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Phil Deakins

SL isn't the same any more

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The discussion in this thread got me thinking. It's about rezzing stuff on mesh floors. When SL started, the stuff that was in it was all about user-created content. Anyone could quite quickly learn to build stuff that was as good as anything that was sold in stores. That was because all objects were created inworld and everyone had the tools to do it. Things like textures and animations had to be created outside of SL, but they could be bought inside SL. Scripting needed more time to master for most people who do it, but that was done inworld too, and not all objects needed scripts. In short, anyone could create almost everything they need, and even set up shop.

That was what SL was about - user-created content - right up until sculpties, and then mesh, came along. Sculpties and mesh can't be created inworld, and are specialist skills. Those with pre-existing skills, and those who put an awful lot of time into learning and honing them, now make really excellent objects that mere prims can't get close to.

Second Life has changed. It's not what it was for years any more. User-created content has been replaced by content created by those with specialist skills. It's very good for the few users who have learned and honed those specialist skills, and for those few people who already had them, but that's about it. SL is not what it was in terms of 'user-created content', and I think it's a shame.

Edited by Phil Deakins
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Those drastic changes also impact the ability to understand the SL world after a break of a few years.  New folks learn it as it is without knowing any different.  The folks that have been here "consistently" have learned and adapted as changes came about during their time.  However, those of us that took a few years off, left knowing the world one way and come back to something totally different.  I think we are the batch having the most difficulty in adapting to the changes.

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@LittleMe Jewell Yes, that's no doubt true, Lil. I just think it's a shame that creating in SL isn't what it used to be when everyone was equal in that respect. Not everyone wanted to do it, of course, but user-created content was an underlying thing about SL, and now it's not. It's changed to specialist-user created content.

Btw, may I mention that I miss your previous forum pic?

 

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1 hour ago, Phil Deakins said:

Sculpties and mesh can't be created inworld, and are specialist skills. Those with pre-existing skills, and those who put an awful lot of time into learning and honing them, now make really excellent objects that mere prims can't get close to.

Technically they can be created inworld, if you're willing to spend in the range of L$5000 on gadgets which convert prim builds into mesh objects. However, things like that rely on external servers to generate and serve up the .dae files, so everyone who has made that purchase (including me) is at the mercy of someone else paying the server bills. I noticed a few weeks back that the reviews on the product that I purchased have gone from "absolutely brilliant" to "absolutely brilliant... when it works".

I do, however, agree with you regarding your other point of user-generated content. While anyone can still create using the viewer's inbuilt tools, far fewer people want to buy prim-only content these days, purely because mesh content allows for more detail and simply looks amazing. And, while gadgets such as that mentioned above can allow creators to make mesh objects, they're still limited to looking like prim builds in terms of shape and form.

SL has definitely become more of a consumer-based society* than it once was, and the hobbyist creator who just played around with the building tools to have fun and maybe make a little money inworld finds himself edged out of the market if he's not prepared to spend hours learning tools such as Blender. (And thank god we have that, otherwise the sheer cost of buying 3D modelling software such as Maya would edge out even more people.)

But, eh. Plus ça change. Everything is still available to us; it's just that many of us no longer choose to make use of it.

*ETA: It always was consumerist, granted, but the ratio of creators to consumers is probably vastly more skewed to the latter than it once was.

Edited by Skell Dagger
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There are still plenty of new content creators around.  The tools may have changed but is it really all that much more difficult to learn? .I made two pair of prim boots total back when I did that sort of thing.  My Western boots took weeks get the prims lined up and I don't think I ever got the textures right.  My engineer boots were on a whole different scale.  All those freaking eyelets!  They were big and clunky just the fit over most people's legs.  Why did I even try?  I was never going to compete with Bax, Zhao or any of the big name designers anyway. 

Today it takes a new set of skills but that is all.  Anyone can get open licensed obj files and edit them, even adding the textures and baking shadows all with the same tool and export ready for upload boots that scale to fit everyone.

