March 28, 2006 12:00 AM PST

'Second Life' scores $11 million in funding

Linden Lab, the publisher of the popular virtual world "Second Life," announced Tuesday an $11 million round of funding led by Globespan Capital Partners.

The new funding, which comes on the heels of an $8 million round in October 2004, came from Globespan as well as Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, the Omidyar Network and Catamount Ventures.

"Second Life" is one of today's most talked-about virtual worlds, and currently has more than 165,000 users. It is an open-ended "metaverse" that allows anyone to join and participate for free and to create and own any kind of clothing, vehicles, buildings or other objects at no cost. The company makes its money by charging players use fees for land they buy and build on.

For now, the company isn't profitable, and it's not clear when it will be, said Catherine Smith, Linden Lab's director of marketing. However, she told CNET News.com that Linden Lab plans to use its new funding for aggressive international expansion, as well as for hiring intended to boost its infrastructure.

And while "Second Life" is on many people's lips at any gathering of video game industry professionals, one thing is clear: It is not always an easy world for new users to get into, and its graphics are not up to the level of competitors like "World of Warcraft" and "There."

Still, virtual world experts are high on "Second Life" and have mostly been willing to look past its shortcomings because of its members' interesting social behavior.

And with its new funding, the company may now be able to address the look and feel of "Second Life" and quiet its critics in this area.

"My guess is they're looking to expand to the next level," said Ron Meiners, an expert in virtual worlds and online games. "They've done some very innovative development thus far, and this means they can both improve their infrastructure and prepare to scale to a higher level of membership."

Even though "Second Life" is now hovering around 165,000 users, it has been on a growth spurt. Still, its membership pales in comparison with games like Blizzard Entertainment's "World of Warcraft," which has around 6 million users, each of whom pays $15 a month to play.

In any case, Smith said Linden Lab's goal is to grow from its current 70 employees to at least 100, and to produce new, German- and Japanese-language versions.

But to Meiners, the real importance of the new funding round is the ability it gives Linden Lab to make "Second Life" more accessible to more people.

"The complexity of the interface has been confusing for many people coming to 'Second Life,'" he said, "so this gives them a chance to consider redesigning for a much larger customer base."

See more CNET content tagged:
Second Life, virtual worlds, infrastructure, World of Warcraft, Amazon.com Inc.

38 comments

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Bait & Switch... And then some...
After spending a night (and a little cash) reviewing this product (they don't like for you to call it a game), I came to a couple of brief conclusions. First of all, it's graphically crippled. Wired and CNet can say what they want, the game just doesn't have it. They've got any number of infinitely customisable polygonal combinations where terrain is concerned, but when it comes to your character/avatar, unless you know someone who is educated in CAD, be prepared to be gimped. The animations which seem to be inteded to be sophisticated, turn out more metrosexual than anything else. The graphics engine where the avatars are concerned are limited more to pixel shading than actual definition.

At first glance, it seems like a great deal. Ten bucks a month and the world is at your finger tips. You can create your own gestures and skins, buy land and write scripts to control it all. But it gets better.

Want to make yourself look like you weren't cut out of construction paper? Be prepared to pay for it. And even then, it's not much of an upgrade. Stand on the edge of a hill and your legs do the most unusual things. Enter an area with more than eight polygons, and be prepared to wait a good five minutes for everything to load. If there are more than three avatars in the same area, tack ten minutes onto that. Want to by land? Sure, you can buy land. Do it on the website for a measly thousand dollars. Do it in game for anywhere from 10-200 dollars extra a month. Gotta love land taxes. It boils down to the fact that if you want to do anything more complicated than breathe, you're going to pay for it.

I'm not sure where these guys got their billing structure. You're basically using a pretty IRC with some low-budget graphics and long load times that charges you every time you want to do something more complicated than a slash command. Though the potential here is great, it's not worth the money that you will undoubtedly sink into the project.

Want better graphics? Pay for it. Want more money? Pay for it. Want to build something? Pay for it. Want clothes? Pay for them. If you have no life to spend money on already, this is perfect for you.

