Second Life

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Well I decided to finally try out Second Life. This is a virtual online world where you create a character and interact with other people. It's different from the typical MMPORPG in that there isn't s game aspect to it, different levels, or ways to win.

So far I've found several things which are fairly interesting (to me). I've always been interested in the technology behind these huge worlds. Having a compute farm of a dozen or so servers is fun, but having thousands of severs running your software must be very exciting. Of course they want hard core C++ programmers to join their ranks. Here's a few of the job requirements for a developer.

  • Expert knowledge of C/C++ with at least 2 years of professional experience.
  • Strong knowledge of networking, databases, physical simulation, compiler and VM design, user interfaces, systems architecture or Open GL.

Sure, they probably glue things together with Ruby/Python and may have have discussing the benefits of Erlang, but when difficult stuff has to get done fast, C or C++ are the primary choices. One might even consider writing real time software for such a grid to be 'The Art Of Heavy Lifting'.

Another thing that I found very interesting is that their client is open source. Some organizations talk about supporting open source, others actually practice this. And, they released it under GPL/2, not a more restrictive license like the 'Apache License, Version 2.0'. Most multi-player games go to great lengths to ensure that everyone has the same client installed, to prevent anyone from modifying it and cheating. I think having a completely open client is far more secure, and also more challenging.

Lastly, I needed to download the client. The Mac client is 62 MB, and they use Amazon's s3 service to host the file. For whatever reason, I can't seem to get the whole file downloaded. It keeps failing part way through the download. Unfortunately, they don't have mirrors in various countries, or a public torrent. Even an Intel only binary would be nice. I found a public torrent of the file, but unfortunately, I have no way to verify the hashcode, and have to hope it's not a trojan of some kind.

An interesting quirk to Second Life is that you have to choose a last name from a list. This is a bit odd since I have the same name on about every website/service I use. So in Second Life I'm known as Foo Writer. I hope to see you online!