Three days ago Ebbe Linden was ‘born’, his avatar was activated shortly after his RL counterpart Ebbe Altberg was appointed the new CEO of Linden Lab after the unexpected news of former CEO Rod Humble leaving just a few weeks earlier after having been the CEO for 3 years.
And not much later he stumbled into my bar in 1920s Berlin to be entertained with 1920s Swedish music, the best Schnaps in VR and pretty frauleins (und herren) making eyes at him.
He looked much younger then.
A lot has happened in the last 3 years, Second Life has improved significantly, tier (per prim) has gone down, the tech has improved, we’ve experimented with headsets with mixed results, the hamsters in the wheels that keep the LL servers running have been given fresh straw, Lindens have been released back into the wild and we learned about the brand new world they have been building.
Of course some of these things were set in motion before Ebbe joined the club but a lot changed under his watch and an interesting and exciting future awaits us.
Generally it seems that most people in SL are quite happy with our current captain on the bridge and personally I must admit I think he is doing a cracking job and I’m happy it is him in charge at this, I think, very important time for VR.
One thing Ebbe completely messed up… is his profile.
Really Mr. Linden, after 3 years your profile is still empty, you should fill it up with nonsense quotes, ridiculous disclaimers, an up to date profile picture and your favourite picks, you know, like that 1920s Berlin sim….
Seriously though, what do you think, has Ebbe done a good job?
Are you happy or unhappy with him as CEO?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Recently Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab) gave a Sansar demonstration at WebSummit together with Bjorn Laurin (VP of product at LL).
A big screen in a brightly lit room was used so it is rather difficult to get an idea of how good (or not) everything really looked.
On top of that this was all filmed by a member of the audience, so far from ideal.
Nevertheless there were some interesting things to see.
It is also incomplete but till another (official) comes out, this and twitter pictures is all we’ve got.
Also something went wrong it seems, thank you windows…
The “Scottish Highlands” (the most wonderful place in the rl world) was a scene I had not yet seen before.
They also demonstrated the Video dome, something I think will appeal to a lot of people as it is quite a novel way of watching 360 videos, especially if you have a headset of course.
Also new was a view of a window called ‘Atlas’, which appears to be the new ‘search’ or ‘destination guide’.
On the screen we see several destinations that we already know;
WSJD conference stage
Mars outpost Alpha
Toppleton Toy Town
Can’t see, probably the bridge.
Another WSJD stage
The video dome
One I can’t read.
Loading of a scene is real fast, of course they use a top of the line computer and don’t have to share a sim with a bunch of laggy avatars and I can only compare it to my MacBook which sometimes takes a little time to load textures and so on.
But if Sansar loads this quickly on regular computers and with other people in the same sim, it is quite an improvement.
The Mars sim we’ve seen before, but now we see Toppleton Toy Town “live” and it looks like fun.
Everything is set to physical (to speak in SL terms) and by bumping into it you destroy the place.
Now this looks nice but is not that earth shattering to us in SL, we can already do something like this.
Although probably not so detailed as it is quite tricky to build something with prims set to physical and are a bit jumpy.
However something that is interesting is the Zeppelin.
No I do not just say that because I’m obsessed with these majestic airships, but because it appears to be hanging from a string and reacts realistically to being bumped into.
I may be mistaken, it may just be a prim set to float and be physical at the same time without falling, but the movement makes it seem like it is hanging.
The next stop, Origin Cinema, takes a little longer to load.
Ebbe is about to explain that perhaps this place wasn’t loaded into the cache yet when it loads.
Ebbe explains they use teleporting by pointing and clicking, which is something that is used a lot in VR at the moment as we don’t really have a good walking simulator device in RL yet.
I wonder/hope that they’ll add a walk to option in stead of teleporting.
Even with a headset I can imagine that teleporting all those little steps can be a bit peculiar but for others it can perhaps ruin the illusion/immersion if you’re trying a realistic roleplaying scene and people just vanish and then appear again further down the road.
One of the unspoken etiquette rules of (RP) SL is that you don’t teleport away in sight, but go around a corner first.
For Sansar I’d like to see an option where your avatar physically walks/runs to the spot you click in stead of teleporting.
Sounds like more fun but also more realistic for people near you.
Watching a video in VR is nothing new to us in SL of course, but for outsiders who have forgotten about our virtual world, it might be impressive.
After all, virtual cinemas are still being described as something new and none (as far as I know) of those allow you to actually (re) design that cinema or watch movies there together with friends from all over the world who all have their own individual avatar and can dress up for the occasion.
Next Bjorn takes us to the editor, this is where the “building” happens.
