Tag Archives: Linden Lab

Lab update on missing inventory

On Tuesday, December 16th, the Lab issued a brief statement on the matter of missing inventory which has been affecting some SL users since Wednesday, December 10th.

News on problems first arose via a forum post as people started noticing animations from Akeyo and Vista (among others) being replaced by “IP replacement” placeholders – which usual indicate removal as a result of a DMCA action. Some of those affected additionally indicated that they had also received an e-mail on the matter from the Lab – although others apparently did not.

How widespread the issue actually has been, is hard to judge; the forum thread itself involves a relatively few people, although this is obviously no accurate barometer of the overall impact and certainly not any form of mitigation for those who had been affected. Matters were further confused as a result of some support tickets raised on the matter being responded to as being a “resident to resident” issue, and therefore outside of LL’s remit.

By Sunday, December 14th, a number of SL users were pressing both the Lab (through their official community account) and Ebbe Altberg for comment, prompting him to reply:

missing-inv-3Ebbe Altberg's Tweets on the issue

Ebbe Altberg’s Tweets on the issue

Quite what went wrong isn’t clear, other than it apparently being a possible fault within an internal process. Even so, it appears to have caused a few headaches for the Lab in terms of sorting out. On Tuesday, December 16th, Ebbe further Tweeted:

Only this turned out to be a little premature, as a blog post was subsequently issued indicating that the Lab was still working to fix the matter:

Due to a recent internal error, some Residents may have noticed a few items were recently replaced within their inventories. We are working to reverse the process and hope to have the original items restored quickly.

If you believe that your items were affected, please keep an eye on your inventory – you should see the original items restored soon.

In addition to restoring the original items as quickly as possible, we are also taking steps to resolve the issue that caused the error so that we can avoid repeating it in the future. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

As this article is being written, some people are still indicating that they have yet to see inventory items reinstated. An important point to not here is that if you have been impacted by the situation, do not delete the “IP replacement” placeholders in your inventory; if you do, you may adversely affect the return of your items by the Lab.

Per my comment above, precisely what went wrong is unclear. However, mistakes can and do happen, and generally  without malice aforethought. But that said, given there was something of a serious mistake made, one in part exacerbated by a degree of confusion in communications from the Lab (vis e-mails sent to those affected and support tickets being closed), one hopes that the lessons learned in both correcting the matter and as a result of reviewing how the problem first arose will be taken to heart.

Merchandise and the Lab

Marketing Second Life is something we all have an opinion about, and as such, Linden Lab has often taken a far amount of flak from users on the subject. I’m as guilty as anyone in this; in the past I’ve been particularly verbose on the subject through posts in this blog such as Business, Collaboration and Creative Growth, Tell me a story: marketing Second Life, and Advertising SL: the machinima effect (the latter of which has been somewhat overtaken by the Lab recognising the power of Draxtor Despres’ The Drax Files; World Makers series.

However, there is another potential marketing strategy the Lab is missing, something which was recently brought home by by a segment of The Drax Files Radio Hour.

During a visit to the Lab’s HQ for the show, Drax had a chat with Shaman and Kona Linden, both of whom were holding items of merchandise available to Lab staff – a Rubik’s cube featuring the Second Life logo on one face, and a FIC (Fêted Inner Circle) mug. Lab personnel have also seen out and about wearing a certain t-shirt proclaiming their leading role in provisioning virtual worlds.

Shaman Linden holds a Rubik’s cube with the Second Life logo and Kona Linden, with an arm around Caleb Linden,  holds a FIC mug (image: Draxtor Despres)

Other items were mentioned as being available, leaving Drax to wonder why the Lab doesn’t market these goods to users; and he has a point. True, there are issues of the Lab’s international user base and the cost of postage – but these are things that can be factored-in, and if the Lab doesn’t necessarily want to handle the additional weight of merchandise orders, etc., itself, there are companies who will do it for them for a small commission on sales.

Certainly, the appearance of the merchandise has sparked discussions in a number of areas since the show. Ciaran Laval, for example started a thread over on SLU (although admittedly, it got somewhat sidetracked into a discussion of the meaning behind a particular term, which eventually involved Kevin Bacon – who said the six degrees of separation was dead?); others elsewhere have expressed an interest in having at least some of the merchandise, and other items that have been seen in the past.

The Lab's current t-shirt (l), and two styles of jacket / track suit top worn in the past by Philip Rosedale - all have been the subject of "want" attention from SL users

The Lab’s current t-shirt (l), and two styles of jacket / track suit top worn in the past by Philip Rosedale – all have been the subject of “want” attention from SL users

Take the jackets that were variously sported by former CEO (and co-founder of the Lab) Philip Rosedale; these were oft been admired and a subject of attention at the likes of the old SLCC events; so why not make them available?

And how about an updated version of the 10th anniversary varsity-style jacket the Lab made available in-world in 2013? Replace the 10th anniversary logo with the SL logo, and it might well be something users would buy if offered in the physical world. I know I wouldn’t object to having the opportunity to buy one, although admittedly, that might be something a tad too expensive to produce and sell…

If I understand things correctly, there’s even a JIRA-related t-shirt, something which would likely prove popular within the coding community;

The in-world 10th anniversary varsity-style jacket: an updated version might have potential in the physical world

The in-world 10th anniversary varsity-style jacket: an updated version might have potential in the physical world

Some items made available in the past, such as a pendant, and Ciaran makes mention of  Jack Linden once offering those at his office hours meetings a “bag of swag” (although where this was physical world items or not is unclear to me – I didn’t attend Jack’s meetings – but Ciaran seems to lean towards this being the case). Were they to appear again, they might prove popular enough to make it worthwhile.

