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In another thread, I wrote about why LL introduced display names and that it failed to do what was hoped for. Then it crossed my mind that LL keeps trying to increase the usership of the SL system but what they do never succeeds. With display names, they initally got new sign-ups, but there has been no increase to the using population.

It seems to me that LL keeps trying to increase usership and keep the money-making parts as is, and it fails every time. So this thread asks for thoughts on what LL could do to increase usership. Me first... :)

 

SL needs to be more attractive to reduce the number of people leaving. SL is land (or surface), so I have two suggestions:-

(1) Land needs to be more attractive. The price of buying land is a pittance now but tier could do with a major revamp. There should be more, and smaller, jumps between tier levels. The jumps from 16k to 32k, 32k to 64k, and 64k up, are large enough to be a prohibitive barrier for most people, and prevent small additions to a person's land, whereas something like 2, 4 or 8k jumps all the way up would produce more land ownership, imo. I see no reason at all for the jumps to be doubles (i.e. ½, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64). In fact, I see no reason why people should pay for land they don't own (e.g. own 17k but pay the 32k tier), and I see every reason why people should pay for exactly the land they own (e.g. own 17k and pay tier for 17k).

Imo, either smaller tier level jumps, or exact land ownership tier, would produce more land ownership, by making small additions so much more affordable all the way up, which would make SL more attractive to more people.

(2) Homesteads should be available to everyone. If they were, I'd expect a large number of people to buy them, which would produce more income for LL.

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I think the key is making SL more available, as in through a browser. LL made some headway in that direction already with their limited beta. Right now, it's too difficult to get in world and people are locked out for long periods of time. That's one of the reasons for the popularity of the forums. If you can't get in-world, you can at least post about it.

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Wrong was stopping the discounts for Educators...i would reinstate this. Moreso, see that Universities get help with using meetings is SL for education.

But i agree to both parts. I would think aboutgetting an own homestead, but not as a second sim, after a full region.

Setup Costs are way to high. I rent out servers in RL, and paying 1000+ Dollars to set up a server is kinda... laughable.

 I would alse rework the Start AV, to be more attractive, animationwise, there are free AOs, so why have this idiot wal, toll someone informs you about AOs.

New User experience is still crap. Remember the Start in a singleplayer game or an MMO? Instantly you get pulled into the action, quests explaining how to move, use things, change equipment, craft... and feel like the hero. In SL you can do so damn much more than in some MMO, you just have to be empowered...

 

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I like the suggestions so far. With regards to starter 'quests', I would have benefited from a simple 'rez a box, position it, rotate it, etc' lesson. Drop down blue boxes would tell me what to do and congratulate me on each step..maybe give me L$10 for meeting each objective. I think LL should charge a nominal fee (USD10) for the creation of each avatar after the first one. Two objectives to this: increase revenue and reduce the proliferation of griefer or one-off avatars. (Apologies for the lack of formatting).

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I've put in my two cents about this in a CTUG once when we were discussing new user experience and the basic viewer. My idea was an optional tutorial mode that would direct users as to how to do the simple things like getting around (walking ,running, flying), using the inventory, editing your avatar, building things, etc. before these things are "unlocked" for them (well, maybe walking shouldn't be locked... lol). That way they'll learn something and feel like they've accomplished something as well (leveling up in a way).

This would take the burden off of other residents to teach them to do these basic things, but would not replace the need to have people available to answer questions that aren't covered or that people still don't understand. Not to mention just being there to make people feel welcomed when they log in for the first time. That's something that a computer program can't do and imho would make all the difference to new users entering a strange new world.

@Phil: I like both ideas, though I think the second one would be easier for LL to swallow than the first one. Do you really think, the economy being what it is atm, that LL would take the initial cut in tier on the off chance that they'll sell enough new land to eventually make it up in the long run? I have my doubts.

...Dres

 ETA: a second thought.

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I'm fairly new to SL but I play WoW and other Rpg's.

 

From what i've seen the biggest single problem in SL is lag, even on decent systems (and I've spoken to people with very high end specs) the lag is apparent.

