Second Life Destinations : A New Travelogue Video Series

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Today Linden Lab announced that their wonderful Destinations video series will now be a weekly thing.
We can now expect there to be a short (60-90 seconds) video that gives us a look at the creations and communications in Second Life.

I think this is a wonderful idea and something, I think, similar to some of what I’ve suggested in the past.
The Destination Guide is not mentioned in SL’s official announcement (you can read it by clicking HERE), but if I’m not mistaken all the videos so far have been or still are in the Destination Guide.

As I’ve said before, I love the Destination Guide and think it is one of the, if not the best tool Linden Lab has at their disposal to bring new people to SL and to keep them there.
It is a wonderful showcase of some of the best that SL has to offer.
I’d love to see it used more, for instance by loading the page for people when they first join SL or perhaps let people pick their first teleport from the destination guide inworld from the starter’s island.
Either way, I hope LL is going to make a video for every place in the destination guide and eventually will somehow embed these videos in the destination guide itself!

The destination guide deserves a little more love and attention I think.
There are a few places on there who perhaps shouldn’t be there, for instance sims that have vanished or completely changed their theme and no longer offer what they promise in the destination guide.
Of course a while ago LL started the ‘Places pages’ which started out quite promising but then went a bit quiet.
I’d love to see the destination guide expand a little by for instance a few more pictures per destination, a video and maybe just allow those sims that have been picked the option to maintain their page in the destination guide.

Anyway, back on topic!
This is a great little video series and I look forward to seeing lots of them being made and uploaded every week.

You can find all the videos so far by checking out the playlist on youtube by clicking HERE.

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My 10th rezzday

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On this day exactly 10 years ago I joined Second Life.

Well technically, I re-joined Second Life.
I tried it out in 2007, walked around a bit, saw lots of weird people doing weird things, didn’t get it, ran off, planning never to return.

Then in 2009 I got a new computer, wanted to push it to its limits and remembered this virtual world that truly was quite a computer testing experience.
After I tried SL for a few minutes and was about to log off, again for ever, I decided to use the search option and look for something vintage, something historical.
I found a 1930s themed club, realised anyone could build stuff in SL, realised I could build stuff in SL, realised I could use SL to do the one thing I couldn’t do in RL; travel back in time.
The rest is, in more ways than one; history.

In this decade SL has changed a lot, it improved beyond recognition.
My avatar hasn’t.
Nor did my interests.
I started the 1920s Berlin Project a few weeks after joining and in 2 months it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.

SL has given me some unique experiences, it also provided me (eventually) with a modest income that even allowed me to stay home and look after my dog in the last months of her life in stead of having to go to work.
I’ll always be grateful for that.

But SL also introduced me to some amazing people, I’ve made friends all over the world, I’ve been able to share my passion for history with them, I’ve taught people a lot of stuff and they taught me even more.

The future is bright, I’m not looking forward to having to learn Blender, am yet to fall in love with Sansar, but still have tons of ideas for Second Life… that I’ll get started on as soon as tier gets a little lower…

Talking of tier.
When a tenant in Berlin celebrates their anniversary as a Berliner, I give them one month free rent.
Yes, that is a very subtle hint of mine towards Linden Lab… go on… give me a month of tier for my 10th anniversary 😉

Here’s to the next 10 years!



Me in 2009, just before the opening of 1920s Berlin.

Sansar now available through Steam

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Steam is a very well known digital distribution platform for software, specifically for games.
I’ve been a gamer since Pong so I also have a steam account and I rather like it.
It allows me to easily and quickly buy new games from the comfort of my chaise lounge.
And there are also regularly sales going on so you can get a game with a nice discount.

From now on Sansar, Linden Lab’s second virtual online world, can be downloaded through Steam.
This is both wonderful and risky.

The wonderful part is that it has the possibility of reaching the over 150 MILLION users of Steam including many who actually own head sets or at the very least are more likely to own pretty good computers and decent internet connections.
On top of that these people are the target group that are willing to try out these new things.

Steam also makes suggestions based on other games and software you’ve tried, so people who are into virtual worlds, chat, etc, may get Sansar as a suggestion.

