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Thursday, December 01, 2011

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Nyoko Salome

:0 how are you connecting hamlet - ether/wired, or wirelessly?

if plugged in, set your preference for 'max bandwidth' to 1000 - if wireless, set it to 500.

it would be nice if the lab would have that adjust itself automatically (or at least ask if one would like to change it). probably wouldn't be so many people trying sl and coming away disappointed...

Nalates Urriah

I see your point... and I see the point you missed or fail to mention. Skyrim is on a DVD and does not have to download.

Second Life has terabytes of content that continuously changes.

If you visit Celtic Myst the region rezzes in a little over a minute. Mon Tissu in the Lula region takes 4+ minutes. A generic world made by novices verses a world made by professionals optimizing for an optimized system is always going to loose the performance battle.

There is no doubt the world is moving toward a wireless Internet. But, downloading 6gb of game to a tablet is expensive and the system in the USA is not really up to it.

You seem to be saying that only pre-downloaded or DVD based games can survive. I doubt that is the case.

The Lab is obviously having performance problems. Whie we don't know everything the Lab is working on, we do know that much of the staff is working on performance issues.

With 3.2.5 (245937) I can TP to Celtic spin 360 and see mote of the region 100% rezzed in 60 seconds. There aren't many avatars there, but the one there this morning was rezzed in at about 15 seconds.

It is getting better. You should never wash your computer and then do a benchmark... you can't do a think with it. :p

Uccello

I've said for some time that Infinity Blade looks better and runs more smoothly on my iPad2 that Second LIfe does on my 27" iMac with maxxed RAM all over. Sure, there's a case to be made for optimizing for the hardware, but there hast to be more to it than that.

Arcadian Vanalten

Good point, Nyoko. Settings DO make a difference. And yes, LL doesn't exactly make it easy to troubleshoot, or even determine that troubleshooting needs to happen versus just plain bad platform. Since the V3 viewers rolled out, my router and modem (which still handle other MMO's w/o breaking a sweat) crater and have to be manually reset at the slightest provocation, often at login. There's often an accompanying error message about the VOIP, so I suspect there's some sort of firewall problem w/ the SL Voice thingy as that seems to greatly enhance the issue. Not sure how that brings down the whole system, router and modem, but then I'm not a computer godling, either. Just wish ya didn't have to BE one to make it run smoothly.

foneco zuzu

Sl does not have competition, its a drug with lots of addicts that will feed it until...
But same with a bethesda game, as soon as one starts installing mods, it can be as addictive!
Now to say desktop computers are dying, that is being said since the advent of the 1st laptops (as far as i can remember i got my 1st 1 around the early 90'ths, a 486intel).
Still, trying to push consumers to spend bucks on new fancy shinny lil things on this time of the year is normal, but what a lot of younger s (I would guess that most that read this blog are less then 45 years old)will realize sooner or later, is that those small toys will screw your eyes so bad that not even a desktop and a 46' monitor will solve them!

Adeon Writer

It takes me less than 20 seconds to fully Rez in my house from an empty cache, and my avie's got an arc in the 2000 area and I live in mainland.

What viewer are you using / where on the grid are you logging in / what is your bandwidth?

As stated loading a game from DVD isn't a fair comparison unless you are running a local OpenSim region from a connected drive which is also notably speedy, moreso than Skyrim's boot up time!

Ciaran Laval

So what technical solutions are there? A bigger client doesn't really work because of the dynamic nature of Second Life.

Skyrim looks stunning from the screenshots but to improve how SL looks and feels will take technical solutions and a little bit of prodding to the community to go green when designing builds.

Kala Bijoux

Yes, I agree that this is a problem. But why are you again blaming avid SL fans? Yes, people might bitch at you - but really, this is not something fans can fix. The Lindens have to address this. Perhaps you think if we fans badgered them enough they would address it? Doubtful. I know you are a concerned fan like the rest of us and wish for SL survival too. But honestly, post after post of yours makes me think you blame the fans far more than LL. I really wish you would find some positive points to say about SL users trying to change SL. Or at least not bash SL fans every time you write about SL dying.

elysium eilde

You forget the part where the people who design most of (or is it all of?) the locations and content for Skyrim probably do it as a full time job with a decent salary, while most SL sims are built by people who are not getting paid a living wage for their creations and can't put a 40 hour work week into developing their sims.

