Monday, February 24, 2020

Top Stories of the 2010s: Linden Lab's "Shared Creative Spaces"

 By Bixyl Shuftan

This is the fifth of our series of some of the top stories of the 2010s. For part one, Click Here. For part two, Click Here. For part three, Click Here. For part four, Click Here

It's unusual for a business to rely on a single product, though it does happen, especially if that one product is highly successful. But what happens when that one product doesn't bring in the money it once did? There's also that practically every company dislikes having to rely on just one source of revenue as that leaves the business vulnerable. So even if a company starts out by selling one product that does very well at first, it will eventually diversify.

When Linden Lab started out, Second Life was it's one big focus. And after a few years it paid off handsomely as the virtual world was in it's golden age and it's active membership was many tens of thousands with many tens of thousands of sims of virtual land being paid for. But once SL was no longer the darling of the tech media, the people, and money, weren't coming in like they used to. In 2010, Linden Lab would see layoffs, their CEO calling it quits, and Philip Rosedale coming back as interim for several months then leaving again.

Finally in December 2010, Rod Humble would be hired as CEO. Linden Lab's official statement pf his hiring described him as having a “20-year career in the game development industry,” with “work on more than 200 games.” He was noted for his work on “The Sims,” but was also one of the staff for the online game “EverQuest,” which was the most popular MORPG before “World of Warcraft.” While Second Life continued to improve and develop under his watch, by late 2011 he had his eye on Linden Lab having more than just that, “we will be launching some completely different products next year not related to Second Life.”

It started in February 2012 when Linden Lab bought the game studio LittleTextPeople. Then in September, it launched two new products, Creatorverse and Patterns. Creatorverse was an iPad application that got compared to the app "Crayon Physics Deluxe." Patterns was described by critics as a knock-off of Minecraft, though one reviewer called it "dramatically different" in some ways. In January 2013, Linden Lab purchased Blocksworld. This was an iPad game described as "mix of Lego and Minecraft" that was clearly aimed at a younger audience. A few days later, it announced the release of "dio." Someone from the Lab thought the "shared creative space" could be used for personal pages, games, and more. Others who took a close look at it called it "more like a MUCK/MUD/MUSH with pictures than anything else." In February, Linden Lab released Versu, an interactive fiction application. In July, the Lab bought Desura, which was a game distribution service but unlike Steam concentrated on those from smaller "indie" companies and startups.

By now, Linden Lab was using a new slogan. "Your world, your imagination," had already ceased to be used for some time, at least by the Lab. But with the release of Patterns, a new one was being used: "At Linden Lab, we make shared creative spaces." The reaction from the residents was mixed. Some were optimistic these products would eventually make the Lab money, which in turn could be invested to improve Second Life. But others felt they were being "taxed" by way of part of their fees and tier going to pay for things they would never use instead of the money being used to maintain the Grid. By the time Linden Lab acquired Desura, some wondered if the Lab was just throwing random things at the wall and looking for what sticks instead of making an effort to encourage a fanbase to develop for these new products, "it seemed like they were snapping up promising creative gaming projects and hoping that one might magically blossom into the next Minecraft. But they've yet to demonstrate the follow-through that would be necessary to make that happen."

As it turned out, of these new products only Blocksworld would be a clear success. How much the others made, Linden Lab would never provide statistics. Eventually, Rod Humble would leave Linden Lab, and Ebbe Altberg would take his place as CEO in February 2014. Among the first things he did was take down Creatorverse, dio, and Versu later that month. In October, Linden Lab would end it's Patterns game. Next month in November, Linden Lab would sell Desura to Bad Juju Games. Of all the products bought up or made under Rod Humble, only Blocksworld, which was making good money, would remain.

It's unclear if Patterns and Desura would have succeeded had Linden Lab stuck with them, the latter shutting down when Bad Juju went bankrupt in June 2015. But for whatever reason the company leadership didn't believe they were worth the trouble. By this time, the Lab had already started work on it's next-generation virtual world, which would later get the name "Sansar." It may be the Lab had decided to focus on it's new product, hoping it would bring in plenty of money when operational, instead of these two products that weren't making much. In any event, Blocksworld, which is still available on Steam, remains all that's left of Linden Lab's short "Shared Creative Spaces" era.

