markpasc (markpasc) wrote,

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Parting thoughts on Second Life

My trial ended last night, so this will be my final entry about Second Life, unless I reread Everyone in Silico or try There™ or something and find more words to share.

  • For several days this week I led the “referrals this week” leader board. Thanks!
  • The page you get without JavaScript is still a 404, so Google still doesn't index the site.
  • Philip Rosedale, founder of Linden Lab, used to be Real's CTO. I guess that's from where the idea of streaming a 3D world came.
  • Second Life is expensive, but that means they aren't giving away their ice cream for free. The commercial enterprise won't collapse under the weight of its own popularity. Plus there's the snarky but entirely true answer someone gave when a fellow trial user at the mentor meeting the other night asked, “What does Second Life have that other services don't?” “Adults.” You can't get an account without being 18, whether or not you have debt digits to give.
  • I never figured out how to make custom avatar animations. Even the ones used by items like the Jetball shooter (standard gun anim) and baseball bat (standard sword anim, which looks funny) are precompiled and provided with the viewer software. I bet the bow and arrow animation is also provided, but I'm not sure. There's no documented way to make your own animations, and as those are precompiled and already present instead of streamed like everything else, it sounds impossible. You probably have to write a program that explicitly moves the parts of your avatar somehow, but I couldn't figure how to do that either.
  • Reading the scripting forum, you find there are a lot of complaints about LSL. That's a definite area for improvement.
  • If you buy a clothing item like from Kenzington's and get an object (shows up in Inventory as a box), drop it on the ground, menu it and select Edit, click the More button, and go to the Contents tab. It should have the clothing item there. After copying it to your inventory you can delete the object (and I think recover L$10 or so).
  • Some neat things to build: working Venetian blinds, an AirZooka, a fully articulated tail (you can get cat tails that “twitch,” which is better than not, but you still can't swish it or curl it up).
  • As Hamlet Linden says when discussing the Cory Doctorow book club meeting, it's hard to sit on stuff (perm). One cafe I found was very nice, though unfinished, and except that its awe-inspiring glass chairs were very, very hard to sit in. I'm not sure how Hamlet means “do it manually,” either.

I did meet a “rate miner,” who traded positive ratings with anyone and everyone in an effort to maximize his... which worked: he's in the leader lists for most things. But then, he also built the nice mall I visited, and has been there for ages, so a top rating is probably deserved. I rated him positive for behavior (he seemed nice during our chat) and building (the mall, at least).

He told me he never played computer games until he tried SL, which goes with Raph Koster's games turning into art: SL isn't so much a game as a long-running collaborative artwork. Raph says, “games will never be mature as long as the designers create them with complete answers to their own puzzles in mind.” I recall a forum thread I read yesterday about invisible boxes that you can use to hide something, and how it was basically a rendering bug; someone cautioned that they wouldn't whine about trying to sell those boxes and . Someone else said the Lindens loved the emergent properties of SL, the ultimate expression of which would be that players would discover a rendering bug and sell it to other players.

Regardless of whether the bug is fixed, that it's even an issue shows how SL is like this next generation “game” Raph discusses, which I would restate as a game that's fully participatory for the designer. The Internet itself is such a game with a higher barrier to entry, jokes about beating the Internet aside (“the end guy was hard”). From what I've heard of the other graphical social MMOGs, Second Life is the most open ended, the most designer-participatory. Second Life is the frontier forger in that niche, and deserves our support if not our money.

Tags: second life
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