Arcadian Vanalten

I still think, though, that comparing an MMO w/ dynamic user-generated content to a single user game is kind of silly, though. And I get that you don't want to hear the logic error of that pointed out, but reluctance to hear it doesn't make the logic any less erroneous.

DeltaDharmaDawn Aubret

I guess the point is simple. Which is more enjoyable? Logging on and playing in a fully rendered environment immediately, or waiting variable times for sims to rez before engaging in whatever activity you are there for. I continue to frequent SL because it provides an experience not found elsewhere, but I am spending more and more time in other worlds such as Skyrim, WoW, Rift and even Glitch because sometimes I just don't have the time or desire to deal with SL issues. Does it have to be either or? I think we understand the differences between platforms and what it takes to run them, I just don't want to be a tech wiz to enjoy my free time. I think virtual realities in all formats will only get more exciting - and I hope I will have the means to enjoy them.

Evalinda

It was mentioned a few times, your comparison is very silly.

I´ve enjoyed reading your blog since some months, but this post let me think you drink before posting.

Please scratch your head and think about this issue a bit more before start ranting. Thanks.

Pathfinder

People forget details and explanations. But they never forget how an experience makes them *feel*.

Especially a *first impression* experience.

When I started playing Skyrim, the feeling I got in the first 5 minutes of my experience was simply breathtaking. Amazing beauty, completely engrossing situation, and a total sense of wonder.

And people wonder why the world is going crazy about Skyrim...

Orca Flotta

Hamlet wrote:

"I also know that this very attitude among SL's most avid users -- a dogged willingness to ignore or accept vast, fundamental problems with the client"

Oh, now knowing about problems and accepting them for their very unchangable nature (with today's techologial standards), and trying to adust to them, instead of making things worse by hooking weakling mobile machines up is an ATTITUDE?

I know we all should be so ashamed of ourselves. How do we dare still having fun in SL?
Eventhough LL are idiots, eventhough the noobies are no idiots but expecting SL to work perfectly for them right out of the box and without getting used to the complexities of it? Eventhough we don't give a damn about LL, their future and their profitabilty? Eventhough we're scaring the noobs away by showing them how good we live in SL while they can't?
Honestly, what a bunch of retarded meanies are we?

Orca Flotta

BTW, 4 minutes to load a scene? I'd kick my hardware, I'd kick my ISP if I'd ever need more than like 30 seconds to rezz everything around me. And that on a low bandwith, high ping 3rd world connection.

Yes, I hate them all, my ISP and the politicians for standing in the way of providing a good broadband connection and making me pay much too much for their bad stuff. I also hate LL for managing the grid so badly and for their high tier fees.

But do I have to hate SL too?

shockwave yareach

Comparing Second Life to a stand alone video game is like comparing a bicycle to a fish. Second Life allows you to change the world you are in. Second life is a shared universe with communications and interactivity which enables collaboration and creation as a team. The world of Skyrim is unchanging and static and resides solely on that little DVD, locked forever and ever exactly as the coders made it.

You could make SL static and fit all in a DVD too. It would be pretty fast to load. But then, it wouldn't be changable and it wouldn't be second life.

Hamlet Au

Well said, Pathfinder. I actually think there's a middle ground -- incorporate some areas of SL into the client itself, especially the initial log-in area, so it's not a laggy, grayed out experience, for first-time users most of all.

"I still think, though, that comparing an MMO w/ dynamic user-generated content to a single user game is kind of silly, though."

Depends why the comparison is being made. From a market perspective, there's a large overlap for online, client-based 3D immersive experiences, and non-online, client-based 3D immersive interactive experiences. But if I did the same graphics comparison with a next-gen MMO to SL, the results would be roughly the same.

