Where Did Linden Lab Go Wrong With Second Life?

Where Did Linden Lab Go Wrong With Second Life? (Comment of the Week)

Pictured: Official 2009 commercial for Second Life which very briefly shows the in-world creation tools in the background only once — and doesn’t mention them at all in the captions

Reader “Pulsar” posted a comment last week that touches on one of Silicon Valley’s greatest mysteries that fascinates me to this day: How did Second Life, which received massive mainstream media coverage from 2006-2008, even showing up in several popular TV shows and movies, still steadfastly refuse to grow much beyond its existing user base of some 600,000? Pulsar’s answer:


Second Life official ad YouTube 2009

[Second Life] was originally meant to render simple cartoonish avatars and basic but tweakable primitives with which you could create anything.

But was that bad? A game doesn’t need an awesome graphic to become popular and can be fun even if made just by cubes (you know, Minecraft).

However, then Linden Lab took a different path and targeted a different kind of people. They hammered new features into SL (sculpt, mesh…), [but] they failed at turning SL into a conference tool. They pleased the niche who uses SL as a doll-dressing game or as a porn simulator, who is happy to see every detailed bit up to skin pores. So SL has became prettier, but the added complexity distanced the crowd who enjoys construction sandbox games.

Coincidentally, it was May 2009 when Minecraft has been released and later took off; SL had started its decline around that time.

It almost feel like Linden Lab missed a train by following those marketing ideas, instead of focusing on the construction game… and they missed it again in 2017 with Sansar, that among many other issues, it started serious a bit like a VR museum experience; while the most successful VR social game so far, VRChat, [has] a weird, funny, anime crowd – and although someone found a few more serious uses for it later, VRChat remains a crazy, colorful anime crowd.

Roblox, it’s worth noting, also launched in 2006 at the peak of Second Life’s media hype, and look what happened there.

You can see what Pulsar means by “SL as a doll-dressing game” in the official ad for Second Life above, which scarce mentions or even depicts the user-creation tools. I think this focus contributed to a negative feedback loop, since it put Second Life in implicit competition with The Sims and social games popular on Facebook at the time — both of which were much easier to install and play than SL. Whereas if SL was marketed as a sandbox construction game with the chance to make real money — basically the approach Roblox took — we would have attracted a more tech-savvy consumer who’d be more patient with the world’s daunting user interface and hardware requirements.

Then again, marketing is only part of the problem. More later. (But seeing as they’ve basically been writing about this since 2009, I bet you already knew that.)

Comment lightly tweaked for clarity. 

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

Cache What Is It and What Does It Do?

Good Monday Folks

I was thinking what better time to share viewer Cache tips and tricks for firestorm these pertain to the SL viewer as well please check Second Life Viewers wiki page for that info. February is a great time to spring clean your system as well as sl viewer and Inventory.


In SL-relevant lay terms, the cache is a time-saving device. When you need to see a texture in SL or get something from your inventory, it happens more quickly if the item is already cached than if you need to download that asset from the SL servers. If you wander into an area with a lot of textures you don’t already have cached, it’ll take some time for your computer to capture them all and store them in your cache. Under normal circumstances, you want to leave those textures there (that is, don’t clear cache) so that the next time you’re in that location, you don’t have to wait for everything to download again — it’ll already be available to you on your hard drive. Same with inventory. When your inventory cache is full and not experiencing any issues, then when you log in to SL, all your inventory will be right there. If it’s been cleared, then you have to wait for everything to get fetched from the SL servers again before you can see it and use it. For a more technical explanation, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache.

It is commonly believed that clearing cache can help with a multitude of issues, but really it’s only helpful for a handful. We do not recommend clearing cache unless you are having an issue that cannot be solved by other means.

We get asked a lot about what to set cache size to; the simple answer is to set it to the maximum possible in the viewer, as long as you have room on your hard drive. In Firestorm, the cache size can be increased to 9,984 MB. We do have a way to allow you to have a larger cache, but it requires extra hardware and software. If you are interested please see Squid Proxy Cache

Be picky about why and when you clear your cache. Clearing cache doesn’t fix everything. In fact, it doesn’t fix nearly as many problems as many people seem to think. And doing it when it’s unnecessary has its drawbacks, including slower initial rez times and excess bandwidth being pulled, which can create sim lag. “Clear your cache” is something we’ll recommend ONLY if the problem appears to be cache-related: that is, pertaining to textures or, once in a while, inventory. A full cache is almost always better than an empty one. Here is a basic “DO” list:

When NOT to clear your cache

Don’t clear cache as a matter of routine maintenance. If there isn’t something actually wrong with your cache, then this does nothing beneficial.

