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Second Life Open Sources Client 208

Posted by Hemos
from the i-call-upon-the-community dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Just noticed that Second Life released their client under the GPL today, and that they're up to 2.4 million users. Article says that 15% of users contribute scripted objects."
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Second Life Open Sources Client

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  • sweet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:16AM (#17507692) Journal

    I want to see the flying penis client [slashdot.org]
  • Excellent! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thygrrr (765730) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:17AM (#17507704)
    Really, this is a great step towards "Cyberspace" á la Snow Crash. Open Source and, eventually, Open Standars will vastly spur development of this technology.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:33AM (#17507918) Journal
      Really, this is a great step towards "Cyberspace" á la Snow Crash. Open Source and, eventually, Open Standars will vastly spur development of this technology.
      I'm generally positive about this move also. However, I played Second Life for a couple weeks back when it was coming out and, it's quite clear that Linden Dollars are directly equivalent to USD in some ratio. Now, one thing I've learned about MMORPGs like World of Warcraft & Ultima Online is that the client needs to be protected. What better way to protect it than to open source it, right? While I am of that opinion when it comes to other software, I feel that this just presents many problems for the server side of things. From the article,
      But now, says Linden CEO Philip Rosedale, independent programmers will be able to "modify it, fire it up and sign on with it." The company gave Fortune exclusive access to executives in advance of the change.
      Ok, so this is good unless hackers figure out how to modify the code to just perpetually make them Linden dollars. This isn't a combat game and position hacks really wouldn't do anything for you since you can fly anywhere in the game anyway. But I'm still a bit worried about people being able to look at the code of the client and abuse some action or property that is left responsible to the client and, in this manner, they gain an edge or amass Linden dollars.

      Perhaps my fears are unfounded but I would imagine that the servers would be heavily taxed if everything was going on server side. I mean, let's say you make a product. It's possible this creation process is left to your client and then the server is informed of the new object and persists it. Well, wouldn't it be profitable to make a client that just keeps notifying the server of new objects that sell well in the world? I'm not too clear on the crafting process in Second Life but I imagine it takes resources.

      I've heard a lot of comparisons of Second Life to Snow Crash but I'm not sold yet on this step being purely progress forward. I don't even think I could think of server software that could handle all possible clients without the processing and network traffic getting exponential.
      • by Cheesey (70139) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:46AM (#17508038)
        I think this is a surprising move, but for a different reason than client-side hacking, which is always unavoidable (although made easier by releasing source).

        LL make their money by selling server space. You can't just connect your own server to SL - it has to be one of theirs. The network is closed. All of the PR and astroturfing that's been coming out of LL recently is aimed at getting more people to invest in SL space: the more investors there are, the more the space will be worth. They're trying to drive a homesteading boom like the one that happened in the early days of the Web, when companies started to go online.

        Now people could create a SL client that can connect to an alternative SL universe: one where the servers are free software clones of the original SL servers. This makes SL an open standard. That means we can all join in and host our own stuff without having to pay LL for a server. The system is open - we can join for free.

        Presumably LL are relying on "their network" being the best, so people continue to pay them for something they can now do for less money elsewhere. Bit like AOL and Compuserve assuming that their internal networks would always be worth more than Internet access.
        • by plover (150551) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:34AM (#17508606) Homepage Journal
          Frankly, I'd rather pay them to host the servers than to try to host my own. What with all the griefers making life miserable for the server maintainers, it hardly seems worth the effort to try to run your own public server.

          Of course you could run your own private server, like the Construct in the Matrix. You could do things like the "jump" program and "learn karate". But unlike the movie, you can't carry your guns from the fake fake world to the real fake world.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Cheesey (70139)
            Of course you could run your own private server, like the Construct in the Matrix. You could do things like the "jump" program and "learn karate". But unlike the movie, you can't carry your guns from the fake fake world to the real fake world.

            Ah, good point. An interoperability problem. That would reduce the value of a private server.

            I suppose it might be possible to come up with an open standard for object exchange, so that objects could be moved between suitably configured servers in the alternate univers
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Simetrical (1047518)
          Presumably LL are relying on "their network" being the best, so people continue to pay them for something they can now do for less money elsewhere. Bit like AOL and Compuserve assuming that their internal networks would always be worth more than Internet access.

          Or perhaps they're relying on patents. If they have appropriate ones, they could shut down any OS alternative service providers.

        • by TheGuano (851573) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:12PM (#17512038)
          A senior developer from Linden spoke at my class a few months back, and he told us about their plans to open source the client, and eventually the server system - i.e., you will eventually be able to use your own hardware to run a SL land server over the internet. The question isn't whether it will happen, it's when. Will it affect their business model? Of course. But according to the developer, the goal is to open-source everything they can, and if the business model has to change, then it'll change.
        • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:28PM (#17513198)
          LL make their money by selling server space. You can't just connect your own server to SL - it has to be one of theirs. The network is closed. All of the PR and astroturfing that's been coming out of LL recently is aimed at getting more people to invest in SL space: the more investors there are, the more the space will be worth. They're trying to drive a homesteading boom like the one that happened in the early days of the Web, when companies started to go online.

