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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

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Alberik Rotaru

Second Life is massively overpriced. Tweaking the experience will achieve nothing while the financial hit remains as high as it is and as unevenly distributed as it is. I am not sure that new products will achieve a lot more unless they are priced very differently.

Ann Otoole InSL

New people arrive. Are dumped in a welcome area. Are confronted by that "social environment" (or rather anti social environment). The what's hot now destination guide widget won't work so they can't find anything to do. They leave.

This has not changed. The destination guide widget needs some work. There are plenty of ideas to make SL fun for new people but a lot require LL to change the entire mainland back to the production release simulator and make region crossings stable. And restrict movement barriers so they cannot block the roads, aircraft, or boats. But LL is not soliciting new ideas and have gone off to work on non SL stuff so I expect little to change.

Hitomi Tiponi

I believe it is because recent advertising is going after the more social/casual user for which the platform has less appeal - but if they go after those that are fed up with other worlds/games, and say 'hey we are different- come here and see' I think they will have more success. For example I still remember the joy and surprise when I rezzed my first wood cube - it is something very different, but there are many other aspects rather than creation that are different about SL. So my message would be emphasise what is different rather than going for the same market that lots do better.

Also they have to fix the first-time experience. I believe some sort of quest that teaches you the controls (maybe using some of the Linden Realms ideas) would be a better introduction to SL.

Tateru Nino

"I remain totally gobsmacked that so many people will take the time to download, install, and run a client, while so few of them will log in a second time."

We don't actually know what percentage of signups actually download the client and log in for the *first* time. Traditionally, about 1 in 10 new signups never logged in at all, and at least as many didn't log in for the first time for some weeks or months after they signed up.

Signing up doesn't necessarily mean a would-be new-user is even experiencing the 'first hour'.

Alexandra Rucker

Don't forget, the v3 viewer crashes on startup for a LOT of people - so sure, people create an account, but then can't get the damn thing to LOG IN.

Why should they make the effort when the client is so majorly hosed?

Hamlet Au

"We don't actually know what percentage of signups actually download the client and log in for the *first* time."

Partly correct, here's what Humble said last SLCC (my notes):

"SL still gets 16K new accounts daily; these are people who complete the registration and download the client."

But it's true that that doesn't make it clear how many of the client downloads lead to install/log-in, so I've amended the post to reflect that. It's still a gobsmacking quit rate. :)

Orca Flotta

"In 2012, hope to grow Linden Lab's user base with new and different products other than Second Life."

Huh?
Sorry, I once joined SL to experience SL, not to get acquainted with its host company. To be honest I don't care about what LL are doing apart from SL, and if they are successful as a social platform, a game producer, a burger restaurant chain, an insurance company or whatever. This doesn't touch the topic of virtual worlds other than maybe taking valuable manhours away from SL and putting them into other products. Which would only have a bad influence on SL in itself.
So I must say I hope they DON't grow LL's user base with different products.

And here we are back to the old philosophical question: are virtual worlds a niche product or are they aimed at the mainstream?

I think they are totally niche, and I'm happy to sit in that niche. SL is by far the best developed, most advanced and widespread of all the VWs ... and yet it's not ready to go mainstream. Fortunately and logically it isn't! SL as a product isn't everyone's cup of tea and LL as a company isn't ready to serve a multimillion clientele neither.

If I wanted an ill-tasting burger I'd get one from McDonald's, if I wanted a facebookish application I'd use Facebook, if I want an immersive virtual world experience I use SL. Of course a VW is much more complex than a social platform (or a fatty burger LOL), so logically SL has less users than McD's or FB.

It's a simple fact. It's not good, it's not bad, it just is.

Ezra

Meh its not rocket science. Just bring a friend into Second Life and no matter how adequately you've braced them for the problems and quirks ahead, shock ensues.

The only other major graphical applications 99% of those new users experienced are likely games. MMO or otherwise. So its reasonable new users believe they're bugged/their PCs aren't adequate enough when everything is grey and gaseous, frame rates choppy and animations not at all like what's seen in the machinima or new registration avatar select.

Then when they finally understand the world has to download and piece itself together slowly; movement is awkward because the Viewer has to simultaneously be a usable exploration device -and- a 3D modelling application with the same kind of shortcuts as Max or Maya.

Once movement is squared I've noticed the -last- things my new friends want to do is go to a destination guide place or event when they aren't animating as well as others or look as great.

