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Bash Quandry

A Letter To LL About Builders

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Dear Linden Labs,

My name is Bash Quandry and I've been building in Second Life for roughly 6 years. For 5 of those I've been the proprietor of Quandry Industries, purveyor of space stations and scifi environmental role play systems. I've dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to content and service that provides the best possible experience for Second Life users. Needless to say I'm more than a casual builder and, as well as being a proud supporter of Second Life, I have a real-life stake in its success. I hope that bit of biography will lend some merit to the following, as I feel I do not only speak for myself but for other career content creators as well.

Second Life has incredible potential as a creative platform, as I'm sure you're more than aware, however over the years I've regularly watched region after region of quality content struggle and drop off the grid. As well I've witnessed many very talented builders give up and move on. These losses to Second Life haven't been due to a flaw in concept but rather a failure to support the systems most valuable resource - the builders.

Second Life is an environment built of user generated content. Therefore it goes without saying that the quality of builders in Second Life determines the quality of the experience for all users. Not only do skilled builders define the experience and directly affect resident retention through that experience, we set the baseline of quality for new users as they become content creators themselves.

The following is a simple suggestion - and a some supporting points - for providing incentives to attract and retain skilled content developers. Bear in mind that while I'm only proposing a simple change in policy here, my full intent is to allude to a greater shift in focus that might guide Second Life to achieve its full potential and lead it towards being something more than a "let's play dress up" virtual world.

Builders Tier

The first thing that I think should be done is to make a distinction between Residents and Builders with the latter being an earned role. I'm not referring to casual builders but those that generate content on a scale that enhances, showcases the potential of, and makes Second Life the unique experience that it is.

Once a distinction has been made, the quickest path to incentivizing developers and strengthening the community is to remove or, at least, reduce the barriers to their success. The most profound barrier being tier. As vital a role as the Builder plays in Second Life, those of us that are dedicated to creating the environments, that bring and keep people in SL, struggle to do so against the prohibitive cost of acquiring and maintaining land. It took me more than 3 years to build a sufficient profit base to finally become an official land owner without bringing in any outside cash, and still I can only justify the expense because I sublease a half of my SIM to another builder.

By implementing some substantial discount to Builders you support the spread, scope, and viability of content in Second Life. This includes not only the building and showcasing of landscape, structures, vehicles, avatars, and all the accessories that go with them, but also supports the development of role play systems and original role play concepts. With this simple incentive you can bolster the creation of the environments that lend, not just novelty to the grid, but playability. Playability that works towards the future of the system.

Role Play & Indie Gaming

Without a doubt the primary function of Second Life to the average user is role play in some form or another. I believe with the popularity of Indie gaming and the accessibility of high end open source development tools, such as Blender, Second Life has the potential to attract and nurture enormous potential talent. What Wordpress is to web development, SL could be for indie-games. A ready-made platform to build and expand upon. This would put SL in a position to tap into millions of gamers hungry for original content.

That said, the key factor in any successful open source system is in providing the means for the more advanced and skilled of its users to generate a viable income from the system. Second Life already has this foundation built-in, however it is a lucky minority of Builders that can hold on long enough to reach a point where they can offset the cost of land, and even fewer that can profit from their work in Second Life under the current model.

So again, if it were made so that more Builders could not only support more land, but potentially make a living, Second Life could attract more and higher quality Builders. This in turn would attract players that would provide Linden Labs a more sustainable revenue structure.

A Better Revenue Structure

The current revenue structure of Second Life appears to be based heavily on land ownership. As I see it, the major issue with this model is that the success of the system is based on a $300 a month luxury expense well out of the range of most players. This places the burden of the system, and the future of Linden Labs, on the backs of a minority of the users.

With a greater focus on content developers and making building and supporting role play environments more lucrative, thus attracting more talent, you open up substantial profit opportunities. Second Life can begin to attract gamers willing to pay monthly subscriptions to access, not just a single world, as with other MMORPGs, but a vast variety of creative and ever expanding worlds, with the added potential for them to create their own.