Sansar would also turn out to be a disappointment, but that is another story.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Crown of Leaves: An Interview With Lins And Grimm

By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

(Click here if the video fails to play)

I’m not a big fan of visual novels, but something about The Crown of Leaves drew me in. I 
was immediately drawn to the beautiful art style, music, world, lore, and of course the 
characters. The setting and aesthetic were right up my alley. I enjoyed every second of 
the first chapter and you can check out the plot and purchase on Steam here. As it turns 
out, others have enjoyed the game as well. The reviews for the game on Steam have 
been Overwhelmingly Positive and it even was nominated for a 2019 SXSW award. Now 
being a huge fan of the game and the artists behind it, I was extremely excited to interview 
the main duo behind it; Lins and Grimm.


Cyfir: What inspired the art, story, and lore of the game?
Lins: The game’s lore had existed long before the game itself and has passed through 
numerous and painful changes. Latori, a country within the Shang-La universe in which 
the action of “The Crown of Leaves” takes place, was originally based on the mixture of 
gypsy and voodoo culture. (We were very inspired by their aesthetics.)
It’s always hard to talk about how the story was born. We put our feelings and emotions into the story and a little bit of ourselves into Roui, so we get a good laugh out of it.
As for the visual-novel-like-a-game genre, we were inspired by two games — Phoenix 
Wright: Ace Attorney and Great Troubles created by our compatriots from the Hazukashi 
Team. We can’t fail to mention Tales from the Borderlands by TTG because it radically 
changed our vision of how character portrayal and storytelling should be done.
Cyfir: Who provided the music?
Grimm: "Blacksmith" is an awesome musician! We met by chance. I had just been surfing 
through resources for paid music, listening to everything I saw until I suddenly stumbled 
upon one of his tracks. That tempted me at once, and we decided "Why not DM him? 
What if he takes orders for original soundtracks? "
"Blacksmith" has a clearly recognizable style. He can’t be confused with anybody else, he 
is not afraid of experiments, and he is a real professional with a capital “P.” And he also 
enjoys rock, jazz, and Halloween-style gothic music.
When he created "The Storyteller" (Roui’s music theme), and we listened to it for the first 
time, we were sitting after it for a few minutes in a pleasant shock with the only thought in 
our heads "It's fabulous."
Cyfir: Is there anyone else on the team that contributed to the project?
Lins: Sure! First of all, we should mention our coder, mold.FF. He is sincerely dedicated to 
what he does and “The Crown” project. So he had been not only solving the tasks we gave 
him, but also felt free to share his own ideas about technical issues. All complicated 
modules were done by his hands.
As for our musician, _Blacksmith_, Grimm has already told you about him before. There 
are two tracks in the OST made by other musicians, Unikorn and Flaviocortizo — one 
track was bought as the very first, the second one is the most recent. We also separately 
ordered OST track from Craig C. Barnes for the location where all the main action takes 
place. The main character’s voice in the intro video was acted by Beau Stephenson – this 
is a voice which has clung to Roui and which all of us will undoubtedly hear again in the future.
A translation from Russian into English was made by Natalie De Corsair and edited by 
Limelawn, Alexis, and Caervec. It is worth noting that Caervec also worked carefully on 
Flynn’s manner of speech in the English localization.
I hope I’ve mentioned everyone. At the moment the team has changed again, but it is too 
early to talk about it in detail.
Cyfir: Without spoiling anything of course, what can everyone look forward to in the next 
Lins: Intrigue, jiggery-pokery, a show-boat trip on a clear morning (possibly).
Grimm: Lots of adventures, mysticism, and monochrome gloom! And a little bit for Serbian 
fans: in the second chapter, his story will be continued.
Cyfir: What have been the challenges of getting this project off the ground and what 
helped you guys to overcome those challenges?
Lins: As old friends and co-authors, Grimm and I are used to relying only on our own or 
each other's strengths. We felt we had the firepower to make the game on our own, without 
attracting any other people: writing stories together or generating universes and characters 
is not something new to us, plus both of us are also artists. The game engine seemed quite 
simple to me. And as for music, we planned to buy it from audio resources. Then we 
realized pretty fast that we couldn’t cope with that by ourselves, and that is how the team 
began to assemble.
We had worked for several months with the first coder, but his work did not suit us. We 
also had our friend Natalie De Corsair with us. She had to create psychological profiles 
(I honestly still don’t understand what all of us had expected from that). We also planned 
to pick another musician, but something went wrong.
The vision on the final result was absolutely different between us, which slowed the 
working process and caused some disagreements. We violated the deadlines that we 
had set for ourselves. It all came to a decision that I took over the entire visual and plot 
part of the project. But later, it became obvious that the leader is not the person who 
does everything by himself, but the one who finds the strength to entrust the difficult 
work to team members and to distribute responsibilities between them correctly. 
Grimm worked with backgrounds, Natalie with translations, and I focused on plot and 
drawing character sprites. That helped us to finish chapter one.
