Thursday, January 27, 2011

there's nothing left to sell me, I'm broke

On a historical note, Cracked.com put together a list of the eight most awkward sexual moments in comic book history. They're sooooo not kidding. And sadly, most of these seem to have occurred in the 'Golden Age' of comics, when life was generally understood to be more "morally upstanding". Or something.

So, I had other entries I've been working on in the background. One on the Zindra Art Maze, which I really want to get back to wandering; one on doll stores with a slight emphasis on BDSM, because I was asked a question on the topic in world, and the answer's turning into a tale on its own. Plus, I'm not in world as much as I even want to be this week; I'm still resting the leg, in between doctor appointments that test me in new annoying ways.

But this made me push those aside, for the most part.

Now, a few days have passed since I was able to really sit down and write on this topic. There was a lot of heat around this article a few days ago, starting on Twitter with people questioning the validity of the figures. For the most part that's died down, but the article's writer, Axi Kurmin, actually got threatened by her boss, because he received some irate emails on the topic.

So let's go point by point down the thing, because I think it's vaguely important.

First off, she says that less than one third of all active users use 2.x viewers. I have no idea where on the SL webpage one would get that type of overview, but a) I trust her and b) it sounds accurate, based on what I'm seeing in world. There's a few people holding to various versions of Phoenix, some--like me--on Imprudence, and maybe one avatar out of every thirty on viewer 2 (any variant).

There are still people trumpeting the ease and efficiency of viewer 2.x structuring, and saying we're all afraid of change, and we just need to get over it and move on. And the Labs have every intent to make us move on (more on that later) in various ways, but in the meantime, even forcing new residents to use viewer 2.x exclusively isn't driving those figures up. People, in general, do not like viewer 2. This is not news. People, when presented with any other opportunity--be that downloading a 1.x-structured viewer with 2.x bits (like Imprudence), a 1.x viewer run by members of the same design team behind the Emerald debacle (like Phoenix), or simply choosing in ever-increasing numbers to play WoW, CoX, Champions, or log onto one of the OpenGrids--are choosing those alternatives over downloading and using the official viewer.

People hate this thing. This is not news. People won't use it. This is also not news--save maybe to the Lindens blind enough not to notice

So the next big point made is that Linden Labs plans to disable search in the next few months in 1.x-structured clients. Apart from being true, this is almost laughable, because search barely works now, no matter what client architecture is being used. In fact, it's almost easier to hop into SL Marketplace and search there, and then drag back specific store or resident names, than it has been to actually use search like...well...a search database, because the Lindens managed to totally bork their own code beyond all reason...and then ignored it for months.

Gun. Foot. Reload. The Lab keeps doing this. I'm still waiting for them to up the ante and start in on the real fun--where it becomes 'Gun. Temple. Reload (if needed)'.

Now, they do have a good reason, even if they themselves put themselves into this horrific position by coding such an abysmal backbirth of a viewer: the vast numbers of residents on 1.x structured viewers means that Second Life must maintain in the hinterland of failing legacy systems, and cannot move forward.

Since anyone in a virtual world is, by extension, supposed to be a technophile, let me say that again, so everyone can pay full attention:

The Labs cannot support the older features of Second Life, once the newer features are in place.

Not will not; cannot. The problem with this? The Labs honestly (if stupidly) expected everyone who uses the system to think Oh, goodness, Second Life viewer 2.x is fast, fun and easy, and improves my life ever so much! I shall never look back at 1.x viewers again! And that would have meant a lot of these major coding changes could have been done and over with last year.

Instead? They got complaining. We hate the sidebar (oh, my GODS, do we hate the sidebar). We hate how hard it is to build. We hate how labyrinthine they made the simple things, like rezzing a prim, changing clothes, IMing people, participating in group chat. We hate the chiclets. We hate the toasts. We hate the fact that in group chat, it's the name on one line, followed by the line of text, which makes roleplay insane, conversation difficult at best, and doubles the amount of visual tracking issues, trying to read along. We hate how hard it is to access and update user profiles (though they've got another way planned to take care of those complaints [which, amusingly enough, have now generated their own complaint stream]).

(I add to that the fact that all previous versions of the viewer have had levels of transparency, so when I leave chat or inventory windows open, I don't lose visual 'real estate', and that one of the single biggest problems adapting for me has been that the 2.x windows do not have that transparency, and are thus big, ugly blocks that get in my way and occlude walking, turning, finding vendors, building things, flying anywhere, turning corners, sitting down, swimming, and anything else I might do in world that actually requires SEEING THE GODDAMNED SCREEN.)

