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Oldbies: What's changed around SL in the decade since ~2007?


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Deltango Vale wrote:

The introduction of an 'Adult' rating 'sanitized' the mainland, reducing its diversity and vitality while at the same time creating a highly-concentrated porn slum in Zindra.

Like so many things that have happened to SL over the years, it's not what LL did so much as how they did it.

Separating adult content from the mainland was undeniably a good call on LL's part. The problem was that they waited until SL was about a decade old to do it, leaving huge empty chunks in the mainland that never quite filled up again. That said, the mainland was never really great and it's not really any worse for the change. It's still kind of a wasteland of bad, half-realized ideas and th constant struggle between a single, continuous experience filled with people who, for the most part, really just want a small, private experience.


Deltango Vale wrote:

Mono-field names (Sus123anxxx36 Resident) reduced the human-psychological aspect of belonging to a society.

Again, LL had the great idea to do away with the legacy name system. this was a good idea. The bad part comes in the execution. If LL presented people with a first name and a last name slot, then psychologically people would be encouraged to come up with names that sound like names instead of email addresses.

Likewise, the ability to create changeable "Display Names" was a great idea hobbled with how LL did it. Right now if you install the LL viewer and log into SL you see two names over everyone's head, their "Display Name" and their "Username" That's stupid. Just show the display name in the name tag and leave the username to transaction windows and profiles. The years have proven beyond any doubt that the fears over display names leading to identity theft were way overblown.


Deltango Vale wrote:

Potential residents were offered Second Class status in Second Life, which was a disincentive to join and made it more difficult for those who did join to integrate into the existing society.

This, in my experience, just isn't true. I see more accounts post-legacy names than people with the old legacy last names. They've integrated just fine.

 

 


Deltango Vale wrote:

Then, of course, there was the slow and steady rise in the cost of tier (
relative
to a basket of alternative infotainment goods and services) which has steadily reduced the number of estate sims because there are far more choices now in 2016 about how one wants to spend US$300 a month than there were back in 2006.

This is true, however I feel compelled to point out that land in SL has never, ever, cost all that much. People just build wastefully and LL has never done anything to show people how to build more efficiently.

I have never seen anyone in SL making full use of the land they're paying for. People upscale content and avatars, giving away money by doing so. This is compounded by SL's poor camera placement, which requires buildings be oversized further to accomodate it. I've seen entire $300/mo sims that could have been done better on a $25/mo 4096sq.m. parcel (take a regular prim and make it it's maximum 64x64m size, and that's the size of the parcel), without cutting any content, if the creator was smarter about building. And you can even cut the costs of such a parcel if you know how land ownership, groups and premium accounts all work together.

How many RP sims that lasted maybe a year or two, if that, would still be around a decade later if the owners were only paying $25 a month instead of $300? They could have been, they just never knew how. If LL wants more people owning land over longer periods of time, they need to show people how to get the most for their money.


Deltango Vale wrote:

The iPhone didn't exist back then, nor Kindle, nor Instagram, nor Snapchat, nor streaming Netflix. There were no apps because there were no smartphones. Facebook and Twitter had only just opened to the public. Computers and hosting services were far more expensive with considerably less speed and functionality. That is the world in which Linden Lab set its prices - and it hasn't changed them since (except for some tinkering at the margins and then only reluctantly and then only very recently). By my estimation, comparing the cost of an alternative basket of infotainment goods and service from 2006 to the cost a basket of infotainment goods and services in 2016, the
relative
price of tier has at least tripled. More and more people are preferring to spend their money outside SL than in it. Can you blame them?

It's not just about cost, either, but the quality of the entertainment. A big problem with SL is that it's difficult to create engaging content for people to interact with. SL doesn't support NPCs and the scripting tools just are not there to create environment interactions on the level with even a 15 year old videogame. That kind of interactivity is important, even if you're crafting a social environment. People want to feel like they're there, interacting with other people. Riding bikes  and hang gliding together. Watching movies together. Listening to music in a 19th century lounge or a dance club on a space station.

 Instead we get virtual shoebox diaramas. Where you can see the environment, wander around it even, but not really interact or engage with it. How can this compete with the latest videogames, apps, movies, or just simply going outside?

