Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Second Look at Second Life

In late 2012 my credit card was compromised and I had to cancel it and get a new one. I was pretty upset, and I decided not to use my credit card online for a while*. This meant that I could no longer pay my monthly 'rent' in Second Life, and I decided to just let everything there lapse.

I was also a little burned out. I had tried to do too much, I think. I had tried to be a land baron, builder, zookeeper, artist, teacher, committee member, programmer, shopkeeper, etc…I had really enjoyed the process of creation and construction, but then the building and scripting process changed, and I couldn't keep up.

I stayed away for over two years, instead investing my 'free' time on video games like playing Harvest Moon or Lost In Blue. I was eagerly awaiting the next 'Harvest Moon'** release, A Story of Seasons, but when I went by my local GameStop to pick up the copy that I thought I had pre-ordered (with a $5 deposit), they had no record of my deposit, and they were out of the title. That got me thinking about what I had enjoyed while playing video games - and I realized that some of the things -- like creating a character, decorating a house, going on quests to solve problems, were all activities that I had previously enjoyed in Second Life.

I started to catch up on news about Second Life and the other virtual realities, and I found that the company that currently supported Second Life, Linden Labs, was planning a new product, and there was much discussion about whether or not that would mean the end of Second Life as a platform. I decided to go back to Second Life for a visit.

I found a lot of changes. There had apparently been a few people who emigrated from Second Life to other virtual worlds, but a lot of what I remembered was still there.

But things had changed. More things were being made of mesh, and I got the feeling that making things out of prims (one of my favorite things) was now considered old-fashioned. There were new off-the-rack avatars, and my old favorites, the dog, the monkey, and the female explorer, had been retired.

One change was that many of the inworld merchants had gone to the online marketplace, and of those who stayed, some had reduced the size of their holdings. There were still a lot of activities, places to visit, and things to do, and a lot of things seemed to have been improved because of all the new construction and scripting options available.

At first I was quite upset because, while my avatars were still there, all my 'virtual' belongings seemed to be gone. I was told that Linden Labs had done a 'dormancy purge' for accounts that had been inactive for over a certain period of time. That hurt, since I had spent a lot of time accumulating things, but it made clear the reality that you don't 'own' anything in a virtual reality like Second Life, you are only paying for connectivity.

I decided to use the money I had planned to spend on a hot air balloon ride to celebrate my 70th birthday and paid for two one-year 'premium' memberships. For a few dollars more I 'bought' two small patches of virtual land, some virtual houses, and an "old lady" avatar. ***After this initial expense, though, because of the previous inventory loss, I am hoping to 'live within my means' (premium members get a 'weekly stipend' of a few hundred Lindens to spend in-game).

Addendum: After I first wrote this post one of the Linden Lab support people helped me reactivate one of my old avatars, and it turned out that she still had a lot of the things I had thought I had lost forever. It turns out that I did not close my account properly, and I left Linden Labs holding the bag, so to speak...

For now, I am planning on moving everything I've written about Second Life to this blog, and leaving "Stephanie Meyer Not The Famous One" for my real life posts.  I am doing this because I recently read a blog where someone posted about their activities in both worlds and it was pretty confusing.

Recent activities:

My 'old lady' avatar in the mouth of a stone dragon. 

Part of the massive stone dragon on Cape Ekim, site of one episode of a scavenger hunt in Second Life. That's 'me' by the eye.

Trapped by a giant spider in the Falmouth Hotel. Another part of the scavenger hunt. Wearing one of the 'classic' avatars.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*I didn't even use Amazon for over a year.
**You can't call them "Harvest Moon" anymore because another company has copyright to the name.
***Linden Labs furnishes a good selection of free avatars, and premium members are entitled to a free virtual home in one of their subdivisions, or the right to stay on a 512 space of land without paying extra 'rent'. I paid for two premium memberships and formed a land-holding group so that I could have 'free rent' on a 1024 patch of land and, hopefully, not have to pay anything more beyond that initial investment.

If this all doesn't make sense, there is a lot of information on Second Life online.

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