Marianne McCann

If anything, it seems amazingly weird that it takes 4 minutes to load that all but clear land on the edge of Linden Village. Even on my system, with a dodgy connection on a 4+ year old iMac, I'm loaded and ready to go on much more complex lands in a fraction of that time. Something is screwy.

roblem hogarth

My skyrim install is 5.6GB vs. 133MB for SL or about 42 times the installed data. Not to mention Skyrim, as impressive as it is, never changes, ever. Not to mention the skyrim world is the only world you are ever going to see in that game, in SL you experience thousands of different worlds for free, literally hundreds of terabytes of data if not petabytes at this point. Sorry YOU can't see your avatar after 4 min. on your overpriced Alienware gaming notebook, but I don't have to wait more than a few seconds to see my av on my 2 year old desktop. And while you are more or less talking about lag here, you fail to mention the load times you hit in skyrim when you aren't just wandering around. Skyrim is nothing like second life and you know it. Something is up with YOUR, hardware, ISP or whatever. SL has plenty of issues, not being skyrim isn't one of them.

Pussycat Catnap

Most MMO users today are Savvy enough to know about downloads and the issues of lag / delay therein.

Even in MMOs that are 99% on your machine, people have this awareness.

Console gamers, such as people playing this new version of Pac-Man you're so fond of; don't tend to think about that I guess.

YES, SL's client is far from ideal in how it handles the bandwidth. But I don't think this is the reason people give up.

People give up because they log in and don't know what to do or who to do it with.

- Even a highly polished MMOs with ultra-fast downloads and smooth graphics can fail when people have this problem of 'what do I do and with whom'?
- Case in Point: Champions Online. Beautiful, fast game with amazing scenes and toons - but launched with almost no group content and so little reason for anyone to talk to anyone... so people played their initial month then left.

- SL has all the group content you could possibly ever desire... BUT it fails to connect noobs to it well enough.
- To be fair they've tried just about every solution I can think of to get the noobs to the group-stuff... but it just never seems to click.

People want to log in, and have something to occupy their boredom early on. The 4-minute wait isn't about the visual, its about the 'hello, want to join me on this quest?'
- I actually had a newbie beg me to go with her on a shopping trip last night, when I was on a rez-day alt made for a fashion contest, because she wanted 'group content'. Sadly she hit me up at 1am my time... and I had to say no.

Spend some time in newbie spots and you find many -are- interested in the look of things, but mostly themselves (how do I change my avatar?) - but even more are asking 'what do I do now?' or 'where can I meet _____?'

(They solved the avatar thing in the v3 release BTW, the choice of starter AVs now is so amazing there's almost no point in shopping for freebies anymore. All the freebies one could ever want are a click away with the new 'Avatar' button.)

Nyoko Salome

point well taken! the end result is on the screen, and in the 'satisfaction' surveys...

on vacation last week was the very first time i tried to connect wirelessly; while mostly smooth for everything else net-related, trying to log into the grid was a bit more touchy - avatars not rezzing; trying to push the 'im' button for a friend's/customer's profile resulted in - nothing, no response. i can see now why an average user, encountering such non-responsiveness with the viewer and even basic functions like iming, would think the whole darn thing was 'still broken' after five-eight years in release!

it was only the next morn that i thought to try adjusting max bandwidth down due to the different wireless connection - didn't even adjust my other graphics settings. -then- it worked swimmingly! :0

coming away from that, i feel like if there's one little self-adjusting thing they need to add/fix to the viewer, like their still somewhat-new simpler graphic slider (and the associated log-in's 'setting to best suggested graphics), is the same for 'max bandwidth'.

it's buried rather deep in the preferences where your average user is simply never going to see it, nor think to adjust it (if they have much a clue which way they need to slide it - encountering grey, they might be well attempted to turn it up, instead of down). there's little-to-no feedback or info suggestions provided there...

lab, should really give this a try! :0

Tateru Nino

@Pathfinder I got the it the other way around. I got the sense of wonder from five minutes in SL (even though I'd been in virtual environments for two decades already), but Skyrim felt more pedestrian to me when I tried it - five minutes in and I'm going through the usual tutorial that will cover all the usual material.

