Youtuber Mr. Moon has visited Second Life and made quite an impressive video about it with his old pal Vertiigo. I have bumped into both of them a few times in games such as Rust, DayZ, etc, don’t ask what happened. One of them may even have ended up in a dungeon in my castle, in a non pervy way of course, honest. I may even have annoyed them with stories about Second Life, as I often do when playing games. Because yes, I may be a fat old cat lady living in a farm in the middle of nowhere, I’m also a gamer and have been one since Pong.
Of all the games I’ve played and still play, of course none have gotten as much attention from me as Second Life. It is where I hang out daily, meet my friends, spend time in the world I created in stead of some world a game developer imagined, even manage to make a little bit of a living there but above all, it just allows me to experience things I just never get to do in any of the games I play.
It is always interesting to see a relative newcomers experiences in the virtual world many of us have become so familiar with. It is always annoying to see someone have a better computer and less lag than me though.
I’ve been trying to get LL to get more youtubers into trying SL, they can get you the kind of publicity you can’t buy! Mr. Moon for instance has over 400K subscribers, his video has had over 60K views.
Of course they mostly hang out in dodgy clubs, ugly old sims, meet horrible rude people, there’s some hanky panky (thankfully blurry) and they do a fair bit of swearing. Just so you know.
It’s funny though.
But underneath all that there seems to be a genuine curiosity and admiration for what they find during their exploration. At the halfway mark the video changes, Mr. Moon chats with long term Second Life residents, asking serious questions, getting serious answers. He starts to see some of the things that make SL great and wonderfully describes them. He is talking to an audience of gamers, many of whom will have no interest in SL or look at it with certain preconceptions, but I reckon he got their attention. He shows SL looking good, visiting wonderful spots with graphics settings set to high. Anyway, it may bring some new people to SL, which is good 🙂
But I hope Verts & Moon come and spend more time in Second Life and make more videos. If I bump into them I won’t lock them in a dungeon, again, I promise.
Some wonderful news from Linden Lab; the last names are back from today! Well, for those of us who have a premium account. Which may not sound nice if you don’t have one but I think it is a good idea, more about that later.
Anyway, in short, for years people who joined SL had to pick from a list of last names, which is why my name is Jo Yardley. I never would have chosen Yardley, but I assumed I’d be spending some time in English sims, as I’m a Anglophile. Had I known I’d be living in 1920s Berlin for a decade, I would have chosen something a bit more German!
So if you have a premium account and are willing to pay about $40 you can change your first name and pick a new last name, again from a list of last names.
OMG I could be Jo Jazzhands! Of course I can not change my name, not after having had the same one for over a decade, a name connected to 1920s Berlin, Time Portal, some publicity stuff I’ve done, etc. I don’t want to brag but my name is known (and feared) by a few people, not to mention that I’ve been part of a vibrant active roleplaying community. Frau Jo Yardley has lived in 1920s Berlin since 1912, she can’t just change her name!
I like last names and always thought getting rid of them was a bad idea, but unfortunately Linden Lab still has not made me prime ultra uber-consultant. Meeting someone with the same last name as I have was always a lot of fun. On the other side, if someone misbehaved in my sim, I would absolutely go bother people with the same last name about it, complaining to them about their rude cousin, always as a bit of fun though 😉
I love display names, they’re a great gadget for the roleplaying community. But they also allow people who have partnered or consider themselves family to carry the same last name. I bet some people will spend hours refreshing the page till they see the name they want, perhaps the last name of their husband or wife so they can be properly married, without the need of display-names.
I’ll just remain good old grumpy Jo Yardley, I won’t be changing any names of alts because it’s too expensive, but I’m sure this change that has been long awaited will be just what some people want.
For more information and details make sure you read the official announcement by clicking here.
When I started thinking seriously about all the amazing things VR could offer us, bringing back the dead was one of the many things I looked forward to.
I never knew my grandmother, she died before I was born but made such a huge impact on everyone around her that I’ve always felt her presence, not literally but in her children, my family members, my upbringing. After surviving the hell of a WW2 Japanese concentration camp she was an amazing mum to her 9 children but died way too young.
I always missed not having her around, not having met her is one of the biggest regrets of my life. And one day I hope to meet her in VR. I don’t need to interact with her, I don’t want to talk to her, it would be impossible as we don’t have her voice recorded anywhere and I’d just know that anything she’d say would be made up by someone else. But the idea of simply being in the same room as a NPC that looks exactly like her, just sitting there by the radio, drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, would mean the world to me. I’d just sit there and cry my eyes out.
