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Friday, August 01, 2014


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Adeon Writer

I don't see many PC game reviewers using out of date PC's to test their games. They use hardware capable of running the software properly.

Why is it not fair to expect the same for a virtual world?

Adeon Writer

For the record, I am in full agreement with the pictured comment on your post here. (Which as it happens is by the 1920's Berlin Sim owner, Jo Yardley)

I'd advise checking out the link she provided in her comment and comparing it side-by-side to the one pictured on Business Insider and tell me the comment isn't legitimate.

Jo Yardley

Yep, that was me who said that and I stand by it.
Remember, this is not a casual user, this is a "tech journalist" who wants to write an article about SL.
I think you can expect a little more effort and research before you publish such a story.
And yes, I also think you can expect them to check out the 'specs' for it and make sure you get proper settings or at least try and tweak them.
What do you think would have happened if she had written about GTA5 but played it on an old computer at its lowest settings and published the screenshots?
We expect gamers and game journalists to use good computers when trying new games, why is it too much to ask a journalist to make sure they use one when they are about to write a piece on SL?
I seriously doubt it takes anyone a 2 hour chat with tech support just to tweak their graphics, especially someone with her background.

And yes, perhaps I am old fashioned or too demanding, but I do expect that journalists put in some work and do research before they start writing.
I may have only spend one afternoon in journalism school, but I would spend more than one afternoon in SL before writing about it.
SL doesn't become interesting till you find a place you like or till you start to like your avatar.
Yes, SL has to improve a lot to make sure this can happen within minutes of starting your SL, they should guide you to a cool first sim to visit or at least suggest you the destination guide and they should let you customise and edit your avatar much easier and sooner so you start to like your avatar.
It isn't that hard, The Sims manages to make me like my avatar within minutes of creating it.
But SL isn't there yet.
So there is LOTS that can be improved but I don't think I am too demanding when I think that
a Senior West Coast Tech Editor (!) who was the Assistant Managing Editor at CNET puts in a bit more work before writing an article and that someone like her uses a proper computer and is able to figure out how to tweak the settings,especially as she had been in SL before.

Ciaran Laval

The article is bloody awful for many reasons. The reporter lasted two days first time around and went back and can only find sex, how about turning off the easy to understand maturity ratings?

I agree with Hamlet on the UI, the learning curve, the idea that people can just throw down a few hundred quid for hardware upgrades, OS upgrades etc. but the reporter appears to have done very little research.

Gabrielle Riel

"Get a better computer" does not mean BUY a new computer!

An experienced journalist should be able to find/borrow/temporarily use a machine with better graphics for an assignment like this! It's a 3D virtual world, that requires strong graphics capabilities. So does WoW. So does LOTR. Would it be advisable for a journalist to write a story on those without seeing the environments as they are meant to be seen?

All it would take is a bit of initiative to find someone (coworker, friend) with a stronger machine and ask to borrow it for an afternoon or evening. Especially as the journalist had no intention of hanging out in SL for anything but a few hours.

It was not a smart nor professional move by that journalist. And I think Jo understands that not everyone can go buy a new PC.


I played SL many moons on a crappy laptop and finally this past spring got a decent rig put together. The lag is gone and some places do look amazing. Notice I said 'some'.

Truth is, most of the user created content is shyte. Pure shyte. We can argue all day how this may or may not be true, but that's my experience. I don't believe having hardware capable of casting shadows or anti-aliasing over a shitty build makes it 'amazing'.

They have a chance to get SL2 or whatever it is this week right. Cut the chords to the old tech and bring on the stuff that will make people scream wow. The wow is gone in the current iteration of SL, has been for some time.

lol@750+ for a computer that runs SL decently. Really!?

Jo Yardley

I agree, a lot of SL IS ugly, a good computer does make it a little less ugly, but you still have to look for the gems.
That is why I think new users should be guided to them.
Once you've seen nice sims, you sort of become more tolerant of the ugly ones, knowing they are perhaps very old, abandoned or build by amateurs.
But this article I was responding to was written by a tech reporter, one would expect them to have a proper computer and spend a little more time inworld than just a few hours.

