A Light in the Cloud: A Migration Update

A Light in the Cloud: A Migration Update

Linden Lab

A Light in the Cloud - A Migration Update.png

Hi Residents!

I’ve come to ask for a favor.

We’re in a really exciting time in the history of Second Life. We’re in the home stretch on moving the grid to the cloud. We hit a fun milestone a few days ago, and now there’s over 1,000 regions running in the cloud!

Everyone in the Lab is working hard on this project, and we’re moving very quickly. I just got out of a leadership meeting where we went over what’s currently in flight, and there’s so many things moving that I lost track of them all. It’s amazing!

The favor I’ve come to ask you for is your patience.

We’re doing our very best to fix things that come up as we go. This means that we might need to restart regions more often than you’re used to, and things may break just a little more often than we’ve all been accustomed to.

In order to get this project done as fast as possible and minimize the time (and resulting bugs) we have to spend with one foot in our datacenter and the other in the cloud, we don’t want to limit ourselves to restarting regions just once a week. We’re ready to get this project done! We’ve seen how much better Second Life runs in the cloud, and we’re ready to have everyone on the grid experience it.

I’m sorry that things might be a little rough over the next few weeks. It’s our goal to finish the cloud migration by the holidays, so that everyone, Resident and Linden alike, can have a nice quiet holiday with our friends and families.

We can’t promise we’ll make it by then, but we’re sure giving it all we’ve got. The mood around the Lab is really positive right now, and we’re all working hard together to make it happen. I’m really proud to be a part of the team that’s transforming Second Life as we know it.

Thanks so much for hanging in there with us. We know it’s frustrating at times, but it won’t last for too long, and there’s a better future on the other side of this. We truly appreciate your understanding and patience as we finish up this project.

Thanks everyone. 💜

April Linden,
Second Life Operations Manager

Uplift Update

Uplift Update

Oz Linden

We’ve been working hard on the Uplift of Second Life. If you have not been following this project, that’s what we’re calling the migration of our Second Life simulators, services, and websites from a private data center to hosting in The Cloud (Amazon Web Services). It’s a massive, complicated project that I’ve previously compared to converting a steam-driven railroad to a maglev monorail — without ever stopping the train. This undertaking has at times been smooth sailing, at other times a very bumpy ride. We wanted to share some more of the story with you.

Our goal has been to move SL incrementally to give ourselves the best chance of minimizing awareness among the residents that these changes were happening. We feel we’ve done better than we expected, but of course it’s the bumps in the road that are most noticeable to our residents. We apologize for recent service disruptions, although what’s perhaps not apparent is the progress we’ve made — and the improvements in performance that have quietly taken place.

First, the rough spots:

  • Region Crossings
    One of the first troubles we found was that region crossings were significantly worse between a cloud region and a datacenter region. We did a deep dive into the code for objects (boats, cars, planes, etc) and produced an improvement that made them significantly faster and more reliable even within the datacenter. This has been applied to all regions already and was a good step forward.
  • Group Chat stalls
    Many users have reported that they are not able to get messages in some of their groups; we’re very much aware of the problem. The start of those problems does coincide with when the chat service was uplifted; unfortunately the problems did not become clear until moving that service back to the datacenter was not an option. We haven’t been able to get that fixed as quickly as we would like, but the good news is that we have some changes nearly ready that we think may improve the service and will certainly provide us with better information to diagnose it if it isn’t fixed. Those changes are live on the Beta grid now and should move to the main grid very soon.
  • Bake Failures
    Wednesday and especially Thursday of this past week were bad days for avatar appearance, and we’re very much aware of how important that is. The avatar bake service has actually been uplifted for some time – it wasn’t moving it that caused the problem, but another change to a related service. The good news is that thanks to a great cross-team effort during those two days we were able to determine why an apparently unrelated simulator update triggered the problem and got a fix deployed Thursday night. 
  • Increased Teleport Failures
    We have seen a slight increase in the frequency of teleport failures. I know that if it’s happened to you it probably doesn’t feel like a “slight” problem, especially since it appears to be true that if it’s happened to someone once, it tends to keep happening for a while. Measured over the entire grid, it’s just under two percentage points, but even that is unacceptable. We’re less sure of the specific causes for this (including whether or not it’s Uplift related), but are improving our ability to collect data on it and are very much focused on finding and fixing the problem whatever it is.
  • Marketplace & Stipend Glitches
    We’ve had some challenges related to uplift for both the Marketplace and the service that pays Premium Stipends. Marketplace had to be returned to the datacenter yesterday, but we’ll correct the problems that required the rollback and get it done soon. The Stipends issues were both good and bad for users; there were some delays, but on the other hand we sent some users extra stipends (our fault, you win – we aren’t taking them back); those problems are, we believe, solved now.