Don’t clear it for problems unrelated to the cache. For example, it won’t help for:

  • teleport issues
  • asset upload issues
  • movement or communication problems
  • most kinds of lag
  • most kinds of crashes
  • a vast majority of bake fails
  • any problems concerning music, video or voice.

There are some exceptions (e.g., crashes related to textures), but in many cases, other causes are more likely, and clearing cache doesn’t have to be the first measure. The list above is by no means exhaustive; its purpose is to provide an idea of how many common issues are unrelated (or only occasionally related) to cache.

When to clear your cache

  • When many textures appear as distorted rainbows or psychedelic colors, you may choose to clear your texture cache.
  • When your inventory is not loading fully, you may choose to clear your inventory cache.
  • A cache clear may be part of performing a clean install of the viewer.

Note that often, only part of your cache needs to be cleared. While you can clear your full cache by clicking the button in Preferences, it is not hard to perform the needed part of the cache clear manually. You can find your cache folder by going to Preferences and then Network & Files → Directories. Click the “Open” button alongside the path to your cache files location. In there you’ll see some files ending with .inv.gz – these are your inventory cache files – and a folder containing your texture cache. More information is here for Firestorm.

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

Love Made in Second Life: AvatarLove

This week we are taking a look at the innovative niche of maternity roleplaying in Second Life.

For those who are curious, the Family Roleplaying section of the Destination Guide is a great place to start exploring options for your potential virtual family. Babies of all skin tones and ethnicities can be found at inworld adoption agencies, and vendors can help you find a bundle of joy that looks like you or even a combination of you and your partner. Once your love bug has arrived, feel free to go all out with tiny clothing and accessories! Chat away the new parent jitters with others at various family-themed regions.


Carrie Tatsu has been one of the leading contributors to inworld maternity products for several years, with her first product line, Zooby Babies. This week her new product line, AvatarLove, is releasing the Love Momma: the first avatar capable of a live birth in Second Life. The body is streamlined to make it easier to use for Residents, with only one mesh layer. One of the key features is a HUD for both parents that aids in the baby’s growth and provides a mood meter for her partner. The partner and/or friends can do sweet things to boost the pregnant avatar’s mood or help her feel more comfortable. The layers of interactivity that have been woven into the creation of the Love Momma culminate in a meaningful shared experience. 

“I don’t want to say real and not real, I’ll say physical and virtual, because everything is real,” says Carrie.


The roleplaying of relationships that Residents find in Second Life can mean many different things to people. Carrie points out that people often “reveal more about themselves in a virtual space than they necessarily reveal about themselves in real life,” and says that she creates these products to provide a segway into a unique type of emotional intimacy. 

“Communicating with each other is the ultimate connection,” she says.

Just as we often say it takes a village to raise a child, it took over a year for Carrie and her extraordinary team to bring this latest model to life. Piscine Mackenzie is one of the Lead Developers, and Brias Stardust is the Senior 3D Artist. Other 3D and texture artists that contributed are chobii Resident, ming lu, NODNOL Jameson, Astralia Resident, blaiseowl Resident, Aurore Clarity, benjaminlucas Resident, Katarzyncia Resident, Hoshi Kimono. She would also like to thank YouTuber/Blogger Mousy “The Ultimate Clout Chaser” and Customer Service and Product Testers Anne Whimsy, cindy kiyori, RoseSilverShadow Resident, and lilymai1 Resident.

The real life couple you see in today’s video illustrating the live birth is Ayambi, a contributing 3D artist and owner of Lovies Maternity Clinic, and Lord Ra.

Carrie invites other creators to play around with the mesh kit on Blender, and join the AvatarLove Group (secondlife:///app/group/fce15a14-4747-977d-e06d-65fc502547b7/about).

Video Production Credits:
Draxtor Despres

Have A Great Week From all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands/Eden


Second Life Co-Founder Cory Ondrejka: Responds

How Mesh Devalued Prims in Second Life & Made It a “Consumer World”

Works by the artist known as AM Radio in Second Life’s pre-mesh age

Philip Rosedale’s open challenge to name another metaverse with dynamic, collaborative content creation evoked this response from reader Vivienne Schell:

I think that Second Life’s initial success was tied to in-world, collaborative content creation offering in-world tools. Leaving the Prim (do it by yourself) path and quitting further development on that field caused much of the decline SL went through after Sculpties and later Mesh became predominant.