I realize connection speed counts too but I think SL needs to be inline with the newer technology out there.

 

Make the whole experience smoother and faster and people would flock to it.

 

I still love it even with those problems, but if they weren't there it would be so much better.

 

Faster servers and code that keeps up with todays tech.

512Mb as a max texture memory setting is not much these days

My card is twice that and SL can't utilize it all because of it's own restrictions.

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Lag has been a problem in SL for... well forever. It has gotten a lot better over the years, but you're right... it's a big issue. The main problem is that SL is not the same as WoW and other MMORGPs that you download onto your hard drive. Everything in SL has to be downloaded as it comes into view. Sure better servers would help, but even then, not all lag is server side.

Plus a lot of content in SL is created by hobbyists that don't know squat about what causes lag nor how to build their spaces or avatars in a way that will minimize the effect. I'm still waiting for LL to impose script limits on avatars... that alone will make things much, much better for everyone.

I'm not sure about the official V2, I use Firestorm where the cache limit is 1024... I can only assume that's what you mean by texture memory, of course I could be way wrong. I'm not aware of any other way to evaluate texture memory and would love it if you explained how to besides that.

...Dres

Edited to fix spelling.

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It's a tricky balancing act between playing to their strengths on the one hand and maintaining minimal tablestakes where they can't hope to compete favorably.

An example of the latter category is lag / frame-rate.  No matter what the developers do, they can never approximate the frame rates of industry standard-issue games with the insurmountable advantage of developer-optimized content.  No way, not even close, ever.  Their only hope is to keep the user-developed content streaming at a tolerable rate -- where "tolerable" is a moving target, rising with expectations borne of other games.

That forces some finer-grained trade-offs, too.  Mesh can be only so good, constrained not only by development calendar but by how badly Mesh creators should be able to shoot themselves in the foot -- along with every observer within draw distance of their creations.

Anyway, I agree that their strengths, really, are land and lots of it.  I also agree with Alazarin that about the best move they could make in terms of drawing people into increasing landownership would be doubling the premium bonus tier to 1024, to give a plausible "graduation" path from those Linden Homes (which must obviously remain 512 and unimproved or this will never work).  Far too many new landowners are getting "stuck" at the Linden Home stage, never making it out to the Mainland nor Estates.

Also, before any new user buys any land, they have to stay in-world for more than an hour.  That means they have to find stuff that interests them (the Destination Guide was a good move in that direction, but I'm very sure that newbies still don't have access to the kind of one-on-one hand-holding that's needed to get them over the initial hurdles and into any Destination Guide destination.

Until last week, I didn't really appreciate how damaging to retention the maturity rating stuff is, because I'd always focused on the hurdle of getting to Adult.  What's worse is the hurdle of getting from General to Moderate, if the newbie hasn't been clued-in to that.  I'm not sure why this newbie was stuck with General-only settings (is that the default?  I certainly hope not!), but hers were set General only, and she was stuck, unable to navigate to any of the green dot-populated places she saw on the Map.  She couldn't even walk there without bumping into a mysterious maturity fence, and although the "fence" explained itself, there was no way she could be prepared to understand that explanation, nor what to do about it.  I finally managed to explain all that to her, just before she had to log for RL.  As helpful as I tried to be and as grateful as she was, I very much doubt she'll ever be back.

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Qie Niangao wrote:

Until last week, I didn't really appreciate how damaging to retention the maturity rating stuff is, because I'd always focused on the hurdle of getting to Adult.  What's worse is the hurdle of getting from General to Moderate, if the newbie hasn't been clued-in to that.  I'm not sure why this newbie was stuck with General-only settings (is that the default?  I certainly hope not!), but hers were set General only, and she was stuck, unable to navigate to any of the green dot-populated places she saw on the Map.  She couldn't even walk there without bumping into a mysterious maturity fence, and although the "fence" explained itself, there was no way she could be prepared to understand that explanation, nor what to do about it.  I finally managed to explain all that to her, just before she had to log for RL.  As helpful as I tried to be and as grateful as she was, I very much doubt she'll ever be back.