          On the other hand, this will be a very concrete experiment with micropayments on an effectively wide open information network. If a fully open client with just a trusted third party to handle financial transactions (or maybe ecash) can support a viable information economy through either donations or some form of copyright respect, then it bodes well for a similar "real life" system of micropayments for information and services. Realistically, since most things digital already happen on the Internet, SL will be as real as it gets in terms of the future information economy.

          It's likely that Linden Labs is betting on being the manager of the Linden Dollars in the new economy and making their money that way. Hosting server space is a relatively mundane activity compared to the management of the actual money and objects used in SL. Perhaps they will now act as an object ownership repository, basically just keep a hash of every object along with the name of its original creator for the purpose of micropayments to the real creator. Make all objects fully copyable (to respect the reality of information sharing), but let everyone know who the original creator was. Obviously the problem is formally intractable because anyone can modify an object and claim that they're the inventor, but generally market forces will prevent that from happening. Once enough people have seen the original object, they will be able to spot fakes, and since anyone can copy any object, it will be easy to demonstrate the imitations as cheap knockoffs. Payments would just be donations from people who would like to reward the original artists for their creations, and of course for customizations and other services.

          I'd also note that Linden Labs has always claimed that SL would be open sourced at some point, so it's likely that this has been planned out quite a bit in advance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        While it's not a 'combat game', there are areas that are combat zones. Your avatar can 'die', but I believe it just spawns your avatar somewhere else. (I don't do the combat stuff, I've just heard about it.)
      • by MadAhab (40080)
        Your fears are both unfounded and under-respected.

        If the Linden folks aren't doing server-side logic for exchange and storage of Linden bucks, they are screwed whether or not the client is open source.

        Ever heard of aim-bots? Those work with closed-source clients.

        On the other hand, it looks like the Linden folks are still working on server controls to make sure stuff doesn't run out of control. Flying penis storms, grey goo, that sort of thing.

        And from the sound of it, their server software seems to have ind
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by thygrrr (765730)
          > Ever heard of aim-bots? Those work with closed-source clients.

          Yeah, but it's actually just a "tool" that happens to break a "game". SL is not a game. It's a crude early version of cyberspace, and hence has performance, security and stability issues galore. However, it's the best there is at the moment, and, quite frankly - it's mind-boggling what some people pull off with nothing but finite state automatons and parametric geometry.

          >On the other hand, it looks like the Linden folks are still working
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ischorr (657205)
          They're not first - Activeworlds has been around for years (I first used it in 97 or so).

          http://www.activeworlds.com/ [activeworlds.com]
      • by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:10AM (#17508300)
        Well, wouldn't it be profitable to make a client that just keeps notifying the server of new objects that sell well in the world? I'm not too clear on the crafting process in Second Life but I imagine it takes resources.

        The way I understand it, is that there is no "crafting" system per se, but users create things outside of the client, and then upload them to the SL system. Users can then set flags in their creation that makes it non-copyable, non-transferable and/or non-sellable. Therefore a client that creates items perpetually would not give a user any advantage, as items can already be copied at will. There is no rules in SL (except in player created environments), as it is more of a virtual space than a game. This is what I've understood of it, I haven't played it myself so this is only second-hand information.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Andrew Kismet (955764)
          3D Objects are created entirely inworld. Animations and textures are created outside of the client. Object flags (Mod, Copy, Transfer) can be toggled according to the existing flags and your creator and owner status on the item.
      • by vadim_t (324782) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:19AM (#17508430) Homepage
        SL client doesn't really need to be protected.

        This isn't WoW, in SL the server takes care of pretty much everything, and the client is practically a 3D web browser. The client is already very unresticted as far as MMORPGs go, you can teleport anywhere you want for instance. Of course you can be banned or not allowed to some destination, but changing the client won't change that.

        Even without it being open, the libsecondlife people had figured out enough to duplicate in-game objects. This means that very possibly creators of things that aren't scripted are going to get screwed. But this was always a possibility. It was completely obvious somebody would do it within a few days of trying SL, closed or not.

        L$ handling is of course server-side, you can't create them out of nowhere. L$ are only created by LL and then exchanged between residents and bought and sold for USD.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by swillden (191260) *

        Now, one thing I've learned about MMORPGs like World of Warcraft & Ultima Online is that the client needs to be protected.

        The reasons that MMORPGs need to "protect" the client don't apply to SL, or are easy to avoid. There are basically three reasons that MMORPG systems have problems with "unauthorized" clients:

        1. In order to improve performance, clients are given information about the state of the world that players are not supposed to see. This can be addressed by simply not doing it. If the server only sends info the player is allowed to know, then a subverted client can't reveal "too much". In the case of SL, it actu
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        I've heard a lot of comparisons of Second Life to Snow Crash but I'm not sold yet on this step being purely progress forward. I don't even think I could think of server software that could handle all possible clients without the processing and network traffic getting exponential.

        The real problem with SL is one of scalability. In the real world, we work on a combination of peer to peer and server based models; server-based because you have water, power, and communications services delivered to you; peer

        • by reed (19777)
          The scenario you describe is pretty similar to what we want to do at http://www.interreality.org./ [www.interreality.org]
        • by WNight (23683)
          Like the other responder so far, I'm working on something similar, though I'm doing a Ruby-based game in the style of Lambda Moo, but with an open architecture and the ability to graft on various tools, such as the neat looking Sauerbraten engine you mention, for design on art, code, or other resource.

