Unpredictable

Oh dear, it’s that time of year again… The time when every blogger takes on the somewhat pointless exercise of reviewing the year that’s passed and offering up their predictions on what the new year is likely to bring. It’s a bit daft really: Everyone already knows what’s happened, and nobody really can predict with any real accuracy what the future may hold. Even so, I can’t help myself!

At this point, I usually take the opportunity to go back over my predictions from the end of last year and see just how accurately I managed to guess how SL was going to evolve and change, however I did somewhat take the easy option last year and fudge it a bit, with some rather general predictions with few specifics, however I did hazard a few guesses:

  • I guessed, correctly, that my RL work situation would interfere with my inworld activities more than in the past. Almost every month this year has seen me working away from home for at least a week or more, during which time I’ve not been able to log in to SL. Unfortunately, although I’ve had opportunities to write, without being able to glean material from my inworld adventures, my blog output has also dropped to an all-time low. Hopefully, things will improve in the New Year, but I can’t guarantee it.
  • Much of the technological change I anticipated for 2018 has been slow in coming. Although a great deal has taken place behind the scenes in reforming the way inventory and assets are managed, stripping out old and redundant code libraries and preparing to move to the Cloud. In real terms, the introduction of animesh is probably the big success story, sneaking in at the very close of the year, and other advances, such as EEP (and here) and bakes-on mesh are tantalisingly close and will almost certainly hit the main Grid in the first quarter of next year;
  • I did suggest that 3D would definitely not feature highly in the Lab’s plans, and it seems that I wasn’t wrong about that or about the general lack of interest in 3D headsets and gaming across any platforms out there – for what it’s worth, I don’t think that will change next year either;
  • One prediction that was more on the mark that I would have liked to hope for, was that the political world climate would impact upon the virtual world. Whilst the jury is still out on exactly how this is going to make a difference, we’ve definitely seen the warning signs already – EU Article 13, and Article 11, are still a worrying unknown that could adversely affect SL significantly, and the repeal of net neutrality and re-authorisation of surveilance activities in the States could also significantly damage a platform such as SL. And let’s not mention the damage that ‘fake news’ has caused to those concerned with maintaining the integrity of internet-based systems.

What I never predicted was how my own personal experience of SL would change over the course of the year. Maybe I should have realised that the aforementioned work situation would distance me somewhat from inworld events, but alongside that I never anticipated how the interpersonal and group dynamics amongst the people with whom I spend time with in SL would also fluctuate. Although, over the years that I’ve frequented SL I’ve seen many changes in relationships and connections, I don’t think I’ve experienced quite so many disruptive changes as I have this year. At times, it’s been something of a roller-coaster ride, bringing instability into situations that I would previously have believed to be rock solid.

In terms of personal inworld change the latter part of the year, in particular, has led to some interesting and unexpected developments. I’ve made a few new friends and acquaintances – an unusual occurrence for me, particularly since this has led into new areas of my SL experience to explore, breaking away from the groups and situations that I’ve been comfortable with for a very long time… From new music, venues and locations to new activitites that can occasionally take me outside my comfort zone and into unknown territory. I sure that this will continue into the future and that there’s still much that I’ll be learning and experiencing inworld for the first time – in some ways exciting, in others, for someone as shy and retiring as me, quite daunting!

Those things aside, I think the New Year will bring fresh opportunities to utilise my building skills. I have a couple of ideas about what I want to do, but these are yet to find a firm foundation. One thing I’m certain of is that I’ll make my first forays into building with mesh – how successful that might be remains to be seen, but I reckon it’s worth a try.

As for SL, my gut feeling is that we’re on the cusp of some quite radical changes that will see the virtual world adopt a more game-like feel and become slicker, faster and better all round. Animesh has the potential to be a game-changer and could easily pave the way for low-impact, interactive NPCs and a more immersive experience, if cleverly put to use. Similarly, EEP will permit greater customisation of regions and more inventive use of environmental conditions. Allied with cloud-based services, we could see some pretty impressive inworld improvements. Personally, I’d like to see better implementation of GPU functionality and less reliance on CPU, but that may be asking too much, since it would mean a complete rebuild of the graphics pipeline… But, one can dream!

We’ve already seen rumblings of discontent in relation to non-optimised mesh bodies and I think that will come to a crux sometime next year, possibly when bakes-on is implemented. Whatever happens, I’m certain that we’ll have a much better SL this time next year, although I’m pretty sure that we’ll still moan about it, no matter what!

As for what’s left of this year, it’s over for me in terms of SL – I won’t be logging in tonight, so last night was my last evening of 2018 inworld, and it was a good one too. I spent some time with friends at my local inworld pub, then received a surprise invitation to a live music event to finish off the night – something I don’t do nearly enough, and perhaps should more often in the future. It was fun and enjoyable, and if I’m honest, if all that 2019 brings me inworld can be classed as fun and enjoyable, then I’ll be more than happy!

So, until I catch up with you next year, I hope that the coming 12 months brings you plenty to smile about and enough in the way of challenges to keep you on your toes! Happy New Year!

s. x

And so we’re told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you, be with you
Night and day
U2 – New Year’s Day

 

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