Watch: Scripting in Second Life

With C#, a Feature Once on Linden Lab’s Roadmap But Apparently Forgotten

My post on UdonSharp, the user-made C# compiler for VRChat, inspired me to reach out to Jim “Babbage” Purbrick. Because when he worked for Linden Lab, he was aiming to make it possible to script in Second Life with C#. Sad to say that didn’t come to pass, and he left the Lindens in 2010. As he wrote on his blog then:

Alas, tomorrow is my last day at Linden Lab and Babbage Linden will never get to see C# scripts running in the wild in Second Life, but I very much hope that I do. I hope that C# support is eventually added to Second Life and that I don’t have to wait 170 years to turn the handle. As another Babbage said when he failed to build the Difference Engine: “Another age must be the judge”.

Watch Jim’s demo above to see how cool that could have been, with more background on his blog.

“Supporting C# and other modern languages was always the end goal with the work on Mono and we implemented the Mono scripting engine to be language-independent,” he tells me now. “Although in production we only ran LSL scripts compiled to CIL we had development builds which would run C# compiled to CIL with normal C# compilers and then processed to inject microthreading support with the same tools that processed the assemblies produced by the Linden Script Language compiler in production.”

Bringing C# to Second Life, as he explains, would be an enormous modernizing leap for the platform:

Second Life scripting LSL C Sharp Jim Purbrick

“At the time I was working on embedding Mono in Second Life I spent a lot of time talking to another engineer called Joachim Ante who was working on embedding Mono in a game engine he was working on called Unity. Since then Unity has become one of the most widely used game engines in the world. We used Unity to build experiences in Oculus partly because it’s what a lot of engineers know and expect to use. ” (After leaving Linden Lab, Jim eventually wound up working for Facebook/Oculus.) “Supporting C# in SL would make it much easier for those developers to build experiences in Second Life without first having to learn a new language.”

There is at least one barrier to making C# available in SL:

“When I stopped working at Linden the main blocker to getting C# support in to SL was that bytecode verification of untrusted code hadn’t been implemented in Mono, so we could only run trusted C# code in our demos,” as he puts it. “That functionality may well have been implemented since then.”

Another possible barrier? Given all the turnover since 2010, I’m honestly not sure anyone at Linden Lab even remembers this project is still on their shelf — or is high enough on the corporate ladder, to prioritize it.

Hat tip to reader “seph”, who inspired me to talk with Babbage via this comment:

Babbage Linden for years (2006-2010 ish?) communicated the process of getting Second Life’s scripting powered by Mono. He talked often in user groups and other places about a clear path towards supporting not just C# but other .NET languages like F#, IronRuby, IronPython, etc. I’m not sure what happened other than Babbage leaving but obviously we never got C#. It seems now with that past work already done and Mono’s licensing not being as problematic as it once was now that its owned by Microsoft (problematic LGPL then, MIT now), and there even being another option/successor like .NET Core, Linden Lab should invest in updating its own scripting again with the inclusion of C# and more .NET features.

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


Tucker Stilley Art Exhibit on Virtual Ability’s Cape Able Island


Cape Able Art Gallery - Tucker Stilley.jpg

On Wednesdays from 5:00-7:00pm SLT throughout April and May, there will be guided tours of the Tucker Stilley exhibit on Virtual Ability’s Cape Able Island.

Tucker Stilley is a multimedia artist who was diagnosed with ALS/MND (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) 20 years ago. Now fully paralyzed, he uses his eyes to control his computer and create art at a dizzying pace. Creativity runs in the family; his sister, Kate Stilley Steiner, is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Citizen Film. Kate and Tucker created a non-profit called the Cohort of Disembodied Artists as a way to help other artists who use assistive technologies to build a community to support their artwork.

The sibling duo has teamed up with Virtual Ability, an institution of the Second Life community, to present a virtual exhibit of Tucker’s work. Virtual Ability was founded by Gentle Heron in 2007 and has grown into a huge and vibrant community. They describe their vision as “to be the leading provider of services and information for people with disabilities in online virtual worlds.”

Tucker’s bio, available in full at the exhibit, describes him as “born in Santa Ana, California in 1961, and educated in an eclectic patchwork stretching across North America – Stilley is a child of the Space Age – with all the bizarre baggage that entails.” As a ‘distinguished alumni’ of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he has worked as a media artist, sound designer and film editor over the years as technology has impacted the way we create and experience art. His work has received numerous accolades, with the LA Times describing it as “breathtaking images of the frailty and strength of the human condition.”

Sign up today to attend a guided tour of ‘Palimpsessed,’ Tucker’s new exhibit, curated by Treasure Ballinger. It is available to the public and is sure to give all who attend a bit of much needed inspiration.


