Second Life, the Worst Hack in Universe

By Xah Lee. Date:

I spent 3 years in Second Life to study its tech. It turns out, the hacks there is WORSE than perl, unix. Far worse.

At first, when you look at SL, it's beautiful. Amazing animated dance floor in clubs, airfield with realistic airplanes, space stations and museums with “life size” rockets replica, funky cartoon towns, exotic planets, Victorian houses, futuristic metropolis, ground combat and air combat as in other 3D games, beautiful girls with their elaborate Haute Couture fashion wears, …. [see Second Life Screenshot Gallery]

geo dome math lorenz attractor 020 cybernetic feet p38 lightening 67 bike thug 87 chinese hell 001 Skye Faery Castle Alex Bader bull monster Doraemon pretty girl

Everything is interactive. Virtual reality comes to life. Wow, EVERYTHING is built by its users, like yourself. Amazing place. Incredible possibilities. Imagine, what things you could build there. Amazing fancy architecture, living geometry, autonomous cars, chess machines, AI Robots, planet models, space ships, emulation of planet systems, 4th dimension modeling …. It'd be a amazing visualization platform. Imagine, not just rotating some molecule 3D model on the screen, but inside it, interact with it, walk-thru, fly-thru. A 3D gaming system, but for the masses.

See my dreams:

Then, i start to learn. There are 2 main parts of the tech in Second Life: Building and Scripting. Building is like 3D model creation. [see Xah's Second Life Build Tutorial] Scripting is making them interactive, respond to the environment. [see Xah's Linden Scripting Language (LSL) Tutorial]

hollowed prims twist build dialog

At first, i thought the SL build system is like a 3D Modeler, for example, AutoCAD, Blender. Turns out it's nothing like that. It's more like a bastardized version of building using sketchy and weird Lego blocks. You build by using these extremely lame building blocks to EMULATE the APPEARANCE of what you want. The building blocks are extreme hacks. Logic and design is NO WHERE to be seen. Then, there's the scripting part. Again, a hack upon hack upon hack. It's amazing that it worked.

I thought that by studying SL tech would introduce me to the world of 3D game engines and tech. But i couldn't say i learned anything about 3D Game engines at all. All i've learned of SL is basically SL-tech hacks, only applicable in SL. I wondered now, if other gaming systems are one giant hack like SL. I heard Minecraft, Unity (game engine). But after spending 3 years in SL, i'm reluctant to invest my time.

Recently i looked into WebGL. In Mathematica, a interactive rotating cube is one line of code. In WebGL, it's one thousand lines.