There's no reason why this couldn't be explicitly explained in the tutorial mode which I mentioned, this being something very basic. It could easily be thwarted at any level that a person was trying to reach that was unauthorized, then include a link to where they'd need to go in order to activate it.

I guess what I'm saying is that the viewer could be used as an educational tool. People are not going to be predisposed to looking through countless KB or SL wiki sites for the information they need. They'll ask other residents if and only if they have access to people that are willing to help.

A lot of what needs to be known can be automated inside of the viewer, then whatever else should be done by people specifically designated to do it, either through LL itself or volunteers in some sort of mentoring program as we had before (the one-on-one hand holding that you were speaking of... though one-on-one may be pushing it as far as resources go, making it necessary for viewer based learning, as I've described).

The idea to increase premium membership free land to 1024 seems unfalteringly sensible to me. If, as I understood it to be in the first place, Linden homes are actually intended to lead to land ownership, there has to be an incentive to upgrade... as it is now, there is none. Why go buy a 512 piece of land when you will end up having a lot less prims (because your house would count against them then)? Totally bonkers.

...Dres *hopes any of this make sense*

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I just had a conversation about this topic with my roommate who's been in SL as long as I have, and she had a very good point (I asked her if I could post it and she said please do).

Her view is that the vampires that constantly accost you at some hubs needed to be stopped. Now I have nothing against vampires and I explained to her that the same could be said about any persons that accost you at hubs, such as any kind of griefers. She agreed.

My response was that the only real way you can curtail that kind of activity would be active policing by LL themselves. I don't see that happening. If someone has an idea to deal with this, please, please offer it up.

...Dres

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The problem with land is that mainland has no anti-blight policy.

A lot of people avoid it as a result, making it seem very underused, causing people to even further avoid it, and so LLs gets less tier than it could.

I have friends who will only enter mainland when I send them a TP request, and try to leave as soon as they can politely do so - there's just this 'dread' of mainland's blight and bleakness out there. Its become like the hate of V2 - more based on an assumption and perception than actual experience, to the point where it has become something of an SL meme that mainland is bad to even visit.

I've made various forum suggestions in past on ways to deal with blight. People who might also complain about blight tend to reject my suggestion out of hand and refuse to offer one of their own - merely saying nothing can be done...

Until people are willing to put forth a way to handle blight, and LLs is willing to impliment it, land simply will not get occupied.

And I suspect it will get even worse as Marketplace's role in SL grows.

 

LLs need to not only give more land for the tier paid, but also clean up a lot of blight. We all know the difference between a blightly lot and an amatuer build. People claim no one could ever agree on what is blight in SL, but when you see what they complain about, its always the same stuff. We all know it, and if we'd stop pretending we couldn't agree we'd find we all already do agree on most of the points.

 

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My second issue to address retention wouldbe to make the UI more like an MMO.

One of the simplest changes would be an auto-walk feature. Hit the 'walk' key (whatever it would be) and my avatar should just keep on walking until I tell her to stop, and I could then turn with my mouse only. Every MMO, every 3D environment but those based on SL-code, does this. Holding both mouse buttons should move me forward. Left clicking a spot on the screen should try to walk me there.

The second biggest change I would suggest would be keybind remapping. Let people change their keybinds. If I want 'M' to open chat and '/' to open my map - let me do it with a simple keybind setup window to remap all my keys...

SL is to virtual worlds what AutoCad is to art programs... its the 'exception' that uses a UI different from the industry standard.

That hurts it a lot.

SL's UI is one only SL people can use. To join SL you have to 'learn' it. You can log into any other virtual platform out there and start going right away with a set of keys and clicks people have learned how to to do since the days of Super Mario Brothers...

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Jaylin Wytchwood wrote:

I would alse rework the Start AV, to be more attractive, animationwise, there are free AOs, so why have this idiot wal, toll someone informs you about AOs.


