My first day in Second Life

I learned about Second Life quite a while ago, not the least due to the coverage by BoingBoing. Being involved in 3D design myself, I was curious to see how an interactive 3D world actually works. But on the same time I was reluctant as well, recognizing the potential for addiction in such a community. After all I have a “First Life” which feels sometimes as if it consists of a handful of seperate lifes already, so what would I need an additional virtual life for?
Probably because I am on vacation right now, curiosity won and I signed up with Second Life. I was a bit disappointed because the selection of names was limited. You could pick a first name yourself, and then select from a list of last names. I tried “Technozid Link” but that was refused.

Once you sign up, your (then blank) Avatar goes through a few training stages, where you can do basic customization and learn your first steps – including flying around – in the virtual world. Thus “graduated”, the character is set loose to explore the new world. My first steps were a bit erratic. I enjoyed flying pretty much, but I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to do and where to go. After some stumbling around I found a “money tree” – a gift for new users equipping them with some cash since basically Second Life is a virtual economy of its own. In the course of my exploration I found some more trees, so my purse now holds almost 300 so called “Lindon $”. As of this writing, I am reclining in a seat watching a tabledance and get paid 2 L$ for each 10 minutes.
All the characters I talked to were very friendly. One gave me a whole wardrobe of clothing, so that I could get into something decent instead of the “newbie look”. I stumbled into three mature neighboorhoods with explicit graphics and Avatars. I didn’t mind, but I was very surprised since I have not expected this in a mostly US-based community. In one neighboorhood my Avatar got offered paid intimacy (which – even if it would have wanted, it could have not offorded anyway), and I found out that the owner of the place gets 25% revenue from all the “transactions” taking place. I mentioned to the character offering it to mee that – as far as I have seen – my Avatar wasn’t properly “equipped” for this. And without hesitation my counterpart beamed the necessary tool into my inventory…
Apart from that, it runs a bit bumpy. Textures seem to be a major problem – a lot of characters are dressed into “Texture missing” images. The world freezes a lot, teleports are often blocked. To me it looks like the server hardware can’t quite cope with the user requests.
I’m still hesitant. It looks like some fun, but I don’t know what to make of it yet. Nevertheless, if YOU are in Second Life too, drop me a line.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael, welcome to SL!

    SL is lots of fun, to be sure, and does have a fairly steep learning curve at first. I’m curious what you mean by ‘runs a bit bumpy’ — there is a very real need for a powerful computer (which I would assume you would have, being in 3D design yourself) with a snazzy video card (SL likes nVidia more than ATI, typically) and a speedy internet connection, as all the graphic elements are streamed to your computer from the LindenLab servers. The ‘texture missing’ images you’re seeing can often be fixed by simply relogging (not sure why it happens as much as it does — it’s a fairly recent thing). As you might imagine, with the ability to upload your own content (textures, animations, sounds), some people are better than others about making sure their textures are as lag-free as possible (i.e. lowest resolution for the detail required).

    Also, depending on your vid card, the graphics settings in your preferences (ctrl P on windows, probably cmd p on mac) can make a huge difference in how much the ‘world freezes’ for you.

    Teleports are typically only blocked if a) it’s a private island you’re trying to tp to, or b) that particular sim (server) is full of avatars already.

    Personally, I find SL to be one of the coolest things on the web ATM, partially because it’s my full-time job to build and create there. Feel free to IM me in game (using the Search button at the bottom of your screen, then hit the People tab) if you have any questions you can’t get answers to and I’d be glad to assist.

    It’s an incredible place, and there’s definitely room for more good 3D designers. 🙂

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