So Linden gets $11M in funding and plan to add 30 employees. I sincerely hope that they use it to take some of the monetary pressure off of the new account holders. The graphics are mediocre. The interface is confusing. With everyone being able to write their own scripts, events are just convoluted. The controls are horrible.

If you're thinking about dropping your "Sims" or WoW game for this, think again. Give it two more years, and maybe. Maybe by then they'll have come up with something worth charging you $200 a month for. Until then, stick to paper football and console games. Order an XBox 360 and pre-order a PS3. I can almost guarantee that you can do both in one night and spend less than you will on this "sim" in a year.
Posted by Aliusmodi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I had the opposite experience
I didn't pay at all for Second Life.

Instead, I went around telling people I was a poet.

I composed a stanza of poetry and got paid L$100 for my work by someone who thought it was a cool schtick.

At L$273 = US$1, that was about US$0.37 for my work.

In fact, as of today, I have the equivalent of US$1.28 in my account. I have never paid a penny, other than the nominal opportunity cost of my time to play and the cost of power and depreciation of my computer. Of course, nothing is ever truly "free."

Yet this virtual world has actually been, in a way, profitable for me in ways which I have not seen in other virtual worlds.

It is turning the paradigm of "please don't make money using our virutal world" by removing the "don't."

They *want* people to be profitable using their game. They are creating a virtual economy. And there are many developers in the community who are paying off their virtual rents by being creative.

It might be clunky and buggy for now, yet the vision is that this is a virtual New World. Currently it is as hard scrabble as the Virginia colony or Plymouth Rock.

However, you will find that this is an idea that will slowly catch and continuously catch on.
Posted by PeterCorless (1 comment )
Link Flag
your wrong
You are tossing out numbers like 200$ a month and 1,000$ land fees with out saying what thats for

when you start SL is free 100% free and you get 50L a week free, anything you buy with that or if you chose to buy more L is payed to the person who created the item

you are paying for there work, you are not paying linden labs

now if you want to upgrade your account the starting fee is 10$ a month you get 500L a week now and you have access too 512m of land
let me point something out
500L a weekX4=2,000$L a month
2,000L=5.66$USD at the current exchange rate

so they are giving you 5$ back per month
now

Basic Access Free*
Premium - Monthly $9.95 ($9.95/month, billed monthly)
Premium - Quarterly $22.50 ($7.50/month, billed quarterly)
Premium - Annual $72.00 ($6.00/month, billed annually)

if you pick Annual billing you will be charged $6.00 a month
6.00-2,000L($5.66USD)=$0.34

there you go for a prem account and 512M of land you must pay the large sum of $0.34USD a month
id like to see WoW offer that plan

they are very different types of games SL is NOT an MMORPG

like the other posted said the smart people win
if you are not creative and want everything handed to you dont play SL, it is after all, a user created world, linden labs just supplys the tools
Posted by Allycat_sartre (1 comment )
Link Flag
Bat & Swtich... And then some...
After spending a night (and a little cash) reviewing this product (they don't like for you to call it a game), I came to a couple of brief conclusions. First of all, it's graphically crippled. Wired and CNet can say what they want, the game just doesn't have it. They've got any number of infinitely customisable polygonal combinations where terrain is concerned, but when it comes to your character/avatar, unless you know someone who is educated in CAD, be prepared to be gimped. The animations which seem to be inteded to be sophisticated, turn out more metrosexual than anything else. The graphics engine where the avatars are concerned are limited more to pixel shading than actual definition.

At first glance, it seems like a great deal. Ten bucks a month and the world is at your finger tips. You can create your own gestures and skins, buy land and write scripts to control it all. But it gets better.

Want to make yourself look like you weren't cut out of construction paper? Be prepared to pay for it. And even then, it's not much of an upgrade. Stand on the edge of a hill and your legs do the most unusual things. Enter an area with more than eight polygons, and be prepared to wait a good five minutes for everything to load. If there are more than three avatars in the same area, tack ten minutes onto that. Want to by land? Sure, you can buy land. Do it on the website for a measly thousand dollars. Do it in game for anywhere from 10-200 dollars extra a month. Gotta love land taxes. It boils down to the fact that if you want to do anything more complicated than breathe, you're going to pay for it.