Sure it looks good as a game, but so does just about everything else this year - or last year. I adore Tamriel, but... oh look. I'm the Chosen One. Again. That in itself is getting a bit old.

Emperor Norton

"as desktop computing continues moving utterly and irrevocably into total obsolescence."

,.. until your expensive GCPU cooks itself and you need a new lap top. The reason for Desktops is cooling and that means a huge piece of metal for a heat sink.

PRO TIP (as is someone from who actually works with nuts and bolts hardware)High end military 3d systems are the size of suitcases and mostly metal. If anything heat is going to be a bigger as time goes on with more complex programs and more fragile components.

Thermodynamics, how does that work?

Hitomi Tiponi

@Hamlet - with the kit you have, your SL experience should be much better, even with the standard viewer's default settings. I get a great experience even with an aged Nvidia 8600GT or a twin core CPU, hell, even my netbook is better!

Nalates has just published a very good and exhaustive guide on improving your viewer performance at http://blog.nalates.net/2011/11/30/how-to-get-a-faster-second-life/.

Kalei

I just have to point out that an M11x is *not* a high-end gaming notebook. The GT 540M GPU is an upper middle-tier card, equivalent to a desktop GT 430 which is quite mediocre and only costs about $60-70 (http://www.amazon.com/Evga-GeForce-Express-Graphics-01G-P3-1430-LR/dp/B0046HAW7Y).

Wrath

I've always wished SL had some kind of an option for sim owners to set a permission so that upon entering, visitors had the option & ability to download a secured textures pack or something to your hd where they could be accessed by the viewer, and maybe check for updates on subsequent visits for new textures, etc. Seems like that could speed up rezzing issues and allow for more detailed areas that wouldn't still be greyed out ten minutes later...

Pussycat Catnap

You sort of can do that.

Give out a HUD that regulars have to wear.
- Works in a RP sim for example.

Pack the HUD with all your common textures. The ones that appear on all your 'defaults' for walls, effects, doors, and such.

I've seen a few places do this.

Post rules that tell people 'no leaving this rez point without the HUD' - again, best in a RP-sim where this is normal, any where else and they'll think your nuts.

For other sims... just make the HUD available as a feature. A 'wear this before coming to pre-load the sim' item. Regular visitors will do that by choice. When sitting in your little SL-Home, picking out the perfect dress and setting up your Dance HUD or whatever... you'd also grab your 'HUD of awesome preloading for the place of wonder.' and put it on... loading all that stuff in an environment you control.

- People will still take the lag hit, but not where they'll notice it as much.

IDEALLY, SL would have a feature that would track places you went to often, and make them a cache priority. Cache seems utterly random though - I should -NEVER- have to redownload my avatar's skin... but everytime I change outfits, if I haven't for a while, it seems I do...
- something like the last 3 skins you wore, should be perma-cached.
- anyplace set as your home, likewise permacached.
- any place set in your favorites bar, perma-cached.
- any place you have a pattern of spending more than X% of your online time, perma-cached. Where X is probably 30%, or perhaps the top 200mb's of most often downloaded textures.

(I dunno - I'm making the above numbers up. Somebody else would know where reasonable thresh-holds lie.)

Hamlet Au

"I just have to point out that an M11x is *not* a high-end gaming notebook."

More's the pity: It still plays Skyrim on medium settings. Whereas with SL, the screenshot you're seeing is with my settings on Medium and my draw distance at about 100 meters. And yet!

