When Rod Humble visited my 1920s Berlin Project sim he was not just there to try our infamous lukewarm beer from a dirty glass.
He was actually there to record some footage for the next Drax files episode all about him.
Draxtor Despres has been making several Drax Files about some of the people in Second Life and it is very exciting that he has managed to get Rod himself to be part of this great series.
I’ve had a chat with Draxtor about this episode and although I do not want to give away too much, I can already tell you that it is going to be a very interesting one.
One of the things Herr Humble will talk about is how he enjoys exploring Second Life with his alts and how much he likes the SL community and the future of our virtual world.
He also talks about the Oculus Rift,lag, identity and having fun
And… there are some great changes and improvements ahead!
I think that besides exciting a lot of users of Second Life, it will also be intriguing for outsiders and those who think that Second Life is on its last legs or who didn’t even know Second Life was still around.
It was great to have Rod visit our sim, but now we know that he uses alts, we can’t help but wonder if he has already been before and if he will visit again.
This episode of The Drax Files will premiere on June 3rd and will be accompanied with a blog written by me about some of the bits that didn’t make it into the video.
From the day I decided to stay in Second Life, I’ve been obsessed with authenticity and realism.
I wanted things to be as real as possible and that is why one of the first things I made myself was a bed.
My avatar needed to sleep!
Ever since, beds have been frustrating me.
Somehow it was very difficult to find low prim realistic single beds.
But the secret of Second Life is; “If you can’t find something, make it yourself”.
So I spend countless hours making a 2 prim land impact sculpted bed with shape changing blanket and custom animations.
I was relatively happy, I had done the best I could with the tools I had.
Nevertheless I found the result rather ugly.
Sadly it seemed that you have to make a choice; quality or (prim) quantity.
When mesh came to Second Life, I was delighted, I knew that now I could make a nice bed that would be low land impact but at least look good.
But to me a bed isn’t a bed if you can’t sleep IN it, and most beds in SL look good but don’t allow you to crawl under the blankets for a good night sleep.
And somehow watching your avatar sleep under blankets is just a very nice and comforting sight.
As mesh software makes my brain implode, I got Mesh studio (can’t praise it enough!) and build some much better looking beds inworld.Unfortunately Mesh Studio isn’t so good for making soft and flowing objects, after all you need to be able to build it with prims first and making a nice soft looking blanket is very very hard with just prims.
Luckily the very kind Piraiyah Novikov was willing to help me out and made me the blankets I needed.
After 4 years of looking but not finding what I wanted to own, and later wanted to build, I now have the beds I wanted.
Here you go, historic yet timeless single beds, only 2 prim landimpact.
The bed comes with 6 blanket textures, but you can buy others from my shop or try make your own!
The blanket change shape when you go to sleep, so your avatar will appear to be actually under the blankets.
It comes with a nice set of animations but does not have any adult or couple situations.
But you can easily buy separate poseballs for that on marketplace.
As you may (or perhaps even should) know, the Oculus Rift is coming to Second Life.
This is very exciting because the OR will change the way we play computer games, work with all kinds of software and experience virtual surroundings for ever.
The OR is a headset that at first sight works in a rather simplistic way, two little monitors are placed in front of your eyes, giving you the century old stereoscopic effect of experiencing depth.
But with some technical smart stuff added (you may by now realise I am not a very technical person), it makes what you see on your computer screen link up and match your head movements, thus giving you a virtual reality experience like you’ve never seen before.
I tried some massive and heavy VR headset decades ago and remember being in awe with that experience but somehow it never caught on.
The OR is bringing VR back in an amazing way.
Together with other ‘gadgets’ we will soon be able to really feel as if we are inside our games or virtual worlds.
It truly is a game changer, 3D will never be the same again.
And just in case you don’t take my word for it, check out some of the game websites and magazines who, for the last month or so have been writing articles with titles like “Believe the hype.”.
Make sure you also have a look at Youtube, it is full of very entertaining videos of people trying the OR for the very first time.
It is very hard not to get extremely exited when you watch their enthusiasm.
Have a look at this 90 year old granny traveling to Tuscany… while never leaving her chair.
As someone who has been working on trying to create an immersive location in Second Life for years, this is of course very interesting for me.
I build 1920s Berlin in great detail, trying to give visitors the experience of really going there, actually traveling back in time.
But no matter how realistic I can make this sim, watching it on a screen and walking around by pushing keys on a keyboard sort of makes it very hard to forget you’re not really there.
Oculus Rift can bring a much more immersive and realistic experience a LOT closer.
I can already imagine myself walking around those dark narrow streets, looking up, down, around me.
Finally being able to see my city trough my eyes in stead of the eyes of my avatar.
Now, if you understand what the Oculus Rift is and how it works and if you’re an avid Second Life user, you will now realise how big these two could be for each other.
At the moment the OR is mostly seen as something we could use for playing games, while SL is seen by many as a virtual world with a bad reputation, forgotten by many.
Now imagine what could happen if Second Life will become compatible with the Oculus Rift!
