Wednesday, November 17, 2010

nitty gritty dirty little freaks

Help Us Test the SL Web Viewer Beta

Hello,

As we explore ways to make the Second Life experience faster, easier, and more fun, we are testing a number of approaches to bring new users closer to the richness of our virtual world. Yesterday, we quietly launched a beta test of a new technology that opens up Second Life to new users like never before: Second Life on the Web! The SL Web Viewer allows new users to become Second Life "guests" through the Web and enjoy basic SL functionality while exploring exciting destinations in Second Life -- all without downloading a Viewer. We need your help to test the SL Web Viewer!

Just follow these simple steps:
1. Visit the SL Web Viewer Beta.

2. There is a 45-second video that will run while the system loads and then you'll either be offered an "Explore Now" button -- which means that you have successfully qualified -- or a "Join Now" button -- which means that you do not qualify for the test at this time*.

3. If you qualify, you'll be asked to share your email address to create a temporary guest account to use the SL Web Viewer.

We'll be running tests like this from time to time, and we may ultimately choose to further pursue some or none of these approaches, depending on what we learn from our testing, but we're very excited to make SL an easier experience for guests and look forward to hearing what you think.

Best regards,

Kim Salzer

VP of Marketing
Linden Lab

*Note: We're in the early stages of testing this technology, and not everyone who navigates to the link will be able to access the SL Web Viewer.


So, I went there. Waited through the overwhelmingly human-heavy "music video", only to discover I was being shown the "Join Now" button. This does not surprise me; to be fair, my system is on the lower end of the lower end of old systems. To give you an idea how old? There's a sticker on the front of the case that says "Protected from viruses, spam & spyware out oft he box with Norton Internet Security 2007."

What did surprise me was hearing from a friend who did get into the beta: apparently, there is no way to access SL from your existing account; this is purely a 'demo', more or less. You don't have inventory, Lindens, your own avatar or your own name, but rather a string of numbers plus "Guest". You can't change your clothes, your skin, your hair, your eyes; you can't buy anything, rez anything...it would be pure hell for creative sorts, but maybe they have other ideas in mind.

Even stranger, you can't port anywhere, but you can access a list of specially chosen destinations, and that list is both intriguing and mystifying.

Solace Beach is on it, for instance. So is Winterfell. But Caledon isn't, though Steelhead Port Harbor is. And Toxia's in there--which rather flies in the face of the new "Sex life? What sex life?" policies of the Labs. I'd love to have a full list of the specially-chosen places, and see if there's anything that links them.

Alicia Chenaux says you can access anywhere that's on the official "Destination Guide", so maybe the places will rotate in and out. And that's also the link--whatever's on the Destination Guide page is what the web client has access to. And nothing else.

To me, it's worthless, but I can actually see tossing a link to people in future and saying, "Well here, check it out, it's not as bad as you think." Because this seems to be what they wanted Viewer 2.0 to be in the first place: web-enabled, everything within whatever browser we use, not in its own client, and no one's carting around a ton of prims or a ton of inventory items. I guess that's a good thing, in terms of speed. But again, they're losing sight of the lower-end models (like mine), and it does offer a thread of unease up my spine that this may be the first stage introduction of the concept of inventory limitations, to match script and prim limitations (which are slowly but surely limping their way to a client near you).

13 comments:

Fogwoman Gray said...

Before recommending it to anyone who does not have unlimited bandwidth, I would throw in the caveat that it apparently uses a HUGE amount of bandwidth. Tateru Nino notes in her blog entry:
"Thirdly, it uses the Gaikai cloud-rendering service, so watch out and proceed with caution! Remotely rendered systems can use a ferocious amount of bandwidth, and much of the world does not have unlimited Internet usage (or even fat usage caps). If you’re on any kind of capped Internet plan (that would be 80% of the world) you might want to pass this one by.

(Update: Usage of the Skylight viewer is limited to one hour, by IP address, during which time it uses an estimated 1080MB of bandwidth if the back of my envelope is correct)"
So caveat emptor.

Emilly Orr said...

Yee!

Okay, so that's double worthless with a side of what the hell, people? So it's incredibly US-centric, plus being useless to lower-end systems, plus being useless to those even in the US, but especially abroad, with fixed bandwidth servers.