Cape Able Art Gallery

The Cape Able Art Gallery is a beautiful, eclectic gallery hosting art exhibits by deaf and/or disabled artists. Exhibits change quarterly. Artists can be contacted privately for the sale of their works. Cape Able is a nonprofit, Virtual Ability Inc. owned region. Join guided tours of Tucker Stilley’s work every Wednesday in April and May from 5pm to 7pm PT.

Visit in Second Life
Have a Great Week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands

An Interview With Joel Eilde


Cory MM.png

This week’s featured musician is Joel Eilde (Joel Tamas irl), who plays rock interspersed with little doses of jazz, country, and blues both inworld and with his band Red Heaven. He has played over 3,000 shows in SL over the last decade and encourages newcomers to join the unique virtual music scene.

Please check out the official Red Heaven website.

Q: When/how did you hear about Second Life?
A: Back in early 2007, I was working as a tech journalist and I was doing a week-long series about Second Life, which I had only just heard of at that point. So I made an account to jump in and try it out and… I stayed. Simple as that. 

Q: What instruments do you play, and what made you pick them up?
A: I sing, I play guitar, and I play bass. Like a lot of young adolescent males with unrealistic dreams of stardom, I picked up bass as a young teen and got more into guitar later on. I didn’t get singing for real until I started performing in Second Life in 2011. I had dabbled before, but never felt confident about my voice until I was in my 40s. Now I actually think of myself as a singer first, so things have really changed.

Q: Tell us the origin story of your band Red Heaven.
A: Red Heaven is, unequivocally, a Second Life success story. I started performing in Second Life because I wanted an option to play music without going to bars and all that malarkey. And doing so built up my skills really fast: singing, playing, songwriting, all of it. I really credit Second Life for being the woodshed that got me to the point where I could really make Red Heaven a proper real-life band. I honestly couldn’t have gotten to this point with the albums and real world live shows if I hadn’t been grinding in Second Life for so many years. 

Q: Are your band mates also SL Residents?
A: Only one: Olga Zoubkova, whose SL name is Loreen Aldrin. She lives in Russia so she’s not part of my performing band, but she’s all over every single Red Heaven album. The others, I don’t think they have any idea what Second Life is. :)

Q: How has your relationship to creativity been affected by the last year?
A: Well, since January 2020 I’ve released two albums (with another to come this summer), started streaming live Facebook shows, did the biggest live-streamed full-band show of my life, and have been pounding out Second Life shows on the regular. So I guess I’d say it’s been pretty good, but I’m also one of those very lucky people who’s had tons of free time during the pandemic so far, and therefore it’s been easy for me to put it to good use doing what I love.

Q: What is the most meaningful aspect of the SL music community to you?
A: What I love more than anything and with all my heart is the absence of “stardom.” An ordinary person can just turn on their mic for an hour and play their acoustic guitar and sing, and they can get a legit following and even make a little money. That’s a beautiful thing to me; the way Second Life audiences embrace amateur music without celebrity. I don’t know any other audience that’s so open to and supportive of amateur music. And I honestly wish the world was more like Second Life in that way.


Thank you, Joel!

We have had the pleasure of having Joel at Brick Shiphouse a few times and continue to find new and seasoned musicians alike for your entertainment pleasure.  Please check us out in world

and Like us on Facebook

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

VWBPE 2021

VWBPE 2021: Patch Linden – the board, Second Life, and more


VWBPE 2021: Patch Linden – the board, Second Life, and more

VWBPE 2021

On Thursday, March 18th, 2021 Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations and a member of the company’s management team, attended the 2021 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference in the first of three special events featuring representative from Linden Lab.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided to the relevant points in the video for those who wish to listen to specific comments.


  • This is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.
  • In places, information that is supplementary to Patch’s comments is provided in square braces (i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.

Linden Lab’s New Board

[Video: 4:04-10:55]

[For additional information on the new board members, please also see: Meet Linden Lab’s new board of directors (January 9th, 2021) and Linden Lab’s board of directors: snippets of news (February 4th, 2021).]

