Last week, word started to get around about Linden Lab’s “Project LR”, apparently as a result of a Halloween posting of a FAQ about it in the Second Life knowledge base. I soaked up what information was already circulating publicly and asked the Lab for a little more.

Firstly, while “LR” is commonly thought to stand for “Lost Realms”, the Lab says “Linden Realms” is the correct name.

Linden Realms is one of the Lab’s “Blue Ocean” projects, as you probably recently read Lab CEO Rod Humble describe on Gamasutra. Humble is encouraging the Lab to come up with innovative ideas, kick the tyres on them and see if they have any chance of holding up. Not all of them are going to work, but statistically, some will. If ideas that aren’t can be weeded out early, without prematurely killing ideas that otherwise would, then the whole process should yield a net gain.

Linden Realms is a bit of an eat-your-own-dogfood project for Linden Lab. A small team has been working on Linden Realms since not long before SLCC earlier this year. Where tools didn’t exist in Second Life to support the creation, tools were built. Second Life users will be the recipients of those tools in the coming months, which will enable them – in turn – to make better, more-responsive, large-scale content – though obviously the tools will have a distinct game-focus to them.

Linden Realms is currently in a limited beta, available only to Second Life users with premium accounts. It currently has 3 ‘quests’: get started (find the workshop, collect one of each crystal, build a flare), find something rare (collect one green and one blue crystal), and fire the Banshee Peak Cannon.

Later this week, the Lab is adding a ‘research’ quest line, where you’re asked to explore different locations, as well as additional cannon quests and is also looking into different ways for Linden Realms players to use the common crystals they collect.

Shortly, Linden Realms will be opening up to all Second Life users. The Lab says that it is planning to test it as “an activity for new users to engage with after Welcome Island.”

Obviously, that risks changing the initial perceptions of Second Life, possibly leading new users to the misperception that Second Life is primarily a game. Linden Lab, however, is not too concerned, “Project LR is just an example of what can be created in Second Life, and there’s no reason this one project should define Second Life in its entirety.”

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