It needs a new mesh. 'Possette' from Poser is older than the SL mesh, but looks and animates better. YES she is probably 100x more polygons... but low rez versions of her still look an animate better.

- Simply put, she has proportions that are closer to human (she's still very flawed), and she was made by people who at least knew that 'art' is not spelled 'c++'... ;)

Almost anyone of the various 3D modellers that also use SL could do a better job on a new basic mesh. We could even make one with the same UV map locations so that SL clothes would keep on trucking. I'd argue we need 3 of them: male, female, child. Make a child mesh an actual official mesh so that child avatars can look like children and not stunted adults - helping to resolve a lot of drama and well, just letting them look a lot better.

Shape makers would have to start over... but that's an acceptable problem. Most commercial shape makers are also skin makers and if you did a new mesh right, it would still keep the same texture mapping (though it needs about 2-3 times as many polygons where the crotch meets the inner thigh).

 

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Qie Niangao wrote:

I'm not sure why this newbie was stuck with General-only settings (is that the default?  I certainly hope not!), but hers were set General only, and she was stuck, unable to navigate to any of the green dot-populated places she saw on the Map.  She couldn't even walk there without bumping into a mysterious maturity fence, and although the "fence" explained itself, there was no way she could be prepared to understand that explanation, nor what to do about it.  I finally managed to explain all that to her, just before she had to log for RL.  As helpful as I tried to be and as grateful as she was, I very much doubt she'll ever be back.

Eight days ago, I met a new resident on her rezz day at an infohub when she still appeared as one of the default avatars. I gave her a couple of landmarks for freebie items and she tp'd off. A while later, I sent an IM to see how she was doing. She complained of boredom. She wanted to know what people do in SL. She had changed her profile to say "Come and un-bore me".

I said that she could ride a tram, bowl, and sail. She responded that "but, it's all virtual, right?" I replied you can even have sex in SL. That intrigued her. I sent her a landmark for NC Adult's skybox so she could see what one of the beds look like. She initially had trouble with the maturity restrictions, but worked out the solution in minutes.

This is the message that I received from her yesterday: "i'm jsut really hoooked on this game right now." She's on constantly now. Going here, going there, raving, formal dancing, and other activities. For me, it's been a personal renaissance. She often invites me along and I see the wonder of the world through the eyes of a new resident again.

She does all of this with the new viewer. I've recommended Phoenix to her many times, but she has never bothered to download it. Sometimes, a resident just needs the proper motivation.

 

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LL need to accept that there is a vast difference between the highschool hobby style way of doing things, and the way the users they want to attract expect things to be done. 

LL need to end this notion that end users will put up with being their beta testers, bug reporters, and will work hard to discover what kind of computer they need, what settings to use, and how to get SL to work.

They are chasing the crowd who never would have gotten a computer if Windows had not come along working straight out of the box, but they are offering an early Linux "user as own IT specialist" experience.  That will never work.

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Randall Ahren wrote:

She does all of this with the new viewer. I've recommended Phoenix to her many times, but she has never bothered to download it. Sometimes, a resident just needs the proper motivation.

 

Why would you ever recommend a switch to an old viewer to someone not on it from the crutch of not upgrading yet? :)

I could understand recommending Firestorm to somebody, but Phoenix is based on dead tech - and viewer 1 is confusing as heck to learn if you have to 'unlearn' the present day interface first.

Phoenix might be great for people who started in the v1 days - as an improvement over baseline v1. But for someone who started with v2 - its a curse of reconditioning them onto something that has an expiring timer on it. Even if you think its better than v2 - that's just not the right direction to go in (and firestorm shows that even the phoenix team knows this).

 

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I'm no particular fan of Viewer 2, but no viewers are "there yet."  Phoenix's crash rate is only slightly lower than V2's.  It's really only an illusion of familiarity than any of the available piles of crap are fit for purpose.  So it seems to me that if she's okay with V2, I'd let her stay on V2. When LL finally gets sick of supporting parallel interfaces for every central service and pulls the plug on these older viewers (Henri's herculean if somewhat obsessive efforts to backport notwithstanding), at least their long-time users will have gotten good use out of them, but for a new user... there'd need to be a really compelling feature they absolutely needed for some specific reason before I'd suggest spending the time to learn the V1 UI at this late date.