Things change.  Skills change.  The difficulty of learning those skills has not changed all that much and can arguably be called easier now..The only thing different for new creators from our day to new creators of today is just a difference of perspective. ... well, that and the fact that creators of 2006 are in the same boat as new creators because knowledge of how to torture prims and lay textures across multiple faces of multiple prims is not worth much any more.

Edited by Rhonda Huntress
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SL predates the Maker movement by a couple years. While the tools and skills required to make compelling SL content have grown in complexity from prim dragging to Blender, the tools for RL 3D design started out complicated and are getting simpler. I now spend more time creating on my RL 3D printer than I do in-world.

The limitations of prim dragging could frustrate me, but the ability to create collaboratively in real-time more than made up for that. I'll neither forget the magic of watching someone else build something right in front of me here, nor the joy of joining in. There's a difference between pulling out a saw to cut cubes into houses and pulling mesh houses out of inventory. Which of those we prefer is a distinguishing characteristic and the demographics don't favor me here, but they do favor me in the Maker community.

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46 minutes ago, Phil Deakins said:

@LittleMe Jewell Yes, that's no doubt true, Lil. I just think it's a shame that creating in SL isn't what it used to be when everyone was equal in that respect. Not everyone wanted to do it, of course, but user-created content was an underlying thing about SL, and now it's not. It's changed to specialist-user created content.

Btw, may I mention that I miss your previous forum pic?

 

Definitely true - I was playing with creating houses when I took my break.  I won't even go back to that.  I don't have the time, or even desire actually, to learn how to create mesh. So, yeah, for the most part, the creation side of SL is probably forever gone to me.

re pic - thanks, I've considered reverting to it as I think I like it better also.

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The problem is creating an easy to use 3d modeling tool capable of making complex objects within a game environment. A monumentally difficult task I assume. If any kickstarter wannabe SL replacement wants to beat Sansar and Hi Fidelity such a tool would be the goal. 

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18 minutes ago, Rhonda Huntress said:

There are still plenty of new content creators around.  The tools may have changed but is it really all that much more difficult to learn?

Oh yes it is. Buiding well with mesh requires far more technical skills and knowledge than buiding well with prims. This is partly because mesh was never properly implemented in Second Life - essentially it's all a crude hack with lots of permanent bugs and faults you have to be aware of and know your way around - partly because SL mesh is not very well documented. But most of all it's because more possibilities inevitably means more possibilities for things to go wrong.

There has definitely been a change of focus in Second Life from the user as a creator to the user as a consumer. At the same time the relation between the virtual landscape and the avatar has changed with the ladnscape becoming more and more a backdrop for the avatar rather than an experience in its own right. It's certainly not a switch from one to the other, the whole picture of SL users always included all nuances and still do. But the change in balance is profound and it happened very fast. In another thread I called it a paradigm shift and I do actually think that is the right term here. I'm not saying one SL is better than the other though. It's just chanegs so big and so fast as the ones we've seen recently are bound to cause problems no matter if they're for better or for worse or for .. for different.

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2 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

 

That was what SL was about - user-created content - right up until sculpties, and then mesh, came along.

Maybe for you and lots of others.


For me, and lots of others, it wasn't and still isn't.

SL was, and is, for many a place to meet people, have fun, be social. The user-created content is nice and very much appreciated, but not 'what SL was about' to begin with.

Don't get me wrong, I loved it in 2007 - the content - and I still love it. Be it made inworld or not, for me that makes no difference to my SL Experience as a whole.

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It's always been the case, though, that creating animations and skins (indeed, system clothes in general) require quite specialist skills and external programmes.    Furthermore, while the internal script editor is quite sufficient for most purposes, many experienced scripters nevertheless find it easier to use external editors.  

