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.
Second Life is full of zombies. Literal zombies who want to eat our brains but also zombie accounts; residents who have been among us even though they haven’t logged into Second Life for years.
This generally isn’t a big issue although it is slightly itch-inducing for those of us who like order or suffer a bit from OCD. But after the recent announcement regarding the new costs in SL it seems that they are actually quite a strain on Linden Lab’s resources.
As Grumpity Linden said;
So how about we start clearing inactive accounts?
No no no, calm down, I don’t mean delete everyone who hasn’t been inworld for a few weeks.
I mean we start stripping those accounts that haven’t been inworld for over a year. And with stripping I mean that the accounts aren’t deleted or cancelled but that they are set to inactive and they lose their land, prims get returned and they’re automatically removed from groups.
And not out of the blue of course! LL should send them several e-mails weeks in advance asking them to log in or perhaps even just respond to the e-mail or click a re-activate my account link. That way even those of us who want to return to SL but sadly no longer have a computer that can run it or who are for some reason unable to log in can still quite simply avoid being deactivated for another yea.
How would this improve our Second Life?
Inactive accounts would be removed from all groups and if they own groups, these groups will be disbanded or the group is transferred to the next owner or an admin. Thus lowering the strain on groups but also letting people know that the group they were a member of was one that it’s owner had abandoned. I know of a group that has been around for years, has quite a few members in it but its owner left SL and deleted her account. The group chat is never used, messages are never send. It’s just taking up resources. I remove people who haven’t been online for over a year from my group regularly. Imagine how nice it would be if these people were removed automatically. The number of group members grid wide would go down dramatically.
The land owned by inactive accounts would be cleared, prims returned and the land put up for sale. Mainland is littered with little plots owned by people who haven’t used them in years. I know of several plots on the mainland that belong to people who I know will never return. One of these plots if full of pets who are all very hungry as they haven’t been fed in years. Poor neighbours.
Although I don’t think these people should also be removed from marketplace, their sale pages should have it mentioned that the creator/seller of the item is inactive. Many times I’ve been more than frustrated after buying something only to find out that the person who I need to help me fix something or who I want to give me back my money has left SL.
It would also be nice to see this inactive status on someone’s profile. Many times I’ve tried to get in touch with someone, waiting for their response only to finally find out they haven’t been online for years by joining a group they are also in.
Anyway, I think it is something we could consider. Till it becomes a function perhaps considering removing inactive members from your group manyally. Just in case you don’t know how;
Open your group window, select the ‘Members & Roles’ tab. Click the ‘members’ button and then the ‘status column till you see your group members ordered by when they were last online. Select the people you think have been offline too long and then click the ‘eject’ button. If you click the person at the top of the list and then hold shift, you can scroll down to the last person you want to eject and click that one to select all the people in between at once.
Linden Lab announced another change in SL costs and perks! As we users have been asking for tier to go down it is great to see them take another step in the right direction but part of making SL nicer for Premium users means it is also going to get a little less nice for basic users.
This really is a big deal because it’s even for those of us who own grandfathered regions. Unlike the last time they lowered the prices, this time every landowner gets to enjoy the change.
Premium and basic accounts change;
We’re going to get more from being a premium account owner, which is great because to be brutally honest I’m only premium because you kind of have to when you own a sim, to buy land, get quick support, etc. When we lost the 24 hours a day chat support I considered abandoning my premium account because that really was the main reason to be premium for me at the time. LL has tried many times to add extra value to the premium account but most things they tried didn’t really impress me, regular gifts, premium areas, etc. I had no need for any of those things and the only improvement I actually welcomed was when they gave premium account holders extra groups! They are doing this again but frankly I’ve managed fine with the 60 group limit, are there really many people who want more than that? As for the cap on offline IM’s…. I didn’t even realise there was one. My IM’s all go to e-mail, I don’t think I miss anything. More improvements are promised; more Linden Hom themes, more limit increases, etc.
