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208 comments

sweet! (4, Funny)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507692)


I want to see the flying penis client [slashdot.org]

Re:sweet! (3, Funny)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509442)

Hmm...I wonder if one could program a "griefer" client with some simple, prebuilt griefer tools. You know, for the kids, or for your grandparents, who don't want to learn no dadgum scripting language but just want to pelt Pat Robertson's avatar with penises.

Excellent! (4, Interesting)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Excellent? Maybe ... (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507918)

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.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (5, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508606)

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:Excellent? Maybe ... (3, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509064)

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 universe. This would not provide any protection against copying though, and there would still be no way to move things into the official network.

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.

The counter-argument is this: the network would be more valuable if it was mostly composed of privately-run but publically available servers. How rubbish would the Web be if, for example, MySpace was the only company that could host a website? I dare say the WWW revolution wouldn't have happened if client and server software hadn't been freely available.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508052)

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.)

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508092)

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 individual servers representing specific geography. Never mind the redundancy issues - that's a major scalability issue.

Hey, it's the first beast specifically of this type. There are a lot of hard lessons you learn by being first.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Insightful)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508318)

> 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 on server controls to make sure stuff doesn't run out of >control. Flying penis storms, grey goo, that sort of thing.

Yes, that's necessary, and it's good. Their Grid defense has become much better in the recent months, and grey goo type attacks can rather quickly be contained.

>Hey, it's the first beast specifically of this type. There are a lot of hard lessons you learn by being first.

Yes, it's the first beast of this kind, and the lessons learned are invaluable - and very tough.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Insightful)

ischorr (657205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509326)

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

http://www.activeworlds.com/ [activeworlds.com]

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (3, Informative)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Informative)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509106)

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.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (3, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508430)

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:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508552)

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 actually doesn't matter as much if the player can "see" over the next hill.
  2. Again in order to improve performance, clients are given the ability to make decisions about the outcomes of in-game events. This is simply a very bad idea. The only way to protect the integrity of the world is to have all decisions made by the trustworthy machines -- the servers. It seems likely that SL avoided this mistake.
  3. Modified clients can implement bots. In the case of most MMORPGs, this presents problems with game balance (or, for the more cynical, allows players to automate the grind and reduce the amount of time they pay money to the provider). For SL, it not only doesn't matter, but arguably client-side bots introduce an additional interesting element to the world.

Assuming bots aren't an issue, there should be no security-related reason for any MMORPG not to open-source the client.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508668)

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 to peer because your house does not depend on your neighbor's house for anything, and they are effectively equal (even if their sizes are wildly disparate, for example, they both perform the same function.)

In Snow Crash, Stephenson's "Metaverse" was also a peer-to-peer network. It would seem to be highly similar to the web in some ways; links between servers, the capacity for hosting, et cetera. Of course, in Stephenson's world, cheap and plentiful bandwidth connects subscribers (in the form of L. Bob Rife's cable network.)

To make this long story short, we need a distributed architecture that allows you to host your own part of the game world. Monetary transactions between servers would occur in legal tender, and you could have any kind of currency you liked in your game world (if any.) Money transfers could be carried out through any number of services (paypal, egold, whatever.)

This permits as much scalability as you can afford. If you have the money, then you can have your "land" hosted elsewhere; otherwise you put it on your dinky little home connection and only a handful of people can connect at once. Still, this is pretty much the only way to accomplish this goal, and it keeps freedom in the hands of the people.

For a light technology demo version of this, one could add inter-server portals to Sauerbraten [sauerbraten.org] . In itself it wouldn't give you the full experience however, as there would be no scripting. Still, Sauerbraten is a collaborative building environment, so it would be interesting in itself.

For something a little more likely to be the future than Second Life, check out Alan Kay (and others)'s Croquet [opencroquet.org] . Croquet is based on Squeak which in turn is a graphically rich Smalltalk environment. Thus Croquet is (or will be - it's in beta now) portable, consistent (Squeak has its own VM which is very consistent across all platforms) and fully Open. Not to mention, it works as I described :)

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508742)

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 it resistant to any compromise of the client.

Hopefully, we'll see an improvement to the dog-slow Mac. client.

Re:Excellent? Maybe ... (1)

Neo_piper (798916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509420)

I have to agree with you. There are a few People making money with things like Virtual Slot and Vending machines that could be put under quite quickly if their code was circumvented.

I can't really see how they [the Lindens] can keep the sort of economy they have going without at least some "Black Box" elements in the code.

That being said I look forward to a GUI that isn't on par with Quark Xpress in terms of ugliness and learning curve.

Fort iKnox (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509964)

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 extreme complexity of physical currency features, which are not only virtually impossible in digital currency, but directly contradict digital currency's best features.

