Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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Don't Like Second Life Viewer 2? Neither Did The Lindens Themselves -- At First

Erica Firment Linden Lab

During SXSW 2010, Linden Lab's User Experience designer Erica Firment gave a fun and insightful talk,"Failing Our Way to Victory", which revealed a lot of behind-the-scenes details on the development of Second Life Viewer 2. (As her title suggests, she's a key figure on the software's deep revamping into something much more intuitive and user friendly.) I hope to blog my favorite highlights from her presentation later this week (hint: Jay Leno is involved), but one point deserves its own post now:

During the Q&A period, I asked Erica about the user reaction to Viewer 2. As my reader forum suggests, despite a concerted effort by the Lindens to make the viewer enjoyable to use, a lot of established Residents find it aggravating, annoyed for example that features and commands they've counted on in past versions have been moved around or hidden, seemingly arbitrarily.

"Change is frustrating," Erica acknowledged, and said that she's seen this level of user vitriol over the viewer before. But for the first few times, it came from Linden Lab's own staff.

Eric Linden as Frog

That's because during internal testing of Viewer 2, it was the Lindens' themselves who complained about the viewer changes, ranting about them on the company messaging systems. Over time, however, the complaints waned (evidently as the Lindens grew accustomed to the changes, while gradually finding the old viewer more frustrating.) This pattern of anger and acceptance repeated itself with the first rounds of private user testing, Firment told me. Or as Erica put it in her uniquely charming Erica-ish way, the tenor of the complaints on the Viewer 2 forum slowly went from "RAWRR!!!" to "rawrr?"

Erica Linden hopes history will repeat itself with established Residents who still aren't happy with the new viewer. "I feel we need more time to let the reaction shake out," she told me.

Pic of Erica Linden's frog princess avatar via the Librarian Avenger's Flickr stream.

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Maggie Darwin

So, the internal complaints waned as they fired employees who didn't like it?

Ciaran Laval

I'm having a love hate relationship with the new viewer and I did experience frustration when I went back to 1.23 because I was looking for things in the place where viewer 2 now puts them, I'm giving this a fair shot that's for sure but one thing that peeves me no end is the Linden spin.

The complaints aren't largely about "change" they're about usability, or more to the point lack of. Search, particualrly land sales and event is a massive scale of awful. The camera controls are awful. People get by without the camera controls, accepting it as a change for the worse but search, there are no excuses and people won't just become accustomed to that poor excuse for a search system. This needs to be fixed by Linden Lab, not by users accepting a pitiful excuse of a search system.

Tateru Nino

I liked it well enough at first - it isn't really anything special - but I'm going to switch back to Imprudence for now. I'm increasingly finding that the extra drudgery is wearing on me.

Lili

So they don't care that most people hate it, as long as you eventually shut-up. This viewer is nothing but the beginning of a sales client; you already see it in the search results. The whole point of the viewer is to skew search results to the highest paying advertiser and the new media features are there to carry advertising. They want to tie us to our real world identities so we can be targeted as closely here as on any other website.

Your world, your dream is being sold out for their bank account. I expect any day to be forced to view micro-ads on avatars, before you can view the avatar.

Sorry to tell Erica, but we have another choice besides "RAWRR!!!", we can leave SL. This is what I will do when or if we are forced to use this viewer.

Tuna Oddfellow

First of all, I am one of those users who loves open source & considers himself an Emerald Evangelist. This being said, I am also an early adopter who had to try viewer 2.0 right away. It sounded like the shiny new features were a must have for my SL experience.

Turns out, I was right. Currently, I am performing my Second Life show on two computers,with 2 avatars using viewer 2. Once you get used to it, viewer two spoils your experience for all other viewers, IMHO. I look forward to seeing what happens as it develops further.

If I had one wish for viewer 2, it would be that the lab releases the open source code as soon as possible so that the open source community could create viewers that integrate the best features of viewer 2 & allow our creativity to build upon it.

This being said I only have two words "Shared Media". Wow, I am already loving how folks are beginning to use it.

I know that a number of tools in viewer 2 are already effecting what I am doing on my sim & I hope it's something that creators will take out of the gate running.

The two things I love most about Second Life are seeing what others do with the tools we are given & sharing what I do with those tools with all of you.

I can not wait to see how the viewer evolves and how the new tools help shape our community.

