On May the 30th 2009, the 1920s Berlin Project opened its doors to the public for the first time.
I was still a noob, only 3 months in Second Life, barely knew how to stick two prims together, yet somehow managed to create a tiny bit of my dream in a skybox on rented mainland.
I could have never imagined it to turn out to become such a huge success, a sim with a the most amazing community, a sim that in stead of being just a bit of fun turned into a huge part of my life.
And not just my life, I’m very proud to have tenants who have been living in this city for 2,3, 4 and even 5 years!
Many of whom I’d call close friends.
I’ve loved every minute of this time traveling adventure and it still is only the beginning.
If all goes well…
View original post 471 more words
Just now Linden Lab announced on the Second Life website the launch of this Oculus Rift video together with this official statement on their website.
This means that the Oculus Rift enabled viewer can NOW be downloaded from the website and used in Second Life!
I’m glad to say that part of the video was shot in the Oculus Rift Test area in 1920s Berlin that you can now also visit as part of your first SL oculus experience.
You can find it by clicking here.
Further more, there is now also a special section in the Destination guide with sims that are especially suitable for Oculus Rift users;
Here is the full text of the announcement, followed by the video;
At Linden Lab, we’ve been very happy to see all the recent activity and interest in the virtual reality space – it’s a sign of progress and innovation in the industry and helps validate the space Second Life has led for more than 10 years. Developments like the Oculus Rift hold great potential for Second Life, and we’re very excited to bring the virtual world into the future with new technologies and partners.
A few weeks ago, we began a limited beta test of a version of the Second Life Viewer that makes it easy to use an Oculus Rift headset with Second Life for a fully immersive, VR experience. From the outset, we’ve seen strong interest in the integration, not only from existing Second Life users seeking a new way to experience the virtual world, but also from virtual reality enthusiasts eager to explore the enormous quantity and variety of user-created 3D content and social experiences inworld.
The early beta testers of our integration have provided some valuable feedback, identifying bugs as well as providing suggestions for additional features and options that would improve the experience of using the Oculus Rift with Second Life. Today we’re pleased to announce that our Oculus Rift integration is now available as a Project Viewer, the first step toward becoming a part of the default Second Life Viewer.
The Project Viewer features:
Full Oculus Rift Hardware Support – includes automatic hardware detection and display calibration for quick and easy setup.
Full UI Support – users can access the entire Second Life UI and HUDs while in Oculus Rift mode, so there are no limitations on what a user can do inworld while using the headset.
Customizable UI – users can tailor the settings for Oculus Rift mode that work best for their needs.
Avatar Head Motion – Oculus Rift head-tracking data is mapped to the avatar, so users’ avatars look where they do.
New First-Person View – allows users to enjoy the immersion previously available with mouselook mode, but thanks to the Oculus Rift, the mouse is free again to control the cursor, allowing for interaction with the UI and objects inworld.
“Align to Look” – allows users to quickly start moving the direction they are looking.
“Action Key” – interact with objects by pressing a key, works great in mouselook mode.
Like our initial beta release, this Project Viewer is more about making it easy to get started using the Oculus Rift to view Second Life than it is about optimizing the UI for headset users. We’ve made some minor adjustments to the regular Second Life UI in order to present it in head-mounted display (HMD) mode, but the UI headset users will experience with this project Viewer is still essentially the same as you’d see without an Oculus Rift.
If you have an Oculus Rift headset and would like to use it with Second Life, get the Project Viewer here. Getting started is easy – the Viewer includes automatic hardware detection and display calibration, and we’ve created this brief video to help:
For a long time people have been discussing the subject of Tier, it keeps popping up and the general consensus is that it is just too high.
If you own a full region you may end up paying 295 dollars a month, yes real dollars, not Linden dollars.
Even if that is good value for money, it is a lot.
Many people have offered their ideas and opinions on the matter, I myself have brought up tier a couple of times and shared ideas with you on how LL should perhaps offer a wider choice of regions, create perhaps a smaller region, etc.
Another thing they might want to consider is simply letting people pay for the amount of land or prims they use, as the jump in rate for premium users is very high.