But all this comes at a price, yes premium membership is going to get more expensive;
As you can see you’ll now pay about 12 bucks a month for premium membership, however if you pay annually it will actually be cheaper. Which is nice… if you can afford to pay a hundred bucks in one go. I can’t.
I’m not sure being a premium member is that interesting for most users and I doubt these changes make it become more appealing to become a premium user. But that is just from my personal perspective, other premium users may be rather happy with all the extras they get.
The credit processing fee goes up;
In short processing credit fee doubles. This is a bit of a shock because that can add up. I’m not good enough at mathematics to calculate how much extra this is going to cost me each month but I reckon it will bite a big chunk out of the decrease in Tier we’ve just been given, perhaps even swallow it whole. Either way I think that there not being a maximum fee is also a bad thing. After all those who make the most money in SL are also in many cases the ones who make a biggest impact on most SL users by making stuff many of us want to buy or organising events and running sims most of us want to visit.
It is great that land is getting cheaper while other things are getting more expensive, but in the end the balance should be that SL in general is getting more affordable for us or at least not get more expensive. Those of us who create all those experiences, run shops, own sims, etc., are already and still paying lots of money each month, seeing any kind of cost potentially doubled is a bitter pill to swallow. This hurts the people who are the backbone of SL, the content creators.
As you can imagine there was quite a bit of chatter on the forums so Grumpity Linden responded in this thread;
Land prices: Full estates get ~$20/mo reduction in price. For the first time we are also reducing GF/BD region pricing. This is not a frivolous gift to the 1%. This has real and proven effects on the rents many more pay.
Premium prices are going up on June 24. Starting June 3 and until June 24, Premium accounts have 3 weeks to pre-pay an additional cycle of premium at the old rates. Best deal is, of course, prepaying for annual regardless of your current level. We hope you can take advantage of it. If you’re paying quarterly today, you can continue as quarterly. We will no longer offer it to new premium signups. With the new prices, VAT will be charged on monthly and quarterly but not annual (of course only in the countries where VAT applies).
We looked. We hadn’t raised premium prices in the history of premium prices in SL. Crazy! A lot of value has been added to premium over the last few years (new Linden Homes, double tier, reduced mainland prices, premium access, more offline IMs, more transaction history, more groups, more animesh, experiences, and yet more to come) and we are raising prices to reflect that. We’re not lowering limits out of spite, groups really are quite a strain on our back end for a variety of painful historical reasons, including overloading group functionality instead of having other tools. This subject alone is worth a novel liberally sprinkled with tears. So anyway, we don’t hate basic users, and in fact we work hard to retain our free-to-play offering as one of the most generous across many industries. But yes, no big surprise, we do want to nudge active residents to become subscribers, because we think it’s a great value, and – as many have noted – we’re also running a business. But no, we’re not shutting our doors to non-premium residents. Rumors of our insanity and villainy have been slightly exaggerated. Fees to process credit are going up, effective June 24. L$ buy fees are not. Yes, this is another step in rebalancing the economy. It’s also the right step, because the regulatory climate has evolved dramatically since SL first started out, and in order to continue to offer a platform for creators to actually make money, we have a lot of ongoing work to keep up with those regulations. Compliance is generally no fun (shh don’t tell our compliance people I said so – they’re wonderful and actually think it’s fun!) but it keeps all of us in business and the bad guys out. If we weren’t doing this work, we would literally have to stop offering the ability to process credit. We’re making lasting investments into SL in infrastructure, features, and content. While we set aside some special morsels only for premium members, the work we are doing benefits everyone – region crossings, attachment reliability, marketplace improvements, inventory stability, land auctions – are just a few examples. No one project will please all of our residents, but we make an effort to address the needs of all communities in turn. We can’t get everything done immediately, but we’re focused and determined to keep SL successful and evolving. It’s a unique and thriving world we work hard to support. Look, this is obviously a bitter pill. We can’t keep slashing land prices at the rate we did last year. We can’t raise other prices and yet keep everyone happy. But we sincerely believe this is the best path forward – and hope you will come around too.
