It’s that time of the year again, when our thoughts turn to the year that was, with its successes and disasters, trials and triumphs, and consider what the coming year may bring. In many ways, the end of the year is a bit of an arbitrary divider between the past and the future, but the changing of one digit to another to signal another year seems to all of us to be a convenient time to both take stock and ponder what is yet to come.
Certainly, I’ve fallen into the habit in this blog of taking the opportunity to cast an annual critical eye over where the last 12 months has come up to, or failed, my expectations and to make a few predictions for the next 12, with varying degrees of success.
So, how close did I come in 2015?
Well, I reckon I was about 50/50 hit and miss – some of my guesses were bang on the money or pretty close, whilst others completely failed to materialise, and then there were the biggies that I completely failed to anticipate… Dem bones spring to mind! So, let’s take a quick meander down Memory Lane and look back at my predictions for the last year:
Clearly, the all-new SL 2.0 was going to be one of the big themes of 2015, and being cautious in my estimation of what we’d learn about the new platform proved to be absolutely the right approach. Sparse information and closed beta testing later in the year I said, and I was right. I was also right in saying that we wouldn’t have a proper name this year – true, we have a working title: Project Sansar, but it’s unlikely to be the final commercial name for the Lab’s product and, as things stand, that still remains very much a mystery.
I suggested we’d see tier changes – with the caveat ‘possibly not to the satisfaction of the ordinary rank and file resident’, and I ws clear that I was sure there would be no reduction in tier. I’d say my intuition was pretty close on this one – alright, no changes to tier structure per se, but we did see significant reductions in land set up fees and the preservation of grandfathered pricing to transferred regions. Great for the land barons, but no real gains to the rank and file. However, back in August, we did see a reduction in charges for Premium accounts and the removal of VAT charges, so some sweeteners there. Sadly, I was wrong in one respect – still no incentives to own land at the small end of the scale.
The innovations I predicted were more miss than hit! No additional social media links (thank goodness) and no mesh build tools; however I did anticipate that the new user experience would improve and this has definitely happened, with better start-up avatars and the launch of Community Gateways. One thing I did miss was Viewer Managed Marketplace, and Marketplace Search Beta – but nobody’s perfect! (However, a year earlier, I predicted exactly that… So just a bit ahead of my time there!)
On the techy side, with so many changes this year, it was a difficult call – my thinking that Experience Keys would feature prominently turned out to be wrong, but in the background my feeling that ongoing improvements would continue wasn’t at all misplaced. So not so bad on the whole.
Which brings me to 2016… What are my predictions for the coming year?
- We know that CEF (Chromium Embedded Framework) is coming – Project Valhalla is taking care of this – but I do think that is is going to be one of the more noticeable changes we’ll see in the coming year. Expect some incredibly sophisticated use of CEF on a prim and HTML5 to appear from the SL community as they get to grips with the new tools;
- We also know that we’ll see Project Bento released into viewers very soon – again I can see creators turning the new bones to their advantage and building avatars that completely redefine our existing expectations. We’ll likely see a limited number, perhaps 3 or 4, design houses developing their own range of HUD-driven ‘augmented avatars’©, that will effectively divide the market – should be interesting!;
- Jelly babies, (or more properly, render muting), are coming. I reckon we’ll see the feature implemented around March, followed by a flurry of interest for a few weeks. By the end of April, my guess is that only the most dedicated lag nazis will ever turn the feature on and it’ll find itself consigned to the list of functions that sounded great but nobody ever uses;
- Will we see an open Beta for Sansar – yes, we will. And we’ll also find out what the new Platform will be called by around September, at least that’s what I’m guessing. What I don’t expect to see are any projected launch dates announced, or Linden Lab organising competitions for residents to name the new product. Towards the end of the year, I predict we’ll see a transfer programme for merchants, allowing them to create and sell products that can be used across both SL and the new platform;
- I can’t see VR being big for SL, or generally – my feeling is that this will go the same way as Pathfinding and Experience Keys – a slow burn, with very little real take-up;
- Wild speculation here… Whilst we won’t see an end to LSL, I do think we might see an option for scripting in Java implemented within the viewer, and I’ll also go out on a limb and say that we will see easy to use, viewer based, basic mesh building tools at some point in the next 12 months – going further, I’d suggest these will produce optimised mesh objects capable of being imported into Sansar;
- I’d love to see some of the volumetric lighting refinements that NiranV has incorporated into the Black Dragon Viewer become features available to all users. Won’t happen – that’s my prediction!;
- Another completely unfounded possibility – more likely to be driven by third party developers than the Lab – in-viewer screen capture for machinima. If it happens, you heard it here first!
And that’s it – my predictions for 2016… but, in truth, practically anything could happen in the next 12 months, and I do mean anything!
Happy New Year!
Went to the fortune teller
Had my fortune read
I didn’t know what to tell her
I had the dizzy feeling in my head
The Rolling Stones – Fortune Teller