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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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EhrmanDigfoot

There are so many young people who have taken up 3D modeling as a hobby and participate daily creating things in Blender forums, vimeo and other sharing sites. It's what photoshop was for people in the aughties. SL is just perfect for these people. SL is already advertising heavily in Blender forums, but it would be great to see some attractive features implemented quickly, even if in a buggy state. Specifically Normal Maps, Spec Maps and maybe custom skeletons. These features could attract hard core users quickly. SL already has everything else nicely developed, it just needs these features.

Ezra

"Create Facebook ads for Second Life which target gamers based on their interest"

Why though? Like Rod mentioned in the snippet you included above:

"our biggest issue is not getting new signups or even people to experience SL for a bit, it's turning them into long term users"

The sign-ups are there. Outside advertising can only increase signups more, but its wholly unnecessary. If Second Life converted even half of the sign-ups it gets now into long term users, it'd be bigger than it ever was in a few weeks time. Probably faster considering Second Life receives tens of thousands of sign-ups a week.

On your second idea, I agree somewhat, but you're blogging about Second Life without being coerced by achievements in a "blogger" branch of a game system.

Maybe Second Life would benefit from an initial selection of things to branch off to do. "Like blogging? Take snapshots, IM people, find things to blog about!" But, for any 'branch' there could be for new users, that coercion of what to do could grow offensive in the long run.

It is though a good idea to not only let new users know what they can do in Second Life, but what they can become.

Adeon Writer

"Specifically Normal Maps, Spec Maps and maybe custom skeletons."

Thanks. Because I was just about to post these three things.

Want to attract users, LL? Let us do it for you. We can, if you give us the tools we need to create attractive content and pull them from their games and into this world.

Adeon Writer

*And I meant pull users, not content. ;)

MrBungle

You can't. That class of people is used up. There's no more of them. Casual users is the only place for SL to expand.


And speaking as a former hardcore user, it also *uses* people up. I've gone from being an always-logged-on SL user with several large projects to a casual user who putters in opensim and occasionally visits SL. It burnt me out, and distracted from issues I needed to take care of in the real world. I do not believe I am unique, or even nearly so, in this regard.

Alex Fireheart

The solution to new users is a curated experience. Each new user who meets someone who genuinely cares about his experience and mentors him or her into getting deeper involved becomes a long term user. It's human interaction that makes the difference.

If only you had a group of people who'd be willing to work for next to nothing, or for free, to give people that curated experience, to attract and bring people inworld, to help them figure out things and get started in the way they should go.

Whoa, wait a moment - you HAD that and lost it, with the SL Mentors. You alienated them, LL, and now what? You really need them.

shockwave yareach

First and foremost, FIX the viewer!!

New person signs up at website. new person downloads viewer 3. Viewer 3 crashes at startup because of longstanding flaw in setup with any Nvidia card above GT240. New person quits in disgust. LL, this failure is inexcusable. We who are inworld know how to configure our viewers, but a newb does not know and should not be expected to have to do anything but run it the first time in the first place.

N X cusable.

Getting people to buy more land would be nice. You can increase the volumes by lowering the prices. Who makes more profit; Ford with its lower price but great volume, or Lamborghini with extreme price but low volume? *Hint: Ford makes more, hands down, even in bad times.*

Simplifying the TOS so newbs don't have to ask for a virtual lawyer before doing ANYTHING that might be fun is a good idea. Make it the following:

General - no sex anywhere and gunplay only permitted on your own parcels and public fighting areas that are clearly marked.

Mature - sex and anything else legal in your home country permitted only on your own parcels, so long as they are not visible from public roads/waterways/trains. gunplay permitted only on private parcels or public fighting areas that are clearly marked.

Adult - anything legal in your home country is permitted, and gunplay permitted only on private parcels or public fighting areas that are clearly marked.


Simple.

Indigo Mertel

I think a system based on achievement is the best way to go to lead people to content they enjoy. I know a lot of people don't like this, this is a topic that has been debated ad nauseam in the past but in my opinion it would work for new users.

SL is a lot of things to lots of people so there is space for such a system. Finding interesting content is difficult, you need to give motivation for people to stick around. Some kind of gamification through achievement points could entertain new users while discovering what SL has to offer.

Indigo Mertel

As for better tools to build, normal maps, etc, of course those are good to have and may even attract some 3D modeler. But, those won't make SL grow. Less than 10% of the SL user base actually build content, I read somewhere the percentage is as low as 1%. There are no big numbers there.

Galatea

Indigo, better tools for building will help SL grow. The percentage of builders isn't relevant. The point is that what attracts most non-builders to SL is the stuff that was built by the builders. Give the builders better tools, and they will build the content that attracts the users. What attracts users is content, and almost entirely it's user-created content. Whether it's fashion or simulations or toys or events, it's all user-generated content pulling in other users to enjoy. The whole ecosystem rests on the tools provided to the users who actually create, build, organize, and manage using them. That eventually accounts for 100% of the users -- there's your big numbers.

Iggy

All technology reaches a "saturation point," at which the market begins to cannibalize itself or its makers come up with novel means of planned obsolescence.

I'd think that addictive and interactive entertainment, and SL is surely that, has reached that point. Note the oft-cited plateau at WoW.

Folks who are likely recruits are already playing in another space for hours on end. MrBungle is correct and the well is low, if not dry now.

While FB has many hardcore users who dedicate hours daily, they do so in snippets, often on the run while on mobile devices. How can SL capture that texting-while-at-dinner market?

JoJa Dhara

Trust is lost whatever cool or better tools you like to come up with. There were mentors prepared for free to support, there was a community convention for many years to establish the hardcore user to continue to bring in new, there was a community gateway program in own lanquage and intrest that thought new users.....big mistake you can think hardcore can bring in new hardcore..they look outside and see heavy expenses and complicated tools..warned many times and never listened to....why should they now? Hardcore will be inworld but they also moved on.....creating new world and explain how it should be.... First gain the trust....goodluck with that Linden Lab and mr Humble

Barefoot Ballinger

I'll second the lack of Mentors. If a new user was surrounded by people that will reach out and help, there is a much better chance that user will stick around.

