Second Life

Lessons in Community Relations from Within the Lab

All Hail M Linden who blogged about his first week, brown bag lunches, and sitting beside a rabbit at the staff town hall.

As M said, “As I start my second week, I can happily say I have a sense of what makes Linden Lab and indeed Second Life such a magical place. It’s people with passion for the virtual world. And, it all starts with the Resident community. Thank you for a wondrous first week!”

And how wonderful to see that one the same day as his in-world staff meeting that the coders in the Lab were upholding their high standards for community relations in a discussion about future features and what the minimum chip set will be to take advantage of coming improvements to the look of Second Life. The discussion is about rendering shadows - which, like Windlight and maybe Dazzle will add oh so much to the stability and functionality of the Grid.

Let’s listen in shall we? (And thanks Eris for the tip):

First, our community relations responds to concerns that the addition of rendered shadows to Second Life will be built to a specification for a higher chip than many users might have, and in so doing acknowledges feedback from the community and draws an allusion to being childlike (which I assume means full of creativity and joy):

A number of people have been e-mailing me directly complaining that this doesn’t work with their GeForce 7 GPU. GeForce 7 was introduced in June 2005, which means it would be starting preschool in the fall. It’s old enough to talk in complete sentences, it’s beyond obsolete. Frankly, drawing the line at GeForce 8 (not even current gen any more) for a still-in-development high end feature is generous. That would be like Crytek saying they’re not going to add any features to Crysis that are DirectX 10.0 only (probably a bad example what with the whole Vista thing, but you see my point).

Next, our community relations manager continues to explain that he has the best interests of the community at heart (emphasis added).

I’m not going to apologize for it, and I’m not going to pander to people who think a 3 year old architecture should receive as much support and attention as current offerings.

Next, our community relations manager provides a helpful technical explanation in layman’s terms:

The way I see it, if you don’t care enough about graphics to keep and maintain an up to date system, you shouldn’t expect to experience significant graphics improvements. If I invest resources to supporting an old chip that’s being phased out, I get a much lower return on that investment than if I would have put those resources into a chip that’s becoming mainstream. The number of installed GeForce 7’s in the world is decreasing while the number of GeForce 8’s is increasing, and I don’t expect GeForce 7’s to make a comeback.

Finally, he makes a helpful suggestion that further feedback is welcome:

Now, before the over reaction machine spins up and I get an e-mail about an open letter from the cheapskates of the world…

While acknowledging the diversity of those who use Second Life, their financial abilities, and their relationships with their bosses:

…this doesn’t mean Second Life is going to be GeForce 8 only, just that you’ll need that kind of card if you want the absolute best experience. Second Life will still run on that POS laptop your boss let you take out of the recycling bin at work.

Welcome aboard M! You’ll hardly need to expend much effort at all in building a constructive dialog with your stakeholders!

Photo by melaniekiddofsl on Flickr


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