Happy Events and Upheavals – Is the sky really falling?

It’s been a few days since I wrote here, so I have some catching up to do. And do I have lots to write about.

On Sunday afternoon, I logged out of Second Life™ to watch some TV. I came back about 7pm GMT to read email and log in. A message from goodstuff@secondlife.com was waiting in my inbox. Now in my experience, they tend to be good, so I clicked to open the message to see the following message:-

Dear Siobhan Taylor,

You have received a Second Life partner proposal from Freya Becquerel.
Please visit the link below to view the proposal. This offer will expire on
Sunday, January 16, 2005. 

http://secondlife.com/partner/

I’m sure you’ll all understand if the next thing I did was head over there to click the I Accept button! WOOT! I am deliriously happy this week!

OK, the next thing I saw was on Monday morning. Not only has Nephilaine brought out some new outfits, but she’s remade some of her old ones with better seams, better shading and so on… and they’re still cheap! I owned most of those originals, some bought at EMP back in 2003, some from Pixel Dolls later, but Yay! Three cheers for the single greatest designer in Second Life™!!!

And now onto the news which seems to concern everyone. Linden actions to curb inflation in Second Life™. It seems that a lot of people are screaming that the sky is falling, but to be honest, I’m not sure, yet. There are four main changes, as follows:-

  1. Top Picks is being replaced by Adverts auctioned on eBay.
  2. Linden support for events is being cut.
  3. Ratings will now cost L$25
  4. Stipend bonus for ratings will be halved.

So, to take these in turn…

Top Picks is being replaced by Adverts auctioned on eBay.

This, I put first because I think it’s the only really bad choice they made. There are a couple of problems here, beginning with the fact that all they’ve accomplished is to change it from being open to suspicion of Linden involvement to one where it’s for the super-rich to decide what goes there. Someone mentioned in the forums that it’d be all AnsheCorp land. Well, it might be, but Anshe’s not the only rich person in Second Life™. There will be others. However, Linden has it’s own internal auction system, capable of handling both L$ and real money. By using eBay, they’ve effectively excluded all those of us (myself included) who refuse to use eBay or even blacklist the site. I’m saddened by this.

Linden support for events is being cut.

Well, is this really a problem? Long ago, all events were paid the same. Later, Mentor / Instructor events were paid more than others. Now LL wishes to cut support for non-educational events.

For a long time, there has been a feature in place to allow people to charge entry to their events. Not many people ever took advantage of it. Anshe did, and she’s now one of the richest people in Second Life™. In my opinion, this change has been a long time coming. Maybe now there won’t be so many “Best naked this” or “Sexiest dancing hippo in a thong” events and more that actually attract people on their merits.

Let me ask a question. I run a 10-Prim Speed Building Contest (the idea and original contest was Julia Curie’s, so I’m not claiming to have invented it). Prior to this, it’s been a case of the Lindens sponsor it, I have L$500-L$750 to give away. The most you could win realistically was L$250-L$300 for 1st place. So now, no Linden sponsorship, since though it’s fun, it’s not educational, so maybe I charge people to enter, say $100. The chances are, if you have to pay, you’re more likely to have a try for the prize, rather than be content to watch. But also, say 12 people show up, that’s a prize fund of L$1200. Even if I were to keep L$200 for myself, it’s still double the potential prize that it was before. Which would you prefer?

And sponsorship. Well, several people have offered to sponsor events on their land. Well of course, they get dwell, they get Dwelloper Incentives, they get US$ from LL. They get paid in real money to give you play money! Good deal, eh? Well, I say this, and I’m not the only one… Put up a big sign for Mochastyle, or announce it on your radio stream. I’ll sponsor you for advertising rights at your event. I’m not rich, so I need to be picky about the events I choose, but don’t be afraid to approach me in world. I don’t bite, well, not unless you are prepared to pay!

Ratings will now cost L$25

A step in the right direction. A small step, but a step nonetheless. I believe they should eliminate ratings altogether. When more than half the top-ten builders would be hard pressed to put one cube on top of another and align it correctly, then there’s something wrong with the system. Still, it’s a small step. It should eliminate fly-by neg-rate griefers. They won’t want to fly over an area and neg-rate everyone -3 if it’ll cost L$75 per person. Of course, the serious griefers won’t be too worried about it, and there’s no stopping them while the ability to rate still exists. It’s also a problem in that the rich people can neg-rate newbies with impunity now (if they so wished) with no risk of reprisal. OK, neg-rating someone because she neg-rated you is abuse of the system. Maybe not against the TOS, but really, it’s no different that neg rating someone’s appearance because you didn’t like the store she built.

Stipend bonus for ratings will be halved.

This will hurt, for a while, but we’ll get over it. Before Second Life™ 1.1 the limit was higher and L$3500 wasn’t that unusual. Now, the very most a person can get is L$2000. Next week it’ll be L$1250. I do feel for those who really rely on their stipend, and maybe there’s a better way. Perhaps detaching it from ratings and using a different method. The old way was that anyone with less than (I think) L$3,500 could get a stipend up to about that much, tax adjusted. If your balance was more than that, you got nothing. It was gamed. There were exploits. Still, if LL could solve that problem, it might be a better way to do it. Maybe they should bring back taxes, I dunno. Taxes would certainly affect the big landowners more, and in theory might be fairer.

In any case, it won’t kill us. It won’t really slow down development. Only last week, LL gave us off-line 3-d templates. People with poser could do away with a lot of the L$10/upload texture cost, and make development cheaper. Yesterday, someone posted a free ware 3-d drawing package in the forums that could also use these templates. I’ve not tried it, but if it can save as a tga, 32bpp then the field is levelled again.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the changes. I’m not really too worried. The sky is not falling, the world is not ending. There will be changes, and some will lose, some will gain. There are opportunities here though, for those who see them as such.