The risky side is that Steam users get a chance to recommend Sansar or not… and they also leave public reviews that can be rather brutal.
For instance, check out Blocksworld, also created by Linden Lab and available through Steam since september last year.
The reviews have been mixed.

So far nobody has left a review, then again it has only been available through Steam for a short while.
But keep an eye out for them, or of course, leave your own!

Sansar is described as;

ABOUT THIS GAME

Welcome to Sansar – the best place to hang out with friends, play games, and stay connected with your favorite communities!

Host and attend virtual events: concerts, watch parties, meet-and-greets, and more. Create and share virtual spaces with your friends, and explore the thousands of experiences our users have already created. Cheer for your favorite players and teams WHILE playing any number of fun virtual mini-games: cornhole, shuffleboard, pong, bowling, and more. Shop for new items and sell what you create on the Sansar Store.

Dive in today and be a part of shaping the Sansar experience. We’re growing all the time, and we can’t wait to see what you build and hear what you think.

Several years ago Second Life was going to be available through Steam but that didn’t happen.
I never found out why that fell through.

On the Steam page for Sansar you see a video, several pictures, a feature list, etc.

FEATURE LIST

  • Connect with the communities you love, wherever they are in the world.
  • Join friends for live events – virtual meet-ups, game nights, and so much more!
  • Explore thousands of virtual experiences, and create some of your own while you’re at it.
  • Shop for virtual merch on the Sansar Store!
  • Express yourself with a custom avatar. Be the pirate, astronaut, or dancing chicken you always dreamed of.
  • Full head and hand tracking mean your avatars move and talk in VR just like you do!
  • Host events for your fans and followers – AMAs, meet-and-greets, watch parties, the sky’s the limit.

One thing I did notice that is clearly a mistake that LL better fix asap is that it mentions that it requires a virtual reality headset.

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The video looks ok, I think one of the things Sansar has going for it is that it looks better than any other virtual world that headset users can use.
The video and the pictures are all a little too hip for my taste.
What I love about Second Life are the amazing landscapes, the visually stunning locations.
I would have liked to see something like that here, not just groups of people in flashy locations having fun.
I want peace and quiet, I guess that’s because I’m bitter and old.

Anyway, download it, give it a go, leave a review and make sure to check in now and then to see how other people review Sansar.

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Magic Leap introduces Avatar Chat and it is stupid.

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Ok, I know I’m just a bitter old woman who doesn’t understand happy hip young trendy people but seriously?
Magic Leap has just introduced ‘Avatar Chat’ and just like with Facebook’s VRchat, they think it is appealing to make it look like a game for 5 year olds.
While we in Second Life have had pretty decent looking avatars for quite a few years, both VRchat and now Avatar Chat think we’re ok with cartoon characters.

And of course, maybe that is exactly what young urban professionals want who use VR to share healthy exciting cooking recipes… because yeah, that’s what we all would use VR for right?

Look at this;

Just ignoring the very ugly Magic Leap logo, which also looks like a failed character by a dodgy Chinese company trying to be like Disney, I’m immediately annoyed by the controller.
It is 2018 and we’re still using controllers in VR?
Are we still waiting for the gloves or other wearables to hit the market?

Yeah I just want to make a call, so lets point this thing around and click a trigger 3246 billion times in stead of just pointing with my vinger or you know, give a voice command…

Our hip young trendy friends in their groovy fancy expensive homes apparently have the mental age of a child.
They give each other “high fives” that for some reason make flamingo firework appear, make silly sounds and send heart pictures because they like a picture of a meal…
Someone makes an astronaut appear for no reason and it is time for a “fist bump”, again with firework.
If I was in this VR chat with them, I’d be bumping my fist into their faces by now.

But it seems like that’s all they wanted to do, some silly stuff and then they go back to their busy professional lives…

Maybe it is just me being grumpy, cynical and old and I do realise that young hip people in general are pretty stupid these days, but this video is really quite underwhelming, to put it mildly.

