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August 25, 2005


Jake Reitveld

I am not sure if it would speed up the orientation process, but I think having inworld a "Players handbook" to SL might be helpful. I think there are a number of tips, traps and techniques which players will need to discover before they "get" SL. The introductory tutorial does a good job of walking you through the mechanics and parameters of play, and the more advanced tutorials that used to be at the old WA (I don't know if they are that new WA), were also helpful. But really, as critcal as the initial instruction is, it would be helpful to make some sort of online reference. SL does not come with a book that physically documents the mechanic s of play, so beyond the WA and the help, there is no reference.

It seems to me that if someone were equipped with a players handbook, they could wander out into the grid and start doing things, knowing that they could look up how do so something if they got in trouble. I think a lot of people like being self sufficient, or don't want to impose on live help because they feel thier questions are dumb. If they have a reference they can use on their own, then they may be more adventurous.

Troy McConaghy

I entered Second Life for the first time about a month ago (as Troy McLuhan), so I can still remember my initial experiences.

I had a three-year-old, slower computer back then. It was awful. I'd press the arrow keys on my keyboard and nothing would happen. Then sudenly my avatar would be somewhere new. It'd constantly get stuck or fall into canals... Not fun.

Now I have a new computer and I'm enjoying SL. I've found the various help notecards very useful...

But the fact is, most people don't have a fast enough computer (CPU and GPU) to really appreciate SL. And a new computer, capable of running SL smoothly, is not cheap.

That, I think, is the key limiting factor in the growth of the SL community (not how long it takes to get oriented).

Enter Xbox 360:
- Inexpensive (subsidized by Microsoft)
- Fast graphics
- USB 2.0 ports for your keyboard and mouse
- Built-in Ethernet port
- Wi-Fi ready

So make "SL for the Xbox 360."

The Xbox development team would be interested. J Allard is a Neal Stephenson buff; he requires his Xbox crew to read Snow Crash. [source: Wired Magazine, June 2005]

Maybe Linden Lab is already porting SL to the Xbox 360, but wants to keep it quiet... I'll stop now.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

I think I'm a pessimist here - SL is simply too complex to reduce the time needed to know "what it's all about", since SL is so many different things to different people.

Guides, handbooks, more information - specifically, information that you can quickly browse across (in-world HTML will help that out *a lot*!) instead of having to fire up external applications (who eat up your precious memory and computing power) - will certainly help people to get more familiar with the interface and speed up things properly. Some things should be more obvious - like the way IM works (almost all Greeters have to wait a long time until the new resident figures out what the "IM Recieved" button actually does :) - perhaps a flashing button would be more obvious? Or popping up the IM window directly, and having a Preferences setting to keep it closed afterwards?)

But the real problem starts when new residents have to deal with the so very complex socio-economic environment. I found out that no amount of information really helps with that - you need to "experience" it, not read it from a guide (and my poor newbies are literally drowned in all sorts of notecards I have prepared for them... but which they only start to understand after several hours online).

I'd also recommend a different "starting setup". I've seen that some configuration files have "high/medium/low" settings on them. It would be nice if you could change to one of them *before* you connect the first time, and since you monitor performance, you could give them a choice, say:

"Second Life is a very CPU and GPU intensive application. You can choose to trade off between more features - making your immersive experience more fully appreciated - or better fluidity - at the expense of slightly lower graphical quality."

And then recommendations:

"If you have a Pentium < 1 GHz - click here"
"If your graphics card has less than 128 MB RAM - click here"
"If you have a G4 Mac - click here"

Finishing off with some comments on how to search on the wikis and related material on how to tweak the performance further.

That way, people would at least start with a configuration better adapted to their expectations. The ones with top-of-the-line machines are going to expect a graphical quality at least as good as The Sims 2 or World of Warcraft, and SL should not disappoint them. Others will have seen the hype of SL and wish to join with their 3-year-old machines, and giving them 15 fps on the Welcome Area should be a goal - even if that means having only "medium" textures on the ground and a drawing distance of 64 (which they can tweak later anyway).

Also, as I often mentioned before, the SL Volunteer Groups need a slightly better organization and coordination ;) I'm aware that all this is being discussed (with the volunteers!) right now. As a matter of fact, most of the volunteers are also "volunteering" to organize themselves more - like having "standard" documentation to present the newbies, or trying to figure out the best way to do classes. I think that the future of the volunteers will be a mix of Live Help and the Greeters, coordinated by the Linden Liaisons. This won't reduce the orientation time dramatically, but at least it will give the new residents several opportunities to quickly reach a helping hand.

Prokofy Neva

Here are suggestions for streamlining and enhancing start-up time to immersion:

1) Provide more rewards and timely, non-buggy rewards to people who bring friends from other games into SL. Raise the payout to $2500 for going to premium account but deliver at least $500 if not $750 just for at least trying. Then there's incentive to spend time with the new fly-ins.