I've been told that a $800 Galaxy Tab Pro tablet runs SL smoothly on ultra settings.
And with SLGo, SL even runs ultra on my 5 year old MacBook.

Victor1st Mornington

She was a tech journalist, she should have known.

And YES hamlet, the biggest problem with people who complain that second life is laggy is because of those old doorstop museum piece computers that have been holding BACK the lab from fully opening up the openGL engine to its full potential.

I have people walking around in New Babbage every week complaining about the "lag"... "what lag?" I ask, I then ask them when they bought their computer... "ohhhh i got it from Dell 6 years ago" thats when i facepalm.

The fact is the Lab have opened up OpenGL to about 3/4th of its full potential, this is why its gotten harder for budget to mid-range computers to keep up with it compared to what it was like pre-windlight.

So Jo is essentially correct, and while we are on the subject, at least Jo and drax are doing some marketing Hammy...what have you done? You just sit here in this blog getting the knife in and reminding everyone you was an ex-linden. NWN used to be a good blog, now its just a gutter press rag edited by an SL has-been.


Eh, I think Hamlet really is right, this is exactly why Second Life has sputtered so. A combination of a really, REALLY, awkward new user experience that can't be fixed by giving better new user landing zones alone, combined with an internal and external culture that's like "you just don't geeeet it, try harder".

Tracy RedAngel

Just looking at those pics, the writer had her graphics set at Mid and default wind light (Midday).
I agree, as a tech writer she should have a good computer, but I don't think that's why her graphics were at those levels. It looks like she just didn't bother or even think to change them.
Plenty of people run around and explore Second Life without running into sex clubs.

Tracy RedAngel

I think both Jo and Hamlet are right on their different points. The writer probably should have researched a little bit better. But....the new user experience really is pretty wretched and SL is old...it is. The rendering engine is VERY taxing on your graphics, and even on a computer with a lot of juice. When you add several avatars wearing high poly mesh (because some SL creators are unaware or simply don't care about high poly count) that just makes it worse.
But...there are plenty of people in SL who do experience a very graphically rich SL. Even with my 5 year old iMac (Nvidia card) I'm still able to take hi res images on ultra. https://www.flickr.com/groups/secondlifeofficial/


That was a recent article about SL ? Thats so lame, who the hell is paying that reporter...


"We expect gamers and game journalists to use good computers when trying new games, why is it too much to ask a journalist to make sure they use one when they are about to write a piece on SL?"

To this and similar sentiment, most games list accurate system requirements. Linden Lab still lists this for Second Life: https://secondlife.com/my/support/system-requirements/

If Linden Lab lists 8 year old CPUs and graphics cards as recommended, then we shouldn't pass blame on anyone else except Linden Lab for SL running like and looking like crap on those kinds of machines.

Guni Greenstein

Unfortunately, this is how too much of our media and journalism works these days: attention whoring exaggerations. Second Life is a prime example: First it got over hyped like crazy and then it got trashed. While in reality not much had changed. Just like a lot of reporting about China oscillates between China-wonderland-will-soon-marginalize-the-USA and China-will-soon-crash-and-implode. The truth is much less spectacular and obviously attracts less reader interest.

I can't help but suspect that this woman may have been looking for a Second-Life-is-dead story from the onset.

Tracy RedAngel

I don't see what was so jaw dropping about Jo's comment...maybe that was just an attention-grabbing headline? Good job.
What she wrote in her comment was actually very thoughtful and informative.

Elrik Merlin

First of all, I completely agree with the comment that any journalist worth their salt wouldn't dream of reviewing a computer game on a crap computer - why try it in a user-created virtual world where you have the additional loading of downloading the surroundings when you look at it for the first time?

But the fact is, you don't have to do this. SL Go is out there, so you can run max graphics on ANYTHING - right down to an Android tablet.