Now the last time I checked Sansar didn’t have some of the things both these VR chat services offer but they are already looking a LOT better.
Of course I have no idea about how much work is involved in programming any of this, but looking at this, I reckon it wouldn’t be that much of an effort for the Sansar team to create a VR chat demo that would blow these videos out of the water.

Pfaffenthal 1867 closes its doors in Second Life and moves to Sansar

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One of SL’s most wonderful historical sims Pfaffenthal 1867 has announced it is closing its doors as it is about to move to Sansar.

Pfaffenthal 1867 is a wonderful reconstruction of the historical quarter of central Luxembourg City.
It is a great city to explore, it has been very popular with SL photographers and video makers.

Members in the group received this note;

Dear citizens,

The moment has finally arrived, for the 1867 project to move on to SANSAR, were land is free, where we can have better graphics,VR headsets and real physical interactivity. Note that sansar works very well on a normal PC,for desktop mode you do NOT need a gamer PC.

IMPORTANT!
All the 1867 sims in second life will be shut down next monday, on the 26th of november. Please pack all your stuff by then.

We will have a good bye party, saturday the 24th of november at 10 am at café neuen.
Please join us in SANSAR and be among the first to get a new house there! we have 4×4 km !

cheers to all of you!

Hauptmann Weydert

As a history addict I’m sad to see one of the few historically accurate sim in SL vanish.
Personally I’m not sure Sansar is ready for a historical roleplaying community.
Are there enough Victorian clothes, is there a rental system yet, could you buy enough period furniture to decorate the homes, can you even open doors in Sansar?
I don’t know, things are going fast there and I haven’t been in a while.
I’m not sure how it will work out but it does give me a reason to visit Sansar again so I will find out soon enough if the Sansar Pfaffenthal is as good, interactive and alive as the Second Life one.

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Mind you, having visited a few small experiences in Sansar, I dread the loading time for something as big and detailed as Pfaffenthal.

I hope it all works out for the sim and its community.

If you want to take another look around the SL Pfaffenthal, do so while you can!
Here is the slurl; http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Pfaffenthal%20Beenchen/216/255/33

And remember Virtual Victorians, if you need a new home in Second Life, you can always come to Victorian London in the Time Portal sim! (click for slurl)

Here are the gifts! Linden Lab lowers tier & setup fees!

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Ebbe just announced live during his SL15b interview that tier & setup fees are going down!
A very important thing that many of us have been asking for for a long long time.

In short;

  • Maintenance fees (tier) goes down by 15%
  • Setup fees for land are reduced by 41%

These things are hugely important.
I think setup fees should be ZERO but lowering it from $600 to $349 will already make a huge difference for people who want to start a new sim.

So if you own a private region, congratulations!

Unfortunately these discounts are not available for grandfathered/bought down land prices.
Which is a huge shame.
A while back LL offered this option and many of us worked very hard to be able to pay for this tier discount and now that difference in tier isn’t that big any more, not that we didn’t already make that money back, but still!
I want a discount too!

I know, staring a gift horse in the mouth isn’t very nice, but I can’t help myself.
We’re talking money here and I’m Dutch!

Oh and of course, every action has an opposite reaction; the costs of buying Linden Dollars goes up.

You can read the official announcement by clicking here; https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2375-another-15-for-15-lower-land-prices-and-reduced-set-up-fees/

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Second Life’s new 15th birthday video

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Linden Lab has just released a special 15th birthday video that, very cleverly, isn’t just meant for us long term users and residents, but also a great little advertisement and sort of teaser to everyone who hasn’t been in SL yet.

Besides Ebbe looking very relaxed with an unbuttoned shirt somewhere in Amsterdam (not my house, I swear, stop looking at me like that, I deny everything!) we see some avatars holding up signs with a few very interesting facts & figures that should impress the outsiders.

In the video Ebbe talks about and shows a few users, what they do in SL, we get to see a bunch of nice places and even Philip pops in to say hello.

Enjoy;

New tools for region owners in Second Life

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Many years ago, in 2012 to be exact, I wrote a blog about how it would be a good idea to give region owners some offline tools to help them manage their sims.

