Linden Lab, the developers of nonviolent MMO world Second Life
, have announced during the annual CES in Las Vegas that the company has released the source code for the MMOG's Viewer application, allowing aspiring developers to modify the code however they see fit.
While Linden Lab has made available the driving code behind the Viewer application, which is used by Second Life
residents to access the virtual world, the company has opted to maintain control over the game's backend server software. Freely-downloadable from the Second Life website
, the Viewer software enables user to control in-game avatars and interact via instant messaging, as well as create content, buy and sell objects, access multimedia content, and to navigate around the virtual environment.
According to a statement released by Linden Lab, the move marks the company's "continued commitment to building the Second Life Grid as an open, extensible platform for development, rather than a closed proprietary system."
However, the company notes that it plans to introduce some code changes and other enhancements to the official version of the Second Life
Viewer, adding that all code developed by parties outside of Linden Lab will be "thoroughly reviewed to ensure quality standards, stability and security." The company will continue to support the official version of the Viewer, while third party projects will understandably be unsupported by Linden Lab.
"We feel we have a responsibility to improve and to grow Second Life
as rapidly as possible," said Philip Rosedale, CEO and founder of Linden Lab. "We were the first virtual world to enable content creators to own the rights to the Intellectual Property they create. That sparked exponential growth in the richness of the Second Life
He added: "Now we're placing the Viewer's development into the hands of Residents and developers as well. This extends the control Residents can have over the Second Life experience and allows a worldwide community to examine, validate and improve the software's sophistication and capabilities."