yes, I’m sure she’s kidding. But the remark gives an interesting glimpse at how sensitive breedables are to changes in the service, and possibly at how many times in the past LL have inadvertently broken them.] Then to beta. Finally, project viewer around the holidays.
SL: What can you tell us about LSL Linkset data?
[If you are a scripter, and this topic is new to you, see the wiki page.]
GL: Might be in RC in a week or two.
SL: What changes can we expect in SL search?
[Search broke YouTube! Tiny glitch here. Main feed dropped and closed out the YouTube video. I rejoined the restarted feed on… another platform.]
GL: There are several different searches. Web search (you see this in the SL viewer when you click the search icon). There was a big update to web search not long ago. The search engine was updated. Relevance rankings were reexamined. The algorithm should continue to improve. All the normal search operators should be available. Frequency of indexing is currently twice a day. Increasing frequency is a thought. That’s all the major, recent changes to web search.
People search, happens in the viewer. Uses a different back-end.
Marketplace search. More about this in a moment.
SL: Any changes coming to MP?
GL: Marketplace search! [See, told you there would be more about this in a moment.] Lots of work to improve this feature. Changes are currently in QA. Plan is to roll out those changes before thanksgiving. MP search affects a lot of people’s livelihoods, so changes are made with caution.
Many possible changes in MP are being considered, but there is nothing specific that can be revealed now.
SL: When can we upload 30 second sound clips?
GL: This is a bug. It’s in the queue. It will be fixed.
SL: Linden Home floorplan/theme updates? Premium Plus homes?
PL: Yes! Lots! Soon!
We’re still on track to get some more floor plans out for previous themes. Ranches are coming along nicely for Premium Plus members. End of the year? Lots of good stuff coming in the pretty near future. Something for Premium Plus in the new year? Soon™.
SL: Are there any plans for improvements for mainland roads? Inspection for landowner builds to join roads?
PL: There’s always work going on quietly in the background. There is a large backlog of things to work on, so priority questions always come into play.
As for a permitting process. It has been a thought. It’s a really cool idea. This would naturally take up resources. At the moment, there is no process in place to go out and specifically inspect things. That said, the land ops team in support does handle LLRR turnout and switch installation working with landowners. Roadways? A little more challenging because there is a lot more of that. Maybe in the future, after some other work has been buttoned up?
SL: What do the borders around unreleased regions mean?
PL: The colour lets you know what stage the region is in. In build. Built but waiting for QA. Ready for release. The key to the colours and their meanings is not public.
SL: Clarification on Premium Plus and homestead regions?
PL: The costs for a homestead region will be the same for Premium Plus residents, but they will not need to first own a full region before being permitted to set up a homestead region.
SL: High Fidelity investment in LL. Will HF be integrated into SL?
GL: Maybe? It’s been examined. There’s a lot of lift/change that would have to happen in world to bring HF into SL.
SL: Are there any plans for official VR capabilities?
GL: Can’t give specifics. Performance is a big issue. You need frame rates high enough to make VR non-pukey (is this a technical term?). VR is relevant to a smaller subset of the user community. Mobile obviously to many more. So, VR is in mind, but not an active project.
SL: Just one question left. What are some of the features that coming to SL that you are most looking forward to?
PL: Already covered most of them. Yes, there will be more themes. Premium and mainland tier.
GL: The big, exciting news was up front. I’m excited by our approach; trying to do right by our residents. Trying to grow the pie. Looking for ways to make SL inclusive. All this is done with an open heart. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.
SL: People often ask about being an employee having been a resident. LL employees love SL.
And what a great place to end on and head into the weekend. Enjoy your second lives everybody!