          The engines and protocols between them aren't my interest, I'm merely concerned with them ending up open and extensible. I'm working on the idea of shared development by sharing a persistent Squeak-like world.
      • by Angostura (703910)
        There is a very good GoogleTechTalk from last year here [google.com] where the Linden guys give the Google guys a show and tell about some of the technology underpinning Second Life.

        Bottom line, as I understand it from this video, the client is really very very dumb. Everything intelligent is running on the server, and it is just left to the client to handle the basic graphical rendering.

        Now it is always possible that there is something they have missed, but it appears that the system was designed from the start to make
      • Any reasonable security model protecting online currency has to be proof against tampering with the client, and instead secure the server. Even before the client's source was opened, people were reverse-engineering the network protocol, against which work there is practically no protection (especially with an unencrypted client/server protocol). Currency and money supply must be controlled at the server, or counterfeiting can't be prevented. Even in the real world, the only proof against counterfeit is the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by merreborn (853723)

        Now, one thing I've learned about MMORPGs like World of Warcraft & Ultima Online is that the client needs to be protected.

        If the client end of your client server app needs to be "protected", your security model is already terribly flawed. The first rule of client/server app development is simple: Never trust the client.

        If you never take input from the client at face value, then you don't need to "protect" it (a war you'll never win, by the way).

        Raph Koster [raphkoster.com] knows it. Why other MMO developers have histo

        • Raph Koster knows it. Why other MMO developers have historically ignored this rule over and over again, I'm not sure.

          Well, for FPS games where centisecond network latency makes a big difference, it's done for performance reasons. For systems where latency isn't as much of an issue, maybe it's a cost-reduction issue: processing that clients do is processing power that you don't have to pay for in your server farm.

          But honestly, I think it's probably more of a case of too many "game programmers" who haven't done enough of anything else to have learned about writing code for use in an adversarial environment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
      Really, this is a great step towards "Cyberspace" à la Snow Crash.

      Bingo. Add a Wii controller and some cheap VR goggles, and you too can be Hiro Protagonist!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thygrrr (765730)
        Yeah, sounds wacky, but really, despite the choppy and often ugly grapbhics - this is what it feels like. People rent virtual land and try to build popular, profitable or just comfortable places on them. The term "Home" gets a wholly new, old meaning in Second Life.

        And a Wii controller might actually make things more controllable, especially object touching and viewport panning.
    • Really, this is a great step towards "Cyberspace" á la Snow Crash. Open Source and, eventually, Open [Standards] will vastly spur development of this technology.

      Indeed. This is part of a much larger momentum, however. Generally speaking, writing proprietary MMORPGs or any massive online world is very hard and time-consuming, making it a natural area for open-source collaboration to thrive (no need to reinvent the wheel, and all that). Here are some current highlights of open-source in this area: the
    • by MORB (793798)
      It might happen, but I don't think the shitty second life technology is what will become it.
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:28AM (#17507844)
    In total, the software for Second Life comprises five gigabytes of source code, according to Joe Miller, Linden's vice president for platform and technology development.
    Is this a joke? I doubt that even if you include every texture and animation and sound file in what they call "source code " that it would be this much. Smells fishy.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Indeed, if you download it, it's 11.14mb zipped. Hardly 5GB. I can't imagine what they included, since if they included all the images and sounds people have uploaded, 5GB isn't nearly enough to hold all that. I think he's the victim of an idiot underling.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gwala (309968)
      It's 11.7MB zipped for Windows, plus 45.7MB in additional libraries nessecary to compile (such as Boost)
    • by doomy (7461)
      If you included every texture, object, notecard, I think way back in June it came to around 500 DVD's worth of data.
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      I doubt that even if you include every texture and animation and sound file in what they call "source code " that it would be this much. Smells fishy.

            That's the new SmellOVision part of SL. The odors are open-source, too, but their code takes up far more space than all of the rest of it put together.
    • 5GB for everything (Score:4, Informative)

      by robla (4860) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:36PM (#17511464) Homepage Journal
      5GB is a number Joe came up with after checking out all sources (servers, clients, libraries, scripts) plus unit tests, packaging tools, and test plans. None of the 5GB includes user generated content of any kind (i.e. textures, lsl scripts, objects, etc.). One can get into all sorts of arguments about methodology (as seems to happen whenever we publish a stat), but the point is, we've got a lot of code.

      Today was a small step in the grand scheme of things. As one of the other posters pointed out, the amount of code we posted was a number much smaller than 5GB. But, this will hopefully be an important step in giving people control of their own computers. We certainly don't want you to have to install proprietary software on your computer to enjoy Second Life, and now, you won't have to. Admittedly, there are still some rough edges in a purely open source compile, but that's a bug, not a feature.
  • by cshirky (9913) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:31AM (#17507880) Homepage
    Linden does not have 2.4 million users, and it does not regularly report how many users it does have. It reports "Residents", a figure that includes people who have signed up for Second Life but never logged in. It also double-counts people who have more than one avatar.

