The brain drain…

One of the most innovative technical brains at Linden Lab, Qarl Linden, who was responsible for mesh development, has been sacked and is now part of the Emerald development team at Modular Systems. He is henceforth to be known as Qarl Fizz. The entire team responsible for meshes at LL have been sacked. Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote about this is in a recent post, which has led Nalates to conclude that, unless the decision is reversed, this could signal the beginning of a quick decline for Second Life as it is left behind by technology, taking the conservative approach as a result of the recession and declining investment environment. Meanwhile, he predicts that others will implement meshes, which are a fundamental piece of technology in mainstream gaming and 3D design.

However, it does seem that Modular Systems get through their top developers at a rate of knots, losing one the previous day to Qarl joining and another the previous month. This is not the first time that all-out war has erupted between Emerald factions, the most notable being over the longstanding NeilLife affair.

The most important question for OpenSim is whether, and how quickly, Modrex becomes a core module, thus integrating the work done by RealXtend, and/or whether LL somehow manage to beta test the work they have done on meshes despite the loss of nearly all of the key developers in their recent “restructuring” (read redundancy) activities. If this were done, suddenly the content gap, which is to say the fact that nearly all the best content is still locked up in SL, could be suddenly reversed because existing 3d mesh content designed for other systems could become compatible with OpenSim. Grids using the OpenSim server platform could, at a stroke, become far more viable competitors to SL, and the main advantage that LL has, their head start in providing content, might easily be removed. Their technical head start has already been eroded by time and by the heroic efforts of the open source community and, with the loss of so many developers, is arguably in the process of being torn apart.

In order to survive in the metaverse that they themselves created, LL need to take a bold step. The best thing they could do at this stage is open up the walled garden that is Second Life. They have the longest experience in offering stable server space, and control by far the biggest market place and currency exchange. Philip Rosedale (aka Philip Linden) needs to reprise his initial, visionary step of creating Second Life in the first place, by understanding ahead of his competitors where the market must now go.

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  1. Meshes, third-party viewers, ModRex, and OpenSim « Starflower Bracken's Blog

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