More than any other single feature, in the update from 1.x legacy viewers to 2.x compartmented viewers, we hate, loathe and despise how it seems inescapable that the team that coded up viewer 2.x just plainly doesn't understand why we're complaining...because they never go onto the grid for which they're coding.

I still believe that last is true, btw--and I'd love to know if there's ever been a study done on how much time any individual Linden spends sequestered away either off the grid entirely, or on Linden preserves, versus actually interacting on the main grid. I think the answer to that would stagger both the Labs, and the average resident in SL.

Kara Spengler asked on the SLUniverse thread, "Would LL *really* risk giving a large user base yet another reason to move to a different virtual world?" And yes, yes, I think the Labs would, because the Labs just don't seem to get, for whatever reason, that there are alternatives now to Second Life itself. None of them are great, mind (playing in OpenGrid sims; playing in WoW, Champions, City of Heroes/City of Villains, or [Insert MMO Name Here]...even waiting until Blue Mars launches for mobile phones later this year (or next).

Axi Kurmin said in the article: "There is no way that the platform can successfully move forward unless the viewer does." She's right. That's exactly what the Labs are thinking. But, as usual, they're going about it in the most cack-handed way possible. In fact, this is shades of the Zindra nightmare all over again.

Hey kids! Guess what? We're going to help everyone get up to speed and start using viewer 2, which is faster, easier, and far more fun than those old fuddy-duddy first-generation viewers! Remember, if you don't use viewer 2, you can't see mesh imports, alpha-blocked layers, use search or log in, once we figure out how to do that--I mean, once we block access to 1.x viewers! Because we really don't want them around, do we?

Is it just me who's hearing a vague pimp echo in that? Aww, c'mon baby, I never hit you that hard, and you know you deserve it, right? You can't blame me if you make me hit you, girl.

Yeah, Lindens. Yeah, actually, we can.

I'll come back to this later, I think. There's more that needs to be said.

7 comments:

Serenity Semple said...

Wow, just hilarious on the awkward comic book moments. XD I could've thought of more than that but I think they wanted to keep the list short.

And ugh on the viewer 2 thing. I even went to phoenix because of the multiple group thing which makes me gleee. I'm not surprised they're trying to screw over v1 to try and push v2. I think most knew it was just coming, lurking, and just waiting to rear it's ugly head. *Huggs and Comfort*

Lalo Telling said...

...and...

The same day you posted this, the Phoenix devs announced a "Preview" (i.e., quasi-alpha) of their Firestorm project, and put a demo video up on YouTube (you can find it embedded in either Daniel Voyager's or soror Nishi's blog).

It appears to do exactly what we who hate Viewer 2's GUI have wanted all along: make it optional. I'm intrigued enough that I'm actually going to try it next week (it releases Monday, 1/31).

Emilly Orr said...

Serenity,

Yeah, because there's a LOOOOT of comic book weirdness in ALL areas.

Me, I'm just trying to find an alternative I can cope with before The Change happens.

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Telling,

My basic problem with Phoenix is that I still don't trust them. I don't trust anyone on that development team, now, and it's hit the primal knee-jerk reaction level at this point. It's become the want nothing to do with them ever thinking.

This may well be bad, which is why I'm trying to cope with Snowstorm's changes, and waiting for Kokua to launch. Because my alternatives, for now, stop there. I can't use Phoenix, or Firestorm, or anything they come up with. Because I just plainly don't trust them to breathe next to me without causing a security breach in something.

Sphynx Soleil said...

And I'm with you on that sentiment! I don't trust the Phoenix team any farther than I can spit. :P

Emilly Orr said...

Yeah, because the whole "We're all trustworthy now! No, really!" claim is dubious to me. Because as far as I've been able to track, some of the untrustworthy sorts are still involved in the new shiny 'trustworthy' team.

Emilly Orr said...

Lady Fogwoman,

I'm pretty much with you, but I've noticed it's a definite oddity, and I don't know if it's down to environment (bad parenting, say) or just inclination (people are, on occasion, stupid for no reason).

Because some people are introduced to a new game--any new game--and immediately they start looking for ways to screw it up. They throw things, kick old women, blow up cars, name themselves Super Awesome Guy or DatAzzWholee (not kidding; saw that one a couple days back in another game).

Or, in SL, endless variations of SexiiBabii, SluttyGirl4U, or Putitalinda Resident (and that's also a resident who's in SL, currently, and as far as I'm aware, there's just no way that DOESN'T translate to "pretty little whore").

I'm not saying the sluts and the perky subs are in the same class as people who grief sims or make chats unuseable for other residents due to cursing and sexual harassment; but I think it's part and parcel of the same thing; people who just don't know how to stand up in society and behave like a reasonable adult.