To tell the truth it was sort of a longer day, but let’s report.
So yesterday was a quite busy day for me in SL as I was meeting quite a lot of people. OTOH I actually had to prepare my trip today and was a bit late in doing so after all resulting in some tiredness today 😉
It seems to me that one method to see cool places is to follow Torley’s trail on Snapzilla actually. So I came to see trees that really grow (over a month), the 2nd annual Ogre Village in Sandbox Goguen and met up with some people discussing some society and usability related topics.
The first thing I learned that morning was actually that Tartarus Island is no more.. I heard it and just went over to check. And indeed, just one day after doing my photos and planning a video on it, it is gone now… The reason seems to be some group issues there but I really hope that it will be recreated soon as Musuko did a great job on it and it deserves to be seen (besides, if it’s not there then all that work will be in vein anyway). Well, I urged him to put it back on 😉
So the first still existing place I actually visited was Quat where Robbie Dingo (the creator of the Hyperflute) showcases his trees that really grow, in this case cannabis. After a month or so you can watch the tree growing to full scale (if you care enough for it, that is, like water it enough. One thing I should remember at home). It also says it comes copy so you can easily set up your cannabis plantage (related to that I heard yesterday about big cannabis plantages discovered by the police in some neighbour RL city :-).
So you might wanna check that out.
After that I was visiting Ogre village, set up in a sandbox. You can see some picture of it on my flickr account soon. It was also there where I met some nice people like Timeless Prototype whom I’ve met later in the evening again discussing some scripting and society topics.
Going on to the next sandbox where Torley invited me to I found myself in the middle of some discussion about the society in SL, some usability aspects of the software and so on. Regarding society it’s actually quite interesting that only 3 days ago I first heard about the FIC and Prokofy but since then I seem to hear it over and over again at all places.
So while not going into detail about the actual discussion it is apparent that some people are discussing quite heavily about how a society in SL should look like. For me actually this is rather uninteresting (in terms of living or extensively discussing it) as I more like to create stuff than to get too much into politics. One key point here is anyway that we don’t have a true democracy in SL but more of a (friendly) dictatorship created by a RL company. This also means that they need to react to a market and need to make money (e.g. to keep their VCs happy).
With this background I wonder how a true democracy in SL would look like in the hypothetical case that we might get one. I doubt that I really would want that. After all the market LindenLab is in sort of ensures ongoing efforts to keep SL alive and attractive to new residents. If this is not true anymore for maybe an elected “SL government” in the future problems might arise and might as well be the death of SL (I myself am actually not really that much interested in politics in SL. I have too much of that in RL and as a minority might fight for some ideas the most of them probably just fights for their power).
So rather than going in that direction I think I’d like to see SL still run by some company in conjunction with community feedback (as it basically is right now). If Open Source is really going to happen (I still wonder if they have a good plan for doing so because just publishing the source under some license is not all what there is to it) then this might be another interesting step. So LL would then be more or less just a provider.
So on a last note on this I think that just a very little minority is anyway interested in discussing these things. The vast mass of people is mainly having fun at clubs, malls etc. and that’s of course perfectly ok. And mostly so am I doing just in the field of creating stuff and thus I doubt that I’d like to be bothered that much with politics as for me it’s still sort of a game after all, maybe a bit more, but certainly nothing I really live in. Reading about it is nevertheless sometimes quite amusing, though 😉
Another topic discussed was useability. So I remember at least two topics that came up. One was actually the chaos you usually have in your inventory. While it is possible to open several windows (Just File->New window in the inventory menu) it is still a mess usually as you don’t sort stuff directly (at least I do not do that). And I also know from some other people who do not really find stuff again or even rebuy that stuff because of that. The ability to put stuff in other objects adds to the problem as these are not searchable and hard to access (and you don’t even have always an area around you where you’re allowed to rez that box to look inside). Torley also mentioned that it is for some technical reason not possible to access the contents of an object directly inside the inventory (probably some different database tables are used for it or whatever). So we should hope that this is changed someday (although such a migration might be some work for LL). It would be quite cool if an object would basically behave like just a folder.
But what other things could be done to enhance the usability of the inventory? Surely adding a tagging engine would help. While you now can add sort of tags in brackets you cannot really just search for tags only. If you e.g. search for “house” you will not only find all stuff tagged with “house” but also everything with “house” in it like “Cool lamp for my new house”. For me personally it would also be quite cool to be able to see when stuff was added.. It’s sorted that way but I don’t know the exact date and sometimes that would help me a lot. Or I would like to search for a creator like e.g. “just my stuff”.
