Posted in Exploring, General, Opinion, Second Life

The impact of Marketplace on in-world stores

There’s been some chat in the blogosphere recently that the Marketplace is killing actual in-world stores; that reduced footfall means that satellite stores (or even main stores) are less commercially viable than they were, and that this will have knock-on effects for malls, clubs and RP sims as they struggle to fill the vendor booths whose income helps pay their tier. I can see the argument for this and it is pretty compelling.
However, the counter-argument is that malls are a bit of a blight anyway and that the Marketplace is just so much more convenient, quick and efficient. And, again, that has some validity too.

My own opinion is somewhere in between. Personally, I absolutely adore shopping in-world if the store is interesting, well laid out, and gives me a positive ‘experience’. By contrast, there are few things more soul-destroying than wandering round a huge faceless store that has all the visual interest of a level of Wolfenstein 3D and where you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Here’s a case in point…

Could this shop be any more boring and uninspiring? This kind of shop, where the Designer clearly does not give a flying fig about the store, is the kind of thing the Marketplace was made for. They just want to sell their stuff and no more. May as well put it up on Marketplace and save yourself the tier.

By contrast, other Designers clearly love to build as well as make clothes, and pour a great deal of love into the whole shopping experience.


My greatest concern with Marketplace is that it will cause all in-world shops to become unviable and we will lose the experience of shopping at beautiful sims like this. Likewise, wonderful themed and/or RP sims where it is a delight to explore will also start to struggle to pay their tier to the point where they can’t continue. And I think Second Life would be a much poorer place for it.

Links:

http://strawberrysingh.com/2012/05/16/the-marketplace-debate/
http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/is-the-marketplace-killing-the-mall/

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life

It was absolutely awful yesterday. I had a bit of a shopping spree on Marketplace yesterday morning (UK time) and 33% of my items failed to be delivered. Then in the afternoon I crashed and couldn’t get back on for ages and it said that logins had been disabled and to check the grid status page – which hadn’t been updated in 2 days.
And then today I got hit by a rolling restart on two different sims, both of which gave 5 mins notice to get out. 5 mins! What kind of notice is that?

Also, SCHEDULED maintenance is maintenance you know about beforehand. So how about publicising it with a little more notice, Linden Lab?

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life

Differing definitions of ‘crowded’

I was at a concert for the wonderful Lisa Brune last night, and the sim was absolutely packed – my Firestorm ‘People’ list told me there were 66 people on the sim and it certainly felt like it – people were grey, the lag was insane like the air had turned to wallpaper paste, and people were crashing all over the place. In fact Lisa herself crashed and couldn’t get back in but valiantly carried on with the concert anyway. I myself gave up trying to get back in after the 3rd crash and was listening to the stream with an external media player.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about the perennial issue of what we think of as ‘crowded’ when we’re in Second Life. It seems to me that a concert in real life where the performer only had 66 attendees would be considered ‘intimate’, ‘tiny’ or ‘woefully under-attended’ depending on the size of venue and the expectations of the performer or their management. Yet in Second Life it’s considered a massively popular attendance.

Back in the early days of Second Life, much was made of the educational and media event possibilities, and many people dipped their toes in the water with such things as Virtual Embassies, learning centres, corporate presences and the now famous Suzanne Vega concert, but interest very quickly waned as it became abundantly clear that the Second Life platform just simply cannot cope with a decent attendance.

My understanding is that the fundamental limitation is that each full sim in Second Life is hosted on a single core of a multi-core processor (for Homestead sims it is 4 to a core) and it’s simply not possible to throw more processing power at a sim. The nearest that can be achieved is to use two or more adjacent sims playing the same stream so that people can get some sense of “being there”, but even then that’s not really ideal.

I am sure that this issue has had Linden Lab scratching their collective heads for years, and I would like to think that they have it on their roadmap to address it, but we’re in 2012 now. I joined SL in 2007 and we had the issue even then and we still have it now.

