by Pixeleen Mistral on 30/04/07 at 7:09 am
Metaverse residents ask LL to fix the game
by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk
In an attempt to entice game maker Linden Lab into fixing problems with Second Life, an open letter asking that long term problems with the virtual world be fixed before more new features are added has been signed by over 600 players and virtual world entrepreneurs.
The open letter comes in response to both stability problems with the world and Linden Lab’s retreat from contact with their customers – the world’s residents. This retreat has been in progress for some time as the Lab has removed resident forums, and most direct customer contact – apparently in an attempt to cut support costs.
The cost cutting measures and focus on new features at the expense of stability may exact a toll as Cristiano Midnight points out, “it is much easier to retain customers when things work as promised”.
However, the social network effect – or wanting to hang with your friends – tends to blunt criticism of the Linden’s product, and those with significant investments in the game are not likely to migrate out of Second Life in a hurry. This platform stickiness may be what the Linden game gods depend on as they continue to rework their world despite the protests from its residents. It should be clear to all that Second Life is a never ending beta test – but it is significant that residents are organizing large scale protests of the way in which the beta test is being conducted.
Here is the text of the open letter:
In the past eighteen months, Second Life has expanded, growing from a small community of early adopters to a platform supporting millions of users. Linden Lab has created a world that inspires a deep level of passion in its users and provides unprecedented opportunities to share creatively, socially, and financially.
With explosive levels of growth often come unexpected problems. In keeping with your company’s policy and rich history of resident involvement, we the undersigned would like to take this opportunity to address some concerns that we feel have gone unanswered for too long.
There are some consistent, ongoing problems that are getting worse under heavy load, not better, and are not simply irritants but problems that are causing financial loss in some cases, which is unacceptable. Here is a brief list of the main concerns:
* Inventory loss – this is a devastating problem that is worsening. We have no ability to protect our own inventories through backups, and are trusting you to protect that data. This is the highest priority. Sensible inventory limits (on non-verified accounts only), combined with better management tools and ways to protect our inventory ourselves would help to mitigate the problem as well. Regardless, this cannot continue – we will not accept financial loss as a feature of Second Life. It is your responsibility as service provider to ensure our data is not lost, and you are failing us.
* Problems with Find and Friends List – we continue to see search outages on a far too regular basis. It is bad enough trying to get anywhere without being able to use search, but many users are also paying money for classified ads. Our friends lists just do not work reliably any longer, after years without an issue with them. If America Online/MSN/Yahoo can provide presence information for hundreds of millions of users, surely there is a way to make our friends lists work again.
* Grid stability and performance – teleports fail quite regularly, especially under heavy load. Attachments end up in places they did not start out in, and sim performance varies wildly. None of this makes for a very pleasant experience for users. Long promised improvement to physics and scripting would help dramatically to reduce these problems, but there are a lot of other scalability issues as well. It often feels like the grid is coming apart at the seams. The promised use of limiting logins of non-verified accounts during peak load has been severely lacking. This would be an effective interim solution to load issues, but Linden Lab seems unwilling to use it.
* Build tool problems – the importance of build tools that actually work as promised cannot be overstated enough – we rely on them to create content. Prim drift, disappearing prims, imprecise placement, problems with linking and other issues with the tools need to be addressed. Too much time is being spent trying to work around the problems.
* Transaction problems – inventory deliveries are failing with an alarming (and annoying) frequency, leaving merchants with the burden of replacing missing content and having to try to confim the transaction in the first place. We trust that our L$ balances are accurate, but given recent problems, that is a cause for concern as well, and one we place our full trust in you to ensure its accuracy.
We remain fully supportive of Second Life and are more than willing to continue doing our part to help, but our confidence is steadily being eroded due to a general lack of communication and the apparent failure to successfully address the many issues detailed above. What we are asking for is that these problems are addressed immediately, ahead of new features, and that we are able to see tangible improvements. We accept that this will not happen overnight but it also cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely either.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.