I'm not sure where these guys got their billing structure. You're basically using a pretty IRC with some low-budget graphics and long load times that charges you every time you want to do something more complicated than a slash command. Though the potential here is great, it's not worth the money that you will undoubtedly sink into the project.

Want better graphics? Pay for it. Want more money? Pay for it. Want to build something? Pay for it. Want clothes? Pay for them. If you have no life to spend money on already, this is perfect for you.

So Linden gets $11M in funding and plan to add 30 employees. I sincerely hope that they use it to take some of the monetary pressure off of the new account holders. The graphics are mediocre. The interface is confusing. With everyone being able to write their own scripts, events are just convoluted. The controls are horrible.

If you're thinking about dropping your "Sims" or WoW game for this, think again. Give it two more years, and maybe. Maybe by then they'll have come up with something worth charging you $200 a month for. Until then, stick to paper football and console games. Order an XBox 360 and pre-order a PS3. I can almost guarantee that you can do both in one night and spend less than you will on this "sim" in a year.
Posted by Aliusmodi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i tried it...
and its really not that exciting if u cant spend alot of money. I guess some people might like it but i personally got bored and wondered why i tried it in the first place, guess i was bored before and stayed bored after. I think il stick to my first life its way less expensive and even though i cant fly around i get to move around much easier and always have clothes on.
Posted by alexgp87 (75 comments )
Link Flag
it is september 2009 and I just read this comment and wanted to reply. I think Second Life will be the most successful game development platform. The above reviewer definitely had a stunted imagination. The possibilities SL brings are endless, and its not just a platform for gamers but all creative folk - who get to showcase their art. SL transcends cultural barriers, and there is something of interest for everyone. I wont be surprised if someday people will recognize SLT more than GMT.
Posted by elle_team5 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Wonderful News for the Community
It will be two years ago in April that I arrived in Second Life and I have watched the World grow and truly allow us to indeed have a Second Life where all is possible.

With this new funding SL will make this growth more exciting for each of us,new funding for aggressive international expansion, as well as for hiring intended to boost its infrastructure.

With the hard working employees currently employed and that ability to hire more, we will indeed be a metaverse that will attract those who look for the best in a virtual world.

Feel free to stop in at dAlliez.com and take a look at the amazing builds done by very creative Second Life residents.

Congratulations to Second Life on securing this new funding to allow us to reach new heights.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Free to Play
To correct a couple of things someone else said in a comment, it is totally free to play Second Life. You need subscribe only if you want to own land.

It is also entirely free to build, and there are sandboxes where you can build if you don't own land. You can make things, sell them, and cash your game money into real money in SL - all without spending a dime.

coco
Posted by Cocoanut (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It really sucks - what a waste of investment :(
Wasn't this 3d worlds done back in 1996 by a host of other companies!
These 3d worlds sucked back then for lack of interesting things to do and they still do.
It is amazing how Silicon Valley investor honchos waste capital on one tried out and useless software/Internet idea after another.
They want to invest in something useful: invest in alternative fuel or vehicles, with gas at $3 per Gallon and going higher, invest in
Airlines that give seats to people with more leg room than 6inches, etc. etc. useful things.
But what do they care when they routinely buy stock at 5 Cents per share and dump it on the people at $20 per share and then watch their Investment banking buddies push it to $100 per share.......
Posted by Manfred Levy (24 comments )
Link Flag
Child Sexual Abuse Fantasy Play in Second Life
While the concept of Second Life is facinating and the possibilites endless for creative minds, there is also a very disturbing undercurrent going on there. Linden Labs has made rules about the use of hate speech and other acts of intolerance, but they refuse to come up with a official policy concerning the act of creating lifelike child avatars and babies that engage in explicit sex acts with adult avatars and other child avatars.