It would also be nice to have them dropped into a moderated welcome area before they get exposed to the more, umm, traditional hubs. If I landed at the Korea hub or on my first day, the experience would have stopped me dead in my tracks.

Jessicka

That's one of the issues LL has going with them. Too much straight-forward thinking. It's never outside the box with them.

It's always "what do we have to add", rather than, "What can we fix to make the entire experience better"?

Jo Yardley

Here are my thoughts on the subject, would love to hear your thoughts;
http://joyardley.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/starting-your-second-life/

August

Land. Everyone likes their own space to do their own thing. Land that is more than 512, more than 117 prims. Make large amounts of land more accessible and MUCH more affordable. Advertise the land, the ability to build your own music space, or aircraft, or home. Advertise that it's affordable land, that you can control all aspects of your land, to who you let visit(everyone, nobody, up to the user), how it looks, and even what colour your sky is; your land, your home, your imagination.

Honestly, if my partner and I didn't have the sim we do (grandfathered pricing), we'd have been long gone.

Dartagan Shepherd

Years worth of suggestions, and many of them the same ones.

But they ignore those, come up with their own half baked ideas.

They make a token gesture to the community that they're going to force something else on them, try to get someone to suggest it so they can pull the "because you asked/suggested" bit.

Then we're back to typical LL behavior of thinking up more junk and ignoring customers while they pretend to ask them.

Try doing what people have been asking for years.

Lower prices.

Improve the platform.

Make the tools easier to use.

Fix old bugs.

Land impact is just insulting.

Stop competing with your own customers with land, the marketplace, etc.

Finish what you start.

Communicate what hardware resources people get for their money. Be specific.

Their good enough ... isn't, so do it better or hire people who can who are experienced with this kind of technology.

Stop letting employees cook things up and make decisions, implement traditional management.

But instead they want users they've been dishonest with in their communication, underhanded monetization, social engineering, statistics, economy, the users they keep squeezing to help them get more users?

There's really nothing to hide behind any longer but to have the platform stand on its own merits and the pricing to reflect something resembling modern prices and not something from an over hyped, over priced 2006.

Jesus, anything but developing good solid, stable software with decent pricing.

You had your "millions and billions" moment, LL. Time to get back to the job no one seems to want to do. Develop good virtual world software.

Arcadia Codesmith

Customer service. You need tour guides who know SL inside and out and love to help people. Volunteer programs raise legal concerns. So pay people, lots of people, in lots of countries. Don't skimp. In any virtual world, community relations should be your number one priority, always.

Indigo Mertel

@Galatea, I am not opposing better building tools. I am a builder myself, so those are welcome. But better content is not a key factor to keep a new user starts using SL. It is not better content that will keep new users around, it's how to have them *find* that content. Then, good content is a key factor but you first need to take users there. And I'd say there is a lot of good content in SL already.

An achievement system would help new users to find content (in a broad sense). Make it rich, not shallow, not only targeted to party-goers and socialization. Add art and cultural achievements in it, encourage users to try new things. Add rewards when they reach some targets, throws some L$ in it as perks so to encourage people to shop (and help the SL economy with it).

Another thing I would consider is a system-wide overhauling of the communications system we have in SL: destination guide is not enough, groups in the current implementation are obsolete, events promotion is weak and ineffective, the social feed needs to be improved, users should be able to follow specific topics as they would with social networks. Create feed channels users can subscribe to, allow groups to submit content to these feeds with a click of a button (with some anti-spam rules), let groups submit to different channels (don't make the promotional system too rigid and narrowly focused), let people add events to a personal calendar with reminders.

There should one single recipient for all communications one click away, a personal mailbox where to receive IMs, group notices, feed channels. Make all that information stick into the mailbox until it is read (and not until you log out as it is now), assign a personal email address to every user, ask new users to subscribe to topics of interest as soon as they join and have them receive the relative feed channels.

Groups should be changed into mini-forums to engage users in their favorite topics and find new friends. The forums should be open to the web to further promote SL, there are hundreds of special interest groups in SL which could attract new users. A lot could be done by changing groups into forums and I have been advocating this change for a while.

jjccc coronet (@JJcccART)

OK Second life is cool if you have a good pc but i installed it on my girl friends laptop the other day its just an average laptop and second life looked crap handled like a dog going the wrong way she lost interest after 10 mins, if you want anyone to stay there are a few things you are going to have to do. first double the band width, i bet you wont do it. second make sli a reality for 2 graphics cards, i bet you don't do that either. If you don't improve the lag and don't improve the graphics and soon you will be flogging a dead horse as the competition looks way better. You don't just have to match them you have to beat the competition with a product that will make people leave them not second life. ok Third if you read Genero tv terms and condition in there its state they will not use any video made in second life because the standards are so low, the video that comes out of second life is so low it will automatically get deleted and not used, but they use other animated forms of video so why not second life, because it hasn't kept up with the times. if this was school you would be staying behind for detention as your not trying hard enough. I have been in second life 6 years if it isn't fixed soon i firmly believe that second life wont be here in 5 years, but if one person with enough incite can see past the issues and fix it by spending a small amount now to get a huge profit in the future , it actually might stay around, if you can please my girl friend

Charlie B.

Make SL work for more users more of the time. Greatly improve caching, av rendering, world rendering. All doable :-)

Find a way to extract what the new resident kinda wants to find. (live music, being a furry, flirting on a beach, building, blah). I believe much of the time they're not sure. A questionnaire seems offputting, but perhaps asking to look at other social network data (careful of feeling intrusive), and then some little tests to both expose interests AND introduce the range of possibilities. Maybe while the viewer is downloading. Show a picture of combat guy, a cute girl/guy, and a furry - ask which one is more interesting to you?

If i worked there, that's what I would have done.

Lani Global

WEB VIEWER

Danielle

Re-institute money trees. That was how I first learned my way around the grid. Free money is a great incentive for people to stick around.

