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Monday, March 21, 2011


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Zauber Paracelsus

Oh lovely. Linden Lab is using the newer avatar styles that look like soulless abominations.

Ann Otoole InSL

All good and all. Except the life blood of SL is money. And casual players are not going to bring any in. So it is good as long as some percentage of the new casual arrivals get a taste for the real SL and change over to an advanced user that participates in the grid and it's economy in a positive manner.

See... The casual basic user can't buy anything. Including those breedable pets. So they actually represent zero value to SL until they switch. Until then all they add is polygons to be rendered which increases viewer lag. But overall we need more people to come in, look around (easily I might add), and "want to be like that person with a real avatar", and thus step up and commit to learning the system.

Can't get them in unless there is an entry gate right? So the next issue is a big "So What?". Basic avatar. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. LL is not in the content business and they have never had any resources with the creative talent to make compelling content. (We have seen plenty of their idea of content over the years.) So we would like LL to step up and help build a better means of communicating current live events and current things to do. And LL might do well to help create incentives for people to create compelling content and run compelling attractions. Without the social aspect the regions are static. Might look cool. But looks cool gets boring fast.

SL became popular because of the social atmosphere and the unique avatar personalities. Then LL consistently eroded that aspect over time beginning in 2008 and the draw of SL is fading away. So LL still has human resources opportunities ahead of them if they are going to correct the course LL set in 2008.

IMHO of course. Not that LL cares about my IMHO.

Laetizia 'Tish' Coronet

Walking around was never hard. Arrow keys have been used in games since the demise of the joystick.
Can we now please, please focus on fixing the things which have never worked well - before Mesh, before Farcebook integration, before we all get rotating diamonds above our heads?

If you give me a Search that works I will give you my time spent in Infohubs, directing newbies to all the fun things that they indeed can do, but can't for the life of them find.
Right now, I have no answer for them and I find myself less and less willing to go stand in Isabel telling them that I don't know.
Making them point and click does not make them enjoy themselves more. Get cracking, damnit.

Adeon Writer

"It's like X which is good because X is popular."

Jura Shepherd

**But overall we need more people to come in, look around (easily I might add), and "want to be like that person with a real avatar", and thus step up and commit to learning the system.**

I think if they find SL at all compelling, they'll want a custom avatar. After all, no matter how good default avatars are, they're still the default avatar and nobody wants to look like a noob for very long.

It's been 4 years since I've been through the noob-grinder. It's hard to put myself in that place again, but I generally like any idea that makes it easier for people to "pop in" on SL for an event or whatever, without feeling like they're committing to a virtual lifestyle.

Adeon Writer

To be fair, basic mode only exists because it was already made. What you are seeing is the GUI that runs on host machines for the Web viewer. This mode was designed for people who get to jump into the world, from the web, to take a quick look, grab an avatar that at minimum matches the race and gender they desire, and look around without any plans for meaningful contribution. Think of this as SL getting an observer or guest mode. Yes, that's a good thing.

You will recognize the default avatars in the list as the "noob list" - appearances that quickly show that a resident is new. (And they will be strongly encouraged to move to SL's proper mode, as there is a HUGE stigmata about using default noob avatars- as they are the faces of the greifers.) plus everyone, even Sim obsessives, want to customize as to not look like everyone else.

You should know that The Sims folk Identify with their avatars just as much, if not more than most SL'ers. Why? Because believe it or not, The Sim's avatar maker isn't that great. Maybe it's better at faces, but that's the limit. In general, you ARE going to look like everyone else, even though you don't want to. To cope, you make a personality and a background. Some get very deep. Many get emotionally attached to their avatars in the same way that SL'es know so well. Even moreso, I would argue.

Don't play Sims fans off as a bunch of casual gamers. The aren't at least not the ones from The Soms Online.

Arcadia Codesmith

I'm not at all opposed to Basic mode (I AM opposed to clickmove as a default, because it's an epic fail in a 3D environment where everybody can fly and reference points to click on can be sparse at 5000 feet).

