Top Virtual World Topics of 2008

Welcome to part 3 of my Best of 2008, where I take a look at popular music, indie music, and virtual world topics that rocked everyone’s world. This installment is all about the top Virtual Issues that made headway in 2008. While I’m very interested in many MMO platforms a majority of this list will stem from the Second Life world. Lets begin!

The Picks

  1. Early in 2008, Phillip Rosedale announced he was changing jobs within Linden Lab and was stepping down as CEO of Linden Lab. In April, Mark Kingdon was announced as the new CEO of Linden Lab. M Linden is an interesting follow and seems just as passionate and invested in the platform as Phillip. It is way too early to grade M’s overall effect on the grid, he’s been at the job for less than a year. However there seems to be a lot of positive momentum in the works.
  2. In October, Linden Lab announced a $50 change in pricing tier for Openspace Sims. I felt it was for the best but I was the minority. Certain members of the community strongly disagreed (an understatement). Through much of the resident “feedback”, Homesteads, a cross between Openspace and full sims was introduced addressing some residents complaints but not others. The policy goes into effect at the beginning of the new year.
  3. At this years SLCC, I met Eshi Otawara and found her to be a very delightful and talented person. Last summer, due to her husbands unexpected death, she became embattled with the United States Government and faced deportation. It was announced a week ago that Eshi won her battle and is now a permanent resident of the United States. Congrats Eshi!
  4. After a very successful release in the post-WoW age of MMORPG’s, Age of Conan suffered from several problems. Patches seemed to plague the game every other day, there were major balancing issues in PVP (something the game was based on), and the producer and game director QUIT! I am very familiar with FunCom, I’ve DJed at conventions for them, met game directors and their staff, and was a member of the radio station they sponsor. I like FunCom, I think they are a creative bunch and have great ideas. It seems they didn’t learn from their mistakes with Anarchy Online. I hate to say it but FunCom really earned the name FAILCom with the snafu over AoC. I hope in 2009 things are remedied.
  5. After releasing employees during the holiday season in 2007, along with several commercial companies leaving Second Life, the Electric Sheep Company seemed to be the next group heading towards the exit sign. ESC released WebFlock which is a flash based platform geared at individual corporations. WebFlock is not Second Life and in my opinion does not serve as a replacement for it. It seemed to be a reaction to industry reports slamming Second Life by providing the flexibility and focus they require for virtual world projects. I’m not a fan of WebFlock (especially after trying one of The L Word rooms) but the platform may improve in the upcoming year. The idea is interesting, one I believe Second Life will be venturing further into this year. (Note: I do perform some work for the Electric Sheep Company as a consultant.)

Honorable Mentions

Talking about Virtual World platforms, the death of Google Lively was a top issue this year. Lively seemed to serve the promise of the next step to virtual world environments. It never panned out for many reasons to long to list here.

With MMO’s becoming increasingly popular, Second Skin, a documentary displaying the lives of MMORPG gamers was released and has received a lot of praise (including mine).

Within the Second Life community, Bone Mosten was deemed New World Notes top male of 2008, Ultra 7 Lounge launched with a very different approach than other Second Life clubs (less sleaze more class and use of passes), everyone is revealing their secrets anonymously (and causing MORE drama and backstabbing through it), Prokofy announced the FIC 2.5 (and I’m on it!), and a couple gets divorced due to an affair in Second Life.

I want to round this list up with a mention of two projects that show a lot of promise in the future development of Second Life, first is the Imprudence browser and the second is the Tunes inSL aimed at aiding musicians within the community. I believe both will have positive effects on the community in the future and both should garner a ton of credit for launching such interesting and useful projects.

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