Friday, December 30, 2011

Loki's Predictions for #SL 2012

I spent more time in SL this year
than last year
Predictions for SL have started popping up and for the most part they paint a rather pessimistic view.  
I think last year most of my friends and i were tired of the stagnation, but blimey what a year 2011 has been!

So i've decided to list my predictions for SL which will express my optimism that has grown through out 2011.

What ever happens next is built on progress gained from 2011….

1. Content creators will create the biggest and strongest change.
Is it me or are people forgetting that SL is made by US!. When Rodvik first arrived he expressed that Second Life is OUR world and the most interesting part of it is OUR creative energy. If SL is going to grow it'll be in some way down to us creators and what we build. It's up to us to embrace the tools LL have been working on through 2011 and to use them as best we can to create fantastic places, games, experiences, role-play havens or social environments.

2. Market place will become even easier and more efficient.
The new magic-boxless Marketplace is almost here allowing anyone to sell their creations on marketplace directly from their inventory. This will hopefully remove dramas such as crashing before deliveries etc. In world stores will find it difficult, and i saw some very old stores pack it in this year. It's a changing world, the game is changing just like in the real world.

3. More land will be used to host games and experiences to subsidise tier costs.
It was easy to rent out land for people to set up shops. It's not quite that easy to rent out land to set up micro-payment games and experiences. I still do not know exactly how the new gaming tools will be implemented. Will they be new scripting rules, or will they be options available in build edit or land tools? In any case from what Rodvik has blogged the Lab seem to be working on making it easier for you and i to create interactivity in what we make. It'll be up to us weather we use the tools to  charge people for entertainment.

4. SL feed integrated into other SL features.
Currently you can follow people, tag your current location and upload snapshots. It would seem silly to have the SLfeed and not have it tied into the destination guide, or on marketplace. I assumed that LL would simply ad a 'love button' by now. It would also be nice to have a simpler way to 'LOVE' your current location with one click.


5. LL will create a mobile project that allows us to share creative aspects with the mobile world.
Cant really predict what this will be. It's interesting what ever it is. The last new product from the Lab was a gated business orientated conference flop and did not involve the current SL user base. What i hope is that what ever Rodvik and his team unveil in 2012 it will thrive on the freedom of creativity the current SL users spill out.

6. Linden lab will fix notifications.
Ok so this is a HOPE more than a prediction. I hate the viewers notification system, i think its dreadful and has been for the past 2 years. I basically use my email client to store and organise offline notifications because SL Viewer lumps it all together in a tiny corner box and sometimes not at all. It just feels like a broken mess, so I'm hoping LL are working on new ways to present, store and organise notifications from groups, receiving items, offline messages, SLfeeds etc.

7. Destination guide will have to evolve into something more universal and dynamic.
Currently Linden Lab see the destination guide as a way to present places of interest to new users. But anyone can see that it is one of the best ways to find a place to visit no matter how many years you have been in SL. 

If Linden Lab want people to build and submit more games and experiences, then they will need to create ways to better manage visitors. I can't have over 2000 people arriving at my private region without it causing major lag and a terrible experience. The destination guide will have to change somehow or new users from the login screen will be continuously forwarded to places so full of people they will have the worst first experience.


8. Old users will loose out to those who take hold of new features and brave the lag of progress.
Not much i can really ad to that.


Im very excited about 2012. I do not see SL disappearing, i have to many projects on the go, to many friends enjoying their time in SL. If you think SL is not going to survive 2012, maybe you are just not interested anymore and are just predicting the demise of that interest. And from what i have witnessed through my attempts at making games in SL, there are plenty of people who are still exploring what SL has to offer.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Year of Change in My Second Life #SL


This is not predictions for next year but rather a comparative look at what i wrote this time last year.

1. Land. I spoke about how the old system of renting shopping space to help pay for over priced tier was gone thanks to market place and linden homes. 

So what happened during 2011? nothing really, except i have worked really hard to make gaming experiences that bring money back into the land to pay for the tier. Escapades saw a major drop in donations but thanks to the Secret underground base, the Eggmen hunt,  Zombie worm massacre and the Dark Aether Falls game i managed to hit Tier targets.


2. Shops. I said last year that Marketplace killed the in world shopping system, and i still believe that. Specifically affiliate sellers. 