The virtual sandbox has turned into a consumer world mostly, where many people pay money to a few people for creating some kind of “multiple social frameworks”, but much of the original thrill which keeps Minecraft big (and made SL big) is gone. As a result Second Life has turned into a self-centered universe, where the latest mesh head or the latest body or the latest whatever shiny has become the most important issue for a core of die-hard users. That may be enough for a certain amount of people to log in, but it isn’t — by far — enough to attract a broader audience.

Which sad to say, seems sadly true. Echoing that thought on Twitter is this from Jeff Berg, once best known as AM Radio, Second Life’s most famed artist:

AM Radio prims second life

“I have never seen a content creation tool accessible to so many stripped away so quickly in favor of complex external tools. Second Life shot its own democratized native content creation tool while declaring no one else has done it.” And yes, people can still create with prims in SL, but they soon fell out of favor: “The common devaluation ‘But it’s prims’ said it all the moment mesh arrived.”

Seems to me that you can have a virtual world with mesh, or a virtual world with prims/voxels — but not both in the same world. Now that Second Life has moved entirely to the cloud, I wonder how hard it would be to create a spin-off product that’s effectively an entire sandbox, with no mesh allowed. Market it the right way to kids and creative adults (call it “Second Sandbox”, let’s say), I suspect we’d see much of the old magic return.


Cory Ondrejka:

Adding Mesh to SL Was a Mistake

Fortnite creative Second Life AM Radio chairs

Last week’s post on how bringing mesh to Second Life was a mistake inspired this comment from Cory Ondrejka, a Second Life co-founder and first CTO for the company:

“Yup. Even among founders this wasn’t always clearly understood. Universal tools, available within the experience, differentiated SL from most everything before or since. Including later stage SL, Sansar, etc. Construction tools are insufficient, by the way, you need interaction and behavior, too.”

Cory, by the way, was the one who gave an early demo of Second Life when it was still prim-based to Epic Games and well you know the rest of the story from Fortnite. Jeff “AM Radio” Berg, an undisputed master of prim-based creation, also expanded on his thoughts there from the original post, and dismissed in-world mesh tools as an equivalent alternative:

Fortnite creative Second Life AM Radio train

“I know about the in world meshing. The complex nurbs-based modeling with considered texture optimization and baked effects will always be a step ahead. Minecraft proved high fidelity is commodified in a world that doesn’t need to push  past 4K and the kids don’t care if their AAA game is from 2017 as long as the gameplay still rocks. Prims were somewhere between Minecraft and AAA. It worked, and then it didn’t. Am I saying it’s not worthwhile to create and be an artist, of course not, as per usual being an artist is not a lucrative lifestyle without a champion of the likes of Bettina Tizzy et al.

“There’s more to being an artist than the media you’re using. As I said in the Polygon article, ‘Avoid showcasing a particular technological capability,’ Berg says, ‘but instead, build experiences that remind us how human we are and have always been.’”

As for the images in this post, while they look AM Radio’s Second Life creations, they were actually recreated in Fortnite by his son — using Fortnite’s universal building tools, available within the Fortnite experience.

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

Second Life Destinations: COVID-19 Resources

This week we are raising awareness for the COVID-19 information center on Inspiration Island.

Lissena, who also goes by Wisdomseeker, guides us through the colorful and comforting realm of Inspiration Island, which she created with several other volunteers to promote wellness in a fun and accessible way. In this region you can also find Whole Brain Health, which Lissena describes as “the virtual arm of our nonprofit Ageless Mind Project. Our mission is to give people the tools to stay sharp, active, and healthy, based on research coming from neuroscience, gerontology, positive psychology, and creativity.”

The COVID display in the courtyard was built by Lady Brielle, a medical librarian who maintains the text as new data becomes available. Lady Brielle has been a tireless essential worker throughout the pandemic, and her work has not gone unnoticed. Lady Brielle us that “our outreach work in Second Life has been recognized by the National Library of Medicine and won an award in Research by the Hospital Libraries Section of the Medical Library Association.” 

Information on COVID-19 is displayed in Spanish, American Sign Language, and  English. The creators of Inspiration Island took a multidisciplinary approach to presenting information so that as many people as possible can be positively impacted by visiting. In addition to medical data there are stories submitted by other Residents about their personal experiences of social distancing to remind us that what we’re feeling is totally natural, and we’re not the only ones who feel that way. There are also many activities to facilitate mental stimulation and help people feel connected.