Yours In Magic,

Tuna Oddfellow

Metacam Oh

The upgrade last night with Viewer 2 helped a lot with the frame rate and the resources used are lower (except still with shared media playing)

I think overall bitching about the new viewer is a bit extreme, I don't find it THAT different, or so different I cant use it or adapt, I certain am not going to leave over it.

However testing out the Emerald viewer I was surprised to get decent performance with all the graphic sliders up and shadows on etc, so hopefully Linden can take a page from that viewer.

Doreen Garrigus

Change is difficult. Change is frustrating. Change requires that we learn something new. I'm very sorry for people who have trouble learning new things.

Arcadia Codesmith

I'm a great fan of change, sometimes simply for the sake of something different.

I'm not a great fan of software that doesn't perform. And v2 is badly broken on my system.

I hope the most recent build addesses this, but to be blunt, I'm deeply engrossed in another virtual world at the moment and I don't know if or when I'll have time to spare again for Second Life.

Doreen Garrigus

Wow, I just had to mute someone who took great issue with my comment above and IMed me in world to insult and attack me, over and over again. It startled me because that is only the second time I've ever been contacted by someone who disagreed with something I posted online.

I want to clarify my comment above for other readers who may have been offended but are the kind of people unlikely to launch an IM attack.

What I am not tired of: real, constructive criticism of viewer 2, with substantive complaints and useful suggestions. A list of glitches and bugs within the software is not going to offend me.

What I am tired of: whining of the "you moved my button" variety, which is a lot of what I'm seeing in the forums and on external sites. Breathless hyperbole about LL firing everybody who doesn't like the viewer is not useful either.

Really, venting has its place, but thread after thread after thread by the same little cluster of people? It's a vicious, negative onslaught that serves no purpose. It makes people tune you out, which is the opposite of what you're after.

Piece spoken. I'm done now.

Chestnut Rau

Zha Ewry wrote a blog post that describes in detail ways the new viewer should be improved. I think her post is the most clear analysis of 2.0's weak points I have seen. Check it out.

http://zhaewry.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/viewer2-0-beta-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-and-the-odd/

Vax Sirnah

Zha's analysis is pretty much dead on, in my opinion. She expresses a few things I was trying to express but couldn't find the right words for, especially "Good interfaces don’t waste space. The beta client often has acres of space which is unused while cramming elements into tiny spaces."

Ultimately people will get used to interfaces no matter what - if they want to use the app, they adapt. But that doesn't vindicate design problems.

Beatrix Noel

I liked some of the aspects of the 2.0 viewer.

However, I can only use it for a short amount of time because the lack of good contrast between the text and the background combined with the constant flashing of IMs and notices gives me a headache.

Oh and when I use search I can't ever find anything. And it closes and resets when you tp.

Until those issues are fixed I won't even been trying it. It's not worth it.

Hitomi Tiponi

Was also going to write a critique - but can see that Zha does a far better job than I would.

I have no problem with change. I am prepared to forget the pie menus, the colour scheme, the re-located buttons and functions, and even the sidebar - but I can't forgive the usability flaws that have been introduced. It is just so hard to use many of it's features in-world even when you have tweaked it as much as possible. Maybe the Lindens would like to tell us how chat, profile management and camera controls are actually easier to use with what you actually use them for, rather than going on about features in them that people will rarely use in practice.

Galatea Gynoid

@Doreen Garrigus: "Breathless hyperbole" is par for the course in the SL blogosphere. Pretty useful, too, if you're wanting to just ignore what people are saying, as it provides an easy way to dismiss criticism. People don't make mountains out of molehills unless they've run out of actual mountains to complain about. The more hyperbole is spewed, the easier it is to be convinced there's no *real* problems to be concerned about.

Zha has useful, constructive criticism, but it will be lost in the noise. When the community communicates in the fashion it generally does, it's pretty much guaranteed it won't be heard, to the detriment of us all. There are those who would like to hear the kind of stuff Zha has to say, but if they have to wade through a hundred Maggie Darwins to get to it, it'll never get heard.

Earth Primbee

I had sone initial problems with default settings and the typical adjustments to things being moved around. I went back to the old viewer till things calmed down a bit. Went back for a second try and I think I am now adjusted. I prefer it now. It's a great leap forward in my humble opinion.

Peachez

I feel like someone slipped me some kool-aid because I actually like the new beta viewer. I hated alot about the usability in the current one so, I don't get some of the controversy.

I like that it looks a bit more professional, the web browser-like features, and the way it handles notifications in a less annoying, pop-up crazy way. Although I've failed to notice a few notifications, I've rejoined some more active groups now that I'm not constantly distracted by so many flashing tabs and floating windows. I don't really miss IMs in my local chat, but we should have the option.