During 2011 i re built my clothing brand and delved head first into Mesh clothing. I've seen record sales and gained a lot of positive feed back regardless of the deformer drama. But i am aware that i am now working with stuff far beyond simple linked prims. The game of creating a shop, selling quality items is a lot harder now.

3. Viewer2. As you can probably guess i basically said it was crap. I also touched on viewer fragmentation as the long time users refuse to use V2.

So has it been fixed? Well viewer 2 is now Viewer 3, or simply called 'Viewer' now. LL took a good look at making things simpler with a basic viewer mode, then integrating that basic idea and allowing a nice customisable UI which i liked.  But fragmentation of the viewer is still as annoying as ever. 

If you make stuff in mesh you have have a disclaimer that it's not viewable on all third party viewers, if i use Shared Media i have to have a disclaimer that its not viewable on all viewers. It leads to such frustration as people blame me for not being able to see the virtual world correctly when it is their decision to stick to out of date viewers.

The probable reason third party viewers are faster might have something to do with them not rendering the whole world.

4. Newbies VS Oldbies. I said "Viewer2 is the wedge that deepened the divide between the New and long time residents of SL. "

During 2011 i became almost anti-Newb, i started to see them as a pest. While creating games it was near impossible to cater for them and while using destination guide to promote my experiences it was impossible to get away from them. As a result experiences i made slowed to a crawl. 

Oldbies continued to stick to what they know and complain about the changes, never has this been more clear than in 2011. Phoenix viewer finally right at the end of 2011 added mesh support, only for it to be noticeably slower and crash making it a completely pointless viewer. If anything it has convinced many that mesh is evil.

5. Communication. I talked about the group chat FAILs and the horrible notification system.

What changed in 2011? Well they fixed the group chat system which is great, well done for that. They also added the SLfeed which most third party viewer users are oblivious of. Possibly the greatest addition after Mesh the SLfeed allows to say to friends whats been going on, link places, and post pics direct from SL. I did not think i would check out my SL feed as much as i do seeing as i have Facebook and twitter as well, but it really has become a daily need to catch up on what my friends are doing. If you are not on SLfeed then you are BORING.

During the UI facelift the terrible notification system still remains unchanged, all be it is now at the top instead of the bottom. It now shoves SLfeed notifications into it as well to be lost for ever. There is also annoying issues of getting IM's via email and them not appearing once you login.

All in all 2011 saw communication for official SL Viewer improve lots, but the way we receive and display notifications still needs serious makeover.

6. My Island and my friends. i said that 'My biggest aims will be finding a balance between making content & experiences in SL and Doing work in real world.'

Well i could not foresee the problems that would crop up during 2011 but I'm really REALLY grateful for the support i got from my SL friends. A lot of stuff never happened in SL that had been planned but a lot of unplanned stuff did happen and Escapades is still here.

During 2012 i would like to bring the Escapades gang together more as a family and help each other to build Escapades concentrating on what we want the island to be.

I tried roleplaying games on the island, and i tried mini games on the island, made a shop, was placed on destination guide five times. I buried myself in work on SL and failed to make it balance with real world work, so maybe it's time to accept that SL is my work in 2012.

7. Linden Lab. I said i look forward to what those left at LL after the great cull of 2010 come up with in 2011. For me at least it has been a fun year watching the Lab churn out new stuff, trying new ideas. The lab is a lab now, and everything they seem to change keeps changing and improving. The cogs are moving and SL is steaming forward, to where we don't care just as long as it moves! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

llSay(0,"Roleplaying Games and Trolls and Lag OH MY") #SL


It's that week between christmas when you sit back and relax with left overs and rubbish tv…. 
well thats what it's supposed to be. In stead i have been popping into SL every couple of hours to check on SIM performance and dealing with user questions regarding the Dark Aether Falls game.

The Dark Aether Ends
Lets step back a few weeks first. Early december the Dark Aether Falls role-play was in full swing after two months build up. The Mini clue hunt game was finished and served as a side plot for a story explaining who Jason Moriarty was and present a few ideas for why he was so hell bent on the destruction of the town.

The residents of New Babbage loved this small game as a prelude to the final chapter and end of the story which this year entailed a ritual, race against time hunt amongst the clouds to stop the Dark Aether from falling. 