Under the current policy, the company states that because it is two concenting adults only pretending to be engaged in child sexual abuse fantasy, they will not ban the behavior.

There are more and more of these groups forming with names such as "The Cub Scouts" and "The Boy Scouts" where the abuse fantasies are structured and lived out by individuals as ongoing role playing sexual fantasy games.

According to Linden Labs policy, even avatar child pornography pictures and movies displayed withing the game are tolerated as just adults living out harmless fantasy.
Posted by ShaneInseine (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are out of your mind
Maybe they don't do anything because what you are saying is a total lie. I happen to be an officer of the Cub Scouts of second life and host there camp on my land. There is no sexual activity going on what so ever and if there was it would not be tolerated. If you knew anything about the group you would see it is even hosted on PG rated land Where not only are adult related items not allowed but any type of sex going on the land could lead to a suspension of your account. Just because there are people who role play as children and belong to the Cub/boy scouts does not mean they are there for sex or there to abuse people. There are no REAL Children allowed in Second Life, The avatars in Second life do not even have body parts that can be used for sexual activity, The avatars are as correct as a toy doll with no cloths on.
Posted by NinjaKid (9 comments )
Link Flag
CNET Reporter would like to talk to you
ShaneInseine: This is Daniel Terdiman, the CNET News.com
reporter who wrote the Second Life funding story.

I would like to talk to you about your comments regarding child
sexual abuse fantasy play in Second Life. If you read this, can you
please contact me at daniel.terdiman@cnet.com?

Thanks,
Daniel
Posted by Daniel Terdiman (78 comments )
Link Flag
Poster is Disturbed
This appears to be the same person who tried unsuccessfully to hijack the Second Life forums over the last week. They are trying to create a problem where none exists - most likely to get attention, or to satisfy some messed up agenda of their own. The SL forum posts were pure trolling, as is this.

I've been very active in Second Life for over two years and have yet to see anything like what this person alleges.
Posted by Surreal_F (1 comment )
Link Flag
Transference Issues
This all started with a person seeing a child-like avatar in a club.

From there they morphed it into this mess you now see.

The person who initiated this campaign even went as far as to accuse anyone who disagreed with them of being paedophiles.

Furthermore, even if people are partcipating in age-play, it is not child porn, as it does not fit the definition as put forth in the Protect Act.

"...such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is INDISTINGUISHABLE from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct..."

"...the term `indistinguishable' used with respect to a depiction, means virtually indistinguishable, in that the depiction is such that an ordinary person viewing the depiction would conclude that the depiction is of an actual minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This definition does not apply to depictions that are drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting minors or adults."

This crusade is approaching libelous in nature, and bears the hallmarks of persons with transference and obsession issues.
Posted by Nolan Nash (1 comment )
Link Flag
FriendlyLand Amusement Park
There is a place in Second Life called "FriendlyLand Amusement Park" with a description of "You like em young, so do we! *** by Friendlyland for all your cub, babyfur, and ageplay fun! (RP only no pedos here!)"

There is a group called "Gay Young Boys", with a group charter of "Group of men who like ageplay. For older men and younger boys!"

There is a place called "Missy's Pleasure Starcruiser with a description of "Always Open! (Sexual area, Adults only!) Diapers/AB/DL/ageplay/kinky/fetish/ anything fun or nasty!! :-) (please no child AVs)"
Posted by NoOneAtAll (1 comment )
Link Flag
This simply isn't the truth...
I have been in second life since june of 2005. I explore everywhere, always looking for new things to see and do and not once have I EVER witnessed what this person is describing. What happened was that one persone (possibly the same poster) saw an adult player (have to be 18 to play SL) dressed up like a kid dancing in one of SL's many clubs. The scene would be the equivalent of seeing a 10 year old walk into a bar in real life... certainly surprising and not something you see everyday but you wouldn't assume the 10 year old was there looking for a date.
Well, thats what this person assumed. She decided that because some people go to clubs to find a partner then thats what this childlike avatar (again, actually an adult) was up to. She then spent a few days turning the SL forums into a witchhunt and coined the ugly phrase "child AV sex".
I dont know if ShaneInseine and the person who took over the SL posts are one and the same or not, my guess would be that they are.
But as you read all this hoopla keep one thing in mind... the original poster who took over the SL forums and likely ShaneInseine can NOT actually claim to have EVER personally witnessed ANY sexual activity involving a childlike avatar (still really an adult). They only BELIEVE it is happening around them.
Once again... in all my explorations of second life, while I am certainly not the final authority, I personally have never witnessed an avatar resembling a child doing anything more disturbing than dragging a teddy bear along the ground.... no sex, never seen it and seriously doubt I ever will.
Posted by allanaD (2 comments )
Link Flag
SL is What YOU Make of It
Second Life (SL) is literally what you make of it. It's truly a virtual world where EVERY user is empowered to express their creativity as they see fit, subject to basic community standards that reflect the values and demographics of the participants.