EhrmanDigfoot

I'm so surprised people think that common SL problems are somewhere hidden in the code. Each sculpted prim has 1024 polygons and people use them for everything. If you want to solve lag, ban sculpted prims on every new reduced-rate sim sold. Make people pay for script use and lower per-sim prim counts. Sculpted prims never should have been created to begin with. Giving builders better tools will not only attract the thousands of hobbyists out there, but it will help us build a more efficient and stable world. Specifically, we need Normal and Spec Maps ASAP.

Little Lost Linden


Better graphics...

I keep thinking how many people would be inworld every day if Second Life looked like the Unreal 4 engine. At least give us Unreal 3 quality graphics.

And while your at it, lower tier....a lot.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

What induced me to stay on in Second Life? The initial urge to experiment with a new persona, of course... but also finding a friendly mentor and people who shared my interests, *and* being lucky enough to have only run into one at least semi-serious griefer, and that well after I'd gotten hooked.

Please, get rid of Welcome Areas. They're misnamed; an honest characterization would be "target-rich environments". People who get their sick jollies from being jerks and ruining things for others know they have a steady supply of victims at Welcome Areas, so they hang out there.
Once newcomers have learned the bare minimum, teleport them to an area randomly chosen from those that feature something relating to their expressed interests. Poof! They can get involved with what interests them right away, and there's no choke point for the jerks to loiter at.

elizabeth (16)

is a stage progression from newbie to engaged user who will put money in the game

stage 1) is stuff. SL is same like RL. ppl like stuff. when is easy to find/get stuff then will stay longer

when you start off then you want stuff for your avatar. clothes hairs attachments vehicles etc. after a time then want bigger stuff like land and a house and furniture. a business even for some

+

when get past stage 1) then stage 2) is how i make stuff. is 2 parts to this as well. how i mount/mod what i got already that someone else made? then only after that in only some cases how i make my own stuff?

+

SL is about stuff. you have to get stuff. like find it. if you dont get stuff then you never transition from newbie to something else

things like friends are a consequence/byproduct of the SL adventure of finding/getting/making stuff. is same in reals. like not many people wander round the RL malls and streets going "hi will you be my friend". if you do this then people think you a weirdo. is actual same in SL. only people who dont think you a weirdo work at the homeless shelter or at Salvation army or something like that

friendships are made when we do/engage in stuff with stuff. either make it or find it. is same same SL and RL

+

so just have to make it really easy to find stuff. then to mount/mod. then to build. when you get to the mount/mod stage then you end up staying and put money in the game

Alazarin

1] Improve the viewer and rendering so that new residents with mainstream computers / laptops will have an acceptable experience. As long as SL requires high-end gaming computers for an acceptable experience it will have low take-up and retention.
2] Offer cloud rendering as a feature of premium accounts as an incentive for new residents to go premium: they'll have a consistently high-quality experience no matter what type of computer they log in with.
3] Proper on-demand flexible scalability at the server end. As well as scaling downwards with multiple low-capacity regions per server core, why not scale the other direction with multiple cores per region? That could be useful for commercial regions, clubs and major events [Burn2, SLxB, RFL, etc.] so that they could host hundreds, if not thousands, of avatars in a lag-free environment. Just as Homestead sims cost less than regular sims, high-capacity sims would cost more.
4] Change the billing model for sims and to reflect the traffic, server load and bandwidth usage on a per-month basis. This would allow residents some flexibility in their plans.
5] Increase the land allowance for premium accounts to 1024 sqm. This would mop up the surplus land on the mainland and help drive up prices.
6] Lower sim prices. Mainland barely shifts at 1L$/metre. The current sim prices are unjustified.
7] Lower tier and make it more granular. Get rid of those ridiculous powers-of-2 jumps.

Hitomi Tiponi

It is good to see that Rod is addressing 'the' core problem for new users - it really is their need to find something special for them.

Personally I would like some sort of selection mechanism when you first log in suggesting some of the categories they might like to start out at - then re-direct them to areas that actually like to deal with noobs interested in socialising, music, building, exploring, dress-up or role-play.

Iggy

@Little Lost Linden, who said "I keep thinking how many people would be inworld every day if Second Life looked like the Unreal 4 engine."

Depends on the user LL wants: 1) a sizable niche demographic, in absolute numbers, that uses desktop rigs and swaps out graphic cards frequently or 2) a giant market, in terms of percentage of users, that couldn't open a CPU case even with a gun to their heads.

Consider the reality educators using virtual worlds now face, as compared even to SL's Hype Era. To quote from a year-old piece in the Christian Science Monitor, a Penn State IT director noted "95 percent of students now bring a laptop or tablet media device to campus instead of using a traditional PC in their dorm room."

That's the same on my campus and my colleagues' schools.

So good luck courting that hardcore user base, Mr. Humble. In the US, college kids will drive the computing and entertainment markets forward, and while the desktop is not dead at the workplace, it will wither at home as these kids graduate and move around, just as the market for CD and DVD collections has withered.

My mantra has been "If it won't run well on a laptop and wireless, it might as well not exist for Millennials." There is one exception:

Millennials still own gaming consoles, for now. Perhaps that is the market LL should chase if they want a young, affluent, and growing customer base.

foneco zuzu

Just make sure that you just don't kill hardcore user base as it is when implementing new features that will make all rest broken or useless (Mesh ground rollover, path finding, does any here realizes how it will cost to All?!)

foneco zuzu

Still, what can any do to help new users found interest in Second Life?
Well i can't do what i do on OSgrid, offer them a pack of 200 avatars ready to wear, show them places to set their homes for free, telling how to set good old Imprudence or other viewer that makes sense, teaching how many did ot me, to set up your own computer to host a region and so on!
But I can, be kind, try to point a viewer that works when some is saying they can't see nothing, teach them how to avoid using to many scripts and why, how to detach the phoenix/firestorm bridge, how to use the wer intens tab on the inventory to see whar they are wearing, how to make use of the draw distance to reduce some lag, how to start rezzing and linking prims and make the 1st item, offering them all that i did full perm, that will allow any to discover that Sl is not only sex, but any can sail, scuba dive, fly a plane, ride a bike, just wonder around mainland exploring, taking a ride on a Nascar track with them, showing some amazing places, with avatars around, listening to good music and so on!
But more important, speak with them and not point a link to a webpage, but try to understand their problem in World!
All the newbies i meet, they are still on SL after a while, so perhaps it is only enough, to loose a few time listen and showing what any can make, and there is a lot!

