For Sale: One (1) private virtual island, "Svarga". Comes with internal ecosystem. Owner responsible for care of native flora, fauna, and wandering rainclouds. All serious offers considered. Contact goddess who created it, Laukosargas Svarog, or review purchasing details in-world on island's covenant. (Direct SLURL teleport at this link.)
If you haven't visited Svarga before, you simply must: created in 2006, it's an artificial ecosystem with several species of life (plants, birds, bees, etc.) who depend on each other, and remains one of Second Life's greatest user-generated creations. Built by Laukosargas Svarog, in real life a retired game developer, I named Svarga in my book as one of the world's seven wonders; Philip Linden himself described it as what he envisioned Second Life would be, when he first conceived it.
There's another reason you should see it now: it's for sale. And who knows what the new owners will do with its carefully crafted mini-world? Citing real life time constraints, Ms. Svarog recently announced her intention to give it up. Last year she experienced numerous frustrations with Second Life, so at first, I assumed it was for those reasons. No, she told me.
"But my opinion of Second Life hasn't really changed much in the last year though," she explained to me by e-mail. "Mainly it's just too expensive, too slow, too cumbersome and too constricting to be a serious tool for development on the scale I was attempting with the artificial life stuff on Svarga."
Why does she say that? After the break, the goddess makes her case, and as one of SL's greatest creators, her thoughts are well worth reading.
"It's far too expensive just to be a hobby and as Svarga stands at the moment, being no longer a platform for my development, I've decided to sell it for a value that represents a fraction of the work I put into it.
"After more than 4 years I expected SL to be way more efficient (and cheaper) than it is. For one thing, moving around is still like moving through mud, almost, I say 'almost' as bad as it was in 2004.
"Back then we put up with it, but now muddy movement and long waits for stuff to rez and scripts to compile is just annoying and frustrating. I'm an incredibly impatient person!
"Also more generally, people like me do not want neighbors we can see unless we've chosen to be their neighbor. That is a big reason why we see so many private islands in my opinion. I'd prefer to see a system more like the web, separate places linked by portals which we the owners and creators choose ourselves.
"In fact forcing us to use the Sky->Land->Sea analogy is a huge mistake because it seriously limits the boundaries of creativity within a virtual reality. Not so much for the kind of work I ended up doing in SL, but imagine how much more wonderful stuff there could be if that constriction wasn't forced on the users.
"But given that 90% of users seem to want to use the system as no more than a glorified chat room, and that most people are limited in their ability to accept anything strange or surreal, perhaps LL did make the right decision to use a landmass, but there's no reason to 'force' that limitation onto private island owners.
"Having said all that, this isn't to detract from the incredible achievement that SL is. Really incredible! It just isn't the right place for me mostly for those reasons.
"Eventually I think Second Life is likely to be replaced by a newer generation of VR that will have learnt from the mistakes made by Linden Lab and I'm very much looking forward to that."
What do you think? Is the goddess too downbeat, or is there validity in what she says?