    More about the uselessness of the Residents figure here: http://many.corante.com/archives/2006/12/26/linden s_second_life_numbers_and_the_presss_desire_to_bel ieve.php#comments [corante.com]

    The only person to whom Linden has reported a count of active users is David Kirkpatrick of Fortune, and as of last week, only 252K people had logged into Second Life twice or more in two month -- the rest were bailouts. This 252K figure, which is a much more accurate reflection of Second Life's popularity, is an order of magnitude lower than most of the press is reporting.

    More on Kirkpatrick's numbers here: http://many.corante.com/archives/2007/01/04/real_s econd_life_numbers_thanks_to_david_kirkpatrick.php [corante.com]
  • by csoto (220540) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:33AM (#17507900)
    First flying penises, now open sores? Oh, wait... Never mind!
  • The claim of 2.4 million users is a crock of shit. This blog post [corante.com] has some details on what the actual number of users is like.

    Long story short, in Second Life it is free to signup for an account, so no conclusions can be drawn whatsoever from those numbers. Compare this with World of Warcraft, where each account costs $15/mo. or it is killed. Now when Blizzard tells you they have 6 million users, you know it's true. But as for Second Life, the number of simultaneous users in the game world really isn't
    • by JavaLord (680960)
      Now when Blizzard tells you they have 6 million users, you know it's true

      I'm sure Blizzard has around 6 million users, but a lot of people own more than one account so they can play both factions on a PvP server so their numbers might not be spot on either.
      • by BLKMGK (34057)
        The 6million user number has also been debunked as crap too. I was reading a pretty good article concerning that this weekend actually, naturally the article URL isn't at hand but afterwards it was pretty clear that 6million is also bogus. It's still a HUGE number though and I think bigger than any other.

        FWIW on EVE I regularly see 20K or more folks logged on and as many as 28K without experiencing problems. I believe it's gone over 30K but that's been a pretty rare thing and nto something I've ever persona
    • by Barny (103770)
      Even the 6M claim could be a steaming pile, count the amount of users online at peak time please, not half made accounts, nor anything else, how many people play the game....
      • Even the 6M claim could be a steaming pile, count the amount of users online at peak time please, not half made accounts, nor anything else, how many people play the game....

        It doesn't really matter if the people are logging in regularly; they're still paying $15/month for the account.
      • by arkanes (521690)
        Blizzard has roughly 6m accounts that pay $15 a month. That's all that matters, really - they aren't trying to count "real people" who play, and even if they did it'd be a meaningless number. What is important, from a business standpoint, is that wow has $90M coming in each month from subscribers.
    • by drsquare (530038)
      World of Warcraft doesn't cost $15 a month everywhere. In Asia you don't even need to pay monthly.
  • by PhrackCreak (136718) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:36AM (#17507940)
    The official announcement [secondlife.com] from Linden is on the Second Life Blog [secondlife.com].
  • Good luck Linden (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:39AM (#17507970)
    Second Life is utterly dated graphically and has a primitive client.

    This open source effort is a bid to get the community to do what Linden Labs
    has failed to do thus far -- bring their offering into the 21st century.

    The clock is ticking for Linden. If anyone thinks that there won't be a better,
    more sophisticated and vastly more profitable virtual community within the next
    five years, they're either dreaming or they're one of the suckers who has invested
    in virtual real estate believing that Second Life has some unique grip on the
    concept of virtual communities.

    Open Sourcing the client is an effort to cinch public acceptance of Second Life
    as the defacto standard in virtual communities. My bet is that Second Life is
    dethroned faster than anyone expects. The experience just isn't remotely
    sophisticated, graphically rich or slick enough to have staying power.
    • by popo (107611)
      Agreed. 2nd Life seems like a (barely) updated Alphaville.
    • by MadAhab (40080)
      Agreed.

      And while sophisticated graphics and all are certainly part of the equation, lots of folks (the early adopter types) will put up with problems in that area. People won't put up with problems in the experience. From what I hear and see, the client has usability issues and the server grid has some design issues.

      Linden's problem may be that there's no easy development path from where they are now to where they need to go. Starting from zero may have a decisive advantage.
    • I'm not sure, but it seems to me that Second Life is able to stream content to users. I don't know if any other 3D client does that? WoW doesn't, does it?

      That might not make it pretty, but in itself it's quite powerful.
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > I'm not sure, but it seems to me that Second Life is able to stream content to users. I don't know if any other 3D client does that?

        VRML. SL has always looked to me like a souped-up VRML client. What with the ascendancy of javascript these days, VRML might even be in for a comeback -- assuming anyone wants the awful interface for real applications in the first place.
      • by WTBF (893340)
        Guild Wars does this, you download the client at around 80kb zipped and everything else is streamed to you - I can't remember exactly but it was about 100-150mb to download during the install (this was a year and a half ago) and then each area is downloaded in the background/when you need it.
      • by MORB (793798)
        The way you construct things in second life is made of failure.

        You assemble a bunch of primitives together. People make complicated things by assembling boatloads of ellipsoids and cubes.

        The problem is that you end up with something that is not merely "not pretty". Anything complicated looks like utter shit in SL, and involve lots of unnecessary polygons that are not visible but drawn. So it's full of overdraw.