foneco zuzu

Iggy, you are deeply wrong, decline of the dekstop computers is much slower thenj the death of all those gadgets that all try to stuff up our a***
3

foneco zuzu

A
The ones that are willing to expend and change their desktop computers every year as soon as a new game requires it, cause if they can do so they also can support all the expenses of Second Life are the ones that LL shall target!
Or do you think any can build or jerk off, while using a Ipad???
And what senses makes to have a Ford, if you can have a Ferrari cause a Ferrari owner for sure has much more possibilities of spending then a Ford owner!
Linden Lab should really worry about not broking users content when installing new updated or new tools, to make sure any using the latest computer can run Second Life as it should, to learn with some Tpv's how to make it look like Silkrin and to remember that , the oens who can afford all the new stuff, still can login with a old computer, with a old v1 viewer.
And that its major user basis, one that they trully not desired, as money to spent but are stubborn and hate changes when they are not wish or just brake a lot of ones inventory!
Yes, for sure is easy to have lots of kids, login with Ipads, but how many will be spending money after a new hype would made them change?
Check Sims and see who many and how age, are those playing it, and how many still use Desktop computers to play it!
And think, will be mainstreaming a real need, with all the Dmca now, do you really wish to go maintream?

Spiral Silverstar


The solution starts at one's First impressions of SL life. Merely go to InWorldz as a noob and you are pleasantly greeted by Volunteer Mentors who will Bring you to one of several Freebie stores nearby and Help you get started!!

There are many SL'ers who would love to volunteer and help noobs. Will LL do this again? Never.

Begin at the beginning, Rod. simple.

Nick Rhodes

The leadership of Rob Humble is good in getting the things done, more stability, new features on time. Also cooling down the bad vibes in the media by low-profiling. And certainly also for things I haven't witness myself, which is many.

But it is lacking or not showing a vision.

Asking the "hardcore users" how to turn other players into a same level of usage is poorly thought, ethically wrong, like "We can't get more people, you will have to play more or making your friends play more".

To my opinion, Rob Humble can ask what people need and try to provide them.

What people in the house need is certainly an answer to why not more are showing up.

But, the community oriented policy has lived.

Rob must try to dig up the very meaning of what he has in his hand.

As a company, once for all, SL is or is not money profitable to Linden Lab ?

Is it socially or economically good for expansion of ourselves in some phases of our lives.

Is it full of pionniers who explore, I would almost say train, how to shape a massive virtual environment.

We are not all born hardcore users. If SL does good to you all your life, go with it.

If you just have shown 6 month and left, raised a business, loved twice, you are also part of it and certainly, you will ever have some respect to the avatar nation.

Second Life positively educates masses to give a value to an online experience.

But almost everyone that is built for this is already there, some for long, so for short time.

It is a turnover, live with that.

I know there is a pressure, in the Valley, what is not growing is regressing...

Time to play,

Second Life is an UFO. Almost ten years online, still here, under the weirdest pitch.

This metamorphic metaverse, full of wandering avatars, does it respond to the classical analysis ?

And do we have a word in the way we want to be evaluate ?

At least, we must strike back with some good thinking.

Reuters did some embedded journalism in SL. May be some embedded driven decision should be made.

Feeling the core, right ?

As a global life simulation, Second Life can shout some new trends, even economical.

I mean SL has shown graphical online spaces are not only dedicate to games.

We built our simulation, even to the point it is more than a simulation.

Now, pushing the boundaries in terms of consciousness.

Why a popolous online space should only be judge under its ever fast growing figures.

To my point of view, it can face crisis, revolutions.

The private islands decrease. All right, more people on the public sandboxes. Poor people talking to the wealthier, consumers to creators. Good thing.

More people, more hours of usage must not be the only answer.

More eyes on us is what we need.

Hire the best makers, produce some overhype dresses pictures on breathtaking avatars in the Vogue America. Dumb movies make millions with a good trailer.

Hire an art director and blow minds.

Make people understand Second Life is at the same time the backstage and the play. But only show good play.

Else, why don't LL provoke real life brands, showing ingame exchange figures and "hey, avatars are one selves consumers but you will have to beat our makers or hire them to succeed".

We are not talking, being there showing some wood tech and pictures to three avatars, we are talking compete with us.

It could almost be sold as a game for companies, make a living in an alien territory.

Hire a wall street analyst and ask him to give us a hard on about the sustainability of the avatarian economy.

Bank businesses offering new tools for avatar money, like bank accounts for avies or group, instead of lurking at who is behind and here is my business card.

Make a deal with intelligent brands, that would not be happy if they have are not providing services or items to 70% of the avatar nation.

And Second life makers would be able to deal with real life brands, selling them like start-ups. Which some are, virtual outposts. Digging business in land where you can't breath in. How adventurous is that, companies of hundreds.

And why don't we have mayors, avatar representatives. LL could gather wills or even organize some politics in Second life, but avatar centric.

With all what has been done so far, I would not see that as a lack of sanity.

And it would give us some recognition, some level over being material in the virtual, masses of harms and brains, democratically driven before, that sounds good to me.

Second life is a simulation, somewhere between an idea and its reality. We are symbolic beings and we can deal easily with a step further thinking, experiencing other ways to run a world. Especially, ours.

Zynga sells virtual flowers and perfectly happy with it, right ?

So the key word is be creative in your questions, LL, and then you will be creative in your answers.

We appreciate the quality of the service and moreover to have born this incredible tool and what we joy so far

but hello ? Are you shame of us, thinking so narrow.

LL, we are ready to back up and push up your ideas if it doesn't make us feel or look like evil life suckers.