The real question about Second Life's "Treasury security" with this release is whether Linden Labs has first secured their servers against currency attacks. That sounds like a fascinating research paper for the current term of a CS or even economics, student or researcher.

Re:Excellent! (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508628)

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:Excellent! (2, Interesting)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509448)

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.

Re:Excellent! (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510114)

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: there are at least two major, useful 3D engines, Ogre and Crystal Space (the latter also does lots of other stuff); there is a good physics engine, ODE; there is 3D model generating software, Blender; there is server-side code, Arianne and NEL (I didn't use either though, no idea how good they are); there is at least one serious MMORPG, PlaneShift (although the content isn't open, just the code), which uses Crystal Space and I believe wrote its own server-side code; there is plenty of free content (3D models, bitmaps, etc.); and there are many projects using these tools and extending them.

Second Life being open-sourced is a huge push forward in this area, and Linden Labs are making the smartest move they ever made here. Especially since waiting much more would be too late, since open-source projects would have soon overtaken them anyhow.

Wow (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507734)

Wow, this might help spread open source software more, can wait for the FLOSS House (maybe there is one and i dont know)

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507836)

There are various open source objects in the game. The "gnubie"-Store is actually not "GNU", but it's often full mod/copy.

It's usually set to no transfer to prevent abuse (but there are plenty of full mod/copy/transfer freebies around, probably houses, too!)

Unfortunately, you can always take away permissions, meaning that you could take that FLOSS house, mod it, remove the next-owner-can-transfer/mod/copy permissions, and basically make it a closed source thing.

now we just need open source servers. -nt- (4, Insightful)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507792)

-nt-

Almost has hit the 25.000 mark (1, Informative)

Icarus_SFX (173267) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507838)

Dunno if it hit it yet but yesterday it had almost 25.000 citizens 'in-world' it was floating around 24.500
And Teleporting and or moving around was almost impossible ..

It has had a lot of media attention lately, all over the world.
Wish they would upgrade their servers, to handle the load of users. Or at least get a EU Server farm.

Re:Almost has hit the 25.000 mark (1)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508094)

Wow, i remember a rather recent post about finally reaching the 20.000 mark. That implies some seriously accelerated growth (looking at the official charts, and the linear predictions some people make for the future, I can only shake my head, because it's clearly exponential growth what we're seeing).

Re:Almost has hit the 25.000 mark (1)

Icarus_SFX (173267) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508420)

They have had many problems and had to take down the grid or restrict logins.
I know LindenLabs is doing their be best. But if these problems keep appearing, they are going to loose customers.

Re:Almost has hit the 25.000 mark (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509986)

When I joined in July, the average was around 8000 to 10000

WTF? (3, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:WTF? (1)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507866)

I bet they counted the OS source code that the servers run on.

Re:WTF? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507954)

Perhaps he meant the size of their versioning repository, including every bit of history?

Still sounds big though.

Re:WTF? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507968)

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:WTF? (2, Informative)

Gwala (309968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508112)

It's 11.7MB zipped for Windows, plus 45.7MB in additional libraries nessecary to compile (such as Boost)

Re:WTF? (1)

zaydana (729943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508250)

He is almost certainly referring to the in-game scripts which users have written. When you account for the fact that many users would of wrote the same scripts multiple times, and that a lot of the scripts will be duplicated over many people's accounts, you can understand how he would come up with a figure that sounds so ridiculous. It would of been nice if he had of clarified that in the first place, tho.

Re:WTF? (1)

doomy (7461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508504)

If you included every texture, object, notecard, I think way back in June it came to around 500 DVD's worth of data.

Linden does not have 2.4 million users (5, Interesting)

cshirky (9913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507880)

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]

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507978)

> a figure that includes people who have signed up for Second Life but never logged in

No, it counts people who've logged in atleast once.

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508016)



And so counts all the people who log on go "my god this is dull" and promptly uninstall the client. I really do not see what people like in this thing.

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (1)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508154)

Install the client, log on, search "New Citizens Plaza" in the in-world search, and teleport there. Look around.

You'll understand.

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508380)

Been there, done that, failed at making the teeshirt.

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510434)

I did that. What the hell is it with the furries? If I wanted to have sex with a man pretending to be a woman in a cartoon dog suit, I'd just sleep with my

Oh crap, gotta go. My wife is yelling at me about something.

Re:Linden does not have 2.4 million users (1)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510532)

I was a bailout. The Linux client gives a blank black screen. They're response "use the Mac one." How do you open a .dmg or whatever Macs use on Linux? There's no WINE-2 that makes Mac stuff playable on Linux. And yeah, I know they're POSIX and both *nix and whatever, but the file format is the issue there.

Open sores virtual reality? (5, Funny)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507900)

First flying penises, now open sores? Oh, wait... Never mind!

