Thursday, November 3, 2011

was it nothing but anecdote that you can tell now and then?

There are some very sharp points made in Extra Credits' latest video on working conditions in the videogame industry, and I think a lot of them gain added depth when we're thinking of Linden Lab and Second Life.

There's also some very pointed reasoning behind Shamus Young's diatribe against Netflix, and all of them I wholly agree with.

And there is now evidence that early humans lived as far back as 400,000 years ago. (And yes, that's a fossilized molar at the top of the article).

Here's Tor Books' list of the ten greatest, smallest moments in Doctor Who (nearly exclusively, barring very narrow references, dealing with the newest members of the show). It's an impressive list of gut-wrenching, gloriously precise, small moments where the world turned on a word...or a look...or an embrace. Why we're fans, after all: because we get the pathos involved. (Also, this reblogged from the Tumblr of one of my favorite artists for great truth.)

I also want to touch on briefly what's happening at DC Universe Online today. This from one of their producers (ironically named "DeadMeat"):
"As folks have seen we have had some major issues today keeping our US Servers up and running. We are working very hard to correct the problem and we will be keeping the servers down until we can deploy new software to help us fix the issues. The response to our new Free to Play model has been overwhelming (literally) and we are very excited about all the new players in the game. We are working hard to make sure DC Universe Online is the best experience possible."
He updated that half an hour ago with this:
"Update from DCUO Exec. Producer: 'We will be reopening the server soon. Although we do not have a fix yet for this problem we have added additional code to try and catch and diagnose the problem. I apologize in advance if we crash again, but know that the information we get will help to make sure we solve this problem as quickly as possible.'"
So let me get this straight. After a few months of nigh-insane hype, so many people signed up to try out the new Free-to-Play model on the block that they crashed the servers, and DCUO doesn't have a clue how to fix it so far.

I'm wondering how many coders for Champions and City of Heroes laughed themselves ill at this development. Possibly even sent condolences and bouquets. Mayhap even cards: Thank you for that huge sigh of relief, knowing you won't be a threat to our games. Get well soon.

Back to the last names JIRA, covered earlier. We stopped a bit before here:
The current choice of "resident" is not merely confusing, but no doubt unintentionaly demeaning.
Spelling not corrected, and yes.
I really feel like it does create a "them" and "us" kind of feeling between newer residents and the older ones. I recall the video where Torley talks about being able to use display names to fix the "oops" of making an initial account name like Xbobwuzhere67372X, and now with all the first names being used up, they are creating the same scenario where [users] HAVE to make those kinds of names now even if they just simply wanted to be Bob. At least with the last names, you could have 10 Bob's running around but all with different last names.

And frankly, let's be honest, no one seems to take a "resident" seriously. Are they an alt? Are they really new? I hear a lot of comments like "Oh.. its a Resident... never-mind".
Spelling corrected for one word; as originally written, it was "uses", not "users". But again, this is exactly what I've been saying.
Either bring back the list of surnames to choose from, or let us insert a last name of our choice, or maybe do both. I.e. the new user creating an account would get a choice to select from a list of premade surnames, OR to type in a surname he likes.

Either way, bring back surnames.
This also seems to be the prevalent opinion.
Being stuck with the surname "Resident" is just naff. Not to mention the issues with scripting and information management that were expounded when the idea was first floated, but duly ignored.
There's a lot of scripting out there that requires firstname.lastname constructions, which is why people on viewer 2-structured clients don't see "Resident" as a last name, and people not on the viewer 2 structure do. Even Linden-level scripting still requires firstname.lastname. (And, as previously stated, it always will until and unless the Lindens recode the Legacy system entirely.)
Display names are not last names. I hate display names because they leave people open to take another resident's name. "Resident" is not a last name, and all this leads to is people calling themselves Joe8375 and such nonsense because they can't have the first name they would like.
The issue of theft of identity also seems to be a concern with many residents. And there's nothing that stops anyone from doing precisely that with display names save the Lindens themselves; and by their example, they're proving the code is in place for them to repress certain names on a grid-wide level.

Unfortunately, so far they've only done that to prevent people terming themselves as "Suzy Linden", say, in a display once again, the Lindens benefit from a restriction that is denied to everyone else.
LL claims that the Firstname Lastname convention was an obstacle for first-time users to sign up.

I think it's easy to show this can't be true: In 2006-2007 there was a huge surge in new users.
The naming convention wasn't an obstacle back then, why would it be an obstacle now?

I would say the Username Resident convention is a bigger obstacle, not being able to find a decent available username.
It is a bigger obstacle now, and it wasn't a major obstacle then; it just required a bit of finesse to find the "right" name--or at least, the name one could cope with when making up that first avatar.
Give folks the option to create a name, first and last, for their AV. LL, you have, inadvertantly, one hopes, created an SL class distinction by tagging every new member as Resident. Stop it! Options are a wonderful thing.
The new system without surnames makes it harder for new people to make accounts with unique usernames that aren't taken already. Instead of seeing avatars with names like "John Smith", "John Hammer", or "John Black", we have names like "John85673", "John85674" and "John85675" which makes it more challenging to differentiate one John from another.