If you want to use just a few more prims, buy a little more land, you suddenly find yourself in a new category of tier.
Again, here some flexibility may make things easier for us.
Although it tier is a lot of money, it may be impossible for LL to lower it, at least at this moment.
Recently Mona Eberhardt explained why the Tier is not too high and it made me look at the situation a bit differently, the following discussion on her blog was also very interesting.
You can read it here.
And although this may not be a very popular view, I also feel that if a sim like mine, with such a niche theme as role-play in 1920s Berlin, can not only pay for itself but even make a profit, why can’t others?
But perhaps that is a subject for another blog.
Either way, Tier has not changed in years and although Linden Lab is not very good at communicating their motivation for keeping tier so high, they may actually have a good reason and will not change it no matter how brilliant our ideas and suggestions are.
So lets look at other ways to making Second Life a little cheaper for us users.
Monthly tier is a problem for many sim owners, but another issue they have are the setup fees.
This screenshot from the Second Life website shows what it costs to not only own a region, but to buy one.
Quite a shock to potential sim owners I can say from my own experience.
Not only that, but transferring a region to someone else, moving it, etc, that all costs money too.
I started 1920s Berlin small, in a skybox on mainland.
I didn’t want to lose any money so the project only grew when the sim could afford it.
And when I was finally talked into moving to a full region, I knew I would not be able to pay for the setup fee so I started accepting donations, organizing events, had fundraisers and auctions till we finally got the big pile of cash together.
I was lucky to have found such a great group of people with so much passion for the project that they were willing to support it.
Nevertheless it took many months for us to actually manage to achieve this goal.
A while ago I started adding homesteads to my sim but even though those are a lot cheaper to buy, they still cost more than I can afford easily.
So I’ve been waiting for months for the right moment to add another one.
And of course there are dozens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of people in SL who might be tempted to buy a region but just can’t afford or don’t want to pay the setup fee.
Even if you buy a second hand region, you have to pay a $100 transfer fee on top of what you are paying the previous owner and as they usually would like to get some of that setup fee back, you could still end up paying a couple of hundred bucks for it.
And don’t forget that Value Added Tax (VAT) could also be added on top of that!
So if we can’t convince LL to lower their tier, perhaps we can get trough to them regarding the setup fees and other costs.
Maybe this too is something they won’t even consider but again, because they don’t explain to us in detail why something costs what it costs, we’ll keep poking them with complaints, ideas, suggestions, etc.
And some of us will continue to keep shouting ‘Lower the tier’ at any Linden they see.
Anyway, the setup fee is as big, if not a bigger barrier for people who are considering buying a region.
If this fee was lowered or even scrapped, as I would suggest, I think quite a few SL users would be tempted to buy a region.
Of course this will mean a loss of revenue to Linden Lab, something that they are probably not to keen on at the moment.
But I think that this loss will be overshadowed by the amount of money they’ll start making on monthly tier by those people who now want to buy a region.
A much more steady flow of income than the irregular payments from region sales.
For starters, if they would lower or scrap the fee on homesteads, I’d buy two tomorrow and it would be a lot sooner before I start working on my next full region project too.
I think that the boost this idea could give to the economy, would be worth it.
People are more willing to invest and risk tier than the full set up fee.
Who knows how many crazy dreams people have but can’t afford, will turn out to become the next big thing in SL that will get it a lot of RL positive publicity?
And imagine the buzz it will create amongst users if after years of decline, the amount of privately owned regions goes up again.
Maybe this idea (also) makes little sense, but that again comes down to the fact that there is a lack of transparency when it comes to the costs of running Second Life.
If Linden Lab told us exactly why costs are so high, why they charge what they charge, we may not only stop writing about our crazy ideas, but we might even stop complaining about the tier.
After all, we don’t know how much it costs to feed the hamsters who run in the Server treadmills!
What do you think?
Another daft idea or something that actually makes sense?
When you join Second Life you get to choose from a selection of avatars, there used to be a dozen, recently 24 mesh ones were added.
It was about time that the old avatars were replaced by something new and more up to date but I fear that by giving new users 100% mesh avatars, Linden Lab may have made things more complicated for our precious noobs.
