METANOMICS: MADPEA AND LOCO POCOS
FEBRUARY 2, 2009
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hello, everyone. I’m your host, Robert Bloomfield, and, on behalf
of Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and Remedy
Communications, welcome to Metanomics. Most shows we focus on serious uses of Virtual
Worlds, by educators, businesses and governments, and we hear from speakers
emphasizing that Second Life is not a game. Well, today we’re going to turn that around and
hear from two entrepreneurs, who are directing their business efforts toward constructing
games and entertainment in Second Life. We’ll definitely have some fun today with
Kiana Writer, of MadPea, and Damien Fate, of Loco Pocos, while we keep in mind that, in
Virtual Worlds, fun can be serious business.
We’ll also hear from blogger Prokofy Neva, who will close the show with a take on the often
confused relationship between Linden Lab and the businesses within Second Life. We’ll
start by hearing Tony O’Driscoll, who’ll tell us about the upcoming conference on training,
learning and collaboration in Virtual Worlds. As always, Metanomics is filmed from the
virtual Sage Hall, right here in Second Life’s Metanomics region, thanks to my real life
employer, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.
A number of you have expressed disappointment that we’ve been limiting the number of
avatars on the Metanomics region during the show. We found that we needed to limit
attendance on this region due to performance and stability issues, and we don’t want to be
causing issues for the many viewers who watch the show on other Second Life regions and
on the web. So I’m sorry that we’ve had to do this, but I do want you all to know that
Doug Thompson, founder and CEO of Remedy Communications and author of
Dusan Writer’s Metaverse, tells me that the team is working toward a solution. This type of
feedback is really important to us, as we work to build on our success as one of the leading
sources of insight into Virtual Worlds and is a place where the community can be actively
involved in exploring opportunities, sharing insights and networking.
So to that end, Remedy Communications will be holding a series of office hours that we’d
like you to attend. The first office hours will be held Thursday, February 5th, at 12:00 noon,
Second Life time. The session will be facilitated by Joel Savard, Second Life name; real life
name is Joel Foner, who recently joined the Remedy team, in the position of director of
immersive and social media. You can find more information about office hours on
With so few people here at Sage Hall, of course, more of you are at our event partner
locations: Muse Isle, Confederation of Democratic Sims, Rockliffe University, New Media
Consortium, Orange Island and Meta Partners. Through the Belgium-based Meta Partners,
we’ve learned of a very interesting project coming up that I’d like to tell you about. The
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels for University, starts a course called Law and
Governance in Virtual Worlds, which is open for all Second Life residents. The sessions
start on Friday, February 6th, 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. Brussels time. Those of you who want more
information can check out Roland Legrand’s blog, mixedrealities.com. I should point out that
the courses take place in French so, for the French speakers in our Metanomics audience,
let me say, “[Je suis sur que vous allez trouver secours tres interressant?].” That shows why
I won’t be at the course because I wouldn’t be able to track it in French. But I do what I can.
During our show, we use InterSection Unlimited’s ChatBridge system to transmit local chat
to our website and website chat into our event partners. So speak up, and let everyone
know your thoughts.
Before we jump into Second Life businesses, we’ll take a minute to put Tony O’Driscoll On
The Spot. Tony is a professor of practice at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
His current research is focusing on emerging technologies and how these technologies in
general, and recently more of a focus on Virtual Worlds, can disrupt industry structure and
business models. Tony, welcome to Metanomics.
