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Increasing SL population and adoption


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One thing missing from Second Life is that there is no social network!


In order to have one, there are a few things that need to happen.

1. The client app should launch transparently from a browser link.

2. Ideally, the interface might allow you to launch in a browser, just like a YouTube Video, except you are in a mini view of your Virtual World. (You could then go full screen for a full client experience, but for the viewer, you could make it so that if for example someone from Coca Cola built a fantabulous site in Second Life, your mini browser window would have a mini fly through of their sight if you happened to be on a website and you clicked on a second life link.) Obviously the mini browser client would have minimal functionality, only teleport to destinations, follow scripted fly throughs, and perhaps chat.

3. Second Life needs to have a way to post material to it the way you post to Facebook or LinkedIn. Posting content could be any number of things, links, audio, video, a "like" button for things you like and so on.

4. Inside the Second Life full client, you would then have a browser interface that is basically a side bar, so if you have it open, you could be on a web page like Facebook, and click on your friend's profile, and see their "Second Life" home, then just fly there. Or see a TV or Web advertizement for something and click on it, then fly to their Second Life property.

5. Wherever you have any major commercial site, you have a set of bill boards that pipe in the information from the real world. So for example, you go to a corporate property, when you get there, there is a bill board for Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social networking tool that Second Life chooses to support. When you view the bill board, it would show things from the appropriate location. (LinkedIn for example might show the employees you can see from that company, or their fan pages on FB, or whatever.)

6. Second Life needs to allow you to use controls akin to other virtual worlds. Using standard controls from the gaming world will improve people's adoption. If all the controls did exactly what they did in say "World of Warcraft" or other games of that type, adoption would be less arduous. (One reason I don't bother too much with SL is that I get annoyed by the controls!)

If this option existed, you could have a way to import them from other virtual worlds.


7. Need to use universal login software!!! Use the Facebook authentication tools, or perhaps OpenID or Google. Whatever would work, but the more options the better.

8. The last one, just make it EASIER to get into the world and less difficult to get started. If the controls were more intuitive, new users wouldn't need to hobble through all the tutorials! (Again on this topic, I have NEVER finished one of the user tutorials. I get BORED by having to learn silly things like how to wave, or fly or whatever. Make it stupidly intuitive, and allow for more sophisticated users to have "tricks up their sleaves". Users will have more fun if there are tons of users, and the purists won't get so fussed up by dumbing down the controls.)

9. Last item. The boomers and GenX'ers would have fun here if THE PRINT WAS BIGGER!

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I think that in Version 2 and the other things that Linden Lab has done within the last year, you have been anticipated.  The popularity of these ideas is well documented by large numbers of persons who have posted in detail their dislike of each and every one of these ideas.  

If we wanted Facebook, we'd use Facebook, for goodness' sake.  Second Life remains unique in the degree to which it allows a person to customize everything about her/his avatars and their environments.  Drifting away from that goal has not been received well, moving more towards it--haltingly and with mixed success--has been applauded and celebrated.

We are unique.  Spare us from becoming a me-too Facebook browser client-based tedium.

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Your item #1 has some limits, but the viewer does launch from an HTTP link in a web page. If you use the SLV2 the install sets the SecondLife: protocol type just as the HTTP: protocol is set. Browsers will open the SL Viewer. Not all of them. Some like Firefox have to have the protocol set manually. But Chrome and IE8 will use the system default, which the install sets.

The limits come from the fact that users can set their computers to use whichever program they want with any protocol. Also browser makers can chose to handle non-standard protocols however they want. Users can also set specific browsers to use specific viewers with the SL browser protocol.

Item #2 might be cool. Skylight is a version of the SL viewer running in a browser. It primarily used OpenGL and required no viewer download or install. The Lab is advancing that idea but its priority is unclear.

Item #3, why would one want to use up more screen real estate displaying pictures and videos within the viewer window? Facebook allows links to display in your browser. Why would one not use the viewer’s browser that we have now for those tasks?

As to uploading images, within SL that costs L$10 per pic. I can use Photobucket or Facebook for free. They don’t have the terabytes of data that LL already stores. I can’t see LL offering free image storage nor image storage being a big incentive to use SL.

Item 4 we seem to already have… I’m not sure that stuffing the viewer’s browser in a narrow vertical sidebar is a good idea. But, one can click on web links and TP to places. Or do you mean something else?

Item #5 – With MOAP it is possible for region owners to build such applications. But, it sounds like you are trying to turn the viewer into a replacement for a browser… For now most of the new stuff related to your ideas happen in Web Profiles and is limited.

