Playing Second Life

I was reading Scott Jenning’s concise explanation of the uproar over Linden Labs’ changes to the open space sims in their Second Life virtual world simulation, and as I read it, I wondered why I never really ‘got’ Second Life.

I mean, it has everything I like, right? It’s almost ENTIRELY about community and creating things. All the cool things I am doing in LittleBigPlanet right now, could be done better in Second Life. Second Life, after all, does not restrict your objects to three units in depth, and it lets them turn as well.

While working at Massively, I had plenty of opportunity to talk, a lot, with Tateru Nino, one of the leading commentators on the goings-on within Linden Labs. And as a blogger there, I was in Second Life quite a bit researching articles. And I saw a lot of VERY COOL things in there — groundbreaking stuff in emergency preparedness, art and education.

Second Life, unlike the vast majority of the games I play, even worked fine on my Linux box.

So why am I not there?

I guess the largest reason is that I had no purpose. Nothing that made me think I had to log on to do something. It’s like EverQuest 2. Since my main character is maximum level, maximum AAs and decent gear, I have accomplished everything in the game, so while I love EQ2, I have no purpose there. Back when I raided, at least that was a reason. Friends are somewhat of a reason, but in this world of Twitter, XFire and blogs, I talk to them all the time and don’t need to necessarily log in to do so.

But this isn’t about EQ2. This is about Second Life.

No levels. No rules. No quest grinds, or grinds of any sort. No score, no xp, no death penalty, no loot. Okay, there is loot. But you can make your own loot.

The case could be made that it’s not a game at all.

Someone brought me once to a secret place in SL — an exclusive club in a satellite high above the Earth. She said it was so secret, no pictures could be taken (and though the SL client barred screenshots, I’ve relied on third party programs to take screenshots for a long time. I took pictures, but I never posted them anywhere).

The place was astounding, an amazing construction. But aside from taking illicit photographs, I just didn’t see the attraction. What you did there was mount your avatar on a dancing ball, and then your avatar would dance. That was pretty much it.

I just don’t get it. As much as I like the idea of sandbox worlds, I don’t like playing them. I tried so hard to like Star Wars: Galaxies, but a game like that with no goal is hard to love. (Get two missions. Run for fifteen minutes to get to it. Circle strafe some mound and kill bees for ten minutes. Run ten minutes to the next one. Circle strafe some more. Run back and try not to let yourself die to self-inflicted blaster shots). (Yes, I understand they added means to get places without having to run everywhere at some point after I quit.)

Second Life is like SW:G at launch, but without the mounds of bees.

People loved SW:G before NGE (apparently, haven’t played) added game elements, and they love Second Life now, but I guess, when I come home from work, I’m more interested in relaxing with a game then posing my avatar places. And anyway, I’m a writer, not a 3D artist (though at times I thought I might try), so when I want to create, it usually involves vowels and consonants, not spheres and cubes.

I guess the REAL question is — why do I like LittleBigPlanet so much?

Shut Up, We’re Talking #22

I had the pleasure of being on SUWT #22 this weekend. I was first on SUWT #12, so I guess I’ll get another chance to mix it up with the crew on SUWT #32!

The fights, the yelling, the smashed windows, the death threats and broken relationships that make podcasts fun, are all here. Our souls laid bare. Tune in and listen to the terror that inevitably occurs whenever someone lets me get too close to a microphone.

We talk about how many billions of dollars would be needed to compete with WoW (short answer by our guest presenter, the Ghost of Carl Sagan: BILLYUNS and BILLYUNS), what game we would unmake (my choice: hopscotch, because what is the POINT of that game anyway?), what we’re playing (um, my hopscotch team is first in the league, by the way) and all that drama last week about SOE making an EQ2 community leader into an EQ2 community wiener.

Check it out!

EQ2: Leviathan 2.0

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One of the dubious advantages of moving from one guild to another is learning new ways of defeating old encounters. Delusions of Grandeur kills Venril Sathir and the Overking in entirely different ways than did Clan of Shadows, and I had to suppress my urge to shout “you’re DOING it wrong!” because, hey, DoG gets results.

So I shouldn’t have been all that shocked when we got to Leviathan, the Tier 3 raid that is the gateway to Veeshan’s Peak, and the leaders decided on something different than the slow range game that CoS did while I was with them.

Our way will take some preparation. We’re going to farm fifty explosive vials, and kill him from the inside out in five minutes. But first, we have to farm those vials, which involves being swallowed and killing mobs in his tummy who drop them. Last night we did the farming. Tonight, hopefully, the ‘sploding.

With any luck, we’ll be seeing dead Leviathan in chunks all over the place… and we troubadours will get the second update for our mythical epics.

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Speaking of CoS, I met (of all people) their most awesome dirge, Allegro, in Second Life! She invited me to tour an absolutely incredible space station — I wish I could show pictures of it, but apparently the owners don’t want anyone to know about it or to take pictures… it was really fantastic, though. Here we are a little later at a beach resort with a dragon theme, me in my Angel of Death outfit, she in her Easter outfit, chatting about the dragons of Veeshan’s Peak :)

Play2Train — Emergency Response Training in Second Life

In response to yesterday’s post about my return to Second Life, reader Deep Semaphore pointed me toward Play2Train, a simulation of various emergency scenarios done in Second Life, developed under the guidance of the Idaho Bioterrorism Awareness and Preparedness Program.

From their site:

Play2Train is a virtual training space in SecondLife designed to support Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), Simple Triage Rapid Transportation (START), Risk Communication and Incident Command System (ICS) Training. This virtual environment spreads over two islands Asterix and Obelix (65536 x 2 sq. meters), with one island dedicated to a virtual town and the other a virtual hospital. The design of this virtual environment is influenced by dioramas frequently used by emergency services to support their tabletop exercises. A diorama is a partially three dimensional full-size replica or scale model of a landscape typically showing historical events, nature scenes, cityscapes, etc. for purposes of education or entertainment, source: wikipedia. Play2Train will provide opportunities for training through interactive role playing and will be the foundation for our emergency preparedness educational machinima.

This is utterly incredible stuff, a fantastic amount of work went into this. Check out the site for some amazing vdeos of their simulation in action.