Minecraft de facto standard of virtual worlds?

September 22, 2012

Yesterday Linden Lab announced the upcoming launch of their new online platform ‘Patterns‘.  I may have written this too often lately in my post but here I go again: ‘does this look familiar?’

According to New World Note‘s Wagner James Au, Notch approves.

To me this is the prove that even Linden Lab feels that Minecraft’s approach of ‘crafting’ things from simple patterns (pun intended) is superior to their uber-complicated client which they never really were able to boil down to the few elements you need to build virtual worlds.

Granted, SL and MC don’t really compare if you look at the details and the overall purpose is different. But in the end of the day it is way easier to simply experience and build in Minecraft.

Also, you can roll your own server which is largely detailed in the Minecraft Wiki. For my own experiments, I wrote a script that starts an Amazon EC2 instance, installs all components required for Minecraft, pulls the latest backup of our favorite world from my Dropbox, and starts – all of this unattended, in one line. I can even start it from a train (I just did). When we don’t need it anymore, we backup the world, save it to the DropBox and terminate the instance. Total cost – a couple of cents. If we only craft at home we can deploy the same thing to our kitchen server at no cost.

So to me Minecraft delivers most aspects that I missed from SL and then some. The few things that I miss in Minecraft to be a virtual world platform are slowly but surely added by Mojang and especially by the community one plugin after another, due to the openness of the server code base.

I really wonder if LindenLab with their current claim (‘Makers of Shared Creative Spaces’) will be achieving the same ease of use at such a competitive pricing plan with Patterns. Since they also ripped the ‘buy beta for less’ business model that Notch established, I’d say there is reason to hope LindenLab will be doing it right this time. Looking at the decline of Second Life – they better be.

Kitley – cloud based OpenSimulators

March 29, 2011

… seem to catch up.


A little bit of history first:

The guy who started it in 2008 was Balaji Sowmyanarayan (known as labsji on twitter). He started Sim-OnDemand based on Amazons EC2 services.

Then came Pixelpark with the OpenSim-in-a-box which was partly funded by the KoPIWA research project (see Justin Clark-Caseys blog and our blog for some details), opening up OpenSimulator based worlds to the cloud and open source.

Now, according to New World Notes and HyperGridBusiness we have a tenant-capable cloud based solution with Facebook Connect: Kitely.

I didn’t have a chance to test it myself yet, but according to Maria Korolov it rocks. Big time.

Check out her articles

Kitely – all the best of luck to you!

The Future of the SecondLife Viewer?

June 19, 2010

Meshes, multiple lights and advanced shadows?

If this has anything to do with how the SL viewer will work in the future – I’d say this is the right direction :-) :

Deferred Rendering 1


Deferred Rendering 2

Deferred Rendering 3

Screenshots stem from a link from this (open) conversation which lifted some NDA for about 5 minutes (propably a world record).

How ths goes together with the thought about an web based viewer? I don’t know. Clearly the above is not the result of some fancy HTML5 mangling nor did it happen on your average office PC.


The pictures come from this extraordinary picasa photo stream sporting 93 images all worth watching. On the other hand some of the pics are from 2008 -I didn’t learn from them until today so I don’t know how this fits in any roadmap.

Here is an video regarding meshes in the SL viewer.

Checkliste für Bildungseinrichtungen in virtuellen Welten

July 23, 2009

This just in via SLTalk, sounds very useful to me:

Zusammen mit der MFG Innovationsagentur für IT und Medien haben wir eine Checkliste für Bildungseinrichtungen entworfen, die in virtuellen Welten aktiv werden wollen. Mit der Checkliste wollen wir interessierten Bildungseinrichtungen den Einstieg erleichtern, die die Mehrwerte virtueller Welten effektiv und effizient nutzen möchten.

Die MFG Innovationsagentur betreibt selbst einen Blog zum Thema Second Life. Außerdem dient die Agentur als Inkubator für kleinere Projekte in Second Life. Sie betreiben die Baden Wuerttemberg-Regionen, auf den Interessierte Institutionen mit geringem Aufwand virtuelle Luft schnuppern können. Über die MFG berichteten wir bereits des Öfteren.

EnBW presents survey results in SecondLife

July 21, 2009
On Thursday July 23rd I will present the results of a survey at 19:00 MESZ (10am PST/SLT) on the EnBW Sims (http://slurl.com/secondlife/EnBW%20EnergyPark%20InnovationArea/104/58/28).
EnBW in SecondLife

EnBW in SecondLife

Ausgerechnet ich blog es als Letzter.

Entgegen dem von der Presse allzu gern publizierten Trend, dass sich Unternehmen aus Second Life zurückziehen, ist man bei EnBW immer noch sehr an der SL-Community interessiert.

Am Donnerstag, dem 23.07.2009, werden um 19:00 Uhr im Auditorium des EnBW EnergyParks die Ergebnisse einer Online-Umfrage präsentiert.

Die Umfrage hat vor allem die Menschen hinter den Avataren beleuchtet. In dem Vortrag werden Antworten auf Fragen gegeben wie: „Wer nutzt eigentlich SL?“, „Werden Markenauftritte überhaupt wahrgenommen?“, „Was machen die Nutzer am liebsten in SL?“ oder „Wer flirtet lieber, Männer oder Frauen?“ (http://slurl.com/secondlife/EnBW%20EnergyPark%20InnovationArea/104/58/28)

Weitere Informationen zu der Umfrage finden sich nach dem Event unter: http://www.enbw.com/secondlife

Dear M Linden …

June 12, 2009

or: a concept for Linden Lab.

… here’s an open letter.

I talked to several people about the following and my feeling is that this could be of some interest so I figured I better write it down.

