Thursday, January 13, 2011

is simplicity the KEY to Engaging Virtual World Experiences? #SL

Simples!

Im in the throws of writing up plans for multiple experiences for my Island in second life. I'm reflecting on what i learnt from last year with the Black Heart Mystery, Burn2's Professor Liddens Lab, Egnog the christmas troll and the struggle to make ends meet with owning a private island. I'm also considering the best experiences i've seen by other residents while on Goony adventures with my friends. 

I find though that the best most memorable experiences in SL do not use the latest in Linden Lab innovations, they do not use highly complicated scripting. They use simple but effective creative thinking. I myself have found that the simpler the scripted task the more reliable it will be because lets face it, the grid is wonky and you never know how your scripts will work from one day to the next.

With Egnog the christmas Troll i had him set up to detect people entering a cave. He would then ask if they wanted a present. Unfortunately after a while the script would stop working and people would walk away disappointed. Now i don't blame my scripters, they are very cool, very kind and awesome at what they do, i blamed my idea not being simple enough. Instead of having the troll detect people entering the cave, the troll simply should have been activated by either  collision detection or by a password. I all to often forget what im trying to achieve by being lost in the mechanism of getting there.

Shared Media was to herald a new era of easy interactive visual prims. Connecting the inworld to the infostream of the web. But for me at least i have not seen that happen. The viewer fragmentation of the stagnant SL community makes it harder work to cater for both so why bother with shared media. Most people during the black heart Mystery would click to view the video sections outside of the SL viewer, either because they were using viewer1 or simply because it was more reliable.

When working on the Black Heart i looked back to a favourite old game of mine by The Oliver Twins of Codemasters. The mechanics of the game were quite simple, collect objects, when you drop those objects next to other objects things happen. Very simple game mechanics, but when applied to the rich atmosphere of New Babbage with a good story driving it then you have a good reliable experience to build upon.

Don't get me wrong, i would love to use shared media, Mesh objects, and highly complicated scripting that can do whizzy things. I will experiment with them because i love fiddling with new things in SL. But for the big projects i will keep things simple so that they work for the entire grid not just those with super spangly computers and viewer2.

Reluctance to adopt the latest SecondLife features and keeping things simple could also lead to cross grid possibilities in future.

1 comment:

Nat Merit said...

I actually watched all the videos in world on the shared media screen at the time, but still clicked to get them in my browser so I could save them for later.

It's nice to be able to view the video in your browser a week later when you can't remember a detail, but it's a lot more immersive (and cool!) to see it in world as you unlock the clue, and I heard positive comments from other people saying the same. I think videos in world were one of the big wins for this RP over Shadow of the 13 for me (that and the multiple paths you could take).

So my point is, the in world videos are a big plus, but power users will always grab the URL as well if you offer it (which makes sense anyway given SL's many limitations and split userbase).