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Thank you so much, Beyers.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, it’s great to have you on, and you’ve been doing so much
interesting stuff. We’re actually trying to arrange a time we can have you as our main guest,
but here you’re just for a few minutes. Given what you’ve been doing in technology for
education, you were a natural choice to organize the new conference offering by Show
Initiative, 3DTLC, Three-Dimensional Training, Learning and Collaboration. For those who
don’t know, Show Initiative runs virtualworldsnews.com and has produced the Virtual World
Expo several times now. This spring, they split into two conferences, the first in March is
Engage!, and the second is 3DTLC. Tony, just for starters, can you tell us a little about the
motivation for splitting into two conferences?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Sure thing. I think those of us who’ve been to the Virtual World shows
that Chris Sherman and [Tanda?] run, there was a lot of emphasis, Beyers, on
entertainment. There was a lot of penguins and Webkinz, CSI, MTV and many of the
enterprise community were looking for a home. So if they go to the Training Conference,
they’re kind of marginalized by instructional systems design. If they go to the Serious
Games Conference, they’re kind of marginalized. So they came to Chris Sherman and said,
“We want our own show to be really focused on the enterprise application. Clearly, the
entertainment vertical is glomming on pretty tightly to 3D Virtual Worlds, that we would like
to bring in some of the other industries and have it more customer-pull focused show rather
than vendor-pushed on enterprise applications of Virtual Worlds and 3D.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now, I was at the last Virtual Worlds Expo in L.A., and I did notice
the enterprise sections were rather sparsely attended, and those devoted to kids were
packed. So I wasn’t too surprised to see them shift to a conference focusing exclusively on
kids and entertainment. But I was rather surprised to see a new conference completely
devoted to enterprise. Do they expect to get more traction by running that separate
conference, and will they be actually arranging the conference differently?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Yeah. So clearly this will not be as large a conference. The ship’s left
the harbor, so to speak, in terms of, I think, the application of 3D and Virtual Worlds to
entertainment. When it comes to enterprise, I think there was enough push from the vendor
community and enough pull from the enterprise community to say, “If we had a focused
conference on the applications of Virtual World and 3D technologies to the enterprise, I’d be
interested in coming.” But they had a couple of caveats on that, Beyers. One was that it’s
really, “We want to hear from the customer’s perspective, from the user’s perspective, and
we want to get evidence. We want stories of the benefits of the practical applications.” And
that’s where 3DTLC comes from. It’s not necessarily just Virtual Worlds, but the application
of 3D and in their lanes of training, learning and collaboration. So Chris is pretty confident.
Chris is pretty confident that we’ll have a good turnout.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And can you talk a little about the speakers that you do have
lined up and what you’re looking for in speakers who maybe are listening to Metanomics
right now and would be interested?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Sure. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this right now. I’m
going through the snowballing process as we speak. The way I’m approaching it is I’ve gone
to each of the vendors and said, “Okay. You’ve told me numerous times you’ve got great
stories, customers who have great advocacy for the use of your product behind the firewall,
in an enterprise context. May I speak with them, and let’s talk about trying to put together a
program that pulls a compelling set of evidence in the training, learning, collaboration space.
So I can tell you for a keynote, we’ve got a gentleman from a very large oil company, where
that company has decided that Virtual Worlds technologies is a game-changer technology
over the next two years.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And you said that’s an oil company?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Mm-hmm. One of the things we’re looking for, Beyers, is to try and
get out of--clearly a lot of roads will lead to IBM, Sun, Intel, Cisco, you know, the IT shops.
I’ve been talking to folks in professional services, in publishing, in banking and insurance, in
oil and gas, so I’ve been really working hard to try and get a good cross-section of industry
represented at this conference. [AUDIO GLITCH]
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You’re back to back with the Federal Consortium for Virtual
Worlds Conference, I guess, which is immediately after that. I talked actually with
Robert Gehorsam, president of Forterra, last week, who will be on Metanomics next week.
Clearly lots of roads also lead to the federal government and its various agencies. First of
all, do you expect to have a government component to your conference? And, can you talk
about how you’re working together with the Federal Consortium Conference, if at all?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Oh, yes. That is indeed intentional. Paulette, who’s running the
conference for the government side, we got together when I spoke with Chris, and he asked
me to take on putting together the program. I said it would make a lot of sense to have it in
Washington, both from a vendor perspective, as well as a participant perspective. You can
come there for five days, and you can get a view on enterprise, and you can get a view on
The other thing is, with Paulette’s show, on the Wednesday, there’s going to be essentially
would you call it a bake-off, but there’ll be twelve Virtual World platforms being
demonstrated so that you’ll get a good in-depth one-hour view. If you want to spend six
hours there, you can cover six platforms and get a good comparative analysis of the
different platforms. So we are working hand in hand. In fact, I was on the phone with
Paulette today, discussing program notes, to make sure that we’re all synced up, in terms of
synergies, overlaps and gaps.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. So it sounds like then, if people are interested in appearing
at your conference, as a speaker, it sounds like you’re looking for people who have
concrete, hopefully, data-backed stories of how they have attempted to use Virtual Worlds.
Are you looking for any academic studies?
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Yes. I have been on a search for academic studies. One of the
issues--it’s a good issue--is that we have a lot of folks who’ve submitted, and, in terms of
format, we’re running it on one track so it’s only going to be one track throughout, with
panels and keynotes. So there could well be an academic panel. It might get folded in with
an analyst panel. That’s what I have to figure out on my flight to California tomorrow.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Ah. Okay. Well, I won’t keep you. I’ve been traveling enough. I
know you end up having lots of things to do. And, of course, I want to get to our guests
remaining. But thank you so much, Tony O’Driscoll, from Duke University and Show
Initiative and the 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration Conference. I look forward to
seeing you, in April, in Washington, and also sometime later on Metanomics.
