Sunday, 20 March 2016

Too Short a Season



There are two kinds of people on Second Life. Those who play it as a game, and those who use it as a Second Life. It’s a point that is often covered in nuance really, but the effects are profound. Second Life is an escape from RL, where they can be who or what they want to be, however for some, there is no difference from who they are in the real world. The person behind the keyboard is the same person as you meet in world, while others are less pleasant, seeing their avatar as anonymous and when they press the X Button in the top right, they return to who they are.
I tend not to get on with those that think SL is a game, because my experiences over the years has taught me that Second Life is a real thing, as real as the keyboard I am typing on, with real people and real feelings.

A few weeks back, I was tired, and elated. I had just been finishing up the last pieces of the sim reworking project. It was just past midnight and I had been forcing myself to get this job done, having worked for over 14 hours straight on the project.
Juggz came on, and said something to me that just stopped me in my tracks and left me sitting there stunned, shocked and with an awful feeling of heartbreak.

Roughly 4 years ago, I had a new company come to rent with me in the mall, and I got to know the owners a little, however I learnt the creator of the products was a different person who was quiet and had brilliant mind. I got to know her, and I instantly clicked with her. She was funny, naughty, sarcastic and was very typically british.

Over some months of on and off talking about business and design, I grew to have a deep affection for her, and when she said she was struggling to find somewhere quiet she could build without interruptions from her friends, I offered her a spot in my lab which she happily took.
At first I took my usual role for a young and obviously very talented designer. That of a mentor, however while there were certain areas she struggled with, I soon learnt that she was more of an equal to me, who occasionally needed to bounce ideas off me and I found myself learning from her.
And for me, it was a happy time, having someone with a thirst to learn in my lab, whos presence just lit the room up and she made you laugh.

She was always very frank and open, and shared pieces of her Real Life with me, however one day in the lab she was quiet and I knew something wasn’t right.
It was at that point she told me about her long struggle with cancer.
When I first met her she was in remission, and confident it was being fought effectively, however she had just learnt it was back.

From there, she started coming on the grid less and less, and then one day, she disappeared.
A year later she did pop on to say hi, however it was a passing visit and I didn’t get to talk to her properly. After that, I didn’t see her again.

That was near enough 2 years ago but she remained in my thoughts.

Earlier this year, while cleaning up my sim lists, I stumbled across someone in the access to my home sim I had forgotten about. While she was working with me, she had a fellow builder and friend pop through, and I had added her to the sim list.
She was always in my thoughts in one way or another, so I thought I would check in with her friend to see how she was. I had been watching for signs of her both here and on her Deviant Art account which we followed each other on and on her DA account it was the same as Second Life. She hadn’t logged in for two years, so obviously it was worrying me.
In short, she was still fighting, and was happy to hear from me as her friend talked to her over Skype and I was relieved and pleased she was okay. I have kept in touch with her friend since then.

Which brings me back to 2 weeks ago, sitting here staring at the computer just feeling like I had been knocked for a six.
Juggz had just told me she passed away, at the time of me writing this roughly a month ago.

Last night, I went to a Celebration of her life on Second Life. I knew her through her work, and her thirst to learn and I knew about what she was involved with on Second Life and the celebration was being held by those people she spend not only her work time with, but her free time and for many years more than I knew her.
The room was full and for two hours I stood and listened to so many precious memories of her, her infectious wit and humour, her brilliant and quirky mind, her perchance for misbehaving, and the generosity and kindness she gave without question.
And I heard this from people who loved her dearly.

I didn’t say anything. I was amongst her dearest friends who all knew her for so long, and her was I, and outsider to this community who never had the real opportunity to know her as long as they had.
And what could I possibly say that they didn’t already know of her.

There was another reason though I didn’t say anything.
I was angry.

In my life, I meet a lot of highly creative people. Some have been trained to be creative, some see their creativity as just doing a job, and other think they are creative as they stand on the shoulders of others.
But there are wonderful and very rare moments you meet someone who is a natural.
They exude talent and skill through their skin, and they have this thirst to learn more.
In think in my many years I can count on one hand the number of people I have stumbled across who were so gifted.

