2023 – Second Life Year In Review… And What to Expect in 2024
As the end of 2023 approaches, Second Life is entering an exciting and pivotal moment in its development and evolution. The past year has seen the release of several new features and breakthroughs highlighted by the Private Alpha release of our Mobile Viewer.
Imagine experiencing Second Life anywhere, anytime through your mobile device. For the first time, you’ll be able to stay connected to your friends and communities – no matter where you are.
We believe that Second Life Mobile has the potential to transform the way people experience and engage with our virtual world forever. We are grateful for our early Alpha testers’ feedback and impressions – they are helping us move forward already …and we can’t wait for the entire Second Life community to check it out in the coming year as it enters into wider release.
So, what else can you expect in the coming year?
More About Mobile
In 2024, everyone will be able to experience the magic of Second Life in the palm of their hands. While the early Private Alpha release includes some popular and much-requested features, we expect that mobile will quickly evolve to more closely align with the desktop functionality as the year progresses. Eventually, you’ll see innovative mobile-specific features that take full advantage of the flexibility and, well, mobility of being freely untethered from your desktop.
AI & Other Innovations
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (virtual or otherwise), you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the rise of AI over the past year. For Second Life to remain relevant as a progressive platform that serves, empowers, and entertains our communities and creators, we know that we must find the right balance in embracing some aspects of AI while also preserving and protecting what we all know and love about Second Life.
In the coming year, we plan to carefully explore some cutting-edge use of AI in Second Life including experimental use of smart AI-driven chatbots to help greet, educate, and mentor newcomers. We know that there are additional opportunities to integrate AI across all aspects of Second Life, but we also know that AI can be a polarizing topic and there are many sensitivities on how (and if) we should explore AI integration at all. We’ve already established internal policies governing the selection and use of AI tools with user privacy as the foremost consideration. Our goal is to find the right balance to bring some AI advancements and innovations into the virtual world – but only in a way that respects the rights of content creators, while also advancing the overall Second Life creator ecosystem and quality of the overall community experience.
After the much anticipated release of PBR Materials, we are looking forward to Third-Party Viewers integrating the functionality so that everyone in Second Life can enjoy the new shiny. The early experiments from our community have been so fun! In the meantime, the graphics team is working on the next set of updates including PBR materials support for terrain, true mirrors (planar reflections), and the long term goal of supporting GLTF Mesh Import & Hierarchy.
That’s not the only excitement awaiting creators in the coming year – we are also focusing on improvements and extensions to our scripting capabilities, taking a look at tools for creating complex and compelling combat systems, poking at the animation import pipeline … because we know that every time we make things better for our creator communities, they make things better for everyone!
Second Life turns 21 in 2024…and, to celebrate, we are turning attention to the spicier side of Second Life with some bold and innovative new adult-friendly initiatives. Something wickedly wonderful is coming soon…
We’ll be taking the sheets off this mystery initiative and sharing more bedroom secrets soon…so stay tuned!
Improving the New User Experience
Improving the first-time experience for newcomers continues to be a top priority – and in 2024 you’ll see us continuing to tweak and innovate on this early introduction to Second Life. For example, we recently began testing an all-new Community Hub complete with human greeters and mentors that are eager and available to help educate and enlighten newcomers on all aspects of Second Life. We’ll continue to iterate and improve the Hub, too. We’re at work on a Community Exhibition expansion to the Hub that will more easily and quickly connect our newest Residents to the many communities and experiences across Second Life.
New Residents are also benefiting from the recent debut of Senra starter avatars, making easier work of avatar customization at the very beginning of their Second Life journey. We’ve got updates to the customization experience and fun new wardrobe choices coming – and we’re looking forward to the community-created Senra content too!
There’s a lot of promise and potential for the coming year, but we also want to reflect on some of the key accomplishments and improvements from 2023.
Improved Performance & Viewer Enhancements
In addition to the introduction of PBR Materials mentioned earlier, there were improvements to Group Chat History and the debut of Inventory Item Preview and Single Folder View which helps Residents more easily manage and find items in their inventory. In the background, we’ve been doing work to improve performance during teleport.
Additionally, we unveiled more improvements to help community members seek and find items and places in Second Life. For example, Updates to Marketplace Search and improvements to the Destination Guide also help our community find the items and places that matter most to them.
We also took steps to make Second Life more secure with various security improvements including enforcement of Viewer Login MFA.
Improving the Land & Home Experience
Buying and managing land got a lot easier over the past year, as we debuted the all-new Linden Home Store to make selecting your new home simpler. Several new Linden Homes themes also debuted in 2023, including Ranch, and Fantasy Treehouses. We also ended the year with drop of the new Mediterranean Premium Plus homes! With all these Linden Homes choices, it is now easier than ever for people to explore all the new and classic themes inworld via an all-new centralized Linden Homes demo region in the BelliHub!
Simplified Avatar Customization
It’s no secret that newer Second Life Residents often struggle to customize their avatars. While seasoned Second Life community members appreciate the complex and diverse range of avatar customization options, we recognize how important it is to simplify things for those who are just learning the basics. Enter the all-new Senra Avatars, which entered beta in August with a subsequent formal 1.0 release unveiled earlier this month. The Senra team is already hard at work on the next phase of the Senra project, which features an expanded content library with additional customizations and options.
Community Highlights – Celebrating 20 Years
Second Life’s 20th birthday celebrations set several new records for all-time community engagement in 2023. Our SL20B event was visited 647,952 times and included three weeks of parties, live music, deejay performances, special events, exhibits, gifts, and shopping!
Our big milestone didn’t go unnoticed by the mainstream media, either. Major media and tech outlets noted and praised our longevity and loyal communities throughout the year including some great media coverage in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Bloomberg.
Eagle-eyed viewers of the popular Apple+ program “The Morning Show” may also have noticed a certain Linden executive cameo during a pivotal scene that prominently featured Second Life in the season finale.
The official Motown presence in Second Life accompanied the debut of the first experimental version of our New User Community Hub, which aims to more quickly and easily help newcomers connect with the relevant people, places, and communities that matter to them. The new Hub also hosts the return of many passionate Second Life Mentors who seek to lend a helping hand.
What Was Hot in 2023?
Finally, we thought it would be fun to assemble a few year-end charts to show what was hot in 2023. Let’s take a look at what the community was up to last year…
Top Linden Home Themes
- Log Home
- Stilt over Land
Top Last Names released in 2023
Most Visited Regions
- Firestorm Orientation
- Adventure Island
Top Destination Guide Categories
Most Watched YouTube Videos
- Second Life Mobile – First Look
- Second Life Mobile – June 2023 – SL20B Update
- Second Life University – How to Create PBR Materials
- Second Life University – How to Create Your Starter Avatar
- Made in Second Life: The Movie
Most Popular Facebook Posts
- Inventory Item Preview and Single Folder View
- Second Life Pic of the Day by Mac McGregor
- The SL20B Official Guide & Magazine
- Introducing the new Linden Home Store
- Friday the 13th Haunted Destinations
Happy Holidays from Second Life
On behalf of the entire Second Life team, we would like to wish you and your loved ones a happy new year! We are thankful to be part of your virtual family and send you blessings from both the virtual (and physical) worlds!
The Second Life team