Things are hotting up in the world of Project Sansar – Linden Lab’s next generation virtual world, (I really shouldn’t have to say that last bit, but drawing on previous experience, at least one reader will now be thinking to themselves, “LL are making a new virtual world? No way!”). Some tantalising glimpses behind the scenes are beginning to creep into the public domain, but – irritatingly – they aren’t telling us much more than we didn’t already know. Perhaps the biggest news, and a bit of a shocker at that, is that the Lab are developing a whole new rendering engine for the platform, rather than rely on existing solutions, apparently to facilitate more user-friendly creation tools – this is good news when you consider that residents invited to join the closed Alpha were required to have experience of modelling in Maya, and that optimised user content is pretty much the Holy Grail of the new platform.
Sansar is still in closed Alpha and I’m not expecting an open Beta until sometime next year – and I’d be guessing later, rather than sooner – however that’s not stopping the Lab from taking the surprising step of inviting anyone who fancies taking a nose at the project from popping into the office and seeing what’s what. Oh, to be in SF tomorrow and in the happy position of having a ticket!
There is a caveat, you can look, but you can’t talk – the Lab has made it clear that participants in the show & tell, the same as alpha testers, will have to sign an NDA – pretty standard practice in the cut throat world of commercial research and development, but absolute torture for a blogger! There can be few things as frustrating as knowing secrets that everybody else wants to know, but being unable to share them; I’m not talking about the sort of secrets that you’d keep to protect a friend or are of a personal nature, but the big juicy secrets that – on the face of it – are really not going to harm anyone and will one day be common knowledge anyway. That of course is terribly naive – letting slip a proprietary secret or technical advance can result in financial ruin for a commercial concern, give competitors an unfair advantage and scupper projects before they ever see the light of day. So, whether we like it or not, those in the know are not going to tell us anything that’s not approved, rubber-stamped, vetted and double-checked before it ever reaches the headlines.
Whilst that may still strike some as unnecessarily harsh, it’s a reasonable and sensible stance to take, and it’s one that every one of us will be pretty familiar with from our everyday lives, although we might not directly correlate what we naturally accept as the norm with the more formal NDA. Many of us will have jobs where it’s taken for granted that information we may deal with goes no further; friends and relationships rely on us being discrete and maintaining confidentiality when required; and all of us assume that the companies, services and businesses that we deal with daily operate on the same principles – if we couldn’t be sure that our private business wasn’t going to be shared, we’d never use them.
So, that’s just the way that it is – no matter how desperate we are to learn about LL’s plans for Project Sansar, we’re just going to have to wait – and, as for those privileged few who are in the know, you can be assured that they’re not going to be spilling the beans, at least not until they’re told they can. Much as I’d love to be in that select group, in a way I’m very glad that I’m not – it would just be too hard to have all that juicy gossip and know I had to keep it to myself.
And anyway, isn’t it more fun to wait and see?
And if you have a minute why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go
Keane – Somewhere Only We Know