But when someone dies today, we generally have a lot more resources to work with to recreate these people. Of most people today we have countless hours of video recordings, we have sound, movements, mannerisms and thousands of images in stead of just one album of black and white pictures. That means that the people we recreate in VR will be a lot more realistic and of course we’re still just at the beginning of this. Soon it will be relatively easy to bring a dead person back to life, something that today takes specialists studios countless hours, huge computers and a big pile of (usually) Hollywood money. And even then it is somehow still not quite right.
Technology will move forward, the computer generated people will become more and more realistic and the time, money, effort and amount of expertise it takes to achieve a realistic and convincing result is going to be less and less.
We can have long and deep debates about how we should use this technology and if it is good or perhaps bad for how we deal with mourning those we lose. Because as interesting it is to dance with Marlene Dietrich in 1920s Berlin, have a chat with Leonardo Da Vinci in his studio or how lovely it would be to visit Alexander the Great, most of us will probably think of someone a lot closer to them they’d want to meet. Is it good that in stead of letting go, we get to hang out with our family members who died for as long and often as we want? I guess we should leave this to the psychologists and philosophers, because quite frankly I couldn’t care less. I want to meet my gran, I want one last chat with my best friend, I want to walk my dogs through the park again and I already know I want to talk to my parents after they’ve died. Anyone suggesting I perhaps shouldn’t, will be ignored when the time comes.
For those of us who live in Second Life, this really isn’t anything new. I bet people have been trying to recreate the dead in SL pretty much since the world was opened to the public. But using a VR headset for it is quite something else.
Anyway, the website ‘Road to VR‘ wrote about a Korean documentary about this subject. In the video a mother is reunited with her little daughter who recently died. As you can perhaps imagine seeing this has turned me into a weeping wreck.
I don’t really have the qualifications to make a proper assessment on how healthy, ethical or proper this is, but from the video it appears to do the mother some good. I especially like how the kid shows mum where she lives now. Perhaps this leaves a kind of memory for mother, helping her to imagine her child living there and replacing the last memory that she had before, of the child in a hospital bed or even coffin. But I’m pretty sure it is going to mess up her little sister, who is still alive but is there watching mum reunite with the dead big sister and who also had to be a stand-in for the people who created this VR experience.
Anyway, healthy or not, right or wrong, it is of course something sensitive we should be really careful with but I bet most people will react to this technology the way I do, not caring about anything but just wanting to try it already and miss that one person we can’t really do without.
Make sure you read the article on ‘Road to VR’ for the whole story and the technological background, you can find it by clicking here.
Totally missed this interesting documentary about Sansar. And yes before you ask, I am in Sansar but don’t spend a much of time there as I’m still too dim to create the stuff I want to create in that world.
Normally I only blog when I have some news that others haven’t already posted about, but because I’ve missed it, maybe you missed it and I just like the documentary and so here it is;
Nice hat Ebbe, good start, now start wearing an 1930s suit with the hat, come on, you know you want to 😉 The avatar creation tool looks good. I love the idea of getting a piece every time someone sells something you’ve worked on even if they linked it to something else and sell it as their own. I see that Linden Lab still doesn’t look like a lab and they still haven’t hired a plasterer to do something about those bare brick walls.
Ebbe says that they may have left some of the key ingredients behind in SL that could be the difference between success and fail. I think that is indeed the problem at the moment, the ingredients that would make me move to Sansar are not there yet. With the emphasis on yet of course. I’ll be keeping an eye on Sansar, dropping in now and then, but it is too soon for me to actually start building my first historical RP community there. What about you, why aren’t you in Sansar yet?
I’m the eternal old spinster, I don’t need no family, but lots of people in SL do. They love getting married or just partnering with their best friend. People start families, clans, clubs, gangs, etc.
But although at least we can partner someone of the same gender and animals, furries, ghosts, dragons, etc, one part of the partnering system is still stuck in the past; you can only partner to one person at a time.
There is no real reason for this, partnering someone doesn’t do anything, all it means is that their name is added to your profile.
I would like to see partnering improved and expanded, perhaps as a premium membership perk…
For starters of course allow us to partner more than one person. Even in the classic sense of partnering there are some romantic relationships that include more than two people. Get with the times Lindens!
You should be able to partner more than one person, not just because of unconventional relationships but also, as I just mentioned, because people use the partnering option for other relationships as well. If you have a family, wouldn’t it be nice to have your kids connected to you in your profile as well? And your parents? What if you’re a member of a gang or a vampire clan or someone’s slave in ancient Rome? Would you not like to have those people shown in your profile as well? Yes you can prove you were made a vampire by Lestrade, look he is in your profile, something that can only be done if he accepted your proposal!
