Thursday, June 14, 2012

take your baby by the ears, and play upon her darkest fears

A mention on Tateru Nino's blog brought me to this New world Notes entry, that's mostly about yet another Linden departure (seriously, how many Lindens are left? Anyone?). But the bulk of that article really wasn't talking about Gez Linden leaving at all:
However, even with Gez gone, I believe there's many other top Lindens who are big supporters of integrating game mechanics (such as achievement awards) into SL, and several plans to do so, and even as Gez goes on to bigger things, I bet we'll still see them.
...Yeah. mind immediately leapt to achievement awards, and thought at that point briefly ground to a halt.

What would count for achievements in SL? Some would be obvious: You made your first prim! seems a given; You have a Lindenhome! seems another obvious one. The first object you link, the first thing you buy, the first time you this sense, sure, these all make sense.

But what else would be on the list? I'm cynic enough to see You've been ignored by a Linden! as a possible one. Or one measuring emotional touchstones--from You've spent ten minutes cuddling to You've been divorced! I'd also likely toss in You're pregnant! and You have an AO! and You've successfully changed your avatar! as potential achievements.

Here's the problem, though. A lot of games have achievement awards. Halo has achievements for killing people on your team, killing two people at once, and blowing yourself up. Minecraft has achievements for cutting down your first tree section, making a forge, making a portal to the Nether. City of Heroes has a ton of achievement possibilities--everything from logging off in a specific area to taking a million points of damage to participating in special events. Team Fortress II has so many achievements, they're character-specific. And some servers exist just to get those achievements, if we have trouble getting them any other way.

Both versions of Portal featured achievement unlocks, some of which involved playing through the game multiple times.

What puzzles me, though, is not what type of achievements could be gained in Second Life, but why. Walk a sim crossing--Achievement unlocked! Make an outfit--Achievement unlocked! Sell something on the Marketplace--Achievement unlocked! Change your hair--Achievement unlocked! It's not the concept of deploying an achievement system in Second Life that makes me headtilt, it's the concept of them at all. Why does Second Life need achievements?

"I believe deeply in this vision of building serendipity to connect people." Shervin Pishevar said that, and it's an intriguing concept--of fostering online friendships (or at least connections and networking) between people who otherwise wouldn't socialize. It seems heavily weighted towards Facebook, and I'm not sure at this point if it will grow large enough to trump existing social media sites, but it's a fascinating experiment, nonetheless.

On the face of it, Worlds Inc. claiming that its patent rights have been violated by Activision and Blizzard seems specious at best, and a wrongful suit at worst. But if they really do have a patent for " any system that allows for multiple gamers to interact in a virtual environment that doesn’t restrict the number of players at any one time"...well, that's pretty much all MMOs, isn't it? Including Second Life, InWorldz, and every other SL-based virtual world.

"Patent trolls", indeed.

And there's a new JIRA to watch for folks on the official SL viewer; no word on whether it's also hitting TPVs with viewer 3 aspects, but essentially--there's a wave of pink washing through the world, whenever Basic Shaders are turned on. Not only are avatars dip-dyed pink, but their alpha layers break, which would be hell for anyone who likes to wear shoes--or mesh.


Rhianon Jameson said...

I love the suggested achievements. (May I add: you've been Ruthed!)

Actually, I agree with you. I don't see the point in achievements in SL.

Emilly Orr said...

Ooh, that's a good one, I forgot about that!

And yeah, me either. But the concepts of achievements--and getting them--is also pretty inherent in gamer culture. Maybe the Lindens are trying to appeal to that demographic now?

(Hint, Lindens: it won't work.)