Then the visual representation could be improved, like having a more filemanager like interface or maybe even a two-pane layout (a little more comfortable then having just two windows open). Or some experimentation with a true 3d interface might also be cool. I am aware that there is hardly any experience around about how to build a 3d filemanager but it would actually be quite fitting for a world like SL (let’s imagine a house where you have your clothes somewhere and other stuff in other special places you rermember because of it’s place. This is maybe some useable idea to built such a thing even if it would take up much of the screen).
Going on with it Torley mentioned that she’d like to have better teleport screens. Right now it’s just black. While I never had a problem with that it is true indeed that it breaks your experience. So proposals in that discussions ranged from a simple fade to the new location like on login, a star-tunnel or something similar to use a scifi idea or maybe some gate where you can look into that other sim (thought that’s probably a quite complex technical challenge ;-).
As Adam Zaius and others from Azure island were around we were also discussing the topic of terrain shaping. I personally actually miss roads at the southern continent where I live a lot. Not because I might wanna drive but just because it orders the land a bit. So you’re not completely caged and it looks familiar to RL. I also do like following a road sometimes to see where it leads. So I still wonder why nobody has built some roads there and from what I understood from Torley it seemed that mainly the time pressure to get new land out is the reason.
Later I had a look at the Azure islands and indeed it looks better with some terrain shaping and forests here and there and of course roads. Similar will surely be true for other non-Linden land.
After that we actually had a quick trip to Perseus, a fresh sim with hey, no lag 😉
Aimee Weber was popping by (and first time I met her actually just 3 days after hearing about here the first time ;-). So plans seem to get a Tiki Bar installed at some spot of that new island. Tiki Bar might ring something for some people and in fact it should be the famous Tiki Bar from tikibar.tv, that great comedy podcast (somewhere from Canada I think). Plans are also to get the actors of Tiki Bar to enter SL (to make one episode? :-). So I hope it works out and I am very much looking forward to it and how the Tiki Bar will actually look. The rest of the time we chatted a bit and watched Adam changing textures..
While being there I also learned that “void sims” are actually sims that share a CPU with other sims and thus have a lower prim limit and are in general not that fast. Azure Islands uses them for scenery, Adam told us. They do cost nevertheless something of course if you wanna purchase one from LindenLab.
And then I actually had to leave for some RL issues like shopping 😉
But I came back on later that day and was checking out Azure Islands which I did not yet visit. I do also plan to check out other landowners islands to see how they styled it. I also looked for Timeless Prototype’s shop and met him later on and checked out his multigadget. That device surely seems to be capable of quite a few things..
We were also chatting again about society issues in here and the conclusion basically was that people who just want to have fun in SL do so and people who want to discuss things will also have the possibility to do so. I’d say, it’s a perfect world then 🙂
Beside from that I was showed some nice little scripted toys (some not so little actually 😉 and I think I need to focus a bit more on that now 🙂
The last thing I did was actually visiting Waterhead. I didn’t know before that there was also a Welcome area and I wonder how it’s decided where you show up or how many other areas there are actually. Well, the first sight of it was actually rather strange. From above I saw lots of flares producing smoke on the floor, many people in wooden cages and lots of people running around like ants in general. Above all that a Linden was hanging in the air. Actually it did look really much like sort of a battlefield with all that smoke and cages.. Of course after landing I was caged, too, immediately. So actually I was wondering if that is a welcome area but looking around a bit more and seeing some SL mentors around I guess it is 🙂
It remains the question what it actually does mean to new residents.. So you come into the world and find yourself on some battlefield, maybe getting jailed in some cage directly. Well, if we assume that many people getting into SecondLife do come from other games I guess they will be quite happy about it 🙂
Other people (more of the clubbing sort maybe) might be offended nevertheless.
As it was 2am again and I had to catch a flight the next day (writing it now on the plane) I left it then alone and went to sleep. But it was a busy day in my second life indeed.
PS: Just read The Economist here on the plane and hey, SecondLife is featured in their special report of New Media. Of course the general blabla with some numbers provided by Philip Evans of the Boston Consulting Group. He said that LindenLab has put $25m into SecondLife right now but as about 90% of the content if created by players (as they call us) it sums up to an “investment” of about $250m. I just wonder if he is aware of the fact that the players actually also do own their content and this is in the sum or not. If he knows about it this “investment” can probably be seen as interestingness factor due to the fact that the world is so full of cool stuff (or some not so cool ;-).