Sunday, March 20, 2011

#SLbasicViewer - a perfect view into our world.

I remember posting a response to a blog post last year about making a basic viewer with all the complex rubbish removed, so i was gobsmacked to see LL have gone and done this.

Already there are cries of "NOooOOoOo you are removing the heart and soul of SL". I think it needs to be understood why there HAS to be a basic viewer. There are layers to Second Life once you manage to get through the orientation, find a place to visit, then start making friends. But many do not get that far, they do not find places, they do not experience anything that will hook them and they log off never to be heard again. 

"oh yeh i tried SL once, i could not find anything or anyone and the controls confused me"

Thats the basics that this new low level viewer aims to tackle. It aims to remove the complexity and give the newb the experience in a simple controlled manner. What Linden Lab will hopefully be trying out is what exactly needs to be put in or removed from the basic viewer in order to give a newb the best simple experience. And this is where the SL community will probably be split upon. 

I took the basic viewer for a spin today on my island. I have created some experiences for SL residents and wanted to see how well they performed in this basic viewer. What aspects of the experience is available to the newb on basic viewer and which are not.

1. Money
Basic viewer does not use Linden Dollars, which kinda screws private region owners even further in the butt. The Basic viewer makes it impossible to pay for good experiences. In summery LL charge me high tier, then expect me to offer my creative builds for FREE to basic viewer users. I want more incentives to build engaging free places for newbs to visit in basic viewer!

2. Inventory.
It's good that the inventory has been removed because its a terrible messy system of storing items. But i cant help thinking they do need at least something to allow giving items to wear or use. I'm only saying this because people on the basic viewer cant use my bashing stick to interact with my island.

The complexity of the Inventory is why it's not included so a non complex way of allowing items for basic viewers is needed. The answer may not even lay with an inventory, perhaps simply allowing objects to ask the user to be worn is an answer. User clicks on object, object requests to be attached to user, user accepts, now they have a bashing stick to unlock more things?

Another idea might be a special gifts or collected tab that only allows up to 20 items. Once it is full you can not receive any more items until you either delete or archive items in the collected tab. (archiving would move items into pro viewer inventory).

3. User Interface
This is a UI thing that might just be me. It does not scale well with monitor resolutions. My Monitor is quite small, 1360x768 and the destination guide was cut off. So was the default avatar selection. I could not read any info about places and when i clicked a place thinking i would get more info on it, i ended up teleported there. 

It's more intuitive for me to click the tab button to make the destination guide disappear rather than hunting for a small X in the corner.

There should be a far greater message at login saying "please wait for your world to load"

4. Social sharing.
with all the palaver about Facebook connecting im surprised there is nothing in basic viewer to expand on this. Maybe it was in the cut off Destination guides, or just in the user profiles. I may have missed it.

Final thoughts about basic viewer.
If we will not be allowing newbs to use linden dollars, then we don't really want them hanging around in Basic viewer for long. I want them out of basic viewer and into Pro viewer as quick as possible so they can buy my crap so i can pay off the high tier prices. Thats why features we are used to in the Pro viewer can not be implemented in the basic viewer, we don't want them to have the same experience.The Basic viewer is BASIC, it's an observation only window into our world. The hopeful result being that once they have got used to the intuitive basic controls they have seen enough to interest them into taking the bigger step… using the unintuitive Pro viewer2 :-p

So to be honest i think it works great and with a little consideration from land owners people could see some great things to encourage them to delve further into SL. The only area i feel needs work is the Ui, its very important that destination guide works well. You can see in my video where i instinctively wanted to pull the destination guide window up.

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