Dean Ashby

Lag had many reasons over the years. Scripts, old PCs and so on. I have to say that Linden Lab did fantastic work on implementing new server codes, new materials and other great things. So nowadays i think the problem arent the PCs anymore, but more and more the content that is built without any consideration on LODs or vertice count. Many things are downloaded from 3D websites that mostly offer only highpoly meshes and no LODs or not even provide a license for virtual worlds.

And sadly LL is blamed for that. Instead we should gain more knowledge on who to create things that don't kill our graphics card instantly. It is great when things have 1 prim but mostly they disappear within meters. Ask your creators to make the extra effort to provide LOD optimized models and built things wisely. That will take a lot of the lag we feel today.

Ziki Questi

The author and I tweeted back and forth a bit. She wrote:
@zikiquesti I wrote it from the perspective of a beginner in the world bc I am a beginner. I wrote about my experience
@zikiquesti I absolutely agree. :) that was just my time in there. But I definitely see the appeal. I had a great time!
She accepted an offer to have a second look around, so I'll let you know if I hear from her.

Aliasi Stonebender

Agreed the recommended requirements need to bump up, even if they can technically run SL.

But I do agree: if you aren't using a gaming-class computer to run Second Life, you aren't getting a true sense of how nice it can look. Not just that, it needs to be slightly better than the average gamer's machine because dynamically generated worlds are, in fact, a bit more burdensome than pre-modeled, premade ones.

Heck, Minecraft is all blocky, pixelated cubes and most computers will STILL freeze up if you decide to ignite a huge mass of TNT, for basically the same kind of reason. This isn't making an excuse for SL, this is wondering why a "tech journalist" who presumably should know this stuff is wondering why the newest AAA title isn't running on their presumable standard-issue word processing machine.

Computers aren't magic, and demanding they are doesn't make them so.

draxtor™ (@draxtor)

To me the biggest issue here is this: the superficial and often inaccurate SL coverage is symptomatic of what is wrong with journalism as a whole. Yes, for SL enthusiasts it is highly annoying when a "reporter" can't be bothered to do research that lasts longer than a 10 minute Google search and asking ONE resident a handful of questions [Q: "what remains in SL now that businesses are gone?" A: "well, clubs and dancing!"] with zero fact checking, some statistics or at least a few other opinions on the matter.

Now again: the myth of the INCREDIBLY challenging UI [I have seen a 7-year old build a blocky car in 20 minutes and I have seen an 88-year old build an entire little town in a week!], the bad graphics etc = ANNOYING AS HELL and more power to Frau Jo for pointing out what due diligence used to mean in journalism.

However: larger picture = in REAL life we are facing the same problem with news coverage: commercial mainstream news operations [primarily in the US] are cutting down in depth coverage, replacing it with commentary, cutting international longform stories that provide context both historically and sociologically in favor of quick little bites that can easily be consumed between other things occupying our daily lives.

In RL = bad for democracy, because it perpetuates preconceived narratives. In SL = perpetuating preconceived narratives!!!! BAD, period!

Marianne McCann

Hahah! Clickbait headline! Funny! :-)

CronoCloud Creeggan

Hamlet, I'm with Frau Yardley, Miz Gabi, Victor, Elrik, Drax, Marianne, etc etc on this one. Boy, you got Caledon, Berlin, Babbage, AND Bay City on your case for this one.

What struck me the most is that she didn't ask the tutors/professors at Caledon Oxbridge for ideas on what to do. In fact Oxbridge has a class on "things to do in SL" She relied too much on her one "tour guide".

As has been said, "Get a better computer" doesn't always mean get a new one, sometimes a simple upgrade can help.

And it doesn't take hours to tweak settings and graphics for SL.

Hamlet wrote: and the poor audio

What poor audio? SL uses high quality FMOD on all platforms.

Hamlet wrote: (If that's even possible, because most people don't have laptops/desktops with high end graphics cards that can work well with SL, or even know people who do.)