Since SL is a virtual world rather than a game, very little is pre-scripted or is handed to the participant on a silver platter. SL provides the framework and the tools. It's up to the participants to create the kind of experience that they wish to have. And the cool thing is: the possibilities are as limitless as the imagination.

Not into creativity? Well, a rich, fascinating world already exists right now in SL. The past few years have seen both remarkable growth in the SL "population" and the creation of some amazing things to see and do.

Best part is--contrary to the original post's misinformation--it doesn't cost a darned thing. Basic memberships are free, and a basic member can do everything that a premium member can do except own (virtual) land.

There is a thriving economy in SL, and yes, people can and do choose to sell the work that they've created--you'll find no shortage of shopping malls in SL. But there's a lot to see and do that doesn't cost a thing, and if you just don't find what you're looking for ... build it!
Posted by templar_baphomet (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
A Horrid Publicity Stunt
There is no longer any question in my mind that the three head cases we've had to endure on the discussion boards in SecondLife over the past 3 days are doing anything but trolling and worse. It's clear to me that their only agenda in posting over and over with the same unresponsive dribble, spin doctoring and outright lies regarding this subject is to draw attention to themselves, most likely in hopes of making money from it. The whole thing wreaks of a horrid publicity stunt. I am thoroughly disgusted that they could use such an issue as this in an attempt to further their own monetary ambitions.
Posted by kaboompow (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The above post was in response to the "Child Sexual Abuse.." thread (nt)
nt
Posted by kaboompow (2 comments )
Link Flag
Simply Look Into It
I have nothing to say other than let the world look into it. I'm not sure how I can make any money trying to get Linden Labs to take a formal stand on the issue.

I simply want a statement saying that the community I am involved in does not tolerate members acting out child sexual abuse fantasies and that child avatars are not to be used for sexual purposes because of the potential threat that implies to real children.

Everyone has a right to voice their opinion and that is mine. If I am wrong about the information I have, then no one has anything to worry about.

It isn't like anyone is saying that is all SL is about, we are saying that this is going on inside as it is going on all over the Internet and it needs to be addressed seriously because it is a potential threat to everyone's children.

Second Life has serious potential as a historical event in the history of the Internet. With that potential comes serious responsibility.
Posted by ShaneInseine (22 comments )
Link Flag
Entertainment vs. gaming...
There is certainly a high degree of frustration from someone just
switching off from a game with pre-generated content (almost
all are, these days) with 80 fps and then enter Second Life,
assuming it'll be the "state-of-the-art", and expecting this
virtual world to be the non plus ultra of gaming technology.

Well, the problem here is that Second Life is not a game 
although it *is* entertaining. The notion of "being bored in
Second Life" is the result of applying the incorrect mentality:
people expect that others entertain them (thus the success of
TV, movies, radio, music concerts, books, and, naturally,
games). This passive entertainment (you pay, someone
entertains you) is deeply ingrained in our culture and mentality
that we expect it automatically, without thinking.

So,naturally, when entering Second Life for the first time, and
looking around for a bit, one lacks all the clues one expects
from "entertainment". There are 167,000 people around; why
aren't they entertaining *me*?