Item #6 – everyone wants controls they already know… Give me WASD and mouse steering, which most games do, and I’m happy. I used WASD/Mouse-steer in Myst Online and I use it in SL. Most of the games I’ve played have those options. WoW uses the WASD keys too. So, SL seems to have a pretty basic standard control interface option. Myst, WoW, and SL all games use different keys for tasks special to their software.

Item #7… were you around for the recent change in login ID’s?

Item #8… the Lab and about 2 million users beat you to the ‘make it easier’ idea. I gues you weren’t around for Phillips 2010 speech about fun and easy?

Item #9… rather than impost larger text on everyone, why not use your browser’s zoom? Typically Ctrl + or – to change text size.


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Besides SL's main purpose, having an immerse virtual 3d world, SecondLife IS a social network with communication tools, blogs, forums etc , go and use FB, Twitter or play farmville and co if you don't want a imersive 3D world and just want to chat and tweet or  are you an attention wh**re that needs to go fishing for compliments by using tweets and FB cause you don't have a RL?

By the way, RL:

Not everyone wants to link his SL and his RL, so using Authentification tools from FB, Twitter or any other spying and data mining, ahm Social Networkmight not be a good idea.

SL is SL, RL is RL, and I certainly don't want to see any of your proposals in.world, WC.

Go and play with your social network, let us live our virtual lives in SL....



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  • 2 weeks later...

 While I may disagree with some of WCMedows specific ideas, the general suggestion is correct. SL needs more social networking tools.

Providing options to link content to Facebook is the wrong approach, what we need are ways to link Facebook to SL. SL users typically do not want to link their SL avatar to their real world profile. LL also wants people coming into SL, not looking elsewhere for their social fix. So, what LL needs to do in terms of Facebook is to promote SL to Facebook users instead of promoting Facebook to SL users.

 In any case, marketing SL needs to take a back seat to making SL marketable. Otherwise they're putting the cart before the horse, which only leads to an injured horse and a damaged cart. LL has done this in the past and it has bitten them hard for it. The burst of the SL hype bubble left much of the world soured on SL. It will be difficult to get those people and companies to ever come back. LL could have avoided that, but what's done is done and now they should focus on not repeating that mistake.

More control options are nice, I like "click to move" as an option I can toggle on and off, I also like the idea of holding down a mouse button to move. These are nice things. Most of the time, however, I prefere the WASD controls. WASD movement controls are very common in videogames. They're more exact, giving the user a greater deal of control over click to move. Saying "change movement to click to move" will not make SL any easier for new users. Great as an option, but it's not a solution.

 So what is the solution? Well, let's look at the problem.

 New user retention is abysmal. People complain SL is ugly, difficult and they can't seem to meet friendly people or find anything to do.

 Ok, now we have some goals. SL is ugly? Make it pretty! No, sorry LL, Mesh alone will not make SL pretty. You need a creative staff. You need some creative talent at LL who can create good looking infrastructure content, provide internal feedback on the content tools and finally provide quality control on content contracted out to resident builders.

 Why? Well, let's look at the SL starter avatars. They're terrible. Yes, I'm talking about the current set. Sure, in many ways they're huge improvements over many past attempts at starter avatars but LL can't afford to be "better than how bad they used to be" , they need to aim for "marketable". The current starters are all about 7' tall, with stubby t-rex arms and tiny pinheads. That's not marketable. Oversized avatars also contribute to poor building habits among residents and lots of animation problems.

 The starter environments are no better. Worse, even. The current orientation and starter areas are entirely fullbright, this looks terrible! They're not even consistently fullbright, a number of prims in the builds are not set fullbright, meaning they stick out like a sore thumb.

The Welcome Areas, like Ahern and Moose Beach are not exactly awe inspiring. Inefficient use of prims, tonnes of scaling issues and a general lack of detail set of my designer OCD whenever I visit. The locations SL residents first visit, from tutorial to their first steps into welcome areas or select resident made locations should set the bar high. Don't worry about the content creation community, they'll rise to higher standards and others, put off by the perception of SL's poor graphics, will be inspired to join them.

 Fix SL's camera placement! Remember when camera placement was a very volatile topic for early 3D videogames? A game's camera could make or break it. Well, videogame developers found the "sweet spot" for third person camera placement years ago, LL was not paying attention. SL's sky-high camera which looks down on our avatars forces builders to over-scale environments, limits our options for more creative environments, forces us to waste prims and space leading to smaller, less detailed environments and generally makes SL far less immersive than it could be.