See this machine? http://www.walmart.com/ip/HP-110-212-Desktop-PC-with-AMD-E1-2500-Accelerated-Processor-4GB-Memory-500GB-Hard-Drive-and-Windows-8.1-Monitor-Not-Included/34083875?action=product_interest&action_type=title&placement_id=irs_middle&strategy=PWVUB&visitor_id=66762049610&category=0%3A3944%3A3951%3A132982&client_guid=ef39dbee-c5b8-4f6e-b7e4-c8e41fa58573&customer_id_enc=d832b1af0223f32e9c36b265765fffb3&config_id=0&parent_item_id=33846063&guid=e941d889-a997-45c0-8200-5a3882692d88&bucket_id=irsbucketdefault&findingMethod=p13n

It easily beats the minimum requirements for SL, would beat the recommended if it had a faster CPU, it IS a dual-core though. That's a notebook GPU in it, 128 shader units, it's a touch slow so not quite as good as Nvidia's 210's/220's So you'd want to run SL on mid.

New graphics cards are relatively easy to install, the thing you have to watch out for is power consumption, sometimes a GPU upgrade will require an upgrade to the power supply (Many budget PC's still ship with 250W supplies)

That said, LL should up the minimum specs one level at least, instead of a 6600, a 7150 or something. And remove the mention of the i945, which will be slideshow SL.

Hamlet wrote: Also, spend a few more hours trying to become one with your avatar.

That's actually important with SL, the more of a bond with your avatar the more you will like it.

Hamlet wrote: No, don't bother writing about Minecraft (which is playable on the web

It's not really being played on the web. The "web" version just is an old version of the binary that calls Java Web Start. It's running in a Java machine just like the regular version does. The minimum requirments listed are HIGHER than the minimum's for SL.

Hamlet wrote: and on smartphones),

Mid range ones perhaps, You'd want a dual-core tegra 2 or better at least. In other words it needs a phone/tablet with good 3D hardware. my previous phone an AT&T Fusion, bought in 2012, was not supported.

(also get a dedicated high-end broadband line while you're at it)

Any old broadband will work, depending on what else is using your connection at the same time. Having something like a 15Mbps connection would let you use SL, AND stream HD Netflix and do a bunch of other stuff at the same time.


The mistake is not so much that the journalist used subpar hardware but that SL was once hyped as a mass-market tool to the media. It was not then and is not now.

That's where she failed to do the homework.

With a bit of research, she could have used the OnLive client on mainstream hardware such as a tablet or typical laptop.

August Lusch

I think there's a misconception here that because this is written by a Tech Journalist they should have optimised their gaming experience. The problem is two fold.
Business Insider is not looking at gaming, most of their tech articles are about smart phones, tablets and laptops...you know those things that are important in BUSINESS.
Second Life can be a frustrating user experience for noobs, we know this, if anything we know that it's got worse over time and is in need of being overhauled.
What Hamlet is trying to say about criticising someone over the tech that they use when using Second Life not being the right approach, I totally agree. The comment is written as an attack rather than being helpful.
You think when people buy business PC's they're going to be looking at graphics cards?


If only Linden Lab had a Director of Global Communications that the press could contact for information and assistance...


"She wrote:
@zikiquesti I wrote it from the perspective of a beginner in the world bc I am a beginner. I wrote about my experience"

^^ that ^^

turn it on. accept the default settings the software gives you. and go. Write about it

Chantal Harvey

Only one comment: a journalist is HARDLY EVER a professional photographer as well. A professional photographer would not take pictures with a trow away camera, be it for a magazine, newspaper or blog. If a journalist has not been assigned a photographer for a job, they use stock photo's, or ask the company or organization for some good pictures. It makes you think that they did not entirely take the subject serious.Very UN-professional.

Ciaran Laval

This was a new user experience article, so talk of using SL Go, upgrading graphics cards etc. are far far wide of the mark. New users are simply not going to do that just to try a new experience.

