Friday, December 31, 2010

some thoughts and ramblings

 Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, had come back on a temporary basis after Mark Kingdom had stepped down as CEO of the company.  He was essentially looking for a new leader while steering the damaged ship.  Linden Labs in june had laid off 30% of their workforce, viewer 2 came out and bombed somewhat and land discounts to universities and non profits were eliminated.  On the positive side mesh imports are coming along, the company stood up and punished Emerald viewer (which I loved) for essentially using our computers as a tool to punish someone they didn't like.  They used our computers, without us knowing, to attack a website.  Emerald learned that despite their massive popularity they were not untouchable and everyone can be replaced.  Hello Phoenix. And the Second Life economy is somehow still strong despite spending years in this recession as a non essential form of entertainment.  Things are tight everywhere yet the virtual economy is still strong which is interesting. 
     So just last week Rod Humble, a former Electronic Arts executive, arrived.  And for me it shed some light on a few things here and there.  Mr Humble is a really accomplished person responsible for hundreds of popular games including the biggest of all time... the Sims.  I used to play the first sims a bit and for those of you unfamiliar with it,  you pretty much build a life and try to keep yourself happy.  It was addictive.  You would get a home, then furniture, eat, sleep, date, and find ways to become popular or not.  I used to put out an aquarium on the sidewalk outside my house to catch the people walking by.  I think I had a pinball machine outs there too.  I am not going to get too much into what that game was about but it is not too far removed from Second Life.  In SL people buy houses, then furnish, they go shopping for clothes, they date, explore, and sometimes work in SL. A little while ago LL gave each premium membership account a free house. I think LL have been watching and analyzing successful models like the sims and the thought was that by giving the user a house it begins the process of furnishing it, creating a community etc much like the Sims game.  However, SL is not a game.  But is it time to bring in game elements to SL for its survival?
     It seems everything out there right now revolves around a "rewards" model.  There are air miles for credit cards, Pepsi points and so on.  In games there are experience points for fantasy characters (Prior to working at Electronic Arts, Humble served as VP of Product Development for the MMO EverQuest), most facebook games work off the reward addiction too.  Even on many discussion forums everyone is given a title of newbie and the more you post the higher your title climbs to things like adept, master etc.  We pretty much just have the title of Noob in SL.  A very old resident from say 2002 is indistinguishable from everyone else unless you perv their profile.  Would these things help?  I have no idea.
   I did a post a while back when there were the rumours of Microsoft buying Second Life.  I got all excitable about making part of SL a place for online gamers to hang out before they start playing their games.  Have SL pre installed on an Xbox.  Then when someone wants to play against other people online from their living room, rather than finding a place to play by reading text about a game on the tv, you would instead log into the virtual world, hang out with friends in a home or something and then from there you would go join a game for say Halo 2.  You could play the game and then when you are done playing you might decide to go to a club in sl with those same friends or whatever.  Right now you turn on your Xbox, you go online and shoot people then when you are satiated you turn off your Xbox.  It could be better to turn on your Xbox, then enter a virtual world with an open ended, endless social platform which would be a middle area or staging point before you then proceed to play a game with friends.  From this point the possibilities would then become endless provided prim allotment for sims was increased to 45 000 and each sim could hold double the amount of avatars that we currently can.  Why do we need more prims? well if we want people buying things for their homes they should have an endless amount of space to furnish.  I don't think about the amount of prims I use when i work.  That is not how you create.  You build until you are done your creation then you check to see how many prims you needed to get there.  My work ranges from 100 prims to 1500 prims usually, with environmental builds like Standby being 14, 988 prims.  Right now a person rents an apartment in SL and gets say a 60 prim allotment.  Its pointless for them to buy my work and that is essentially why only art collectors and sim owners own my pieces.
   I want SL to succeed naturally, and while I wouldn't want SL to be a game, I have no problem with it evolving into a product with game elements.  Bloodlines is a vampire game in SL and its pretty big, but if you are not a player then generally are you even aware it exists?  As long as the professional side of SL remains and can be kept separate then by all means double the population of SL by combining it with Xbox users or whatever.  The purists will disagree with this no doubt, but the way I see it is that on the day Second Life shuts down operation, that is the day we cease to exist.  Some might say we could migrate to Open Sim and things like that, but the reality is they suck.  They really do.  I have taken projects on other grids before and its a nightmare because they are like SL only a buggier version of 3 years ago.  If they were identical to SL then that would be another story but they are not.  If you just work in non scripted prims then they are ok.  They have 45 000 prims and have cheap land which is awsome but I am here for creating and that has to be top notch in all areas.  If I were painting and someone took away my paint brush and said "I am afraid you will now have to paint with this here basketball" then that would be difficult to accept.  "Go on dear, dip the basketball in the paint, and rub it on the canvas its almost the same as a paint brush!"  In my mind that was said with a British accent which is much funnier.

I am going to start my top ten favorite builds from last year soon.  Here is a reminder of the elevensies from last year.




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