Default avatars tend to last the exact amount of time that it takes to understand freebies/retail. It needs to be as quick and easy to get the local currency as it is in the Zynga titles on Facebook. It needs to be possible to build a custom avatar within basic, hopefully with a tool set that is both more powerful and easier to use that the current model (e.g. most MMOs built in the last few years). Part of making the customization process accessible depends of some simple, silly things most of us overlook, like making boxes of clothing unpackable in inventory (and flagging them so they can't be worn as boxes).

But yes, the single most important priority is to connect new arrivals with existing venues and residents -- so we can properly socialize them into our shared world. Being able to search out currently active, newbie-friendly venues with realtime traffic (aggressively bot-filtered) would help.

It will be utterly awesome to have a portal on a webpage for visitors... assuming we have an enhanced toolset for property owners and staff to deal with the inevitable troublemakers.

Ajax Manatiso

Its a giant leap backwards. Point and click is way more difficult than arrow keys, and you can hold down an arrow key and fine tine your direction with the mouse whereas with point and click, you have to make sure you clicked on exactly the right spot and navigating is like bringing a ship in to dock.

Also "basic" avis that cant buy or donate anything -- only take up precious sim resources??? I will be working on a script to detect and ban "basic" users.

Once again LL has shown it can sink to new depths of stupidity.

Pyewacket Bellman

WARNING! Do not install this beta version on a Mac with another version of SL installed.

After totally screwing up my main computer - installed on another- with a new account -

Destinations = shops! Empty shops - or notices that my AV wasn't allowed entry because it wasn't age verified. (then why is it in the Destination Guide for new users?) I TP'd around for an hour (TP is broken btw)- couldn't find another person even in the Chat areas! When I finally TP'd to a place that said something like Free Sexy Stuff - it was packed - with bots - and nothing would rez.

Point and click movement? Hamlet, get in there for a few HOURS and find out what that really means in SL. I did. And go in with a brand new account - no friends to chat with - no landmarks - no inventory - no clue.

As for being a Luddite - It's been over 2 years since SL created anything useful. It's been "We really know you want this - so shut up and deal with it".

What did they give us? Linden Homes, XL Exchange, Avatars United, Homestead, sculpts that only a handful of people know how to make so they rez anytime this year, Age Verification, Zindra, borked search, the new website and Viewer 2 with it's killer app Media on a Prim. All these things were touted on this blog as another route to mass market.

The Emperor has no clothes on. We can see it. Why can't you?

Adeon Writer

Hi Ajax! Scripter here.

The script you describe is, thankfully, absolutely impossible to create in any way.


All part of Linden's continuing efforts to dumb the SL experience down in hopes of getting more sign-ups and 'mainstream' acceptance.

Senban Babii

I remember point and click movement when Blue Mars came along and it annoyed the backside out of me.

Now as I'm always saying, I'm a big fan of EVE and think SL could learn some HUGE lessons from it when it comes to player engagement and retention. But you know what the single most annoying thing about EVE is?

Point and click movement.

Ehrman Digfoot

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we really need to find some nicer looking avatars for new users and some of the marketing campaigns. These things look like they are _____ skins from 2009- yuck. LL should partner with Tokushi, bring in a couple really nice furry AV's for new users and maybe Belleza or Abyss or any of the dozens of great skins or AVs from brands that actually reflect the great content SL has to offer.

Nalates Urriah

The SIMS looks like more of a Second Life than the actual SL. The SIMS seems like a very limited SL. Also much of what one does in world seems to be forced on the player.

SL has much more creative freedom and choice. In SL I can live in the future, past, or present. I can fight a war or go to a fashion show. I suppose all that freedom and choice could be a problem. The world seems more interested in creating government control (the SIMS) than promoting freedom (SL) and dealing with the personal responsibility and problems individuals must deal with in a free world.

Hamet, I have to wonder if you are trolling… The big deal in SL is clothes and fashion, avatar appearance. If you really think new people coming into SL are not going to see the other unique avatars and want their own unique avatar, you must be underestimating what we have seen as common place in other games. The 'how did you do that', 'where did you get that' questions most players ask is prevalent in every game I’ve been in. Just because there are a couple of dozen canned avatars in the Basic SL viewer does not mean human nature is going to change. I suspect you know these things.

And sex… WTH… do you really think anyone anywhere wants less sex? I know there are people that simply are not interested in in-world pixel sex. But, they are certainly curious about it.