I don’t want to sound like a used car salesman here but if I could make a suggestion to M Linden (you are actually quite responsive so I guess I can)  it would be the following:

Divide the existing Linden Lab construction into several companies.

To explain why I first enumerate these companies with some abbreviations and names:
1) LL: The ‘original’ Linden Lab (with focus on ‘Lab’) responsible for supplying technologies for persistent 3D virtual worlds.

2) SLGF: The Second Life Grid Foundation. The world that started it is the biggest grid, but should not be the only one.  These are the guys who run the Second Life Grid. They maintain a free, persistent virtual world without age limitations and free citizenship. I think this is close to the vision Phil Rosedale had initially.

3) LLPS: Linden Lab Professional Services, the guys who consult all the grids out there that are technically based on LL grid server. One of these grids is the Second Life Grid, but there could be/should be be several others.

Like the …

4) AGC: Adult Grid Corporation, the guys who run the adult grid. This would not be connected to Second Life (except that they use the same technology). Probably not too good of a name, I know, somebody can do better. I’d like to stress the following here: I think it’s important not to white list the innocent (that’s why I think the teen grid is not a good idea) but rather separate the adult content.

Why would this make things different?

  1. The areas that these companies work in need to be addressed by completely different business models. You need to do different things when you run a service compared to provide the technology let alone make money from communities.
  2. Service providers doing Internet business could walk up to their customers and sell Linden Lab technology without even mentioning Second Life – which would be badly needed in Germany for example.
  3. The importance of different clients – preferably white labeled would be obvious then. And Phil mustn’t do this with his own league of extraordinary developers but as part of LL work (see also my note here).
  4. The goals of Linden Labs (i.e. the different units) would be transparent and believable. Nobody needs to wear many hats.

Let me make some examples:

  • IBM would talk to (the new, independent) Linden Lab to buy the technology for their customers since they usually would do consulting on technology on their own since they want to adapt that to there machines (like in hardware) or in their software (like Sametime 3D).
  • An effort like OGPX (former MMOX as Infinity pointed out to me) would completely be led by the new Linden Lab which would be an independent  technology provider not a service provider with it’s own interests.
  • There would be a distinction between the grid and the technology behind it (which would be very important for the success of the AWG).
  • (the new) Linden Lab could think about OpenSourcing it’s server technology easier since there is no dependency into other business models anymore.
  • If any of the grids goes down for some reason, the technology provider would still be there. And we wouldn’t have to wait another 7 or 14 years for virtual worlds to arrive.

The thing missing from a technical and a business stand point (apart from the no-brainers like stability) most badly IMHO is a hyper gridding mechanism. I say ‘a‘ hyper gridding mechanism because the one currently in discussion and partly implemented by the great Diva Canto/ Christa Lopes in the OpenSimulator community is not the only possible implementation. And maybe not the implementation that the current Linden Lab wants.

But now Linden Lab doesn’t push Hypergridding enough because it’s not in their business model right now … but you sort of need it for the Immersive Workspace Initiative.

So I guess, Mark, you are wearing different hats in this game now.

MetaMeets 09

May 24, 2009

MetaMeets09 ended successfully. At first I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it but then MrTopf and me entered the car and went to wonderful Amsterdam. He was life blogging most of the time which makes a great read-up. We left on Saturday somewhat earlier.

I met several very interesting and fun people. The organisation was perfect especially regarding that it was their first time putting this all together. The only thing that probably nobody thought about was a tweet wall, but people were on twitter most of the time and formed a second communication channel.

The talks were interesting and despite the fact that the Lindens wouldn’t come it was very Second Life-y as was to be expected.  That’s why I liked the contrast that was introduced by ActiceWorlds‘s MD Emmanuel P. Gruijs. Active Worlds is a feature complete, very affordable out of the box solution that has been here for ages and proved to be a valid solution for many companies including IBM which uses it for meetings with 50+ guests as was explained by David van Gent in his talk.

In the evening I bought a CD from Xander Nichting and saw him play live with a couple of others in an Irish Pub (the Molly Malone) in Amsterdam – a remarkable event that was streamed live into the Blarney Stone in SecondLife hosted by Ham Rambler.

Dizzy Banjo, Bartholomew Kleiber and Bevan Whitfield in their RL avatars

Dizzy Banjo, Bartholomew Kleiber and Bevan Whitfield in their RL avatars. I seem to find this amusing.

I ripped this pic from MrTopfs Flickr stream (mine is here) showing some dude next to Dizzy Banjo and Bevan Whitfield.

Thanks from me to all people attending, I had a great time!

Serious Game in Second Life: kitchen fire simulation on swiss projects

May 9, 2009

As was blogged before, we (i.e. Pixelpark) are supporting a german academy for fire workers (i.e. Landesfeuerwehrschule Hamburg) for simulations in Second Life. This academy is running trainings in SL on the Pixelpark Islands. Simulations can be considered a subset of serious games in my definition.

An advanced and very much tough through simulation was created by swiss projects. They developed a simulation room that resembles a kitchen where a meal is prepared. After some time there is a fire starting in the kitchen – a typical situation that fire workers encounter.

Now it’s your turn: you have to put out the fire, of course but how? The nice thing about this implementation of the fire is that it behaves realistic i.e. different regarding to what you do; the simulation is very detailed in terms of that you have to be careful.

There are several conditions that make things worse instead of better – but why not try out yourself?
Check out the great image stream that Carina Raymaker prepared for a preview or go inworld and check out the simulation yourself.

Here is a corresponding swiss-projects blog entry (german). Good job, guys!

PS: thank goes out again to Carina Raymaker from the SL group Deutsche Mentoren (their blog in german) for risking her avatars life (I think) to document this in pictures.

[EDIT] Here is the corresponding full description (german) from her.