Originally seen on New World Notes came another mention of the SL vampires phenomenon--but this time, from a slightly different direction. And it's one I agree with, quite honestly.
This is the current best-of attempt to lure in the vampiric masses to SL:
|(from the Blogger Pictures album)|
So, this vampire. I'd love to know both who took this picture, and who's the model. Because I can tell several things wrong right off the bat:
- Where is she, in Little Silent Hill? This is not a Ridley Scott movie. Clear out the snow effects.
- It would also be nice to have someone with a little knowledge of attachments, and adjusting same, to have worked with this avatar before the shot was taken? Because right now they look like fang-shaped lower-lip piercings, not--you know--fangs.
- It would also be nice if they'd have used a vampiric eye that didn't look jaundiced over supernatural.
- And while we're at it, they couldn't have done a little PhotoShop work, trimmed out that jutting ribcage on her torso? Not exactly aesthetically pleasing.
|(from the Blogger Pictures album; Some rights reserved, Copyright, Alicia Cachenaux; used|
without permission but not altered in any way save machine resizing
(original as downloaded is the same as seen on her site.)
Now, things I noticed about this one:
- You can emphasize "winter" and "chill" without having floating snow particles. Gosh! Imagination! What an astounding thing!
- Also, she's got to run shadows on her machine. Which I will admit, makes this picture look phenomenal without a lot of editing. (But truthfully, most folks can't run inherent shadowing on their systems.)
- She knows how to adjust prim fangs. You'd think Lindens who worked for the Labs would know that, too.
- It's a lovely pose, it's a lovely background, the extraordinarily jaundiced eyedrops-of-Midori look seems toned down, and even the hair looks good. Amazing.
Lindens, you could have put up this picture to advertise for vamps. Why didn't you?
I would like to bring up one more thing from the Iris Ophelia article also linked. It seems staggeringly apparent to me, after six years on the grid, that what the Lindens expect and what they get are two radically different things, but this complaint is more specific than that.
What Linden Lab seems to want is pretty clear: they want people to pay them money. They want people to keep paying them money. They want people to play their games, and keep playing their games, because let's face it, it's not easy to live on the grid and not spend money.
I'm not saying these are bad goals. And more power to them when (though usually if) they happen. But here's where the problem is: the tools they're employing to get these paying customers are woefully inadequate to get those paying customers.
Why? Well, first, they seem to use vintage 2006/2007 avatars for almost all promotional materials, unless they're specifically advertising new products, like the vampire avatar. Why do they do this? Moreover--and this one has baffled me every time I see a Linden--nearly every Linden on the grid is also in a 2006/2007 avatar--if not in a significantly older avatar. I'm sure there's a value to nostalgia, but seriously, when the big redesign for Philip Linden takes him from looking like a Naruto clone in spiky hair and an impossible codpiece to...well, someone who walked out of the Castro district after a particularly vigorous night...I mean, okay, the skin's better (and a custom design); the hair's better (sort of); but the outfit? It's an essentially (and only slightly) better-textured version of his original outfit. Come on, now.
And if that's the thinking of the CEO (at the time), that's the corporate culture. And if the corporate culture is saying things like Never update and don't use an AO and don't use prim hair and stay to system layers...that filters both down to the support staff, and down to the customer base.
Frankly, if you emphasize that money's not needed, you get people for whom money doesn't matter, and from there you get people who don't want to pay to play the game. That's a pretty callous statement, I know, but it's not wrong.
More than that, the tutorial walk-throughs on Orientation Island used to emphasize these things. This is how you walk with an AO; these are clothing layers; these are eyes; this is how to walk, this is how to turn, this is how to interact with an object, this is how to open a box.
Once that was thrown out, the only instruction left is the userbase, and most of them are still telling the random conglomeration of friends and strangers that arrive on the grid several specific, and fairly Linden-unfriendly, things:
- Get an AO. NOW.
- This is prim hair. Never wear system hair again. EVER.
- DO NOT USE SECOND LIFE'S VIEWER. Use Firestorm.
- You don't need to rent land. Just pop a house up at a sandbox. No big deal.
- Wear fur.
- Wear fangs.
- If you're not human, you don't count.
- If you're a vampire, you count, but really, we think of you as human.
- Water sims are really, really important for all those fun outdoor activities we know you'll love.
- It's possible to change clothes by activating a swirly particle effect.
- It's possible to hold hands with an avatar anywhere you want.
- It's possible to kiss an avatar anywhere you want.
- Ideally, even more than being human, we at Linden Lab really want you to be white. Even though other skin colors are just fine. But you'll have more fun if you're white.
But break down the bulk of the newcomers to Second Life recently. What are they, in majority groups, identifying as? They're almost always from this list:
- Vampire furs
Think I'm kidding? Look at the folks around any welcome center. Or even better, look at who's renting land or even buying whole estates after they join the grid? Who are those people? Chances are, they wear fur, or they wear fangs, or both. (And nine times out of ten, within a week, even the "human" appearing girls will be wearing cat ears, anyway.)
So, if you're taking into account the Lindens' stated goals with their advertising, they aren't really working. Even worse, if you're taking into account the userbase's generic and mobile goals, they aren't really working, because in spite of all instruction there are still people wandering around wearing houses on their right hand and complaining that SL's too hard. (And some of these people are using the official SL viewer--I truly think a time must come when the Lindens sit back and say, okay, some people, they're just dumb, and stop trying to drag every single procedure down to kindergarten-speak.)
Ultimately, it leaves us in a very uncomfortable place. Namely, telling our friends to log into SL and join in the game, while ignoring every single image they see on the SL website. And it leaves the Lindens trying to speak to a userbase that really, truly, for all intents and purposes--doesn't exist.
Who's going to pay the bills at that point? That's the question the Lindens really need to be asking.