It is interesting to read, for the first time (in my case anyway), that groups really are quite a strain on SL I guess this is common knowledge but I’ve never heard a Linden confirm this. I can think of a few solutions that will cut down the amount of groups in SL drastically while making them actually better for users. Few ideas are to delete groups owned by people who haven’t been online for years, create subgroup options, let groups have more roles, etc. For my 1920s Berlin sim there are dozens of groups! We are am active roleplaying community that has been around for literally a decade, we need all these groups but often only because we run out of roles, permissions or need a way to communicate privately as a group. We would need just one group if we could have some of the things mentioned above. Another option would be to move some of the group functionalities to the SL website. If that website had some of the options Facebook has we could have pages for each group with a forum, chat option, etc. Perhaps even some functionalities that are integrated with inworld options. More about how groups could be improved here in this old blog I wrote in 2012;
And yes, the buy fees are nog going up, that is great but I don’t even remember the last time I actually bought Linden Dollars. Even when I just started in SL I would try and make money inworld in stead of buying it. It was quite rewarding to make my first Linden Dollars. Increasing sell fees damages the profit (if any) people make who work in SL, the content creators, the sim owners, the event organisers. I understand that this price has to go up but the increase is rather extreme and I am not sure the tier discount carries this extra cost. Not to mention that countless shop owners, creators, event organisers etc. don’t even own land so they don’t at least get a tier discount to outweigh the extra costs. Unless the owner of the land where their shop is located decides to lower their rent because tier has gone done 20 bucks, this change is quite damaging to many of the most important people in SL.
This means that the general overhead for these people goes up, they need to somehow make this money back and they’ll do this by making their stuff more expensive. Of course if you’re not a shop owner it may be harder to do this after all, if you raise the rent in your sim tenants may simply go elsewhere, if you start charging a fee for your club you may end up with an empty joint.
So in short, SL is getting better in some ways but worse in others. Which isn’t good. I think premium accounts can be made more attractive without having to take away from other members. But even with all the new changes and bonuses, is having a premium account actually worth it? Is what you’re being offered really worth the new costs? For me it used to be 24 hour chat support for emergencies, but that’s gone. The extra groups was a great bonus but 60 is enough groups. I don’t mind having more but I don’t feel comfortable about those extra groups coming at the cost of basic users losing some of theirs. My blog is full of ideas that can make the premium account more worth it and I’m sure most SL users could make some great suggestions as well.
In short; this change doesn’t make premium accounts more attractive, it has achieved the opposite effect.
As for things getting more expensive in any way for any SL users, I think that is always a bad thing. Not just because I’m a cheapskate Dutch person but because SL is more than just a game for many of us, it is how we make a living or it at least helps us pay some of our bills. I would make more money flipping hamburgers a few nights a week than I do working more than full time creating experiences in Second Life. Credit processing fees have seen several increases without us seeing much happening to outweigh those extra costs. When some things get more expensive others should get cheaper or parts of our virtual society are getting damaged. Again, those of us who own land at least get a discount to counter these extra costs but creators, shop owners and others who don’t own land but do cash out are only going to see a decrease in their income.
What if cashing out keeps getting more expensive and people just start asking tenants, customers or clients to start paying them directly via paypal?
Yes it has been A DECADE since the 1920s Berlin Project opened its doors to the public!
And not just has been our historical roleplaying neighbourhood survived all this time, it thrived!
After 10 years it is still an active, creative, vibrant, exciting, fun and very alive community.
We have daily events, our parties and shows still draw crowds and the city keeps evolving and improving.
There are people who have lived here for many years who won’t even consider leaving.
For some Berlin is the only reason they’re even (still) in Second Life.
In short, we’re celebrating more than having a sim that managed to pay its tier all these years.
We’re doing great.
So of course we’re going to celebrate again, there will be a week of celebrations and everybody is invited. We’re going to kick it off with our annual dance at the foot of the Brandenburg…
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.
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.
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!
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.
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.