We get a quick short look at the screen but then we move on to the next location.
Which is a shame because of course the editing is most interesting for most of us.
So far all we have is still just moving stuff around build outside of Sansar.
Next a visit to the Tomb, great example but nothing new for those of us who’ve been following Sansar news for a while.
Anyway, what we see looks pretty good but, on this screen, without headsets, there doesn’t seem to be much there that we can’t also replicate in Second Life today.
It is difficult to judge how different Sansar is or isn’t without actually having had a chance yet to try it myself.
Ebbe showed the Wall Street Journal a short demonstration of Sansar at the WSJDLive conference.
In an apartment he moved a few items around, quite easily and with the use of a little Hand-held (virtual) device.
He also moved himself around by clicking a spot on the floor, we see an icon on the floor with two feet on them.
Going around a virtual world by clicking where to teleport is of course far from ideal but until we can get good and affordable omnidirectional treadmills that actually work well, this is a solution you can see in most virtual games, worlds, etc.
One of the presenters asked if he had any food in his apartment, unfortunately I have not yet been let in so he couldn’t even offer them a glass of schnapps.
Ebbe also mentioned that a few hundred users are now in Sansar, no I’m not one of them, I know, it is a scandal isn’t it?
How on earth do all those poor avatars manage surviving there without my schnapps?!
Last April, Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab) spoke at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality convention.
The full video has finally been uploaded to Youtube.
And although Ebbe’s chat has been discussed plenty since then and has no real news, I thought I’d share it anyway, just in case.
A few weeks ago Ebbe Altberg, (aka Ebbe Linden) CEO of Linden Lab, spoke at the Augmented World Expo.
Ebbe talks about what Second Life is all about, mentions Sansar and shows screenshots and video from this new virtual wthat will be open to the public in January.
Emphasis was on creating experiences by assembling objects you buy or build with 3D software.
Ebbe repeats that those who have signed up for Sansar would be let in around ‘early August’.
Clearly that date has been moved or they have been letting people in but they made them sign a non disclosure agreement.
There isn’t much news or anything revealed that we didn’t know yet.
But just in case you want to see it anyway, you can see a video of his talk here;
Donnie SC Lygonis, Swedish business coach, currently working in Silicon Valley, recently interviewed Ebbe Altberg (AKA Ebbe Linden, CEO of Linden Lab) for his podcast on spreaker.com.
Ebbe talks about his career, how he ended up with LL, he brags a little about how awesome Second Life is, talks about the new Project Sansar, how users can create experiences there and the future of VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed reality).
Nothing really new or earth shattering is said, but Ebbe did mention that only a few months ago people who tested Sansar gave it a fairly high ‘discomfort rating’, probably based on how dizzy they felt using a headset in this Virtual World, but that today this rating is very low after fine-tuning the speed of walking, tweaking the teleporting, etc.
Ebbe repeated that this August, more users (by invitation only) will be invited to come test Sansar, it already is August, so lets hope those invitations are about to be send!
Close to 5000 people have signed up to be allowed to become part of the August test wave, I am one of them and my virtual suitcase is packed.
My plan for Sansar is to first build an embassy for Virtual Time Travellers, nothing fancy, nothing big, just a place where people interested in using VR for historical purposes (education, entertainment, etc) can hang out, chat, make plans and wonder how long it will take before I can build 1920s Berlin there.
Ebbe also mentions that Sansar will open “to the world” in January 2017.
We’ve been told that Sansar would go public in 2017, even early 2017, but as far as I know, this is the first time an actual month is mentioned and January is quite soon.
Most important of all though is the mentioning of The 1920s Berlin Project at 43:10 🙂
I love that Mr. Lygonis mentions how annoying it is that with all the experience we have in SL, it must be a bit annoying to have all these people re-inventing the wheel when they pitch something as original, unique and new… while we’ve been doing it in SL for over a decade.
Ebbe answers politely but I prefer to imagine him running around Silicon Valley screaming; “SL has been doing that for over a decade, and that, and that!”
After the interview Mr. Lygonis got to try Sansar and calls it “to date; the most interesting virtual reality environment”.
Today ZDNet (a business technology news website published by CBS Interactive) published an interview with Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab.
You can read the full article by clicking here, I quote a few bits I found extra interesting below;
“We’re very fortunate to have over a decade of experience regarding what people want to do when they immerse themselves in a digital world,” Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg said.
It is really good that Ebbe keeps telling people this, because that is without doubt the most valuable thing about our Virtual World; we have tons of people with years of experience spending time in VR and creating VR experiences while it seems that so many other people are just getting started… and are reinventing the wheel again and again but that is a story for another time.
