the failure of second life
In July of 2005, when I created my account, Second Life was the cool new thing. Moving between regions was kinda wonky, loading textures and objects was slow, and it was pretty ugly when compared to other games of the time; but it was generally assumed that these were teething issues, which would be quickly sorted out as new versions of the software were released.
In the meantime, the hardware and the networks have improved:
The processor's an easy six times faster, there's eight times as much memory, the internet pipe is 12 times wider, and the video card is, well, it's real quick.
and the results in Second Life?
Moving between regions is still kinda wonky, loading textures and objects is slow, and it's still pretty ugly... when compared to games made in 2005. Second Life has gained features, many of them, but it has improved not at all. Its problems are profound and architectural, and won't be solved by any minor patch, but rather, a complete redesign.
Second Life as a game concept, sounds good, but was made with no thought of the fact that all the game assets are on the wrong side of a narrow, high-latency bus.
Second Life attempted to emulate Real Life in design. This was laudable, but misguided. Perhaps that's not the right word. Incorrect? Wrong? Colossally wrong?
It's been eight years, now, since Second Life launched. It hasn't come close to living up to its promise. My wild ass guess is that their asset servers will have sustain two hundred megabits a second to the customer in order to make Second Life even vaguely playable. That's for SL's current, not great, graphics, nor a terribly inspiring draw distance, maybe 300 metres.
Not only would this require better internet service than pretty much anybody, outside of South Korea, has; it would take an absolutely massive investment in data centers all around the world. It only takes 40 megabits to stream high quality 1080p video. Sustaining five times that bandwidth, and maintaining consistency across all the caches would be a real trick.
I doubt Second Life will ever do it.
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