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Hooten Haller

Dear LL: Viewer contest idea

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Dear LL,

Here's a free idea for you. Hold a contest for the 100 best viewers designed expressly for new residents. Submissions grant LL a right to use the code and ideas submitted. The 100 best get some small prizes, maybe with better prizes for the top 3. The exact numbers aren't important: 100 represents "enough winners to encourage a lot of entries".

The goal is to get a few bright ideas from skilled users about what they'd think makes for a better new resident experience. Now just words in a forum, but real, working viewers. 

Start with the latest LL open source, not the extant third party viewers. Significant changes woud not be required. Only something that clearly and functionally demonstrates the concept(s). The more finished it is, the more likely to win, but a really great idea would boost winnability too.

What do you think?

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I guess you haven't heard of third party viewers (TPV's).  A viewer has nothing to do with the complexity of Second Life.....it's the way SL is (it's not your Facebook game of Farmville).  To make SL easy for all (or most) users would require a complete remake of SL.......and dumbed down to the point that it's nothing more than another wannabe Facebook.  I don't think you would like that..........I know I wouldn't (but then I'd be gone so that's a moot point).

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Let me clarify my intent a bit. This is the seed of an idea, not a finished plan. Making a viewer is undoubtedly very hard work. Tweaking one, maybe not so hard. So add some incentive in the form of prizes. And if a person has ideas but no coding skills, she can team up with someone who can code. The ideas should be functional, and not just do-nothing widgets. They don't need to be fully functional, but they do need to work well enough to give a real feel for what it could be.

This is also not an implied criticism of the great work done by  LL so far. It is an extension of the original idea of opening the code base, to get ideas coming it. The prize incentives are for that purpose. I see a lot of great energy put into third party viewers but they don't often focus on the new user experience. I'd love to see a lot of creativity directed at growing and persisting LL's resident base.

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I"m not questioning your good intent.  What I'm saying is that a viewer will not make a newbies experience any easier.  A viewer can only enhance a user's experience by making whatever the server code allows easier (or more intuitive) for the user.  The V-2 (with the exception of that "Basice/Advanced" mode crap) and V-3 are much more intuitive than the viewer when I came to SL...........a lot more intuitive.  The problem with retaining users is the complexity of SL.  SL enables users to do so much that it's practically impossible to tell it all........especially to someone completely ignorant of SL.  I don't know how LL's going to manage to up the retention rate without dumbing down the server code aside from a requirement for every new user to complete a comprehensive tutorial explaining exactly what SL is what can a can not be done..........and that, my friend, would scare off far more potential users than the retention rate right now.

 

SL appeals to a niche........and only so many people will fit that niche.  Mess around with viewers all you want.  It'll please some and piss off the rest but it won't change the platform in any way.

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I have heard and used them. LL seems to think Viewer changes would help new residents, but they have also tried carefully constructed regions, sometimes in conjunction with a viewer (the brief Web-based viewer was somewhat limited where you could go). 

The impossible can't be achieved while we persist in calling it impossible.

I think simplifying (not using loaded words like dumbing down) is necessary for the new users. A simple viewer (and maybe simple starter regions) can be a gateway experience to the richer worlds beyond. I am not advocating simplification of all viewers, or all grid builds. 

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I am definitely interested in basic/advanced modes in a viewer, but there are other ways to achieve ramping the learning curve to the user's interest level. I'll come out more strongly in favor of controlled region complexity, for regions that choose to be friendly to new residents by obeying complexity limitations. 

I think the idea of only a niche market is moribund. Yes, LL is sustaining itself, but we've seen examples of products simplified for a wide market without eliminating the access niche customers have to more complex options. MP3 players immediately pop into my mind.

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Instead of trying to make something as complex as SL less complex by how you might interact with it (what the viewer does) maybe your contest should be how to define SL and all the possibilities SL provides to a person who knows nothing about SL and maybe even never heard of SL........keep in mind this person has only simple games (yeah, WoW is simple in reality) as a basis of experience.  Also know you have to keep the interest up long enough to get the full explanation put forth......you can't bore them with tecnicalities (like dynamic, real time 3D graphics that constantly change with every object, item and scripts that come and go constantly depending on your direction of view........oh yeah, draw distance too).  Don't frighten them off with a real and accurate minimum system requirement (as if the average new user would understand why that brand new HP laptop that cost them $800 USD just is good enough).  The alternative is the do what I said "dumb down".........make the platform less complex.  Say along the lines as one of those Facebook games.......or even WoW.

 

That's what needs to be done.........but that will actually work against your goals.  Impossible?  Well, Mama always told me that nothing's impossible.........but within practical possibilites?  I think not. 

 

Get your contest going.......lets see what comes up.  It might actually get something started that will do what you want to do. 

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I think rather than trying to simplify the user experience from the viewer side it would be better to create some sort of immersive guided way of showing new people how the existing tools work, like a game or quest. This should be optional and there should be a variety of these quests available. Perhaps your contest could be to have creators come up with these kind of experiences. I know that Linden Labs had some sort of training HUD around 2008 but apparently it was mandatory and many of the tasks didnt' work for some people.

There are viewer changes that could be made that would help new people stay out of trouble, though. The skin editor, hair editor and "make new clothes" options are the equivalent of the instruction manual for a modern car still having instructions about how to start the engine with a hand crank and how to light the acetylene headlights. I've  known a few new people who accessed these areas with the logical thought that this was how the typical person did things, with predictably scary results. These menus should be hidden better, especially the sliders that realistically are never used anymore.

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Mew :)

 

Yes, its a bit of work to just get the code setup and building, makng changes would require a lot of figuring out the code first, not really worth it , when you can just present your idea for features and improvements, like

AND Searches in inventory.

I think you can even make JIRA for feature requests right

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A full viewer is a daunting task, how about just Tools instead. Viewer 3 is making great headway, IMHO, but I would like to see pages and pages of tools, not the limited few that are there now. Some pages of Tools would require a restart of the viewer, some would not. One page of Tools to Make It Easy for Me. What is needed is so many tools that the first page you get is an index to select what kind of tool you are looking for. Everyone likes something different and Viewer 3 with its Tool Bin is ready to make everyone happy, yes everyone. I never thought I would see the side bar thing go away but its gone, (thank you, thank you, thank you), so yes, changes for the better can happen. Hey Oz, if your still reading this, how about a Tool Bin Team, one new Resident suggested Tool every day week.  Well, it sounded good to me.

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