Yes, I still keep stumbling over some sidebar/menu frustration ('Me'???), but the favorite landmarks bar, outfits with links to items, and nearby avatar radar had immediate benefits to my experience. No hate here...

Doreen Garrigus

Zha's review is extremely well written. Thanks for pointing me to it.

Alberik Rotaru

Change is hard. Evidently it is especially hard for companies that are used to taking their customers for granted.

L Knoller

This story about the Lindens themselves having problems, might have got a little simpathy from me, if it had been run on the SL blogs, when it was actually happening. I might have thought: "oh, I better get prepared for a huge change, that I might not like". But after the hugely hyped launch of V2 "get it or you're missing out"? It appearing now seems contrived. What exactly is it saying? They are empathetic, and unremorseful? They knew it would upset people, but ramped up expectations anyway? They have already made the decision, but are still asking for feed back?

give me a break

Penny Patton

I'm more disappointed by what Viewer 2 fails to do.

No avatar height shown in the appearance editor.

No improvements to SL's 1994 era camera placement.

No built-in viewer based AO.

SL should have had these things before leaving beta. They're essential. The absence of these features has had extremely negative effects on SL which can be easily pointed out and demonstrated in-world.

Tristin M

Dude you can spin this any way you want (ie lie your ass off) its a CRAP client pretty simple...

Crap Mariner

*cough*

Unless I need to do something involving Alphas or Shared Media, I tend to hop back to 1.23.

Little things like having to click in the filter field of inventory instead of just being able to go control-I and type away for the filter. That kind of ease-of-use habit dies really hard.

Zha rounds up those little things, those pesky oversights.

You'd think a team working a whole year on this thing would notice such details. Oh well. I guess that what we victi- monkeys are for.

OOK OOK OOK!

-ls/cm

Noirran

There are some features in 2.0 I like, but too many irritating and frustrating usability flaws to make me use it long term. Such as:

1. Double the work to find or change land settings or pull up a group information window to send a notice or invite someone.
2. Camera controls: epic fail.
3. Unable to separate inventory and friends list windows to drop notecards and stuff on people. It's clunky.
4. Unable to find where to turn off attached lights and attached particles. Blinded by facelights again.
5. Search makes the baby jesus cry.

Pretty much what other people have found irritating, so far Kirsten is coming closest to turning it into something we can actually use. LL really should hire her as a consultant.

Doreen Garrigus

"5. Search makes the baby jesus cry."

LOLOLOLOL You made my afternoon, Noirran.

Thorgal

I like the new viewer a lot... the only thing really anoying for me is that voice seems broken and I cant get it to work...

Having said that... it is a beta, people shouldnt judge but try to give back useful feedback without all the negative emotions...

just my 2 cents...

Osprey

I've been resolutely trying to get used to it because I have a feeling this will more or less be it, but I think that the social engineering makes it more attractive to the people whose inworld activities it was made to enhance.

The multiplicity of viewers is great, but there is a Tower of Babel effect if there isn't a common one that everyone knows and about which they can share information, especially with new people.

I'm ok with the rearranging, but a lot of things I do will now require digging to access the commands. There are quite a few broken bits (snapshots, for one, permission setting for another, the inability to suppress the UI for a third, the media buttons are backwards, landmarks in notecards can't be used, no Flycam indicator, hard to deselect) that I hope will be fixed soon, and some things that may or may not be changed which make things harder for me personally (Search in inventory can't be separate from Search in Recent, the media controls are bizarrely sited, hard to build except on the ground).

The UI is a bit intrusive; the sides of my view into SL have always felt unblocked and akin to the view from my eyeballs - peripheral vision doesn't really apply, so I'd rather say it just felt like I could go left or right and the way was unblocked. Now it does feel a bit like the way I feel if I stand in rl with a wall next to the right side of my head.

Arcadian Vanalten

At least folks still have emotions about the SL experience nowadays. Vitriol is always better than indifference; with the former, you know folks at least are paying attention.

Ricepot Rincewind

Change is not frustrating, the 2.0 viewer is- simple as that.

Sorry, it's not revolutionary, it's a step back.

Sorry it's not more accessible, it's encroaching on the entire experience.

Sorry it isn't streamlined, it's broken.

It's far from Emerald and any of the player made viewers. Stop trying to compete with your residents who've already done it better, Linden Lab.