Orca Flotta

We'e still talking about HIGH END GAMING here, right? Eventhough SL is hardly a high-end game, for obvious reasons it shares the same or even higher system requirements.
See, now accidently I found something were we can say: Yes, Skyrim is comparable with SL :)

Although I don't have a clue about gaming afaik most gamers are using high-end desktop systems to achieve the best performance. Yes, exactly the desktop systems that are "moving utterly and irrevocably into total obsolescence".
Woah, the ultra cool gaming freaks aren't using the totally hip, puny little overpriced lappies with 11" screens ... except maybe once a year for a LAN party. And even if they do they most probably put them on cooling stands and place a fan directly blowing at the poor little machine. But that's it already.

Nevertheless, with a high class lappie like the Alienware, Hamlet should get a much better performance from SL. There is definately something dodgy with the machine or more probably with his connection. Reading Nalates' article and checking with Speedtest.net should reveal the shortcomings.

This is not rocket science. Even a middle aged housewife like me, which grew up without computers, can comprehend it.

Pathfinder

@shockwave said: "The world of Skyrim is unchanging and static and resides solely on that little DVD, locked forever and ever exactly as the coders made it. "

DVD? Like many others, I haven't installed a game from a physical disk in years. It's all about services like Steam, IMHO. (http://steampowered.com)

Patches are automatically downloaded and installed in the background. I can also easily buy downloadable content (DLC) which expands the content of my games.

IMHO, if you want to see the future of video games and digital content distribution, look *carefully* at what's going on with Steam. Or XboxLIVE.

Pathfinder

And look, news today:

"Bethesda Game Studios announced today that the PC version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be using the Steam Workshop, making it possible for users to submit, browse, rate, and download mods for Skyrim through Steam. Bethesda’s thriving modding community has been creating some of the most inventive, unique, and compelling user created content around. We’re excited to be providing the framework to make distribution and consumption of this great content easier than ever."

So it goes.

Valentina Kendal

I get that that must be *really* frustrating for you hamlet, someone who has been with SL from almost the very start, but as Orca and others points out, those of us with different hardware than yours (computer that is) don't have nearly that bad an experience. We make choices to maximize our experience: using Phoenix or Firestorm, reducing draw, lowering graphics settings, and it keeps the dynamic and streaming world of SL usable.

Sidd

Here's a comparison for you. My extremely high end computer, which runs Second Life (V3, ultra, with shadows ON), 2-3 separate 3d modelling packages, Chrome and Photoshop all at once with no issue, cannot run Skyrim for more than half an hour without heating up to the point that I become nauseous from poor, uneven framerate. On LOW.

Comparing Skyrim with Second Life is one of the sillier things I've seen on this site. Honestly?

One is a single player, offline, RPG filled with content created by the best of the industry professionals. The other is a massively multiplayer, online world filled with content made by hobbyists and amateurs who don't necessarily understand how to make efficient content. And probably don't care to.

[quote Yes I know.....Yes I know.....Yes I know.....]

well if you know all this, I honestly can't see the point of this post. Go play your Skyrim. See you in 6 weeks when you're bored of it and feeling like comparing SL with how your refrigerator runs.

Missy Restless

The comments to this blog post are actually more interesting and informative than the blog post (sorry Hamlet, I still love you). I suggest going back and reading Nalates comment.

Yes, there is lots of room for improvement in Second Life. One of the areas for improvement would be in performance and another in supported client environments. As someone pointed out above, LL has improved performance as a high priority.

As someone else above pointed out, the Alienware M11x is not really "high end". I don't think your setup/bandwidth is within the minimal system requirements or maybe something is messed up in your configuration - it should not take so long to rez an area. My cheap desktop is half the cost of your laptop and performs quite well in SL because of the graphics card. Most of the client side task is rendering.

Anyway, you have a valid point. The initial user experience should be smoother/easier/better. But fattening the already fat client is not a good solution. Please stop architecting software solutions unless you are a software architect. Also, please stop blaming SL residents who disagree with you for LL problems. The problems LL face are complicated and mostly require technical solutions, not some sort of social revolution.

Oh, dear, I seem to have drifted off into critical negativism. Oh well, back to Organica that does take a couple minutes or so to rez!