The advantage to the Lab in making these items available for users is not just a potential (albeit modest) revenue stream through the sale of the goods – it’s the broader reach of marketing and promotion they offer. Of course, some might thumb their nose on seeing someone else wearing a Second Life jacket, but that’s no reason not to offer them; and a FIC mug in the office is a way to start conversations (and depending on the nature of the office politics, might end up being something everyone wants, regardless of whether they are SL users or not! :) ).

So how about it Ebbe? Why not give thought to making merchandise available to your users? Even if you only dip a toe or two into the water to see how things go, it might prove worth your while.

Ebbe Altberg talks Blocksworld, SL and the “next gen” platform

Dean Takahashi has a new article up at VentureBeat’s GamesBeat column, featuring a conversation with CEO Ebbe Altberg.

I admit to finding the title of the article, Linden Lab explores VR for its next-generation virtual world (interview), a little bit of a misnomer, given the article actually covers more ground than just the Lab’s new platform and VR. In fact, it’s fair to say that much of the focus of the piece is on Blocksworld, and not the new VW platform – which doesn’t make the piece any less interesting a read.

Ebbe Altberg discusses the Lab's next gen platform, Blocksworld and SL with VentureBeat

Ebbe Altberg discusses the Lab’s next gen platform, Blocksworld and SL with VentureBeat

The article starts out by noting the company’s longevity and the fact that it has been in something of a transitional state (as we all know), divesting itself of almost all its existing products save Blocksworld and SL, while at the same time announcing it is heading down the road of building a new virtual world platform.

Takahashi suggests the reason for the Lab divesting itself of products is down to some of the products failing to have the right mix of talent, traction and resources to make their mark.

This is perhaps debatable; while Creatorverse and dio were perhaps lame ducks in terms of appeal, it has to be pointed out that both Versu and Patterns had potential – the former has since gone on to stand on its own two feet, and the latter already had a reasonable user-base even whilst still in a pre-release status (and its termination drew no small amount of upset from Patterns user on Steam).

In fairness to Ebbe Altberg, he does acknowledge the fact that some of the Lab’s nascent  products didn’t really get a chance to grown their own legs, and that some of them might well have worked out for the good of the company. However, hard choices were required, the Lab really being too small to handle everything at once (and we know what happens when it grows beyond its means: remember, the June 2010 layoffs came after a sustained 18 months of recruiting that saw staffing numbers increase by 50% for no demonstrable increase in revenue).

Turning to the meat of the article, it has to be said the the recent sale of Desura had led to some questions over Blocksworld’s future. However, Altberg’s replies to Takahashi about that product should put paid to speculation:

We’re also very excited about Blocksworld. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to check that out before, but it’s a small up-and-comer. It’s one of the portfolio of non-Second Life products that we decided to stick with. We liked the user experience, the ease of creation, and the audience it targets: a much younger demographic than Second Life. Also, right now, it’s iPad only. It gets us into a lot of experience dealing with a younger audience. … You need to think about ease of use and simplicity but still enable them to create really powerful things, as well as working with the new medium of mobile. We’ve had good progress with this product. It’s still early, but we have good traction. The kids love it.

Blocksworld – the Lab “very excited” with its performance & harbouring further plans for it (image courtesy of Linden Lab)

In addition, and further into the interview, Altberg indicates that the game has around 400,000 monthly users. How this translates to revenue flow beyond the actual purchase of the game is hard to judge. While additional building sets and expansion packs are available as in-game “purchases”, these are paid for through “coins” which users can earn, rather than having to necessarily buy. Even so, buying coins is the easier option, particularly where the expansion packs are concerned (see the video below), so there’s a reasonable chance that Blocksworld is proving a “nice little earner” for the Lab, even if it is nowhere on the scale of SL.

Beyond this, it would seem clear that the Lab have further plans to enhance Blocksworld, including the development of an in-game user-to-user economy, which will allow the sale of creations and builds between users, somewhat a-la SL. Also, Altberg’s statement that, “right now it’s iPad only”, suggests that an Android version of the game is still under consideration.

One of the blocksworld expansion packs

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The Lab go on tour – in-world

@Second Life, the Lab’s official Twitter feed, has announced a public meet-up with users to explore Meauxle Bureaux. The gathering will take place at 12:00 noon PST on Friday, November 14th, 2014.

The announcement via twitter

The announcement via twitter

Meauxle Bureaux is the new “Mole Town” which utilises (with the creator’s permission) Kayle Matzerath’s Lumenaria build from Fantasy Faire 2013 as a home for the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) moles.

Following a lead from Ciaran Laval, I flew over to the town to have a look around myself at the start of November, having delighted in the Lumenaria build back at the time of Fantasy Faire. It’s a great place to visit.

Meauxle Bureaux - join the Lab there on Friday, November 14th at 12:00 noon for a tour

Meauxle Bureaux – join the Lab there on Friday, November 14th at 12:00 noon for a tour

So, if you fancy a look around the town, and fancy meeting a Linden or two (or three or four …) why not see if you can hop over to  Meauxle Bureaux this coming Friday?

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