In Closing

The suggestion here is not to completely restructure Linden Labs and Second Life. Continue to offer land at a premium price to those that wish to have private islands. Certainly continue to provide players the ability to freely create to their imaginations whimsy. What I present here, in basic form, is simply a call to recognize the resource that are Builders, and to suggest a simple concession that would greatly expand our abilities to continue to build a better Second Life. I also hope that I have hinted at how more direct support of the content creators could set Second Life on a path that would fully realize the platforms creative potential.

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How would one qualify to be a builder and not an ordinary resident?

Who should implement the new set of rules needed for this distinction and who should administrate it?

:smileysurprised::):smileyvery-happy:

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I have just entered secondlife, yet I make enough per month through SL to pay for a sim monthly. I choose not to because I have no ineterest in a sim-yet-. 
If you are building or creating for profit, you might be in the wrong categories or lack marketing.

Currently working on an indie game within secondlife, but am far from release. Have the money to back it up and rent the land when I need to, again I do not see this needing to be changed imo

This seems a fault of your own and not something to ask linden labs for a handout with.

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I am a content seller in second life as well I support what is in this letter but the sad truth is that LL dose not care and also something like this has been done before without any action on LL's part. If LL does take action and/or this gets people talking about what needs to be fixed in second life that would be epic.

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Sandboxes make for very poor locations for stores.

I think the issue here is not the place WHERE you BUILD, is the place where you can SELL what you build. And before someone comes up to say Marketplace, let me ask how many times you got something that looked really good in a Marketplace pic, only to find it was crap?


An actual store is a better way to display demo's, and actually allow the customer to see what they buy.

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The reverse is also true.

I have gotten content from the SL Marketplace that looks BETTER in person.

I agree with your point about a store.

 

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Theres a billion places for sale, and you do not need a full sim to host your goods. Set up what is appropriate and you won't be paying $300 for a sim.  Upsize and downsize as needed? Still not seeing a problem, if you need to have a full sim for a store that isn't selling enough to host having that size of a store you need to reconsider what you're doing.

 

ETA: There is also a variety of scripts to rez and derez your objects on display as they cycle through so not having primcount wont be much of an issue either.

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Bash Quandry wrote:

I have a real-life stake in its success.

I hope you have a back-up plan.

 


Bash Quandry wrote:

By implementing some substantial discount to Builders you support the spread, scope, and viability of content in Second Life. This includes not only the building and showcasing of landscape, structures, vehicles, avatars, and all the accessories that go with them, but also supports the development of role play systems and original role play concepts. With this simple incentive you can bolster the creation of the environments that lend, not just novelty to the grid, but playability. Playability that works towards the future of the system.

So, in essence, you're suggesting that the very same people that pay you for your creations, with money which comes out of their own RL wallets, should also have to supplement your ability to create and sell these items to them by paying higher tier than you... you, who can then cash out that money to put into your own RL wallet.  Yes... by all means, lets take money away from those who earn the least in SL and give it to those who earn the most... great idea.  Ms. Rand would be proud.

...Dres

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This is not solely a product/vendor thing. Some large scale content creators don't sell anything. This is about attracting and keeping more builders and creating more sustainable environments in general. Part of that is making being a builder more profitable, yes, but it is not a prerequisite. 

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Mostly been doing custom work as of yet, Let me throw together a portfolio real fast. A lot of it is locked behind NDA's but heres some that aren't :http://imgur.com/a/X1bGg#0

I love texture work :) All the textures you see there are are pretty old now, I can throw up some newer and nicer ones if you want. They were just already on my imgur account

And then I am starting up both a clothing store and a Medieval store ^.^

But hey! I am always happy to have people watching me, whether they want me to succeed or not :) Makes me work harder.

ETA: SL can't have too many good builders? Thats pretty negative. A reason why you don't see most names is because when someone asks for a design and pays $400+ For it they don't want the builders name on it. They want THEIR name on it :) 
Some of us are pretty stealthy dawg, We ninja the big jobs and don't tell anyone which shops we're supporting from behind the scenes.

