by Pixeleen Mistral on 27/11/06 at 12:10 am
Residents enjoy saturated network, sim crashing, intermittent teleports
by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk
Linden Lab today admitted to performance problems that might have rendered the grid nearly un-usable for at least a few users who wanted to do something other than sit in one place and share lagged-out IM and chat over the last several days. Reports earlier this weekend of repeated sim crashes and surprising lag were apparently acknowledged with a pair of in-world announcements – which were also posted to a no-comments thread on the official Linden
blob blog. Evidently the Lab does not feel its interests are well served by accepting customer comments via the blog on the poor performance of the grid – perhaps under the theory that many of the complaints come from those using free accounts to partake of the metaverse’s delights.
The reaction from paying customers the Herald contacted was somewhere between angry and resigned with the consensus being that whenever the number of logged in users approaches 14,000 performance is abysmal. Today the Lab’s Second Life world – regarded by some as an ongoing multi-year beta-test – saw well over 16,000 concurrent logged-in users — with predictable results. Residents who could not teleport to their desired locations amused themselves by collecting screen shots of rare and hard-to-find ‘cannot teleport’ messages – a number of these will be added to the Herald’s special collection of unusual images.[see below the fold]
Robin Linden acknowledged “a combination of problems” that crashed sims and left those parts of the grid that were available in a lag-tastic state. Perhaps most telling was the admission that the Linden network is saturated – could this be seen as tacit admission of the planning/scalability problems which have bedeviled the Linden server
gold farms and hobbled the streaming 3D platform provider? There was no word at press time on why the Linden experts on streaming 3D media were unable to predict -or provision- the network bandwidth needed to support a generally acceptable user experience. Perhaps the marketing department has gotten ahead of the technical capabilities of the game? Hard to imagine – but it has been known to happen.
Existing bandwidth and server limits may be a motivation for the Lab’s much touted move to market the Second Life experience in the pacific rim and european markets. If server capacity and bandwidth are constraints on the Lab’s ambitions, maximizing revenue for a relatively fixed investment in servers and networks would be key to improved profitability. Those who have spent significant time in-world over the last few months are well aware that the evening and weekend prime-time for game play in North America consistently brings out the worst in SL. By adding european and pacific time-shifted demand to counterbalance the North American peak loads, the Lindens may maximize the return on their hardware/network investments – and this seems consistent with other actions taken by the San Francisco-based software development firm.
So while paying customers wonder why the system’s performance continues to slide, and free accounts frolic through the blingtard garden of virtual cyber delights, one might imagine network bandwidth dealers rubbing their hands together as Linden Lab is forced into a near-term network upgrade. Over the medium term, look for the Lindens to try to squeeze more profitability out of their network and server farm by emphasizing markets outside of North America.