by Urizenus Sklar on 08/03/07 at 5:30 pm
An Open Letter to Second Life Residents
Astrin Few, SL Musician
Posted on blog.slmusic.org , March 8, 2007
(reprinteded here at the request of Astrin Few)
As I approach my fourth year in Second Life, I’ve reached a decision point regarding my future participation in SL. After spending countless hours performing, helping organize RL events, helping new musicians get a start in world, and generally having a good time, I’ve become so deeply frustrated with the low performance and broken functionality of Second Life that it’s just not as much fun. Notices are broken on the Live Music Enthusiasts group, presumably because it is large and SL does not scale; this has led to the fragmentation of the live music community, as musicians form new, small groups on which they can announce their events with notices. Teleports from profiles are disabled, which makes it much more inconvenient to teleport an eager listener to your show between songs. Chat is horribly lagged pretty much everywhere, leading me to move to Yahoo Messenger to talk to my friends, so we can actually have a conversation and not just stare at our avatars typing away. Oh, and the typing noises still require that polite listeners at music events prefix everything with a slash to not pollute the audio stream with typing noise. The list goes on and on.
It’s been a long time since Linden Lab put anything really useful into SL that works (and that’s allowing that the addition of the FMOD stream player in version 1.2 “works”). For quite some time now, there has been more and more that is broken and degrades the experience.
I still love performing live shows in Second Life. But that’s about me and my listeners. I’m lucky if my stream works for them when they listen with the embedded stream player. I’m lucky if my event actually made it into the Events listing. I’m lucky if the sim doesn’t crash. I’m lucky if my listeners can chat without too much lag, and I’m even lucky if my guitar rezzes and they can see me holding my electric guitar, and not my acoustic.
So, in short, I have come to a decision. If Linden Lab does not, in a timely manner, fix the group notice bug; if sim performance doesn’t improve; if I can’t teleport folks to my shows off of an IM profile; if a sim crashes during my or another musician’s performance; if the introduction of the new avatar voice feature degrades performance even more; basically, if SL performance doesn’t return to the level we enjoyed back in, say, 2005, then I’m out. It’s back to 100% RL for me. But on my way out, I’ll send a letter to the editors of magazines that have shown an interest in Second Life entitled “Why I Left Second Life.” I want the readers of Technology Review, the magazine that made me aware of Second Life, to understand what happens when a beautiful idea is destroyed by incompetent technical management. It’s an important lesson, and I want to share it. I’ve devoted a large fraction of nearly three years to Second Life. I’ve performed well over two hundred concerts. I worked hard for the music program at SLCC06. And technical incompetency at Linden Lab will be what ended my contribution.
It’s quite simple. I’m OK with the fact that Linden Lab has done virtually nothing to support live music in SL. But I’m fed up with the performance of the Second Life platform. And downloading and viewing the viewer source code gave me no further confidence in Linden Lab’s ability to write code that really works. As an owner of, and senior developer at, an Internet application company, I have some expertise in this. I’ll wait for Google or someone else to create a new 3-D virtual community that is functional and not overcome by buggy, extraneous features. But I hope a miracle occurs and Second Life becomes adequately functional again. Soon.
Astrin Few [Sam Hokin, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Joined SL in April, 2004
First musician to perform live concerts in SL