Having more than one partner might clutter up your profile, even if the section is replaced with a drop down menu. So it would be a good idea to make this a separate tab, the ‘Relations’ tab.
It could look a bit like the picks page in your profile. Anyone you’d partner with would appear there, like a pick, with their profile pick, their name and below it a window where you can write some stuff. There is space for 10 picks in your profile, adding 10 possible partners might be enough or at least a good start. Of course again here is an option for LL to tempt people into becoming premium members by for instance allowing regular users only one partner or none and informing regular users that the relations tab is only available to premium members with a link to the sign up page.
Try and imagine what this could look like. In your window you have one tab that says relations. Here you see several people, all these people are there because you “proposed” to them or formally asked to partner them. One of them is the man of your dreams, two of them are your kids, but you’ve also added your best friends and that lovely chap who was the first person you met in SL and who showed you around but sadly died years ago. This tab will be a collection of memories, friendship, love or just a display of all the really bad dudes that are in the same gang as you are. Yeah don’t mess with me, “Skullcrusher” Henderson is in my gang, yeah check out my profile, see!
Personally I think this would be a fun perk for many of us and it would make being a premium member even more tempting.
On top of that all the divorces that will ultimately follow all these relationships will put more money in LL’s coffers!
What do you think? Good idea, silly? How many partners do you need? Let me know in the comments section below.
I upgraded my account because as someone who ran an active community I regularly needed assistance urgently and premium accounts promised 24/7 live chat support. Filing a ticket when some griever was running around your city making life miserable for everyone just didn’t cut it. Back then asking for help through chat support regularly resulted in an actual Linden coming over to see what the problem was. Ah those were the days kids, you youngsters don’t remember.
I’ve been premium ever since because you sort of have to if you own land. Without a premium account you can’t own land on the Mainland but even when you buy a private region you still kind of need some of the premium account perks such as the chat support.
Over the last decade I’ve seen LL try all sorts of things to try and get more people to join the premium program. It makes sense, there are at least 60.000 premium accounts in Second Life (source), which means right now Linden Lab made over 4 million Dollars a year from premium accounts ON THE MAINLAND alone and that is when everyone pays annually. With the new price, again assuming they will have still 60.000 premium account members left and they all choose to pay annually, they’ll be making almost 6 million Dollars just with Mainland regions. So that is not counting premium account holders who don’t own land or who private land. In short, premium accounts are quite important to Linden Lab. Disclaimer; I’m terrible with numbers.
Right now, when you become a premium member you get the following benefits;
Weekly L$300 stipend*
L$1000 sign-up bonus** for first-time Premium Account subscribers
Priority entry when regions are full of avatars
Linden Home or 1024m² tier allotment for use towards a parcel on the Mainland
Expanded live-chat customer support
Premium virtual gifts
Exclusive access to Premium areas and experiences
Increased cap on missed IMs
Increased group membership limits
The right to own mainland parcels in popular areas
Immediate access to adult-only areas
utilizing increased region capacity
L$ transaction history increased from 32 days to 90 days
Some of these benefits don’t have much value to many of us, especially if you are a landowner.
Anyway, I started thinking about how the premium accounts could be made more appealing. If LL got a lot more premium members, they’d make a lot more money and they could then decide to lower tier or even our money transfer costs that have shot up recently. I know the Lindens are working on an ultra-premium option, so maybe some of these options will be part of that or maybe these will give LL a few ideas;
Let’s get right to the most desired thing in SL; lower tier. I understand that LL can’t give all premium account holders a tier discount, even though many of course are not land owners so they wouldn’t even be able to use this option. However for me and other landowners it would be extremely appealing if the grandfather option would return as part of the premium membership. Being able to grandfather my regions made a huge impact on improving my situation in SL and if this would return I would be more tempted to rent more regions, thus putting more tier in the Linden Lab safe.
Same goes for NO setup fees for new regions. LL has already lowered the setup free dramatically which is great but you still have to pay an entire month tier and 100$ to start a sim, this has to come out of your own pocket because you won’t be getting an income from this new region through rent, access, tips or other ways for at least one or two months. Starting a sim still costs you hundreds of dollars till you manage to break even or make a profit, if ever. If you wouldn’t have to pay the setup fee premium membership would earn its annual fee back for everyone who buys a region.
Another option I’d like to see added is more group-roles. Not only would this make running a group/sim/community a LOT easier, it would also mean many groups could be deleted as the lack of roles is the only reason they exist. We’ve just learned that groups put quite a bit of pressure on the SL resources so this would be an added bonus to both users and LL.