What broke my heart the most was she was barely in her mid 20’s. This person so full of life and creativity and passion, now gone.
She enriched everyone she met and made the world a better place to be in, and now the world feels colder and more empty with only memories to hold on to.

And thats why I am angry. She was taken before she could ever realise her full potential.
And I certainly didn’t want my anger to taint those wonderful people who knew and loved her.

So I will simply say this.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there was one, the idea of you causing chaos and joy to everyone you meet there does comfort me.
It was too short a season for you, but it was wonderful.
Goodbye dear friend.  

Friday, 8 January 2016

Violet Cybernetics goes all shiney....

A first sneak peak at the new all new 2016 Violet Cybernetics line up featuring full materials support and a little look back - 2009 vs 2016

First up - Dark Mech.




And then, Light Mech





Materials.. Okay, I am a convert!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Second Life 2 – Still don’t believe the rumours



Back in July 2014 (18 months ago), the grid went in to uproar when Ebbe Linden stuck his foot in his mouth and let slip that they were developing Second Life 2.
I say stuck his foot in his mouth because not only at this point was SL2 nothing more than words on a scope document with more questions than actions, but also because of the fevered pace of the Second Life userbase’s rumour mill.
At the time, there was hysteria, panic and chicken little style, people running around screaming the Linden Sky is falling.
Ebbe then tried his hardest, with the few items on his wish list, to calm the mass panic down answering questions, and trying to stop the hysteria.
It kind of worked but there has been very little since that time from him officially and quietly in the background, those rumour have persisted and grown stronger.

The results of these hysterial rumours are having a real impact in world. Sales are declining, users are declining and the people who care about SL are now trying to fight back. Recently Firestorm (one of the architects of blurting out that there was an SL2 coming and partly responsible for starting the rumour mill off in the first place) have now started a push to try and either get people back in to SL or get new users to join the grid.

My take on this is more simple. I am going to go back to my historical blog post, and see where we are today – facts... not fiction.

Quoting my original 2014 post “SL2 – Dont Panic”...
“..... SL may have as little as 18 months left” (Referring to the panic bringers comments)

Its 18 months later. Looking around, SL is still here. In fact very little has changed on the grid outside of the persistence of rumours and hysteria.
And where is SL2? Good question. Still in Alpha testing as far as I am aware.
In fact rereading my original blog post over time scales, I screwed up. I based an estimate of a beta at 9-12 months.. Its now 18 months and they still haven’t hit a beta.
Considering this dilated time scale, I would almost be hesitant to say SL2 will be released this year.

Anyhow... I think its time I looked at a few things and gave you a realistic look at why running around with your hair on fire is not a great idea.

SL2 however isn’t the official name of this new grid.
Sansar is the new Grids name.

The Second Life 2 mission statement that Ebbe Linden put out there 18 months ago follows roughly along these lines

“Sansar was to feature a whole new rendering engine – built from scratch. It was going to offer superior graphics and realism. LSL (the programming language of SL) would be replaced by a main stream language like C++ for a more professional approach.  Finally the limited way of creating rigging on SL would be a thing of the past with independent mesh and skeleton uploading being available (which means no more limitations and superior control for creators).”



This mission statements of sorts was written in 2014 and highlights the “Leap forward” Sansar would offer users.
However its 18 months on now and I have to question quite a few things here.

Firstly since that first “foot in mouth” moment, we have learnt the official brand name for SL2 – Sansar. I find that interesting as Second Life is an extremely well known brand name with good recognition out there. For Linden Lab to choose a whole new brand name should hint at the fact this new product is nothing to do with Second Life. In fact the name distances itself from SL.

When it comes to the new rendering engine, Second Life has since 2013 had the ability to run materials  - specular and normals mapping. When it was launched it went down a bit like a damp fart. It was heavy on your graphics card – it made things hard to work with, and caused multiple problems. But, since then, the viewer has been finessed, cleaned, and improved. Add to that the catch up of peoples graphics cards and the arrival of fitted mesh and since launch, more and more people have moved over to using Advanced Lighting Model by default. This is why during 2015, I have put so much effort in to materials support on my products. They make the world more realistic and offer superior graphics.
You only have to look at the new Tartarus Horns to work out how amazing SL is now with the use of materials.
But... you need to ask yourself this.
Sansar probably has an amazing rendering engine. I have seen screen shots and its pretty cool. But with Second Life evolving at such a rapid pace, as creators start putting materials on their products, you have to ask is SL’s lasting legacy of content catching up to Sansar’s standards and with that, is the superior graphics of Sansar ever going to be enough to deal with the sheer volume of slightly lower quality content SL has to offer?