So comes up the issues of shopping and having to explain what a Linden dollar is. Even if I give them L$ to avoid directing them to freebie warehouses or instructing them on Linden dollars shopping is a hassle because I have to explain the 30 different attachment points/clothing layers/body parts. I have to explain the nuances of buying, rezzing, 'unboxing', managing inventory folders, attaching, going into Edit mode, going into Edit Link mode, using resize/recolor scripts, how to remove that demo skin and put on a real one, etc.

And animation overrides? Lordy.

Like I said its not a great mystery as to why 99% of those 16,000 quit. Having a destination guide isn't enough. There's some things that have to be made immediately available to new users.

1. Hide more of the loading or make loading more visually interesting.

I think it'd be better if the viewer had a more prolonged progress bar load screen while textures/clothing/avatars loaded than what exists currently. Its just confusing for new users to fumble around walking on thin air while grey blocks and clouds glitch into reality. A long load screen isn't unusual, what we deal with is.

Qarl's idea about making asset loading more visually interesting with shader effects would be a nice alternative too.

2. A decent set of default animations. Perhaps the ones actually animating on the avatar select screen of new registration. Its confusing to select a male avatar who moves reasonably well on the registration page but then walks like a stop-motion lego once in world.

3. Starting L$ because no matter the quality of default animations or clothing, most new users I've brought and observed almost immediately want to customize and look unique. They don't want to arrange outfits out of the Linden provided inventory no more than I do.

Our first screenshots of Rod for example weren't of him in any default Linden Lab get-ups. He immediately customized himself and probably with a ton of free help newbies don't have the luxury of.

There's obvious ways giving L$ to every new account can be gamed, but other virtual worlds have figured this out, IMVU handles this greatly by having two separate currencies.

4. Starter locations are screwed. A default location/destination should be apart of the new registration. It should filter from general interest to more specific interest to a list of actual destinations.


And probably a dozen other things but the above alone would chip away at immediate concerns that prevent things like the Destination Guide from having a chance at being successful.

Linden Lab should have a quarterly "bring a stranger to Second Life" day. I guarantee if they had that the mystery of 16,000 disappearing users a day would easily be understood.

Flo2

Okay, I have a relatively fresh "exit interview" from a person who logged in for the first time to SL and decides he never comes back. Here's why: (it's his opinion, not mine!)

"1. Tha graphics are awful, definitely lame.
2. The other folks and the "helpers" are definitely "rude", and "nobody helps".
3. He didn't find such a furry avatar in his inventory what he wanted to wear.
4. All the stuff are "very expensive", really, "500 dollars for a virtual snowboard??" (Note: he as a newbie maybe didn't know that linden dollars are not the same exchange value as the USA dollars! Do the newbies know that??)
5. The details of the "game" are too complex to learn quickly. "Much more complex than WOW, for example. Takes too much time to learn."
6. Laggg....
7. No loading screen! "You arrive at once, without loading time, and only after your arrival the enviromnent starts to load, one by one, slowly."
8. "If you haven't got a friend to offer you a teleport, you will stay and grow old at the welcome area." (I really don't understand this one - does anybody? Why doesn't he be able to teleport away alone?)

Note, that personally I think he's an idiot and I won't miss him at all. But! I accept and respect the economical point of view that we need users to survive. And I'm afraid, an average user (who is actually a gamer!) is just like this one. Sorry.

elizabeth (16)

@flo2 "8. "If you haven't got a friend to offer you a teleport, you will stay and grow old at the welcome area." (I really don't understand this one - does anybody? Why doesn't he be able to teleport away alone?)"

that sociological that, maybe pyschological as well. i seen that quite alot. like hi can u tp me. if i say tp me to u then they say can i come to u

is how lots of ppl think. when u go into a new world or town or space then it not belong to u. like u not belong to it either. u a stranger

if ur oldbie addme frend comes to u, then it feels like u not still really belong. if ur new oldbie addme frend brings u to them, into their space, then is beginning of the acceptance ritual. by ur oldbie addme frend and the world by extension


Ezra

@Orca

What's 'niche' is always going to be arguable but:

1. Having an avatar as apart of a graphical world isn't niche. MMOs and social games with a lot more users than Second Life are proof of this.

2. Having a platform where content creators provide 99% of the experience isn't niche. iOS AppStore with 500,000 different apps is proof of this.