Everything was automated this year making it easier for me to do talking parts between NPC's while the machinery clanked away behind me revealing the final monster. This was all thanks to my continued efforts in grasping SL scripting by communicating with brilliant minds on the SL scripting forums.


































The story that unfolded was everything i hoped for with the Cloud angels, Moriarty, the Van Creed, the canisters all converging for a climatic end with a building collapsing around the players in a panic. Everything went to plan except as hard as i tried to kill off the main character the players refused to let him die :). So as i close this chapter of my creative story it has been taken out of my hands by those who are so involved with the cannon created that they can't bare to let it die.

The feed back from the residents of New babbage has been phenomenal and extremely positive and although i have said i will not be returning next year with an rp on that scale, I'm sure i will will have something because what i learnt this year is that creating an RP story for a small group is very different and sometimes more rewarding than making a game experience for a mass of people.



The Dark Aether Continues
So what happens when 80 people an hour arrive to play your gaming experience? Let me take another step back to explain how its possible to end up having 80 people an hour arriving at your region.

When i first announced the Dark Aether Falls mini game at the start of december i had only just submitted my game to Destination Guide. Linden Realms was being promoted on the main login screen and all over the front of the Destination guide. I thought at first as you do that they were just using their godly powers to be ahead of everyone else. I now believe it was necessary for them to understand how the destination guide herds n00bs to places en mass and to gage how regions cope with the strain.

I myself enjoyed being placed in the Destination guide at a position that saw low but manageable levels of interest from people who were experienced in SL.

What happens when 80 people an hour arrive at your region?
Then came boxing day and suddenly New Babbage was seeing thousands of people a day arriving to play the Dark Aether Falls mini game. It was soon discovered that the Dark Aether had been placed on the number one slot of the login screen and New babbage was suffering. The SIM crawled to a halt as people continued to arrive at the HUD shop making it impossible to do anything. Not only does movement become impossible but script also start being delayed and so the game HUDS stopped working.

And this is where i am today, overwhelmed by the interest caused by the Login Screen Destination guide, trying to help those i can who have managed to get through the lag to play the game they purchased in SL. For many this is their first experience of SL after going through the orientation and i so wish it wasn't. I feel helpless to do anything. 

I requested the destination guide editor to remove the Dark Aether from the number one slot to try and lower the number of visitors which they did and New Babbage is once again playable. Thanks to the LL editor being quick :).


'Be careful what you wish for'
yes i wished for lots of people to be able to experience what i make, and why shouldn't i? I haven't been put off by whats happened in New Babbage, instead i view it as highlighting a very important area in which the Lab NEEDS to be aware of and strive to fix. 

The lab has avoided this issue with their Linden Realms game as they created twelve regions. Im not sure how many people can afford £3500 a month tier costs (not including VAT) to run a game in a similar fashion, but the drop off from destination guide will kill you out right. I would like to know how many are still playing Linden Realms now it has dropped off the number one slot. 

Linden Lab want us to use new gaming tools to build games in order to bring value back into owning land and encourage new and current users to stick around longer. Combine that with the current destination guide, all you will get is bad experiences like i'm currently going through :).


Egnog shows a fragmented future.
Dark Aether aside, i did one final gaming experience before the end of the year. Egnog the christmas Troll is a character i created for my SL friends. He is not of any faith and simply gives you a present if you want it. Originally created 4 years ago he was made crudely with 24 sculpt prims and this year i decided to recreate him and his winter grotto in MESH. He is now only 10 prims and more detailed.



The grotto is perfect example of all that i have learnt this year in SL. From Mesh modelling and texturing to automated scripted machines and gaming HUDS. Unfortunately the free Egnog game HUD does not work so well, but again i have learnt a lot from making it. 

It has highlighted an issue that will plague me and those working in Mesh to make detailed, efficient builds throughout 2012. That is the issue of fragmentation between viewers.

Part of the decision to make Egnog in mesh was because the Phoenix viewer now has mesh support, but the feed back i was getting was that many could not see Egnog because they had changed back to the old phoenix simply because it's a faster viewer. If you remove the ability to render objects, textures sounds and lighting, then yeh your viewer is going to be faster of course, but then you can't complain when you don't see things.

We should be embracing mesh viewers and demanding that LL make it work better.