You can read it by clicking here, but in short;
I suggested some tools accessible on the SL official website that allowed region owners so do some things inworld without actually having to start up the viewer as that isn’t always an option.
One of the tools I suggested was to allow us to restart a region from the website.

Linden Lab has now given us this option!
This is very handy, not just because you can’t always go inworld because you’re too busy in RL, the computer you’re on doesn’t handle SL or maybe your sim is under attack by grievers and you can’t even get to it.
And of course, by being able to do this via the SL website means you can also do it on your mobile phone while in traffic and nowhere near a computer.
Click here to read the official announcement.

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Region owners can now simply go to their land manager page and restart all their regions from there, you can also restart them in safe mode so with scripts, physics & collisions disabled.
Effectively making griefing impossible.

This is a very handy and some day it may save your bacon.

But I hope this is just the first of more tools to come!
Because I can think of a few more improvements that would be most welcome.
Here are a few ideas for SL website tools (not just for region managers) I wrote about in my blog back in 2012, if you can think of more, please share your ideas in the comments section.

  • Be able to send an message to the region.
  • Have access to your groups so you can send a group message, join group chat (for instance to explain what you’re doing about the griefer attack) but also give and take away permissions to make things harder for that troll who pretended to be a tenant or to give that new tenant rezing permissions without them having to wait till you get home.
  • See who is currently visiting your region and eject someone if need be.
  • Have access to detailed visitor logs.
  • Change the windlight.
  • Allow everyone, not just region managers, to chat, live, with anyone in SL from the SL website.
    Allowing you to talk to your friends but also fellow administrators in case of an emergency or just to check if everything is in order.

In short, all those little jobs that only take a few seconds to do but because you have to do them inworld, can take minutes, even hours if you have to wait to get home to take care of them.

UPDATE;

I’ve contacted Linden Lab and asked them if they are planning any improvements and additions to these tools.
I was told;

Yes, we do – we have a project viewer with an update to estate management tools coming very soon. The simulator changes have just rolled out to support those. We think these are going to be a very welcome addition.

Second Life’s new infographic & the old one

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I love these, the media loves these, everybody loves these.
The infographic quickly gives you some interesting information packaged with pretty pictures.

Linden Lab just published this fresh new one as part of the 15th anniversary of the biggest user build virtual online world Second Life.

I’ve decided to dig up the infographic Linden Lab made for the 10th anniversary and compare the two.

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Up to today 57 million accounts were created, that is impressive but doesn’t say very much about how well SL is doing or how many people actually use it because we all know that many of these people who sign up don’t use SL anymore ands some are alt accounts, I for instance have roughly 2 hundred thousand alts myself 😉
5 years ago there were 36 million accounts created, so that is another 21 million in 5 years!

Today the total time spend in SL is 482.000, now that is a lot.
It would be nice to know how many people actually are responsible for these hours though.
On the other hand, I really do not want to know how many hours I’ve spend in SL!
Five years ago this number was 217.000 years, so in the last 5 years we’ve spend more time in SL than people have in the first 10 years!
Now that is interesting.
SL may have stopped growing and is in slow decline but it is being used more intensely than ever before.

On average 350.000 people register for SL every month, even if many of these are alts and even if lots of new users only stay for a short time and don’t become “lifers”, it is still quite a high number of people who are still interested in checking out and trying a 15 year old product.
However, 5 years ago this number was 400.000, so this number has gone down.

$68 million has been paid to creators in 2017, I wish I was paid a million.
This number was not mentioned 5 years ago but in 2015 Ebbe said that users cashed out $60 million, so it looks like SL’s economy has gotten better the last 2 years.

 

5 million virtual goods created for the marketplace, back in 2013 this was 2.1 million, so this too seems to have grown rather a lot.
In the last 5 years we’ve been creating and/or selling more items on marketplace than in the 10 years before!
Mind you, with this number you have to ask yourself if everything that is being sold is actually created by users for sale or sold one, the cacha market is huge and consists of people selling stuff they did not create.

The top 3 categories most popular in the destination guide are games, editors picks and photogenic spots.
I had not spotted the photogenic spots category yet, all my sims should be in there of course!
It is interesting to see that 5 years ago the most popular categories were games, events and adventure & fantasy.