We are not trapping users for eternal virtual life.

But Second life should shows up its creations to the real world. Second life should show its jewels.

Not only graphically, but also conceptually.

Scoot for the best, reading the mind of those who puke on Second life.

Make them wrong.

Bring back the eye of Sauron on Second Life.

You have enough milestones to laugh at the face of any, be arrogant for us, if it needs.

What have been done so far is enough to be historically noticeable, so you can walk in confidence.

But you must work up on this feeling of shame or failure, regarding Second Life.

Second Life is a creation tools, we must bring RL people some heavy mastery.

"Wanna fight with 3D generated contents driven by a million users ?"

Hire a tasteful art director who freaks out on details. Someone who say no, more than yes.

And as I said, bring some respectful Wall street analysts, let them study and shout out their findings, if it is exciting, claim it as officials.

Strongly shaped avatars have a determinism to exist, it is a amazing energy to deliver masterpieces.

We need to re feel all kinds of pride.

Also in the ideas of those who have raise the promised land.

Cheers all. /me bows at Hamlet.

Hitomi Tiponi

Interesting to see you use a pic of last yesr's SLCC Hamlet. Something that is unlikely to happen again - unlesss the users of SL organise it, like SL9B.

Cindy Bolero

We are into our 6th year as a community land group and serving RL/SL clients in virtual worlds. But with LL making it harder for us to bring in new users, and this poor economy, I was going to quit. or reduce Aero Pines Park from 12 to 6 regions. Back in 2008, we were a 16 region land mass. Basically we are a mixed reality conferencing center, campus and training grounds, etc, disguised as a public park and recreation area.

As VW solution provider for education, government, corporate, health networks, etc, I believe in and implement pre-building avatars. Our courses and training model provides everything they need to learn and do for the "short stay". For classes, lessons and docs are all in a HUD, for job training, their gear needed is already attached to their body. To put on safety gloves and helmet, they just type "wear safety gloves" or "wear hardhat" and the gear appears on their hands and head.

For classes and training we don't spend hours teaching Inventory folder, navigating the grid, or the money system. We fast track with only how to walk, sit, communicate, see and hear multimedia, and how to navigate the campus or training area.

Linden Lab stated in the past; that 10% stay, 90% never come back. It is very true because with a class or training workshop of 10 new users, they logged in because they were told to by their instructor or employer. 9 of them can't wait to get the class done and logg off, One or possibly more of them becomes amazed with Secondlife and comes back to explore.

And what about the 90% that took a class or training but were disinterested in Secondlife in general? Their common answer in our survey was; "I don't have time for this"

That is why we work hard on the short stay user. By this I mean they are in the virtual world for short visits (1-2 hours max), but there is the possibility of them becoming a long term user coming back for more short visits.

And for venturing out, we suggest that they create a new avatar for sexy Barbie, tatooed longhaired muscle man. or fantasy roleplay, while maintaining one avatar and G-rated profile for professional networking.

We can't make them become addicted to Secondlife and spend long hours immersing themselves in the endless creative possibilities. But we can try to cater to new users who "don't have time for this" and make their short stay easy, compelling, and fun.

The current method of forcing an overwhelming interface at them, just causes frustration. We need to stop losing new residents this way.

Linden Lab or a Third Party Viewer needs to create the "EZ Viewer" so we can grab and hold the delicate and sensitive new user. Every new user is a potential long term user. Why scare them away at the door?

Pyewacket Bellman

Dare them.

Iggy

@foneco, I'm not "deeply wrong" until you cite some stats to show that the "death" of the desktop to be exaggerated. Note too that I'm speaking too of a particular demographic: US college students.

Now I may be wrong in my assumption that these young people are the trendsetters for IT use at home. Perhaps hardware and software makers are discounting the US Millennials' preferences. Again, I want evidence.

But for college students in the US, the decline in their use of desktops is well documented in several studies at major universities. I cited only one report from Penn State. There are others but I won't spam the blog with URLs. A quick search will turn up many more.

I don't mind if the desktop does stay around, but I need data before I accept your counterclaim that is, so far, unsupported.

aka Shelby Rasmuson

As a former hardcore user (2007 joined) who was away for a year...and returned for a time, there were many things that hadn't changed at all. What would bring me back? Lower land prices, better organization in search, (it's still hard to find the really interesting places, I looked for land and either found myself looking back at the places I knew or some really schlocky beach sims.)It's smply too expensive for me to be in SL and have the kind of experience I enjoy. As someone who blogged regularly, I found myself too jaded at what was out there. I've heard it explained by other longtime residents. At some point you just get "old". You've done the Music scene, you've seen the Fashion Shows, gone to the Hair, Fantasy Faire, Skin shows, (and blogged them) Burning life, owned land in some of the more interesting Sims (ie. Wastelands, The Elven Sims and Winterfell), built houses, made animations, made clothes, and watched a lot of pointless drama (which is not pointless to those affected in a legal way..)

I dunno, I love the idea of a Virtual World, and SL did some things really well, but it's not enough at this point for me to come back.


elizabeth (16)

has been massive debate all over about this question. so is good that people are having

i just say tho that i think the question put by rodvik is not plainly asked

his said question is: how do we get new people to stay in the game?

his unsaid question is: how do we get new people to stay in the game and spend money?

this the actual problem for linden. how to get more people spending money. like we all out of churn now

Little Lost Linden


If only Second Life and Unreal Engine 4 could have a baby and call it HardCore World.

If so, I'm there!

I sometimes wonder if someone could Kickstart such a project. What a fantastic world that could be. I dream about quite a bit. Maybe some day it will be a reality.

How do people play there MOH, WOW, and other games. Do they really use an IPad for that?

I sure hope not. I mean Skyrim on an Ipad? WTF?

DMC Jurassic

Seriously, how long overdue is this discussion :)

Thanks Hamlet!

PS. Will contribute notes soon.

Desmond Shang

Is there any real question about what would create and retain a lot more hardcore users?

That's not the problem! No, really, it's not.