Anyway Egnogs winter grotto is open to who ever visits Escapades Island or shares between friends and will be around until New Year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Dark Aether falls Mini Game of Clue Hunting and Bug Zapping #SL


This weekend will hopefully see my latest attempt at a game added to SL destination guide (fingers crossed). 




Part of a much BIGGER story.
Part of the fifth New Babbage Chronicles Roleplay game in Second Life is is designed as a simple clue hunt game to uncover a small part of the overall story The Dark Aether falls. The Roleplay has already been unfolding for almost two months and is nearing its end dead line and while the residents of New Babbage have been writing lots and lots about their reactions to the story and contributing their own spin off encounters i have been working on this mini game.

The aim of the game is to uncover the truth about why a man is found hanging in the Red Dragon Opium Den. Following Clues and solving riddles while watching machinima cut scenes that explain the story. It is a way for people to get into the spirit of New Babbage who's motto is 'what could possibly go wrong'.

The end is somewhat open ended allowing those who are interested to stick around, talk to other residents of New Babbage and perhaps become addicted as i have to the steam filled smoggy city of Steampunk.


Building on experience.
The game itself is a combination of what i have learnt from past games such as the evil zombie worms and last years The Black Heart. It uses a HUD to allow the user to play the game. It holds all the parts of the story and you basically search the town for the clues which when you click activate the necessary part of the HUD.  The HUD also comes with the Dapper Zapper with which you can dispatch annoying evil Aether Bugs that run around in the sewers.

The Dapper Zapper and HUD together cost just L$100 which is about  USD$0.50 and i hope people will feel the experience is worth it.





Shared Media woes continue a year later.
It is a shame the new LL gaming tools have not been released yet as they might have helped make the initial start of the game easier for those with little SL Skill. Also i found it really hard to get the Shared Media to work across all versions of SL viewer and on windows.

For some reason on my Mac using Viewer V3 the machinima cut scenes worked perfectly in world. But on windows on Viewer V3 the Videos appeared just grey. Wether this is a Flash plug in issue, or a windows Webkit issue i do not know as I'm not a software engineer. 

The shared media video does not work at all on the popular out dated Phoenix viewer so an external video version of the HUD was included allowing people to click a button to pop the video outside into a web browser.


image from Nat's record of battling Aether Crabs

The Writer who's writing a story backwards

Monday, December 05, 2011

Goonys visit the Linden Realms #SL #Slgames


So i finally got round to visiting the Linden Realms game and wow. 
Straight away I'm hit with 'HOW DID THEY DO THAT!???"

Over the last year i have battled with the limitations of second life when making basic gaming experiences that are familiar to those from proper games. Other than the basic cause and effect scripting and the 100% health level of a damage enabled sim, there isn't anything else.


Here is a break down of what Linden Realms does and how the tools could improve games I've already built.

Instant Teleport
In Linden Realms: 
The Goonys walked to the Linden Realms Portal which automatically teleported you to the game region. This is the first 'WTF?' moment . 
What i have thats similar: 
The closest i got to an auto teleport is for people to voluntarily click a board that teleports to the game location. Such as in the secret Underground base i have a hole you have to click to go down into.
Effect on my Games: 
You would be able to just walk on the hole and automatically be teleported down the hole.

Will be interesting to see how this can't be used to grief people



Auto Attachments
In Linden Realms: 
Next we all automatically had a crystals HUD attached out of no where. I searched high and low for a scripting mechanism that might auto ad a HUD. This was because i wanted news on basic viewer to be able to wear my Bashables HUD so they could operate the bashing sticks.
What i have thats similar: 
The Bashables system on Escapades allows you to activate a stick to bash things on the island with one click. Unfortunately once you have been given the HUD and stick you have to find it in your inventory to then wear it.
Effect on my Games: 
The New tools could allow for the Bashable HUD's to auto attach making it easier for new people to quickly have fun on Escapades




Deadly Scenery
In Linden Realms: 
Then the Goonies went searching for Crystals upon which i Stumbled into a green swamp and promptly drowned and teleported to a respawn point rather than my designated home point.
What i have thats similar: 
I tried once in a goony adventure to have a room fill with custard. Those goonies unfortunate enough to get out the room before the door closed ended up growing in custard. With the help of my friend we created a script that would request to teleport them to a location on the island when the custard prim rose high enough to touch them. The drawback of course was it only teleported one at a time and had to wait for each to accept the teleport.
Effect on my Games: 
I can drown Goonies on mass!