3. Having a virtual currency isn't niche. Facebook Credits and their adoption by the likes of Zynga is proof of this.

4. People finding value in mostly facetious virtual objects isn't niche; Microsoft earning more money from avatar accessories than Live subscriptions is proof of this.


There's more than 4 big ingredients to Second Life, but those are 4 of the biggest with examples elsewhere of much wider success.

Second Life just needs a smooth, stable viewer that works like a newcomer would actually expect and it would see a ton of success. Like Hamlet pointed out, millions of new users a year if only they weren't forced to quit.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

The WAs are a disaster for the newly arrived. SL is expensive, but I'd wager that these new folks don't go house-hunting in hour one.

No idea how to change that first-hour experience to avoid all the rude people at the WAs. If you are not in voice, the text-chat is crazy and minimal. If in voice, it's just crazy.

It's like walking into a promising-looking bar and finding out that it's populated by obnoxious regulars and no bartender is present. You might wait around a few minutes and listen in, but you never come back and you tell your friends that the place is lame.

Argo

I spend time engaging newbs in one of the non-Linden sandboxes and I hear the same thing over and over: SL is not a friendly place. For most newcomers the SL experience is standing around in hopes someone will talk to them and provide a "hook" into the world, more than even it doesn't happen. The second thing I hear is that many residents are just bored. Again I'd point at a broken social model that seems pervasive in SL.
Speaking of my own experience as longer term resident, I am asking myself if its time to pack it in too. The list of neat people I met along the way has thinned out to a handful of hard core types. Builders, architects, programmers, musicians, writers, artist and the eccentric and truly bizarre where all part of a past SL life, that made it vibrant and full of potential. But that was then.

shockwave yareach

If I was a noob and got dropped into the G-rated welcome centers, only to be surrounded by nasty voiced obnoxious peni*-throwers and Greifers, I'd burn my computer to make sure I never visited SL again, even by accident. Newcomers will have a dozen getting-started questions for the basics and they have no-one to ask but the idiots caging them. They are looking to see what stuff there is to do in SL and find nothing but empty sims all around when they wander aimlessly.

New players need the following:
* Welcome areas that are kept clean of griefers.
* Welcome areas which have teleporters to places of interest.
* Welcome areas with people who can help with basic questions.

Returning paying customers need the following:
* AFFORDABLE land to build on
* Easily found events and destinations so they actually can enjoy SL.
* A "Group guide" which shows what organizations exist in SL and what they do.

Today, a newcomer gets assaulted on arrival, has no-one to ask questions, and is left to their own devices in finding anything to do. And you wonder why so few choose to hang around SL past the initial login? The only thing you haven't done to dissuade people from staying is put out a sign saying "GTFO"!

Rin Tae

I read through all the comments and there is not much to add but to ask if anyone is actually amazed that a few of those who log in once indeed log in a second time after experiencing the 'warm' welcome they get here.
It is sad but true that LL never cared for the first impression and together with their lack on advertisment and inworld engagement this is what has to have to cause massive problems. And the one idea they had that actually might have helepd with it (newbies loging in for the first time in user run community areas) was clsosed before it could get anywhere ... the mentor group also vanished and the welcome areas are left to be overrun by greifers and antisocial LoLz-ers who ensure that no user growth will ever happen anymore.

And on top of this the overpriced sims and technical problems that really should have been fixed long ago. SL is, if I remember correctly, 10 years old and while it has improved in some areas, it has the same set of basic problems it had when I signed up. And the same price structure .. waht is even more astonishing.

All this has been said so often and written in I guess every blog ever written about SL that I can't wonder if those who make the decissions in LL are really completly detached of what is goig on with their product or if they know it and simply does not care. It is like they see the declining and flat numbers and simply shrug it off leaving the one writing up those graphs to explain it all away by creative use of statistics.

To be honest there is just one question to ask the new LL CEO or any of thsoe who make the decission there and it is a question that has to be seen as totally serious despite not sounding so.

It is:
*Are you blind or ignorant?*

It woudl be nice to see one of those 'thumbs up' pictures with an answer to this.

jo yardley

The worst thing about landing in SL is where you start out, these areas are often stuffed with other people who either don't know what to do either or are there chatting, being rude, being naked, shouting trough their cheap microphones and bothering noobs.

First thing I do when I bring someone to SL is teleport them out of there to my peaceful skybox.