Perhaps the above makes it sound as though Uplift is in trouble. While this week in particular has seen some bumps in the road, it’s actually going well overall. Lots of the infrastructure you don’t interact with directly, and some you do, has been uplifted and has worked smoothly.

For a few weeks, almost all of the regions on the Beta grid have been running in the cloud, and over the last couple of weeks we’ve uplifted around a hundred regions on the main grid. Performance of those regions has been very very good, and stability has been excellent. We expect to be uplifting more regions in the next few working days (if you own a region you’d like included, submit a Support Ticket and we’ll make it happen). Uplift of the Release Candidate regions, which will bring the count into the thousands, will begin soon. When we’re confident that uplifted regions are working well at that larger scale, we’ll be in a position to resume region sales, so if you’ve been waiting – the wait is almost over.

Overall, the Uplift project is on track to be complete or very nearly so by the end of this year (yes, 2020… I know I’ve said “fall” before and people have noted that I didn’t say what year 🙂 ; the leaves haven’t finished falling at my house yet…). It’s likely that there will be other (hopefully small) temporary disruptions during this process, but we promise we’ll do all we can to avoid them and fix them as fast as we can. This migration sets the stage for some significant improvements to Second Life and positions us to be able to grow the world well into the future.



31 Days of Halloween

31 Days of Halloween Illustrated by Freaky SL Screenshots — Including an Amazing Tribute to Beetlejuice

Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.18.38 PMCajsa Lilliehook covers the best in virtual world screenshot art and digital painting

I featured Grant Valeska’s blog Blond back in February, so under normal circumstances it might be too soon to come back around, however since Grant is devoting their stream entirely to Halloween for the month, I just don’t want you to miss out on this great project. Here is Day One. A spooky gatekeeper into a world of the spooky and spectacular. 

More spooktacular pics ahead!


Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.18.48 PM

“Buried Alive” is intriguing. The title suggests that a living person is in that plastic wrapped bundle. If so, perhaps the victim will be rescued because it does seem the killer has been caught in the act.

Beetlegeuse SL Grant Valeska

“The Waiting Room” is a hilariously macabre picture inspired by Beetlejuice. I love that each picture includes its inspiration 

Be sure to follow Grant Valeska’s 31 Days of Halloween album. You should just follow Grant in the first place because their stream is wonderful, but this project is a don’t-miss project. 

See all of Cajsa’s Choices here. Follow Cajsa on Flickr, on Twitter or on her blog

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands



“Second Life is a Game”


“Second Life is a Game” Meme Inevitably Outrages Non-Gaming SLers

SL game meme by Antonio Giano

Antonio Giano recently wrote and posted this SL variation of the famous defenestration meme on a private Facebook group for Second Life users — and as you probably would have guessed if you read New World Notes on the regular, it provoked a long back and forth of outrage and argument.

Which as Antonio tells me, was what inspired him to make the meme in the first place: “As you can see, people are always fighting a lot on that topic.” In fact the post got so heated, he finally disabled his notifications.

As I observed on the Facebook post, the argument inevitably breaks down between longtime gamers who know Second Life has many similarities to many games — and those for whom SL is the first online game in which they’ve devoted serious time, energy, and emotional investment. Here’s why:

Non-gamer take umbrage at the idea of calling Second Life a game because to them, that implies their activities in SL are unserious or “not real”. Whereas seasoned gamers know that playing online worlds often leads to real life friendships and romantic relationships, not to mention real life careers.

A generational gap is at work, too, between those who grew up on games, and have always seen them as an integral part of their social lives (playing with childhood friends, college dorm mates, and so on) — and those who came upon games relatively late in life, after decades of considering games merely as “something that kids play”.  

Yes, Second Life is a Game: The Final Word on a Confusing, Often Misunderstood Topic

Game definition Raph Koster  “Second Life is not a game!” has been the most polarizing, most debated, most misunderstood –and most ridiculed! — statement about Second Life throughout most of Second Life’s history. Unsurprisingly, it continues to attract much conversation, and frustration among SL users, when so many people still insist on calling Second Life as game. This misunderstanding has also caused the company that owns it, Linden Lab, to make some disastrous strategic mistakes, and ignore obvious opportunities. This post will resolve the controversy once and for all.

TL;DR, this is the correct answer:

Second Life is not a traditional MMORPG. Second Life is best described as an open-ended, user-created online social game.