2) Bring back the short-term experiment of having residents purchase space within LL ads on sites like boingboing.net (this was $50US) to place their ads for goods or services in LL, so that if a trial account person pressed on their offer, they'd get that newbie on their land and the $2000 if he joined. I got dozens of sales of rentals on that offer, it was one of the most active forms of advertising I've ever used. It was discontinued from its fair, equal form (anyone can buy an ad for $50) and, as usual, handed off as a favour to the old FIC content makes like Cubey Terra to get the newbie stream meaning dwell, apprenticeships in their guilds, joining their customer lists, etc. Stop doing all that favourtism.

3) Stop giving away the newbie stream to your favourites and your selected lots. Let it be a marketable good that people help you take care of as a service load. Put billboards in the welcome areas and let them rotate regularly or even be available for a fee like $500 LL with very emphatic ads for newbie services like clothing, vehicles, rentals. Stop being so afraid of commerce -- just let it function like a normal Grand Central where all kinds of ads and businesess flourish. Currently, the welcome areas are supposed to be so sanitized of commerce and ads that it is like an operating room in the ER and has all the sterility ensuing.

Let people sell to newbies. It's ok. They won't get hurt. It's a service. Taking care of newbies is work -- I know, I do bunches of it. Get rid of -- or at least consolidate and make more rational!!! -- these phalanxes of greeters and meeters and mentors and helpers and liaisions you are paying a fortune for in time if not money and just let residents sell services to newbies. Have a Linden keep an eye on it and regulate it or have some kind of code of conduct but stop trying to crush it.

People violate these norms anyway and hustle newbies illegally by tping them to clubs for money out of the welcome area.

4) Have other kinds of gathering areas besides welcome areas. Stop hating telehubs and let telehub mall owners get some kind of incentive for creating newbie orientation and welcome areas -- if nothing else, dwell. This is again achieved by rotating signs and some clickable info stations like at telehubs.

5) Let barons get tier relief for 30 days if they buy a sim that has new $512 Governor Linden land. Instead of all this fussy nervousness about how newbies are going to be ripped off buying and reselling their first land, let barons emphatically take care of this hard chore -- parcel and help sell and resell newbie land. Orientation naturally occurs with land purchase -- people start to learn tools, start to build. Going and getting one's $512 should be such a standard part of orientation that it should never become such a flaming topic of the forums. In TSO, EVERYONE goes to get land. It would be unthinkable really to not get land after about a few hours or a few days when you've got enough to at least get a small property and work your way up -- or better yet, pool with others.

Second Life has a shockingly low proportion of land-buyers even of this extremely cheap subsidized $512 variety because of this horrid anti-land culture allowed to disseminate in the game by a very concerted and vocal minority of sandboxers and socialists. Get the out of the way of progress. Let people get in the game and click on land and get going -- this is how they make neighbourhoods and meet people and just start having more fun and learning and making stuff.

6) Take all those greeteers and helpers who are really just ushering newbies into their own little guilds and cliques and economic streams and put them to work even for pay at a giant prim university. Every few sims should have prim university like Tale of the Desert or something has all those skill-up stations. Create really clear easy stations for learning that residents can run and get some pay for -- let newbies themselves pay some small fee for it. I remember as a newbie wanting to simply pay $500 to anybody who would just end my troubles and come teach me one-on-one how to make a yellow pages for businesses, like notecard giving and notecard taking (which was only JUST invented, imagine!!!!). Everybody scorned me for offering pay in this wiki culture where everybody is suposed to be endlessly altruistic. Trust me, when you end the allergy to commerce that you've let spread like wildfire in this game merely from the leftist ideologies of a few, you will be well on your way to creating many, many more portals for newbie entry and enjoyment.

It's the fear that somehow commerce, sales, land dealing harms newbie that has a crippling stranglehold on the game and it will take your leadership to end this miasma.

Malarthi Behemoth

Really, I don't think there's a lot that can be done more than implimenting the greeters program to it's full potential. Since we don't even have that yet on the Teen Grid, people take it upon themselves to welcome new people. The result is a faster learning curve and new friends made faster than ever. The solution then is perhaps to disolve any incentive that people would have to join the greeter program other than simply helping newbies. After all, who wants to get hit with a huge ad your first 5 minutes in world?? I know I don't (And I'd be likely to do some very ToS/CS unfriendly things to anyone who subjected me to that ^^)

Sorry for beating a dead horse...
JM2C plus a quarter for long distance from the TG!


I am not sure how the 3.5 metric was arrived at. I imagine that you made a list of items that you considered core basics...ect ect.