Grimm: I can also add depression and lack of spare time to that list. 2018 and 2019 
stood out richly for tragic real-life situations and health issues for both of us. The coder 
and translator also had enough of their own problems. There were months when we 
barely had time to sleep at night, trying to combine our main jobs, real-life stuff, and 
“The Crown” with all that gloomy background, eventually going into a deep pit.
But now all those things are already behind us, thanks to the closest people for their 
Cyfir: Is there a rough release window for chapter two?
Lins/Grimm: We expect to finish chapter two by the end of 2020. We want to work 
through everything we’ve done calmly and accurately, so as not to disappoint our fans!
Cyfir: Game projects often go through changes as they are developed. Have there been 
any changes in the direction of the game over the course of conception and development 
and if so, what might those have been?
Lins/Grimm: We wanted to come up with a mystical story about a society committed to 
ancient traditions and beliefs … aaaand it was supposed to be a dating simulator. That 
was sort of “Let’s try something simple for the first time.” Over time, the concept of this 
story had changed, and we began to bump into a sort of gloomy tale, completely devoid 
of any humor.
The changes began imperceptibly, and to mark the point when they started, I will share 
a little sort of a secret. We often turn on some nonsense content on the background 
during the working process to make it less routine - the worse it is, the better – and we 
also funnily comment about it in parallel. We have one TV channel where some sort of 
nonsense about fortune-tellers, conspiracies, ceremonies, and etc. is broadcasted 24 
hours a day. And there was the moment when we realized that the protagonist of “The 
Crown” gradually became a skeptic instead of a guardian of ancient traditions and 
superstitions, who had also started seeing through charlatans and languidly rolling his 
eyes every time he had to hear another omen from one of his relatives. We’ve just 
understood that such a story simply can’t be narrated with a serious face. So that is 
how we got to what we have now, even though such a path forced us to postpone the 
release of the game for a few years.
Cyfir: I loved playing through chapter one and my only real disappointment was that it 
ended before I was ready to leave the world. Will chapter two be longer?
Lins: One review has deeply stained my mind (but, sadly, not literally). In that review, 
a player shared his opinion, that, possibly, the first chapter is just a prologue for 
something huge. What I said in my head was like “Nah, of course not”, but, actually, 
it was more like “*scoff*… of course, yes!” Chapter two will be much longer.
Originally we planned to create a simple short game in 3-4 chapters just to pass the 
time. No one had even thought about history in a few chapters. However, when we had 
been finishing the first chapter, we clearly understood that the game left many issues 
not only for the players but also even for us. We know how everything will go on; all of 
us just have to solve “The Crown” correctly.
Cyfir: Were you surprised at how well the game was received?
Grimm: Extremely! We had no guarantees that players would enjoy “The Crown”, 
because it is 2D and anthro-styled. But we were suddenly supported both by Russian 
and foreign fans. Some wrote and still write very warm kind words, others draw fan-arts, 
really, lots of love! It’s nice to feel that you are striving for a good reason.
Critical remarks about game mechanics and conveniences/inconveniences are also 
useful. With their help, we understand what should be changed in-game, or vice versa, 
what should be left untouched.
Cyfir: After The Crown of Leaves, what’s next for you and your team? Are there other 
game projects on the horizon for you and your team?
Lins/Grimm: We have plans to expand plot branches, which didn’t have enough 
attention paid to them in “The Crown”. Roui’s story will end sooner or later, but this 
universe is still full of unsolved mysteries.
It seems to me that a clearer understanding of what the next project should look like 
will come during the development of the last chapter.
Cyfir: On your online profiles you mention that you are not furries. What lead you to 
an anthropomorphic-like art-style and catering to the fandom?
Grimm: The thing is that it is not the only fandom we are interested in. We enjoy 
drawing both humans and anthros, which we tried to reflect in the Shang-La universe. 
Sahash live side by side with humans and don’t conflict with each other. In “The Crown”, 
we will continue to develop this idea. One human character is a protagonist of the DLC 
called “Immortal Horses.” Another one will meet you in the second chapter.
We began to draw animals in childhood. This is not surprising, considering the old Disney 
cartoons we all grew up on and our love of fairy tales like “Narnia”. In my youth, it seemed 
to me that it was easier to draw animals; my dog turned out better in my drawings than 
my Mother, who resented that she had "round cheeks" or that her "nose does not look 
like this". On the other hand, my dog did not have that much opportunity to comment on 
my childhood creativity…
Cyfir: Are there any other projects that you would like to plug?
Lins:We had been working on a comic book called Asomatous” before “The Crown of 
Leaves”, but we never finished it. Perhaps, we can come back to it after “The Crown” and 
rework it according to the game, who knows. But it’s unlikely that there would be any side 
stories to it.
Also, we’ve got a small comic series “The Endless Circle of Wolves” about the adventures 
of Tsourai Queen Saria, which is also indirectly related to Roui’s story. We had drawn it as 
a present for our patrons after we achieved a certain number of them on our Patreon.