No one should have to live with the stigma of looking like an AOL handle.
it difficult distinguishing avatars from one another when you see susie1592 and susie1952
all pretty much say the same thing.
I have to agree with the other posts here. The removal of the menu of last names, replacing it with "Resident" cuts part of the creative process of Second Life away. Being able to create a first name to go with a last name you found you liked was a big step in creating who you become in world. Cutting that step out of the creation process makes all names appear generic and dare I say, cheap. We may as well be honest, this digital world is anything but cheap, and even our name choices should reflect that. Let us have back the rights to being creative with our names as much as we are our images.
Ah, but remember, with the arrival of mesh, if we want to fit the rigged avatars, we have to conform our shapes to standard shapes. So--unless that option gets fixed--soon we'll all be clones anyway.

I guess then it won't matter if everyone's got a number over their heads, will it? It's not like you'll be able to tell who anyone is when we all look exactly the same.
People end up with these dumb names like Amber897 just because you want the first name Amber. It is really to the point you can just about type any first name in the world and the response is that that name is already taken, It has taken a lot of the fun out of making an avatar.
I grant you, avatar creation was never exactly thrill-a-minute, but it wasn't soul-crushing. Now, it seems to be. That seems like a pretty major shift in perception. I'm also thinking about how many people are coming into SL, hitting the 'Resident' barricade, and asking around for people who have alts they're not using to sell them one. Forget the selling angle: profit isn't the point here. But considering that very action is against the Lindens' stated Terms of Service, anyone who feels that's the better option is sacrificing a potential future ban against the altar of not feeling that wave of mistrust and dismissal when first entering the game. Being permanently banned for using an avatar that someone else made is less repellent than walking in under the Resident name for people.

The Lindens should really think about that one, long and hard.

And this comment really deserves to be read in its entirety. That is exactly what I'm talking about on this issue.
This is one of those cases where saying "Linden Lab has more important things to focus on" makes sense.
This is one of those rare dissenting opinions so far, and while I also agree with what they're saying, I also know, beyond any shadow of any doubt, that the Lindens WON'T focus on those things without the servers actually, physically, catching fire. This is precisely the level of nonsense they will spend time on--ESPECIALLY if they think it gives Second Life a bad name.

And it does, Lindens. It so does. It adds discrimination and social rejection to a game that had those things already, but only for minority groups. (Note: I'm not saying that popular rejection of furs, robots, constructs, or supernatural creatures is a good thing, either. But at this point, the avatar walking into the welcome area can be tanned, blonde, long-legged, and dressed in the most current, stylish outfit imaginable, in the current top-of-the-line skin, and people will still see the "Resident" over the name and back away. While it never made sense to me, at least there was that sense of difference between the bronzed beach bunny with the tousled Truth hair and the actual bunny on the beach with paws. It's still discrimination, and it's still wrong, but at least there was something OTHER THAN A NAME one could point to. Now? It doesn't matter what they look like. It doesn't matter how well they behave. It doesn't even matter how well they type--they are marked, they are Residents, and large sections of the grid shun them for that alone.)
I would like last names back because I feel it is part of what makes SL such a great community. Plus it is hard to contact people who feel that their display name should be their username, and will fill it out on forms, making it difficult to find them in search.
And this one's HUGE. I can't count the number of times when working in customer support that I had to search seven or eight different ways, check actual land purchases, and pore over each of thirty sims with a fine-toothed comb before finding some nitwit who'd filled in her display name instead of her given, SL, Resident-based name. Personally, I have no issue if someone wants to be Princess Melodrama the 92nd, if your name is Sissily7509, then write that down. Search is hard enough without you making it harder.

More later.


Fogwoman Gray said...

This all seems to go back to what appeared to be an entrenched faction within the labs that was pushing back at anything that facilitated individualizing the user experience. There has been a steady push to homogenize the grid to a particular look determined by LL via a viewer designed to resemble a web browser (why?), swaths of suburban sprawl style Linden Home ghettoes, generic Resident surnames, disregard of lack of customization options for mesh clothing, etc ad nauseum. So what we have seen is a slow, steady exodus of interesting and creative people who lost interest in a platform that had lost interest in them.

Emilly Orr said...

I've had this personal theory for a while. Mostly, it was based around M Linden's actions, but it can be summed up as Linden Lab is engaged in a slow war against its own residents: if it can get rid of everyone who's using Second Life as an alternate reality experience, and make it more like every other MMO, they can then find a buyer, cut loose from the property, and go on to develop other things with the proceeds.

My problem is things like this keep happening that give that (formerly considered insane, even by me) theory credence.