For over eight years now I’ve been helping to guide the ship known as The Wastelands. We had a phenomenal boom when we were but larvae on the Second Life grid; thanks to mostly word of mouth and Warren Ellis documenting our growth. In the early days our land ownership capacity was always full, and we were struggling to just build more lands for people to come live on. But then that bubble suddenly popped.
A series of growing pains came to Second Life right at the end of 2007. An almost perfect storm of things. Virtual gambling and then “banking” bans, major commercial content developers pulling out, news articles decrying SL as nothing but a sexual deviants paradise, pedophiles, a glut of virtual land, and pricing changes all made the grid start hemorrhaging it’s player base. Just after all of that happened, the first CEO and pioneer of SL decided to move on to other projects. The growing pains became more intense with a 66% employee layoff, the reign of M Linden and trying to turn SL into Facebook or Twitter, and what seemed like utter paralytic stagnation in terms of SL development for years. For the most part The Wastelands has weathered all of this rather well, we’re survivors after all. But it wasn’t easy…
It was as if we were all in a long dark tunnel in a mountain. The kind that curves so you can’t see any light from either end. You know you’re someplace in there with all the other vehicles trying to find an end — but you don’t know if you’re going to make it because you’re choking on the exhaust fumes. You feel hopeless in the dark. So many regions and excellent places in SL are just gone now, as they certainly couldn’t make it out. Whole estates in SL have been gobbled up by bigger estates, others have just crashed and burned, and some have just taken advantage of peoples’ trust and their wallets. The Wastelands even had to cut off a few regions just to stay alive, all while even the mega estates collapsed and vanished. It was all very cutthroat, do or die, survival of the fittest. Undoubtedly, these were the darkest ages of Second Life.
After what seemed like the longest years of SL, Rodvik Linden came in, shook up the place, and quickly left. But I feel that due to his efforts during his short tenure, we could finally start to see the light shining around the bend. Either a lot of low hanging fruit from the projects Linden Lab was working on had fallen, or just a lot of newer smaller projects got developed that made big impacts on SL seemed to turn things around in the right direction. LL as a whole started to diversify into other not-SL things, but still kept steady enough development on SL to make positive progress. Then Ebbe Linden came in and kept up the momentum. It’s pretty much been nothing but good news for SL since. More recently there’s even been positive “news” articles about SL. We just need to keep riding this wave high until the next storm comes.
Over this past weekend for the first time since 2008, I was one parcel shy from full capacity. I have no doubt we’ll be completely full by time summer break arrives. I may even have to have a waiting list for a new region. Certainly all the damaged isn’t reversed, but I genuinely feel like everything has finally turned around. Sure SL still has some issues to hammer out. But just like my projects, they’re never REALLY done. There’s always work to be done. If you’re going to do anything well, you’ve got to really put your best work into it. You have to be passionate, even manic, to really survive against improbable odds. Even then, the amount of effort we put into things doesn’t always add up to a net gain, and for some that’s fine. In more ways than one, The Wastelands is like the ship Serenity in Firefly. We keep flying because of love.
I don’t apologize for the 1.5 years lapse in posts, I have been busy.