@Draxtor the UI issue is raised far too many times for it to be a myth. Speak to people who work in tech support about the sort of calls they deal with day in and day out. Plenty of the calls are related to simple tasks but people simply don't know how to do or find things without a little guidance, experience makes it easier.

Arcadia Codesmith

"and the fact that SL fans actually still think this is a realistic solution -- well, pretty much explains where Second Life is today."

Be nice... if it weren't for those same SL fans, it would be in the dustbin of history today.

I regard it as glaringly obvious that the UI needs a total revamp. I advocate embracing MMO standards, as MMOs are the number one application of virtual world technology to date.

The client needs to do a much better job of automatic optimization to balance appearance and performance. Manually tweaking the settings for different activities doesn't cut it. Keep the manual settings for people who like to fiddle with them, but the auto defaults should be good enough to present the world in the best possible light on any given system with no manual tweaking required.

cathartes aura

Nice discussion going on at Business Insider... Very Revealing... ;)

Linden Lab has created an in-world economic system so tilted towards folks receiving Tier Subsidies - Grandfathered Tier, the Atlas Land Program, Free Tier to "pets", etc. that other land owners not getting these subsidies are unable to compete.

As an example, Grandfathered Tier subsidy land owners can price their prims 30% lower than non-subsidy land owners tier cost(what it costs you for you land) and still have a 3.3% advantage over you. ; )

The numbers are worse for the Atlas Program and for those "pets" getting free tier. Non-Subsidy getting land owners have absolutely no chance of fairly competing under these conditions... And who is responsible for this...

LINDEN LAB... ; ) I don't blame people? like the ones who have posted above defending these practices. They are what they are... ; ) It's Linden Lab and the VC's that I hold responsible for it. They are the ones who have created this nightmare of a freakshow by allowing this nonsense to happen.

So, to anyone currently holding private estate land or mainland who are not getting tier subsidies from Linden Lab this has been a wake up call for those that haven't sat down and crunched the numbers.

For those competing against Grandfathered Tier receivers... It amounts to $600.00 US per year that could be in your pocket. That's right... If Tier was lowered for you and raised for them until equal, then you would see that much more income in your pocket. The numbers for Atlas and the Freeloaders are even worse... AND LINDEN LAB WOULD NOT BE OUT ONE DIME IN CURRENT INCOME... ; )

The threat is that the land barons will bolt and run if their tier is raised... Where are they going to go? According to the land barons there are no alternatives to SL... ; ) Grow some balls Ebbe and the VC's... Or at least be honest businessmen.

To this day no mention of Grandfathered Tier, Atlas, Freeloader Tier, etc. is on Linden Lab's Land Sales page. Those good, honest, decent folks who have no idea that all these things exist SHOULD be given warning by LINDEN LAB BEFORE they purchase land. It's called DISCLOSURE... And for LINDEN LAB to go on now for almost 8 years doing that kind of slimy shizz is beyond sleazy... ; )

cathartes aura

My apologies for one thing... Always the politically correct person that i am.. ; ) i want to say sorry to the ladies(or is that bad to say now? not sure?), furries, mermaids, vampires, etc for not mentioning them in the final sentence of the next to last paragraph. I really don't know what the gender is of the "shot callers" at Linden Lab or the VC's? So, MY BAD! ;)

Metacam Oh

What is the journalist going to do a review of next, MySpace?

Arcadia Codesmith

Complaining that some land sharks get a better deal than other land sharks is like complaining that the arsenic tastes stale.

cathartes aura

@Arcadia... It isn't complaining. It's called exposure. The "shot callers" at Linden Lab refuse to operate their business in an honest manner. So, the more exposure they get over these crooked land policies the better.

Since Linden Lab refuses to disclose to their customers these freakishly corrupt programs - Grandfathered Tier, Atlas, Freeloader Tier, etc. on their Land Sales page I guess we residents will have to do it for them. ;)


If the journalist never got away from mainland, of course it's going to look like crap. Mainland IS crap.

Arcadia Codesmith

Mainland is 90% crap. So are 90% of private holdings. Sturgeon's Law.

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