Fix the bugs that have been in the game for the last several years - improve upon simple things in dire need of it before pushing something half-assed on your paying customers.

Csteph Submariner

I can't go back to viewer 1, it's dark and scary!

I think the UI generally could use some tweaks, and some moves are, frankly, a complete clusterf***, but prim media makes up for all of it.


Matt

This beta viewer id by far the best reason I've had to try out the 3rd party viewers.

Gowron Rodex

Tried it and didn't like it.
I use the camera a lot and it's just crap in here. Actually so far i hate everything about it.
As my friend put it. "It feels like i'm in a straight jacket".
For now i'll keep using Emerald and hope they will soon be able to intergrate the flash part but keep the "old" (well working) interface.

John Creighton

I'm new to SL so I can't offer much of an opinion but I did find that some of the messages that cam up took up too much space. Also, I don't think hiding features is a good idea.

My biggest complainy though also applies to the older viewer. Both viewers make it difficult to multi-task because there is a limit on how narrow I can make the chat window and I am forced to use the chat window inside the SL viewer. I would like to be able to launch it as a second window so I can put it above my msn window to save on screen space.

Quanese

Secondlife Viewer 2 is epic FAIL. I am open to progressive changes and willing to try new things..but having tested this viewer, I am highly disappointed and cant think of any good reason why LL had to do this. I could do without alpha and shared media, its not that imp for me or for any of the people I have shared my views with. Basic things like inventory, finding friends, sharing landmarks, camera controls are MORE important for users. Finding it very very hard to switch between IMs and missing notices. Its all too confusing and for whoever designed it to be user friendly needs to go back to designing school or research, or do a user survey before bringing in changes. Hope LL does not make this viewer compulsory.

Caryln Bingyi

I welcome change and was excited to download and try the new viewer. Unfortunately, while the old viewer works just fine on my computer (MacBook Pro running Tiger 4.11), V2 will not respond when I attempt to open it. So I am thankful that (at least for now) we have a choice to continue using the old viewer. If we are ever forced to chance to the new viewer it will be a shame, because I will have to leave SL. Hopefully that will never happen...

Vivienne

Sorry, but "Change" is necessary when something is really going wrong. The viewer interface definitely was NOT the reason for anything going wrong with SL. The steep learning curve will NOT be flattened by this "change" AT ALL. So, best what we can hope is that not too many newbies will scratch SL from their desktop BECAUSE of this "Change". "Change" for "Change" sake might be appropiate for an image polish, but THIS "Change" will not polish LL image. SL has a bunch of serious problems, NONE of them related to the viewer UI, which are not adressed at all. LL should "change" the elemtary bugs and glitches, instead of wasting time, money oand resources on a misconceptioned UI which no one ever asked them for.

Roxette Mabellon

After try Viewer 2.0 a few days I really don't like it. I switched back. I'm belong to the 87% who hate viewer 2.0 ( http://blogs.secondlife.com/poll.jspa?poll=1018 )

Gyorgyna Larnia

Well, ok, SL2 is made for the "search paying stuff", but, why changing all the menus?? All was very intuitive and easy, and now I can't even find the upload button or everything else...I like the graphic improvements, the new attachments options, and the tattoo/makeups options...but, done this, why change all the other stuff??? the inventory is terrible, and also the groups and friends windows...bad bad work!

Jir Aya

I tried that viewer five times, and passed at least fours hours in each try using it without stop... then none can come here accusing me of nor try, or try only some times or only for a bit.

And I say categorically: The SL 2 SUCKS!

The menus are horribles, the messages and IMs are a challenge to find (better nor talk about the inventory...), the images delay a lot to rezz, the Search...! It don´t deserve be called Search!

This talk about "Change is hard" make sense when you change for something better, but the SL 2 is better in what?

brinda allen

Interesting to return here 4 months later whwere a bunch of lindens arwe no more...and emerald grew vastly...and 2.ought oh is still broken

Clinton Mistwalker

Viewer 2 just blows. At least with 2.1 they fixed the camera controls. Building on 2.0 was a nightmare.

I am finding that scripts obtained on the old viewer don't seem to work on the new one. The good thing about viewer 2 in my opinion is that the user has more individual control over the graphics settings.

The bad thing about viewer 2, for me and all users with ATI Radeon Mobility X300, X600 and I think X700 graphics cards is that when viewer 1.23 is gone so are we. There is a known glitch that does not allow users of with these cards to log on. The viewer crashes before logging in. Linden Lab knows about this glitch and so far, the only advice they have to offer is to disable the audio on the viewer. Well, I followed their instructions and still can't log in. And what is the purpose of having a new viewer if you can't have sound?