NPCs
In Linden Realms: 
We suddenly became aware of big rock monsters chasing us, and it was really fun as they moved and followed at just the right speed that you could only JUST get away :) If they touched you then you died and teleported to respawn point.
What i have thats similar: 
Evil Zombie Worms. They use a basic base script package that i can drop into any monsters making them follow people. These follow in jerky movements as the detect script hurts every second or so to locate nearest resident. Also they do no damage because you need land to be set to damage enabled in order for objects to kill you and send you to your home point.
Effect on my Games: 
I could make goblins, worms, and other nasty things a threat to my visitors, not just a nuisance.

Loki faces off a Rock Monster with paper


Im only speculating how the new tools might be able to enhance my own games. As yet LL have not told us exactly what these new gaming feature tools are so some of what i said might not work, it all depends how much is scripting and how much is region level permissions.

Regarding Linden Realms itself, my friend Jesper pointed out that it was not very social game. The Hud gave us tasks to do and places to go, and after dying and re-spawning the group quickly got split up. For anybody thinking of making games in SL my friends and i personally think that group activity is a very important piece of what makes Second Life special and should be considered in the games created from here on.

The Mesh modelling used for the scenery is a good
example of how mesh can produce stylish yet
efficient content. Some might think it to simple.


Goony Adventures In Second Life #SL

It has been a while since i last posted a Goonies Adventure on my blog, 
so here is a quick run down of the places we have visited in Second Life in the past view months before i write a special post about Linden Realms….

One of the hardest things i'm having to deal with on Escapades Island is how to organise the Groups. First there was the Goonies group, then came the homestead called Goony island, then came the Full Sim Escapades witch welcomed everyone not just Kid Avatars, then came the MyEscapades group. 

Now the Goonies is a separate group of adventure and its closely tide to Nemo Beach which is part of Escapades. But it's a kid avatar only group essentially and not suitable for everyday stuff regarding escapades island.

The only solution is to start treating MyEscapades as the main group for notifications etc, which means getting rid of surplus members of the gooneys group and getting everyone to join MyEscapades for updates on escapades activities. This could end up being mildly disruptive but needs to be done.

Anyways on with the adventures starting with….


COCOON-Hope - July
Very odd place this, a real arty place to explore starting at an old school bus. We discovered elephants, strange TV screens and a giant walking… thing… A dreamscape.




Folkvang - August
This was a PROPER adventure and i recommend EVERYONE go here to play Frejas Quest. You have to follow the clues and unlock the treasure chests. This was brilliant as not only dd you get free viking armour and jewellery you also were taken to the mythical land of the ice giants via a boat tour. All the Goonies were VERY impressed with this place which at the start did not seem all that much. Great example of how BIG adventures can be had in small places.







Haunted Hotel in Bay City? - October
As is tradition the Goonies went on a mission to photograph ghosts as part of the october season. We first visited a Haunted hotel, i can't remember the name of. It was full of ghosts or at least spooky goings on. I even got a free tricycle!
After the hotel was swept for ghosts, the Goonies then headed over to a haunted castle where i found a rather awesome spiral slide WEEEEEEEEEE!!!!





Some sort of Library & Bonifacio - November
The first place i can't remember the name of, It was an interesting arty place similar to Cacoon Hope but this place had a great big library with waterfall inside. 

We then ventured to a place called Bonifacio where the tall buildings with light reminded me of the film Tron. We finished the adventure by getting on my Airship and looking for my brother who was somehow stuck int he floor .. again..... then we crashed and the adventure was over LOL.




My little brother Gemini loves to get melded with ground.



So now we are up to date on the Adventures of the Goonies. We next visited Linden Realms but ill blog about that in my next post!. Soon it will snow on Escapades and with it more tom foolery from the SL Goonies gang of misfits!






Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where it all began #SL #slkids

There are not many places in SL that i can be associated with 'the beginning'.

2006
I know some associate their beginnings with Nemo Beach, the Vortex, or SLC centre. But one place many will remember even if they did not realise it still existed is 'Inner Child Depot'. 

