People come to SL for all sorts of reasons but we all use the same viewer.
If you are someone just curious to come take a look or if you are here to build a city and make complicated machinima with fancy light settings, we all have to first figure out the rather complicated viewer and struggle trough the very steep learning curve.
One of the reasons new visitors don’t stay is that they find SL too difficult to figure out.
The viewer has a lot of buttons and no matter what LL tries, the viewer will always remain too complicated for new people because they give us so many options.
The only option you have is to show the “advanced” tab or not.
I think it might be a good idea to make a really really basic viewer.
New people only want a few things; change their look, explore, interact and chat.
It is only after a while that they want to tweak some of the countless settings, try building and creating and make some stunning snapshots.
And countless don’t even need that, they are quite happy using SL just for chatting, shopping and exploring.
I’ve been in SL for over 3 years and still find the countless settings, different viewers and general usability of SL far from easy and smooth.
I think that it might be a good idea to create 3 different viewers or give the current viewer 3 different settings;
The Basic viewer is perfect for the first time visitor to SL, it allows you to modify your avatar, walk around, chat, shop, etc.
Nothing fancy, very few options, just the things you really need to get around in SL.
For most people this will be more then enough during their first explorations of SL and to many it will more then they’ll ever need anyway.
No building tools, no dozens of tabs, no millions of options.
All wrapped in a simple, game like package that is easy to figure out.
When you have been in SL for a while and decide that you are ready for more settings, play with windlight, add gestures, tweak your camera settings, of just explore the countless options, you ‘upgrade’ to the Advanced viewer.
Perhaps it is just a button in the basic viewer that simply adds some of the many buttons.
Finally, when you are ready to become creative and want to start building something, you move on to the Advanced viewer, this adds the building tools.
Because remember, all these things are now available to people who enter SL for the very first time, who have no idea where they are or what they are doing.
They need to find out how to just go from A to B but are confronted with lag analyzing tools, prim builders, rez permissions, etc.
One of the main problems SL has had since the early days is keeping new visitors.
Most people who try SL do not come back, I think the complicated viewer is one of the reasons.
Have a look at some of the games out there that also use virtual surroundings such as GTA, Mafia, Assasin’s Creed, etc.
They have a very simple ‘viewer’ that enables you to walk around, use a car, shoot someone, etc.
If SL’s first experience is more like that, people would be less intimidated.
Look at “the Sims”, lots of complicated options (including building and creating) but all compacted in a nice easy to understand navigation bar with big shiny buttons.
SL does not want to be a game, but to keep those new visitors staying a bit longer, it may be a good idea to make it feel more like a game.
If you want more, the viewer can be upgraded and you can join the rest, if just the basics will do, you don’t want to be showered with options you’ll never use.