Wednesday, February 24, 2010

RestrainedLife changes name

Hello all,

Today Linden Lab has decided to publish their new Third Party Viewer policy that you can read here

To begin with, this policy is unacceptable. A Third Party Viewer Developer (with a big "D" !) must NOT be held responsible for whatever use their users do with their work. It makes no sense, is not viable in court, and nobody in their right mind would even think of imposing this. As soon as you download an application, as a user you are entirely responsible for what you do with it. You are responsible for what transits through your wifi router, too. And you are responsible for your driving style when you buy a car. I could go on and on. I am NOT responsible for what you do with the RLV, guys, and never will.

Let me emphasize the one point that makes this change necessary :

# Your Third-Party Viewer name must not be confusingly similar to or use any part of a Linden Lab trademark, including “Second,” “Life,” “SL,” or “Linden.” For example:

1. You must not have a Third-Party Viewer name that is “________ Life” where “________” is a term or series of terms.

That's right, Linden Lab forbids us from using "Life" in the name of any Third Party Viewer from now on. Therefore "RestrainedLife" must be renamed or die. And it won't die.

First of all, let me just say that I am personally offended. No, disgusted. No, mortified. Well I feel anything you can think about except satisfied with it. I'm appalled that they dare stabbing their most faithful supporters (the Developers) in the back like this, to protect themselves from a handful of griefers. They are openly admitting that they have no weapon to counteract them, or worse, that we (their supporters) are in their way in this stupid arms race and must get ridden of. This viewer has been around for 2 years and a half now, and this policy is only one day old, but who am I to believe they'd have respect for what is already in place when making a change to their platform. This new policy is hurting every legit third party viewer, while not doing harm to any of the custom and privately modified griefer ones.

On SLU and other forums, some developers are even saying they are going to quit, being so disgusted by that new policy. Let me just rephrase what Desmond Shang said to one of them : "Give it a night's sleep, don't give up now, don't take any rash decision before waiting a day or two, since this policy is likely to change again soon anyway". Best advice that could be given to someone whose 2 years and a half work has been thrown down the toilet in a day. Because I am not the only one in this case, and I am not quitting. But it sure will be a hell of a task to rename the RLV, considering how broadly that name has spread now. The damage would have been nil had this policy been released the day the SL viewer became open-source, in January 2007 ! We are February 2010 now ! Think of how implanted the older viewers are now !

Let me just remind one thing to Linden Lab (and I know some of their employees are reading this blog) : We, as the Third Party Viewer Developers, with all the capitals at the right places, are adding value to your platform. We are working our asses off to make your own project better ! Most of us are not paid for this, and do this as a hobby, albeit in a very dedicated and consistent way. In my own case, yes I do know that the RLV does increase sales in-world, and not only mine. Simply because it makes your platform more attractive ! I have been told countless times that the RLV was the reason why some users signed up in the first place ! And other viewers are having the same effect ! And this is how you thank us ?

Having said this, yes RestrainedLife was bound to change its name eventually, this was in the plans. Having grown from a marginal enhancement to scripts in-world to a full-fledged LSL<->Viewer API, and having moved from being used by a handful of hardcore BDSM practitioners to a significant amount of the SL population, many of which having nothing to do with us fetish players, "Restrained" is a word that was bound to be replaced with something more vanilla. Yes, I wanted to keep "Life" in the name, now I can't anymore, but that doesn't matter.

Which brings me to the real relevant part of this post, after venting a little. The new name. The consequences of changing the name are tremendous, considering the number of scripts in-world that use the name "RestrainedLife" to refer to this viewer. Fortunately, "RestrainedLife" is a bit long to write, so many people prefer using the acronym "RLV", since it is a buzzword everybody knows. Which is why, in an attempt to control some of the damage at least, the new name must still abbreviate to "RLV". Ok I've kept you hanging on long enough, here is the new name...

"Restrained Life Viewer" hereby becomes "Red Light Viewer"

Why this name ? This is not a knee-jerk reaction, I have given it a lot of thought, and actually "Red Light" makes sense for many reasons.

It is usually associated with shady life, where prostitutes put on the red light at their windows to indicate their are available to new clients. There is even a song, sang by Police, which is a group I used to listen to a lot when I was a child. "Rox-ane... You don't have to put on the red light...". But I digress.

A red light is also something you can visualize easily, as opposed to a "restrained life" which is an abstract concept. And red is somewhat associated with forbidden, temptation, and punishment. And this is also my favorite color, so there.

It also has its downsides, unfortunately.

For starters it still sticks to the area of adult play. But how to get rid of that adult aftertaste when most of the features of the RLV are about restricting the user from doing this or that ? It is quite singular in that respect, as it is meant to be used by a quite singular kind of people. And if any viewer connecting to SecondLife must be associated with adult activities, this is this one.

Secondly it is, well, red. And one of its implementations is now part of the Emerald Viewer, which is, well, green. Uh-huh. Right. They will forgive me this I think.

Thirdly this new name has less ties to what the viewer actually does than the original one. This is a direct consequence of me wanting to dissociate it from BDSM play (while still staying adult), rather than because of the new policy.

So let's keep calling it "the RLV". No matter what "RLV" actually stands for, be it "RestrainedLife Viewer", or "Red Light Viewer", or "Really Lame Viewer"... all that matter is what it does, and this does not change one bit.

I'm only asking the scripters who use it to look into their scripts and documentation, and to either replace "RestrainedLife" with "Red Light", or just to mention that the viewer has changed name and that all reference to "RestrainedLife" now means "Red Light", or whatever you want to do as long as it is clear what viewer you are talking about. This may be a lot of work for some. It certainly will be a lot of work for me, and will take place in the weeks to come.

Oh of course, this is still subject to change. I have not started anything yet, but as of today, "Red Light Viewer" really grows in me, it is a name that sticks, and I cannot think of anything better yet.