Applications and Tools, Second Life

Second Life and Unity: Time for a Developer’s Conference?

Maybe it’s time for Second Life to get a touch of Unity. Sure it’s a community and I wouldn’t miss the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) about which Hiro Pendragon wrote a post suggesting changes:

“This year’s SLCC had great content for attendees, though the convention was somewhat disorganized. I’ve heard from a lot of folks interested in helping SLCC. Really, it comes down to getting an early start and getting people into appropriate roles. Everything else should flow from that. The organizers already have been taking feedback about this year, planning, reorganizing, trying to continue the momentum from this year’s convention. I have every reason to believe that difficulties experienced this year will be addressed, and there’s a lot of good people putting in a lot of work and money into SLCC.”

But I have to admit, there was something really appealing about the announcements for the Unity developer conference, coming up next week, and focused on the popular 3D game platform that is increasingly picking up traction because of its ability to produce 3D apps for the iPhone.

While SLCC covered the whole range of music, art, education, business and simply making connections, I couldn’t help feeling that the keynotes from Linden Lab announcing features of a road map, a term I’ll use with reservation: some of the road map was less a map and more like a general statement of philosophy with a few sneak peeks and bells and whistles thrown in.

Unite 09 is focused on the platform itself: how to use it, case studies about it, what the tools can do, and how to optimize working with it:

“Once again it’s time for developers, artists, publishers and anyone else interested to come together for a few days to learn more about Unity and how to get the most out of it. We’re larger than ever before: We’re now a four day event that starts with a day of advanced hands-on classes, followed by three more days of technical sessions.”

I’m hesitant to put to much emphasis on Second Life as a ‘platform’ because of the risk that we forget it’s a world, and yet I’ve long advocated that Linden Lab needs to act more like a XBox or Playstation, say, than Blizzard: to keep attracting the content developers that can create the stuff that brings in new users, they need to provide increasingly professional levels of support – whether it’s mesh imports, or developer kits, or proper road maps or, maybe, a proper developer conference, the kind of thing that focuses on tools and gives residents forums for proper dialog with the Lab, something that was sorely missing at SLCC.

Whether SL needs a live conference like Unity I’m not sure – combined with proper in-world events (another thing sadly lacking at SLCC), I think it could attract both current residents and new talent. While SLCC would continue to focus on communities (education, business, music, etc.) a developer conference would focus on things like land management and rentals, content development, Web integration, animation, road maps, and policy.

But what do you think? Is it time for Second Life to get a taste of Unity? Would a conference focused on the ‘platform’ work?


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