Even if you are not a visual novel fan, I highly recommend this game for it’s intriguing story, 
music, and visuals. You will be transported to another world that you won’t want to leave. 
I can’t wait until the next chapter! 


Monday, February 3, 2020

What Is Opensim And What Is A Hypergrid/Metaverse?

By Angel Fencer (Ender Leven)

As you all know Second Life is known for having multiple regions right? Well, what if instead of an region, it's an entire different server that's controlling the regions and login? This has been well-known in the MMORPG community as an Private Server.

This is exactly what Opensim enables users to do. But what if i can tell you there is more to it then just an alternative Second life experience, what if  tell you you can connect different grids (Second Life Private Servers) let me introduce you the Hypergrid and the Metaverse and its infinite grids.

Multi-Grid Users and Local Grid Users in OSGrid:

So what are the differences between Second life and Opensim?

There an few things diffrend about Opensim and Second life the main are:
Opensim grids are not owned by Linden Labs but by external companies/users.
Opensim has an Extension of LSL (Linden Scripting Language) scripting known as OSSL.
Second Life stuff is NOT exportable to Opensim (without using stuff which might get you banned in Second life).
Since Newer Viewers use Havok code that prohibits the usage of Opensim this means there missing features in the physics department.
Illegal and bad activities are covered by server owners, NOT Linden Labs.
God Mode and blue names are not restricted to Lindens only in Opensim.
Opensim region borders are buggier.
Nothing is goverened by Second Life’s EULA or guidelines as grid owners make there own rules.

Is Opensim illegal?

No Opensim uses old viewer versions governed under the GPL which doesn't prohibits connecting to external non second life services.

How do I join other grids

Be sure to download an viewer wich supports Opensim for example this Firestorm version (

Showing how to enable other grids:

Install it and Enable other grids in the options

And your done for it go ahead go nuts and explore all the grids. I really recommend OSGrid it has no currency,is very active and the people are very polite in the main lobby LBSA.

What is your experiences in OSGrid?

I used to be on Second Life and figured out about OSGrid about an year ago (did join on another account but haven't played a lot) and instantly I fall in love with there building capabilities. I remember flying over some kind of dragon landscape (sadly removed) that isn't possible in Second Life because of its limited prim and region (actually not limited but its super expensive) count making it the perfect place to build the wildest things and with free upload and no currency (some regions do have them but its externally setup). You can bet your bum off you get a lot of freebees there. Just look at these jaw dropping max prim numbers for example.

Showing Primcount maxed out on Opensim:

God mode?! Blue Names?!

Yes you can become an Linden in your own grid and OSGrid sims.

Showing Names:

God Mod Enabled Message:

In god mode(On Opensim):
You can:
Bypass parcel,region and estate bans
Bypass parcel permissions
Edit any parcel
Force Ownership of objects,parcels and edit there settings
Mess people’s attachments up (grin)
Use extra commands (if setup in OSSL.ini!)
Bypass Damage in Non-Safe regions

With god names you can:

Get an Linden (Blue) name
Have something to brag about in your grid

Q: What is Havok and does it kill opensim
A: Its Linden Lab’s custom physics engine it does affect opensim but does not kill it
Q: What are the dangers of exploring grids in Opensim
A: Exploring unsafe grids may expose your IP and Mac address this however is not an issue people cannot really get much info and your quite safe if u stick with the grids Firestorm has build in!
Q: I see in those screenshots Manikineko Grid what is this?
A: An project i am working
Q: How in the name of Govendor Linden did u get 999999 Max Prims?!
A: Edit the Region.ini file add:
MaxPrims = 99999999
Restart your sim and There you go enough prims to waste your life building anything u ever dreamed
Q: Can I connect Second Life to opensim and/or export/import stuff between them
A: No you cannot connect them, yes you can “Rip” second life stuff and put it in Opensim altough you may get banned for using such applications or worse get an virus!

 Angel Fencer