While I agree that anyone can learn to script from scratch (I did), it's certainly the case that learning to create complex scripts is quite a long process.    When I've started to learn how to use Blender to make meshes and animations, I've been put off not so much by the complexity of the task as by the fact I don't have sufficient time (or inclination) to devote to learning these skills in any detail and, at the same time, to do as much scripting as I want to to.   Since scripting's what I really enjoy, I stick to that.

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Yeah you're right, its not the same and we can't say anymore that "anyone" can create an account, login and start creating stuff.

Now, anyone can login and admire creations made by skilled people. To be honest, I kinda like it this way. Ages ago, when I started to learn about the textures and different aspect ratios and why some textures take ages to load I understood the bad side of that "anyone can be a creator" thing - bunch of people uploading high res textures and not caring about lag and loading times. 

Content that will be used in an online world, that will be seen by more than one person (the creator) and is intended for sale needs to be optimised and amateur builders are less likely to do this properly.

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1 hour ago, Tamara Artis said:

Yeah you're right, its not the same and we can't say anymore that "anyone" can create an account, login and start creating stuff.

I agree with you there but Linden Lab doesn't. From secondlife.com's new welcome page:

Become a Creator

Express yourself & create anything you can imagine

 

and:

 

Earn Money

Start a business & earn real profits from the virtual world

 

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This is a great thread. I agree with about half and disagree with about half and they sometimes overlap :D.

First off -- mesh to prims whether done with some of the original -- when mesh was new --  "tools" that could be purchased  or now with the viewer export -- makes mesh, true. But it is (word deleted before I typed it) BAD and very unoptimized mesh. Now you can make a different kind of bad mesh within Blender or Maya etc, but LOL -- at least there is the option of actually making "game asset" mesh. Anyone who has optimized a prim to mesh export (and I have for the experience) knows it is much faster to just build it within the program. 

Second -- I too made prim boots and sold boots and made a lot of money with those boots and yes, they we damn hard to make.  They did not however take me years of forty hour weeks to learn the skills *wink*. So, for the folks that somehow can crank out glorious low poly mesh with lovely textures in less than a week, I applaud them. That is not the path of the majority however. It DOES take a lot of time and effort and DESIRE to learn all this new stuff :D.

Third -- Downloading a free or purchased mesh file, adding textures within a 3D program and uploading into Second Life is against the SL TOS and also against most (I didn't find a one that said it was OK) of the royalty free sites. Very long recent thread on this. Not going there again.

I spent a ton of my best times in SL building classes back in the day. I made some great friends there and while many of the folks teaching were not actual "teachers" in that passing on of knowledge sense, I somehow picked up enough to teach myself after a point. I do miss those days, but as some folks have said -- even ten years ago there were plenty of folks that didn't want to create. They just wanted to play and dance and enjoy some adult activities. So that part hasn't changed.

It may SEEM like there are a lot less creators these days, but you would be surprised how many there really are. Going around to the event venues shows that off well. New folks are learning and I applaud them for that -- and try and help when I can.

Anyone joining Second Life these days can still create and can still earn money. They just need the desire and the willingness to stick with the learning curve. That really was true in the beginning too. Ask the folks that made skins and lingerie :D. 

 

Edited by Chic Aeon
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6 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

The discussion in this thread got me thinking. It's about rezzing stuff on mesh floors. When SL started, the stuff that was in it was all about user-created content. Anyone could quite quickly learn to build stuff that was as good as anything that was sold in stores. That was because all objects were created inworld and everyone had the tools to do it. Things like textures and animations had to be created outside of SL, but they could be bought inside SL. Scripting needed more time to master for most people who do it, but that was done inworld too, and not all objects needed scripts. In short, anyone could create almost everything they need, and even set up shop.

That was what SL was about - user-created content - right up until sculpties, and then mesh, came along. Sculpties and mesh can't be created inworld, and are specialist skills. Those with pre-existing skills, and those who put an awful lot of time into learning and honing them, now make really excellent objects that mere prims can't get close to.

