My lovely in world wife Gila and I were discussing the trends of SL the other night. New things are being added left and right (most of them not requested or wanted by the majority of residents), but old bugs are going unaddressed. Specifically there seems to be a pattern of Linden Labs attempting to integrate and woo teenagers into SL as evidenced by the merging of the teen grid into the main grid and the recent introduction of Linden Realms, an in-world Mario Brothers type game which seems clearly designed for younger players.
I called this the “dumbing down” of SL, but she prefers the “shinyfication” of SL, and you know…it fits. More and more shinies are being added to SL, designed to attract the eye of an apparently much different user base than they have now. Linden Realms is just the latest in a series of attempts to make SL seem more hip and attractive to the younger crowd.
First there was the merging of the teen grid. Suddenly SL became a place that wasn’t adults only. There was a lot of resistance to this by current residents. Linden’s blog entry announcing it was flooded with comments by residents denouncing this as a bad idea, but Linden went ahead with it anyway. Granted, no problems I’m aware of have materialized from it, but I think honestly that the main reason is that there’s just not enough teens to matter. Yet this seems to be the new user base that Linden wants..
Next came the push toward making SL another social networking venue. Encouraging you to hook your Facebook account to your avatar, creating web profiles that were viewable to anyone on the web by default which seems a gross privacy violation to me. Then came the “wall” a la Facebook on your SL web profile. Again enabled by default so anyone could post idiotic blurbs on your web profile possibly without you even knowing said profile exists.
SL tends to be older more intelligent people overall. Many of them are not into social networking, and don’t have any desire to unfold their (or their avi’s) lives to any yahoo on the web. Very few people want or use web profiles, yet LL spends considerable time and effort working on them. But it’s shiny and new. It looks good in a blog post.
Then there’s mesh. Let’s face it – another shiny. I don’t have personal experience, but from what I hear, mesh clothing at this point is essentially one size fits all. You can’t adjust it to fit. Your option is to basically adjust your avi’s shape to fit the manufacturer’s specs. Hmmm… now we’ll have an army of avis in SL all the same size and shape.. no thanks. I like my shape and I’m not gonna change it to fit clothes.
There’s also the added problem right now that not everyone can see mesh correctly. To those without mesh enabled viewers, mesh is funny looking blobs. Yesterday I was at a store that used mesh staircases. I had to guess where exactly they sat and how to use them without seeing them correctly. Prolly not the best move for a store.
Meanwhile, while LL courts a new user base, their existing user base becomes more and more frustrated with LL’s disinterest in addressing their concerns. Five year old bugs are not being fixed due to Linden’s fascination with adding more shinies that no one wants. Lag, both sim and chat, is epic at the moment. What’s being done, Linden? Anything? I myself still have errors upon occasion with failed rezzing of objects, attachments that won’t detach, inventory folders that sit forever at (Loading…), and failures in joining busy group chats. Not to mention the occasional rape of my inventory by the asset servers. I’ve had dozens of outfits destroyed by this.
It’s fine to court new users, but please remember your existing users! You know… the people that made you what you are… the ones that pay your bills. Maybe it’s time to stop with the adding of new shinies…the dumbing down of Viewer 2, the introduction of mesh, Linden Realms (which as of this writing has a link that points to a blank page), web profiles… and any new silly things that you’re thinking of adding, and concentrate on fixing bugs for a while. I for one would love to be able to ride my motorcycle across a sim border without flying away into the air.