The big issue that the lab faces, that nobody dares to spell out, is: how to retain hardcore users while propping up profit margins? That's a much, much harder question.

I hope this adds a little clarity.

1angelcares Writer

I am a hardcore, longtime user who came to SL in the boom year of 2007. In thinking about Rodvik's question about how to convert people into hardcore users, I can only use my own experience. Basically, what keeps me in SL is the personal connection I feel with the SL community and with my own avatar. I was introduced to SL by someone I knew in RL (thanks Randall!) so I had a connection already before I even went inworld. I didn't wait for him, though, and sneakily made my avatar on my own and went inworld solo. I dutifully did the Orientation Island bit, went to Help Island, and made a friend (Hi CCC, wherever you are now!). She was new, too, but a few SL days older than I was, and someone had helped her by taking her to Freebie Dungeon to get massive amounts of free stuff and did I wanna come? Sure I did! Then I made another friend (Hi Capers!) who was new, too. I started to care about my appearance and noticed I looked awful compared to other, more established avs. I found a fashion blog and got very lucky because the blogger was offering free makeovers (Thanks Aemilia!).

This is when I started to "fall in love" with my avatar. She looked like me but was me 2.0. The possibilities were endless! What could/would virtual me do in SL that I wouldn’t/couldn’t in RL? I became interested in romantic relationships. I made another friend who encouraged me in that regard (Thanks Claire!). I ended up being befriended by an SL "family" who offered me my own room, rent-free on their land (Thanks Fallon!). This had a major effect on me. Now I was truly living a "second" life. I felt like I belonged to this place. Later, I was lucky enough to have been "discovered" as an actress (Thanks Cody and Suzy!) and now I call the machinima community my family. In the backdrop, there were concerts, clubs, contests, Tiny Empires, broken hearts, freebiemongering, and lots and lots of shopping. But, at the forefront, were the personal connections I made. That's what gets me to log in day after day and year after year. Want hardcore users? Give them a reason to be there. Friendship, family, romance, and creativity are things that matter in the real world. Why wouldn't it be the same in a virtual one?

Masami Kuramoto

@ Iggy

It's a common misconception that state-of-the-art graphics would raise the viewer's minimum system requirements and lock out a large percentage of SL's user base.

The truth is that those features have been in the viewer for years. They are just not available to content creators.

For example, look at the water in SL. What do you see? Normal mapping, environment mapping, refraction... it's all there. But if you try to build your own water, you can't use any of these things.

It's important to understand that the purpose of advanced rendering features is to reduce lag, not increase it. If you don't make these features available, creators will use workarounds. And these workarounds are actually more expensive than the features themselves.

For example, in SL it is currently impossible to apply lightmaps to diffuse textures. Does this mean that creators won't use lightmaps? Of course they will! But instead of doing it the proper way, they will bake the lights into the diffuse textures, and this can easily increase texture memory usage by factors of ten or more. Or they will apply the lightmap to a transparent geometry layer, which will double the number of triangles to be rendered (and cause alpha sorting issues). Both workarounds are much less efficient than the real thing.

TL;DR: Linden Lab should give creators state-of-the-art rendering features to keep them from using inefficient workarounds. This is the only way to reduce lag and make SL look more appealing.

Heike Philp aka Gwen Gwasi

I am forever suprised that LL is bowing to the customers entering the door, whilst ignoring the ones that are standing in their shop.
We hard core users have been so badly treated, sorry to say.
People invite people and if we paying customers are not treated well, we don't feel like inviting others.
So, unless LL changes their attitude towards their existing customers, re-instates the half-price educational rate, deals with invoices and issues in a timely manner and makes one feel like an appreciated customer, then they will attract new and stable ones.
rgds Heike

Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm afraid that I have to agree with @MrBungle and others who believe that we have hit "saturation" a while ago: there are simply not enough people in the real world that are interested in using virtual worlds, either as a hobby or a business.

Massive advertising — like IMVU did, to reach 50 million users — will certainly help to catch those very few people who are interested in virtual worlds (even if they don't know it yet!) and who have missed SL's existence in the past decade. I mean, I can give myself as anedoctal evidence. In my college days I was supposed to have specialised in graphic visualisation and distributed computing — the very stuff that is at the core of VWs. SL was launched as an open beta in 2002. But it was only in mid-2004 that, by chance, I read an interview sponsored by Apple (they used to send a newsletter to Mac users back then...) explaining what SL was and that it was compatible with the Mac since June 2004. If I had never read that article by chance, I would never have logged in 2004... but only much later, in 2006/7, when the media was talking about it. Now that the media is shunning SL and drooling over the next iPhone, there can be untapped thousands of potential VW users out there who missed the 2006/7 hype (or were too young to join SL back then!) and might have some interest in logging in. So ads help. But not much.

The model around the SL Mentors worked. But it was not perfect. Perhaps 1 in 20 newbies dropping in on the Mentor-assigned areas would actually communicate and contact Mentors, establish a relationship, and get sufficient interest in remaining around. I suppose that getting 5% of all users become long-time residents would be fantastic (considering that nowadays it looks like only 0.001% become long-time residents... :) ). I know that the big problem with the SL Mentors was organisation: it became unmanageable to make sure that a 5,000-person team (at its peak) was constantly informed about everything and had a consistent approach to approaching newbies — the meetings rarely had more than 50 Mentors attending. Managing volunteer organisations of such a size and maintain quality — SL Mentors were, effectively, "representing" LL — is very hard. But not impossible. If LL would bring a specialist in maintaining large volunteer groups, they might bring the SL Mentors back. I still think it was a rather good idea, in spite of all the abuses and the difficulty in maintaining contact with all Mentors.

Ultimately, the problem, as I see it, is grabbing people's time. Let me explain this a bit. We live in a society that is designed for people with short attention spans. We simply have way too many things to do — too many distractions. Facebook and Twitter are the epitaph of a technology perfectly suited to short attention spans — and that's why they are so successful, and so universally used. By contrast, Second Life requires long attention spans, and this means you have to drop something else to fully engage and appreciate SL. You *can* login for just 5 minutes (after waiting 5 minutes to actually log in!) every day, but you won't get an "experience" of SL which will make you return.

