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?