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Thursday, October 22, 2020

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Dotty

I started to spend more time in SL after the lockdown, but I ran into problems.

I have pretty robust computer and internet resources and SL performance is still poor.

Also, I was laid off and didn't receive unemployment for 3 month. I had a real difficult time justifying spending money inworld. I guess I have a limit as to how much I can ignore my RL when it is going to hell.

Bryan

As someone that used to be in SL from 2005 until around 2010, I found it extremely difficult to get back into it in 2020. The new mesh bodies, HUDs, and the generally high price of entry just to get avatars that look modern is a major turn off.

There's nothing quite like SL out there, but I can't imagine many new users are joining and staying unless they are helped out by someone they know or a friendly stranger.

Pulsar

A few of the new accounts may be alts etc, but SL user retention is terrible.

I think Carmen helps in showing some fun side of SL that is easy missed out by the newcomers. She has fun with vehicles too, playing with her friends. Often, newcomers don't know what to do, what's fun, or what's the point, nor where to socialize and to find like-minded friends. Or they look for that kind of fun... among empty areas, bots, avatars who just stand doing nothing, creeps, drama.
Also they have to deal with a not so user-friendly product, a load of tech issues, an outdated engine, unoptimized content that would be awful in modern engines too, avatar bodies and HUDs that make it even more complex for newcomers (they are relatively expensive too, but there are freebies).

If Second Life is still alive and profitable, Linden Lab should probably thank the hardcore oldbies, who still have an attachment for Second Life (or more often, for their friends), despite everything.
But yes, eventually oldbies, too, give up.

There are so many things that could be done.
Linden Lab took 17 years to give a serious look at the the region-crossing code and to improve it. It's great that they did, at last, but it makes you think how many people they lost meanwhile. Had they focused on this kind of fun, this would have been improved earlier and probably many other things would work better now. They would have retained more people who enjoy simulation games. Sandbox games too: with the prims there could have been SL in place of Minecraft now. Success may depends on luck, but also on how well you play your cards.

Pulsar

Oh, I forgot. For the joy of the newcomers, there is also this habit to eject new avatars until they are 30-60 days old (because of malicious "alts" and "griefers"). Probably a few of them get tired before 30-60 days of ejections.

Alicia

There's nothing quite like SL out there...

Here's the thing, there are second generation MMOCs being worked on or quite possibly in open beta as we speak. People simply have to give them a chance. Remember folks, SL went through the same exact growing pains when it first came out, and these second generation MMOCs will have that same pain as well. That's all they want folks, a chance. Hell, I bet some of these second generation MMOCs will surprise the living shit out of you once they start to improve things and get more familiar with how engines such as Unreal or Unity work.

SLers think that you can only build communities in SL? That's where you're all wrong. Chat rooms such as AOhelL, Yahoo, ICQ, MSN Messenger, IRC, MMOs etc. have all helped to create communities amongst its users within their individual environments. Like I said in the previous article, the only thing games like SL can do (yes, IMVU, Avakin Life, Hypergrids, and the upcoming second generation MMOCs can do the same thing) is mesh creation and making real money from what they make.

As for the remainder of the article as a whole, both parts mind you, it's clear that SL has an extremely low retention rate. I've always had a theory when it came to the actual population of SL during my time in SL and came to the conclusion that the population numbers are falsely inflated. If you remove all the alt and bot accounts from the charts, which would be very difficult to do, then you would have the actual numbers for off and main hours in SL. If I had to guess as an approximate actual number, then I would have to say that the actual population is around 10-15k. Why would I say that? Because the maximum limit of accounts you can make under one e-mail is five, and depending on how many e-mail addresses one can have, one can simply have a stack of alts waiting to be used.

Nodoka Hanamura

@Alicia - You talk about these Second Gen MMOCs, and all of them I've heard of, Sansar, VRChat and Sinespace being examples, are instanced isolated worlds without a sense of depth, especially VRChat. I think I can speak for a modicum of SL's userbase, and for the market of potential competitors to SL, when I say that If I wanted to be cooped up in what amounts to a overglorfied fucking skybox, exploring other, isolated skyboxes, I'd shoot myself and go live in the big skybox in the sky. The value in SL is the large, interconnected, diverse world that has not just history, but many communities. I'm all for competition, as it'd hopefully get Linden Lab to get up off their ass and Fix shit but the above three aren't it. Until then, SL will either remain the prime (but not best executed) example of a virtual world done right, or will die because Linden Lab didn't react fast enough to user demands for improvements.

Alicia

@Nodoka Hanamura, do you even realize that these worlds would have that very depth if people like you would get off your Second Life perches and do something.

Wanna know why Sansar really wasn't embraced?

Because people like you couldn't part with Second Life for even a millisecond and wouldn't bother to lift a finger to help. Oh? I guess I let the cat out of the bag and revealed why Sansar truly failed. Everyone on the SL Forums whined and bitch and continued to do both in that exact order for years while Sansar was around. I blame Linden Lab for a lot of things, but when it comes to Sansar, I blame the users of Second Life the most for what happened to what was supposed to be the successor to Second Life. Linden Lab did everything they could to provide you spoiled, rotten brats a successor and you all spat in their faces. Don't deny it because it's true.

Hell, VRChat and Sinespace maybe have vastly smaller numbers than Second Life, but you know what they're doing? Yeah, they're going through the exact same growing pains Second Life went through when it went through development or open beta hell. Those two games want the chance to prove themselves. But ohhh no, the second you people hear that you have to learn Unity Engine and those two games wanting optimal, high quality/low poly content... VRChat downvoting anything higher than a certain amount of verts/faces/tris... or is it the possibility that one of those games will eventually start to go hog wild on getting things in order to make people do a double take? Remember IMVU? No one noticed what happened and suddenly, and without anyone noticing... IMVU had more users per day than SL.

And now this is where I literally burst your bubble.

The value in SL is the large, interconnected, diverse world that has not just history, but many communities.

Guess what? There are other games out there that have larger and more interconnected communities than SL, and I'm not referring to Sansar, VRChat and Sinespace. Diverse world and history? Most of you would literally backstab one another the first chance you got. You also said that SL will either remain the prime example of a virtual world done right? That's where you're absolutely wrong. Second Life has had 17 years to get it right, and they keep failing.

It's time to look beyond Second Life, folks, and I know most will deny it. These second generation MMOC are still coming in one way or another.

Alicia

Forgot to add something: But ohhh no, the second you people hear that you have to learn Unity Engine and those two games wanting optimal, high quality/low poly content... people start to scream bloody murder because they're forced to optimize their stuff

Pulsar

Sansar user retention was rather poor too.

Back in 2017, optical fibers were less common, not everyone had 100-300 or more Mbps (in fact you shouldn't count on that still today); but LL put no limits again and several "creators" went wild not optimizing and making rooms weighting up several gigabytes.
With an average A/DSL, it took up to 30 minutes to download it all - note that Sansar required to wait for the full download of models, texture and avatars before you could interact - and as if it wasn't enough, at the beginning there wasn't even a loading bar.
I think you can imagine how many people gave up in that way and didn't touch Sansar anymore.
Then, after your new users waited for so long (at least those who didn't uninstall Sansar already), they were presented with essentially a 3D viewer with almost no interaction with the environment and other avatars and a super basic interface. The avatars themselves looked rather uncanny and walked like robots in desktop mode. In VR mode it wasn't the best either.

Even if later Sansar has been improved, despite several partnerships and taking advantage of conventions and popular things (Star Trek, Star Wars, Hello Kitty), some movie (Ready Player One) and some popular Youtuber, and even if repurposed and addressed to Steam gamers and then virtual clubbing, it failed to gain any attention.

Surely LL had already an user-base, that didn't migrate; but if you look at Sansar main direct competitor, VRChat, you can see that was not the main reason for this debacle: in July 2017 VRChat too had a low 2 digits average user concurrency, now they have 10-11k (which is about 1000 times more than Sansar) and 17k peaks. And almost none of those are ex SLers.
Even NeosVR, that began later, is doing much better than Sansar.

Also "Sansar isn't SL2" was said from the beginning, although there is an overlap and a partial migration was possible. Ebbe was very aware of this risk: the chain effects of a minor migration could have damaged SL economy enough to give it the coup of grace, while not being enough to make Sansar successful at the same time (they aimed at 10s of million active users).

Nodoka Hanamura

I'm going to leave it here at this:

Wake me when there's a platform comparable to SL in every regard sans its' problems. Until then, Don't humor me. I'd rather live here than humor your ego.

Ric

@Alicia -- and like I said before (and hear ye, Hamlet) -- stop moaning! Be usefully constructive, by all means, but leave out the rudeness, the nastiness, the sheer sense that you are enjoying driving a stake into a wound. Alicia, I'll say it again : stop being unhelpfully nasty. If you hate SL so much that you can't be civil about it, there's always the door.

Cake

I just came back from a huge, immersive music festival in VRChat and it was absolutely not a skybox, lol. Worlds in VRChat are as big as you want to make them, they can even be as big as a region.

Personal preference for how you like to explore worlds aside, I think some people are happy to stay in SL and that's fine with me. I don't miss having tacky neighbors to report in my new VR apartment. If I want someone over I just make my hosted instance public and people are guaranteed to visit.

Jenelva

Why are we surprised a 17 year old platform has a decline in new signups? It’s not 2003, chat sucks on SL, social media exists, it’s not great for gaming. People are looking for that kind of functionality and SL doesn’t have it and never did. Over 17 years how many new sign ups can you squeeze out of SL with nothing major changing?

Chic Aeon

So IF there are "better worlds" out there --- can someone name them?

I was in Sansar for a couple of years and definitely appreciated the tech and the graphics and the automatic fitting of clothing. Most of the folks were very nice.

I tried Sinespace and liked it well enough but working in Unity was the most PAINFUL bit of creation that I have ever tried so gave that up.

Opensim -- I still make money there but with Google Plus gone there is really no way to keep in touch and then there is the God Mode bit with you giving your creations to the world whether planned or not.

I agree that SL is fairly boring these days in that I seem to have to WORK to be entertained and most of my friends (mostly creators) aren't around much. I usually plunk myself down to answer any customer support questions as needed but I am not really "there".

Part of it too -- in my mind anyway -- was the Tilia and Social Security Number thing which seems to be getting even more pervasive judging by some recent posts on the SL forums. A far number of creators and other folks just left. I stayed but am no longer cashing out (my choice -not a complaint).

But I still do see any viable alternative. Maybe some of you arguing that point can list some?

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