TONY O’DRISCOLL: Thank you so much, Beyers.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let’s now turn to our main event. Today we are joined by two
people who have both been very successful in-world content creators and community
builders. Kiana Writer, of MadPea, and Damien Fate, of Loco Pocos. We’ll be spending this
segment of our show learning about their businesses and exploring the challenges of
making money and building communities in Second Life. Kiana Writer is the founder of
MadPea Productions and describes herself as a storywriter and games developer, who’s
passionate about creating games for people, challenging their imagination, testing their
limits and making the impossible a reality. Kiana is joined by some of the MadPea staff so I
do hope SLCN, if you can pan out to certainly some interesting people in the crowd.
Our other guest is Damien Fate, who started Loco Pocos in July 2008, after having worked
with Rivers Run Red and Electric Sheep Company, two major developers familiar to most of
those who follow business and content creation in Second Life. As a little human interest,
Damien met Second Life resident and inventor and first seller of prim hair,
Washu Zebrastripe, in Second Life, and they got married in real life the following year. And
Damien is also joined by some members of the Loco Pocos community, and, hopefully, we
can get a good look at them as well. So, Kiana, Damien, welcome to Metanomics.
KIANA WRITER: Thank you.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: It’s great to have you here. Damien, I understand from Washu
that, first, you’re still happily married, and that the two of you are expecting your own Loco
Poco in real life. Congratulations.
DAMIEN FATE: Thank you very much. I sure hope it’s human. That’s what we’re trying for.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, my point in bringing it up actually is that the Wall Street
Journal has to tell every scandalous story about people meeting in Second Life and all the
horrible things that happen. Someone else said there’s a video going around now, I think it’s
CBC, that has something similar, and so your story is just a natural “boy meets girl, fall in
love, have kids.” Why don’t we see this in the Wall Street Journal? So just my quick
editorial, and, who knows, maybe we got a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, who’ll
decide that this is worth covering. So that’s a topic for another show.
For this show, Kiana, I’d like to start with your efforts with MadPea. So I understand you
have five games that are currently playable and three in production. We have the honor, on
Metanomics, to be able to share with our audience a trailer for one of those games, that, as
I understand it, has yet to be shown to the public. So with the help of our good friends at
SLCN TV, let’s take a look at the sequel to your popular game Within.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So, Kiana, that’s a great creepy teaser.
KIANA WRITER: Thanks.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Can you give us just a little more insight into the experience of
the players for games like Within, and what made the first game so popular?
KIANA WRITER: I think that Chapter One of Within was the first one of its kind and is a
truly immersive game with characters, storyline and complex puzzles, and the players had
absolutely no idea what to expect when they started playing that game, and it became
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So does that mean you’re not going to tell us too much about it,
then the audience, that the mystery will be gone?
KIANA WRITER: No. I can tell a little bit more. I mean this Chapter Two is going to be
something completely different than that. This was the first time that the people actually get
to see what happens in the game. They have no idea. They’ve been waiting for months to
see what they’re going to assassinate. This Chapter Two is going to take the whole Second
Life platform into a whole new level. We’re using some really advanced [kill-offs?] as you
could see those aliens, and it’s going to be a really scary game where you have to solve the
biggest puzzle ever just to get out of there alive and do some teamwork to survive and get a
higher status within the organization.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Can you talk a little bit about what you’re doing with in-world
KIANA WRITER: I’ll have to ask [Smiley?] to say something about that because I’m not a
scripter, so I can’t really say much about that.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, I guess more from the player’s perspective. I mean I
understand you have things like antigravity.
KIANA WRITER: Yeah. Those are still we want to keep a little bit of a secret involved
because that’s going to be very new to Second Life. But, yeah, we’re using antigravity so all
the fight scenes and everything that you’re going to be doing in the game is going to be
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And so there’s another game that I’d just like to mention, another
favorite MadPea offering in Second Life is Firefly, which I saw the trailer for that, and we
don’t have time to put it on the show, but you describe it as a haunting love story. So is this
appealing to a female audience primarily in Second Life?