Instead, SL becomes interesting and enjoyable after "long sessions" — an hour or two. This means it will compete with the things we do in our leisure time that take that kind of time. For instance, watching TV. Or playing computer games. But also going out to a gym, doing meditation or yoga, or going out with friends. Twitter and Facebook don't compete with either of those activities, since you can use them for minutes instead of hours.

So what SL needs to do to keep residents around is to make it so compelling that people give up TV (for example) and enjoy SL instead. This is hard to do. You might have noticed that *most* people in SL actually watch little TV (I have yet to find a real, old-fashioned "potato couch" in SL). But the vast majority of people on the planet are too attached to TV: there is even social pressure to watch TV so that you have something to talk about with your friends. Someone who tells their friends, who are discussing the latest TV series: "I have no idea what you're talking about, I spend all my free time building and socialising in a virtual world" is a weirdo, a borderliner. While the same answer is almost acceptable for a hard-core game-player, hard-core game-players have little interest in SL — the technology looks too outdated to capture their interest.

So that's a challenge that will be very hard to meet. How do you convince people to stop watching TV or playing computer games or going to yoga classes and start using Second Life regularly instead? As you can imagine, this is next-to-impossible to achieve, and that's why I don't believe in social virtual worlds as a mainstream product. Not yet.

Nevertheless, this can become the inspiration for an ad campaign for LL. "Bored with watching TV? Tired of the same old computer games? Join a virtual world where you create everything — from your own TV series to your own game. You set the rules. You decide". This might not "pull" many mainstream users out of their coaches, but might reach a few more...

Arcadia Codesmith

Saturation? At a guesstimate, I think we've got less than 1% of potential market penetration.

If people weren't interested in VR, the movie Avatar would have been a colossal flop. Heck, if people didn't want to escape from the mundane into the fantastic, the whole concept of fiction, books, movies, drama -- it all would have flopped.

Imagination and creativity are hardwired into our brains. They're possibly the best survival tools ever evolved -- we can run through the outcomes of multiple scenarios without risking our hides to test them.

I find Second Life a superior tool for imagining and creating, but it has significant barriers in terms of ease-of-use and price point. If the tools were upgraded for user experience and to automate rendering efficiency (in-world prim-to-mesh conversion, for example), and the cost of getting a decent chunk of land were in line with subscription fees for other virtual experiences ($15 a month or so for a quarter-sim, let's say), I think we'd have a good shot at drifing out of the doldrums and back into the trade winds.

foneco zuzu

Some truly good posts in this 1, that can make the Lab understand that in the end is all about the LOVE!
If you love SL you will stay and want to bring more to find out why!
If you reject, ignore and every time makes it harder to keep loving it (V2 viewer anyone, high tiers, bugs that are still unsolved after all those years!), it will be hard to stay and even more to convince others to join!

Seven Overdrive

As far as I am concerned, SL is a lost cause until they lower the monthly tier for private islands to the point the average customer can afford their own private spaces to create the world they want without the visual pollution of others ruining what they created.

"Your World, Your Imagination" means very little in a Linden home or on a small parcel of mainland lost in a sea of other peoples junk. That slogan is wonderful if you can afford the price tag that comes with it. If you can't, then oh well you can have a tiny little home or a parcel of land in a junkyard.

Good luck with trying to maintain those profit margins LL. Eventually those margins will be forced to shrink or you will be(again).

Derry McMahon

I agree with those who say having a friend or mentor show you around is what lets folks become grounded in SL...and then...having found places that are a good fit for them keeps them here.

So, bringing back mentors or SL guides who really know the place and care and want to share would help. They can get folks settled, and help them find what they want to do.

Cleaning up the SL Events listings would help (there is currently someone spamming rental ads into Arts and Culture, which turns off anyone who might look for real events and figure there aren't any). And, cleaning up destinations and events that are featured, so that it isn't all skanky sex places popping up. If someone wants those places, they are easily found, but several people who have sampled SL and left claim they never could find anything they wanted, that it all looked like just sex was going on.

Folks don't know where to look or how to find events/places appropriate for them, so maybe a list of 'concepts' rather than locations could pop up. For example: Are you interested in any of these? if so click the button to find out more...and then list things like: building in 3d, listening to live music, listening to live storytelling, participating in discussions, running race cars, flying helicopters, learning how to make clothes for avatars, dancing at clubs, etc, etc.

For me, and apparently others commenting above, it is all about the social connection. Get in, find your way around, make friends with folks who enjoy what you do...once you have real friends here, folks to share the experience with, you are less likely to leave.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

@Arcadia my assumption is based on observation: if there were 99% of "untapped" mainstream users of VWs, then the sheer amount of new VWs launched every month — just take a peek at K-Zero's site to get an idea on how many millions flock to new VWs being launched all the time — would easily absorb them.

Instead, all we see is that all of them fail after 2-3 years — when their venture capital or initial funding is spent. Even Habbo Hotel, which seemed to be rock-solid, couldn't survive (or stuggles to survive) the press reviews claiming that paedophilia is rampant in its VW...

The "leaders of the pack" right now are SL and IMVU, but neither "grows exponentially". All the rest grow by pulling customers away from SL and IMVU for a while — even OpenSim does that! — until they in turn fail. All eyes are on Cloud Party right now, but I'd be the first to be surprised if they are still around in 2014.

So, where are all those 99%? Assuming that SL + IMVU together have "a few hundred thousands" of regular users, you're talking about tens of millions of regular users. Where are they? What are they doing? How do you know that they are, in fact, potential users? I mean, there is plenty of choice around there. "Guessing" that all those tens of millions of users will come to the first VW that "is done right" is, well, just a guess like any other — one has to assume that all VWs in general have never been "done right", although SL and IMVU "have done it better than others" since they're still around.

