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Reader Comments (23)

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 9:43AM (Unverified) said

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So which competitor to Second Life do the so-called "journalists" writing negative things about Second Life praise? There is your answer.

I have my own constructive criticism for Linden Lab. But I don't get paid by anyone nor do I run any ads anywhere. I have nothing to gain from my writings except improvements to SL so I have the luxury of writing the truth as I don't have to answer to effing IMVU or WoW or whoever has their ads plastered all over my website.

People are so gullible lol. The FTC needs to crack down harder and include stipulations about ads including third party ads like ad sense.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 11:37AM (Unverified) said

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Thank you for this logical rebuff. As the new ISTE SIGVirtualEnvironments "Poobah" I've come upon increasingly similar-sounding comments and questions like "What can we do to revitalize Second Life?" I'm, like, "Huh?," as I discover the burgeoning proliferation of Second Life-"like" virtual environments and endeavor to journal it at Oh!VirtualLearning!" and at the SIG wiki with my colleagues. What VEs provide is a sense of shared place at a distance, in ways no other technology or tool can do, and with an added dimension of the F word, "fun." That doesn't appear to be changing.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 11:04AM Bri said

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All of that may be true, yet there are still vast tracts of land in SL completely barren of anyone most of the time. Much of it feels post-apocalyptic .. a beautiful quaint seaside town, with a boardwalk and shops; an amusement park with booths and rides; a modern urban street; a lavishly detailed recreation of the Eiffel Tower -- and all of it completely devoid of life, quiet as a tomb.

We all know that Second Life isn't deserted. The chief complaint, I think, is that there is a large percentage of compelling creation that is. You speak of residential sims, yet nobody visits suburbia for leisure. When someone visits the advertised hot-spots on the search page, and place after place is gloomily empty of people, well, there's your answer on where the "SL is deserted" idea comes from.

You can write articles like this all you want, and all the SL residents who read it will beardily nod amongst themselves and perhaps make some more sidelong elitist comments about how free SL accounts are second-class citizens who obviously don't appropriately appreciate it. The rest of us will come to visit your virtual world, and after the 6th or 7th sterile, dead sim advertised as a hotspot, leave and never come back, preferring instead our usual bustling MMO or virtual space.

SL has reached a sort of virtual-world critical mass in my opinion. It's a place to create, and create you certainly have. But the amount of inhabitable space created has far outstripped the number of people who inhabit it. Even the sex sims aren't enough for tractioning new residents any more, as for better or worse you must give up personal information in order to visit them. This leads to the empty-world feeling that discourages many new residents from adding themselves to the tally of people inhabiting SL. This is the hurdle SL must cross, and the truth that many SL residents don't see -- It matters not WHY it's empty. The fact that it IS empty is enough to prevent SL from growing.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 11:55AM (Unverified) said

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Problematic in all of the writings about "Second Life as desert" is the conceit that Second Life and it's residents/users are obliged to entertain visitors at all! My experience has been that if you develop your presence in SL, you discover places, and people, who make using the system worthwhile. If you expect the world to beat a path to your door, it will be a lonely experience.

I have been involved with SL for nearly three years now, have a list of friends that numbers in the hundreds, most of whom I see inworld at least once or twice a month, many of whom I have met in real life as well, and/or have phone or email contacts that allow us to communicate even if not logged in to SL. At this exact moment (840AM SLT) there are 30 of them online, including a current and former "landlord", at least five people connected with university projects, a well-known RL/SL architect, three non-profit activits, and the publisher of an in-world magazine. I may or may not talk to or share space with any of these individuals during this session, but I bet I will have some meaningful interaction with nearly all of them within the next month! They will share ideas, tip me off to new locations in SL I should visit, help me work out building or scripting problems, or just "hang out".

The point is that active immersion in the world of Second Life, or any virtual world in my opinion, is the key to turning it into a valuable experience, and is the responsibility of the individual user. The founding principle of SL was "we create space - you fill it" and this remains true today. Linden Lab makes it possible to create a world, but the individual users must take it upon themselves to make something of this world.

If you come to Second Life expecting to accidentally find the tremendous and widely-varied community experience that many of us have discovered here, you are likely to be disappointed. Outreach efforts exist, but in the end it is up to the user to find the people and places that make this an enjoyable part of life. No one is going to come hunt you down, but if you spend even a little amount of time, find groups and locations that suit you, be willing to introduce yourself to others, and stick around, you may be amazed at the results!

Coughran

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 11:56AM (Unverified) said

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I'm sorry but this piece of journalism looks and smells very similar to the forums posts we see trying to mathematically prove that some random MMO isn't dying, or Fire Bolt is better than Frost Shock. Usually those forums posts come off as a little pretentious, with the "I DO MATH, YOU ARE WRONG, SO THERE!" conclusion at the end. I have higher expectations of Massively.

Anytime you try to quantify something intangible, like the "feel" of emptiness in a virtual world, you are going to have to make a lot of assumptions which I really don't care enough to argue with, or even read. Second Life FEELS like a ghost town, no matter how much your math proves to me that there is someone, somewhere logged on to the game with me.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 12:09PM Lethality said

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I don't know a single person in real life that has a Second Life account, in fact over the years I may have known 1. And I hang in some pretty online savvy circles.