FIREFLY TRAILER: http://madpea.com/index.php?page=games&game=firefly
KIANA WRITER: I don’t think so. We have had a lot of players playing Firefly, and our
players are really fantastic. It doesn’t matter, really, what games we bring out, they want to
try them out, all. And it’s a very different genre to Within. It’s like you said a haunting love
story where you are following [AUDIO GLITCH] that wants to reunite with her lost lover. But
it’s really visually amazing, and the puzzles are complex so that’s [AUDIO GLITCH] all kinds
of [AUDIO GLITCH] game.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. And, Damien, Loco Pocos has games, but, in your case,
those games are integrated into a complete line of avatars. So for starters, Damien, I’m
hoping you can tell us just how you pulled this all together into something that can sustain a
DAMIEN FATE: Sorry. I think my mike fell a bit there. Well, basically, my games are not as
advanced at MadPea games, of course. They’re more something to get you interacting with
Loco Pocos as a brand and island experience. So you can come to the Loco Pocos Island,
and everything is completely free. You can go around the island and do these little mini
games and get little accessories for yourself. And you also pick up avatars for free as well.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And so it’s avatars, accessories and then game content as well. I
know your avatars are very distinctive looking, and I understand you devote a lot of attention
to detail on the technical side. We have some of these on film. I’m hoping SLCN can pop
that video up on the screen, and maybe while people are taking a look at your Sim and your
avatars in motion, you can talk a bit about the technical side and what’s different about your
Loco Pocos avatars.
DAMIEN FATE: Okay. So what’s different about the Loco Pocos avatars is the intuitive
HUD which I’ve created. It’s completely language-free so it can cross all language barriers.
And, from the HUD, you can customize your avatar completely from its general appearance
at the base avatar, which doesn’t come with any clothes, but they’re so [Carsini?] in nature
they don’t really need them. But you can also customize clothes. Once you wear them, they
will stream the options to the HUD automatically. So it’s really a very simple way to
customize how you look in Second Life.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So when you say it’s a language-free HUD, you’d say it’s icons.
DAMIEN FATE: Yes, it’s all icon-base.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. There’s a term I have no idea what this means. Maybe I
misheard it, but a “body cruncher”?
DAMIEN FATE: Yeah, that was the original term I think maybe Wings Whiplash came up
with for what happens to your Second Life avatar to make it so small your abdomen folds in
on itself. When I created Loco Pocos, I wanted to adapt the body cruncher animation which
everybody else is using to try something which I could do more smooth animations with.
And, for example, Loco Pocos avatars have wrist movements, which really helps when
you’re expressing yourself.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So we have a question here from Olando7 Decosta: How does
Loco Pocos make money? I understand that this is a full time job for you. Is it profitable?
DAMIEN FATE: It is profitable. I must say though that Loco Pocos was never really set out
to be a profitable project. That’s just actually a nice side effect of what’s happened after the
community came together. They actually drive the store as well. So I don’t create anything
that the community does not ask for. For example, I have a list of animals which the
community suggested that I create. And, before I go on a creation spree, I’ll ask them to
vote on what they want to have made, so I know that the top five creatures that are voted for
are the ones that will sell best. So it’s really community-driven.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. So I see we have a graphic. Maybe we can get this up
after the video, on just some numbers of how many people you have and web activity. I
guess you have something about--thousands, what, seven to ten thousand avatars or so
that you’ve sold?
DAMIEN FATE: That’s correct. We’ve been open for about seven months. In that time
we’ve had around 21,000 visitors, given away maybe seven to ten thousand avatars--sorry,
that’s sold seven to ten thousand avatars. About 20,000 accessories. But on top of that, we
also give a lot of things away for free. So during those seven months, we’ve given away
about three thousand avatars for free and maybe about 15,000 accessories.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Just going back to Olando’s question, you’re selling
avatars, and you know you have a ready market because you have a community that has
asked for them. You sell accessories, and then you keep the community energized through
games and puzzles and contests and activities like that?
DAMIEN FATE: That’s right. Yes. We have regular contests on Loco Pocos Island. And I
think, to answer his question of how Loco Pocos makes money, I think one of the key
ingredients to Loco Pocos’ success is how much we give away and the way we give it away.
We don’t just invite you to the island and say, “Here’s an avatar. Here’s an accessory. Go
have fun.” We engage you with the games and with competitions so that you really earn the
things you get for free, and that makes them feel more special, and that sort of experience
stays in your mind, and you decide to come back later for more of that fun that you had.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, certainly, people in Second Life are so hungry for any sort
of content and social interaction, that that makes a lot of sense to me.