What Second Life needs is to somehow break free from these limitations and for the servers to be truly scalable. Once that is achieved, it could be monetarised with perhaps a graded tier for sim capability or a dynamic billing model not dissimilar to webserver bandwidth. I am sure that the owners of popular sims would be happy to pay for the ability to have a decent number of attendees to an event without the whole thing falling over in a horrible mess. At the moment there is simply no choice, no option; it’s a hard limit.

Second Life is a wonderful place to be, but this limitation is fundamental and if it isn’t addressed I can’t see how Second Life is ever going to progress beyond where it is today.


Footnote

After a little googling, it turns out the Suzanne Vega concert was in 2006 and in order to get 80 attendees people had to have not a single prim attachment on themselves, not even hair. So really not a lot has changed in 6 years.

Posted in General, Mesh, Opinion, Second Life, Viewers

Parametric Deformer update

As I mentioned in my article “Unencumbered by the trappings of real life” I consider Qarl’s Parametric Deformer project to be immensely important to Second Life.

I notice an update in the JIRA that is tracking this that Oz Linden has accepted Qarl’s latest v0.3 submission and committed it to the Official Viewer.

There seems to be a bit of friction between Oz and Qarl, but I think it’s encouraging news that, far from seeking to quash the Parametric Deformer, Linden Lab appear to be working with Qarl to bring us this important update.

 


Links

https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/STORM-1716
http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/mesh-deformer-0-3-code-available

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life, tips

You do not see what I see

Gahh! My eyes!
Facelight3000 - everything else is dim lights

Graphics in Second Life Viewers just keep getting better and better. The trouble is, as things improve and we get new technologies, it’s inevitable that older technology is going to work less well or even break.

Several older technologies are currently showing issues – such as system skirts casting an incorrect shadow, likewise invisiprims not working properly any more on the highest graphics settings.

The one that affects me the most, though, are people wearing insanely bright facelights.

Continue reading “You do not see what I see”

Posted in General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Unencumbered by the trappings of real life

An updated version of this article is now available here

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of opinion on Rigged Mesh, and the efforts of Karl Stiefvater (Qarl Fizz, formerly Qarl Linden) to address the fundamental deficiencies of it with the Parametric Deformer project.

That’s been covered elsewhere in great detail and I don’t think I can add much to the debate directly on that although will provide some links at the end.

However, it has got me thinking about what Second Life means to me, what I view as important and how I interact with other people.

Some of the people I meet want to know all about my real life, about how I look or where I live, or how old I am, or any number of other things. And I tell them that, quite apart from privacy, I simply don’t see things like that as having any relevance to my Second Life. And, further, I don’t particularly want them to volunteer anything about themselves either. I’m simply not interested in their “skinvelope” (or, as I have heard others refer to it, their “meatsack” or “meat rider”, which I confess aren’t phrases I’m particularly enamoured with) and want to get to know the real person, unencumbered by the trappings of real life. Some of these people have got quite defensive about my attitude and asked how I can know the real person when I say I don’t want to know the real life person. Some have even called me crazy. Well, allow me to explain what I mean.

Continue reading “Unencumbered by the trappings of real life”

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life, tips

I am not a bowling pin

Another in my series of hints and tips for Second Life. This one is very short and simple.

Have you ever been in a crowded sim, say at a club or a music venue, and somebody TPs in and then, without waiting for anything to rezz, just bulldozes through everyone before (if you’re lucky) they say in open chat “sorry if I barged anyone”?

This can easily be avoided.

Continue reading “I am not a bowling pin”

Posted in Exploring, General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Pet peeves

One of my pet peeves in Second Life is TPing into a sim and being absolutely assaulted with greeters, LMs, pop-up messages, notecards, group invites and the like.

I had to chuckle at one sim today though, which did all these and the notecard and pop-up said that they did not allow spamming, group invites or griefing.

The irony of this was not lost on me. But seemed to be lost on them. 🙂

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life, Viewer 2.x, Viewers

Second Life increasingly a misnomer?

There has always been a blur between Second Life (SL) and real life (RL), with residents choosing how separate they want to keep the two.
However, it seems to me that Linden Lab (LL) are losing sight of what SL is meant to be. Or, if you prefer to rephrase that, they are moving SL in directions that are different from how they started out. And, increasingly, those changes are removing some of the choice residents have as to how separate the two remain.