50 million chat messages sent daily, that doesn’t surprise me, I reckon I get at least half of all those messages!
Or at least it feels like it sometimes.
Unfortunately this number was not shared 5 years ago, but I think it has gone up because those who chat the most are the people who spend a lot of time in SL and it looks like we’ve been spending more and more time in this virtual world of ours.
I wonder if the real world becoming less and less pleasant might have had something to do with that…

Most popular shopping categories; avatar apparel, avatar accessories, home & garden.
In 2013 this was not shared but we did learn that women’s hairstyles were the most purchased items.

I’d like to have seen how many users visit monthly these days and how large SL’s landmass is.

I wonder if my analysis of these two infographics makes sense.
The most important things I notices are that although SL is in decline, those of us who do make it our home spend more time and money.
Which I reckon is pretty good news.
Of course we have to keep fighting to make sure more people join and stay once they’ve joined, but the locals, the regulars, the oldtimers, are doing a great job of keeping the world alive, active, fresh and interesting.
I reckon we deserve some nice gifts during the anniversary… subtle hint….

Last names return to SL and more, as part of 15th anniversary celebrations

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Yes you’ve read that correctly, last names are returning!

They of course never should have been removed, they were missed by most almost from day one.
Sure, we love that this allowed us to change our display names but somehow those called ‘resident’ were missing out.
Last names are fun, especially when you bump into a ‘relative’ of yours with the same last name.

Anyway, I get ahead of myself.
As you may know, SL will be celebrating its 15th anniversary soon and have started handing out gifts early.

I will share a link to the original announcement at the bottom here but first discuss a few specifically for the simple reason that I find them interesting and this is my blog and I do what I want you’re not my mum.

1&2. Lower tier on the mainland, we were given this a week or so ago and its great but of course those of us who are no longer on mainland felt a bit left behind.

3. More value for premium members, including new advantages that will add more value for merchants, creators and landowners.
Now this sounds very interesting as I am one of all of those, but generally premium membership hasn’t given me any bonuses that I got very excited about and this promise is rather vague so all we can do is wait.

4. Environment enhancements, FINALLY I WILL GET MY 24 HOUR DAY CYCLES!!
This is brilliant, we’ve known about this for ages and I can’t wait.

7. Last names to return!
This is wonderful, I’m glad they found a way to do this.
They write; “we will provide a way to customize your last name in Second Life” and that sounds even more exciting than new residents getting last names, because this seems to suggest that… everyone will be able to customise their last name!
Wait, what?
I have no idea what they’ve got planned but does this mean old avatars can also change their last names?

Finally Ebbe writes about more pricing changes to come.

Currently, Land costs can be quite high, and make up a lopsided portion of our Second Life revenues. To improve this imbalance, we plan to increase revenues in other ways so that we can lower land costs further. In order to avoid shocks to the in-world economy and to take care that we keep the business healthy, we plan to make these changes in a measured way, taking time to assess the impacts of each change as we go.

And;

In the coming months some other fees may increase, including Marketplace commissions, Linden Dollar exchange fees, and cashout fees.

This sounds both promising and worrisome.
The idea that tier could be lowered by raising other costs is not new and has come up many times before, but mostly in relation to Sansar.
It is nice to now see it brought up in relationship to SL and I do think this is the way to go.
This system will tax those of us who make money, it will tax commerce in stead of creativity.
Tier could lower, sims could get cheaper, the threshold people need to cross to start a new community or project in SL will be lowered.
We’ve already seen the exchange fees go up and this brings extra income to LL but doesn’t effect the majority of people in SL.
But all of this has to be done very carefully and in small steps because if SL becomes more expensive or less profitable for those of us who try to make a living with it, it could cause some serious damage.

For instance, if my exchange & cashout fees go up before my tier goes down, I’ll be losing money.
However I am assuming LL will plan these changes at the same time or at least make sure tier goes down first.
Either way, I expect that these changes will, no matter how, make SL generally cheaper for all of us, regardless of how much money you make.

Anyway, what do you think about these changes?

You can read the entire announcement by clicking here.

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