I would have liked that as well.
It may not be possible but I think that if you can find a way to give every new avatar their own private skybox where they can take their time to rez, tweak their avatar, learn to walk and get some instructions before they teleport to something they find in search, you will get a lot more people who will stay.

A newbie area where you're only allowed to be when you're less then a day old, there you are alone, have some space to walk about, tweak your settings and figure out how the important things work.
We don't need fancy graphics, pretty looking areas, just some peace and quiet to discover where we are.

Dartagan Shepherd

SL stats have never matched the organic experience. I tend to ignore numbers completely these days as an unreliable way to gauge SL heartbeat. Audit worthy, perhaps.

Reading "mystery" in the title as "discrepancy".

Arcadia Codesmith

When I start a new MMO, the first stop is the character generator. Here I can choose the basic form of my avatar and then adjust each detail to my liking.

I don't have to sort through a menu of Windows-style folders. Body and facial options are on a straightforward slider menu that is easy and intuitive.

"Skins", hairstyles and clothing are on simple drop-down menus. Each of these scales to fit the avatar automatically; I don't have to fiddle with manipulating primitives. I can recolor my choices at will.

A few games allow you to choose a "posture" or "attitude", which is the equivilent of a loaded AO.

After I finish that process, I'm usually taken to a single-player instance to learn the basic mechanics of the game -- how to move, attack, defend, manage inventory, buy, sell, etc. This is presented in the form of a narrative quest with a story-line, so I also get some idea of the flavor and history of the game world while I'm mastering the interface.

After the single-player tutorial, I'm transported to a starting area. In some games, this is an instanced space for newbies only, that advanced players can't even enter. In others, it's near one of the primary social hubs of the game.

In either case, there are a variety of NPCs nearby who are eager to provide me with tasks in order to earn coin, gear and experience. There are also opportunities to fight with or against other players, often in the form of a queue that will assign me to a team and take me directly to a dungeon or arena.

All of this is a process that moves the player along, holding her hand, each step getting her gradually more invested in the world.

Second Life isn't a game, but many of the same mechanics would help with retention.

I think my first priority would be to suppliment the current inventory system with a graphical drag-and-drop "paperdoll" window with gear slots and autoscaling, making it much easier to alter appearance. Advanced users could still drill down to the old system for fine-tuning, but it should be possible to look great without knowing the first thing about prim stretching and attachment points.

For bonus points, use the same interface to allow people to preview clothing and accessories in 3D before they buy them, without the need for product demos.

Why would that be top priority? Because the very first step in getting the player invested is allowing them to create their own individual identity. The more distinct and unique they can be, out of the box, without any cash up front or shopping required, the more they feel that the avatar is theirs. That's player investment, and it should start before the player even enters the world.

And anyone who doesn't like it can just turn it off and never use it.

foneco zuzu

When i login for the 1st time, i had read a lot before about Sl and had already a few places to go.
Still for 1 week i just explored, figured the interface (Using emerald as per a forum advise) and watched.
So i just took all that week to customize and learn about sl, camera movements, and so on.
Only after that week, logging every day for at least 3h, i im the 1st person in world!

Kimberly Rufer-Bach

My first login to SL dropped me in a fast-loading area which only allowed newbies. A helpful Linden avatar stood there, offering assistance and instructional notecards. Simple stations offered hands-on lessons in basic SL skills. Once I had mastered those and teleported to the mainland, I found that at the top of every hour a Linden would announce events about to start. Most of them were Show and Tell events, where everyone could bring their builds and compete for small prizes. Even a newbie like me could win something, because the other Residents were kind and inclusive. Griefers were rare and if you reported one a Linden would appear right away, and along with taking care of the griefing they'd hang out to see what was up and to talk about what they were up to, too. The most exclusive, beautiful neighborhoods were those administered by LL, themed suburbs. The greatest builders SL had ever seen had their early businesses, and Starax built massive, interesting artworks in public sandboxes. Oh heck, I could go on and on. Folks are on the right track on changes they suggest here, because what they describe actually once existed. I feel almost as if I am describing a lost Shangri-La. It was laggier then, we had fewer build tools and no mesh or media on a prim but it was fun and always interesting and I thought LL was brilliant and trying so hard. I miss the old days and I would trade the SL we have today for that SL if I could.

Now for a chorus of "That Won't Scale", right? It could have, though.

Eleri Ethaniel

My first baby step into SL died the miserable death of the poorly-named 'welcome' area. It took a couple of *years* before someone who was active in world brought me back in, and whisked me away to interesting places.