I’d like to see the groups being improved in general, I’ve written about this before (here; https://joyardley.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/improving-groups/ ) but I understand that changing them can be quite a hassle and will take a lot of time and effort from LL. However if they make ‘Deluxe Groups’ TM a Premium Account only thing, it would pay for itself. Not only would quite a few shop owners, RP communities and other people gladly go or remain premium for a group that offers more options, this too, when done well, would mean a decrease in the amount of groups in SL, again something that would also be beneficent for LL.
Another idea I have is a bit of an ego related one. How about we make it visible in people’s profile that they’re premium members! Lots of people like this, perhaps as a bit of a status symbol. “Hey why do you have a gold star that says Premium on your profile?” “Ah well dear old fellow, I’m a member of an exclusive club…” the man answered as he polished his monocle.
It would be a wonderful perk if premium members could upload textures for free or got a discount. Right now uploading each and every single texture costs you 10L$. This adds up if you’re a creator and need to upload many textures while building something, often uploading the same one many times just because you changed a little detail. Another texture related perk many people would love is the return of the temporary textures. I am not sure if these ever were an official thing or just a Firestorm feature but a long time ago you could upload temporary textures, this would mean you could upload a texture for free but it was temporary so after a few days it would just vanish again from the servers. This was a great feature and money saver for us creators.
I would love to be able to change my tier paying date. I have two full regions and three homestead and I have to make sure to put some money into my account several times a month, it is a hassle. I would love to change this and just pay for all my land on the same day of the month.
One thing that has annoyed me for ever is the fact that our transaction history only goes back a short while. Recently they changed this from 32 days to 30 and that is already quite an improvement but I don’t understand why this can’t be even longer. Surely just storing these records can’t take up that much precious computer memory at Linden Lab, especially not compared to all our inventories and this entire virtual world? Why can’t we look up what we spend 8 years ago? Anyway, I think adding even more days to the transaction history would make having a premium account even nicer.
Ok this idea is a bit more complicated but may not be as big a hassle to make work. How about… we create SL families! Right now you can connect your avatar with one other avatar by making him or her your partner. All this really does is show someone in the partner space on your profile. That’s all. So what if premium members could add more than one person as a partner… Again this has no real consequences but it is a nice way to show the world you’re part of a modern relationship with two other people, are happily married to just one person but have seven kids or that you’re a member of a vampire family because Lestrade bit you. We know how much these families, clans, gangs, groups of friends mean to people but also the huge value they can have to roleplaying communities. Being able to officially connect more than just one person to you is quite appealing and will make a few people decide to go premium. And of course all those divorces that will eventually follow means more cash in the Linden coffers. Read more about this idea by clicking here.
Allow premium account holders to rent a homestead without having to own a full region.
Premium account holders get a region they buy for one month with no or reduced tier. Starting a sim is expensive, it takes weeks, even months to get things set up and all that time you’re not getting any money from tenants or shopkeepers. The first month tier comes out of your own pocket while you have no income. So knowing that you don’t have to pay (full) tier that first month would be nice.
Custom SL e-mail address.
Pay for your tier and premium fees with Lindens. No need to go through the hassle of selling L$, LL just deducts costs from your L$ balance directly.
Ok this is a mean one… how about we add ‘Allow only premium members’ to region settings… People could start clubs and sims that only premium members would have access to. Lindens could create Premium member only sims!
Rezzday gift! It doesn’t have to be much, maybe just a card from Ebbe, or a cake, a kiss-o-gram, a bigger stipend, etc. Just a little something to thank premium account holders for being in SL for another year.
So anyway, these are just a few of my ideas that would make becoming a premium member even more appealing. What do you think? Got other ideas and suggestions? Share them in the comments below.
Disclaimer; some of these ideas don’t come from me but from the SL forums or drunks rambling at my bar in 1920s Berlin.
Linden Lab wants to move away from making the bulk of their money through tier because of course expensive land is one of the things that needs changing in SL. But that means they need to make their money in other ways, for instance by increasing our money transfers more expensive.
Personally I think making lots of little things a little bit more expensive is better than making a few things a lot more expensive. That way we all carry the load in stead of just the land owners and content/experience creators.
One of the ways LL is already making everybody pay a little amount is by uploading textures. We all do this, not just creators. And every time we do, LL gets 10L$.
Big textures demand a lot from our computers, internet connections and LL’s servers. If you go to a sim and everything is grey and it takes for ever to see anything, that’s because of big and/or too many textures all being squeezed through your internet cable. Unfortunately SL is full of people who don’t know or don’t care about this and they fill our virtual world with huge textures. Not just when it is justified, like when you’re making a big building that needs to look good up close, but also for no reason whatsoever, as part of things that really don’t need such a high resolution. I’ve found 1024×1024 pixels textures on the bottom of shoes, the back of paintings or as minuscule parts of tiny earrings. Situations where the creator could have easily used a lot smaller texture without anyone noticing it. Of course we do all notice the lag these textures cause.