For me, the clue is in the name “Second Life” – an alternative life, secondary and separate from your real one. But it seems that is becoming less and less the focus of SL, with residents being encouraged (and in some cases forced) to involve their RL more and more in their SL.

So when did this rot start to set in?

Some might say it started with Age Verification where you were required to provide some form of RL identification. This was probably the first time you were required to disclose your RL identity. Up until then, provided you didn’t have payment information on file and were using a free email address like Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., there was no link between your RL identity and your SL one.

Others might say it started when LL stopped the idea of a firstname & lastname and instead moved to having just a username and an optional Display Name. In many ways this weakened the separation between SL and RL – a username is just a login for a website or service. You were no longer creating an identity or character; you were just creating an account. Perhaps the distinction is subtle, but I think it is relevant and significant.

Others might say that it was the introduction of Viewer 2.0 and the different way in which it presented profiles, no longer calling the tabs “2nd Life” and “1st Life” but “Avatar” and “More Info”.
Or perhaps Viewer 2.0’s emphasis on voice chat, with text-based interaction being de-emphasised and harder to find in the User Interface.

But, for me, what really highlights the fundamental shift in attitude are the profiles at http://my.secondlife.com

One of the sections of your profile is called “Social Identities” where you are able to link with your Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Plurk, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Now I happen to know that Facebook and LinkedIn are adamant that you must use your real name and real identity to have an account with them. Yes, many SL residents do have a Facebook account for their Avatar but you are on borrowed time there – when Facebook get round to noticing they *will* delete that account.
So Linden Lab are encouraging you to link your SL account with RL services that only have relevance to your RL.

Of course, you could argue that just because LL allow you to do this it doesn’t mean you have to – and you would obviously be right. But I think it highlights a push by LL to make Second Life just another social media / social networking tool; a glorified 3D chatroom and messaging facility for the casual user, with the immersion and roleplay that many of us enjoy being of secondary importance. There is even talk of a reduced functionality internet browser-based Viewer to make SL “more accessible” to more people. And if that doesn’t sound foreboding to you, then it probably should do.

So one has to beg the question at what point Linden Lab should rename “Second Life” to “Augmented Life”?

 


Update:

Here are some links to the issue of Facebook deleting accounts of SL avatars

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Forums-Blogs-Answers-and/Facebook-deleting-Secondlife-Avatars/td-p/887663
http://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/Deletion-Of-Hundreds-Of-Second-Life-Facebook-Accounts-Being/td-p/884697
http://virtualoutworlding.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/your-avatar-identity-in-facebook-issues.html

Posted in Fashion, Flickr, General, Opinion, Second Life, Viewer 2.x

Mesh

Slink Mesh Boots!!, originally uploaded by Nana Minuet.

I have to say I was getting very excited by Mesh, especially with the recent announcement that Phoenix is going to be supporting it (thanks to some dedicated work by Henri Beauchamp of the Cool Viewer).

These boots are a great case in point – imagine how wrong the knees would look in that pose if those were sculpt boots!

However, all is not as good as it seems; I’ve learned that the current implementation of Mesh is worse than useless, for clothes at least. It would seem that a mesh object attaches to your skeleton, not your “flesh”, and cannot be resized in-world. That means that if you are slim like the model in the above pics, those boots would look great. However, if you are any other size than her they won’t fit. Oh, sure, an alpha layer will mask out the bits of you that the boots cover but if you have bigger thighs than her you’re fresh out of luck.

One of the biggest benefits of Second Life is you can be who you want to be. You (or, rather, your avatar) can be exactly as you want it – it’s the overriding expression of your individuality and what makes Second Life so wonderful. But if Mesh clothing is going to force us all to resize our avatar to the clothing, rather than the clothing to the avatar, then this is a bad thing.

There is a JIRA running on this. It’s rather technical but the gist of it is “change Mesh to resize to your flesh not be fixed size and attached to your skeleton”.
See https://jira.secondlife.com/si/jira.issueviews:issue-html/SH-2374/SH-2374.html