Wrong mentality. Second Life is like a grassroots World-Wide
Web: you create and provide entertainment (to yourself and
eventually to others), not "expect" others to do it for yourself.

This is a 180ยบ turn. Think blogs or forums, or, better, IRC and
chatrooms. These are all interactive entertainment  where we
are both producers and consumers of entertainment. You write a
blog to entertain yourself (by the time you invest in blogging,
which one admittedly finds "amusing"), and, as a consequence,
others read your articles, and get "amused" in return. That's the
whole purpose of all sorts of online, interactive writing.

By hopping from a blog to a forums to a chatroom, you select
among the ones that have higher entertainment quality, and the
ones that encourage you to contribute as well. This is what we
all do, by picking those "special online places" where we become
producers of entertainment content. Until we find that special
place  we get "bored" with forums or chatrooms. One day, we
might feel encouraged to start our own blog/forum/chatroom;
and suddenly we understand why it can be fun and addictive,
both for ourselves and for others.

Second Life is all that  but in 3D and colours. Until you
discover what's appealing to you, as a producer of entertainment
'content' (it can be building, programming things or games,
designing clothes  or it can be hosting discussion events), or
at least if you manage to find similarly entertaining qualities in
content others have produced  you feel a little lost. "Where is
this entertainment all are talking about? I want entertainment
NOW!"

The old netiquette rules used to say that you should not expect
others to be available at your whim; they have their own
priorities and agendas, and their own time is wisely spent in
doing things *they* like (and not the things *you* would like
them to do!). Netiquette encouraged colaboration: if I have this
idea and this guy has similar interests, let's stick together, and
produce collaborative work that fullfills both our expectations.
This has been going on for two decades of "collaborative
entertainment". What Second Life brings is a new medium for
doing that; it's not just chats and 2D web pages with pretty
graphics. Instead, it's a 3D world, that can make to look and feel
like the "real world": but it gets changed according to *our*
(collective) dreams and wishes, not by others.

So if my concept of entertainment is charging others for
designing houses, furniture, clothes or vehicles and weapons,
well, that's all right. These things take time to create. Time is, of
course, money. Thus follows that people like to get paid back
for what they do. Obviously, on the 2D Web, people have lots of
free access to webpages  but some high quality content is also
paid for. The same happens on Second Life. Low-to-medium
quality content is cheap, or even for free (if you take enough
time to look for it). High quality content took professional
designers (who are mere users of Second Life, like you are) days,
weeks, or months to create. Some offer it for free  some don't.
It's their choice. And Second Life teaches us to collectively
respect our choices.

I'm personally not a "professional" in either 3D modelling or
programming. Well, I can't even classify as an "amateur". Still,
after 20 months, I have the same avatar I've created on day one
(sure, I also bought a photoreallistically-textured skin... it costs
these days US$3, and I can afford it easily). Why didn't I change
the avatar over all this time? Because on "day one" I spent 90
minutes tweaking with it. That's the time it took to understand
what happens when I pull the 200 sliders left and right, and
combine them to get something that lasted for 20 months.

Thinking backwards, I tried to picture how long it took me to
understand a "complex" word processing program, like MS Word
or (more recently) Apple's Pages. I'm quite sure it took me much
longer. And I still don't know how to work with things like
Photoshop or Poser; and I've certainly spent *much* longer on
those programs than 90 minutes!

The issue is that to master a technology, you need to spend a bit
with it. I'd say that 90% of people joining Second Life simply
don't care; after 5 minutes of avatar tweaking, they give up; they
want instant gratification, clicking on a Johnny Depp or Angeline
Jolie avatar, and hey presto  there it is. Second Life does not
work like that. You *can* do either a Johnny Depp or an Angeline
Jolie avatar. Just not in 5 minutes. Like someone won't write next
years' Pulitzer prize in 5 minutes after just having installed their
first word processor on their computers.