I'm not even sure why Massively covers this "game" anymore.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 3:44PM (Unverified) said

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@lethality: Your scientific reasoning is flawless. Please include a list of games that you play so Massively can orientate their coverage around them.

@Christian Williamson: I thought it was a good article, I read it as apparently, you did. As for your comments, Massively isnt your personal rant blog. We get it, you don't like SL. But really, shit like this is what your twitter is for. shit like this is what your blogger.com account is for.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 6:06PM (Unverified) said

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mpdivo -- Your post made me smile. I think I'll resort to your response when dealing with those anecdote-toting individuals in the future. Since, clearly, quantifiable, scientific reasoning is well outside the scope of understanding!
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Posted: Jan 8th 2010 12:53AM torchwoody said

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Is lethality going to start trolling Tateru's Second Life posts again??? It's a new year lethality. Turn over a new leaf.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 12:28PM Pingles said

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One thing that differentiates Second Life from other online worlds is that SL's content is not designed to spread out the population.

In other words in WoW you will always have a certain percentage of players in zones for levels 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, etc.

In Second Life you have a majority of the gameworld that is never visited by anyone. So the "deserted" line can apply to a pretty big block of content.

Does Second Life provide maps of population distribution?

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 6:10PM (Unverified) said

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Absolutely; click on the MAP button and you can see instantly where the concentration of users are at, in real-time. Zoom out, and it's immediately apparent that there are common areas where throngs of people flock.

A traditional "population density map" would be ineffectual, however, as few people stick around in a single location long enough to take a census.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 10:14PM (Unverified) said

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I've built heat-maps of user-traffic in various sims at various times as a paid service. Quite some time ago, I felt that grid-wide heat-maps of traffic would be very interesting, but that was before the introduction of point-to-point teleportation, which lessened the utility of the idea.

It can't be too hard to find people, though. Even in the most obscure locations, if you hang around for a bit, someone turns up to see what's going on. I've had quite a number of serendipitous discussions that way. Usually it's from people who are looking for *smaller* concentrations of people (three or fewer) and who avoid places that look very busy.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 1:50PM (Unverified) said

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Meh. It's still a ghost town... and from the GUI to the population, Second Life is one of the most Newbie-unfriendly experiences I've ever had.

I was glad to delete it.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 3:24PM cerebrix said

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@Tateru

Massively isnt your personal rant blog.

we get it, you read a post on a forum somewhere and was like "thats bs! he hurt my feel bads! ill show him! (logs into massively admin account)"

but really, shit like this is what your twitter is for. shit like this is what your blogger.com account is for.

massively is NOT your personal rant tool. thats just not what this place is for.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 5:07PM Joystiq Login Bugs SUCK said

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Failed troll fails.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 10:01PM Laephis said

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Well, Jay certainly put a lot of thought into that reply. Parroting an overused, unfunny Internet meme is obviously the best way to defend your virtual ghost town!
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 3:37PM (Unverified) said

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It'll be interesting to see if the themed homestead areas change this perception at all. With a tighter plot layout and pre-fab homes for those less inclined to build the experience for new users may be a bit more inviting.

I've always been fond of the trophy spaces some MMOs offer (FFXI's mog house comes to mind, as well as Sony's Home) but unfortunately such offerings are instanced and closed off from the surrounding environment. I'd love to see a more integrated "home" option in some of mmorpgs for players that would be willing to pay game money to rent public lands. Perhaps a modified version of SL's homesteads.

Having said that, yes the land expansion in SL does seem to have grown a bit fast - however much of that is due to private island builds. Take a look at the SL land map and it's clear a good portion of the land is privately owned. So ironically a measurable amount of the dilution of users is user created.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 8:22PM (Unverified) said

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Indeed. As I said, people naturally seek a lower density than they do offline. Probably three basic reasons there:

1) They can
2) Chat ranges mean you need a much larger space for the same amount of privacy (your 'personal space' is a whole lot larger essentially)
3) Resources and performance are tied to land-area.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2010 10:17PM (Unverified) said

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It's not a ghost town. It's just so much bigger than everything else in terms of land area that per capita, you won't randomly bump into someone as often.

The trick, if you're looking for people, is to not randomly wander around. Click the "Map" button. On the bottom where it says Zoom, slide the slider midway to the left. At the top of the map info area, make sure the little box next to 'Resident' is checked. See all the green dots, thousands and thousands of them? People. Go find one. :P Heck, click the boxes next to 'Event' and see what's actually going on in terms of events.

SL isn't for everyone, just like EVE isn't for everyone, or WoW, or whatever. But if I've never played Aion or Free Realms or WAR - I'm not going to sit around kvetching on blogs about what a waste of space they are. :P Who cares about games you don't play? Why read columns about games you don't play? It's baffling to me.

Posted: Jan 7th 2010 10:28PM (Unverified) said

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A lot of folks sit and read articles (sometimes quite lengthy ones) about virtual environments or games that don't interest them or that they don't want to read about -- and then contact us to tell us that we wasted their time with an article that they didn't want to read in the first place.

There's got to be some interesting human psychology involved there somewhere. We get write-in complaints about literally everything we cover, from World of Warcraft to Second Life, telling us we should drop them. If we actually complied with those demands, there wouldn't be a site left.

Maybe it's insecurity and people feel threatened by the existence of things that they themselves didn't choose.
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