Kiana, now you have a rather different approach. I understand that, for you, this MadPea
started out purely as a hobby, but now you’re making some customized games for clients
such as Orange and Sigma-Aldrich, McMillan Publishing. Can you tell us how that works?
KIANA WRITER: Okay. It’s slowly moving from a hobby being actually a business, and it
started when we made our first game, which was in fact Firefly. We did that for Orange. We
applied to their community program for content creators. It’s called Create Program. And
they offered us a part of their Sim for community builds, and we thought that, “Okay, instead
of just building something here, let’s create a game.” And Orange was very impressed by
that. They saw the potential that we had, and then we had some more talks, and finally they
gave us a little bit more land to play with, where we build our other games on. We don’t pay
any of the Sims that our games are hosted on. They’re supplied by Orange. And the other
real-life clients that we have, they have come to us, and we work together to create games
to suit their needs on their Sims.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So a couple that sounded interesting to me, one is called
Reaction - Chemistry 101. And that’s tied in with Sigma-Aldrich. Can you talk a little bit
about the content of the game and how you made that association with Sigma Aldrich?
KIANA WRITER: I can actually see [Georgiana?] in the group chat as well. We have some
good talks with her, and we thought about it together about what Sigma-Aldrich wants to
have, and Reaction is a really funny chemistry lesson, creating all these reactions out of the
strangest elements. You’re looking for bones and [AUDIO GLITCH] things like that, to
actually create these fun things to build up to the end product. And it’s played over several
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Then there is another one: Notes From the Voyage is
designed for McMillan Publishing and celebrates the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth.
How did that come about?
KIANA WRITER: Yeah. It’s made for the Nature Publishing Group and McMillan Publishers.
They saw what we had done with Sigma-Aldrich and [AUDIO GLITCH]. The game is coming
out on the tenth of February. It’s very amazing so the whole island is done like it was during
the Charles Darwin journeys.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That sounds beautiful and time-consuming.
KIANA WRITER: No. We’ve not done the whole island, but we work together with them on
that. It’s really beautiful. [AUDIO GLITCH] have a look at it.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: One question I would have is, often you hear people talking about
the very different goals of the Second Life residents who are here for their personal
entertainment and enterprises who are here for--in this case, these are both for-profit
companies. So I’m just wondering: Do you see, or have you experienced any risks of
integrating enterprises into your existing community?
KIANA WRITER: I don’t really see any risks on that. I think it’s a big strength for both sides
so we get to create a large variety of games for our community to choose from. The
enterprises they tend to have guidelines and be more careful of the content, while we are
more free in our creativity. So we listen to our community needs and the enterprises’ needs
and work together to come up with something that fits everyone’s expectations.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have a comment here, Kiana, from Stray Underwood. Well,
there’s a comment and a question. First is yet another person commenting on your beautiful
KIANA WRITER: Oh, my goodness!
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You’re from Scandinavia, right?
KIANA WRITER: I’m from Finland. Yes.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Finland. Right.
KIANA WRITER: I have a really bad flu, actually, at the moment. I’ve had fever for seven
days so I’m struggling here. But I’m happy if you can hear me at least.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, we can hear you just fine.
KIANA WRITER: Good.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: The question is: Was there ever a time you were ready to give it
all up, and what kept you going? So I don’t know if Stray Underwood knows something I
don’t know, but I do know how much work it is to do things in Second Life.
KIANA WRITER: He knows something, definitely. Something happened, hmm, let’s say
almost a year ago. I was working with other members that are in the current crew, and we
had a little bit of a low point. And then I had to decide if I wanted to carry on doing MadPea
on my own or just completely give it up. With the help of good friends, I decided that, no, I
really want to see what this comes up with. I got such good feedback from people playing
the games, and it really encouraged me to carry on. I’m very happy that I did.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Actually, Damien, just let me pose a similar question to you. I
know that it is so difficult to work with these purely virtual, purely in-world businesses where
you don’t have much Real World contact with the people that you’re working with, and I’m
wondering if you could talk a little, Damien, just about how you organize your company and
the people you work with and handle those challenges.
DAMIEN FATE: Well, on the creation side, it’s mostly done all by myself from creation of
the avatars, the scripting system, the graphics, the textures and what not. But I have a great
team of CSR’s, which help me handle the community since a lot of the time I’m busy
creating. The CSR’s also handle any customer questions and such, so that’s how I manage
to get by in Second Life, a great CSR team.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Mm-hmm. So you worked with Rivers Run Red and Electric
Sheep Company, two companies that have been very big in Second Life. One is still here:
Rivers Run Red doing a very different type of work now strictly enterprises and getting away
from entertainment content creation. And the other is Electric Sheep Company, which has
largely set its sites outside Second Life. I’m wondering what have you learned from those
experiences, and are there particular ways you’re trying to improve on what they did?