Created by Fawn Haley and Apple Pinkney back before 2006, it is in many eyes the first place devoted to the inner child and birthplace of the Child Avatar craze. But sadly all things come to an end and the drop in inworld browsing commonly associated with the steady popularity of SLmarketplace has left Inner Child Depot a husk of it's former glory. As a result Apple Pinkney has no choice but to close the mall and sell off the mainland sim.

2007
Where by the inner adventure and gathering of Child Avatars started at devoted clubs, adventure islands and scout  camps, It was the Inner Child Depot that most visited first to build their inner child inventory. From complete avatar designs, to bed room furniture, tree houses, pogo sticks and games, it was the place to go for all things child avatar.

I myself have had a small store there since the start of my clothing and avatar designs which helped me to afford my first plot which would eventually become Nemo Beach. Back then you could not sell anything unless you had a spot in a mall.

2008 - 2009
Inner Child Depot helped kick off many content creators virtual brands to which we owe it to ourselves to  recognise the wonderful work Apple and Fawn put into organising and supporting our fledgling community.

I want to personally thank Apple Pinkney for giving us Inner Child Depot without which a lot of us would not have seen the success we did. I hope she finds fresh new areas to explore and is proud of what she has achieved. 


2011
I'd like to thank also Fawn Haley, where ever she may be now after disappearing from SL to care for her real world husband. She was always a inspirational young soul and i really hope she knows how important she has been to the Child Avatar community in SL.

The loss of Inner Child Depot is a clear sign to those of us who have been here a while of the changing times, but we'll never forget how important it was.


Apple Pinkney is currently looking to sell her mainland plot and hopefully before the 14th of November.

It is a 63312sq plot on moderate rated mainland called 'Fletcher'.

If you are interested in purchasing this plot please contact 'Apple Pinkney' in world.

Like wise if you have any advice or guidance in selling her land, please give her a friendly IM.

The Fletcher Mainland Sim

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

#SL Mini Games, Visibility & Targeting


The plan was quite simple. Donations to land Tier were down so i needed to make Linden Credits quickly to stoke up the donations thermometer. 

Previously i attempted to create a Mini SL game called the 'Secret Underground Base' which did very well in bringing in credits to subsidise the donation target. But as i've already written after a week the initial 50 paying residents a day dwindled to below 5 and now zero. 

I'd assumed initially that this was due to Destination guide placement moving off the front page of the website, i now also think that the lack of the 'Games' category in the new Login screen destination guide helped in making my Mini game less visible.

So with interactive destinations currently loosing interest with visitors over a small period, permanent mini games seem a bad idea. Instead i would need to create short term Mini Game Experiences that got a large crowd for the first week and made a pile of credits before the lifespan of interest OR visibility died.

So with this in mind i created the 'Escapades Evil Zombie Worm Massacre'.

"Save the Puppy from the enchanted cage up on the mountain by finding the 5 magic words by killing Giant Evil Zombie Worms by summoning them from the 5 giant Musical keys on the island marked out on a map."

Does that sound simple enough? it turns out it was not.

The generation of Linden Credits came from selling the Chainsaw, HUD & map at L$200 (just under USD$1) which you needed if you were going to kill the worms.




I submitted to the Destination Guide with instructions and the note saying it cost L$200 to play, and to my shock it was placed as the featured destination for three or four days. But things were not going to plan. The first day i had a visitor count of almost 600 but only sold 8 chainsaws, so 600 people arrived at the game, and only 8 bought the ability to play the game. 

So armed with my best alt i mingled with the visitors to see what was going on. 



First thing i learnt was that almost everyone arriving was new to SL and using Basic Viewer, so they had not the ability to buy the chainsaw and had no idea how to change to advanced. 

"Pretty easy really, all you have to do is quit SL, then start SL, then change the mode to Advanced, then quit SL then start SL, then Login, then click BUY and spend some real money to get credits, then buy the chainsaw, SIMPLEZ!"

Secondly there was an issue with the way i had set up the Chainsaw to be bought. As my friend Nat pointed out, there are certain universal things we do when viewing a website, a rule to browsing content. When designing a website you stray from these rules at your own peril. The same it seems can be applied to virtual 3D worlds.