Then there is independent Skeleton and mesh uploading. Until last month, this was a big plus for Sansar. I have looked at wings, or tail, or even heads on SL and wished I had more advanced control options. Other have too, and they have been employing all sorts of hacks and tweeks to get them to work without having to upload huge mesh models and stop frame animation.
However, once again, Second Life is catching up to Sansar. Linden Lab released their official Project Bento last month, and most likely it will be on the grid by Feb 2016.
Bento gives a new series of bones to work with. Fully articulate hands, Wings, Extra arms, Tail and a very well developed face expressions system, with a new animation uploading feature.
Once content creators like myself catch up to this new tech, it will transform the grid all over again.
So another question.
Project Bento is not independent skeleton uploading (although for statement of fact, I believe this was previously looked at as an option and was even developed by Linden Lab for SL as part of the mesh project back in 2012). However the Second Life approach is very smart here with a set of standard rules to work with. Admittedly they have been slow to adopt, usually reacting to naughty creator hacks of the SL skeleton and attachment points more than an effort to improve but... Bento really gives you a massive advantage now, and although not perfect, is extremely good (pending me testing it of course).
Sansar’s independent skeleton uploading gives you the ultimate flexibility to create amazing items. But you have to say that SL’s Project Bento actually gives you more than enough to work with as a creator and will offer probably 90% of what you need from the perspective of independent skeleton uploading.  Is Sansars extra 10% of flexibility really worth it?


The only other thing I pointed out here was C++ as a default programming language. Sure, that would be brilliant on SL, and lets be honest, they could do it if they wanted to. But while LSL is a utter pig to work with and has an infinite list of flaws, the fact is, you can get it to do most of the things you want it to do.

So what conclusions can we draw from this relook at SL2 or as its now known, Sansar.

As another bloggers on this subject pointed out, Linden Lab is a company, not a product. They created Second Life, but they also created many other products over the years, including things like Blocksworld. Linden Lab seem to have made it clear, Sansar is a separate product from Second Life, much like their many other products over the years and indirectly they are distancing Second Life and Sansar. The only thing that can be said is that Sansar is in the same area as Second Life. It could be said its the successor to SL, but only time will tell there.

18 months on from the initial slip up, Sansar is still an embryo. Its a closed world, mostly likely buggy as hell, and still pending the development and design of many of its support systems like groups etc. Thats why its an Alpha test – they haven’t got to the closed beta test stage yet of a working product.
Even when Sansar arrives, it will be a pretender to the throne that is Second Life.
I am not going to mince my words here. Sansar follows in the foot steps of many other virtual world clones of Second Life, some of which were light years ahead of Second Life in the technical department. And they effectively failed to dethrone the ruler of virtual worlds which is Second Life.

Second Life is Linden Labs bread and butter. Its their most profitable product outright. When the “doom bringers” and “Chicken Littles” out there scream that that Second Life has months to live, they are talking rubbish. Anyone in business knows if you have something, you don’t kill it in favour of something new. Linden Lab has shareholders to answer to and I doubt they would be so insane as to kill their most profitable business in favour of the idea of opening something cooler (if devoid of users, sims, creators and content).

There has been talk in some areas that Sansar will cannibalise the remains of SL when it arrives. This is yet another misinformed, misguided and idiotic statement. However the idea may not be far fetched if utterly wrong.
I have been thinking about Sansar a great deal since my original post on the subject and I have been watching the technical developments on SL. The past is a great teller of the future, and putting the idea of previous pretenders trying to takes SL’s crown in the past, and failing totally I have come to a prediction.

