I would like to thank everyone who sent me messages on how to improve Second Life. For now, I will leave aside longer term goals around creativity, new windows into Second Life, and other initiatives. Instead, I want to share three important areas that we are focusing on in the short-term, based on your suggestions:
- Service: We have added significant resources to better address customer service times. Many of you will have noticed that our response times have improved both for individual cases and larger community issues. In addition, we are actively working to reduce commerce friction. We will continue to work hard to work out the kinks and improve these services even further.
- Lag: We have already implemented some server-side performance enhancements to improve lag and there will be far greater focus on that area in the months to come.
- Usability: This is the topic of today’s post.
Many of you have noted that Second Life is difficult to use, both for yourself and when inviting friends inworld. This usability issue is more complex than the user interface as it not only includes finding people and places, but it is also is dependent on some of the items above. We want to make an experience that helps you overcome some of the big usability hurdles that you’ve shared with me.
Today, we’re launching a new version of Second Life Viewer Beta which introduces two modes that are available to everyone who downloads it--Basic and Advanced.
Basic mode is an easier, simplified experience designed to introduce users to Second Life. It includes simple communication and navigation tools such as click to move and hold to move the camera, a choice of 24 pre-configured avatars, and an integrated Destination Guide to help you connect to friends and interesting places quickly and easily. Certain functionality, such as voice capability, building tools, and the ability to purchase virtual goods, is not available in Basic mode.
Advanced mode is for those already familiar with Second Life who use the full feature set of the SL Viewer.
There are a couple of things that I want to share right off the bat. First, both Basic and Advanced modes are built on the same code base and are included in the standard download of the SL Viewer Beta. You can think of it like two skins on the same piece of software. New customers will default to Basic, and if you already have the SL Viewer loaded onto your machine, the new version will default to the Advanced mode.
Our goal is to get new users comfortable in SL using Basic mode and then have the option to toggle to the Advanced mode when they are ready to conduct more advanced activities such as using voice, purchasing virtual goods, and building. And, it’s easy to switch back and forth. Simply toggle to the alternate mode in the Login Screen, and then log back in.
Lastly, we know that the Basic mode is very lean, and we’re only at the beginning of developing the minimum feature set--keeping it simple and working on the basics of usability first. We anticipate adding additional capabilities to Basic mode, so your feedback is important before we make this version of the SL Viewer the default download for new users.
This is a first small step towards making the world that you have created more accessible and enjoyable to use for everyone.
So, download the SL Viewer Beta and try it out.