With its new VR platform, Linden Lab is aiming to solve that. Called Project Sansar, the platform that will allow just about any user — regardless of technical skill — to build their own VR content at a very low cost. The platform is being billed as “the WordPress or the YouTube of VR.”
Although I’m not so sure yet if we won’t need much technical skill to build (in stead of create with stuff others build) their own VR experience, at least not for a while, I am glad to see it being promoted as the WordPress or Youtube of VR, I think that is a very good way to sell it and maybe the new name of the world should represent this.
The platform is not open source, but it will be compatible with industry standard tools. For example, creators will be able to upload a variety of common 3D file formats (such as .fbx and .obj), and scripting will be done with C#, rather than a language unique to the platform.
No Collada (DAE)?
In Second Life, a person or business can spend nearly $300 a month to host a space (it’s half price for educators and nonprofits, but that’s still a hefty sum). Altberg promised that hosting a Sansar experience will cost in the “tens of dollars” per month.
Now that is good news.
We’ve already been told that “tier” will be a lot lower in Sansar but I think this is the first time we’ve been given a sort of number.
Of course we do not know how much land or “prims” we get for this but I like to think that this means I will be able to host something the size of 1920s Berlin (4 regions) with many more prims for less than $50 a month.
USA Today also published an article about Sansar that you can read by clicking here.
Again, I’ve quoted a few things that stood out for me;
“We’ve never referred to it as Second Life 2.0,“ says Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg of Project Sansar in an interview here. “We think we’re building what will be the easiest ways for users to create virtual reality experiences that are social. And to make it easy for people to create, share and monetize these experiences.”
The writer is also invited to try Project Sansar and describes his experience;
Donning Oculus Rift headgear, my Sansar demo began on a virtual replica of Mars, before I was teleported to an ancient Egyptian tomb, where I could inspect the hieroglyphics on the walls up close. Soon, I found myself “inside” a 360 video and later spent time in a virtual reality toy room where I was encouraged to knock down a bridge and bat other objects around.
As for moving SL users to Sansar;
Altberg hopes to draw users from Second Life to Project Sansar, while acknowledging the likelihood of some cannibalization. “We obviously have the largest ready to roll audience…. But rather me than someone else,” he says.
Ebbe ends with;
“The luxury we have (in developing Sansar) is that we have already seen people successfully do all of the things I mentioned in Second Life. The true strength of VR will be social.”
Tuesday Zander Greene and I interviewed Ebbe Altberg as part of the ‘Meet the Lindens’ at Second Life’s 13th birthday celebrations.
It was an interesting chat, if I do say so myself, and many things were discussed.
Of course Sansar came up and one issue caused some confusion afterwards, especially by those who weren’t even there during the interview.
Some people were worried that they were going to have to use their RL identity to take part in Sansar and without checking if this was true, by for instance asking those who were present or who asked the questions, this story was spread.
Luckily, some people who were there and who paid attention wrote down in detail what was being said and there is now also a video.
So now you can make up your own mind.
I am far too lazy to write a transcript or detailed report of what was said so we’re all very lucky that the brilliant Inara Pey did this for us.
Please check out her blog post on the interview by following this link;
Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab) did a short interview with AWE.tv a few days ago.
He doesn’t say much that new or shocking for most of us but one thing he did mention is that “thousands and thousands” of people have applied to be given early access to Sansar and that they will be given acces around “early August”.
Going public is still scheduled for the end of the year.
Sansar will also have spacial audio, 360 video, avatar customisation, will work with headsets and controllers, you’ll be able to create inside of VR, etc.
One thing that made me frown a little was that he said;
You can use a X-box controller or the keyboard and mouse if you’re just on a PC but if you really want to get the full meal then you want independent handcontrollers like the Oculus Touch or the HTC Vive controllers because it makes a huge difference.
Now of course it makes sense that using these things will enhance your VR experience in Sansar but in stead it sounded a bit like not only will Sansar be a lot better with them but perhaps a bit impractical or cumbersome without them.
Will the VR headsets and controllers just be a nice bonus that makes Sansar better or something you don’t really want to be without in Sansar?
I sort of want the full meal without all that stuff, I can enjoy a meal without ketchup but not without cutlery.
Is the VR stuff the ketchup or the cutlery?
And why are we talking food?
Anyway, not much news, but still worth watching even if it is just because of Ebbe’s nice sweater.
During his talk he showed a video about Sansar and a few screenshots were shared online before, also on my blog here.
Just now, minutes ago, Collision uploaded a video of Ebbe’s contribution.
It doesn’t actually show Ebbe talking but the images he used in his presentation.