Lissena wants us to know that even the scary parts of sickness are addressed here: “Once a month Rob, a member of the Collective in Germany, hosts a Death Café — something he is trained to do professionally outside SL — conversations that help make death less {of} a forbidden subject. Amazingly, we laugh a lot there.”

This vibrant region is the labor of love of a devoted community. Marly Milena, a volunteer who provides “programs focused on creative expression on Inspiration Island. I have introduced a way of working with arts-based processes, called Symbolic Modeling (SymMod for short). We use the building tools so people can make art in SL, and then we guide them in exploring meanings, new ideas, feelings, etc.”

Thuja Hynes, the associate director of the project, builds educational exhibits and tours. Two of his current projects are called Simply Imossible and Hero Walk. There are also many weekly events. Faust hosts the Positive Change Circle at Whole Brain Health on Sundays at 3pm SLT, and Arisia Vita plays piano in the gaebo every Monday and Wednesday. Priceless contributions are also provided by community members Catseye Tennen, Ghaelen D’Lareh, and Marylou Goldrosen.

Second Life is proud to host a space that incorporates elements of education, creativity, and community, and Inspiration Island is a living example of the positive it can bring. Lissena feels that the activities found here “give you insight into yourself, encourage your creativity and your sense of purpose and reduce loneliness, which is really important.” It is open to people from all walks of life, so stop by for a visit today.

Video Production Credits:
Draxtor Despres


Have a Great Week from all of us at Zoha Islands And Fruit Islands/Eden ♥


Philip Rosedale Issues Metaverse Challenge

Philip Rosedale Issues Metaverse Challenge: What Virtual World Besides Second Life Has Collaborative, Dynamic, Complex Content Creation?

Here’s a great Twitter thread: Second Life/High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale challenging people to name a virtual world besides Second Life that enables collaborative dynamic creation of “interesting things” while users inhabit the same space as avatars. Based on his follow-ups, “interesting things” means it must enable complex scripting/interaction and 3D objects. So not just simple building blocks but, for example, a fully interactive 3D recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, as in in this classic machinima above.

On that view, Minecraft wouldn’t count by Philip’s lights: “Love Minecraft, but: Can’t build together without elaborate specific permission from admins. Can’t build many important things (jointed objects, curved surface).”


Also, by one “place”, he means a single shard world that many thousands of users can inhabit at the same time, and not instanced mini-worlds or rooms: “Try making a pocket world like Anyland or Horizons or VRChat seamless,” as he explains. “Very difficult issues with asset transfer, serialization, load balancing (for example).”

Do any come close to meeting this criterion? A few standout candidates:

Philip Rosedale virtual world VR metaverse challenge

Possibly Rec Room:

“All Rec Room creation happens in game / in one place with artists, designers, and programmers (circuits system), sound designers, and musicians all working together to create their room or game,” one of Rec Room’s lead developers, Sean Whiting, says. “Most groups are voice chatting and hanging out the entire time they build.” And content can be moved from one scene to another: “Yeah you can definitely move your creations around or distribute them to the community for free or sell them. Entire rooms or games can be cloned, creations or rooms can be put into an ‘invention’ that you can list on the market.”

However, Rec Room’s blocky graphics may limit the “interesting” requirement, as would its lack of a single shard.

I suggested Dual Universe as a possible candidate, as it allows in-world prim-based (i.e. voxel) building and scripting that’s collaborative. I guess one could make the argument that it’s not as “interesting” as it could be, in the sense that anything built in Dual Universe must fit within its fictional sci-fi reality. (Something I discussed with the lead developer here.)

My own take is more meta: The keen irony is while dynamic collaborative 3D content creation remains unique to Second Life, it’s little used by the current user base nor promoted by the company. I seriously think most newer SL users have never even seen a prim, let alone know how to rez one.

I really mean that: Searching YouTube just now, I cannot find any recent user-made video depicting collaborative, dynamic, complex content creation in SL. Literally none that’s recent. (“Watch the World” is great, but it’s from 2008, and only features a single creator.)

And that might be the most frustrating if not most tragic thing: The aspect that still makes Second Life most unique is not that well known, even by its own users. 

Have a Great Week From All Of Us At Zoha Islands Fruit Islands/Eden