2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507906)

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 that large. And the game lags horribly.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507960)

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.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508484)



 
but a lot of people own more than one account so they can play both factions on a PvP server


Yes, I'm sure that counts for 2 or 3 million of those accounts, at least.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509276)

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 personally seen.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507972)

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....

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508324)

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.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508356)

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.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508138)

And less than 30% of all MySpace accounts are active, get visited at least once every 2 weeks.

Re:2.4 million users? Hah! (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508400)

World of Warcraft doesn't cost $15 a month everywhere. In Asia you don't even need to pay monthly.

Great move! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507950)

But ... the downside is that now it will be even easier to cheat, write bots, and exploits ...

Good luck Linden (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Good luck Linden (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508008)

Agreed. 2nd Life seems like a (barely) updated Alphaville.

Re:Good luck Linden (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508162)

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.

Re:Good luck Linden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17509732)

Huh? Within the next five years? SL is not frozen in time. How much can Linden Labs improve the interface over the next 5 years? How much will technology in general improve? Given 5 years ANYBODY can come up with something better than what existed 5 years ago. LAME.

Re:Good luck Linden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510418)

SL is not frozen in time.

 
Sure it is. It looks like a 1987 game.
 

Streaming content? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509750)

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.

Current numbers and 15% script? (5, Informative)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Current numbers and 15% script? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508072)

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. Now, granted, this was back in '03, so they may have made it harder since then specifically because you could do things like that.

... it was pretty easy. Just like C++ ... (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508516)

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:Current numbers and 15% script? (3, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509364)

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.

Re:Current numbers and 15% script? (1)

thygrrr (765730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509988)

It's awkward.

But technically, it's easy. It's just another scripting language. What's missing is the ability to modify objects by reference across large distances. e.g. llSetPos(key, vector) instead of having the current prim be the one in question.

Also, the permissions system could use a revamp. :)

But yeah, it's easy. Just like C++. (I should write that on a SL t-shirt...)

Re:Current numbers and 15% script? (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510306)

You get PAID (real money) to do THAT (virtual world stuff).

Talk about the new economy - make real money from unreal worlds.

What's a Resident? (4, Interesting)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508098)


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?

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

exspecto (513607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508314)

You must not have found the watermelon cannon. You can bounce people into the ocean with it, while you're flying high above them. Good times...

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

oftencloudy (1047554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508364)

I think you are right, and am part of the same following myself. I played around with SL a couple summers ago, however it quickly lost its enjoyment and I havent logged in since. I also know that I am counted as a resident even though its been over a year since I last bothered. Those numbers are bloated and we all know the servers could never take much over 30K-40K online at the same time (if that).

When I first saw this article I gasped as well. SL has already had a few stories in the news about hacks and crashes. I don't see how this could help their cause. Cash in your Linden$ now people!

Re:What's a Resident? (5, Interesting)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508442)

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.

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508726)

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 with the realization that selling .JPG files on a website everybody can see isn't going to be a viable business for long. Everybody can just come and duplicate your stuff when you do it like that. But they can't just come and get your server. So there's plenty viable businesses on the web based on selling a service -- subscriptions, server space/resources, etc.

Re:What's a Resident? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17509604)

out of curiosity, what was wrong with the original VRML worlds? i often hear about how VRML was a failed experiment, but i haven't heard why (and personally, i missed the boat on that fad, so i have no experiece with it)?

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

gurensan (259321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510558)

You simply didn't stay in long enough. I felt the same way for the first week, then I started *seeing* why I kept coming back. Can't explain it, reinstall it, and surf for a month. Then you make the decision. Keep in mind that it's not a *game*.

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508474)

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:What's a Resident? (2, Insightful)

jejones (115979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508554)

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 even improved graphics before LL gets around to it.

Are you representative of SL residents in general? I don't know; I have no idea what fraction of them misuse the phrase "begs the question."

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

dsaraujo (798502) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509214)

I also installed, played for like two hours, and uninstalled. Not only the graphics looks bad, but the general lag and response made a very bad impression on me. On the other hand, my brother is making some bucks out of it.

Offtopic language-nazi response (1)

fang2415 (987165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509314)

Which begs the question: How representitive am I of Second Life residents in general?
Nope. It raises the question [wikipedia.org] .

Sincerely,
Grumpy Old Man

Re:What's a Resident? (1)

danhuby (759002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509646)

I had much the same experience. It wasn't that different to my experience with Active Worlds [wikipedia.org] back in 1996. With the advances in graphics hardware and internet bandwidth, I expected a lot more.

Wonderful news! (5, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508232)

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:Wonderful news! (2, Insightful)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508764)

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 Monitor) under OSX and TaskMgr under Windows. Sure, threading it might not help under some circumstances... but I have seen it peak out the core on some occasions (especially in a busy area). Maybe some coders can find some nice ways to thread some of the processing and make it a bit more efficient on this architecture.