Sansar will launch, there will be limited interest in it. However Second Life thanks to the content and user base will continue to be the dominant product. Eventually Sansar will be deemed a commercial failure – how long it will take Linden Lab to realise this is another matter. However focus will return to Second Life again, and in the end, Second Life will cannibalise Sansar, picking the best features and technology from Sansar and integrating it in to Second Life.

Sorry Linden Lab, but it has to be said, you still don’t understand Second Life or why its successful.
As Linden Lab, you provide the sims, the viewers and the tools to create a virtual world. However it is the communities, the people who use Second Life, and the creators who invest their time and effort in to creating products that make what Second Life is. Without them, Second Life would be... well, Sansar. Empty, devoid of anything.
And irony here, the reasons people would possibly consider moving to Sansar grow smaller every day as Second Life catches up to the technical aspirations of Sansar.

There is one final thing to bring up though to hopefully quash the rumour mill.
The statement is Linden Lab will kill SL and replace it with Sansar. Everything people have in the SL inventory will be lost, all their investment will be lost.
In the last 18 months, Second Life has evolved, changed and improved. Linden Lab are releasing new features and improvement every week or two, and large projects on the grid, like Project Bento are still happening.
In addition, Linden Lab are investing in Advertising SL to new users, they are creating new user “portal” points, and trying to get new users in to this world.
If you have given up on a product, you don’t do these things.

Maybe in another year or 18 months I will post up another blog post about this subject.
As far as I can see though, my predictions were right about NOT PANICING!
SL is still here, growing more technically advanced and is still the undisputed king of virtual worlds.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Its Been a Long Road... and Still Travelling






Summer 2009 I was tinkering with prims, learning the art of making things with Akemi, and I said to her “you know, I could build some horns.”
So I did and the very first horns I came up with were Temptress and Prometheus.
It seems so long ago now – six years.
In that time, Second Life has changed and so have my products. From the release of my basic colour change system, Unlimited 1 to Unlimited 2 which improved things even more, to Unlimited 3, giving utter control over the products. Each stage was a leap forward.
But some things didn’t change. Namely the horns themselves – underneath everything, they were the same products as I designed back in 2009, and with as many texture and technology changes I have made, under it all, the same primitive objects remained.

Summer 2015. I was tinkering with mesh in the lab and I decided to do some experimentation with Materials.
Now, many people don’t get what materials are. The truth is, we have always had materials of sorts. You will know them better as “Shine” and “Bumpiness”. On this level though they were basic and you ended up with a polished surface, or with sculpts a surface that showed off the irregularities in the structures.
Materials are simply ways of adding detail to what should be a flat surface, and shine to highlight things. However the Advanced Lighting Model Materials are very different. No preset choices here. You create your own.
Anyhow, back to tinkering, and I decided to test out putting custom materials on to my Prometheus Horns. First lesson learnt was don’t do it. My sim unexpected threw a fit and the horns vanished.
After trying to work out what had happened I learnt that there is a limitation with Materials. They do not like Torus prims – which also happens to be exactly what horns use.
To give you an idea, Prometheus is a complex set of horns – 250 prims. By putting materials settings on to just one prim on the horns, the land impact went from 250, to over 12,500. And they were then instantly returned... and also I did manage to return a many items from my sim too... oops.

This meant one simple thing – in order to get materials on to my horns, I was going to have to change my horns to mesh construction.
This process hasn’t been easy – reworking every set of horns I have created over the years has proved to be something of a nightmare and something I have been doing on and off since this summer.

During this process has come a whole new design style too.
Many of the Torus metal “Sleeves” that were prevalent on my products has now been replaced with advanced gem sleeves.
Going through each set of horns, where necessary I have reworked the items, improved the structures of the mesh to make them smoother and more integrated, and I have even introduced a new U3 option for Two tone designs.
But the reason for all this work was integrating materials on to them.

The results... well, that is breath taking.
Comparatively speaking, my horns have always been market leaders, although in recent years, they have struggled against their more advanced competitors.
The Reworked Tartarus Generation of Horns has brought our products back up to the very top of their game and once again, Violet Studios horns are some of the finest on SL.

However you have seen the "Long Road" pictures... make your own mind up...