Linden Lab’s board of directors (l to r): Brad Oberwager, J. Randall Waterfield and Raj Date
  • New ownership team is a “joy to work with”.
  • Brad Oberwager is particularly active, and has the avatar name Oberwolf Linden  and is described as “a lot of fun” to be around and to work with. [He is both on the board and serves as Executive Chairman on the management team.]
Brad Oberwager has joined the Lab’s management team as Executive Chairman, and his long-time colleague, Cammy Bergren serving as Chief of Staff
  • As Executive Chairman Brad Oberwager’s aim is to see Second life set as the “largest and best” virtual world,  and has a genuine love for the platform.
  • Both J. Randal Waterfield and Raj Date (particularly) appear to lean more towards the Tilia Pay side of things, with Brad Oberwager more “in the middle”. However, this doesn’t mean there is a dichotomy. Tilia is a key component of Second Life (it runs the entire Linden Dollar eosystem), and Tilia’s own success and growth will benefit SL.
    • [Tilia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Research (Linden Lab). It’s board comprises two members of the Linden Research Board: Brad Oberwager and Raj Date), together with Aston Waldman, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Linden Lab. The management team comprises: members of the the Lab’s management team: Aston Waldman, David Kim, Ray Johnson, Emily Stonehouse and Brett Attwood.]
    • The two entities enjoy a symbiotic relationship: Tilia is owned by Linden Research with Linden Research also a primary customer. However, day-to-day operations are carried out by two separate  teams.
  • [48:48-49:59] The new owners are bringing a tremendous new energy to Linden Lab, and are “super enthusiastic” about growing Second Life, including its educational use. What gets to be invested in the platform will only benefit everyone.
    • The key question Brad Oberwager asks and prompts people to ask is, “How will it benefit the residents, and how will it benefit Second Life?”

SL Short-Term and Longer Term

Priorities for the Second Life Team in the Next 12 Months

[Video: 10:57-16:02]

  • Immediate priority is to increase the Second Life active user base. This is very much being driven as a goal by Brad Oberwager, and includes:
    • “Drilling down into” the new user experience.
    • Refactoring the on-boarding process and orientation islands.
    • The work will include viewer-side changes that are intended to “smooth out a lot of the bumps in the road”.
    • The will will be built on two years of active study and A/B testing to try to determine what the on-boarding path should look like, together with learning from users returning to Second life as a a result of the SARS-CoV-2 impact.
    • It is hoped this work will both help LL improve user retention and also feed through to the community gateways, particularly with regards to the upcoming changes which will be made to the viewer.
    • No specifics provided, but the viewer changes are described as:
      • “New UIs”
      • Refreshed looks.
      • Easier to find information.
  • There is also the need to complete the work of transitioning to AWS – fixing the current issues directly related to the move and also on-going work to properly leverage the AWS environment for the benefit of the platform.
    • [29:24-30:00] This work includes a  lot of under-the-hood simulator performance improvements that will be continuing throughout the year.

Second Life in Five Years Time

[Video: 16:04-19:33]

  • The company would like to at least double the active user population over the next 3-5 years.
  • This is seen as a realistic goal in light of the shift in emphasis seen within business, education, etc., from purely physical world interactions towards more digitally-based interactions / hybrid opportunities that mix various formats [e.g. digital + virtual + remote working / learning].
  • AWS offers the potential for regions to be geographically located around the world, potentially bringing them closer to their core audience.
    • This could allow educational regions, for example, to be hosted much closer to the schools / colleges / students they serve, making them more responsive.
    • This approach could potentially start to be used towards the end of 2021.
  • Further out, geolocating regions could potentially offer the ability for the Lab to offer white label grids to specific customers / groups.
  • [24:00-28:25] White label grids present the opportunity for the Lab to better meet specific client requests to remove features and capabilities from the viewer – and also take features an capabilities required for a specific environment and potentially make them available across the entire Second Life product.
    • Two examples of the latter already exists: the new extended chat range feature available to region owners, and the Chrome Embedded Framework updates that allow video to be streamed into Second Life, as originally demonstrated in the Adult Swim streaming of episodes from The Shivering Truth in May 2020.

What Lessons has LL Learned due to the Pandemic?

[Video: 20:31-24:00]

  • The pandemic, particularly as a result of attempts to leverage the platform for education, business and similar use by organisations and groups, reinforced the fact that the new user experience needs to the overhauled.
  • It has also underlined the fact that people’s usage habits have changed.
  • The Land Team in particular has learned a lot about business, etc., needs of clients – the team deals directly with such requests as they come in to the Lab, and so have been dealing first-hand with understanding client requirements, determining the best for of assistance (e.g. providing one of the Lab’s turn-key solutions or brokering contact between the client and a solution provider who can meet their requirements.

Pricing and Options

[Video: 30:27-34:17]

  • Nothing on the roadmap related to pricing; land costs should remain untouched through the rest of the year.
  • There is the potential for AWS to allow the Lab to develop new region products; this is something that may start to be looked at 12-24 months hence.
  • AWS might also allow for on-demand spin-up of regions, initially building on the idea of Homestead holders being able to take a temporary upgrade to a Full region to run a specific event, then downsizing back to a Homestead.

Competition and Experimentation

[Video: 34:39-45:58]

  • Competition helps drive innovation.
  • There is no Lab-based group specifically tasked with investigation competitive platforms, but staff tend to try them out through their own interest.
  • Attention is paid to how other platforms adopt newer technologies and the challenges encountered in such adoptions.
  • There is still no real, direct competitor to Second Life in terms of size, flexibility of use, or in having an in-built content creation tool set.
  • LL don’t regard users as beta testers per se. However, major new features do require trialling / testing, which can involve selected users / tried at scale to determine feasibility / performance, etc. Sometimes the result is a capability has to be withdrawn as it is not performant enough (e.g. the VR headset viewer) and / or negatively impacts the user experience.

