Sunday, February 3, 2013

Linden Lab Strikes Again

 Apparently the creator of my favourite SL viewer, the one I take all my best looking SL screenshots with, is bowing out. Niran will be releasing one more viewer once materials are ready and then backing away from SL viewer development for the foreseeable future.


 Well, the straw that broke the camel's back would be Jira issue Open-162, where Niran pointed out that the attachment coordinates for the SL avatar asymmetrical.

 What's this mean?

 Well, it means that when you wear identical attachments to both of your upper arms (or shoulders, or upper legs, or lower legs...) and give them the mirroring attachment positions, they should align symmetrically....but they don't. They're just noticeably off.

Screenshot from Open-162
 Now, this is no big deal to the average user, but it is a significant workflow disruption for content creators, giving us extra math to deal with, and making it difficult to automate things like mirroring newly created attachments.

 Niran brought this up to Oz Linden, who told him to submit a patch to fix it via the Jira. So Niran put in the work to create just such a patch and submit it, then Linden Lab immediately closed it. The first Linden to close it at least provided a reason, although the reason they gave made no sense as they were mistaking the actual problem with the symmetry of the avatar mesh.

 Seeing the misunderstanding, Niran opened it again, and several people provided comments trying to explain to the Linden how they misunderstood the issue.

Linden Lab concerned about realistic bodies?
Also, what does this have to do with attachment points?
 A few people did voice concerns that fixing this would break content, but these fears are largely unfounded. Yes, existing attachments would be shifted. Most users would never notice. Those who did notice would be able to adjust their attachments back into place in seconds, with very little effort.

 Niran even posted some scripts for automating such adjustments, but I'd say that's overkill.

  Even so, a second Linden closed the issue, with no explanation. Niran opened it again and so Oz, who originally told Niran to open the Jira and put in all this work, closed it with a message to Niran telling him he would lose Jira privileges if he opened it again.


 Hey, Rodvik, remember again how you asked why SL had so much trouble retaining users?

This should be a pretty strong clue for you. It's not specifically due to this single isolated issue of asymmetrical attachments, this is just a symptom of the overarching problem here. A problem that has repeated itself across the Jira time and time again.

 Our inability to make avatar arms long enough was reported, patches provided, only for the Lindens to close them with either no explanation, or with an explanation which did nothing but reveal that the person making the decision was not qualified to do so.

 How about our inability to increase female torso muscle sliders past 50? That was reported in a Jira the moment the bug crept into the viewer, several years ago. It was also handwaved away despite the fact that community devs took the time to report the issue and provide fixes.

 In fact, pretty much every single aspect of SL content creation is broken in some way, often multiple ways, and when the problems are reported, the response is almost always identical to this case here.

 All of this contributes, greatly, to how ugly SL is compared to contemporary expectations of 3D game-like environments. Contributes to how kludgy and difficult content creation within SL is. All of these problems compound on one another to negatively affect the performance, visual quality and ease of use new users experience when they log into SL for that all important first impression.

 And that right there is a large part (not the only part, but a large one) of why SL has so much difficulty retaining users.

Nothing works, it looks awful, and it runs like crap. And LL refuses to fix the underlying causes for that.


  1. Excellent blogpost (as usual) im sorry to say it may be too late for LL and Second Life. It seems impossible to communicate with them. I will miss SL but times change and we´d better change with it. I sure wont be the last avatar on the grid :)


  2. Stuff like this is why I'm no longer active in Second Life anymore. I only ever log in to do comparison tests between SL and InWorldz, and I'm barely able to do that anymore because 90% of the time when I try to save a script, it fails after a minute of waiting.

  3. Good post and summarizes LL behavior well. Back in 2005, barely out of "newbie" zone, I mentioned to LL something was evidently wrong with their texture processing system. They ignored me. I mentioned it again in 2007 and user Balpien Hammerer, seeing that post, ran some tests and identified exactly what was causing the problem. The resulting JIRA consisted of Linden Lab attitude the likes of which I've seen from few other companies, with Dan Linden obfuscating the reality of the situation, a JIRA troll hopping in and harassing people, then Linden Lab banning innocent people from the JIRA because they told the troll to go take a hike. Through all of this-- this major megabug continued until 2010... when Linden Lab for some odd reason finally admitted that "their researchers" had discovered a major tech bug with texture processing-- the same exact bug we'd reported years earlier.

    So I fully agree with your post. Linden Lab seems to operate on a "do as little as possible to get things barely operational"-- then moves on to something else. Unless a JIRA issue means they'll lose immediate revenue, they don't seem to care-- and in a mega-issue such as this one they seem unable to look into the future and foresee just how important texture processing is going to be to their 3D virtual environment.

    The result is exactly as you state-- it seems almost everything is broken or only partially functional and the effect overall... is second rate Second Life.

  4. Follow-up: Niran, contact Inworldz. I bet they'd love someone to help with their official viewer. And I can assure you the Inworldz population would be most appreciative. McCabe is already doing excellent work on their viewer (the official IW viewer is about the most stable I've seen to date)... and a second brain would likely be very much appreciated.

  5. I need to take a closer look at OpenSim alternatives like Inworldz. I've always been put off by how it appeared OS was mimicking SL's flaws.

    From what I've seen, every SL issue and problem I've pointed out through this blog is also present in OpenSim.

    The unfriendly appearance editor, the badly proportioned default shapes, the lack of tools to encourage efficient building practices, the 1995 style camera placement, and the lack of meaningful social tools.

    I'd love to be proven wrong but even just today an OpenSim fan was telling me that OS does this deliberately because to address these problems would make OpenSim too different from SL.