Always working to improve things, always understanding the jobs never done.

Hemi



Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A Sorry State of Affairs

Over the last 4 months, I have it has to be said, been very concerned over the downturn Second Life has been taking. While I am a creator and I love what I do, I also run a business, and you see trends forming as you watch sales and how much money you are earning. Its fair to say my sales haven't been very good.

And as it seems, Linden Lab is the root of the reason why Second Life is declining.

Its has long been known Linden Lab has a serious problem.
They don't tell people things, they are awful at support and they are known to make awful decisions that affect the whole grid, and while often these decision are valid, they never explain them.

I will give you an example of their poor communications.
Back in 2009 Linden Lab announced that they were reorganising the rules over adult material on the grid with the creation of a new rating system for sims.
This caused an uproar amongst users and creators.
Linden Lab's response was their usual. Nothing.
Some time later, they imposed the new rules, which included verification of users ages. This was done via a strict and quite frankly overkill method that either you registered a valid credit card, or gave them a copy of a current drivers licence or passport to verify your age.

As a sim owner, I complied with their requests and I understood the rules.

Earlier this year, I was grumbling about the usual SL policing issues on one of my sims to a friend. Someone was coming to my sims on zero day old avatars and causing trouble, and I questioned "How on earth is this person getting past the passport / drivers licence rules" as they had no payment info on file.
She has been on the grid for a few years, and turned round really confused and said "what are you on about?" I explained what I have said above about the "Rules".
Her response was simple. "I didnt have to do that. I just ticked a box"

I was both confused and skeptical about this, and to just check this for myself, I registered a new account, logged in on it, and went over to my sims and went straight over to the one adult sim I have.
As I tried to cross the sim border, a box flashes up which said something to the effect:
"You are trying to access Adult Land. If you want to see explicit adult material, click okay"
Clicked okay and I am on the sim.

At some point, no clue when, Linden Lab relaxed the rules and went from a cavity search approach to accessing adult materials to simply asking a question.
Outside of the fact they put the grid through hell with this "Adult" switchover 5 years ago, it is massively annoying that they sneaked this through the back door, didn't say anything that I saw to explain they were relaxing the rules and merchants and sim owners were kept in the dark.


Anyhow. The point of my soapbox today does revolve around this lack of communication and something I found out by chance yesterday that has left me spitting blood.
As you may remember, some months back I created the Caldera Project above the main sims.
Caldera was designed to comply with the rules for Adult on sims, and I ensured that there were no explicit materials in order to maintain the Sims Moderate ratings. This included not including any related furniture which can often red flag a sim.
Yesterday I was going over to the sims to do some clean up work, adjusting the parcel keyword searches to include new features many of my products have.
I started with the Demon Studio. Did a quick search to see how well things were doing.
I got a bit of a surprise... I wasnt even in the top 200 listings.
My initial reaction was "good job I came over to fix this"
Then I did a little more indepth searching to see what other keywords would come up...
Nothing.
Then a horrible thought crossed my mind. I did a specific search to find what was going on and it was then I nearly fell off my chair.
It wasnt a bad search result. The Demon Studio wasnt on the search at all.

You know that horrible sinking feeling you get when you find out something serious. That was me, as I realised that the Demon Studio had been excluded from the Search.
And what was worse, the only major thing to have changed, was the introduction of Caldera. Which meant... well. Caldera opened in April this year and it was most likely that the Demon Studio hasnt been listed on the SL search since April. 4 Months ago.
I am still fuming over this. The only thing that could have caused the parcel to be black listed was a cave I installed that had adult animations on it. However... I was sensible. I deleted the adult animations from it making it PG and nothing more than a pretty feature.
Odder is the same cave is on the Pheadra sim too.. and the parcel that is on is, yes, still listed on the search.

Needless to say I was in a state of shock for a few hours, and the only thing I could do was to move the whole sim to adult. And lo and behold... the Demon Studio reappeared back on the search.
I still dont know what caused this though, hence the extreme measure.

Why I am angry though is simple.
For 4 months, a parcel I was paying for, every week, to be on the SL search, was not being listed. I never got a heads up from Linden Lab about this. They just blocked it out and left me wondering why my sales were in decline.
It was a matter of me checking my search results that alerted me to the fact.