So, Second Life is a platform for creative, collaboration use. The
possibilities are limitless; and thus it's impossible to expect that
after 5 minutes logged in, you are both a master of the tools
that you get for free in Second Life, and immediately find your
niche that 'entertains' you. Linden Lab's goal is to reduce that
time to about 1 hour; most people are lucky enough to be able
to do it in 3 hours; as a comparison, a below-average user of
these kinds of technologies (Second Life is the first collaborative
virtual world I've ever joined...), may take a week or so, which is
what I needed to understand things properly.

Finally, the technology behind it. It's true that the very
beginnings of the core components of Second Life were started
to get designed back in 1999, and something very near to the
current renderer was perhaps around in early alpha form in
2001. So what we're seeing is an evolution of 5-year-old
technology, much of it created and designed for computers that
are "commonplace" now, but simply didn't exist back in 1999.
While the new renderer is being developed as we speak (and has
already a year or so of development), the truth is, it's very hard
to "compete" with static content, when all you have is dynamic
content, streamed to you from 2000 remote servers  nothing
is downloaded to your computer (except textures that get
cached  but the cache starts empty), everything is streamed,
just like Google Earth. This is of course what's required to be
able to provide a collaborative, interactive environment, where
you can see others building things (and help them out) in real
time, in front of your eyes. Except for some high-level,
professional modelling tools (like AutoCAD), not available to the
common user, this is an unique experience for most people. You
can even see people's noses growing and shrinking as they move
the sliders on Appearance mode, or their hair changing colour.

The negative side of this is that all this streaming taxes the
framerates terribly (the new renderer will somewhat alleviate it,
by streaming not only textures, but pre-rendered scenes that
hopefully stay current for a longer while  think MPEG4
compression, where you start with a scene and just add the
differences to it to keep bandwidth at a minimum, and only
change scenes when things have changed too much). Still,
Second Life is rather bad at trying to figure out the "best"
settings for your card. It tends to be eager in setting all the
defaults to maximum; and this means, for a large majority of
users, that you'll get framerates around 4 or 5, even if your top-
of-the-line computer is able to do 200 fps on Quake or Unreal. I
have watched this happening so many times that I find it very
sad to see how so many people leave Second Life before they
ever see the Preferences dialogue box. My own boss had just
configured and fine-tuned a SLI machine with double-nVidia
graphic cards, and all the possible tricks to squeeze
performance out of them. Most "games" he played gave him
smooth, 80+ fps regularly. When he tried Second Life again on
this new box, the best he got was 4.7 fps, and his settings were
not even on maximum. He got so frustrated and disappointed
that he went home, sad that "SL did not fully support SLI due to
bugs" or something like that.

He was probably right. He should also have remembered to
check off Local Lighting (broken for about a year or so; will be
addressed with the release of a new version). I did that, and the
machine started to spew frames at the rate of 50 or more per
second... and at the maximum possible settings :)

What this means is that you have a virtual world platform, with
the ability to produce and generate content, dynamically in real
time, and you get a 30%-35% decrease in raw processing power,
compared to statically, pre-generated content. You're trading off
games with 4 or 5 GBytes of content versus a virtual platform
with 15 TBytes of content. Some things cannot possible be the
same. The older among you might remember the days people
struggled with the idea of doing a multimedia presentation in
1995 or thereabouts, and you had the option of doing it on the
Web (dynamic content, but on a poor browser and probably a
bad connection), or on a CD (static content, but high resolution,
with all special effects you can care to imagine). The CD used to
win all the time. Nowadays, in 2006, people do professional
multimedia presentations using, say, Flash on web pages; it
doesn't care if you present it on broadband on a browser, or
statically on a CD: the quality will be *the same* (and how fast
we forget that this wasn't true a decade ago).

This is what will happen to Second Life: soon  not in 2006,
certainly  raw processing power of computers and graphic
cards will be enough to render 80+ frames easily on a
photoreallistic renderer, no matter if your content is static and
pre-generated, or dynamic and streamed. What Linden Lab is
doing is to pull that "expected date" (2015?) to as near as
possible to 2006. Their new renderer, perhaps available next
year or so, will be a major breakthrough. And possibly the
renderer after that one, for 2010 or thereabouts, will give us
Playstation-like quality with 200+ fps on a 2048x1536 screen
on a cheap, US$1000 setup. But what Linden Lab can't do is
magic: streaming, dynamic content is really not something you
can improve much without the users' help (by knowing how to
fine-tune your own machine for the best performance).