Second Life has changed. It's not what it was for years any more. User-created content has been replaced by content created by those with specialist skills. It's very good for the few users who have learned and honed those specialist skills, and for those few people who already had them, but that's about it. SL is not what it was in terms of 'user-created content', and I think it's a shame.

This type of post shows up from time to time. I find the telling parts to be the ones I highlighted in red.

You see, everyone can still build exactly the same things they could in the "good old days" right now. They can even build them with reduced land impact and new materials options using the same tools.

What they can't do is start a shop to sell these objects and be considered a major player, because other people are out there with more advanced tools and skillsets.

I have experience in real-world construction and I admit I'm somewhat baffled at the people wanting everything in SL to be done "in world." In the real world buildings aren't built from scratch in a field - some things, like concrete pouring and masonry, are, but other things are built to order in specialized shops and brought to the field for installation. Still others are mass-produced in factories and ordered out of catalogs. You don't want your finish carpenter standing in the middle of a muddy field with a miter box building your windows, and they don't want to be there either.

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Yes SL has changed, but so has the whole internet, when it started it was hyped as a way for the common man to get his voice heard, now it as dominated by big corporations who use it as one more means to advertise, but there are still opportunities in the internet for self expression, and there are opportunities in SL as well. You know what else has changed? Cars, used to be any backyard mechanic could fix any car on the road, not anymore, these new cars you need to be a computer expert to fix anything, I hear that last one at least one time every time I visit my Dad. Well my dad is right, you are right. but that is the way life works, we embrace technology because of all it's advantages and the turn around and whine because it has changed our world. I find it just a bit ironic that it is someone involved with something done on the computer and using the internet who is doing the whining here.

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Somehow these kind of posts remind me of a scene from Howard the Duck, when Dr. Jennings tells Howard;

I'm not Jenning anymore, the transformation is complete. I am now.....s o m e o n e      e l s e. xD

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I suppose that "I agree -and- disagree"

So far as "stuff" is concerned; we do have better stuff....

So far as "what is Second Life; that's still widely diverse;

~For people who want to make stuff; if they have the technical skills - they can

~For people looking for sex; they still can (and be obnoxious about it)

~For people looking to network for RL relationships, they still can (and I wish them luck; they'll need it)

~For people looking to Roleplay - they still can (altho the RP presence is dwindling for various reasons)

~For people looking to club - Definitely possible

Is it a Game or a World?  The answer is "yes" depending on who you talk to.

As in Real Life; perception is everything :-)

Edited by AmandaKeen
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On a related note - I tried one of the "other" SL-similar grids once and was back here within a week.
If I'm going to see people dressed like the cast of Jersey Shore with "male attachments" on their foreheads, I want them to at least be MESH forehead-"male attachments"...

Edited by AmandaKeen
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5 hours ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

You see, everyone can still build exactly the same things they could in the "good old days" right now. They can even build them with reduced land impact and new materials options using the same tools.

Some time back we did a challenge where we started an alt and had to make $1000 with no outside investment. This was after sculpties, though before mesh. It was in response to a similar thing about how everything had changed and new people wouldn't have a chance. I got there by doing the rounds of building supplies giveaways, putting the stuff together, and selling it on the marketplace. I avoided doing anything advanced. I pushed sculpts around and put my free textures on them. I kept scripting to simple stuff. I couldn't charge a lot, but it sold and I got to the challenge limit. There's always going to be a market for low end stuff at low prices, which is enough for someone to get some spending money.

The biggest issue wasn't actually the building supplies, as shops will update to match whatever is the latest thing. The biggest barrier was the marketplace, because items had to be placed in a magic box. I snuck mine onto abandoned land. Newbies no longer have to do this to set up a shop, which is a great improvement.

It's true this method wouldn't mean someone was running a big business, but it's never been possible for everyone to run a big business. Building has always required skills. Being new without any money has always been a challenge. The good old days didn't mean everyone had an equal chance of earning money from their builds.

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1 hour ago, AmandaKeen said:

Is it a Game or a World?  The answer is "yes" depending on who you talk to.