What angers me more about this exclusion is it was probably based around the sims filtering system picking up a "Adult" feature (incorrectly I may add).
All I will say here is this.
There is a Moderate sim out there - its a big one, well known with massive footfall.
Its listed as Moderate. And it has a sex strip club on the sim, with naked women dancing in the window. It also has an explicit shop open in its mall area dealing with adult products and its no hold barred. Yet, this sim is getting away with murder, while I am struggling to understand why my parcel got blocked off the search.

Linden Lab - please, for the love of god. Sort yourselves out. Tell people if something doesnt sit right with you and why it doesnt. You could even make this an automated system.
Don't randomly block people off the search and give zero explanation for why you did it, yet still take their money.

I am now however reconsidering move both my primary sims to adult considering how much of a pitiful joke it is to access adult land. I could in theory now turn caldera in to a full on adult playground...
I will have a good think about this and I will be monitoring the Deaths Head sim to see exactly how moving to adult affects it. That said, with the epidemic situation over the how the grid is behaving of late (constant outages, database, asset server, and teleport issues), not sure it could be a fair comparison.

A rather pee'ed off Hemi


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

SL2 - Don't Panic.



As the Book Says “Don’t Panic”

I got something of a surprise yesterday as I logged in to see a message from a certain TPV maker to talking about “the Future of SL”.
A read later, I actually felt, much as everyone else who read the article, a little sick.

Cutting it down to a rather over dramatised sound byte.
“SL2 is now in development – it will be in the spirit of Second Life, but you won’t be able to take anything from SL to SL2 inventory wise and SL may have as little as 18 months left”

Before you start running around with your hair on fire screaming refer to the title... DONT PANIC

One thing I have learnt over the years is that certain communications officers for certain TPV makers really don’t have a clue how to communicate things clearly or logically, and while the things above were said, they were said out of context, and in a very very poor way that could easily incite panic.
Which over the last 10 days, is exactly what has happened with the web, forums etc catching fire with rumour, doom and gloom, and blind panic.

Honestly – after I read the article, my heart sank through my stomach with the thought “5 years work down the drain”.
However to learn more, I decided to check out a few places including Nalates’s blog which I have trusted for many years to give clear, unbiased information written in a clear, easy to read way.
Thanks to Nalates and the intense work that’s been put in by her to get CLEAR information, here is the facts.

Where did this all start?
Apparently at a TPV meeting Ebbe Linden (our new CEO of Linden Lab) made a classic Faux Pau and got over excited and accidentally slipped the SL2 was in development much to a shocked and surprised gathered mass.
From what I understand, he didn’t say a great deal about it outside of the fact it will be an entirely new platform, it will be in the spirit of SL and it would be separate to SL which the original would continue and have continued development.

Got that bit?

What happened next?
Said certain TPV maker posted up a second Faux Pau and in effectively a Chicken Little Style, wrote “The Sky is Falling” article, inferring to fill in the blanks over what had actually been said, and leaving very open ended statements that could then easily be construed by readers to be something else entirely. They have since this backpedalled over what was said, and tried to clarify the position and make themselves out to be champions of the new SL (which is Ironic considering the mass panic they caused amongst SL users).

What was the Aftermath?
From here, the discussions went effectively viral over the web, with forums and blog lighting up over this shocking news. Ebbe obviously by this point realised he really had put his foot in his mouth and surprisingly for a LL’s CEO, did some real time damage control, going to one of the largest Panic Threads out there, and actually filling in the blanks with what is Official Information.

So, let’s  actually get down to facts here and as the Hitchhikers Guide says, Don’t Panic.
The big question that’s got everyone foaming at the mouth is this.

What is going to happen to Second Life?
From everything I have read, nothing. It will be here for probably the next 5 years or more.
It’s not going anywhere, your inventories are safe, your sims are safe, there are no issues.
It will be developed further, improvements made and it will be continued to be supported.
This is not conjecture, rumour or me filling in the blanks. This is from Ebbe Linden.