        Also, people are free to put different textures on these primitives. In fact, the lack of UV mappi
    • Re:Good luck Linden (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jafuser (112236) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:10PM (#17511066)
      A lot of people don't seem to realize that the 3D world that gets rendered onto their screen for most games is an elaborate facade of graphics hacks and extremely clever utilization of resources. To make a fast and visually beautiful 3D game requires a lot of talent and hard work from both the developers and artists.

      Unfortunately, Sturgeon's Law [wikipedia.org] still applies in SL, just as how it will apply anywhere you give people the ability to make and share content.

      SL is a common area for amateurs to take a stab at 3D modeling and programming, but a very large majority of SL residents do not have the kind of skills that you've grown accustomed to in professional 3D games. SL does lower the bar of complexity so that amateurs who don't know OpenGL or DirectX can play around with 3D. Lowering the bar to make things simpler almost always results in a more limited set of abilities, but despite the limitations, some great talent does exist in SL from people who are able to maximize the use of the tools and abilities they have available to them.

      The problem you're seeing is that most SL residents don't know how to efficiently utilize prims to minimize triangles or to bake textures to create fake lighting. But some residents do, and when they expend the extra effort, it looks great. But even then, what is the incentive to go into obsessive detail with texturing and lighting when most people will not willingly pay money just to view your build?

      Does SL look like Crysis? No. But SL is over 90% amateurs, and even those with talent have no incentive to make their builds look like a polished professional 3D game.

      The real criticisms of SL should be with its scalability problems and the ridiculously high cost to lease space. Once more than 20k users are online, it becomes too unstable to work in. Leasing a dedicated server in SL costs $295 per month with a $1675 setup fee, compared to $100 per month for dedicated web hosting with a small or no setup fee in most agreements.
      • by cowscows (103644)
        Some of that is true, but there's still plenty of argument that the technology and design of SL is very limiting. With very little previous 3D creation, or scripting experience, it was only a matter of months until I was often feeling limited by what SL was capable of. Some of the limitations were inherent in the design (The scripting language is missing some basic features that would make a lot of sense), and many of the limitations had to do with performance issues. Lag is horrendous, the fps on the clien
  • by Demon-Xanth (100910) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:40AM (#17507980)
    Current numbers:
    Total Residents: 2,434,170
    Logged In Last 60 Days: 883,536
    Online Now: 13,150

    That is right now, right this second as I post this. The highest I've seen the online now number is about 23-24k, and once it gets over 20k shit really does hit the fan.

    As far as 15% contribute scripted objects. Perhaps that's 15% of the real active user count, but it sure as hell isn't 15% of the 2.4M. Scripting in SL has a steep learning curve and many people who do building in SL avoid scripting because it is such a pain.
    • Scripting in SL has a steep learning curve and many people who do building in SL avoid scripting because it is such a pain.

      I'm sure a lot of people avoid it altogether since they don't like programming. But when I tried it, it was pretty easy. Just like C++ with a few extra functions you have to learn. Within minutes I was scripting listening bugs, "throwing" my voice by naming objects after players and having them make offensive remarks, and setting up an automatic bank to game the SL welfare system. N
      • If the Linden scripting language is really "pretty easy, just like C++" I very much doubt that they have 375k contributing users. C++ is hard enough for professional programmers, and not a language for getting non-programmers to contribute anything.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GigsVT (208848)
        It's pretty hard to make complex things in LSL. You only get 16k of memory per script, everything is by-value, strings take up like 2 bytes per character minimum. So doing something as simple as passing 5k of text to a function and getting it returned is just about impossible.

        Of course, I'm contracting full time now, with most of that in SL, so obviously I can work around this stuff, but I wouldn't call LSL easy.
        • You get PAID (real money) to do THAT (virtual world stuff).

          Talk about the new economy - make real money from unreal worlds.
          • No he gets paid to program. How is a program running on YOUR computer any less real than a program running within a multi-user game?
          • by Criterion (51515)
            There are MANY of us that "get PAID (real money) to do THAT (virtual world stuff)". Every day, all day long. I'll take it.
  • What's a Resident? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:54AM (#17508098) Homepage

    I downloaded the client a few months back, created an avatar and wandered around:

    I felt the experience was primitive, with sub-par graphics, a horrible UI and poor performance
    (I'm on a PC graphics workstation with a very fast connection -- that should easily have been able
    to handle it). The music was some sort of cheesy new-age MIDI composition, and the character
    models seemed like 1990's low-poly attempts at something stylisticly mid 1980's. The character
    interaction was poor, there were clipping issues and there was a poor response time with
    the environment.

    I uninstalled the software within 1 hour.

    I'll never log in to Second Life again, and I remain convinced that the contest to be the first
    to develop a compelling virtual community is still a wide-open race.

    But in terms of statistics, I can assure you that Linden Labs still counts me as a "Resident".

    Which begs the question: How representitive am I of Second Life residents in general?
    • by carpe_noctem (457178) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:20AM (#17508442) Homepage Journal
      Which begs the question: How representitive am I of Second Life residents in general?

