EuroOSCON: Jim Purbrick – Second Life (again)

Jim actually gave two presentations, and this was the first one, which I probably should have blogged before I blogged the second one, but meh, it’s all too late now.

130 million gmae players in the US alone
20 million MMO players
Age of gamer increasing by one year per year, i.e. people start playing games as children and don’t stop.

Tremendous value is being generated online.

Worldwide digital good strade of US$1-2 billion per year – this is paying for items or characters in MMOs, i.e. to take shortcuts.

Typical game is a subscription per month. That means the games tend to be designed so you have to put a lot of time in to playing in order to progress. Can take months to progress and do everything. Money-rich and time-poor people are willing to pay in order to save time. Trade across the boundary.

In-world trade 10 or 20 x the real-world exchange.

$30 billion USD traded internally and across the boundaries, which is twice the size of the games industry itself.

Second Life, is a 3D virtual world.
It is persistant – what you create stays created.
It is massively multi-user – it’s one world, rather than WoW which is a virtual theme park, and after 3000 people the world is full, so they copy the themepark multiple times. SL is a seamless world, so rather than make a copy, just add bits round the edges.
Resident built – compare to other games that are created by the maker. People build, texture, script, animate and *own* what they build. If you sell swords in most games it is illegal. In SL, you can build and sell stuff legally. Can sell for Linden Dollars, and exchange currency. Can records stuff in Second Life, and can sell machinima as video.
Linden Sells land and services, rather than subscriptions. so if you want to make something, you need to buy land so that it persists. If you then want to advertise it, you can stick it in the classifieds.

So this is “not a game”
– no game fiction
– no artificial conflict
– no winning condition

User creation is the big thing. Create objects on the floor out of nothing, like boxes or cones or spheres, etc. Then you colour and texture them and add them together to make things.

A tale of two pianos.

Ultima Online, you could build houses and could fill it full of stuff. But the stuff you could fill it with was the stuff that the games company had build. So you can play with it but they build it. So someone realised that if you took a box and put a chess board on it, then a box, and some t-shirts and then some bear skins, you could create something that looked like a piano… it wasn’t a piano but it looked like a piano. In SL you make a piano out of boxes, but then you create a script so that you make it play like a piano.

140,000 hours of use per day
25% of time is spent creating
140,000 hours * 2000 hours/year = 17.5 user-years a day

To create that sort of development, they’d need 6500 people costing $650 m per year.

That’s what Blizzard and EAA can do, because they have that kind of budget. But Linden Labs could not afford this, which is why it’s all user created.

Can also write code. It’s like C code – well, ‘sub-C code’ – but in a 7 day period, 5000 residents have written origanal scripts – 15% of people. and these people are not programmers.

12,000 distinct scripts written in 7 days, which is
3 million lines of script code

So people get others to help them, or copy other scripts.

Unanticipated consequences
So early on, people decided to be aliens, created a spaceship, abudcted people, probed them, and then gave them a t-shirt saying ‘I got abducted by aliens’. The aliens did this about monthly… and people found it kind of fun.

In WoW or UO that would be scary, but LL love it.

Traditionally ‘hard’ problems:
– making 3D objects – 100 million
– making humans – 10 million
– programming – 30 million

Compare to other user created content

Over 60% of people contribute to the platform. Which is a big deal compared to most others that produce less than 10%… or 0%.

Lots of the stuff people make is just experimenting, making something simple and then deleting it. There are huge sandboxes, but every 3 or 6 hours they get wiped.

Because land is valuable, that reduces the amount of crap that’s lying around. Land is a column – you buy a footprint and it goes up as high as you like (well until your avatar melts).

You also get a ration of prims (i.e. you can only create so many primitive objects such as cubes or spheres), so if you want to make a castle then you need to buy a lot of land so that you can get enough prims together.

People make games. Golf, for example, or Tringo – combination of bingo and Tetris, and instead of numbers, shapes get pulled out, so try to line up the shapes on the grid to make continuous blocks of colour. Social game, lots of fun, but it’s licenced in the real world games company, and to TV.

Beyond games, simulations, so for example FEMA simulating distribution of aid.

Massive experimentation, e.g. AI virtual fish. Serena (??) was an amateur, experimented, and now has started working with professors on the same issues.

Good for mixing up amateurs and professional.

Lots of charitable giving in SL. Sponsored walk in SL, people sold items in SL. Made US$40,000 on last walk.

Spaceport Alpha, every single rocket that’s ever been designed and launched, including ones taht exploded. They did it for a laugh, but it’s a great educational resource now.

Education, real world universities do real world learning in SL, loads of stuff.

Virtual Book signing, Cory Doctorow. Virtual book that could get signed.

Beyond Broadcast, someone in the real conference and the SL version of the conference with a dalek. Everything’s Better With Daleks.

People also make money, someone made US$150,000 from land terraforms and zones real estate.

Who’s in SL.

650,000 residents, 10% increase monthly

older and more gender balance, 50/50
women and older residents demonstrate better skills conversion into second life.

256×256 areas run on Debian servers
3000 CPUs
Area is three times size of Manhattan.
Add 300 servers a month.

Yet more stats… shitloads of stuff is happening, basically.

Why now?

People have been trying to do this for a while.
Broadband, the whole things comes down the wires all the time.
Routing capacity/low pings
Consumer 3d acceleration

But also…

Open Source
Lots of different OS libraries, cross-platform, so clients on Win, Mac, Linux

OS infrastructure. Almost al of it is OS, all the servers, are debian, mySQL, Apache…

Only PayPal, credit card processing and MySQL hot backup and Jira are closed source.

Made contributions to OS projects too.

Integrating Mozilla, any web place on a prim which will mean that you’ll be able to do any web page which can interact with Second Life. Hard to stick Mozilla on a 3D object. Interim result

OS projects in SL.

Such as OS Lightsaber construction kits.
Animation overrider, can upload animation for a golf swing, but some animations that avatars use by default, and they’re a bit rubbish, so some have done the overrider so people could bundle it with shoes, so the shoes actually change the way you walk.
Last Sound System, can stream radio stations into land in SL.
Lots of Creative Commons too, audio, graphics etc. Even a CC machine – touch the object which generates a licensing tag for objects.

Reimplemenation in SL, reverse engineering, people want to modify platform as well as world.
– joystick control
– SL teledilconics

Moving towards OS SL platform.
Still some closed source libraries getting in the way.
Duty to residences – it’s not just an app, it has people working in it, so need to make sure it’s not possibly to destroy it.

Everyone owns the IP of what they make.