What is Second Life 2?
SL2 is a separate development – a whole NEW grid based on vastly improved all new gaming engine which can finally break free of the constraints imposed by the prehistoric SL original software.
It is going to be developed parallel to Second Life – so as a user you will be able to use Second Life and Second Life 2, but you will most likely need to swap viewer to log in to SL2.
SL 2 is NOT going to replace Second Life.
Again, this is fact direct from Ebbe Linden.

Will SL2 be Sanitised?
One thing that people have been seriously worried about is will SL2 be a PG rated Playground. Ebbe Linden has confirmed that whatever you can do or is available in SL will be allowed in SL2. So adult products, Adult sims etc etc, all available. It will be in the Spirit of SL. Which is good.

Can you Transfer your Inventories between SL and SL2?
Right now, they are saying no although there is a caveat to this (see time scales). However it doesn’t mean that in time some transfer won’t be possible.
In addition, you are NOT going to lose your inventory.
Your Second Life Inventory will remain exactly as it is, as for the simple fact, SL itself is NOT going away. The SL2 Inventory will (at the time of writing) be a blank sheet which you will need to repopulate, however again as said above, in time this may change.

What are the Time Scales?
This part hasn’t really been commented on outside of saying 2015/2016 before release.
There is a good reason for this being so vague though, and it goes back to Ebbe’s original Faux Pau over letting slip that SL2 is in development.
Ebbe has only been CEO of LL’s for 6 months. I would guess from statements made and from the short amount of time he has actually been in the job, that the SL2 project is currently in its Embryonic stages – probably less than a few months old.
From what I have read, the software engine hasn’t been chosen, decisions over the scripting languages, Animations formats, etc etc etc have not been chosen .
What this says to me is this project is still in information gathering stages.
Having quite a bit of experience in large software development, we are probably a good 9-12 months away from a semi operational Beta and considering the mountain of features that SL offers that have to be adapted and ported over to SL2, the beta itself could be 6-12 months.
There are of course, commercial games engines they could buy in with ongoing support which may reduce that time down, but we are looking at a year to two years minimum.
But... Even when you have a live system running, you have to remember, this is a blank sheet.
No sims, No products to buy... Nothing. SL’s greatest selling point is the fact it has such a massive volume of products to buy, places to visit.
It is then up to builders like myself and many others to adopt SL2, build stuff of them and make SL2 a fun place to be. That process by itself could potentially take years to do before SL2 could even rival Second Life itself.
So realistically, designers and users shouldn’t really expect SL2 to be viable before 2018 and for SL2 to be fully established, think more like 2020.

In conclusion then, perhaps now people should think less “the sky is falling”, and more “Don’t Panic”.

Bring it on?
Hell yeah. I was talking with Addy from AW Design yesterday about this and she remembered the rumours of SL2 first appearing as far back as 2007. Of course, they decided to flog wheezing SL engine more and more, trying to add in more and more features, but the fact is, SL is a dinosaur only propped up by the sheer volume of creators that enjoy building for it.
I don’t think any builder on SL would disagree, SL as an engine isn’t fit for purpose compared to the other games engines out there and it takes rather large nuts to actually embark on this project.
Kudos to Ebbe Linden for making this move.
I personally can’t wait to see what they come up with, although it has to be said, while SL2 shouldn’t be built by user committee (as is being kind of proposed on certain sites), Linden Lab should engage with creators before they commit to things. I would recommend a board of creator advisers who could put forward ideas without the “mob mentality” forcing issues. Collaboration is far better and we do need to remember that even as creators, we are users, not owners.
We all want to see SL succeed though and the Lab should recognise the valuable input creators can put forward in helping to shape this new engine.
As a creator, I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with, and being able (I hope) to finally realise the products I would love to built, but I currently can’t due to SL’s Limitations.

Where do we go from here?
Well. Nowhere really.
The fact is we know something we didn’t know before. SL2 is now in build, but it’s going to be some time before we even get to see it, let alone use it.
Second Life itself isn’t going to change, is still going to be around so nothing changes there.
All we can do, is sit back, get on with things just like we did before knowing NOTHING is really going to change in the short or long term and wait to see how things take shape with the Second Second Life.