 This is changing a little with new features like pathfinding and the experience tools, but in typical LL fashion these new features are introduced incomplete or with crippling bugs, little to no fanfare, and no documentation or good examples to showcase how these features can be used by content creators at large.


Deltango Vale wrote:

 As for Sansara, remember Blue Mars?

Blue Mars failed because, moreso than LL, its developers didn't have a solid business plan or thoughts on how to develop the platform in an engaging way.

If Sansar fails, it will be because LL hasn't learned from their mistakes over the years. Because they haven't learned to correct issues like those mentioned above. Because they still don't understand what it is their userbase is looking for, or how to listen to those users.

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It's true I'm a bit behind on the technology. It's true I'm not as socially active as I once was. I do, though, log in daily and continue to improve my home. I do search through Marketplace for new designs and products. I do talk with my tenants to learn about their relationship with SL.

I have looked at mesh clothes, but I found them inferior to prim and layer clothes. Mesh shoes seemed silly (especially having to amputate my feet to wear them) and so I stuck with my nice collection from Shiny Things, which never let me down (until I noticed the invisiprim problem, which I fixed with an alpha layer). Am I a bit slow on the fashion scene? Yes, but then, because of the shift to mesh (and the difficulty of finding clothes with trans perms), I didn't have much of an incentive to shop.

I have looked at the new mesh avatars and found them awkward and unappealing. Sure, my wrists and ankles are not as graceful as I would like, but my traditional avi and wardrobe do 99% of what I want them to do without having to chop myself up into little pieces. Attaching a mesh head with a glue-on face then smoothing out my neck so that it blends with my body is like something out of Sleepy Hollow. All that hassle for a 1% improvement in appearance?

Could I make more of an effort to explore new sims? Yes, but the old sims that have vanished were not obscure islands that took my fancy. They were places like AM Radio sim, the Lost Gardens of Apollo and Sanctuary Rock - hugely popular for many years.

Nor am I alone in my opinion. Few people I meet inworld who knew SL from the early days are happy with SL today. Why aren't there more people of my generation inworld or here in the forum? Because they are gone, long gone. I'm the weird one for sticking around.

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Rather than ending up in one of those mile-long posts with a rats nest of quotes and counter-quotes, I'd like to follow up on your concluding sentence: "Because they still don't understand what it is their userbase is looking for, or how to listen to those users." This I agree with wholeheartedly.

I am not an engineer. I'm an economic historian with a strong interest in human social systems. I therefore see Second Life very differently from most people. Second Life was built by engineers for engineers. Philip Rosedale admits as much. He also admits that the social success of SL took him by surprise. All of a sudden, a marvel of engineering prowess became attractive to people who wanted to build stuff and go dancing - and hopefully take someone home after leaving the club The engineers scratched their heads and wondered what the hell was going on with their beautiful machine.

I remember reading that when the first, crude text transmission system was initiated between universities, the engineers were startled to discover that people were using it for personal communications, what later became known as email. Humans use technology to do human things. Humans are messy creatures that like to share 200 photos of their cat without caring one bit how many engineers spent how many hours designing the system that enabled those photos to be shared. There is a strong argument that the internet may have been designed by engineers for military purposes, but its exponential growth was driven by porn. Humans, it seems, like sex.

From inception, Linden Lab has been baffled by humans. No matter how hard the company tried to stuff those humans into spreadsheets, the humans would jump out and paint pictures of horses with lime Jell-O or strip naked on a dancefloor and sing along with the music. It didn't help, of course, that senior management had almost no knowledge of real-world political-economic systems, no understanding of human social systems and a very poor grasp of organizational management. It's no wonder that the company lurched from pillar to post like a drunken executive on a Friday night. What is unforgivable is that the company made no effort to understand the world they had created. The business model for Sansara shows that they still don't understand. As for listening to their customers, Linden Lab turned a deaf ear, nailing shut the doors to their ivory tower in which the engineers tried to satisfy the marketing guys who wanted to convert SL into a game or a virtual Disneyland or 3D Facebook or now, with Sansara, 3D YouTube. To invert an old expression, LL has for a decade been trying to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse!

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