My guess — my hypothesis, if you prefer — is that those tens of millions of potential VW users don't really exist. It's wishful thinking to think otherwise. And I'm aware I'm contradicting myself: 4 or 5 years ago I also believed that we were just at the tip of the iceberg and that 3D VWs would "soon" replace the old 2D desktop/window paradigm. I was hopelessly wrong. We have dug out the whole iceberg and it's just a small icecube.

Nevertheless, an icecube worth perhaps 500 to 700 million of USD annually, and that's worth taking into account.

@Seven I agree that it will be very hard for LL to continue to be profitable with the current margins, and that they have no choice, for the long-term, to adapt their business model. Most people believe this means "reducing the tier" but I think otherwise — LL is very well known never to do things as customers expect them to do, and to think "out of the box" (sometimes, so far out as to completely loose touch with the "box").

Toady Nakamura

I think something as simple as returning all residents to a binomial naming system (ex: Arcadia Codesmith, Hamlet Au) instead of "JannieLovesPork1985" would help with retention.

When new people realize they're stuck with their sign in name floating over their head - and can't get a simple name like "Mary", "Sally" or "Bob" anymore, it makes the place seem less real.

They were all over us to use our real names, now no one can have anything approximating a real name because all the sensible names with last name "Resident" have been taken.

It is in simple things that retention is lost, and I think this is one of the biggest ones.

shockwave yareach

SL can get more players, yes. But it cannot get anymore people like those already here.

The hardcores with deep pockets came. LL then stole their "ownership" of their lands from them, told some of them they had to move to the Zindra ghetto or else, shut down their sims over simple billing issues (causing many of the landowner's renters to quit too)... And thus LL drove out many of the deep pocketed VW advocates.

Said advocates want the experience of SL again. But they won't do it with LL at the helm. Thus what's left are the less than deep pockets who won't pay the current tier levels, and the facebookers who won't work more than 5 minutes to learn how to use a program.

Like I warned years ago, LL, when you drive out the existing deep pockets, not only will they not return, but we won't have a single nice thing to say about the experience. We've lost a lot of money due to your incompetence and illegal confiscations of "our" lands. So forgive us for not wanting to let our friends get thrown under the same bus you threw us under.

shockwave yareach

@Gweneth - said people are currently playing World of Warcraft, Rifts, SWtoR, City of Heros, and even Everquest. They aren't in SL because they can't just start playing and go off and whip on some monster butts the first minute like in all the other games. Because while SL is a game (in that it's recreational) it isn't an instant achievement and gratification system like so many MMorpgs are.

My opinion is you could get 5% of the WoW crowd to join. And I think they are trying SL out. But the first time many of them install and run the viewer, it crashes, because there's a problem with the viewer automatically setting the graphics to modes which the Nvidia cards cannot run, crashing the program. This is a well known problem and is at the heart of why LL sees lots of signups in the website, but no logins inworld! Nobody can go inworld when the viewer crashes at first install.

Iggy

Gwyn wrote of a potential ad campaign...

"Bored with watching TV? Tired of the same old computer games? Join a virtual world where you create everything — from your own TV series to your own game. You set the rules. You decide."

I *love* this idea, but keep in mind that I've gotten rather addicted to Mad Men. I'm on Season Four now and actually own the DVDs. I'm going to channel the spirit of Don Draper to reply.

Compare SL to the time-consuming experience of watching all of Mad Men. Both take a lot of time to fully appreciate. Yet my DVD never crashes my laptop or TV, nor do the few episodes I purchased from iTunes. Imagine that! Works right out of the box! Every time!

LL would have to guarantee that before starting a mass-market campaign. And for many reasons set forth in these comments, they cannot yet do so.

As for content of the ads? Don Draper could not have pitched it better than Gwyn. She has a bright career ahead on Madison Avenue.

Jessi

They have to nurture the newbies first in order to get them to stay in SL and to keep returning. If a person is new and the viewer crashes on them or they do not know that they can turn down their draw distance or run SL on low settings, then they assume that the program is too resource heavy for their machine and they never return. The other thing is the lack of people where they are sending the newbies at times. They should force newbies who are new to go to safe zones or info hubs that are staffed 24/7 for a couple of weeks.

In these zones newbies can be taught SL Survival 101 and would perhaps stay longer.

Dusty Mousehold

As one of those "hardcore" residents, once called one of the "feted inner core" even, I can offer some advice. One big way to get people to stay in SL is to be able be invisible to friends that is undetectable by said friend. There are many times I want to just log in, do my thing and log out without appearing to anyone as being online. Firestorm/Phoenix has something like this but it shows the friend they have been notification blocked which can and does cause hurt feelings and what not. Every available option results in bad feelings, "you are too busy to talk to me," "You un-freinded me, omg!" or "why are you ignoring me?" This leads to the many alts we have and that is really a poor solution.

Lower land tier. I have a huge plot of land near mine that has been abandoned for months and will likely remain so for a long time. It is one of a gazillion yellow plots of land on the map showing just how bad the hemorrhaging is.

Probably the easiest way to get people to stay in SL is to give them a reason to put up with all the problems SL has. If you are a newbie that is a really hard thing to come up with. Games like DarkLife were a great incentive to hang around in SL, I know I enjoyed it a lot back in the day but the technical aspects of it became impossible to maintain. The number of players soon crushed SL's ability to do more than slideshow between crashes.

LL was really never able to solve that problem, success doing anything in SL is it's ultimate doom. Successful clubs soon become unusable and then they are not successful anymore. You can't thrive in a world where success is punished.

Market a SL branded computer that is 100% SL compatible and tested. Hell, you could offer an "Enhanced Premium" account that for $40 a month gives you a sizable chunk of land and a computer for "free". Cell phone companies do this as a matter of course. There are so many people who aren't poor, have decent computers but can't get on or stay in SL simply because the Best-Buy computer they have won't work with SL and have to rely on the sales person to get them what they need(it's almost impossible to buy a consumer desktop today that has a video card rather than the wimpy integrated Intel crap). Having a decent computer with all the updates and drivers already installed and SL up and working correctly out of the box would get a lot of folks into or back into SL.

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