Why and how is Second Life a game? Before answering that, the best place to start, of course, is by defining what a game is, and I think game designer Raph Koster has the best one:

Playing a game is the act of solving statistically varied challenge situations presented by an opponent who may or may not be algorithmic within a framework that is a defined systemic model. Some see this as a “fundamentalist” approach to the definition. But I use it precisely because it is inclusive. It admits of me turning a toy into a game by imposing my own challenge on it (such as a ball being a toy, but trying to catch it after bouncing it against the wall becoming a game with simple rules that I myself define). 

Defined that way, it becomes obvious how Second Life is a game in a most fundamental way:

Pretending that 3D graphics are a “world” and that fellow system users are fantastic “Avatars” within it is in itself a game.

On this view, the statistically varied challenges are baked into the entire Second Life experience. The first core statistically varied challenge is to accept 3D graphics as a “world” in some meaningful way, and to figure out how to navigate successfully within it. The second is to impose that challenge on your avatar (customizing, enhancing, and ultimately mastering it), and then on the avatars of others, pretending that they embody the fantastic, flying, god-like 3D representations they present to you. From that view, you could say that the game of Second Life is competing with others to accept Second Life as a second life — and to demonstrate one’s mastery within it. Indeed, with no traditional MMORPG-type mechanics, Second Life users implicitly compete with each other by showing how well they’re able to use the UI and understand the system.

When I say all this, I’m mindful of my good friend Tom Boellstorff’s argument that “if you say Second Life is a ‘game’ then it’s hard to not classify everything humans do as a ‘game’.” For instance, Tom might argue that on my logic, money is also a game — it’s not really valuable, we just all pretend it is, and we often amass it as a way of keeping score. I believe Tom’s very legitimate point becomes shaky, however, when you consider a couple empirical points:

“Second Life is not a game” was first prominently promoted as part of a marketing campaign by Linden Lab in an attempt to encourage real world, non-game uses of Second Life.

Here’s what happened

Dwight plays Second Life

In 2005-2006, David Fleck, Linden Lab’s head of marketing at the time, announced in a company-wide e-mail that thenceforth, Second Life would no longer be called a game. (We staffers often did.) Instead, it was from then on to be described as a “platform”, open to varieties of use cases, an attempt to become the “3D web”. Up until that point, Second Life had actually been marketed as a kind of social game, and was considered a direct competitor of The Sims Online. It even launched with player rankings and leader boards. But after Fleck’s ruling, promotion of Second Life as a game ended, and Linden Lab made a concerted effort to foster non-gaming uses and investments in SL.

Which takes us to our next point:

No non-game uses of Second Life have succeeded in a substantial, scalable way.

Fleck’s move seemed strategically sound at the time, because major companies like IBM were indeed acclaiming Second Life as “the 3D web” and were planning to launch a number of non-game applications within SL. (IBM had a whole campus in Second Life, which was subsequently protested by a labor union.) If any of these many attempts had gained traction, the “Second Life is not a game” argument would carry much more weight. Despite marginal examples, however, none of these non-game uses have demonstrated any traction, and instead, only the already-existing user base, who play Second Life as an open-ended social game, remain.

And as I said, mistaking Second Life as something other than a game has caused Linden Lab to make several disastrous moves, chief among them a massive investment in SL as a real world work platform, leading directly in 2010 to a layoff of 30% of its staff:

The Dwight Schrute Echo Chamber are all the people in Linden Lab and in the company’s orbit who’ve repeated Dwight’s mantra [“Second Life is not a game!”] in various forms, until it seemed obviously true, and that a sizable market for real world applications of SL already existed. (As opposed to what it more likely is: a very interesting but numerically small niche.) This flawed assumption is probably why Linden Lab has devoted so much money, labor, and time attempting to turn SL into a platform for real world businesses and organizations.

Beyond the business uses that were tried and failed, advocates of the “it’s not a game” argument will point to the several examples of Second Life activity which seem non-game like — live music, socialization, education, and so on. But that only takes us to our next point:

Every “non-game” use of Second Life also exists in one or more self-defined MMO games.

Several other MMOs enable live music performance; most MMOs also encourage non-game socialization; Minecraft is also used an education tool, as are others, and encourage user-generated content. The MMO Entropia Universe and others allow and encourage real money trading. And so on. Without a non-game use case which is unique to Second Life that other MMOs do not have, it’s simpler and more intuitive to put Second Life within the same category as them.

Which leads to a related realization:

Many or most active Second Life users consider it a game.