DAMIEN FATE: Not to sound mean to them or anything, but, if I’m doing work--I also do
work for other companies, outside Second Life, that want to develop a presence inside
Second Life. But what I’ve learned from Electric Sheep is to not let those companies decide
too much on what they want to do in Second Life because a lot of the time they just want to
resurrect an office in Second Life and maybe have a branded T-shirt. Whereas, I want them
to do something more interactive which will get people interactive with their brand and
having more fun than just dropping off on an island and picking up a shirt. So that’s one
thing I learned is to try to be a bit more adventurous with things you create in Second Life.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have a question from Austen Scanlan about what sort of
testing that you do for games. This is really for both of you. And Austen also asks a related
question: What kinds of challenges did you face? So, Damien, starting with you, what are
the biggest challenges that you’ve had to deal with, with Loco Pocos?
DAMIEN FATE: A lot of the time it’s scripting issues. The customization for Loco Pocos is
quite complex, even though it’s intuitive for the user to use. And a lot of the time I find myself
a bit confused myself by how to get the island to interact with people. My general knowledge
of Second Life scripting isn’t as good as you may think, from the HUD. So a lot of time I’m
left wondering how to do things, how to get my ideas to come to life. So that would be my
main issue is scripting. It’s pretty difficult for me, but I keep at it.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: One of the things I’m very sensitive to, when I look at these
businesses that are working within Second Life, is that they really are so dependent on the
technology and the policies of Second Life. I guess, on the technology side, are there
certain things that are at the top of your wish list that would help you make better avatars or
animate them more effectively?
DAMIEN FATE: Well, I think Carl Linden recently talked about flexible sculpts in Second
Life. That is something which I am really hoping to see soon, add a little bit more life to the
avatar. Since they’re fully sculpted, they can sometimes seem a bit static, like the ears or
the tail, for example. If I could get flexible sculpts in Second Life, I would be very happy.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. As long as I have the mike, I have to say I really want my
fingers to be able to move separately so that we look more natural in a talk show. It’s hard to
get the refinement within the hand animations. But JenzZa Misfit does what she can with
Avateer Pro. Kiana, how about you? Are there particular things that would help you, from
Linden Lab, that you’d like to see?
KIANA WRITER: I think our main script--Smiley has been talking there already, that he
wants some more things.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, I see that: C and Java-style structures in classes. I’m an
accounting professor. I don’t go there.
KIANA WRITER: Okay, me neither. But from my point of view, what I do want to see some
huge improvements with communications. Right now our group is nearly 900 members, and
it’s growing really fast, and it’s really, really hard to reach them all because, when the group
is so big, the notices keep failing and the group chat keeps failing. And we’re using a lot of
communications within the group, to keep the community tight. So it’s very important for us.
We have one separate group for the Within buyers, but we really can’t start a new group for
each game because of the group limits, so it needs increasing too, but that’s another issue
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, well, that’s one lots and lots of people have heard about.
Okay. Let’s see. The other side of this, that’s the tech side, but there is also the policy side.
So you have actually gotten a little bit of push. You’re in the Showcase? Swamp Hotel is
one of your regions?
KIANA WRITER: I just noticed that this morning. Yeah. When I woke up, and I was
wondering, “Why are there so many people here?” That’s a second time that we’re on the
Linden Showcase. It’s really great. That’s really good--
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That has made enough of a difference that you really notice it?
KIANA WRITER: Yeah, definitely.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That’s interesting because Linden Lab really does have the bully
pulpit, as we would say in the U.S. No doubt that’s a British term, but it really does, you
know, it just shows they have the megaphone and can make a big difference. So policies on
that no doubt will be crucial.
A related question here is Xstreet. We’ve talked about this a little on prior shows. Linden
Lab has recently purchased Xstreet. We covered them back in, I believe that was October,
when they were an independent company. Damien, I know you sell lots of avatars and
accessories through Xstreet. How do you feel about Linden taking them over?
DAMIEN FATE: I’m actually very excited. I might be in the minority there, but I would like to
see a lot higher integration of XstreetSL in Second Life, whether it’s including that in the
search feature or even, say, I could go to my store in Second Life and right-click a product
there and just say, “List on SLX,” and it will automatically be streamed to the website. Those
are features which I hope to see, so I’m quite excited about the venture.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So you’re not concerned about lack of competition. I’ve heard
people express various concerns along those lines or content restriction, ultimately, with
Xstreet coming directly under Linden Lab control.