Rusalka Writer

It does get hugely boring to have been in SL for years and it still looks the same. Yes, massive technical improvements (my shoes no longer get stuck to my butt when I teleport), but still... I look at things like Skyrim and think why? Why does SL 2011 still look like SL 2007? Or, if the appearance is unchanging, why doesn't the price go down? Why is SL the only technical venue in the world that gets neither better nor cheaper?

Zulu

.I am trying not to offensive, endless saying skyrim and sl in this web like this way..,. I am a secondlife residence 4 years, was a wow player for 2 years and now also Rift and Skyrim player. I play Skyrim since it releases and now played over 160 hours. I have to say. I feel myself like idiot to read this type of article.

Owen Kelly

Pathfinder makes a great point. A lot of SL is actually located in the viewer (the water from the edge of the world to the horizon for example). If the client had one entirely local landing region, and if that had some useful functionality (changing wardrobe for example, or acting as a sandbox) then the user would be "in SL" immediately and able to check messages, change shoes, and so on while waiting for the "outside world" to load.

This would be an interactive 3D loading screen that enable you set yourself up for the world itself, and I think that it would cut the emotional load-times to zero.

Orca Flotta

Rusalka asked:
"Why does SL 2011 still look like SL 2007?"

Remember 'your world, your imagination', Rusalka? You can blame LL for a lot of things, but they are just providing the canvas. We're responsible for filling it up with content. So if SL 2011 still looks like SL 2007 for you it's because residents are still happy with their MacMansions from Ace's Spaces and their MLP sexbeds after all these years.

@ Owen:
I have heard the endless ocean and the sky is created in your GPU, not in the viewer. But I have no clue about technology.

Alazarin

I've noticed over the years that there's alot of mention that professional MMO's are optimised [whatever that means] so that graphics and objects load faster.

So why not add a function into the build editor that optimises builds once completed? Removing hidden faces, textures, etc. Obviously the objects would no loger be editable after optimisation but any builder with an ounce of sense would keep unoptimised versions in their inventory if nothing else for later modification / updating. Adding an optimisation function might help things rez faster in the viewer and help with resident retention.

Another possibility would be to offer downloadable texture and object packs so that they don't have to be downloaded all the time. Instead they could read off the local hard disk which, again, would speed up rezzing times.

Aliasi Stonebender

I want to know why you're comparing SL with *SKYRIM* in terms of "time it takes to render stuff".

It's not an apples to oranges comparison, even. It's apples to bricks.

It's best to compare SL to, you know, OTHER ONLINE ENVIRONMENTS. And, shockingly, the ones that have similar amounts of customization? They take a second before stuff shows, too. Not as slow as SL can be, perhaps, but I can guarantee that the superhero MMOs and Star Trek Online both take a moment before the blank grey avatars resolve into what's intended... and that's WITH models pre-downloaded and on the hard drive!

In other news, home-cooked meals take longer than fast food. Also, this dog here barks, and is not a cat.

Nica Pennell

Some of the things you're complaining about in this article simply cannot be changed. A dynamic shared world like Second Life will never be as fast to load as a static on-disk one. And content produced by amateur hobbyists will, generally speaking, be less sophisticated than that produced by full-time professionals.

That said there's a couple of things that can be done to help improve the situation. The best way to improve load times is to reduce the total amount of data that needs to be moved from server to client, and various clever technical tricks aside the best way to do that is to teach builders the value of asset reuse. As things currently stand SL considers the cost of each object in splendid isolation - a crate costs the same amount of resources to place in a sim if it's unique as if it's one of a hundred instances of the exact same crate. A texture costs the same if it's used once as if it's used on a hundred different objects. If SL were to provide sim owners with a convenient way to measure this sort of thing it would help train them to understand the value of asset reuse better.

Maybe a nice first step would be a way to find out the total size of all of the assets used in a given sim, minus avatars and attachments.

