It has been a quiet year really and a good three years on, we have the result in of the much feared Second Life 2 and while I am trying not to be smug, all I can say quite bitterly is I told you so.
Let me just have a little bit of a recap on events considering what has gone on.
In July 2014, Ebbe Linden managed to stick his foot in his mouth by letting slip that Linden Lab had a new virtual world in development. I think as most will have realised by this point that this may not have actually been true. They had an idea for a new virtual world. With this news, a wave of panic and rumours spread like wild fire over the Second Life grid.
The primary form of panic was this. When this new Second Life 2 arrives, SL will be closed down. The two grids will not be compatible and everything you have spent your hard earned money on will be lost. Don't buy anything as you will lose it. Second Life has as little as 18 months left.
Ironically I had heard this before, rumours spread by people that mesh would destroy the grid and any purchases you made would be useless. I stepped in at this point with my first article on the subject. I looked at this with the facts on offer, not the rumours and the conclusion was this.
Second Life 2 was a separate grid, an entirely different project that would take years to arrive. There was no justification to spread panic or rumours and it was not going to replace SL.
From this point things progressed slowly and very little news came out on Second Life 2. In fact after the initial flurry of calming words from Linden Lab they went painfully silent. I think considering the fact they did go so silent refusing to even acknowledge the fact that they were even doing this project only helped to stoke the fires of rumour and panic on the grid.
In January 2016 we finally had some news to report. Second Life 2 had evolved in to the new brand name of Sansar with Linden Lab breaking their silence on it, although I have to say this very clearly, not on Second Life. 18 months had passed, and we were only at the basic specs stage with Sansar in very early Alpha testing. I posted my thoughts on the subject and I was far more critical of what Sansar was and how it would play out.
I made a clear prediction at this point that sadly Sansar would most likely fall on its face due to a central problem that Linden Lab seems to have. They still don't understand their own product. Second Life in its history was never meant to be the lunatic asylum it is today. In fact it was originally designed as a business tool that was opened up to the public and from there it evolved in a very haphazard and organic way. The problem that they have is this.
They think they created SL, and as a result if they build a new one people will come.
It is a flawed premise. They actually created the tools and the infrastructure, not what is today Second Life. That was solely down to the thousands of creators on the grid, the crazy people who saw SL as a utopia of crazy and stupid ideas. A playground for the wonderfully insane.
Sansar would need to try and emulate that, and from what everyone was seeing, it would never be designed to do that. In fact it seemed that they were trying to recreate the original idea of SL as a business tool.
Let's skip ahead to today. Where are we now?
In July this year with great fanfare, Linden Lab released Sansar as an Open Beta.
I have not tried it, but I know dozens of people who have and the result is this.
Fantastic. This looks awesome. (Five minutes later) Okay... what is there to do here?
Funny that. I said 18 months before this that Sansar would be an empty, pointless wasteland and guess what?
I can't blame LL's for trying this, but I can blame them for nearly killing their primary business through their lack of information. They let the rumour mill run riot and the result is SL is in a bad state today.
In fact and I will say this very seriously. Their only communication up to the point they started talking about the Sansar open beta, from 2014 to early 2017 was one reference to Sansar in 2016. On April the first. Yeah, they decided it would be funny to put Sansar in to their April fool's joke.
User log ins are down, hundreds if not thousands of companies have gone out of business, sims are closing down because of lack of traffic. I won't say the rumour mill has won, but it has had a terrible effect on the grid.
So where is Sansar now? From what I hear it is still in development, but the initial user reaction to it was far less than positive. Will it survive? I would say they are flogging a dead horse, but I think those of us who have seen how LL's do business will understand they will keep going and who know, some good may yet come out of it.
There is one truth however in this whole story. It looks like LL's finally woke up and smelt the coffee.
They sent out an email to all users at the start of the month. At first glance it looks very positive and upbeat as they announced their recommitment to Second Life promising big investment in Second Life and loads of new features and goodies (of which most of them were actually long term well known projects).
Read between the lines, it looks like LL's have panicked. They have been hell bent on Sansar development for over three years now putting all their eggs in one basket. Now they see that Sansar didn't come out as they expected they suddenly realise SL is in a sorry state and they need to save it.
I welcome this news from LL's and maybe now we can try to tempt people back to the grid without the dark storm cloud threat of Sansar swallowing and destroying the grid hanging over it.
So, me being Nostradamus and all predicting the future where do I see Sansar going from here?
I think I said it in January 2016. At some point in 2018, Sansar will be quietly swept under the carpet and the development work and features created for it will be cannibalised and integrated in to SL.
See you next year?