People only using the OR for gaming will want to come to SL because there is only one thing more fun them playing someone else’s game and that is playing your own game, exploring your own world, enjoying a virtual reality YOU build.
It could give SL an enormous boost, put it back in the view of those who might have forgotten about it, and it could show off a whole new side of the OC.
Anyway, I am a huge believer in this and have tried very hard to make it happen.
I am just another SL builder but somehow I managed to get connected via the magic of the internet with both the founder of OR Palmer Luckey and the CEO of Linden Lab Rod Humble.
And I ‘abused’ this contact to try very hard to get these two to get together and see if they could bring the OR to SL and visa versa.
To my own surprise I seem to have done it.
By bringing them into a chat I was having about this subject I got them introduced to each other.
As you may understand, I was getting very excited about all this.
It would of course have been a matter of time before Second Life and Oculus Rift got together but it is a great feeling to think that I may have been responsible for pushing them a bit in each others direction like that shy couple at prom night.
Last night Rod replied to my facebook question if there was any news with this reply;
Engineers working on it. Scoop? Sure! It is up and running right now within SL but we want to make it excellent. The new work is on integrating the mouse/cursor/UI support within the Rift, this is important because real VR requires rethinking the way you interact with the world and UI to take advantage of head tracking. Hopefully we will be sharing some vids within a few weeks then get into testing after that. I dont want to overhype this BUT SL+OR is like having dinner with Stefan Zweig and Peter Altenberg.
The OR is already in SL and there will be videos in a matter of weeks!
I can’t wait to get my hands on the OR and explore 1920s Berlin a lot sooner then I expected.
See you on the other side of the looking glass folks!
Tier has been a big issue in Second Life almost since day one.
Owning land is not cheap and Linden Lab makes plenty of money renting it out to us.
But now land ownership is going down, fewer people come to SL and even less stay around for a while.
Of course there are still a LOT of people in SL who do own land and pay their tier, but their number is dwindling.
So what can we do about this?
Almost everyone automatically shouts; “Bring the tier down!”.
And yes, that is a good idea, less tier will mean more people renting land and thus LL will make more money.
But of course it is also scary because at first LL’s income will go down a lot and there is no guarantee that more people will actually rent enough land to make up for the loss.
So, Linden Lab is not too keen on lowering Tier but most people in SL are.
But lowering or not lowering tier are not the only options LL has.
How about creating several different types of land ownership?
For instance, LL could decide to give NEW sims a 50% tier discount for the first 2 months.
This would make it a lot easier for people to start new projects, give them a go, see if their sim actually works, attracts people, is fun to manage, without taking a big financial risk.
It would also make things more interesting for those who want to organise a big, one time event like a fair.
There are so many people who dream of owning a sim, who have great plans and ideas but who are afraid of losing lots of money when it doesn’t work.
When I look at how I started the 1920s Berlin Project sim, I remember being terrified of actually starting something that would end up costing me a lot of money.
So I started small, renting a skybox on the mainland.
It took many months of slow growth, building a community, organising fundraising events, etc, etc.
I had to be talked into buying a full region!
Had regions cost only half the tier, things would have gone faster, I would have dared to take that step sooner.
Another option LL could offer are “part time regions”.
A full region that is only online in the weekends and thus the owner only has to pay tier for 2 days in the week in stead of 7.
This could be especially attractive for people who run big clubs.
For instance the infamous Eldorado club in 1920s Berlin is only open on saturdays and I know many clubs that only have events on one or two days in the week, yet they have to pay tier for the entire month.
A sim that is only used two days a week could be shut down 5 days a week and won’t be a burden on the servers 5 days a week.
I bet there would be quite a few people interested in renting a part time region.
One idea that would cost LL a little money but would also motivate people, is lowering tier for sims that are doing well, that have been around for, say 5 years or more.
Sims that manage to survive for such a long time are doing something right and are apparently entertaining lots of people in SL, making sure users keep coming back to SL.
LL could give old sims a discount on their tier.
By lowering the tier of a sim that has been around for a while, you make it interesting for them to perhaps spread out, add another region, expand.
Another solution is to offer Homesteads to people who don’t own a region, at the moment you can only buy a Homestead if you own a full region.
In the end it is simple; people will spend as much money in SL as they want to or can afford to.
They will not suddenly out of nowhere start spending a lot more.
So here they are, with money in their pocket, but it is not enough for them to decide to rent an entire region.
Linden Lab must find a way to get these people to do that anyway.
Well the only way you can do that is by lowering your price, even if it is just temporarily.
If tier was half of what it is now, even if that was just for 6 months or so before going back to 100% tier again, I would have already bought another region.
Right now it will take many months before I am willing to take a risk on another region with the tier as it is at the moment.
Lower tier, if you don’t want to, at least think about many different kinds of tier just like there are different kinds of cable tv options, package deals and mobile phone subscriptions.
Offer more choice, more interesting deals.
This does not automatically mean that you’ll lose a lot of income, it could have the opposite effect.