Imagine being a new user, you pick one of the avatars, start your Second Life and then you decide you want to change your clothes, or your avatar… and you realise that this is very hard.
A friendly oldtimer gives you some clothes… alas these don’t work on these avatars.
You chat to someone and see their mouth move, you realise your avatar can’t do that.
You visit a sim that has a dress code, you need to change your avatar… but you don’t know how.
Ebbe Altberg explained on Twitter that they had made a mistake with the avatars, they should have mod permissions, so this will be fixed.
But still, a full mesh avatar is something for experienced SL users, not for those who’ve only just started it.
One of the things EVERYONE in SL wants, is to customise their avatar, change hair, skin, shape, etc.
This has now become harder.
Getting the new user experience to be fun, easy and inviting is one of Linden Lab’s main goals, after all, lots of people join SL but only a few hang around, the user retention is not very good.
We should want new users to be able to create an avatar they like and start exploring as soon as possible.
I don’t think these new avatars will help with that.
There might be a better way to help new users start their Second Life.
I’ve written before about using the Second Life website for more phases of the new user experience, such as a tutorial, helping them find a first location to teleport to, etc.
But I also think we should perhaps let new users create their own avatar on the SL website before they even start the SL viewer.
I think that it is very important that new users get to experience SL with an avatar they like, one they created themselves and one that they can bond with.
One that represents who they are or who they want to be, someone they will perhaps would not abandon so quickly and that might keep them in SL a little longer.
Actually relating and starting to care for an avatar is a great experience that enriches your Second Life and it is something that usually doesn’t happen till you’ve been in SL for a while.
Imagine having that feeling from the very beginning!
I would like new users to create their new SL avatar on the SL website just like they can do with countless other games, MMOs and simulation games such as The Sims.
Besides giving you an avatar you will feel closer to than one randomly picked from a small selection, it is also just a lot of fun to do.
If I look at the current avatars on offer, I don’t see any that I fancy, that represents me.
If I joined SL today, I’d start it with an avatar I didn’t like, one that I could easily forget about if I decided to leave SL.
You will never make everyone happy with avatars you’ve created, so let them create their own.
Really, we don’t care if our avatars are not 100% mesh, we can always decide to buy one of those or as many do today, replace parts of our bodies with mesh bits.
Creating, adapting and customising your avatar should be fun and easy.
Look at the game industry to see how they do it and translate that to an avatar builder on the SL website.
If others can do it, so can we.
Let’s have a look at a game that comes very close to Second Life; The Sims 3.
A game I used to enjoy a lot, till I discovered SL.
Creating a ‘Sim’, is a lot of fun.
With big buttons and easy sliders you have a surprising amount of freedom and countless options to make your avatar look the way you want it to.
And all this before you even start the game.
The second you move into your first house, you have already spend some time with your Sim and probably already like him or her.
I think that something that allows new SL users to create their own avatar, even if it is more basic than in the Sims will be better than making them choose from a selection of avatars, no matter how cool they are.
After all, SL is all about freedom and creativity, why not start that experience from the very beginning?
Oh and bring back last names 😉
What do you all think about this idea?
Let me know in the comments.
I want to leave you with this very impressive video of the avatar creation tool from ‘The sims 4‘ that will be released later this year.
You can red the full announcement here;
So at first sight it is nice to see some diversity.
However, as discussed before, most (if not all) of these new avatars are mesh and with mesh avatars we get certain issues that may make things only more difficult for new users.
Nevertheless, they do look a lot better than previous ones and that is also important when it comes to first impressions.
I’m not sure about the Vampires section, ‘Fantasy’ might have been a better name, as I also see monsters and zombies there.
I still think that we should just get rid of starter avatars altogether and let new users create their own avatar from scratch before they even start their Second Life.
Not only will this be fun, will it cause the new users to invest into their avatar and create a connection, even bond with it, it will also give new users more freedom and will make it easier for them to adapt to Second Life as they won’t find themselves in this virtual world with an avatar that looks like dozens of others, who’s mouth doesn’t move and for whom all the free basic clothes they get won’t fit.
