As I mentioned earlier, the ninth installment of The Drax Files Radio Hour podcast aired on Friday and its main topic was the launch of the public beta of SL Go, a cloud streaming service developed by OnLive for access to Second Life on the go. Please note that I didn’t use the term “viewer”, but opted for the term “service” instead; although it does employ a (nearly full-featured) viewer, it uses the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that has become quite popular in the corporate world lately.
SL Go is, as mentioned a few lines above, cloud-based. It runs on a remote, high-performance server and streams the result to the user’s client – computer, television set (via the mini-console provided with OnLive’s Online Games System), or tablet or other mobile device that has a screen of adequate size, providing the best graphics one could expect from Second Life – regardless of the hardware available locally. Right now, the mobile viewer is available only for Android, but an iOS version is in the works. For a thorough review of the service, you’d do well to go to Inara Pey’s blog.
The launch of SL Go was part of OnLive’s re-emergence after a troubled period for the original company; a period which ended with OnLive being acquired by Gary Lauder in August 2012. Gary Lauder was an early investor in the original OnLive through his own company, Lauder Partners.
Besides the launch of the SL Go public beta on Wednesday March 5th, OnLive also launched the CloudLift games service (priced at $14.99/month) and the OnLive Go service, of which SL Go is part. OnLive Go aims getting people up-and-running with MMOs and virtual worlds.
Now, the launch of SL Go has been met with a significant amount of criticism, most of which was based on misconceptions. Putting aside the “now we’re going to be obliged to pay to use SL” argument that frankly holds no water at all, the main point of criticism is the pay-per-hour pricing model. In the podcast, Draxtor interviews Nate Barsetti, OnLive’s Senior Manager of Customer Relations and Dennis Harper, OnLive’s Senior Product Manager, and one of the topics discussed is the pricing model and potential options for the future.
From what I gather, Nate Barsetti is the driving force behind SL Go and its public face, as he has already appeared in a special programme by Designing Worlds and in the subsequent Q&A session – besides the interview with Drax. Nate is obviously more than qualified to speak about SL Go – he’s also in a very good position to discuss Second Life and SL Go’s position in the commercial ecosystem of Second Life and the decisions that led to its development and launch. He used to work for the Lab, as Scout Linden, has been a resident of SL for many years – and a pretty active one, actually, as he used to lead a Star Wars roleplay community.
Dennis Harper’s interview is just as interesting. Like Nate, he says that the pricing model is under review – after all, SL Go is currently in beta. Also, like Nate, he’s no stranger to Second Life and shares his experience with the platform – he was given a copy of Wagner James (Hamlet) Au’s book and told to get on with it. More interesting, in my opinion, is the way Dennis envisions how OnLive themselves might get more involved with Second Life in the future, possibly helping those new to this virtual world. Draxtor also interviews Strawberry Singh, who offers a balanced opinion on SL Go. Now, concerning the aforementioned pricing model and future options for SL Go, Inara Pey had written an interesting commentary, which largely reflects my own personal ideas and views.
In other news, The Drax Files Radio Hour now has a new sponsor: Leap Motion. Marking this, the show is giving away two Leap Motion devices in two different competitions, so each competition has one Leap Motion as its prize. The competition for the podcast is addressed to people who use Facebook; then, a second Leap Motion will be up for grabs for non-Facebook users.
Draxtor has actually been working with the Leap Motion for SL for quite some time and has posted a video showing his attempts. Lately, Leap Motion themselves approached the Lab about integrating their controller into Second Life (read Inara Pey’s coverage of this) and, at that time of writing, members of the Firestorm team are working with Leap Motion to achieve this.
The rest of the show deals with SL advertising and with recent news regargin Bitcoin; the reopening of the JIRA is also mentioned. In all, even if you’ve read all the forum and blog posts about SL Go, the show is definitely worth a listen, as both Nate Barsetti and Dennis Harper speak candidly and honestly about their new service, and the conversation should help put things in perspective and clear out a number of misconceptions.
- The Drax Files Radio Hour show #9: SL GO (this blog)
- show #9: SL GO – The Drax Files Radio Hour [with Jo Yardley]
- Introducing SL Go from OnLive – Second Life Official Blogs
- Software as a service -Wikipedia
- SL Go: Second Life on a tablet, on the move, and more – by Inara Pey
- New OnLive owner is Lauder Partners – GamesIndustry International
- CloudLift – OnLive
- SL Go – Designing Worlds episode on Treet TV
- Designing Worlds OnLive QandA with Nate Barsetti – AviewTV
- SL Go: of pricing and models and some thoughts from OnLive – by Inara Pey
- The Drax Files Radio Hour Leap Motion giveaway for SL users on Facebook
- Leap Motion integration coming to SL – by Inara Pey