All in due time :) And I guess that arguments very similar to the
above were the ones that allowed Linden Lab's CEO Philip
Rosedale to ensure additional funding. They have a technology
that needs evolution; and a faithful user base that understands
the whole concept of interactive 3D virtual worlds with many
uses beyond mere entertainment. These should be more than
enough to create the virtual reality we all dream about since
reading Snowcrash or watching the Matrix trilogy  not set in a
"far future", but perhaps as soon as 2010. Which is not asking
much; just think of how much the Web evolved from, say, 1993
to 1999...
Posted by GwynethLlewelyn (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
its legal to have sex with child avatars!
Its legal to have sex with child avatars and its completely harmless. We are all adults here and are free to do whatever we want in second life.

Two adults that have virtual sex as kids are still two adults! Stop this harasment at once!
You making it look as if this is not normall!

We dont have any clubs that do ageplay and its a complete lie that litle kids where having sex for money. No kids may come in SL and its an adult wearing this kids skin that is doing this and thats legal and within the TOS of Lindenlabs.
Posted by dog watch (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
and this is normal?????
"Its legal to have sex with child avatars and its completely harmless. "

Wow. That statement alone really disturbs me, Dog.

"You making it look as if this is not normall!"

I think your version of "normal" is very unnormal. Your statements are very disturbing, in any context. Especially after the eye opening reports done by Dateline on NBC. Any role playing involving sex with children whether played by adults or not is completely unacceptable. It implies the want of doing such an act. That is what bothers me, Dog.
Posted by Narismoon (1 comment )
Link Flag
"AGE PLAY" groups
This does go on in SL. And not surprisingly if you search for the biggest "AGE PLAY" group in SL, it's magically disappeared since this article was published!

I have stumbled upon many instances of this happening.

Does it sicken me? yes.

Would I want to talk to these people or interact with them in any way? No.

Something doesn't sit right with me when I think about adults getting turned on by make believe child rape.
Posted by SLBCD (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
SL Encourages Copyright Violations
SL appears to be conspiring to contribute to the violation of copyright holders' rights to imagery which is freely uploadable into SL, whereby SL residents may simply upload the images and offer them for sale in their "virtual stores." SL's stance is that they do not have the "resources" to police what is uploaded onto their servers. If that is the case, hopefully this funding will allow for them to increase their resources and stop the outright RAMPANT THEFT of copyright holders' works from the 'net, whereby offending SL residents then monetarily benefit from resale of these copyritten works! SL's "turn the other cheek" attitude must be stopped.
Posted by 1toob3 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SL Encourages Copyright Violations
SL appears to be conspiring to contribute to the violation of copyright holders' rights to imagery which is freely uploadable into SL, whereby SL residents may simply upload the images and offer them for sale in their "virtual stores." SL's stance is that they do not have the "resources" to police what is uploaded onto their servers. If that is the case, hopefully this funding will allow for them to increase their resources and stop the outright RAMPANT THEFT of copyright holders' works from the 'net, whereby offending SL residents then monetarily benefit from resale of these copyritten works! SL's "turn the other cheek" attitude must be stopped.
Posted by 1toob3 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Second Life Encourages Monetary Gain From Copyright Violations
SL appears to be conspiring to contribute to the violation of copyright holders' rights to imagery which is freely uploadable into SL, whereby SL residents may simply upload the images and offer them for sale in their "virtual stores." SL's stance is that they do not have the "resources" to police what is uploaded onto their servers. If that is the case, hopefully this funding will allow for them to increase their resources and stop the outright RAMPANT THEFT of copyright holders' works from the 'net, whereby offending SL residents then monetarily benefit from resale of these copyritten works! SL's "turn the other cheek" attitude must be stopped.
Posted by 1toob3 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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