I still feel new after many days in world and I am an avid gamer/programmer ect. I am not sure what the 3.5 means to y'all, but I think its no where near that fast (or maybe its not enough to ensure that one returns to sl).

Not to get to far off topic, but I assume that part of the goal of shortening the learning curve is one of retention. Perhaps encouraging people to create things via incentives (perhaps you already do this?) as my first impression of the universe was....a whole lot of people selling stripper clothes and a whole lot of porn (maybe not a bad thing, but a bad first impression)-tons of vender boxes=boring. Amazing things to explore=engaged new users who want to learn faster so they too can create and contribute.

I would rather learn to walk and then explore an ancient temple then walk and explore 60 vendors that rez slowly and sell the same stuff as the next 60 (art does sometimes imitate life)

Not hooked yet..close tho.

RyeDin Meiji

DM is right. Even though commerce is a part of this world, and rightfully so, if it were thrown in my face in the WA I'd have quit on day one.

What is needed there is a more extensive set of training "paths", and possibly clearly identified incentives. People respond very well to incentives. For instance, build a grand immersive obstacle course type thing, each level getting a little more advanced. Make the whole thing some sort of game with cash money ($L) as the prize. That would server the purpose of instantly pulling them into the interactive possibilities of SL and also to the concept of money within the game.

Or have the greeters etc. at the WA grab teams of newbies, maybe 5 per team. Each team works together to make a build of some sort. Each build is entered into a weekly competition, voted on by that "class". Or something... like that...

Something other than what I got. What I got was the initiation island and then teleported into a mass of people. In the initiation island I was really getting excited at all the possibilities. Then BLAM, huh? hello? um, where do I go now? How do I level up? Can I fight some monsters? what's the point of this game again?


Okay this is from a newbie. If my husband had not been a member of SL for some time and basically told me how to do everything then I would have given up after the first night. You have to understand that with people coming to SL for different reason you don't always understand what SL is all about. Honestly I started out here because I wanted to meet new people to chat with. Now granted I am fully aware that SL is not a "chat room." Then I get in here and man you need money for everything so what have I done for the last few days, been camping out to get money while I try to figure everything else out. I am not the type of person who understands all the computer programming and things of that such to make items to sell. I am sure there are a lot of other ways to make money and such but I must tell you, right now I am so overwhelmed that many nights I just shut it off. I guess I am not sure exactly who all you are wanting to gear SL to. If it is the gamers and pc programmers then I think you are doing a great job. If it is the average joe who knows nothing about this then maybe we need better direction on how to do things. To be honest I was taken from the welcome area so fast that I had no clue there were people there that were suppose to be helping.

johan jurgis

Hmmmm, I'm also a newbie but I'd have to say that 2L has got it almost completely right.

I come from a background of running a MUD for 12 years so I'm no stranger to the challenge of keeping newbies when they log in for the first time. I implemented a lot of stuff like quests in each city (go find the lollypop) with automated tells to people under level 3 when they walked past explaining how it worked, and that worked very well -- but of course that's very much a fantasy setting thing and I'm not even sure if 2L can parse for playtime <24h for example.

Another thing to consider might be extending the stuff you can do for money -- for example I've implemented a clan of newbiehelpers before and they got perks for it.

Another thing might be menial tasks - for example clearing up rubbish or heck, painting walls, dunno, on a similar premise to those dancing pad things that allegedly pay out?

Of course the problem with all of this from a game point of view is balancing the economy - which is a real pig - and abuse (ie botting/scripting by oldbies). One way I got around that was to limit the payout in each city quest to 10gold the first time, 8 the next, 6 the third, etc -- but then people can just create more newbies so do it all again.

Anyhow speaking for myself I've found it all pretty straightforward but then I'm much more familiar with games such as this than most I guess.

Maybe another thing would be a "quickguide" of some sort - ultracondensed and just one sheet of paper with the 20 essentials - I implemented this before and it works extremily well. The key here is that nobody really wants to spend the first hour learning stuff, if you can get them competent in the basics in 1 minute then they're likely to feel much happier about continuing...

Hmmm, maybe I should apply for e helper position :)


johan jurgis

Actually I just had another thought - you mention watching newbies and marvelling etc but there's a missed opportunity here. really what you want is some good data to base implementations/changes off, so why not ad something in the 2L client that parses for playtime and # times charLoggedOn, and do something like a survey if character logs off after <1 hr with some multiple choice survey questions as to why, same after 3 logtimes (different questions), same after 10 (again different questions). That'd at least get you some solid data to see what's lacking or most perturbing people - and give you some areas to focus on.

And actually you could probably also use that data to explain to newbies that it gets easier (have some sort of "I feel I understand 2L" question in there)... etc

I should be on the staff :)

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