This one I think applies to RL as well.

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For me SL has always been, and still is, a way to express myself, to let my creativity flow. And yes, I too learned myself how to create nice and funny stuff out of some basic shapes. And now, in this MESH era, I feel like a dinosaur as it comes to building and creating. I can't coop with al those highly talented 3d artists. I tried several times, followed several classes, used payed and open source software but no, that will always stay a dream. Unless I start spending all my time trying to learn and getting better in it only to find out later that SL has changed again. Well and I'm changed too over the years. But I realized that what's still the same, is my urge to visualize my silly ideas. And that is what I do for myself in the first place. So I'll continue with using the old techniques. It is not totally gone..

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2 hours ago, Polenth Yue said:

Some time back we did a challenge where we started an alt and had to make $1000 with no outside investment. This was after sculpties, though before mesh. It was in response to a similar thing about how everything had changed and new people wouldn't have a chance. I got there by doing the rounds of building supplies giveaways, putting the stuff together, and selling it on the marketplace. I avoided doing anything advanced. I pushed sculpts around and put my free textures on them. I kept scripting to simple stuff. I couldn't charge a lot, but it sold and I got to the challenge limit. There's always going to be a market for low end stuff at low prices, which is enough for someone to get some spending money.

The biggest issue wasn't actually the building supplies, as shops will update to match whatever is the latest thing. The biggest barrier was the marketplace, because items had to be placed in a magic box. I snuck mine onto abandoned land. Newbies no longer have to do this to set up a shop, which is a great improvement.

It's true this method wouldn't mean someone was running a big business, but it's never been possible for everyone to run a big business. Building has always required skills. Being new without any money has always been a challenge. The good old days didn't mean everyone had an equal chance of earning money from their builds.

I think this could still be a viable exercise.

 

I have never purchased money, and my "big sister" avatar only purchased a bit and then paid it back to herself in a week -- hence I have cash out abilities. But BOTH of us made our way without outside investments. We camped and hunted and went to classes and got free textures, we set up small shops that become larger shops as people bought things.

Back in the beginning there was no Marketplace, everyone shopped in world and indeed the world was much smaller. It was doable then; it is doable now.

TODAY, I would (and have) chased crystals to earn lindens for uploads. I would hit the texture midnight boards so that I wouldn't have to upload much. I would build some things from prims and sell them cheaply on the Marketplace (prim builds STILL sell; I can attest to that) and I would find a tiny little shop as needed for a few lindens a week (I have seen them as low as $30 an on an exceptional day for free). 

In our real world things can seem pretty bleak and those of us long out of high school worry about the "kids" and often voice our sadness at what they will have to deal with. It is my contention that each generation has likely felt the same way. Sometimes we move forward; sometimes we move back. But the possibilities are still in SL. The methods to get there have changed a bit, but it still is possible to start a business with no RL backing. 

 

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3 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

It was doable then; it is doable now.

What is still doable? Yes, prim stuff does still sell, but only in small numbers now, because mesh stuff is so good. But that's not really the point of my post.

My post wasn't really about the business side of things, although I used that as an example of what I mean. It's the fundamental nature of SL that's changed. Most people didn't get into creating, I know that, but a fundamental thing about SL was that anyone could create, and all on an equal footing, because everyone had the same tools, and it didn't take long to learn how to use them. Some would be better at it than others, of course, because people's aptitudes for things vary, but SL was a place where anyone could come and create equally appealing stuff - user created content within SL. Yes it can still be done with prims, as you said, but not equally appealing stuff any more - not compared to stuff that's created outside of SL by skilled 3-D modellers, that is.

I ought to say that much of the mesh stuff is absolutely excellent. There is no doubt about that in my mind. And I would definitely choose it if I were buying. I'm not against it. I'm only saying that the fundamental nature of SL's original user-created content - the world created by its users - is long gone now, and I think that's a shame.

 

Edited by Phil Deakins
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