I'd also be extremely interested in a different object-building interface. How about a dedicated object-building client? That would be incredibly cool... being able to build objects (even offline?) and then put them into the SL world. I think that with some of the great modeling tools that are out there we can have some great clients for creating some really cool stuff in the SL world. And being able to focus just on the object you're building would be incredibly cool as well; I constantly battle trying to select multiple objects when trying to link them and end up selecting some background object, or even my avatar and having to deselect that as well. Really frustrating.

I think this opening of the code is a great thing. Let's hope there are enough interested parties to make some really good use of it.

oh boy oh boy (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508242)

HOORAY.

Now everyone will be able to program their own perversions!

Open Source good, but IP now dead (3, Insightful)

Baavgai (598847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508326)

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.

Re:Open Source good, but IP now dead (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508476)

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).

Re:Open Source good, but IP now dead (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508562)

There are already "steal this avatar" clients... this release will mean nothing. As the Lindens keep pointing out to the various hysterical fuckwits who scream about copying... if you make Linden dollars out of selling fucking 512x512 textures to people, good luck, but don't be surprised if it that revenue vanishes in the end. THAT LITTLE SQUARE OF PIXELS IS MY INTELLECTUAL PWOPERTY... is common... paraphrased, obviously.

The SL economy will be built on one thing: services. Everything else has always been worthless in the long term... the fact that a few people made a fair amount of money early in SL's history has kidded lots of mugs that they can get rich by selling endless numbers of little icons.

Re:Open Source good, but IP now dead (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508588)

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.

Re:Open Source good, but IP now dead (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508652)

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 :)

Re:Open Source good, but IP now dead (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509350)

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.

NetHack (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508528)

I always felt like NetHack was sort of a virtual community. There were many denizens who weren't really people, but rather trolls and monsters and whatnot, but in a rudimentary sort of way it seems to fit the criteria for a virtual world. http://sourceforge.net/projects/nethack/ [sourceforge.net]

I live my 2nd life.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508536)

in WURM (www.wurmonline.com)

negative posts (4, Interesting)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508598)

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 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510062)


  I think we concur...nobody has seen SL and been "like, wow"

  You're defending an interactive world that already exists, which is the www. everything you said could have been pasted from 1995 about the web in general.

  The ability to "create" things is interesting, but i'm not really sure how viable it is as an ongoing model. scripts layer and then...bog. Many 3D engines and game platforms already allow for custom content - and have nice followings..with much nicer effects.

    Realtime nicely rendered avatars with voice chat is closer to the masses via 360 than SL. Plus, in those games, you can do much more interesting things, imho. Streaming music to avatars instead of people is no big win. With Shoutcast (and similar) someone could pump out a singing/dancing avatar vid with real music 5 years ago. Post a VR dancing baby and some music...oh wait...been there.

    SL is a diversion, at best.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508696)

"We feel we may already have a bigger group of people writing code than any shared project in history, including Linux,"
That is a scary thought!

Does that scare the hell out of anyone else?

Does anyone but... (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509146)

Linden Labs, Wired Magazine, and a bunch of self-congratulatory bloggers and assorted dorks out of San Francisco give a crap about this train wreck of a "virtual community?" Every "article" I read about this thing seems like just a thinly disgused ad.

The thing about secondlife (1)

locksmith101 (1017864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509556)

I know I'm off the subject here, but I just have to say that I don't get why people participate in that cynical "alternative" world. I heard so much about it, that I decided to try it out. The thing that made me really hate it - it the way they try and push you towards spending real money on bullshit items. I mean here is a chance to make something beautiful for all to share. Here's a chance for a platform where all are equal and have equal chances - but nay. Second life makes it all about the goddamn money. Hence it's main concept - it you have money, you'll have a better life... I really hope that second life will fail - and that one day we can all roam virtual landscapes regardless of money. Say, did the 60's ever happen?

Re:The thing about secondlife (2, Interesting)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510028)

Think of SL as an IRC server that is being run by The Sims. Most people I know in SL go there for the community. The 3D representation gives them a better sense of the person they're talking to, and a different level of interaction.

You CAN do alot for free. There's alot of good free stuff out there. You can also make stuff if you want to. Nobody says you have to buy it. Natural resources? LIMITLESS! Want another box? Just drop one. With SL, the ability to sell goods isn't limited by any sort of ability to produce quantities. It's about design.

Text interface (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509680)

Can't I just use TinyFugue?

ThirdLife (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509874)

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 (2, Funny)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510274)

A place with 2.4 million instances of "bunny in a ball gag." *shudder*

2.5Million?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510372)

That's a lot of paedophiles!
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