DAMIEN FATE: It might sound selfish, but for me personally, I don’t have anything that’s
non-PG, so that doesn’t really bother me much.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I guess maybe that’s selfish, but, on the other hand, it’s certainly
a reasonable way to feel, given the type of work that you do. Let me just look. We are
starting to run out of time. I see there’s something interesting going on. I like to make sure
we get through the backchat, and there are some interesting comments here: “I don’t know
anything about giving premium accounts the ability to have a hundred groups.” That is one I
haven’t heard. I don’t know if anyone else knows about that. Do either of you? Kiana or
Damien, is that something you’ve ever heard of?
KIANA WRITER: I haven’t heard of that [CROSSTALK]
DAMIEN FATE: I don’t think it’s been discussed by Linden Lab, but I think it’s something
people have been commenting as a possible feature.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We had Zero Linden on Metanomics over the summer, and he
talked about the incredible difficulty of scaling up the group system because of how much
communication that would require, that every group membership involves a large number of
connections to other people in Second Life. So I’m not sure that it’s likely. That doesn’t
sound like a plausible rumor to me, I guess I should say.
We’re just about out of time. Before we close, I know we have one more game trailer from
MadPea, that no one has seen before, and this is for a new game called The Chaos Effect.
Before we show the trailer, Kiana, can you just give us a sense of what this is about?
KIANA WRITER: Okay. I pronounce it ka-os though. And it’s a big game that we’re creating
for Orange currently.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I’m sorry. Actually, can you pronounce that for me again?
KIANA WRITER: Ka-os.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Ka-os. Okay.
KIANA WRITER: Ka-os. Okay? It’s a whole new style of time traveling, with a few twists. It’s
very humoristic and has also historical and [conventional interest?] in it. And we’re using
actors, really awesome animations, some very visual [AUDIO GLITCH] replicate life [AUDIO
GLITCH]. And one twist in the game is that the experience will be completely different to
each player. So the players will have absolutely no idea what to expect.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: When you said you’re using actors instead of bots or in additional
KIANA WRITER: I mean we’re using voice actors so we were trying to make it as humane
as possible, as close to a real story as you can get.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That sounds rather expensive. You have a partner in this. Right?
This is on Orange Island. Is that right?
KIANA WRITER: That’s going to be on Orange Island, and it will be coming early March.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Great! Well, let’s make sure everyone looks forward to it,
by showing that short clip on The Ka-os effect now. So, SLCN, can you cue that up for us?
And we’ll take a look.
VIDEO: [NO LINK LISTED] VOICE: When you’re trapped in time the only way out of the
Chaos is to report of incidences. [Travor?] seems [patialexistence?] until he’ll find the
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Well, that definitely is a tantalizing trailer. So, Kiana Writer,
of MadPea, and Damien Fate, of Loco Pocos, thanks a lot for coming on to Metanomics and
letting us see what content creators are doing for their communities in Second Life.
KIANA WRITER: Thanks for having us here.
DAMIEN FATE: Thank you.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We always close Metanomics with an opinion piece related to the
topic of the show, called Connecting The Dots. I get enough time to talk during the show, so
today I hand the microphone over to Prokofy Neva, Second Life landlord and author of the
popular blog Second Thoughts. Prokofy has written extensively about the relationship
between in-world businesses and Linden Lab, which, as I mentioned earlier, not only has
technological control over Second Life, but a good deal of political and marketing control as
well. And I believe Prokofy has some thoughts about that. So, Prokofy, welcome to
Metanomics, and, take it away.
PROKOFY NEVA: Hi, Beyers. Thanks for having me on the show today. I want to talk
about Linden Lab and in-world business competition, co-optation, confrontation or
collaboration. Back in June 2005, when I made my last post on the official Linden forums,
before I was perma-banned, I discussed my growing alarm at what I saw as in-world
monopolies that were gaining favor from Linden Lab. My thread was titled Four is Company,
Five’s a Crowd. Today, look at what’s happened to those companies. One of them folded,
but a second, XstreetSL, thrived and was just taken over by Linden Lab last week. A third,
run by Adam Zaius, went on to become the million-dollar Azure Islands and then later to
form the reverse engineer-based OpenSim. A fourth, Snapzilla and Sluniverse, is the largest
forums and picture-hosting service.