I had a sign stating 'BUY THIS CHAINSAW TO START THE GAME', next to which was a chainsaw on a stand which you clicked to buy. What i discovered was that people were clicking the 'sign' instead of the chainsaw and walking away thinking it was broke. I could not do anything about the Basic Mode using n00bs but i could at least correct this issue of intuitive user habit. Making the sign an option to buy the chainsaw improved the participating of the game a lot and my goal of meeting the Tier Target was finally reached just in time.



So the game is over and it brought up many thoughts an questions for making future games and using destination guide to promote them.

1.How can we sustain interest in a destination.
 It reminded me of something i read about the lifespan of a 'Tweet' and wondered if destinations on the destination guide followed the same premiss. Is there anything i can do to sustain longer visibility, or is the period of visibility dependant on the mechanics of the destination guide?


2. Should i have allowed n00bs to my mini game?
I had a specific goal, to make money by offering entertainment. With n00bs arriving in droves with the inability to purchase and lack of basic skills, should they have been their at all?

The game was targeted at people who already had basic knowledge of SL, who could immerse themselves and of course the ability to buy stuff. All the n00bs ended up being was a nuisance and immersion killers not to mention the lag caused by them all arriving en mass.

"i can't find the evil worms, can i kill this mountain of n00bs instead?"

3. How can we target Sl users of a certain level of experience?
Currently the way SL communicates there is no mass quick way to share destinations inside SL other than say sharing a landmark with a friend and posting on your SL feed a location. Perhaps a re-share function could be added to help people share destinations between friends via SL Feed?
Destination guide is a good place to be listed for a flash flood of n00bs, but the drop off is quick and the
functionality is perhaps to simple.


What i would like to see from Destination guide in future.
Destination guide seems geared to the n00b. Once it has showcased places to the n00b it then lacks any further helpful options.
Once you move from n00b to light experienced user it would be good if the destination guide changed to suit your skills. Such as simply allowing you to post destinations from the guide on to your SL feed, why this isn't an option along side the Facebook 'like' button is puzzling.

I started a discussion on my SL feed with a few friends about  targeting SL users of a specific skill set or interest and how that could possibly be achieved. ideas like a skills rating system for destinations. Places that are suited to n00bs are rated for n00bs, and those with a bit more experience can find places that are more challenging. 

Another idea was to then allow users to adjust their profile settings to express their skill level, where n00bs were set to 'learner' and more experienced users could change it to 'experienced', or the settings could change automatically depending on how old your avatar is or how much time you have spent in SL. The result being that the destination guide could taylor a guide based on your skill settings. This could even go further by comparing destinations with your profiles listed interests.

The idea being that you get an SL destination guide unique to YOU and i get the sort of people i targeted visiting my mini game.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is region server sharing resource impact a myth?

What ever happend to the argument Linden Lab used to justify the price hikes that many angry customers described as the great 'bait and switch'. 

If I remember right during the blog and forum flame wars that followed LL's announcement to up tier and reduce prim allowance, there was a revelation or story that openspace regions shared a server with four others. The idea being that an open space was a quarter of the resources of a full sim and while a full region enjoyed the resources of one server, four open spaces shared resources of on server. The story was that after Linden Lab made a descission to offer more prim allowance on open spaces, people started using them to creat resource hogs that took server resources away from regions sharing the server.

So LL decided to tackle their lack of foresight by renaming the current open space configuration to 'homestead' then uppimg the price, while capping the amount of concurrent visitors to just 20 and threatening script limitations.... It was a bitter time, that still hurts, dam them.

But things are moving on and LL are all different now possibly. But while looking into lag spikes on my full private region I discovered LL now put a full region on a server with up to thirteen others. I can imagine times have changed and servers improved, but would the same argument for the price hike be valid now?

By using the excuse they gave back then I end up wondering is my regions performance at the mercy of the seven other regions on the same server as me? What do Linden Lab do to make sure the service I pay a large amount for every month is not impeded by my server neighnours? Or i. or has it always just been an urban myth conjured by the lab to justify the great 'bait and switch'.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updated my Loki Blog at last #SL

It's been a while since i updated my Loki Blog. Needed to make it wider and update the images. I also decided to change the name of the blog since it's no longer about the SL Goonies, thats not to say there will not be any SL Goony related tom-foolery in future.