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I'm not a builder myself, I buy things and mod them to what I want/need them to be, and then i put those mods down on my sim so people can roleplay on my sim, and use the items that are there. I ofset the cost with an sl family member, because I cannot aford a pivate sim alone.

 

At least content creators that sell ltheir creations have some sort of income to reduce the cost of their sim, which isn't the case for any roleplay provider that doesn't have income unless he rents out the very part of that same sim they want to put as much on as they can for the steep price. which goes back to the constant preoccupaition in ones mind "shall i stuff my sim as much as I can or shall i sublet part of it to lower my cost", and unfortunately either answer is mutually exclusive.

 

Also speaking as a member of the EU, having to pay taxes on top of the already steep price of 295$, isn't helping either! (in my case if I were to purchase a sim, aside from the purchase cost, this amounts to 295$ +61.95$ (21%)) A tax charge added to virtual money for virtual land.

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Bash Quandry wrote:

This is not solely a product/vendor thing. Some large scale content creators don't sell anything. This is about attracting and keeping more builders and creating more sustainable environments in general. Part of that is making being a builder more profitable, yes, but it is not a prerequiste. 

Yet, the biggest selling point to creating content in SL is it's vast base of users, which are willing to shell out good money for good creations.  If all you wanted to do was create things and were not concerned with profitability, there are other, cheaper platforms where you could do just that.

My main point is that someone would have to pay for you and your fellow "skilled content developers'" reduction in tier... LL certainly aren't going to take that sort of hit without finding some other way to make it up.  What other choice would they have than to do so by taking money out of the pockets of the rest of us non/casual creators?  I'm sure I'm not the only one that would take issue with having to shell out more cash in order to subsidize your creative vision.

...Dres

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Denim Robonaught wrote:

I'm not a builder myself, I buy things and mod them to what I want/need them to be, and then i put those mods down on my sim so people can roleplay on my sim, and use the items that are there. I ofset the cost with an sl family member, because I cannot aford a pivate sim alone.

 

At least content creators that sell ltheir creations have some sort of income to reduce the cost of their sim, which isn't the case for any roleplay provider that doesn't have income unless he rents out the very part of that same sim they want to put as much on as they can for the steep price. which goes back to the constant preoccupaition in ones mind "shall i stuff my sim as much as I can or shall i sublet part of it to lower my cost", and unfortunately either answer is mutually exclusive.

 

Also speaking as a member of the EU, having to pay taxes on top of the already steep price of 295$, isn't helping either! (in my case if I were to purchase a sim, aside from the purchase cost, this amounts to 295$ +61.95$ (21%)) A tax charge added to virtual money for virtual land.

There's a reason why, in RL, commercial property is more expensive to maintain then residential property.  What the OP is suggesting flies against the face of that reasoning.  As it is, everyone here is equally affected by the restrictive price of land ownership.  I see little reason while one class of users should be given special consideration, much less those who are already earning money to offset their costs.

...Dres

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I said it is not exclusive to sellers. The more "content creators", including people that sell and those that host original concept SIMs for RP or other purposes, they are the reason people play in SL and buy things and there by support the SL economy. Content = players = profit for LL and builders.

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:



There's a reason why, in RL, commercial property is more expensive to maintain then residential property.  What the OP is suggesting flies against the face of that reasoning.  As it is, everyone here is equally affected by the restrictive price of land ownership.  I see little reason while one class of users should be given special consideration, much less those who are already earning money to offset their costs.

...Dres

I am in full agreement with Dresden on this one.  I used to have a full sim, where I lived as well as had a store.  Due to some unforseen rl health circumstance that had to change, so I got rid of it.  It was no longer a priority as far as my finances were concerned.  Since I have always been, and likely always will be, a casual builder in sl, I simply stuck to MP. In fact even before MP was born, slex and xstreet were my primary sources of income in sl to begin with. So it was not a huge loss.