So if Linden Lab makes more money here and there they can make other things cheaper and it is in everybody’s best interest if we use fewer big textures in SL. Put that all together and we come to a system where you pay more to upload bigger textures AND pay less when you upload smaller textures!
And I’m not talking about huge fees, but for example, uploading a 1024×1024 example could cost you 15L$, the basic 512×512 would still cost 10L$ but the 256×256 texture would only cost 5L$. So if you use small textures you get rewarded and content creators who know that they can use smaller textures in many places will actually spend less money on uploading fees in many cases.
As I said before, everybody uploads textures in SL, not just builders. We make snapshots, upload wallpaper for our home, RL photos to show friends, etc. So this is something that will not only mean everybody gets to pay, it also, hopefully, encourage people to think more about the size o the textures they upload into SL.
Of course… Linden Lab could at the same time start offering people FREE uploads as a premium account perk… I reckon that would be one of the most popular perks ever! But even if the perk would be cheaper uploads or the the option to upload temporary textures for free, it would be very welcomed by many.
So what do you think? Silly complicated idea or a brilliant one? And can you think of other small fees LL could charge that would allow them to not charge so much when it comes to tier or money transfers? Let me know in the comments.
Recently well known Second Life machinima maker Amelie Marcoud made a wonderful almost 17 minutes long video completely filmed in 1920s Berlin in the style of a silent movie.
The end result is very impressive, you can see it here;
Today Amelie announced that the video has been selected for a film festival;
It brings me so much joy to know that The Fiancée has been selected by an international film festival called Lift-Off. The film will be shown on Vimeo-On-Demand next month, amongst other magnificent filmmakers; some of which worked with Disney’s Pixar. I never thought any of my work could make a SL/RL crossover, it feels surreal. Once again thank you to everyone involved in the film and cheers to our first film laurels!
It is very exciting that this wonderful video filmed in our 1920s Berlin Project is now getting the attention it deserves. Congratulations to cast and crew!
I love being able to start an article with “public outcry”. Makes me feel like a proper journalist.
Anyway, good news. On May 29th LL announced the rather drastic and unpopular changes to premium and basic accounts which included increasing the number of groups for premium members while decreasing them or basic account members. You won’t be surprised to know that the SL community was not too happy with this.
I myself wrote a blog about it that you can read by clicking here.
In short; Basic accounts will keep their 42 group limit. Especially this line in the announcement is interesting;
Our goal is to increase Group performance for everyone – whether you are Basic or Premium. As a result, we will be prioritizing some development resources to address Group performance.
Up until quite recently it seemed like groups weren’t a big deal when it came to performance. Maybe I didn’t pay attention and understood it all wrong but I always assumed that group sizes weren’t important in regards to SL’s resources and it really didn’t matter if you regularly removed members who had not been online for a long time. I did it anyway because it irritated me to see people in my group who had not been online for over a year. Now it seems that it all does matter and in stead of solving the issue by taking groups away from people LL is now “prioritizing some development resources to address group performance”.
Does that mean that, simply put, there are several big fires going on and in stead of putting one out a fireman is taken away from one fire to come keep this one under control?
I hope they will also keep looking at a solution though. In the past I’ve written about two things that I think will help;
Unfortunately the other planned changes have not been changed, which means that the rather draconian increase in cashing out fees will remain. This is still rather bad. Remember that those of us who create the experiences, own shops, run bars, manage communities, rarely make a decent income out of it and even when we do make some money much of what we make is spend before it ends up in our pocket. We pay LL tier, L$ cash out fees, we pay Paypal fees, credit card fees, taxes, etc. All these have been going up as well. When our income goes down we have to find a way to increase this and that means everyone else will have to pay more for rent, visiting sims, drinks, etc. Which is fine when things go up a little now and then, but having a huge increase in costs is quite difficult to deal with and explain to those you have to squeeze even harder.
Tier will go down for some regions (not homesteads) but this will not always balance out with the increase of fees. If you want to support the economy in SL and help those who create all the content in this virtual world, you should make things easier for them, not harder.
Because as I’ve mentioned elsewhere; if cashing out fees get too high, people may just go ahead and decide to let their inworld tenants, customers, clients pay them directly via paypal or bank transfer, bypassing Linden Lab completely.
Anyway, the good news is that Linden Lab has listened to us and changed their plans. Let’s hope people keep sharing their opinions about other changes now and in the future. You are being listened to even though it sometimes may not feel like it.