Monday, February 09, 2004


... continued from last Thursday:

"It was nice because we could plan in advance," says FlipperPA Peregrine, showing me the map of Indigo, the simulator he recently bought the rental rights to, bidding over $1200 before the auction closed. "I cut it up into sixteen 4096 [square meter] plots... I group-deeded the land, and each person [in my group] allocated the proper amount... It's nice, because this way we could plan in advance who our neighbors would be, come up with a group plan sim-wide and [an overall] theme."

Looking at the names and labels on the map, I ask him if "PARK" is a Korean guy.

He laughs. "The park is going to be a full one-quarter sim." On it will be Indigo Mountain, and in it, a network of caves. (The auction also bought Peregrine the right to terraform the land, so he'll literally be able to click and drag his mountain up into existence.)

Like Indigo castle, it's an ambitious project, and an expensive one. Even for the founder of a high-tech company who just sold his stakes in the business to another firm.

"I also figured," Flipper says later, smiling, "it would pay for itself within a year or so, as well."


"I bought the sim entirely," says Peregrine, "but share it with the group. We don't have to pay monthly [fees] as we have allocated land to the group, adding up to the full 65K [square meters of the sim] per month."

"Oh, you mean the group's collective holdings mean you don't have to pay a monthly deal?"

"Yes," Flipper answers. "You can deed the land to [a] group, and then have people allocate from their personal land allocation to the group."

This may require some explanation. Most residents are alloted a small plot of land, which is covered by a monthly fee. (Any land beyond that allotment costs them extra.) Residents with lifetime accounts get a much larger allotment, and ownership rules in Second Life allow residents to deed over their entitled acerage to any group they belong to, so it can be shared it common. So what Peregrine and his group of eleven friends have done is deed over enough of their pre-paid land rights so they can cover the 65,000 square meters that comprise all of Indigo.

"So basically," I realize, "twelve people get a ton of land and [building block] prims to play with, for 1200 bucks!"

"Exactly," says Peregrine, winking.

"And that's all they'll ever have to pay," I say, starting to understand, "unless they want more land." Rental fees for a whole sim would usually run about $200 per month-- but the collective allotment from Peregrine's group cancels out that fee entirely.

"It's also advantageous that if someone leaves the group," Flipper continues, "They can, with no hard feelings, and we can find someone else to take their place, without worrying who they will sell to."

"Lemme do some mental calculations," I say. "Average [resident] monthly fee's around $15, so $180 a year [per resident]. So with twelve folks, jeez, for a $1200 investment, you're saving beaucoup [money] within 6 or so months!"

"Exactly my calculations as well!" says Peregrine. "We're [lifetime account holders] as well, so it was a no-brainer for me. We also paid for quite a bit of the cost of the sim by selling our old land for $US."

The genius of the financial workaround here suddenly dawns on me. At first, I imagined Indigo to be a kind of goth kibbutz, subsidized by a generous socialist benefactor with a taste for white face paint. Now it seems more like a bunch of folks pooling their resources together to turn a spacious warehouse into an communal artist's space, in a way that'll save them hundreds of dollars per year. (Paying a lot less to the landord, in the bargain.)

"So," I say, "this isn't quite like you're just shelling out 1200 from your pocket as the suddenly rich former company owner?"

"Exactly. We had a full plan in advance on how we were going to handle it. I didn't approach this as being 'the rich kid on the block'. I looked at it as being in a position to do some neat stuff with friends, and needed their help to pull it off... and I truly consider it a group-owned sim. I don't want to be seen as a land baron or dictator."

"Well, then again, if there is a conflict in the group, I imagine it could get hairy."

"Yeah, but there haven't been group conflicts yet," says Peregrine, crossing his fingers. "I keep reminding people IT'S STILL ONLY A GAME!"

Actually, I'm less and less sure of that statement, just about every time I log in.

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Hehe you guys keep saying "investment" and it will "pay for itself". It doesn't generate money, doesn't make revenue, it just costs less over long term because you all have lifetime accounts. Nothing you can do to shake the rich-guy feel. Each of you spent about $300 for something that is "just a game". Richies.

Posted by: Jack Digeridoo at Feb 9, 2004 11:14:13 AM

It does "generate" money, namely the dwell bonus. Maybe even earn a developer incentive.

And it actually might "pay for itself" that way. Go to GOM and see how much your current play money is worth. I'm slightly over my "investment" into SL already :)

Posted by: Ezhar Fairlight at Feb 9, 2004 1:07:21 PM

I'm not really concerned about the financials. I sense some bitterness coming from your direction, Jack Digeridoo, and I can't tell why. I'm having fun, and that's really all that matters.

Posted by: FlipperPA Peregrine at Feb 9, 2004 1:23:43 PM

I'm not really concerned about the financials. I sense some bitterness coming from your direction, Jack Digeridoo, and I can't tell why. I'm having fun, and that's really all that matters.

Posted by: FlipperPA Peregrine at Feb 9, 2004 1:24:32 PM

Ok but it's not making money. You spent $300 each to save money... You are -$300. And you'll never get that back. (I mean, you will in terms of fun/entertainment). Saying your trying "invest" or have it "pay" off is just to draw attention. If you think you can make back $300 from dwell->GOM, you're in for a shock. Yeah some money comes out of it, a very small amount, and it's really cool to turn fake money into real money but the volume you're playing with is nothing compared to the real life investment.

Posted by: Jack Digeridoo at Feb 11, 2004 12:20:01 PM

huh? whats this $300 each/rich guy stuff?? hehe. I just deeded my land to the group, which in turn is deeded to the sim. Therefore, the land that I would be paying for no matter what sim I am in is carried over into indigo (holding my place there so to speak). I'm lost about the $300 stuff. I never paid more than what my regular monthly payment is. and its not a bunch of rich people being greedy. I have lived on smaller plots next to group leaders that think they are the second life coming of christ. I am happy in Indigo. I live with my friends without having somebody with an insanely big ego try and tell us how to play. frankly in my opinion, that makes it worth it to me. I get to play one of the greatest games ever and actually enjoy it. Sounds like a deal to me :)

Posted by: Rafin Grimm at Feb 11, 2004 2:51:51 PM