I also fear a flood of new users visiting my sim and then having to explain to them that they won’t be able to dress their avatar in 1920s clothes because we don’t have fitted mesh 1920s clothes as a freebie at the moment and having to explain to them how to completely change their avatar because they choose a fantasy themed one.
Sorry folks, no zombies in 1920s Berlin.
So in short, good idea to replace the old avatars, about time even, but I don’t think it is a huge improvement to SL as a whole.
Here you can see them all;
I’ve tried making another ‘meme’, as the young hip kids call it these days.
There are two versions, large and facebook header size, that one will fit perfectly as your FB header without your profile picture covering the text.
I completely stole the text from a meme about reading books 🙂
Feel free to use and share these everywhere.
During an interview for ‘Designing Worlds‘ I met Brooke Linden and DaveR Linden and I noticed that they both had rather good looking mesh avatars.
So I asked them if their avatars were two of the new starter ones that are going to be released next week.
They confirmed that this was the case, so with their permission, I hereby reveal two of the 24 new avatars future users of Second Life will soon be able to choose from.
You can see them in action and hear them share some very interesting things in the next episode of ‘Designing Worlds’ that will be broadcast on the 19th of May, so make sure you keep an eye on the Designing Worlds website.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe was a guest at TechCrunch Disrupt yesterday and spoke about an idea they have been thinking about; creating an Massively Multiplayer Online Experience (MMO) for a billion users.
“This is going to be an MMO where we want to put a billion people in VR”
He also said that this is going to take a bigger network than exists in the world today,” but getting together with Facebook is a first step in the right direction as Facebook has about 1.3 billion users today.
Important is also that he mentioned that this idea was one of the reason they decided to sell Oculus to Facebook.
They want to reach as many people as possible, especially those who aren’t really gamers.
“We know with Oculus, with a virtual world, if you’re putting on this pair of glasses and you’re gonna be face-to-face communicating with people, you’re gonna be jumping in and out of this new set of virtual worlds, this is gonna be the largest MMO ever made,”
“This is gonna be an MMO where we want to put a billion people in VR. And a billion person virtual world MMO is gonna require a bigger network than exists today. Why not start with Facebook and their infrastructure, and their team and their talent that they’ve built up?”
A lot of people, myself included, have been talking about the possibility of Facebook and Oculus were planning to build a virtual online world, it now seems this indeed is the case.
In the chat he even calls it the ‘Metaverse‘.
As we speak they are visiting universities and recruiting the best of the best, getting students involved, asking them to help them create the new virtual reality world.
It is difficult to predict where this is going and how fast, but if they succeeded in creating an online Virtual World where the users can actually build and do what they want, they will turn out to be a huge competition for Second Life and High Fidelity.
It is still early days and we don’t have to get worried yet.
But this is big.
And I can’t help wondering if the Oculus-Facebook team are now looking at both Second Life and High Fidelity.
Regardless of the current state of both, there is plenty of interesting stuff there to buy, borrow or steal if you want to start your own Virtual world.
In the chat Mr. Iribe also said that Facebook promised them that although bought by their company, Oculus would be able to remain independent (like Instragram) and could decide to use or not use any part of Facebook.
You can watch the full interviews here at the Techcrunch website, a few interesting things about the general future of VR are being talked about as well.
As I wrote before, more and more people are now thinking that VR is going to become part of our lives, even if you’re not a gamer.
Recently Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab announced on twitter that we were going to get new starter avatars, giving people who are starting their Second Life a choice of (hopefully) better avatars than the ones they can pick now.
Ebbe was a bit too optimistic when he said the new avatars would arrive in March, but today he told me they would arrive in Second Life “before the end of next week”.
This is quite exciting and perhaps the first step towards improving the new user experience, something most people agree about is rather bad and when improved could make Second Life a lot better and maybe even sort out the huge retention problem we’re suffering; a lot of new people don’t stay in SL very long.
The first of these new avatars has already been spotted as Ebbe himself was using one during his talk at the 7th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference last month.
Although new, better looking avatars are a great step in the right direction, I do worry about new users having to deal with mesh avatars and that some of these sometimes seem incapable of moving their mouths while talking.