I was beaten up back then for questioning the idea of monopolies, with privileged attention
from the Lab, but the direction was clear even then. Linden Lab had a plan to groom some
companies, often at the expense of others, for their eventual takeover. Some people in the
forums liken this to a Renaissance Faire, with a sort of higher class of craftsmen backed by
the rich Medici family. They would produce goods for townspeople who wouldn’t question
this arrangement. And it’s perhaps indicative that when Professor James Grimmelmann
published a piece in the Yale Law Journal this month, titled Second Life is a Feudal Society,
not a single Second Life blog responded.
Linden Lab has long abandoned the “your world, your imagination” mantra, which is now
only good for out-world enterprises and educational institutions operating at a meta level.
But the in-world businesses who already face the burden of controlled currency and land
admissions are suffering. The Lab builds entire continents to compete with their own
residents. They can use their Splash screens. They can close the advertising off only to
themselves. This weekend we saw Linden spam-blast to every single user email on behalf
of the Xstreet. This grossly interferes with the free market. Only those Darwinian salmon
who can manage to swim upstream and still thrive under these conditions can have the
option of just appearing appetizing.
If before Linden Lab just limited itself to steering some lucrative out-world contracts or media
coverage, today it’s impatient, wanting to take over whole functions and whole businesses.
And we can see more of this in the area of rentals, events management and social network
and so on. Yet what we need is a much more sophisticated and less co-optive policy. And, if
Linden Lab would adopt a more constructive approach, they’d avoid all their major
PR disasters and economic crashes that they saw in the last three years, which all
originated in this competitive or confrontational posture. Whether we saw the infamous
co-optation of the GOM Currency Exchange that gave us a verb for our Second Life
vernacular that meant to take over a resident business or whether you see the Open
Spaces debacle or you see these protracted, agonizingly overdue responses to problems
like land-cutting, all of this comes out of lack of communication with in-world business.
Every other sector of the consumer profile around Second Life has its Linden or its
departments. So you see enterprises have a whole department. You see the architectural
working group. You see the Second Life Dev groups for scripters. You see the solution
providers groups, the educational groups and others. But in-world businesses have no
Linden focal point, no channel to be heard apart from the forums where they have to drown
in a thousand messages. So here you have content creators who make $60,000 US a year,
and you have land dealers, who handle thousands of customers, they’re all put into one big
grab bag called consumers, and they’re not taken seriously because they’re involved in
What the Linden should do to remedy this is to create a small business Linden and devise a
transparent roadmap for promoting in-world business, which, after all, is responsible for the
bulk of their revenue. They need to improve communications across the board. They need
more predictable behavior on things like pricing changes. They need much more
user-friendly mechanisms for policy input, instead of dumping people on the JIRA. They
need a much more flexible set of criteria for partnerships like community gateways for new
users, that don’t involve making residents jump through hoops that even the Lindens
themselves don’t jump through.
So you might ask the policies I’m prescribing, would this just amount to a more organized
Fetid Inner Core, as I’ve called it? No, I think it’s about creating a level playing field, and, no,
we can’t expect to turn a feudal society into a democracy overnight. A more managed
cooperativist approach would at least minimize the destructive upheavals and maximize a
variety of healthy, independent actors, which we need for the Metaverse to thrive. Thank
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, thank you, Prokofy. That’s a lot to chew over for residents
and for Linden Lab management. Oh, I see you just pasted the James Grimmelmann piece
in the Yale Law Journal. I actually had a chance to serve on a panel with James. He’s a very
interesting guy, and I will definitely track that down.
Let me just ask for one bit of clarification. When he says it’s a feudal society, there’s one
feudal lord, and that is Linden Lab? Is that the idea?
PROKOFY NEVA: Yes, that’s the concept. Yeah. It’s the way the land is controlled.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Right. Well, I can see that, and James is a sharp guy, so I will
track that down and make sure that more Second Life residents blog about it. So again,
thank you very much for coming on the show.
I hope everyone enjoyed today’s show, and please do join us next week when we welcome
back Robert Gehorsam, president of Forterra, Incorporated. Forterra is a leading developer
of Virtual Worlds for governments and other enterprises. And, as Linden Lab moves into the
enterprise space, these two companies are increasingly in direct competition. So join us to
get insight into Forterra’s plans and insight into the future of Virtual Worlds for enterprises.
Robert is a fascinating speaker. Last time he was on, he left us with the memorable phrase
“the military entertainment complex.” So see you then. And, bye bye.
Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com
Second Life Avatar: Transcriptionist Writer