      You're not alone, trust me. Your post deserves to be modded up... I had the same exact experience as you, but I was willing to forgive the crappy graphics and lame music if the community itself had something meaningful to offer the net. Based off of my time in second life, and the slew of recent press that it's gathered, I still have not seen this. As far as I'm concerned, SL is a cheesy VRML-like IRC, except with "furries" and flying penises. SL's in-game economy interested me, but as it became blatantly obvious that you can't make real money on selling fake things, people wrote copybots and other scripts designed to take advantage of this fact. Hell, I'm surprised that SL hasn't already been flooded with spammers....

      I'm sure that just like with the original VRML worlds, people will eventually see the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, and then move on to another community.
      • by vadim_t (324782)
        Sure you can make money in SL.

        For example, take Anshe Chung, who I'm fairly sure doesn't give a damn about the copybot.
        Heavily scripted objects aren't affected either. Copybot can only copy the shape , which is completely pointless for various tools that consist of an object or two, and then several thousands lines of code.
        Services are also unaffected - there are people who will make you a custom avatar, scripters and builders for hire, etc.

        Copybot was really not much of a revelation. It about ranks there w
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Criterion (51515)
          Ah, another person that can think *past* "OMG!HAxoRz!!1!" and realize that copybot is, and always was, essentially a non-issue. Cool. :)

          It really didn't hurt that all the whiners that went screaming to shut down their shops for a number of days really increased the exposure of those of us that saw no reason whatsoever to do so. I know my sales doubled overnight after that and have been on a steady climb ever since. So thanks.. I guess. LOL!
    • by vadim_t (324782)
      What music? SL has no music of its own. If the area has that set, the client streams music from the configured shoutcast server.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jejones (115979)
      The music depends on what whoever owns that portion of land you're on decides to provide, if any. Believe me, if you want to hear techno or rap or electronica, it's there in plenty. (There's a goodly number of singer-songwriters doing live shows, and they're pretty darned good, too.)

      I agree about the graphics; LL promises that they'll improve them and I guess we'll see whether they're serious about it.

      I hope that the OSing of the client will lead to a lot of UI experimentation and improvement, and maybe eve
    • by cruachan (113813)
      Your sort of missing the point. SL should not be compared to WoW or a multiplayer game. If you logged on expecting that you are certain to be disappointed.

      Instead think IRC. Now most people don't 'Get' IRC, but despite a 1980's protocol efnet appears to be just about as popular as ever. Indeed the coding channel #delphi which I helped run for 5 years back in the late 90's still has as many people on it now (and I just checked) as we did 10 years ago - actually considerably more by the look of it.

      The reg
      • Comparing Second Life to IRC is an apt analogy, given that the most entertaining use of each is to pretend to be female and get men to have cybersex with you. Actually, I like to suggest this as an exercise in cross-gender understanding, and not merely as a means to amuse yourself by deceiving others.
    • You aren't qualified to speak about this because you fundamentally don't understand how the music works, and you don't know what the phrase "begs the question" means.

      Also, if you crank up the video settings past the default, they actually look pretty good on a 7900GS. Of course, because users get to create their own objects, you will get boring-looking stuff if the person who made it has no skill.
      • by popo (107611)
        Last time I checked I was a consumer.
        I'm qualified to talk about anything I use or buy.

        Not to mention the fact I work in product development. But
        that's not necessary to express one's personal experience
        or opinion on a product.

        I tried it. I thought it sucked. I thought it sucked badly.

        That's my opinion. I'm the consumer. I get to express my opinion.

        Was the music someone else's? Actually I'm almost 100% sure that
        in the Welcome area the music is set by Linden, but I could be
        wrong. Either way -- first impr
  • Wonderful news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:05AM (#17508232) Homepage
    SL has a number of problems. One of them is that the client is well, slow. Framerates of 5 FPS aren't entirely uncommon in some areas. Now instead of blindly speculating, we can look at it and actually tell whether it's just badly coded, or the nature of SL makes it work slowly. This will probably also spur some effort in trying to make it take advantage of multicore CPUs.

    Another thing to try would be rewriting the UI. It would be a lot less painful to use if the UI and display weren't in sync, so that when things were slow you could still type at a normal speed.

    My personal area of interest would be attempting to provide some sort of way to let SL objects provide a better interface. The sort of interface that can be scripted in SL is very primitive as of now. Being able to make an object with a full dialog with buttons, dropdown lists, a list view, etc would really improve the usability of complex objects.

    This should also give a big push to the libsecondlife project, which is also a great thing. SL can be used as a platform for interesting things, such as A-Life experiments. That's another thing I plan to try eventually.

    On the Linux side, I'd like to see the integration of something like DCOP, or at least a named pipe to communicate with the SL client. For coding it'd be wonderful to run 'make' and have all the modified scripts automatically sent to SL. Currently this requires an edit, copy, paste into SL cycle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thumper_SVX (239525)
      I like this comment because I am a Second Life user, builder and scripter. I enjoy it, but only as a pastime.

