Join us for a special Endgame episode in VRChat on Saturday: we’ll facilitate a support group to discuss how we can cope with COVID-19. It’s stressful to be isolated, but we can come together in social VR to navigate this pandemic. Saturday 3/21 at 11:00 a.m. PST @PsychNoah
PsychNoah is, of course, Noah Robinson (a.k.a. Psych; Twitter; LinkedIn), a clinical psychology doctoral student at Vanderbilt University and the founder and CEO of Very Real Help, and one of the three regular hosts of the Endgame talk show in VRChat, along with Nomono and Poplopo.
Given how I have been struggling with both anxiety and depression during the coronavirus pandemic, I do intend to be in the studio audience for what promises to be a fascinating, wide-ranging, and educational discussion. Although users are urged to ask questions, you can also just sit back, watch, and listen, and enjoy something that is becoming ever rarer in the real world—being part of a crowd!
Strawberry Linden has continued on with Lab Gab, a regular talk show on Second Life, hosting solo now that Xiola Linden (a.k.a. Jenn in Sansar) has left Linden Lab. Her guests today were Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, and Grumpity Linden, the Vice President of Product for Second Life, and she did a absolutely wonderful job as host, asking her guests many questions raised by Second Life’s customers.
Strawberry started off the conversation by asking Ebbe to talk about the current status of Sansar. He said (and this is a paraphrase I transcribed directly from the livestream video) that Linden Lab decided that they could no longer sponsor the project financially, so they are looking for a “Plan B”, and are having conversations with interested parties. There is as yet no deal to announce, however. Moving forward, Linden Lab will focus entirely on Second Life and the Tilia online payments business. He hopes that he can be more specific with details of a deal in a couple of weeks or so.
UPDATE 7:49 p.m.: If you are looking for an exact, verbatim transcript of Ebbe’s words (and an audio clip), Inara Pey has what you need. Thanks, Inara!
Ebbe said that in the process of rightsizing, Linden Lab lost a number of staff, but some “heavy-hitters” were transferred from the Sansar project to Second Life. He said Linden Lab is now in a very healthy financial position, but it was sad to let so many good people go, and they were doing everything they could to help them find new jobs. Out of respect for the people who were laid off, the company will not name the people who were let go, although the laid-off staff could let others know if they wanted to, themselves. (And although I did receive a list of the names of Linden Lab staff laid off in the most recent layoffs from a well-placed source, I will not be sharing it.)
Strawberry (bless her heart!) also asked Ebbe about the rumour that Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab’s founding CEO, was coming back to Linden Lab, and Ebbe said that that was not true. He and Philip do keep in touch regularly, though.
The rest of Lab Gab was about Second Life, and the conversation involved VP of Product Grumpity Linden. Work is proceeding on a large endeavour called Project Uplift, which involves moving much of Second Life’s infrastructure from server farms into the cloud (the hosting of sims, etc.), which Linden Lab expects to complete by the end of this year.
Development is underway on a companion mobile app for Second Life (not a 3D viewer) for chat, customer support for merchants, etc. The idea is to provide a tool for SL users to stay connected with their friends even if they are not on a desktop computer. They expect to have an alpha/beta user test at some point in the future, hopefully within a couple of months. The iOS Apple app will be released before the Android app.
The launch of Premium Plus accounts (essentially, super-premium user accounts with even more features and benefits) is “close”, according to Grumpity, but she would not commit to a release date yet. Premium Plus users will pay about US$20 less for the upcoming avatar name change feature than current Premium users. So, you might want to wait for Premium Plus accounts to launch before deciding to change your avatar name.
Grumpity also announced that the cost to transfer a buy-down or grandfathered sim will be cut in half, from US$600 to US$300. There are no other land price change announcements at this time.
All the winners will be emailed, and they will get a free avatar name change when this feature becomes available. (Note that there will be a whole bunch of last names available to choose from at launch, not just these eight.)
There were many other topics discussed that I am not covering here, but you can watch this episode of Lab Gab on YouTube:
There has been no shortage of shows about the virtual world of Second Life over the 16 years of its existence! One example is the long-running, popular Designing Worlds show with its co-hosts Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin, where they talk about design and interview designers in Second Life.
We’re excited to announce our very first live-streaming show – “Lab Gab” with Xiola and Strawberry Linden. We’ll be coming to you live on YouTube every two weeks or so, starting Wednesday, August 28th at 3 pm SLT/PT. You can join us for these live streams on our Official YouTube Channel here when we go live! (We’re working on bringing Lab Gab to more streaming platforms in the very near future – so stay tuned!)
What’s Lab Gab? Well, it will be a variety show of sorts – we want to explore Second Life, answer your questions, talk to Residents from all over the world, and stream it through the internet and into your homes, phones, and wherever you get your quality entertainment.
In our first show, we’ll be introducing ourselves, talking a little bit about what Lab Gab is, and interacting with you through YouTube live. In the future, we will invite special guests to come visit us on the set and talk about events and issues that impact the communities in Second Life.
As long-time Residents and now Lindens, we can’t wait to get gabbing!
Tune in at 3 pm SLT on Wednesday, August 28 for our launch and stay tuned to our social media and blog for updates about future shows.
Knowing both Xiola and Strawberry well from their time spent in Sansar (Xiola was for a time the community manager for Sansar, and Strawberry was co-host with Draxtor Despres on the long-running series Atlas Hopping in Sansar), I am delighted to see them launching a new show together! I plan on tuning in regularly.
This week saw the launch of a new weekly talk show, set on the social VR platform of AltspaceVR, which I must confess I haven’t written much about lately on this blog.
Jesse Damiani is an emerging technology journalist for such publications as Forbes, and an editor-at-large for the VRScout website. Last Monday was the first episode of his brand new talk show, called Tech Tock. Jesse describes the show thusly:
Tech Tock is a weekly talk show about the future. Through intimate conversations with entrepreneurs, developers, and artists, we’ll peer into the world technology is creating—and have some fun with the people creating it.
As his first guest, Jesse invited the author Blake J. Harris to discuss his latest book, titled The History of The Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality (which I am currently reading, and I can recommend highly).
I arrived in AltspaceVR with about half an hour to kill before the show, so I attended an AltspaceVR 101 session hosted by the company to orient newcomers. At the end of the training session, the hosts opened up the floor to questions, and I asked my one burning question: was AltspaceVR ever planning to upgrade their extremely low-poly, cartoon-like avatars?
Unfortunately, the answer was “no”, but the person who answered the question old me that AltspaceVR was looking at the possibility of allowing custom-made avatars sometime in the future, as many other platforms have done (VRChat, High Fidelity, and Sansar).
There’s something for everyone in their events listing, which of course is one of the reasons for their success as a platform. Another strong point is the fact that they pretty much support any VR hardware you have, from cellphone-based VR to high-end systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive—even the Leap Motion headset!
Next Monday, Jesse will have as a guest Nancy Baker Cahill, a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) app which invites viewers to place art in 360 degrees anywhere in the world. Her recent work in Desert X has been profiled in the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The AltspaceVR 101 is not produced by staff but by volunteers, as should have been explained during the event. So it is likely the person answering your question didn’t know the answer. The answer is complex. AltspaceVR works hard to stay an agnostic platform, enabling both mobile and tethered access, which few social VR platforms offer, thus less cartoony avatars are coming as devices improve. As are improvements in world building and environments. Stay tuned, and consider volunteering yourself to help with the 101 events.