Sure I'd love to be able to afford an entire sim too, but that's not a reasonable expectation.  Even if I were not a casual builder in sl, I would still not expect to pay less for land than others, simply on the basis that I am a content creator.  That seems, well, unreasonable.  As a content creator, you have the ability and means to offset your land costs.  Whether you do, or not, or rather how you do, or not, is entirely up to you.  But you do have that at your disposal.  Even those who create content and decide they do not want a store, could still offset their land costs if they so desired. Long before I had a sim of my own, and even my actual store, that is exactly what I did when I rented parcels.  I offset the cost of those parcels(which I lived on, and did not run a store out of) by doing custom work for others.

I don't quite see what would make a content creator, with or without a store, more important than a regular average resident(I really hate classifying people in this way, but it sounds an awful lot like this is where the conversation has headed, so I will oblige). Those residents who are not more than casual builders, or even builders at all, are the ones paying for your content. They are the ones helping you offset your costs.  Why would you want them to have to pay more for the things they enjoy, than you do? That's only going to make people *not want to buy your stuff.  "Oh, he pays less for land, why do I need to support him. Let me go find a creator who doesn't receive a decrease in tier cost, yet creates just as wonderful stuff, and help him out instead". If you think those kinds of thoughts never cross people's minds, you're crazy. They do, I know they do, I've even talked with others, including other content creators, about that very subject(it can often get heated, lol). I know I'd rather support a casual builder who pays the same for his land as I, a regular jane schmoe pay, than someone who receives a decrease in tier.  Why?  Because I know that creators often offset their costs BY creating. So the ones who are ultimately paying more, are probably the ones who need more buyers. It's sort of like the idea of supporting small mom and pop shops in rl, versus shopping at larger more corporate retailers.  I know mom and pop probably pay more, in the end, so they likely need the income more, in the end.

That may or may not make a lick of sense, it does in my head, but I may not have worded it very well.

I don't mind that some land barons get a discount on the land they purchase from LL. Why? Because they are already paying a buttload to LL, and that kind of discount makes sense.  I do not, and would not support content creators getting a discount on land based solely on the fact that they create more content.  Because really, that's what this kind of proposal boils down to.  You need to determine which content creators would get the discount, and why.  I know some absolutely amazing content creators who do brilliant work, sell it for mere pennies(if at all) who would love a discount on land I am certain, but would never consider themselves any sort of "big content creator"(I really don't know what to name that sort of group to be honest). Just because one produces a lot of content does not, in my opinion, make them a more "serious content creator" or a "big business" or...well, or worthy of getting a discount on tier. 

I suppose the questions I am trying to ask are.... Why do you believe residents who are not under whatever group/classifcation you propose should receive a discount on tier...should pay more for land? What do you believe truly separates people to the point that..this group should get to pay less for land, while this group pays the regular rate? How do you propose they determine which group(s) of people are worthy of getting the discount? What incentive will there be for residents who are either casual builders, or not builders at all , to shop with people who pay less for land, when they know those folks who pay less are going to bring in more profit than those who pay regular prices, and they can find just as good(if not better) quality stuff with the folks paying regular prices?

Those questions may not make a lick of sense either, but I do think they(or ones similar) ought to be considered when making a proposal like this.  Sure it would be great if we ALL paid less for land, but that is not going to happen. So, no, even if I were to ever be a huge content creator, I would still never support a reduction of my own tier while my customers were having to pay more for the same sort of thing. It just doesn't make sense to me.  I'd rather my customers have *more money to shop with, than less. But that may be an odd way to look at it, I'm not sure.

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Bash Quandry wrote:

I said it is not exclusive to sellers. The more "content creators", including people that sell and those that host original concept SIMs for RP or other purposes, they are the reason people play in SL and buy things and there by support the SL economy. Content = players = profit for LL and builders.