      I must say that I think this is a good thing (the opening of the client) especially because the SL client is a REALLY bad multi-threader. On a multi-core CPU (a Macbook Pro, both under Windows and OSX) it runs one core up to 80% or so constantly and leaves the other core essentially idle. This is according to Menumeters CPU gauge which I have constantly running (backed up with info from Activity Moni
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by daVinci1980 (73174)
        Applications that use OpenGL or Direct3D are subjected fairly heavily to Amdahl's Law. [wikipedia.org] The problem is that there is a (quite severe) penalty to submitting data [microsoft.com] to the APIs from different threads, which generally means that all submission to the API is done from a single thread.

        If the limiting framerate issue for your title is submission to the API (and for a lot of 3-D graphics applications, it is [warning: PDF] [nvidia.com]), then you're not going to get any speedup on multi-core systems, and there won't even by a way
  • HOORAY.

    Now everyone will be able to program their own perversions!
  • by Baavgai (598847) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:12AM (#17508326) Homepage
    Second Life has a curious economy. People make money by making stuff and selling to others, but it's all virtual stuff that must be run on the client. While some object code does live on the server, everything required for visual rendering must be revealed to the client at some point.

    A look at SL history will show various incidents of people figuring out how to work around content protection to copy it unhindered and the vicious controversy that ensues. Now, there is simply no such thing as graphical Intellectual Property. Open client code should mean open copying.

    They have just knowingly crippled one of the their models of avatars getting money from other avatars. The "steal this avatar" client will be out in a week, I'd wager. Should be interesting to see what happens.
    • That's just as well -- this kind of thing is better off non-commercial and distributed, just like every other major Internet protocol (with the notable exception of IM, unfortunately).

    • by vadim_t (324782)
      I would argue that such a business was never reliable to begin with.

      SL, IMO shows what a world where replication of physical objects would be like. Once duplication is effectively free, you need to switch to providing a service. Instead of making one thing then selling copies, content creators will probably have to adapt and sell customized solutions.
    • by Xugumad (39311)
      You just made an argument for closed source and DRM. While I agree with you, I believe that may be a hanging offence around here anyway :)
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Now, there is simply no such thing as graphical Intellectual Property.

      There's never been such a ridiculous thing to begin with. That the previous clients pretended there was was the problem, not this.
  • negative posts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Danathar (267989) on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:34AM (#17508598) Journal
    I find it interesting that DESPITE the fact that the majority of posts from "People who know" that Second life is a steaming pile of crap that it continues to grow.

    Go watch the video at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-518275975 8975402950&q=second+life [google.com] that was done for google.

    The fact of the matter is SL is VERY interesting due to the way in which it's built. It's flexible and the people who run it are BIG proponents of open sourcing everything they can. When you ask them about the number of users they tend to be honest about what they think is real and what are just scripts running. The BS is usually from Trolls.

    As for the quality of the graphics.

    1. All the content is USER CREATED. Go someplace in SL where people know how to use Blender or Maya and it looks great. Go someplace made by somebody who just learned how to sculpt prims yesterday and it sucks.

    2. There is a GREAT live music community growing in SL. The quality is pretty good since you can get up to 768Kb/s of bandwidth to stream your live event.

    3. Guess what? The graphics are as good as the clients can handle considering that their primary objective at this point is a flexible world that allows users to create what they want and be scalable.

    The majority of people who "crap" on SL (that I've talked to) expect something like WoW. WoW is a TOTALLY different monster. Scripted world, Blizzard created objects...and a much lower age group demographic.

    If you want WoW...go play WoW. But don't expect SL to be LIKE WoW.
    • Re:negative posts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ka-klick (160833) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:08PM (#17511008) Homepage
      Thank you for posting this, it's about time someone took a step back and put up a fair analysis and this is as close as I've seen here. It seems that most of the people who love to rail on and on about how crappy SL is are the ones who logged on expecting a game. This is a fundamental flaw in their logic, since LL has been stating for some time that SL is NOT a game, it is a platform, built to provide user created content to other users. Unlike WoW (or FPS or any mainstream commercial game) which all have gobs of assets pre-optimized and stored on your hard drive, SL has to stream everything you see to you in real time. It's a different animal, and if you're looking at it and comparing it to any of those, you're comparing apples and wildebeest. Just not the same thing at all (even though SL looks a fair deal like an older tech game).

      As to live music, thank you for pointing that out. I've been performing there regularly for about a year now and I can say that the experience is definitely different than just streaming audio and publishing the URL (or even putting out a webcam stream along with it). It is much more like the RL experience, in that the audience just needs to be in the "place" and they get the audio - no need for getting people to go to your URL or even know your performing - they can just wander into their favorite "pub" or other venue and see/hear who's playing there. There is also the possibility for much more direct feedback from the audience than in the just plain streaming environment and overall, it really is more like the real thing than any alternative I've seen.

      So, OK all you 1337 gamz0rz SL sucks as a game. Fine. Go farm some gold in WoW and get on with your life. I find it amazing that people seem to have to always find something to sneer at, and will make use of any opportunity to do so, loudly and in public. If it wasn't your cup of tea, fine, go play, leave it to those who are interested in this new platform.
      • Re:negative posts (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Danathar (267989) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:07PM (#17513926) Journal
        I have no idea why you were listed so low on the points (Troll when I checked). Any TRUE nerd who understands JUST how hard it is to create what they've done should turn in their nerd card! :) If I could give ya Karma I would, but since I posted...I can't.