Pussycat Catnap

"Seriously, a spectacular lot of churn."
- That's it in a nutshell.

16k may join a day, but 16k quit too.

Just not the same 16k.

Its always been like this. People last in SL, if they stick around, for about a year and a half.

2011 saw the 'active death' of most of the 2009-2010 user base. As a person who 'came back' and was first involved in mid 2009 (I was here in 2006 but not involved) - this holds up in my highly biased anecdotal test with a sample size of 1. ;)

Most of my friend list went gray this past year. I also had my first and so far only 'unfriending' (by someone who I've never had any drama with, so it baffled me) by a name I knew.

Exactly 3 people I knew back in 2009 are still around regularly. 2 more I see once every week or two. The rest have gone gray - zero have been banned. Other friends I have are older residents or younger residents.

After a year and a half, most people have "done" SL.

They've had the 'Kim Kardashian love of their life' that broke up in a massive drama fest 3 days later involving land and builds being sold out from under each other.

They did the dance-pole stripper thing.

They did the vampire/BDSM/Gor thing.

They got bored of infohubs.

Their breedables ran out of value.

They ran out of club contests to bother about.

They got bored of griefing, or stopped caring about being griefed.

They got through at least one major 'viewer war'.

They bought all the sexbeds one could ever want, and got bored of them.

They found a new shiny on some other website / video game.

etc...

People move on at an amazing rate. SL has a major failing at the front end - getting new people to stick.

But it has an equally bad failing at the long end: at the point at which people get bored of 'the same old same old' there is nothing new.

The first of these is the fault of LLs not steering new users well enough.

The second is our fault, in not changing up user made content enough. We get bored of each other and ourselves, and so many of us leave.

And it seems to happen at shockingly high rates.

This might also explain the closing of some 'so-called major' sims. All those places I've never heard of that people older than me are in shock over leaving... Their cycle has run out as well. The lifecycle of a major venue is just a tad longer... so perhaps we're just seeing the churn of the places from the old boom-days. But these too are getting replaced by an equally rapid, if not more rapid, growth of new sims.

Se la vie.

Douglas Story

I wish, I wish, I wish that the upper management at LL would read Arcadia Codesmith's comment above, and then act on it. Great thoughts, Arcadia.

I always send new folks to the excellent series of tutorials at Caledon Oxbridge University. They are well-written, succinct, and give the students some fun little exercises to do along the way. --And-- there are usually University staff hanging around who can answer questions. It makes for a good experience. I tell new folks that the hour or so it takes to go through the tutorials is very much time well spent, as knowing that material will save much time and trouble later.

You can read about it here:

http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2009/12/caledon-oxbridge-university-in-second.html

The page contains an SLURL:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caledon%20Oxbridge/103/154/27

I learned something new from the video on that web page: the University offers "dorms" where new folks can live for free while they learn.

Daniel Smith

I think the real growth is going to come on the OpenSim side of things. It maps much better to the web (think of each grid as a small to large web site).

Who can better serve the needs of highly specific niches? (education, arts, combat sims, roleplay...) I think it's going to be OpenSim grids.

Who leads in technical innovation? (images on prims via url, text on prims, megaregions, hypergrid, agent teleport, backup and restore, sim management) -- yes, that would be OpenSim

And on the viewer side, who leads? The third party viewers! The V2 viewer was a massive blunder, compounded by a rigid attitude that, for a long time, assumed that the users would be forced to accept the change. Dont forget this idiotic quote from Oz Linden: "“Don’t waste everyones time suggesting that we throw away Viewer 2, or that we revert the UI to Viewer 1. It is absolutely not going to happen, and any suggestion to that effect will be ignored.”"

Who is in a better position to innovate for a better user experience overall? I do think it is OpenSim. LL takes way too long to roll out useful features, and they have a track record of not really listening to their users. OpenSim is the sum of the parts of motivated users with the talent to make things happen.

I think history will show that SecondLife will be regarded as the Mosaic Browser (which evolved into NetScape....) of virtual worlds. OpenSim and TPVs will be the driving force going forward, and the key missing link at the moment is marketing / awareness.. most potential users dont even have OpenSim on their radar.

Pussycat Catnap

"No idea how to change that first-hour experience to avoid all the rude people at the WAs. If you are not in voice, the text-chat is crazy and minimal. If in voice, it's just crazy."