Coming from the PG Myst games I was amazed at the number of co-players coming to SL that have admitted to being strippers, escorts, bi-curious, and that have explored Zindra. Some explored life styles and others were just being curious. It is the nature of humans. The viewer is not going to change human nature. The most it can do is cater to it. Which many Lindens seem not to understand.

The Basic Viewer may solve the problem of getting people to the fun stuff in SL. It certainly allows them to skip over the drudgery of creating a first avatar and finding places. The new social networking may make it easier to find friends. That may change how people behave in SL, identity and reputation are important to people. So, life style experimentation will move to alternates, which is not that much of a change.

So… are you trolling?

Laetizia 'Tish' Coronet

Did anyone 'griefer test' the Basic mode? How fast can one TP out? Is it clear that one can, and should, in case of mayhem? Can one fill out an AR? Can one restore shape after being goaded into one of those avatar stretch things?
Questions, questions.

Alvi Halderman

To be honest, I think you got wrong the part where you said that this is changing the understanding of an SL avatar because you can change it so easily

This is meant to be an almost preview Viewer (since it's really deficient of crucial features in SL) and those Pre-Made avatars are there so you find the closest thing to you

Nahasa Singh

Who cares about BASIC mode... Seems that BASIC is the language they'd written the latest code upgrades on :

[POSTED 1:06 PM PDT Mar 21 2011] We are aware that a portion of our residents are currently experiencing problems logging in and with inworld services as well as having difficulty logging onto the Second Life website. We are currently working to resolve this as swiftly as possible. In the mean time, please avoid making important transactions or rezzing no-copy objects.

They should've used COBOL, I guess. Time tested, you know.

Chimera Cosmos aka Liz Dorland

Actually, being able to click on a picture and change your avatar is not a bad concept for beginners. Most of us didn't learn about dragging a folder onto yourself to change your outfit/avi for a long time unless someone told us. Figuring out how to change clothes takes awhile, and in the meantime, this gives new users a chance to experience how easy it actually is.

What it needs is scaffolding into a more advanced mode where you "get" that there are actually a lot of items that you are wearing and that you can acquire some very nice pieces to put together an individual look.

The default avatars might not be spectacular, but they are a lot better looking than the average avi put together with tacky freebies several generations old. And slider hair? Pffft! Don't get me started.


Extropia DaSilva

So is this set to be THE SL Viewer to replace 2.whatever? Or is this an optional viewer I can choose to download if and when I want to?


I kinda like the idea of offering newcomers some destination suggestions. Who knows? Some might even feel like exploring arts and live music and like it enough to go inworld from time to time.

Bummer for the shoesellers the newcomers can't buy anything, though ;-)


"Basic comes with point-and-click avatar movement, something I've long seen as a needed feature to make Second Life mass market."

Am I missing the sarcasm of thiat statement, or did you really mean that? If all SL needed was point-and-click avatar movement to become mainstream, hee hee,ha ha HAHAHAHAHA, omg I can't stop laughing long enough to finish this post...

CronoCloud Creeggan

Yes, Hamlet is trolling, considering what was wrote in the linked to blog post:

"Our goal is to get new users comfortable in SL using Basic mode and then have the option to toggle to the Advanced mode when they are ready to conduct more advanced activities such as using voice, purchasing virtual goods, and building. And, it’s easy to switch back and forth. Simply toggle to the alternate mode in the Login Screen, and then log back in.

Lastly, we know that the Basic mode is very lean, and we’re only at the beginning of developing the minimum feature set--keeping it simple and working on the basics of usability first. We anticipate adding additional capabilities to Basic mode, so your feedback is important before we make this version of the SL Viewer the default download for new users."

In other words, it's a "mode" not a separate viewer, and it's expected that users will switch to Advanced mode once they've got the basics down.

And those 24 avatars are already in the Library of every user, they're not new at all.

Hamlet Au

"If all SL needed was point-and-click avatar movement to become mainstream"

I didn't say that. It's a necessary but certainly not a sufficient condition.

"it's expected that users will switch to Advanced mode once they've got the basics down"

Maybe, but they will face the same problem of adopting a very different UI experience, as did the users of Viewer 2. It's much more likely that most new users will *only* experience Second Life in the Basic version -- and form their opinion around it accordingly.