You keep saying the same thing and have yet to address my main objection to your proposal. You seem to want to partition the SL user base into two separate classes, then expect one class to subsidize the other's SL activities.

The SL economy is just as dependent on it's consumer base as it is on it's content creators.  Why anyone would think that taking money out of consumers' pockets would equate to supporting the SL economy in any positive way, is beyond me.

Let's face it... what this is really all about is tier fees and the fact that you want yours to be reduced.  I can't say that I blame you for that... I'd love for mine to be reduced as well.  But, what I wouldn't want is that reduction to come about at the expense of my fellow residents.

...Dres

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

My main point is that someone would have to pay for you and your fellow "skilled content developers'" reduction in tier... LL certainly aren't going to take that sort of hit without finding some other way to make it up.  What other choice would they have than to do so by taking money out of the pockets of the rest of us non/casual creators?  I'm sure I'm not the only one that would take issue with having to shell out more cash in order to subsidize your creative vision.

...Dres

 I think that if "every" landowner and subsequently land renter, would have to pay a little less, or get more for what they pay, they would feel a bit more secure with holding on to their sims rather then getting rid of them when push comes to shove. and as bonuses : a) perhaps more people would get a sim, in the prospect of a somewhat cheaper price. and b) slow down the emmigration to the maze of opensims to get a cheap and loaded sim on another grid

 

That said, i don't see any tier drop or added amount of prims added in any reasonable future since LL even downgraded sims by changing all server spaces from respectively 2 and 4 sims per server to 4 and 8 sims per server, clearly to cut down cost/maximize profit even further and this without much consent to any land holder.

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Tari Landar wrote:

That may or may not make a lick of sense, it does in my head, but I may not have worded it very well.

 Not only was everything you wrote worded well, it also made perfect sense and was entirely spot on.

...Dres

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Denim Robonaught wrote:

That said, i don't see any tier drop or added amount of prims added in any reasonable future since LL even downgraded sims by changing all server spaces from respectively 2 and 4 sims per server to 4 and 8 sims per server, clearly to cut down cost/maximize profit even further and this without much consent to any land holder.

Imagine how appreciative the user base would have been had LL decided to pass even the slightest portion of that savings on to it's land owners.  But, no... and they've no intention of giving up any profit from tier, which supports my assertion that the OP's proposal could only come about at the expense of those who wouldn't be getting a discount.  They'd simply have to raise tier for everyone, before they'd start discounting those that were inexplicably eligible.  And don't think for a second that they wouldn't take that as an opportunity to make sure they ended up making a little extra for going through the trouble.

...Dres

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Dora Gustafson wrote:

How would one qualify to be a builder and not an ordinary resident?

Who should implement the new set of rules needed for this
distinction
and who should administrate it?

Got to agree with Dora about that!!!

@Bash

Plus SL motto was your world your imagination (anything starts with a cube), so any resident is a potential builder.

if that's true then it's a syllogism

It's like to say :

  • secondlife residents can build
  • you live in secondlife
  • Then you're a potential builder.

ops I clicked build button and rezzed a cube... that's building right? it's like when they made the first wheel or it is not?

It's something not equal, not right either.You can't make others pay more just for lack of knowledge.

It would also be the definately hit to kill SL and its spirit , making something that would give advantages only to corporations and big companies that could bring their offices here.

So a common resident would not only pay more but also have less rights than them.

It'd be like building a cast a pyramidal society. What would be who is not good to build to RP and anything else but chat? an outcast?

 

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While I think the idea behind this is noble, I'm ultimately against anything that introduces any kind of class system into SL - that's a slippery slope, leading to things like VIPs who are more valued than other residents, simply because of their contribution to the economy.


And frankly, I don't see why owning land is such a big deal. If you can't afford tier, then just rent. I have a homestead with more than enough prim allowance for my store and sandbox, with plenty left over for expansion, at a perfectly reasonable cost.

I'd actually like to know what the benefits of owning are, if anyone could enlighten me - it seems more like a status thing than something with real benefit.

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