My suggestion in the blog on simple changes:

Log new people into locations that have clusters of newer folks (more likely to be friendable, and seeking similar content), kill the infohubs, and set default-home to a random destination guide entry rather than the current setting of a random infohub.

This achieves:

1. Gets them away from the hostile 'camp crowds' and puts them with folks with like goals.

2. Breaks up those 'camp crowds' forcing those people as well to move on to resident owned land where if they want to stand around all day yelling, they can pay for a place to do it in like the rest of us do... Infohubs can all become like 'Pruni Park' (go find it in Pruni sim, north central part of sim) - just pretty builds for people to pass by and go 'Oooo'.

3. Sends them to places with engaging content randomly anytime they hit home, making landing on 'some place to be' a lot more routine. Also makes it that much harder for the 'newbie griefers' to be able to predict where the newbies are.

Possibly change #3 to 'random current event or destination guide' - 50/50 odds of one list or the other, and using a weighting of the '5-most active plus 5 others randomly from the list. Take those 10 and send them to 1 of them with a simple call to a random generator function.'

yoshiko Fazuku

I often wonder how many of those new sign ups are alts and greifer accounts. Your average greifer creates anywhere from 20 to 100 accounts a day using scripts and there are a few thousand of them running around the grid it adds up fast. How many alts do you have at any given moment? How many do you create for one use and then throw them away? How many bots do you think are logged in at any given time? How much padding of the stats is done by LL to keep the numbers looking high? Ponder those questions and you will see just how useless the stats are for any real gauge of growth.

I think a more interesting metric is density of logged in accounts in relation to sim count. What are the chances that your going to meet one or two people in any sim at any given time if you randomly pick a time and a sim.

Pussycat Catnap

"Your average greifer creates anywhere from 20 to 100 accounts a day using scripts and there are a few thousand of them running around the grid it adds up fast."

I'd more likely suspect SL has about 10 griefers.

They're really not that common, and when they pop up tend to always hit the same targets...

Shockwave Yareach

Oh, I know there are lots of Griefers. And they most certainly are using a revolving door to evade bans and evictions. But their number is only about 100 or so max and they aren't doing the 100 accounts per day -- maybe 5.

The low percentage is more accurately spelled as thus:

People who sign up = P
Percentage of people signed with good enough computers = c
percentage of people with good enough bandwidth = b
Percentage of people not turned off by the interface = i
percentage of people not turned off by the greeting areas = g
percentage of people not frustrated they cannot find anyone or anything to do = f

The number of people who remain is then P*b*c*i*g*f which I would estimate at being only 10percent of the people who signed up without knowing the first thing about SL or their computers or their bandwidth.

Arcadia Codesmith

It doesn't take many griefers to destroy a game, if they're not dealt with swiftly and harshly. They need a small army of banslingers with a hair-trigger on call 24/7.

Shug Maitland

I truly do not understand the way LL advertises SL.
Philip has variously characterized SL as a place for cripples or, in a kinder mood, a place for "Smart people in rural areas, the handicapped, people looking for companionship, - - - -” so why do they insist on advertising to gamers.
I came into SL with no gaming experience at all, and I bet I am far from unique. I could see promoting SL as *better than* social networking. If you want to promote role play, to these people you could do way better than vampires!
Until they focus on attracting their target audience, gamers and the like will come, spend a few hours asking "how do you win this game"

Tateru Nino

@Arcadia Much of that was done, insofar as it could be in Second Life, and then it was thrown away after a couple years because... it didn't work. Quest/achievement oriented hand-holding in new-user only areas to teach the basics just didn't work.

Users only demonstrated limited retention, lacking any context to fit the new skills into. In most cases what they learned was forgotten at least as quickly as it was taught.

Once released "into the wild" users who underwent this process had an even lower retention rate than those who were thrown in at a random welcome area from the start, with no attempts at education or assistance.

Moni Duettmann

Why is success counted in growth instead of stability? If Linden Lab continuously satisfies a million paying users, why isn't that good enough a goal to achieve? They could even do much better in it, if they would concentrate on real issues, instead of silly strategies to attract users, who are not really qualified to enjoy SL. Real issues are, among others: give everybody more and better free full perm animations! Embedd new tools like scripting, sculpts, meshes, animation set-up or voice modification into the viewer, instead of out-sourcing more and more to external programs! Do not try to make SL like any other online game, instead focus on the specific qualities that only SL has!