If Second Life’s wasn’t a game, few would call it that. Instead, many or most active Second Life users explicitly call it a game, or at minimum, use it for game-like purposes: For virtual fashion, roleplaying, social gaming, mini-MMOs, and more — again, activity comparable to many games on the market.

So now that we’ve definitively established that Second Life is a kind of game, one question looms: So what? A core conclusion is this:

Since Second Life is indeed a game, it should be developed and enhanced by Linden Lab with that awareness in mind, becoming more and more “game-like”, with a return to achievement and ratings systems, for starters. At the same time, realizing that Second Life is a game should help the entire user base better understand what they are doing within it.

That Second Life is a game does not make it trivial, useless, or ridiculous — quite the opposite. It means that Second Life is among the many games (both online and off) where people come together from all backgrounds to find meaning and commonalities to share with each other, hopefully enhancing their life outside its magic circle.

Now that the American Chopper meme is my favorite new meme, I couldn’t resist. Warning — contains salty muttonchop biker language:

SL game Chopper arguing meme

Thanks to New World Notes and Wagner James Au for this 3 article Mashup.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands

Watch: Carmen King Keeps Streaming Second Life

Watch: Carmen King Keeps Streaming Second Life — And Has Advice for Players of The Sims In Giving SL a Second Chance


In the latest hilariously ribald video from Ms. Carmen King, YouTube gaming doyenne and unofficial queen of Second Life, we find her searching for a mansion to buy in Second Life as only Carmen can. (NSFW of course, unless I guess you work at a tattoo gallery.)

“[My SL] apartment is beautiful,” she announces at the start, “but I am grown, and I am ready to have a grown bitch’s house.” Then actually goes and finds and actual (virtual) real estate agent. (That’s a thing in SL? TIL there are actual ass real estate agents in SL.) 

While her videos are gaining popularity among the SL community, I notice that a lot of her endemic subscribers are leery to try Second Life, either because they were overwhelmed by the UX (can’t blame them there), or they tried it once and got overwhelmed.

So for all of them them, you’re in luck: I reached out to this queen named King and asked for her own personal tips for people thinking of trying out SL now — especially those coming to it after playing The Sims:

Carmen King SL YouTube tips

“There are a lot of differences between the two games, but the main differences are creativity and community,” Carmen tells me. “The Sims is a limited game where new content is available through DLC’s and updates… which take a while. A lot of the time I’ll get super excited about upcoming releases but quickly get discouraged once I see the title’s theme.

“In Second Life, other players make content for EVERYONE. I was shocked at how many things there were to do and still discover new things daily. You can also connect with the community directly in Second Life, whereas in The Sims you are stuck interacting with the same NPC’s and your own creations. It’s fun to be able to visit friend’s houses instead of just seeing pictures of what it looks like!”

And for gamers just trying out SL for the first time, her tips: “Explore the game slowly, watch a lot of tutorials, bring some friends, and keep an eye out for events going down!”

So yeah. And don’t forget, as they always say, to subscribe.

Have a great week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.

Watch: Celebrity You Tuber Bored!


This means there is swearing and adult subject matter. But I don’t think you would get the full effect if we censored the content.

Watch: Celebrity You Tuber Bored With The Sims Quickly Becomes Queen of Second Life, Basically

Ms. Carmen King is a gaming YouTube celebrity with nearly 1 million subscribers, and earlier this month, an amazing thing happened.

“If you’ve watching my channel lately,” she announces, “I’ve been talking about how bland the Sims 4 has been getting — that Star Wars pack did not make it any better, bitch.”

But rather than switch to a recent game, she reaches all the way back 17 years to launch Second Life:

“I’m not here to troll or make enemies or anything I like that,” she begins, in a nod to YouTube’s many a-hole SL trolls, “I genuinely want to do stuff in SL like create myself in Second Life, go shopping, find me a man, go to a strip club, get pregnant — and I’m not even kidding, you can literally get pregnant in Second Life and literally deliver a baby, like straight out your cootchie deliver, I’m not even joking,”

… which should give you a taste of her girl gamer-meets-Cardi B charm and NSFW Rabelaisian patois. What follows is more or less the “WAP” of game streaming, adventures in avatar enhancement, apartment hunting, and later on, road rage in a diamond pink car. Yes:

Maybe you thought Second Life was conceived as a virtual Burning Man or the birth of the Metaverse. Whatever we once thought, it’s Carmen King’s world now, and we just live in it. 

Carmen King SL Sims YouTuber


Have a great week From all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands.