Suggestions to Linden Lab from an Old Timer

Viv Branch ManagerI am Vivienne Daguerre, and my rez date was April 12, 2004. I have been active continuously in Second Life since that day with no significant periods of absence. I have operated a business in Second Life continuously since 2004, Black Rose, and I own two private island estates which I purchased in 2005. In Second Life terms, I am as old as virtual dirt. I don’t play other online “games” and do not view Second Life as a game as much as I do a creative and social outlet.

I know that Linden Lab’s new CEO is receiving a stream of advice from Second Life residents. Why not throw a little more at him? I think he is up for it. Here is my advice.

1. Do not lower tier.

I think the biggest challenge to new people is to find and connect with other people. Second Life is big, very big, and surprisingly so considering the cost of land. Even with high tier prices, the drive for the core group of Second Life to create and share with others is strong enough that people are willing to shell out the big bucks for their own regions. That is an amazing fact in itself that must make “game” makers drool.

Great Hall DinnerMany want tier to be lowered so more people can buy land. I would strongly recommend not lowering tier for several reasons. I want Linden Lab to stay profitable, because I want Second Life to continue to exist, improve and grow. More important than that, if more people were able to buy more regions, the number of regions would increase. Already there are not enough people to populate the regions that exist now. People are spread out, isolated, and all clamoring for people to come and see what they have created. Some people want to be king, to have the world the way they think it should be. That is not a bad thing.

Barnard on Trial 5What is a bad thing is that there is too much space for too few people, and that makes us spread out and isolated. It makes it harder to find and meet people. Please do not increase tier, but please do not lower it.

2. Fix the event listings.

When you are trying to find people interested in things you are interested in, you naturally turn to the event listings. They are not much help. They are choked with club and commercial spam. No, I do not want to be a model or attend an “event” at your store to see your new releases. I do not care about who is best in red.

Fixing this would cost money. You need someone to actually pay attention to event listings and moderate them to enforce rules about commercial spam. It would be money well spent, because it would make it easier for noobies and oldbies alike to find interesting and fun things to do, and meet people with similar interests.

Mav on Horseback Galloping3. Make search more useful.

When we want to find something, groups, or events that interest us, you need to do all you can to help us do that. With event listings being choked by spam, we turn to groups to get notices about what is going on that may interest us. Make it easier for us to find groups of interest to us with the membership numbers clearly shown. We will find out how many are in the group anyway once we join it, and we can and do often leave after doing that, but why make us jump through that hoop? List the number of members clearly in search so we can find the most relevant and active groups to join.

4. Help us make interesting experiences for other people.

A friend and I have been working on a quest system for our sims to provide fun and free items to others. We have hit a couple of stumbling blocks that the experience tools would help with if they are ever released. Pathfinding is a good thing, and we are working on huntable animals, but we need more. Release the experience tools, and give us more scripting options.

Dom Forging a BladeHere is an example of something that takes people out of immersion and makes it less intuitive and more difficult for noobies. I wanted to make a blacksmith make a sword for you. To do that, you have to find coal and iron and mine it to bring back to him. After mining for a couple of minutes, you are given coal and iron. You return to the blacksmith, and you click on him. He asks, “Do you have the iron and coal I need?” Now you have to open your inventory, find the objects named coal and iron, hold down the control key and drag them from your inventory onto the blacksmith. That is simple enough to script, but it is clunky, and breaks the immersion.

We tried working on a quest hud that would eliminate the need to handle actual coal and iron objects and communicate through listens with the blacksmith. This is a very difficult task without arrays. Strided lists are awkward to work with. I don’t want to have to learn php and go out to a website to handle the data.

Second Life is not a game, but give us better tools to let us make fun challenges and games within it please.

Well there is my two cents worth Mr. Altberg, if you find time to read it.


2 thoughts on “Suggestions to Linden Lab from an Old Timer

  1. On 1. Don’t lower tier

    I have to wonder, where else in shared creativity platforms on the internet does this logic make sense? For example, does any of the following make sense?

    There aren’t enough people to populate every WordPress blog that exists now, so blogs should be expensive.

    There aren’t enough people to populate every YouTube channel that exists now, so channels should be expensive.

    There aren’t enough people to populate every Flickr group that exists now, so Flickr groups should be expensive.

    There aren’t enough people for every DeviantArt gallery, Etsy store, Pinterest board, Reddit subreddit, Github repo, Twitch stream, SoundCloud playlists, Scribd library, etc.

    I can’t think of another shared creativity platform of any kind where the concept of glut, that there can ever be too many regions, exists as you and others seem to believe about Second Life. If we were talking about actual physical land and there were concerns for things like urban blight, fine, but since we’re talking about land as an abstraction, the one and only medium to share and create digital things in Second Life, it doesn’t make sense.

    Other shared creativity platforms parade the fact that there’s so much content it’s impossible for the average bit of content to be popular. YouTube for example has 6 billion hours of video; almost an hour for every person on the planet. 100 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube a minute, almost 30 minutes for every baby born in the world a minute. I’m sure all the other successful shared creativity platforms that focus on allowing as much creating and sharing as inexpensively as possible have similar stats of their own.

    I think its erroneous to believe a region is only worthwhile if it has some average user count, that the grid would be better off if say…what’s a good average number of people per region, 10 maybe? if 50,000 concurrent users were spread across 5,000 regions. Would that really be a better Second Life? Especially considering how many of those regions would be private residentials or stores not meant to contribute to public entertainment anyway?

    I get that at present, usually, there’s about 0.5 concurrent users for every region there is. So what? Why’s that bad? The worth of a region should totally be whether or not it pleases the owner and creator first and foremost. All the other successful shared creativity platforms out there prove everyday that if you allow people to create as unrestrained and inexpensively as possible, the byproduct of that will be enough great content meant for the greater public.

    Second Life has been going against the tide as a shared creativity platform by being insanely expensive, and the results have been a shrinking userbase, shrinking content, shrinking revenues. Other platforms do the exact opposite by making it as inexpensive and appealing as possible to cost them gigabytes, some people terabytes a day in bandwidth and storage. YouTube, the leading shared creativity platform on the internet is free and in fact pays some of its most expensive-to-have users, nevermind charging them.

    The logic of keeping tier expensive doesn’t hold. It should be lowered, and that doesn’t mean stop being profitable, lowering it means doing whatever it takes to lower the barrier of entry into region ownership as close to $0 in price as possible while still remaining profitable. Likely this means a whole revamp of business model. Whatever it takes, Linden Lab will have to do it.

  2. “I think the biggest challenge to new people is to find and connect with other people”

    I am totally with you on this.

    Even if I find a nice sim, whether it would be related to my interests or just being plain jaw-dropping, I always find myself experiencing these places alone since I can’t seem to find anyone around.

    I think if newbies were to find their group of friends, their experience will be MUCH more rewarding enticing them to keep coming.

    A house is just a house. It takes people, friends, or family to make it a home.

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