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Arcadia Codesmith
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MMOs are a convenient standard of measurement because they're also virtual worlds, but you're going to find the same dynamic with any software that requires a download. A huge number of downloads are aborted, sometimes due to boredom but more often due to technical glitches in data transmission. SL isn't an MMO and nobody is advocating it become one. But the current crop of MMOs have state-of-the-art systems that are very relevant to ANY virtual world, such as avatar creation and customization. If LL isn't willing to keep up with the state of the art, we can watch SL stagnate, shrink, crumble and die. You don't have to copy any of those systems exactly, but you do need something that's just as intuitive and easy to use. Costs to upgrade: substantial. Costs of not upgrading: lethal.
It is absolutely insane to see the disconnect some fan bases and designers have with the changes in the market demographics. There are entirely too many who still think of computer games as an all-boys club and who are actively hostile to any suggestion that might change that. If you point out that women have been active in computer gaming since the beginning, that the numbers have grown over time, and that we're now approaching equity, they put their fingers in their ears and make la-la-la noises (or cherry pick a few titles with a strong male skew as if they were exemplars).
The elitist attitude on display in certain of these comments is a death sentence. Elitist enclaves stagnate and fade away. Every. Single. Time. There are a number of factors in play, but I think the biggest is simply that art needs an audience. You can show your art exclusively to the people rich and cultured enough to appreciate your genius, but here's a sad truth; snobs are fickle beasts, and critical darlings crumble into the dust of history. Art that endures encompasses universal themes, and that means finding common ground with a diverse audience... including the vast majority of humanity with less education, less money and less power than rich patrons. If you're not willing to expand your vision to encompass the seething masses, well, enjoy your well-earned obscurity.
Step zero: client download. It's fine. It couldn't be any quicker and easier, short of embedding the client in the browser (which opens a whole big can of worms). Step one: character creation. Currently you get to choose from a handful of prefab avatars -- considerable improvement over the old days, but nowhere near where it needs to be. Take a hard look at a really top-notch MMO character creation system. SL's needs to be BETTER than that, simultaneously more powerful AND more intuitive to use. It should integrate with the marketplace to leverage freebies. There needs to be hundreds of millions of possible avatar combinations straight out of the box, before you even rez in the world for the first time. Step two: tutorial. LL took a stab at this last time I created an alt, and it was pretty crude. That needs to be polished to a shiny gloss, so somebody who comes in with no previous experience beyond playing solitaire or Farm Candy Birds emerges with some sense of mastery. Step three: home. Every player, free or premium, needs a home base. A small instanced room in limbo is fine. Just give them something they own from day one that can't be taken from them when the landlord goes belly-up or they forget a rent payment. At the very least, provide some sort of hostel/barracks where you can claim a bunk and a footlocker. Step Four: Connect. You need a "new player channel" of some sort to hook up new players with people who want to help, and you need to moderate it 24/7 with paid staff to keep the riff-raff at bay. Expensive? Yes. Risky? There is substantially more downside risk in doing nothing.
I see virtual people.
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2014 on Testing: Is This Blog Back On? at New World Notes
"In an MMORPG or a game, all your equipment just fits" This. We need a contemporary inventory UI that simplifies playing dress-up (and an option to bypass it when we want to get complicated). Being able to easily customize your avatar is HUGELY important. Second Life's outdated inventory and avatar customization are major barriers to wider adoption of the platform.
The "discount bin" for a subscription MMO is going free-to-play, where it's transformed into a marketing tool for the cash shop. A responsive live team can salvage bad design decisions, but they have to act fast and be very attuned to the community. There are some good games out there that were horrible at launch, and getting people to give them another look is an uphill struggle. I count this as a "not bad" game that could be salvaged, but I'm not seeing much evidence that the developers are actively soliciting the community for advice. That's an error. Never assume you know your own game better than the people who play it every day.