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Something I would like are sims that have changing rooms for the new user's to use to change in privacy.  Not all user's want to start with a private home or apartment. 

I don't like the idea of having to pay for an avatar (as Venus suggested), I think that would drive people away as the skin costs enough already.   ETA:  Upon reading Venus' post again, she said pay for a SECOND AVATAR.  Yes, that's a good idea.  I thought she meant pay for the first avatar. 

But, I'd suggest CHANGING ROOM sims. 

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Yes, and lag is a killjoy.  Some builders of sims are wrecking the SL experience by thinking of profit and putting too much stuff in their sim (the vendor thing) and it ruins the club experience as it causes so much lag. 

Lag is the worst thing in SL.  Better building to keep traffic on your sim is a must to keep people coming back.  If it's too laggy, people will skip your sim altogether. 

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This is a very interesting point of view.

 

I've played mmorpg's where the developers have that kind of approach towards the playerbase and in my experience it's never ultimately led to anything good, just frustration for the players and a declining number of said same.

 

I think a virtual sim such as SL is not so different from a game in this respect. The games that succeed are usually always the ones that have been  fully tested by the devs and bug free or as near as dammit before release.

Trying new things out on the fly before testing them can and has had dire consequences for the games/sims industry in the past, theres certainly lessons to be learnt there.

 

 

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The strategy LL had, and probably still have, regarding getting new users to sign up and getting through the first hour - which display names was a part of - was/is not very likely to succeed in my opinion. What they need to focus on is getting the new user *to come back* after the first login. In doing that, they will implicitly deal with the first hour experience, but at the same time keep focus on what makes people want to come back and stay in SL.

Part of that is the viewer. The viewer was mentioned earlier in the thread, but it is one of the main factors of making people want to log in. Make it configurable to a way higher extent than it is today, make it easier to change the viewer color scheme like other viewers do, make the viewer work for the user - don't make the user have to try to fit the viewer. Part of the same thing is the Basic viewer, which is seen, by reading the Basic viewer forum (if it still exist), as a failure by the residents.

Another part of making people come back is to lower the technical knowledge necessary for being in SL. Reduce the need for troubleshooting connection, or bandwidth, issues as an example, or improve the caching mechanism so people don't log in, and stay, clouds for days and weeks. What I mean is to make the viewer itself perform more and better checks (and not just crash when it encounter an issue), that the user shouldn't really need to know how to perform themselves, and either adjust itself to the situation, or present easily understandable messages with steps to fix the problems. Don't hide away useful options in debug settings or menus. Make it easier for people to understand how to reduce client side lag, and what contribute to server side lag.

These are just two things I feel will increase the probability of people coming back. As more people come back, land ownership becomes more important - which type of land and at what price - and the process of buying land could most likely be more streamlined than it is now. For this, I think, your suggestions are good, and I agree that it will help keep people from leaving as well as getting more new people to buy land.

Some of these things have been carried out, and some are in the process, but there are still many things that can be done, I'm sure. Focusing on the new users *second* log in, as opposed to the new users first hour, I believe will be much more effective in growing the SL population.

- Luc -

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Mayalily wrote:

Yes, and lag is a killjoy.  Some builders of sims are wrecking the SL experience by thinking of profit and putting too much stuff in their sim (the vendor thing) and it ruins the club experience as it causes so much lag. 

Most club lag is actually caused by the visitors and their scripted objects, and then only a distant second by those vendors - noticeable, but in comparrison small.

 

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No, I completely disagree.  Those vendor things are a huge problem for club goers.  HUGE. 

Not to mention they run scripty things.   It's simply an extremely poor build with too much stuff crammed into a small sim.

The good clubs are the ones that don't have vendor stall rentals.  The laggy clubs ARE the ones with the vendor stalls, and so I don't go back.  The music might be good, but the lag from the vendor stalls kills the fun. 

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