I’ve traveled through several online worlds and have experience with many virtual worlds, MMOG’s, etc. Each online space has their plusses and minuses. In my years of “traveling” I’ve never seen anything as robust, creative and open-ended as Second Life. While I’m always surprised by the complaints that are made about Second Life, some legitimate others are mindless, I never understood it. Many people make it sound easy to build a virtual world, but everyone is learning that’s not the case. While many people complain about Linden Lab’s management of a virtual world; there isn’t much competition in their space mainly because of the difficulty of creating and maintaining a robust, integrated virtual world with mass appeal. Sony has been learning that lesson along with their recent delay of PlayStation Home, a virtual world more akin to There.com than Second Life.
Building a virtual world is NOT easy, while I’m not the most qualified person you can imagine why Second Life has certain problems. Having to process the configuration of 30,000 avatars clothing, hair, and inventory, their permission properties, dimensions, and sizes at any given time is a mathematical nightmare. Include the even searches, land purchases, transactions from user to user, location pin pointing, the fact that Second Life is operational seems more like a miracle than anything else. I never get the amount of criticism that is thrown at Linden Lab and their management of a virtual world while at the same time is used by so many.
The argument is always the same, that people depend on Second Life for their livelihood, project, social life. I think that sometimes we, the user base, rely too much on Linden Lab at times to provide solutions for certain things. I always wonder at what point does a third party begin to handle some other responsibilities (in the same way that have done with Vivox and voice).
Don’t get me wrong, there are times I’m annoyed with Linden Lab concerning downtimes or bugs or other issues, but they are not as bad as some other development companies. Rarely (if at all) do I feel the need to hammer them, I understand it’s not easy to build a virtual world. Linden Lab is also very good at one thing most developers don’t do, Linden Lab listens. It is refreshing how much Linden Lab likes to obtain information, comments, or suggestions on issues (trust me they do!)
As for PlayStation Home (which inspired this post), I’m not surprised by it’s delay. VG Cats has a great summary of every console’s online offerings, each one has their flaws, the biggest one is that it’s on a console. While a virtual world on a console takes advantage of the stability of the console platform versus that of a PC platform but makes little sense in its flexibility. Not everyone would want to communicate through voice, and smiley’s ( ) are limited in their function. I’m quite sure if you were able to create in PS Home, it would require other additional steps, and I can’t how good their building tools would be. I’m not even sure that Home would have been a successful platform. Then again I feel the same about brand specific virtual worlds. It’s not like building a website, if it were, everyone would have their own virtual world right now (ps. Nexeus Life ™, the virtual world of Nexeus Fatale gets released tomorrow! )