        There is SERIOUS research being done by universities in SL. I'm not impressed by much on the net anymore but SL really blew me away once I started digging into HOW the world works.

        It's been often said that Linden Lab employees don't use SL that much, that makes COMPLETE sense. They are realy just a bunch of hardware sysadmin nerds. SL is for creative types. A sysadmin's idea of "Art" is a cool perl script. They probably enjoy their time more by working on the code than actually playing it.

        If things work out the way I hope and SL really takes off it's gunna be facinating to see it work.

        BTW...any way you can tell me who you are so I can come watch you play? My brother is a kick ass keyboard player (and organ player) and I've been trying to get him to do some stuff in SL.
  • Who's got the HowTo on embedding existing apps as modules in the SL client, with their GUIs rendered onto 2D surfaces on 3D SL objects? I want my avatar's chest to display the GAIM messages I send from my mobile phone.
  • Disturbing (Score:3, Funny)

    by Migraineman (632203) on Monday January 08, 2007 @01:24PM (#17510274)
    A place with 2.4 million instances of "bunny in a ball gag." *shudder*
  • While I would LOVE to see the 500 client bugs fixes even if it means getting the fixed from third parties, as well as MUCH NEEDED UI improvements, I can't actually see much of that happening for a couple of reasons.

    1) Normally the SL client is updated every two weeks, and at least once a month with MAJOR changes. That is a hell of a lot of work to keep up with for anyone wanting to provide an alternate client.

    2) LL has been typically resitive to advice. They have shown all the signs of a pure "Not Invented
  • Is it just me or does Second Life seem more and more irrelevant every day. I've never tried it, but my perception of it is that it's pretty much just another dork clique. The only people who seem to care about it at all are the people who are really into it already - to the rest of the world it's a non-entity.* It's not the Metaverse. Hell, it's not even as interesting as WoW or EVE because of the entry barriers and the learning curve associated with content development as well as just the overall amateur/c
    • by Watts Martin (3616) <layotl@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:12PM (#17512046) Homepage
      Well, for starters, you've missed that major companies are buying "land" in Second Life and conducting meetings and interviews there. Politicians have conducted town hall meetings there. And Reuters has opened their first cyberspace news bureau in SL. As easy as it may be to mock these bits of information, I think they represent something very important: many companies and services have attempted to be "the metaverse" a la Snow Crash in the past, but what's going on in Second Life is, as klunky and hesitant as it may be, the metaverse actually happening.

      For a year I worked for SL's erstwhile competitor, There, which was the one most people were betting on to "win" when both got going. (There made the cover of Business 2.0 and got out of the starting gate with companies like Nike already selling virtual products in-world.) And in a lot of ways There's client technology still kicks SL's ass; the experience is much smoother, even on less high-powered hardware. There's in-world "look" was designed by actual artists, including a former Disney imagineer or two, so when you wander around your eyes don't bleed. There has a sophisticated VR auction system designed by one of eBay's original employees. There accepts models created with GMax rather than a klunky proprietary design system, and ThereScript is based on Lua and is considerably better than Linden's scripting language.

      But what Linden figured out that There didn't is that user-created content is king. SL really didn't give a damn if your eyes bled -- they opened the floodgates. Old "Therians" may boggle at my mention of ThereScript, because AFAIK There still hasn't opened it up to users even though they were talking about it when I was there in 2003. (There also had outstanding bugs in the "consumer service" that were going unfixed for months, if not years, IIRC, which were less a matter of technology than politics.)

      Personally, I think SL's "under the hood" design is its Achilles' heel, and open-sourcing the client isn't going to help it -- they have a stream-everything model (possibly because their original team apparently came from Real Networks?) and the object system really isn't as sophisticated as what you'd find on an average MUCK server. Someone out there is almost certainly working on what amounts to "Third Life": a design and engineering sensibility as good as There's was (or at least aspired to be), with the understanding of the marketplace and user desires that Linden has. When this happens, that service will be the metaverse equivalent of World of Warcraft to SL's Everquest.

      But between all the jokes about flying penises and the ritual mocking of the furries, I think SL is going to prove to be historically important in shaping an "avatar space." Yeah, the idea that a decade from now, it'll be common for businesses to have a virtual storefront in avatar space sounds pretty crazy, and I certainly wouldn't bet on it happening. But you know, in 1994, I'm not sure many of us would have predicted that by 2004, businesses that didn't have a URL would seem to be behind the times.
      • by MORB (793798)
        Yeah, Second Life is serious fucking business.

        But between all the jokes about flying penises and the ritual mocking of the furries, I think SL is going to prove to be historically important in shaping an "avatar space."

        I think all the historical importance of SL in the end will be nothing more than a serie of article on something awful. The whole thing is hyped way out of proportions.
    • by wikinerd (809585)
      You can make money in Second Life. Most (all?) people wish they were rich. Therefore Second Life has the theoretical potential to be used by most (all?) people. The learning curve isn't much a problem when you can make money afterwards: Lots of people go to university to study for many years just in order to get a better paying job. Surely a game like Second Life is not totally irrelevant when you can make money by playing it well.

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