I can see the point of not having an auction house, but personally I don't think the advantages of the current system outweigh the disadvantages. Crafting is a bit odd because you get more experience from destroying gear than from creating it, and you get much more from destroying other people's creations (and dropped gear) than your own. That's clever from a design perspective, as it acts as an item sink, but from the player perspective, it means you don't get the best advancement rate unless you team up with another crafter. I see a lot of that in this design -- systems that address issues like database bloat but don't adequately consider the impact on the player experience. The guild-centric elements have a disproportionate negative impact on soloists. I know pro-guild designers think this will encourage soloists to join up; in reality, soloists will just cancel and go play a more welcoming game. We don't like people telling us what to do, whether it's a guildmaster or a game designer. It's by no means a bad MMO, but it has a lot of work to do to be a good one, much less a great one.
I usually end up playing all the classes in a game, eventually, but I always start with fighter or fighter/healer hybrid. I just like keeping a nice solid steel wall between me and the pointy bits.
New York City is home to the nerve centers of global finance, countless museums, excellent colleges and universities, incredible fashion shopping and events, and the pillars of high society. It also hosts some of the most delightfully kinky boutiques and clubs on the face of the planet, many of which cater to those exact same people in those prestigious and/or vital functions. We might feel that sex is overrepresented in Second Life, and perhaps it is. But I don't see any particular advantage in expressing contempt towards other people's fantasies and fetishes. Most of us have them, apart from true asexuals. I have met the "pervs", and they include financiers, architects, designers, entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, and a whole spectrum of humanity. Even if they came for the sex, the ones who stick around have made other significant contributions to the virtual world. They're just people.
Of MMOs released or in development, I think EverQuest Next Landmark looks most interesting. ESO had the potential to break the mold, but instead they gilded it and put it in a pretty museum case. The elements that most remind me of Skyrim are those that are also most annoying, such as the counterintuitive interface. THAT's the place to cleave to MMO standards, not in the story-on-rails theme park structure. It's not a bad game, it's quite playable, but in a genre desperately in need of revolutionaries and reformers, we got another conformist -- well-mannered, well-executed and entirely forgettable.
Humanity has lived on this planet for roughly 250,000 years. For about 246,000 years, our numbers were relatively stable at below ten million individuals. Then we learned agriculture and writing and industrialization and modern medicine and all the wonders of modern civilization. There are now over 7 billion people on earth, 700 times our natural population levels, with little sign of our growth rate slowing. Over 5 billion of these were added just in the past century -- a single human lifespan. And since the advent of civilization, but especially in the past century, most of those people have been sold one very simple and very compelling lie -- that each and every one of them might someday achieve, through hard work or sheer luck, the fabulous wealth of the most elite. It is a lie that is steadily destroying our planet, the only habitable world within our reach. We are depleting all our resources at an alarming rate to meet that endless hunger to acquire things that will allegedly make our lives better. We have to change. We can't sustain this. But in order to change, we need to fight not just centuries of cultural conditioning, but the primal instinct of homo sapiens to hoard as much as it can -- a useful instinct in times of scarcity, a ruinous one when it goes unchecked. Virtual reality is a tool. It can be used for a multitude of purposes, good or bad. What I see is a potential aid in solving the issues I put forth in that windy prologue. If the essential acquisitional nature of the hairless ape can be sated with zeros and ones building the illusion of fabulous wealth, we might be able to slow the rapacious destruction of the world and focus on building a sustainable global society. I know that strikes some people as a very sinister future, and I'll admit I have misgivings. But I'm at a loss to otherwise save a very stupid species of self-important primate (and countless other species that stand in the path of paving the planet) without sharing with them the rabbit-hole to Wonderland.
"PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." -- Mark Twain's prologue to Huckleberry Finn. I am forever grateful that the ghost of Mr. Clemens never found its way to my AP English class. No authorial intent survives contact with a readership. The moment your narrative is read by another person, it's no longer solely yours -- it's a collaborative work between your words and the readers' imaginations. Something you meant as a metaphor or a flight of fancy or a dire warning might be taken as an inspiration. I'm firmly convinced that there are interests in the United States who regard Brave New World and 1984 as instruction manuals. I'm a fan of Stephenson's work, but although he coined the term "metaverse", he didn't create the concept. He evoked a compelling interpretation of it, one that has been and will continue to be influential in its development, but he was building on an idea that was already progressing and which would have continued with or without him. I regard the metaverse as inevitable. The only question in my mind is how we, as early developers and users of it, will shape it. Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Ernest Cline (among others) will be remembered as prophets -- whether they want to be or not.