    They also went on to say that the quality and capabilities of a product have never, in history, affected the market reception of that product.

    One can only hope that OS developers don't hold similarly absurd views.

    1. This is why I have moved on to Cloud Party.... It is still in beta and a very new world but it is very very promising. Building is a dream! Even default avatar shape are good. Use Chrome if u log in :)


    2. I've been keeping an eye on Cloud Party. It's still a bit rough around the edges for my taste and lacking features it needs to hold my interest, but as you say it's a very new world and it's still in development and a lot of features are on their way.

      I'm excited to see where it goes.

    3. Penny, we should really try to share as much of out knowledge as possible to cloudparty now. As far as I have heard they are very open to community proposals and there is no better moment to have a positive impact as the beta period of a product. As you can import your meshes there easily, you should be able to recreate your island there easily. SL is still the place where the people are, but it's up to us users to prepare the grounds for a better product.

  6. Brilliant post and thanks for sharing. It's typical linden lab behavior which sadans me because its a wonderful product

  7. The attachment asymmetry itself is hardly anything to get exercised about, but the same can't be said for instructions to file a jira and bend over.

    I now realize that the jira-crippling measures didn't go far enough: it would work much better if some Lindens could see only those bugs they reported themselves.

  8. The attachment asymmetry is annoying, but not a showstopper, sure, but there's no reason for it not to be fixed, either.

    It's that attitude towards dismissing problems like this that is the showstopper, as this same attitude is responsible for dozens of issues going unfixed, many of them seriously critical.

    Of course the actions like those Oz demonstrated here are unacceptable as well. You don't tell a customer to put in all that effort, then shoot them down. Especially when it's Oz's place to see that work done in the first place, not the customer's.

    Both of these behaviours are totally unacceptable if LL really wants to increase their customer base and profits. They can't expect to turn around their business so long as it continues.

  9. OK here is the problem, some TPV people are just getting fed up. Actually this should be of no surprise to any long time SL customer.

    As for Oz Linden, he is actually a pretty nice person, a bit stubborn at times, but overall a likable person. Niran on the other hand is extremely arrogant and down right ornery. And I do know McCabe as well, who is an extremely reasonable guy, I seriously doubt if he would be willing to put up with Niran's attitude or absolute insistence on making his viewer 64 bit, when it is clearly stated in the LL SL building the source code web page that the SL viewer is 32 bit.

    If you recall, Niran took over where Kirsten left off when he was unable to continue ( due to personal RL issues ) TPV development.

    I knew Kirsten as well, an incredibly arrogant individual as well. Niran has been pissing people off for the last 2 years.

    So he is gone, or will be soon, I see this as no big loss to the SL community as a whole.

    JayR Cela :_)

    1. The attitude of the customer should be irrelevant when they're pointing out issues that should be fixed. And there's never an excuse for an employee to give a customer the run around like Oz did here.

      As for "no big loss to the SL community", well, you get a fraction of the framerates you should. Because LL won't address the issues that would double or triple your framerates.

      The average SL user cannot create a proportionate shape, because LL refuses to address a variety of issues with the appearance editor, avatar mesh and starter avatars.

      You know those ugly face seams people try to hide with overly bright face lights? Those can be fixed, easily, without breaking content. LL will not, for the same reason they did not fix this issue with the attachment points.

      You know those stretched/distorted textures on the torso and inner thigh of the av mesh? Ditto.

      Ever experienced lag? Guess what LL could easily, EASILY, reduce to a fraction of what you experience now?

      But they won't!

      Ever had to break your shape just to make a rigged attachment work! Again, LL could fix this. Supposedly they are, but Oz Linden has publicly stated he does not believe he should have to fix it. Don't hold your breath expecting the patch, even tho the community has done the bulk of the work on fixing it for him.

      Ever paid for land? Most people pay for four times as much land as they actually use due to many different EASILY FIXED problems all compounding on one another to make it impossible for you to get the most out of what you're paying for.

      All this and more is a very big loss to the SL community, not to mention LL's growth and profits.

      So no matter what you think of Niran as a person, you should be furious about this. You ARE being affected.

  10. Niran is a non-conferment, and a total pain in the ass to deal with, Kirsten had the same arrogant attitude.

    I will admit to having taken OZ to task several time's on my blog, but let's face it, the guy has a job to do, plain and simple, when ya get a screwball that wants to change all the rules ( Niran ) something has got to give.

    Get over it !

    1. I think you're focusing too much on your grudge against Niran here and not seeing the bigger issue.

      The fact that SL is a broken mess (and it is, as much as I love SL it is riddled with ridiculous and avoidable problems) because the Lindens who decide what does and does not get fixed have absolutely no understanding of many of these issues is the problem. (LL is in dire need of an art director so they can make educated decisions when it comes to the content creation tools and default settings. Oz doesn't understand nor care about these things, he's said as much himself!)

      The fact that Lindens are giving customers, not just Niran, the run around on these problems isn't helping either!

      Again, I can point to a dozen issues that have directly impacted you, me and every other SL user, and driven off a hundred times more potential SL users than that, which have been dismissed out of hand in the same exact way.

  11. OMG! I could not figure out why one shoe looked larger than the other even though each prim was the exact same size. Duh! My feet aren't the same size. I thought I as doing something wrong. What a relief. I feel that if a person wants realism that they should turn off the computer and go work in a soup kitchen. In SL I want my body to be symmetrical because in RL shoes are symmetrical, to the naked eye. No one wants to be the dummy wearing a shoe that is noticeably larger then the other.

    I can't comment about technical matters but as a regular user and reasonable intelligent person I have noticed some bugs. I like building and creating clothing and shoes. Your blogs have been enlightening.