I had a look at the Dynamic Templates Google are offering on Blogger, they were fun but lack customisation and widgets. They seemed ok for the tumblr folk. 

Anyways i decided on just using a basic template with a customised back ground, nothing special. XD

And to finish this short post off, i opened SL to login in today to see myself on the login screen. My Zombie Worm game made front page LOL. Luckily my face was behind a spooky mask :-P


Thursday, September 29, 2011

#LL Destination Guide hides hidden underground base #SL



Mesh clothes selling well, it's been a long time coming but I'm sailing Linden Labs economic system and appear to be doing a rather spiffing job of it at the moment. 

i am pleased with the outcome and it has boosted my confidence in Second Life..

Thats more than can be said about my in world experience project. I wrote maybe a month ago about how initially my Underground Adventure seemed to be working swimmingly. I had noted also that the visitors suddenly dropped off. Now I'm lucky to get one visitor a day to a place that is listed on the destination guide. And The underground base is not the only one as The John King experience is also listed on the destination guide. Yet Rickety Town centre is still getting an average 30 visitors a day which utterly vexes me. For starters rickety Town is listed as a general non specific destination unlike the other two which are dedicated experiences. Why do people decide more over to visit a place that does not specify an activity over ones that do?

Also Rickety Town is only has 23 Facebook Likes compared to Underground Bases 105, and John Kings 92 likes.

So what gives? why are my two experience based destinations loosing out to the general non specific destination?

Truth is i do not know, i only have assumptions at the time.

Assumption 1: Rickety Town is the first of the 3 destinations you will come across.
Rickety Town appears on the first page of the 'Adventure & Fantasy' page. It could simply be a case of laziness to read through the list. The Adventure base is on the first page of the 'Games' section which is right at the bottom of the destination guides list.

Assumption 2: People use the built in Destination guide.
By this i mean the Login screens destination guide or the Basic viewer version of destination guide which you will notice does not list the 'Games' category at all. So thats hidden my hidden Underground Base game from a large majority of users. My advice is now to make sure you submit your destination to a category that is listed in all versions of the destination guide.

Assumption 3: People like to visit places without knowing what they want to do.
Well in this case maybe i can do something. I could perhaps redevelop Rickety Town centre to better offer the other two destination experiences. Maybe i can heard Rickety Town visitors to the other places.

What ever the cause is for the visitor drop offs, i need to find away to improve it if i am ever to rely on visitors for help in combating the high priced Linden Lab monthly maintenance tier. 

Perhaps LL could look at SL destinations and value them as much as they do Marketplace products. Market place products get extras to help promote items, they get buttons to tweet, plunk or facebook items. It's about time Land owners, in world places got some serious tools for promoting their places?

[UPDATE]
i realise that perhaps i should maybe look into how to improve things on in world search. There is a challenge here to improve visitors and so let the games begin!.

[UPDATE2]
I have been searching and searching the deep recesses of google sphere and found and interesting blog post on 'Living in the modem world' with highlights of the SLCC keynote from Linden Lab staff about Destination guide. At the bottom is a video and also a slideshow. The team seemed quite focused on helping destinations get out there. Perhaps all i have to do is wait?

The slideshow shows top 10 categories for both on the SL website and inside the viewer.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mesh & freedom to choose: How mesh is just another choice in #SecondLife ever changing culture #SL


Nat loves his mesh clothes

Some people like mesh clothes because they like how it fits them.

Some do not like mesh cloths because they have not found an item they like yet.

Some like to poke fun at others by pretending to wear mesh clothes but instead are wearing textured prim spheres, and watch and giggle as their friends relog 100 times :-p.

Fact is some people will love Mesh Clothes, and others will not, just like any clothes in SL. There is NO set way of creating and selling any clothes in SL, its a free open environment. There are some favoured ways for designers to create, but it is not a standard. 

Mesh clothes, the designs, how they may fit and what sorts of people they may fit is no different from any other types of clothing. If you have a Horse avatar, your going to have a hard time finding a dress that fits. Like wise if you are a child Avatar not every piece of pre-mesh era clothing is going to magically fit and not every item will be modifiable. 

Mesh clothing is just another addition to the ever evolving choices in Second Life, and as for SL's culture, since when has that ever stayed static?