SL 2.0 is coming
Someday soon we might log into our beloved virtual world and see something like this on the login screen of our viewer:
PRESS RELEASE - Linden Labs today announced that it will be shutting down the virtual world service known as Second Life. This will mark the opening of Second Life 2.0, the company's new virtual world….
And so it goes...but for many of us the loss of Second Life isn’t simply the loss of a game like World of Warcraft, it is much more akin to a meteor hitting the earth and wiping out all life.
The virtual world we inhabit is not called “Second Life” for nothing, it is designed to be just that, a second life. Many people here have families and activities that are just as important to them as any activity that a person might partake in with actual flesh and blood. For some, Second Life provides a means to live a life that they would not otherwise be capable of enjoying due to disability or other hardship. To everyone this deeply involved in Second Life, the potential loss of something that is such a central part of your first life causes anxiety and fear.
Linden Labs is aware of all these things, a simple google search on “Second Life 2.0” returns quote after quote from Linden Labs going as far back as 2014:
“...The new Second Life will offer more robust tools for creators. Games, designs, goods, all the things that make the current incarnation of Second Life the go-to place for current users will be part of the new world….”
|https://monaeberhardt.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ebbe-altberg.png CEO Ebbe Altberg|
CEO Ebbe Altberg
“...Linden Lab is working on a next generation virtual world that will be in the spirit of Second Life, an open world where users have incredible power to create anything they can imagine and content creators are king.”
CEO Ebbe Altberg - https://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/Linden-Lab-is-building-a-NEW-virtual-world/td-p/2753476
Oculus Rift and Second Life
One of the rumors that started a lot of furor toward the end of last year was the introduction of a viewer that supported Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality helmet designed to be owned by people and used in the home. It will interface with a desktop computer and will allow people to bring themselves closer than ever to the virtual world they inhabit. Many thought that you would be required to have a Rift as part of the usage of the new Second Life. While you can find several statements indicating there will be compatibility with the VR helmet, there is also indication that the new Virtual World platform will support PCs and mobile devices right from the outset.
Given that Linden Labs wants to support Oculus Rift from the outset but also wants to maintain the current user base, they would be foolish to cut off support for the PC which is the primary platform. The rumors surrounding this were blown vastly out of proportion, if anything Second Life 2.0 will support more ways of accessing the service to allow a wider user base and a larger community. “We want to support mobile from the beginning... Any content in the new platform will be good on Oculus and PC.” --Ebbe Altberg http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2015/03/second-life-news-ebbe-altberg-sl-2.html)
From the Oculus Website:
“Today, we’re incredibly excited to announce that the Oculus Rift will be shipping to consumers in Q1 2016, with pre-orders later this year.”
It is interesting that the consumer Oculus Rift and SL 2.0 are both set to release in 2016, working together it seems likely that Linden Labs and Oculus VR will be able to produce a result that is much larger than either one of them could produce on their own. It also stands to reason that a release of the consumer version of the “Rift” would coincide with the release of a new virtual world platform so that Linden Labs could ride the wave of excitement surrounding VR. Oculus VR is talking about a 200-400 dollar price point for the VR helmet, which means that it will be within the price range of most people and hopefully not as cost prohibitive or as complicated to use as the present developer incarnation of Oculus Rift.
Given Linden Labs continued support of the present Second Life and their active development of Second Life 2.0 with plans toward compatibility with upcoming hardware it seems unlikely that the user base is going to be abandoned. What is most likely is that SL 1.0 and SL 2.0 will both exist side by side for a time as people get used to the new platform and gradually shift over to it. Any way you look at it, it is an exciting time to be a resident of Second Life. There is so much on the horizon that promises to be far more than we could have imagined when this service came online 12 years ago.