And of course we’re all sad we can’t see Ebbe and judge whatever he was wearing (anything but a vintage 3 piece suit is acceptable) it is also quite nice because it means we get to see the Sansar video in great detail, in stead of just on a screen behind Ebbe.
The speech itself is good but not much is said that we didn’t know yet.
In short he talks about how big VR is going to be and that users will not just be consumers but also participants.
He explains that Linden Lab has a lot of experience and calls Second Life the biggest virtual world to date.
I am not sure if it is if you’d also count other computer generated worlds we know from some games, but I wouldn’t be surprised and I am of course sure that it is the oldest and biggest user generated online virtual world.
Either way, you can’t remind people too often of this as it seems that the wheel keeps being reinvented.
For instance, just the other day I stumbled upon something called ‘Hypatia‘ by a company called Timefire who claim that they’re building the first Virtual Reality City….
A ridiculous claim of course.
Ebbe talks about how SL is being used for business meetings, helping people who suffer from PTSD, people dealing with phobias, he mentions the lovely Fran who has Parkinson’s but finds much joy from Second Life, as seen in the wonderful Drax Files episode you can see by clicking here.
He talks about Education, the over 500 institutions that use SL (would have been more without the Tier fiasco of a few years back I reckon) for their lessons.
Ebbe talks a bit about the current state of VR, the headsets are coming, expensive but prices are coming down rapidly and of course an Oculus headset is cheaper than a similar VR rig would have cost a few years ago.
The next subject is the democratisation of a medium and that Project Sansar will make it possible for everyone and anyone to create and share.
He explains that most of us do not know how to actually create, just like in RL we live in a world where most of the things around us are made by others.
It always worries me a bit when that is mentioned because I keep wondering if Sansar will have easy building tools.
Being able to build whatever you want in SL, even if it isn’t easy, is one of the best things about SL and I think it is essential for Sansar as well.
Then again, I assume that most SL users are not creators.
Linden Lab has been working on Sansar for 2 and a half years now, a big investment but luckily SL is still “kicking off a lot of money” for them.
There are 75 people working on Sansar.
One of the creations made in the alpha stage of Sansar is a co-project between the Sorbonne University and the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt, which shows laser scanned 3D models (of 50 million polygons!) of tombs and historical locations which the Sansar team then decreased to 40 thousand polygons and uploaded.
Which is very exciting but it does raise the question; why didn’t they build and upload it themselves in Sansar?
Either way, now anyone, anywhere could explore these tombs in Sansar (once it opens to the public).
A great example of a wonderful educational display.
Next we get some actual Sansar Video footage, the first we’ve seen since that very short video on a screen behind Ebbe at another conference.
First we see someone (Jason) using controllers and a headset (vive) to ‘create’, but what he is really doing is just moving things about and Ebbe says that you don’t really need to know how to actually create those objects, which worries me a bit again.
Because I want to create those objects and Blender isn’t easy.
Nevertheless, it looks cool and very much like I’d imagine it would be, we’re doing our SL moving about of stuff, but with controllers and a headset, even though we of course don’t NEED those for Sansar.
Next we get a smooth video which has been edited and comes with flash music showing quite a few very interesting and I must admit, impressive shots.
Skip to 12:38 if you want to see the footage.
We see a wonderful museum of the Partially excavated Ancient Greek (IV-III B.C.) villa Ortli in Crimea (did they use this model?) which looks very good and contrary to what I thought to see first time; the shadows do fall nicely over the ruins in stead of ignoring them.
The Egyptian ruins look nice, but very much like a 3d scanned model, which of course it is.
Nevertheless as a history addict with many connections in the world of archeology, I’ve seen this kind of thing before, but it becomes interesting when we see an avatar walking out of the tomb, into the light.
We’ve got working shadows and someone who isn’t walking with the dreaded SL duckwalk.
She then walks across a winter landscape with wonderful mountains, snow everywhere and a bright sun above.
Then we move on to the cinema that we’ve seen pictures of before.
It is wonderfully retro Art Deco and I for one would love to go visit it soon.
The film playing is the new ‘Captain America; Civil war’ film, if I am not mistaken.
Let’s assume they were watching the trailer… for copyright’s sake 😉
Then we find ourselves in some sort of post apocalyptic Mad Max kind of landscape, with more walking avatars and a working kind of cable car system.
We then see someone diving into the sea, but if you look closely you see some sort of platform in the middle, so I think that what we’re actually seeing is a place where you as an avatar can enjoy a 360° video.
More apocalyptic stuff with a nice windlight setting.
And finally we see the Golden Gate bridge, which we’ve also seen before but this time without the flying crafts but a lady walking across it.