Arcadia Codesmith

Tateru, it didn't work because it was oh-so-badly done. LL has made multiple attempts at a new user tutorial, and all of them have been clunky hacks at best and fatally frustrating at worst.

Some of the user-created tutorials are much better organized, but they can be difficult to find, limited in scope, or hurting for space and resources.

A good tutorial (BEFORE entering the grid) is not just possible, it's vital. Ditch the HUD-based approach and hardcode it into the client, so it's smooth, fast, seamless and shows off the potential of the technology rather than slamming the prospective resident face-first into its limitations.

Retention for virtual worlds with a solid tutorial and well-paced starting area is MUCH higher than those that throw newbies into the deep end.

And it wouldn't hurt to back it up with some sort of quest system on the grid using an alternate, non-liquid in-game currency. The two-currency economy, common in many social games and some MMOs, provides a mechanism for free players to become more deeply engaged and invested in the game. Only a small percentage convert to putting real world cash into the game or subscribing, but that has been enough to keep several marginal titles from folding.

And... aimed not at you, but to multiple other posters on this thread: we grow or we die. Trying to keep Second Life as a walled garden for we the elite will lead to nothing but a very stylish and well-crafted funeral.

shockwave yareach

In addition to Arcadia's points:

You can have the BEST teaching OR best UI in the world. You could have a system where one button does 23 different things you want it to do. It can be so easy to use, that Cletus only has to think about touching the easy button, and off he goes.

But if when the person gets into SL, he finds absolutely no help, nothing to do, and apparently nothing happening in "the game" other than foul-mouthed punks throwing naughty bits at each other, I guarantee that most of those newcomers will not ever try it again. This is SOLELY LL's fault. And it has always galled me that LL thinks it can enforce ratings over every parcel and every sim in the virtual world, becoming a good-taste police when they cannot even police their own tiny newcomer areas. But hey, common sense isn't apparently a prerequisite to being an exec at LL.

You want to improve the churn? Have assistants who guard the newcomers areas and chunk out the trolls. They can answer questions and point out places folks can find the activities they are looking for. You USED to have a group who did this voluntarily for free! Beats me why you disbanded them.

elizabeth (16)

the secondlife mentors were never guards. they were just there to help ppl

when some of the ppl who got the slm badge over their heads and did start thinking they were guards and acting out then the programme collapse in on itself

was really annoying when that happened

David Cartier

I am going to say it one last time. So long as the Welcome Areas are essentially unmonitored, and the sociopaths who spend virtually all of their time at Welcome Areas, misinforming, defrauding, scaring off or offending new accounts don't get the boot, a lot of people are going to be turned off by their beginner experiences. Welcome Areas need to be welcoming, they need to be helpful and instructive and they need to be for new accounts only, so long as no mods are stationed there.

jen dratman

It's not a very friendly place. I guess it depends what you want, but I've been in SL over 3 years... and I'd agree. I get chatups, but potential friends, not so much. And I've done what I want to do with building and scripting...so I'm only in SL for the one or two close friends I really care about. I used to spend maybe 15 hours a week, now it's about 3 or 4, and I spend much less on clothes and things. And there seem to be fewer places that are fun to go to, as well.

Garmin Kawaguichi

"so many people will take the time to download the client while so few of them will log in a second time"

- Just because a lot of Residents have reserved their name with Resident to protect it.

- Just because several Residents create a new ALT for a one-time-action etc etc

And about "Second Life has about 1.05 million monthly users..." I prefer to read the figures for "different" users, and I'm curious to know how LL counts the bot connections (1 by connection or 1 by day)

cgcreator

LL should not have called off that virtual world social network platform (Avatars United).

A social network for avatars can be a magnet for most potential SL users--MMORPG players--they're existing virtual world residents/customers who are willing to embrace and pay for virtual experiences. Those game players might occasionally need a "free world" such as SL to have some extra fun with friends.

biffingbiff

I think their counting methodology is flawed or that the data they are presenting is intentionally altered (their math doesn't add up, as you indicated, otherwise).

What gets me is the claimed 16,000 new users a day. I think what LL is really claiming here is 16,000 new accounts created. I would love to do a deep analysis on their logs to determine the number of new avatars created by known users per day as alts or throw-aways, using both their previously used "login twice a week" and "single monthly login" standards as criteria as well as extending that to users who visit once every 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc. (although I feel such measurement standards are bogus and that 'hours spent logged in' might be a more interesting standard to use)

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