Update, February 19th, 2014: dio and Versu were discontinued by Linden Lab on February 19th, 2014. Links to their websites, etc have therefore been removed from this article.
Update January 1st, 2013: I finally took a proper look through the Versu FAQ and have provided further information in a new report.
Linden Lab have slipped out the initial cuts of the Dio and Versu websites. Currently, there is nothing on the corporate website relating to the latest items in the new product line-up from the Lab, although Dio caused a stir early in 2012 when a nascent website bearing the name was accidentally made public.
Neither of the new websites give much away – Versu in particular is rather bland, but both point to the new products potentially approaching a point where they’ll be launched in the near future.
Versu will be the first product to emerge from the Lab directly as a result of their acquisition of LitleText People, also early in 2012, and has previously been described by Rod Humble in a Techcrunch article as, “Procedural interactive storytelling. Basically you set the motives and the behaviors of the individual characters and the plot gets generated as you go, and each time it’s different.”
Techcrunch themselves interpret this as meaning, “The idea here is to tap into collaborative storytelling, something that’s been gaining in popularity in online spheres, as evidenced by the traction social writing startup Wattpad has seen. But with Versu, Linden Lab adds a gaming element to interactive storytelling that essentially allows players to create their own characters which then write themselves. It seems like a smart way to capitalize on the observer tendency that’s turned Second Life players into story watchers.”
The new website, as shown above, currently gives little away, however, this is liable to change as the release / beta / however LL opt to launch, draws closer.
The new Dio website, by contrast, has more in the way of content. This is unsurprising, as it appears that Dio is actually the next product on the runway to follow-on from the launches of Patterns and Creatorverse. However, whether the content is genuine or simply placeholders for testing purposes is unclear, at least to me, as I’m not a Facebook user – and Facebook is required to log-in to the site (if log-ins are indeed open).
Again, in talking to Techcrunch in November, Humble described Dio as, “A web experience called Dio that’s really hard to explain, which I like. It’s sort of like Second Life without the graphics, or Facebook but trying to be more of a creative space.” He goes on, “So it’s a web experience and you create your space, but within the spaces, everyone has their own avatar and avatars carry inventory. The way you navigate from space to space is via doors, and you can make things like a MUSH [multi-user shared hack] or hobby space very easily.”
As noted above, logging-in to the Dio website requires a Facebook account, and even the “request an invite” button leads to the Facebook log-in page. Whether the latter is intentional or not is currently unclear; however, limiting log-in to Facebook may limit Dio’s appeal to SL users, but would obviously open it out to the entire Facebook community, potentially raising its visibility.
Clicking on any of the options on the home page is possible, but again, little is given away as to what they do, or to provide more insight into the site than Humble’s description to Techcrunch.
Some of these options allow you to drill down further, but overall, it is currently hard to see how things link together and how “avatars” and “carrying inventory” fit within the scheme of things. Options then range from games through what appear to be tour guides, to business portfolios, to collaborative projects, discussion groups and personal photo albums, making Dio something of a melting pot of ideas and potential uses.
For those interested / curious about the directions LL is taking vis-a-vis new products, then these two websites are potentially to the two to watch as 2013 unfolds, even if right now, they raise more questions than they answer.