Dylan Rickenbacker

I keep hearing this "desktop computing is doomed" argument, and I think it is utter rubbish. It may be that sales for desktop machines are declining because there's a certain saturation and a lot of people, instead of buying a complete new machine, do what I do and just upgrade parts bit by bit. I love my laptop and my smartphone and all that, but until I see a laptop with a 23" screen and a good ergonomic keyboard, I'm not even going to think about getting rid of my desktop setup.

Kim

This is my opinion by far the worst and most pervasive bug in SL. It's been reported at JIRA, and the discussion there intense and revealing. I find it dismaying how many people deny the existence of this bug or "blame the victims" who have to deal with this disgrace.

https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-24191?

Dale Innis

I really think there's something wrong with your viewer or something, Hamlet. It takes nothing like four minutes for absolutely everything in view to load for me on my Alienware laptop, connected wirelessly, over your typical home broadband service, all settings on Ultra.

Of course, you have no incentive to fix it, because it lets you make yet more "Second Life is worse than X" posts. :)

Arcadia Codesmith

Whatever the issues with Hamlet's laptop (and the industry's faddish boosterism of all things portable), he's 100% right about the rest of it.

MMOs and other game environments create an expectation of performance for most users. If they enter an environment like SL that can't match those expectations, they're going to dismiss it as utter crap and leave.

Is it fair to compare a huge client-side game with a skinny client hooked into a massive streaming world? Nope, not fair at all. But guess what? End users don't give a flying fart about fair or not. You hook them quick or not at all.

Which leaves Second Life with an ever-dwindling population of blue-hairs that remember when modems were 400 baud and get off my damn lawn.

Which means they're going to have to be damned creative about caching, rendering, compressing, data flow, and optimization. They'll have to create more techniques that don't exist yet to even get close to the necessary level of performance. If they don't get a slew of patents out the process, they're not pushing hard enough.

Or they'll just dwindle further and further into irrelevance and cease to exist.

Dale Innis

I'm somewhat dubious about the idea that Second Life is directly competing with Skyrim (for instance), and therefore must be just as "hook them quick" as Skyrim is.

Surely there is, and will always be, a market for things that don't grab everyone instantly, but that are different enough, and unique enough, and attractive enough, that over time there will be lots of people who invest enough to overcome some small but nonzero learning curve, and then stay and become a loyal and paying base and pass the word on to others that this is worth investing in?

I think one of the things that bothers me most about lots of the criticism of SL, not just in NWN (but certainly often here), is the assumption that the only way to survive / succeed is to compete directly with whatever flashy eyecandy is on the front cover of this month's Cool Internet 5.0 Entrepreneur magazine; one month it's Blue Mars, the next it's Farmtown, the next it's Skyrim.

But why is the only alternative to complete with the fad-of-the-month on its own terms? That strikes me as more of a way to fail. What works is to figure out what your *differentiator* is, and to excel at that. Not to try to play catch-up with everybody else at once.

SL's differentiators include dynamic user-created content (I'd say it's the primary differentiator, in fact). SL should be looking at ways to do THAT (and any other differentiators, like live music, etc) in the best way possible. Not the best way to win in endless comparisons with Farmville, Skyrim, Frogger, or whatever.

John Branch

It's almost funny that despite Hamlet's declarations such as "I know all the technical reasons why Second Life takes so long to fully display" and others, many of the responses take him to task as if he had said no such thing. I haven't even been in SL lately, but I still like it, and I still have hopes for its future. Surely that future does depend to some degree on what Pathfinder said:

"People forget details and explanations. But they never forget how an experience makes them *feel*.

"Especially a *first impression* experience."

So I applaud this post.

On the other hand, I'm glad for some of the technical discussion in the comments. I'm about to venture back into SL to look around a bit, see how the current viewer looks and works, etc., and the reference to the bandwidth setting, at the very least, should be helpful. I'm also glad for the mention from Pussycat Catnap of how to locate an alternate avatar. I've never been that pleased with mine and used to daydream about commissioning one from one of the notable early builders.

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Wagner James Au VR MMO blog New World Notes
Sinespace Unity MMO
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SL fashion blog Cajsa Gidge
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