Ann Otoole InSL

Click to move is not an issue. It will never impact anyone. It is just another movement option. If it were the only option then yes it would be an issue. But it is just one of many movement options.

People should focus on more important aspects of new user retention now that this one is a done deal.

Lari Lorefield

Just tried the basic viewer. its ok. I was able to move around with the WASD keys np. would have liked to be able to fly. was glad there was no sidebar. was very easy to use i thought. making the transition to the advanced viewer was easy enough. LL may be on to something here for the new people to SL.

Ann Otoole InSL

@Lari - Exactly. But we have to back it up with content people want to experience. But LL has to help with events. LL cannot sit on rear and expect the existing search and destination system to suffice. (I would not be selling a zillion parcel info huds if search worked) It has to be "compelling". We are not there anymore. We used to be with The Edge and other hot popular venues that routinely filled regions to the max with actual people. But everyone freakin quit. So LL needs to get off rear and help fix this.

Arcadia Codesmith

On a tangent, it would be really cool if we could co-opt and customize that avatar selection bar in advanced mode to store our own outfits and thumbnails.

Click-move is pure fail for 3D environments, for reasons I've explained time and again, but as long as it doesn't interfere with MMO-style mouse/keyboard movement, I am content.

Adeon Writer

Totally with you in that idea, Arcadia. Count on seeing it in a TPV

Dale Innis

I have no strong opinion about the Basic viewer; seems like an experiment worth trying. It could have seriously bad, or seriously good, consequences if and as more new users use it; my crystal ball isn't good enough to tell me.

The important question here, I think, is where SL ought to be going. Hamlet suggests, as he often does, that it ought to become more like something else that is already very popular. More like the Sims, in this case, which is probably the most popular PC-game brand in the world.

But does this make sense? EA/Maxis is not going to sit on their hands. Trying to make SL more like The Sims means trying to compete against EA on their own turf. How could that be a good idea?

EA are the experts on the "click to make my little people move around and do funny things" field. SL are the experts on the "let me immerse myself in a virtual world where I can interact with other people who are doing the same" field.

Should SL try to be more like the former, and less like the latter, in hopes that lots of Sims fans will choose SL over The Sims 4 Medieval Online or whatever? Or should it work on doing what it's already expert at even better? That seems much more reasonable to me.

Although I find an "is my AV hot or not?" app for cellphones completely uninteresting myself, it's worth noting that the Blue Mars folks didn't move to that because there was already a huge market for "is my AV hot or not?" apps for cellphones. They did it, presumably, because they decided they couldn't complete with SL in the "immersive virtual world" business, so they moved out into a place where there was more room to grow.

The idea that SL should try to compete more directly with EA (or Facebook, or Blizzard, or...), by moving away from its core strengths and into a different and already occupied niche, seems strongly implausible to me. Of course it's probably not irrelevant that SL's core strength, providing an immersive virtual world built around user-generated content, is something that I personally love! But if it wasn't, I wouldn't even care enough about the issue to comment...

kate miranda

Bigger is not necessarily better and there have always been very healthy businesses that serve a special niche market of elite clients. Why can't Linden Lab see that it is uniquely placed to be the Cadillac of virtual worlds instead of competing with the IMVU type worlds. They piss off core users by dumbing down the product without ever satisfying the vapid tastes of those who can waste hours with 149 character posts on Twitter.


Strangly this blog always favours LL.
Well, not strangly really as the owner was a contract writer for SL.
I'd rather prefer to see a critical look at this Basic thing.

It is my belief that Basic actually is counter productive.

Why? Well with Basic there is nothing to be done in SL.
I have been helping newbies since Basic. All of them told me they were stuck. When asked further they made it clear they didn't understand what you can do in SL and they couldn't teleport to other "worlds" as they said, meaning they had no clue how to go to another region. The fixed locations in basic (the destination guide) have always been deserted. Basic hasn't changed this.

I all recommended new signups to login advanced and they came back delighted.

Actually the gui has never been an issue really.
The actual issue has always been the inworld experience which has hardly ever changed and improved besides windlight and sculpties years ago.

Strangly LL keeps on focussed on all indirect (technical) matters, not on the actual inworld experience.

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