Improve SL's default Windlight settings! The default windlight settings are terrible! They seem designed to make SL look flat and uninteresting! Never finishing the windlight tools has made this problem worse. Improving the SL sky settings can be the difference of night and day between making SL look great or terrible.

windlight comparison3.jpg

 Ok, so we make SL look pretty, what's next? SL is difficult? We make it easy and intuitive! SL needs a good new user orientation. SL has always had terrible orientations for new users. Clunky, passive, boring. A part of the problem is that the tutorial relies entirely on in-world content. There's no client side part to the tutorial.

 The tutorial should come up and greet the user, not the other way around. The first thing a new resident should see upon their first log-in is a prompt to set their display name.  Dismissing the prompt would result in an "Are you sure?" message before letting the person proceeed, accepting would result in the client interface walking the user through the proceess, from opening up their profile and setting the display name, to saving the change.


 That should set the tone for the whole tutorial. After setting a display name a new user would be presented with options for their movement controls. Click to move and WASD, followed by prompts to move to a checkpoint with one control scheme, to another with the other option and then letting the user select which one they prefere.

 Everything from camera controls and flying to inventory and outfits would be covered in this way. A user could stop at any point in the tutorial with the option to return and continue their tutorial from the beginning or where they left off.

 Upon leaving a new resident should be offered a selection of Linden Welcome Areas and select resident builds, or prompted into SL Search to find something specific to their interests. It's amazing how many people spend months, even years in SL without ever learning how to use search. One reason for this is that SL's tutorials have historically skipped over the topic.

 Also, certain elements of the interface can be greatly improved. A client side AO can be made to make custom animations a simple, intuitive task for even the newest residents. I can think of many changes that could be made to the appearance editor which would make it so much easier for residents new and old to crat the exact body shape they want!

 The Outfits tab is a great addition to SL, a step in the right direction, I think the concept can be taken further to help residents new and old in keeping their inventory smaller, making it easier to wear, mix and match outfits at a whim, etcetera.


 Ok, so we made SL a bit easier and more intuitive, next? People can't seem to find friendly people or anything to do in SL? Well, here is where we tackle WCMedows suggestion, that SL needs more social networking features. Except, instead of linking SL and Facebook, I say SL needs more self-contained social networking functions as more of a priority. Linking people already in SL with other in-SL people. This requires LL to rethink profiles, groups and even land information windows.

 I was excited by the move to web based profiles, but extrmely disappointed in the execution. LL basically shoehorned the old profiles into a web based format, losing some features and reducing the usefulness of others.

 In my mind an SL avatar's profile should be the equivalent of an avatar's own Facebook page, with multiple ways of connecting people through profiles. It seems to me that LL never looks at how people use profiles. They should. See how residents commonly use their profiles and get some ideas. People want to link with each other through profiles. Moving profiles to the web also provides a great opportunity to make a person's profile their own personal portal to SL when they're otherwise unable to actually log in!

 You can already display your groups and a handful of locations you enjoy in SL, but people want the ability to connect their friends to their profile, currently impossible without hammering it in to another profile category, look at how many people use their Picks tab to list their friends and other information!

 And how about groups! Again, the Facebook comparison is useful. Other than land rights, group chat, and titles what are groups good for, socially? Why can't we more directly link a group to a location? As in a button on the group info tab which takes you to that group's "home"?  Just like profiles, why can't we set up a "wall" for people to leave comments on? Why can't various groups be linked like some sort of network? Why is it that when a group is closed, that group name is lost forever, unavailable to anyone ever again? Why can't groups have better moderation tools? Say, when you ban someome from a sim, you have the option of banning them from the sim's group as well and visa-versa?

Also Land! Why can't land be linked more directly with groups? Why is a land information page limited to one screenshot and an all-too brief description? Why can't we have a section for meta tags? This is one reason why so many land descriptions are a word salad of search terms.

Events need a huge revamping too! As it is, they're worse than useless.  Have you tried searching events lately? Or ever? Eve nsearching for specific search terms you're unlikely to find what you're looking for, instead getting plenty of entirely unrelated results, results that often do not even contain your search terms anywhere in their name or description. Why is that?

 Combined with actually explaining search to new residents, these changes could be a huge boon for residents new and old alike in connecting with each other, finding new and exciting locations and hooking up with groups in line with their interests.

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Another idea related to land.


Like some content? Why doesn't SL have the equivalent of a "Like" button to promote content in SL? Like a sim? "Like" it! Like an object in that sim? "Like" the object!

 Using this to boost a sim or obect's search rating is problematic if people can just create endless alts, but clamp down on that problem and you open up some possibilities.

In the meantime, other people could possible see what an avatar has "Liked" recently, pointing them in the direction of the person, place or object on the recieving end of those adulations.

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