I hope they extend the support period for viewer 1.23 for those of us who will not be able to get on SL at all after it's gone. Sure there are couple of third party viewers that work with these cards, for example the Dale version which is based on 1.18. I tried it and it really sucks. Maybe Linden Lab will work on a solution to this problem?

Dryl

Viewer 2 doesn't work on my computer. Unless that is addressed, eventually the only options I'll have will be to find a usable 3rd party client or abandon SL altogether. I'd rather LL stop being dumb about 100% of things (or, alternately, give me a new computer).

Corey Sheryffe

When viewer 2.0 first came out and I actually liked it. I find it to be very organized, except the camera controls I am not too happy about. However, I equipped my sim with a complete weather system and realized that I could not see the lightning. Also, my elevator of my Denmark treehouse did not function correctly. It would pull up the avatars first in midair and the elevator would follow. Make a long story short, someone suggested Emerald, I tried it and I loved it. Everything was working perfectly, the lightning, the rain, the fire storms, images rezzed clearly and naturally. After I found out about the bad news about Emerald I was looking for a back up viewer and upgraded to viewer 2.1. The only positive thing I can say about viewer 2.1 is that the avatar moves very fast, none or hardly any lag even with the basic shaders checked. NOTHING, I mean absolutely NOTHING else works, most objects are rezzing in 2D especially my Tobias Novi palms, they look like a string of leaves suspended in the sky. Cliffs look like a bad piece of clipart done by a 5 year old! LOL
It is the worst I have ever seen. Ok, so I downloaded other viewers such as Imprudence and Snowglobe, they are ok, however, certain Luna Bliss plants (my favorite Kentia palms) just won't rezz at all. Also a very cool animated palm with falling leaves and coconuts won't rezz. They remain gray basic cross squares. I have a brand new good quality labtop (got excellent reviews) running windows 7 but if they take away Emerald I will be screwed for life and my Second Life will be over. I hope Linden Lab will be able to develope a viewer that is Windows 7 compatible, for their sake and all other Windows 7 laptop users with problems to make the Second Life experience more of a pleasure than a nightmare. I can only hope they will work something out with the Emerald team or at least develope a viewer that is just as good or better because this is starting to become very irritating and frustrating. I am going to try and see if I can get viewer 2.0 back at least the images were loading and just have to live without the lightning for a while. I invested way too much time and money into Second Life to let it all go to hell now!!!

Bau Ur

The trouble with V2 is not that it is different from V1 or that old residents are too conservative. Old residents have been asking for changes to V1 at least since I got here in 2006. There are dozens of ways V1 needed to be changed. The trouble with V2 is not that it departs from V1 too much; it is that it is intrinsically bad uninsightful design. It is big, it intrudes enormously into the world, yet the buttons that you actually need to use for interfacing are extremely small and hard to see, let alone hit, on anything less than a 21 inch monitor.

I am a mentor and I can tell you it is very hard to instruct newbies in anything with the new viewer. Instructions to go to "this" and click on "that" are met with "huh??" and five minutes of floundering. It's idiotic.

One of the intended improvements of V2 was to make it more useful for social networking, and at this it fails utterly while still being intrusive. Photos from profiles etcetera are much bigger than necessary for icons yet far too small to be actually useful as expressions of that person. There are too many steps involved in finding and reading anyone's Picks, which, along with Groups, are strong indicators of the person's interests and personality. There is still insufficient room for people to say what they might like you to know about themselves and it is awkward to get to their webpage if they have one. And Search is still poor -- can't locate parcels by name, can't search for products by creator name, can't teleport directly from a group profile to a parcel or venue connected to that group, can't search out anything that has only two letters in the name (to find SF Designs, for example, you have to go through hundreds of businesses with "Designs" in the name).

With V2 LL did a lot of new things no one asked it to do while still neglecting things residents want done. If you see the complaints fade, it is only with disgust and despair that LL actually gives a damn about feedback.

Fasha


I've found the best viewer by far to be the Reborn viewer. It's easy to use and NEVER crashes on me. It's awesome! If you want to find out more about this fantastic Viewer go to http://inflife.net/.

Lee

I don't like this viewer because with 4Gb RAM and 2600 Mhz dual core AMD 64 Black I can't move anywhere! Seriously slow.

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