Jules Verne didn't set out to predict the course of underwater exploration -- he just wanted to tell a compelling story based on the extension of a technology in its barest infancy at the time he wrote. If you told him there would be a submarine capable of traversing 20,000 leagues, he would have either scoffed in disbelief or wondered why it took so long. Gene Roddenberry and the writers of Star Trek didn't invent the cell phone. They threw together a prop to meet the story need for a landing party to communicate with the orbiting Enterprise. Here's the thing: science fiction informs the advancement of technology. The people who designed submarines and lunar landers read Jules Verne. The people who created cell phones watched Star Trek. And the people who will build the virtual future have read Stephenson and Gibson. Science fiction writers are spotty about predicting the future, but on multiple occasions they've have a hand in engineering it... whether they intended to or not. If Neal wants things to go in a different direction, he'd better keep writing, and it'd best be a more compelling blueprint than the one he's already crafted.
Pussycat said: "out of sync motion (like how motion sickness in a vehicle can be triggered by seeing movement that is different from what the body is feeling)." That's an important point. Parallex and shading are vital cues, but when your eyes tell you you're moving and your inner ear is telling you you're stationary (or visa versa), there's bound to be issues. And we haven't even touched the issue that men in general are culturally conditioned to ignore and suppress feelings of illness that women have no problem reporting.
I think declaring this a problem that affects "most" or "nearly all" women is premature based on the available data set. That said, any research that improves the technology to make it more accessible to more people should definitely be top priority. VR is a significant piece of the future, naysayers notwithstanding, and VR sickness is going to be a substantial barrier. If we can eliminate it early, it will help the field along.
If it does take off, and I certainly hope it does, I predict a need and demand for more functional mirrors and other true reflective surfaces. We are the children of Narcissus. I'd hope it pushes development of cam-based gesture recognition and a more intuitive interface. The first-time user experience for an immersive Second Life should be full of amazement and wonder, not confusion and frustration.
There are a great many people who are not as attractive as they'd like to be, who are not their ideal weight, who are sometimes or always lonely. Thank you ever so much, everybody who feels it's perfectly all right and acceptable to marginalize, mock, and insult the "losers". Fret not, I'm sure they never read blogs or have feelings worth considering. Sex and survival are the primary driving forces for nearly every form of multisexual life on this planet. A virtual world devoid of sexuality is not a world at all. The ascetic who scorns the base pleasures of the flesh suffers a peculiar pathology that mistakes its own disorder for virtue. It is the right of the individual to pursue such a path; it is nobody's right to force a society, virtual or real, into such a rigid and joyless state.
Arcadia is off-the-shelf average (by SL standards -- she'd be a supermodel in the real world). I built her to be an architect, not a style statement, but her lack of a style statement sort of became a style statement in itself. I guess she becomes interesting by dint of trying to be uninteresting. I've got other avatars to indulge my sexy, funky, and high-fashion beauty moods. I don't have much in the way of cute. I like cute, I find cute appealing, but I don't self-identify as cute.
I think it's a shrewd move for a company that wants to remain a major player. The limitation of mobile is real estate -- there's just not enough screen for many applications. Break down that barrier (in 3D no less) and the world is your oyster.
I think it's just tracking the global economy. As conditions improve for the tiny percentage of people who can afford a private sim, they get back into it. File under first world problems.
We need a killer app to catalyze a mass-market quantum leap. At the moment the applications are a bit esoteric. There's no incentive to build the super-fluffy interface for morons yet. Get a small 3D printer below the $100 price point, and show it to Mattel and other toy makers. Betcha they come up with a 3D interface any reasonably bright six-year-old can use.
I don't think you're atypical, Jo. We're not born with pink or blue genes. I always grabbed whatever toy let me build and create, and I didn't much care what color box it came in.
I've noticed that Facebook, apparently solely on the basis of my likes, has decided that I will respond to advertisements for games headlined in bold print "FOR MEN ONLY!", or "Your girlfriend won't see much of you once you play this!" I have concluded that most game designers are better than they used to be in building inclusive games, and game players have mellowed in many (though not all) forums, but game marketers are apparently all imported from the 1950's and get their inspiration from old issues of Hustler.
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Feb 28, 2014