Oz Linden’s Departure

[Video: 46:09-46:56]

  • Oz was a fabulous colleague to work with. His retirement leaves a “gaping chasm” at the Lab.
Have a Great Week from all of us at Zoha Islands and Fruit Islands


Can Second Life Ever Grow Again?

A Veteran Game Designer Has Some Very Good Insights

Alexia Mandeville social vr designer Second Life

Pictured: Alexia in High Fidelity (as a cloud)

Rather than write yet again about what went wrong with Second Life way back when, I recently asked veteran game designer Alexia Mandeville what could go still go right.

She’s in a very good position to offer her perspective: An SL user herself back in the day, she’s now a designer at Niantic (creator of Pokémon GO, the massive AR-based virtual world), and a designer on the early iteration of Horizon, Facebook’s social VR world. Even more pertinent, she was also a UX designer at High Fidelity, Philip Rosedale’s follow-up virtual world to Second Life. She sees a shared corporate culture to that startup and SL developer Linden Lab, which has hampered consumer adoption of both their virtual worlds:

“[A]cquisition was never a strength at these places,” as she puts it. “You need a strong aesthetic style (Minecraft/Roblox/Fortnite) and the ability to communicate your use case articulately to attract mainstream people.”

So what are her recommendations to Linden Lab, to grow the Second Life user-base when so many previous attempts by the company have failed?

Ms. Mandeville makes four key suggestions:

Brand revamp

“I was part of the World of Warcraft crowd during the height of SL, and my crew of friends didn’t use SL because we perceived it as a place for people to have sex.

“Today you can’t check out the Second Life website without logging in. As a new user, I would want to know what it’s about before I commit to giving out my info.

“I think some of the messaging leaning into connections could be paired with some of the building and economy aspect of SL to move away from the perception that so many people still have about SL just being about sex.

“This perception was only validated when we would talk features at High Fidelity, and we’d be discussing pose balls and jiggle physics with some of the engineers who came from Linden Lab.”

Make building more accessible

“Two years ago I was in SL looking to do some building and was completely overwhelmed with the tooling. A [veteran SLer] was showing me around the tools, too. So it’s not like I didn’t have help. There needs to be some scaffolding there, start with a few tools, onboard a creator as they become more advanced.”

She acknowledges the bifurcation challenge, where SL’s prim-based system has largely been abandoned for offline mesh rendering — but thinks there’s a better way of marrying them:

“Obviously you can’t take that external import system away at this point in the product, but I believe it to be a big issue for aesthetic cohesiveness which brings it back full circle to acquisition of new users because your product LOOKS good.

“I guess a solution for improving it as it currently stands in SL would be to make sure all the materials have a similar visual aesthetic for both tools. Get all the creators on some sort of even playing field, or find another way to even out your aesthetic. That was one of my biggest issues as a creator in High Fidelity. Getting everything to look similar whenever I imported materials from Maya. I think that can go a long way to lift the style and make it more appealing.”


“SL is old, of course the rendering system could probably use a revamp. If you go take a look at it, it just feels blah, drab, sad.

“Even the website has drab colors. I have no perception of who Linden is actually marketing to by looking at this site. There aren’t any creator spotlights or event highlights, like you might see in Horizon or in Fortnite.”

After telling me that, she did eventually find event listings by digging around the official forum — which sort of proves her next point:

Highlight community events

“I follow IMVU and Fortnite and Roblox, and I’ve seen events for each of these things in my social media and in the news. Makes me wonder if SL is really taking advantage of social media, or the community is confined to the website and forums.”

Some might point out that Second Life does in fact have a large official presence on Facebook, but to her point, it’s very inwardly direct, seemingly speaking only to the existing user base. It’s similar to Second Life’s official YouTube channel, which also suffers from insularity — it’s why a YouTuber can draw far more views from her own Second Life videos, which are directed to general interest gamers, instead of just the existing user base.

“I really want to see one of these virtual worlds become really huge again,” Alexia tells me. “I think the one that last resonated with me was Minecraft. I don’t really want to have to put a headset on and I want things to just be simple to hang with my friends and meet new people.”

Or to put it another way, make Second Life fast, easy, and fun — which is something the company promised to do in 2010 after having to make a major round of layoffs. The fact that this never happened suggests they have not been listening to designers like Ms. Mandeville — or as she suggests, that Linden Lab’s corporate culture is simply not designed around that goal.

Have A Great Week From All Of Us at Zoha Islands Fruit Islands/Eden

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