2023 Crack Den Year in Review & What’s Next!

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Nadir Taov

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This past year was another year of intense story telling, growth, and innovation. As a community, we grew in size, but we also grew in our virtual footprint. We were also the first to pull in the power of Gen AI into the metaverse and storytelling - I think we've barely scratched the surface on that.

In this post, I’ll walk us through the year’s highlights, humbling lowlights, and give you a glimpse of what coming in the next few weeks to kick off the new year.

Gratitude

First… a thank you. I’ll start with my leaders and staff who are on the front lines daily trying to spark stories, shake up the status quo, and helping moderate the issues that come with a massive online community. The work is not easy and they deserve all the credit.

I also appreciate you all for your loyalty and commitment to keep this ship sailing. The Crack Den will always belong to you all and so long as Second Life is still kicking, so will we.

Highlights

  • Launched Discord - Integrated with our Story HUD, we now have our official server teeming with activity and collaboration.
  • Opened Backwaters - After three years of delays, the remote town of Laveau finally opened as an expansion to the Crack Den. It stands apart as a capture and adult-only character role-play sim with its own unique background and catering to a different flavor of role-play audience in Second Life. I think we saw a lot of great activity, but more to come here.
  • Introduced AI NPCs - There's incredible potential with harnessing Gen AI for role-play. Folks have been playing with Marty up in the OOC area but consider him just a prototype - the next gen I'm working on uses newer LLM models and will become even more realistic companions and characters to play around with.
  • Reimagined Field HUD for Immersive Municipal RP - All groups including the Prison, Fire Rescue, and law enforcement departments across our communities got a big update with the new Field HUD. Powered w/ AI capabilities, the HUD introduces fun ways of logging incidents and reporting on history with AI dispatchers. Tweaks to the AI features will be coming, as well.
  • WZRWRKS x CrackDen: Police, Prison, Fire Rescue, and Campus Gear - In collaboration with Wazzer, we rolled out high-end uniforms and gear for municipal groups.
  • Rebuilt Downtown, Row Homes, and Hospital - District 8 got a makeover, but it's still not done! More to come.
  • Expanded with Conjure sim - With the growth of Backwaters and the overall Crack Den population, we added another sim for both residential and role-play use.
  • Celebrate Artists with Shoot Dark Contest - There's some amazing talent in our community and abroad; we launched our first photo contest to celebrate artists and will continue to grow this program in 2024.

Lowlights

  • Technical Debt Catching Up - Over a decade's worth of code I wrote (as a beginner) is now catching up with a series of fixes needed across the board. A lot of my comms were built into Twitter which the API was shut down earlier this year causing a lot of breaks, too. I know this has been a huge frustration for many including our own staff, and I recognize it. I am devoting a significant amount of my time in early 2024 to finally address these, including rewriting some core systems from scratch.
  • Incomplete Rebuilds - Both District 8 and Conjure need some work to be done to complete new role-play areas and final touches. There's an entire sewer system that was built but not yet activated for use in role-play.
  • Delays in Land Support - RL was a lot more complicated this past year in general; crazy work life + an active toddler at home. I am considering new support models to see what would work better, but overall, I am committed to scaling this.
  • Newspaper Issues - I don't know if it's a recurring hack or security vulnerability, but I know the site routinely went down through the year. I will rethink the hosting and possibly rebuild it from the ground up.

What's Next?

The next year will be bigger than ever for the Crack Den as it continues to thrive and stand out as the most immersive role-play destination for quality story making and character development. With all the development in AI the past year, I am excited to push the boundaries of immersion and player experience to use it to help better guide players, summarize and showcase story and character progress, and offer unique role-play opportunities and features for each of our destinations like the cities of Hathian and Laveau, and Columtreal Campus.

  • Second Life Mobile App - I have been playing with the new official mobile app and think the opportunities for role-players is remarkable. It works very impressively, however, it will require a rethink of some of the ways players move about the sim and object interaction. I will redesign various in-world features to optimize for this experience.
  • Story HUD Enhancements with AI - There will be big updates coming in January to reveal an all-new Story HUD. It will offer special boosts for Crack Den, Backwaters, and Columtreal Campus players which will be used to earn new roles and achievements. It will also feature a series of AI features to help you better summarize your character's backstory, ask for help, to connecting with players when you're bored.
  • Generative Quests - Harnessing the power of AI and the unique role-play aspects of each sim, our AI called the "Narrator" will offer opportunities meant to spark scenes between players.
  • AI NPCs - I will bring Marty and others into the main sim and they will be even more smarter and count towards your role-play progress. They will become a more immersive way of interacting with the various role-play systems in Crack Den than simply an object dialog box. I think you guys will have a lot of fun with these when they roll out.
  • Role Achievements & Leveling Reimagined - For each community, there will be unique pathways added and expanded upon to provide players the opportunity to earn new roles and benefits. With Discord, better bots, and an all-new HUD, i'm rebuilding this system from the ground up to help scale for the next decade!
  • Continue to Improve Builds - There are a lot of open spaces and older buildings to be refreshed. Expect a series of updates throughout the year as I take breaks between writing code to build! I'm also interesting in bringing a more atmospheric feel to the sim with some of the new works I've been doing.

In summary, I'm really proud of how far we've come as a community and where we are heading. We will continue to push the boundaries of immersive role-play and the overall player experience in Second Life. What's more important that we continue to grow the community and our ability to connect players to one another.

I'll also be reconnecting with all our leads over the next few weeks to make sure we have an active base to really kick start the new year with the new HUD. More details on the above features will be outlined in follow up posts.

Thank you all for the amazing contributions this past year for make Crack Den the premier role-play destination in the metaverse. We're going to go even harder in 2024 and I can't wait to do with you.

December 29, 2023 at 4:25 pm
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mister morbid

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December 29, 2023 at 5:11 pm
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Syreni Barony

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December 29, 2023 at 5:35 pm
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Nadir Taov

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December 29, 2023 at 5:55 pm
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Enya Ishtari

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December 29, 2023 at 8:30 pm
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lamia derryth

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December 31, 2023 at 6:35 am
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