Great. Just spiffy.

Candy said...

I used it 2 different times today, and had no problems with it. It was much less laggy than Phoenix. I flew from Winterfell to Caledon Penzance and had a chat with my normal avatar. It was much smoother than I thought. My ride in the CAT blimps was smoother for my web-guest-alt as well. My Phoneix viewer ride was very jittery.

I was rather surprised, really.

-Candy

Candy said...

Oh, and I never saw an e-mail or other invite to the beta. I used the link here in your blog.

-Candy

Icterus Dagger said...

I'm laughing and crying at the same time.

My PC has "Windows XP Media Center 2002" on it, and I think we bought it in '05 as an '04 closeout. It's been BSOD'ing more lately, so I may be "forced" to upgrade. It might be nice to be able to have basic shaders AND anti-aliasing on together. Some days I have to have both off all together.

-iD

Rhianon Jameson said...

I had seen the "invitation" to try out the browser-based client and gave it a try this morning. I think this is an '08 PC, so not exactly state of the art, nor built for gaming, but it let me create my guest account and log in. I lasted 12 minutes before it crashed, but in that time I TP'd from the sim where I started to Winterfell, flew to Caledon Cape Wrath (no minimap was available, so I had no direction - a little dead reckoning and a lot of luck got me going in the correct direction), and walked to Brigadoon (where the village had appeared - sometimes you get lucky).

It did take a lot of bandwidth, at least as measured by the Networking tab on Windows' Task Manager, and yes, it was very Client 2.x-like, and various features were unavailable, but still... it seems to me that this experience is good for people who are casual users of SL, who don't want to build but do want to interact with others. I suspect there are a lot of people out there scared off by the startup costs of learning the interface, and Linden Lab would love to get them involved, even at a casual level. (Besides, all those guest accounts must be causing the "new users" statistics to go through the roof!) In addition, it would be useful to be able to log in on a borrowed PC without having to ask permission to install the entire client. (The browser version did install some kind of Java plug-in, but it installed fairly quickly, without a reboot.) We'll see how it develops.

My bigger concern is that these side projects take manpower - ever more limited these days at LL, it seems - away from what they should be concentrating on: server and client stability.

Emilly Orr said...

Hey, at least the blog link works for people. That's one good thing.

From what everyone's telling me, the experience is smooth, fairly bug-free, but does suck an enormous amount of bandwidth and processing power (which is again, why I can't use it--some days I crash trying to run the SL client with little else open!). Also, there's some texture oddity--alpha textures have an on-again, off-again style of rezzing in, and some other specialty textures just seem really, really slow to show up.

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Dagger,

If it helps--and likely, it won't--I've never been able to run any viewer with shadows, and to this day, there are settings for Windlight I just can't use. I have basic shaders, I don't have anti-aliasing, and my current draw distance is 96 meters--because anything higher and my system screeches to a halt.

(I push the settings higher for photos that I'm not just capturing on the fly, but generally that's with me doing a whole lot of not moving at ALL)

Emilly Orr said...

You know, I'd thought about that after I sent this post out. Each 'guest' account is assigned its own separate and individual numerical code, and assigned an hour of browser time. Whether that's used fully or not doesn't seem to matter; the hour is assigned and counts down, and it can be restarted after the hour's up and the client's logged the user off.

Question 1: Does the numerical assignment change at each 'new' login?

Question 2: Does that hour of assigned time count, even if someone uses only twelve or fifteen minutes of it?

If the answers to those two questions are yes? Then every time someone logs in, they are assigned a new account code; and every time they log in, they are assigned one solid hour of time, which is when the site use schematics start registering.

If those answers are yes, but...if they are--and let's take M. Allen for a handy example--and M. Allen logs in five times for full world exploration, spending ten minutes in world each time...The system has just logged five new accounts for the metrics, which need at least an hour to register a new user.

So, yeah--potential up side for the Labs' login figures is HUGE.

zero'7 said...

good

zero'7 said...

good

zero'7 said...

good

Emilly Orr said...

Who are you, strange little person? Is your processor stuck? I know your blog holds no interest for me, so is it just the language barrier?

Can you at least pick different single words to comment with, not just the same word repeated?