T H E W E L L: INFIRMOS post mortem

It’s been just over a month now since i opened the 3rd chapter in the Well horror series, so how was it received and what did learn this time?

While i managed to finish and open Infirmos two days before halloween, it was not placed on the destination guide until the following week. How much this post halloween addition effected visitor count i won’t know, but simply being added to the destination guide as usual showed a massive surge in visitors. The power of the destination guide is undeniable and the way some friends find their places rejected while other destinations currently lead to empty regions, makes me wonder if Linden Lab could improve things in this area of discovery.

 

Visitor Counts.

I try to count visitors at various parts of the experience in order to cage the difficulty. How many people are interested, How difficult is it to enter and how difficult is it to get through. I placed a counter at the start and the end but forgot to place a counter at a key point to know how may actually got into the experience. Because of this i was unable to cage how many after using the hud actually ended up down the well.

Up to this point Infirmos has had just over 2300 visitors, thats up from the previous chapter and of those only just over 185 made it to the end. Thats surprisingly low completion rate. I don’t know if people found the game to hard, or they got bored, or crashed. It’s possible that people gave up because there were no clues to what lay ahead rather than being to difficult. Some people raced through the whole thing in ten minutes while others spent over two hours (Watch Draxtor loose his mind).

 

Things i think i got right and wrong

• No buttons: In previous HUDS when a dialogue pop up appeared you had to click an icon button to get rid of it and progress with the experience. I realised when people read these things they tend not to move, so decided to have the pop up vanish only when the avatar moves. This meant you never needed to click anything inworld while down the well.

• Location based events: Instead of having the user click objects to uncover secrets, i used co-ordinates based events. The HUD is constantly checking its position and comparing it with a list of co-ordinates. If the avatar is with a specified distance with a location it will trigger the appropriate event. This is not a sensor ping. It again allows users to trigger events by where they stand and not need to click anything inworld. Unfortunately i may have made some locations hard to trigger unless you were stood right on top of them.

• Mouse Look: Making the experience so you did not need to click on objects meant the experience should have been good for people who use mouse look and VR Headsets. Unfortunately some of the key story elements relied on Camera positioning which you can not see while in mouse look. Thats something i need to work around or keep in mind in future.

• XPtools: Using the new XPtools features allowed me to set up the most easy starting point I’ve ever done yet. It consisted of three buttons, 1.Joins you to the experience, 2. payed for a pass and 3. attached a hud to start the experience. While this was the easiest yet, some people still found it hard to cope with.  Some had trouble abandoning their ideas of how SL works, looking for a HUD in their inventory when intact they already were wearing it in temp form. Some had no idea what an experience was and why they needed to join it. Some thought they had to join a group. In future i would like merge all three buttons into one, but I’m not yet sure thats possible with LSL limitations.

•  It’s too hard/ It’s to easy: As with the previous two chapters people equally complained it was too hard or to easy. Perhaps i should have a way for people to choose to have a walk through or extra clues as an option. Sometime people don’t want the fuss of puzzle solving, they prefer to experience the story if there is one. It’s something i’ll consider next year.

 

This is just a few of the comments i had about Infirmos.

“Scary but a lot of fun at the same time! So cool xD”

“Just had a blast, on this little adventure with a couple of friends best part was the cave. <3.”

“The way the sets changed was inspired, thanks very much for sharing this Loki.”

“Didn’t get any further than the first blue door, got tp’d back and forth. Explored every single room, got bored and left.”

“I really enjoyed this spooky mystery maze. I would love to have more of these in SL. I first tried this on my laptop but it’s not good enough to experience the graphics and effects of this “game”, so I switched to my computer that is more powerful and can handle ultra graphics and was able to experience the whole thing all the way through to the end. Yay for me! If you have a group, I’ll be joining it because I want to experience more of these!”

“This waas a great experience. My friend and I did it and it was scary and fun. Please keep these coming. Well worth the money spent. I suggest to anyone thinking of doing this, jump in heads first and watch out for the shadows lol….”

tw15-3ac_001Also received a nice review by Inara pay

 

 

The rewards of building an experience

It took me a month to build Infirmos and i made enough from it to almost justify that work. The more i make these things the easier it’s getting and the time spent building comes down. Trying to balance the work lowed with what you expect to get back can be tough and its hard to see big groups of people getting the returns of all their efforts in SL doing this. Of course i could leave it up now for as long as people keep visiting it, but a Regions prim count is precious and eventually ill need to remove it to replace with something new.

And there will be new things. 2015 has been an interesting year and 2016 should be even more fun as i start applying what i’ve learnt to new adventures. #FantasyFaire

T H E W E L L: Infirmos – An #SL horror

Since the last chapter of T H E  W E L L i have constantly had people asking when i would do another. Last Halloween i took a break from creating a horror experience because i was awaiting the Experience Tools. This year is different.

Snapshot_005

T H E  W E L L is a horror suspense game. I created the first a few years ago after visiting some haunted houses in Second Life and wondering if it was possible to make an actual scary experience.  The game centres around a vague story about a boy who fell down a well. A team was sent in to rescue him and also went missing.

This third chapter centres around the player waking up in a mental health hospital during a heavy rain storm at night. How they got there is unknown and its up to the player to explore the hospital to learn what they can while also trying to find some way to escape.

The experience is best viewed with advanced lighting and projectors and also with the sound turned up to hear the ghostly whispers.

The experience is located HERE and has a one time fee L$100 pass to enter the Well as many times as you want. 


T H E W E L L : Infirmos Teaser by lokieliot

I chose a hospital theme after visiting mental asylums last halloween in Second Life. After having discussions with friends about how cliche and terrible the use of mental Asylums were at halloween, i decided to try and base a horror experience around a modern mental health hospital away from the cliches. Although i should point out that my depiction of a mental health hospital probably does not accurately portrait actual modern hospitals very well.

Many of annoying problems with creating an immersive experience are gone now. In fact i was able to produce an experience where you only have to click on an object once at the start. The rest of the game is based on your position for things to happen and choices to make. For instance items of importance simply need standing next to in order for information to pop up. Then when you are finished reading you move your avatar for the info to go away and continue your exploration. Hopefully this will be intuitive enough for the user to figure out quickly and just enjoy the experience..

This experience was also created with VR headsets in mind. While i can no longer use an Oculus on my Mac, i am still thinking about it for the future.

Anyways, I hope those who try the experience enjoy it. Have a fun packed halloween weekend!

THE WELL 2: Aftermath & Stats

Well_product_groperSo Halloween is now long gone and tv adverts are in full festive overkill leading up to Capitalist day. THE WELL experience will be up for two more weeks if you would like to check it out again and drag friends along with you.

While the well was received much better than last year, troubles with the destination guide had a dramatic effect on the amount of visitors it had. In a way this may have meant better experiences for those who visited but it does highlight an unfair aspect of discovery in SL.

Due to the ease of use this year compared to last year, visits seemed to convert into players a lot more even though the price for entrance was L$100 compared to L$20 last year.

Last year THE WELL had in comparison 5100 visits. This years THE WELL 2 reached just 1325 visits in the same time frame. This is possibly due to the rather rocky visibility on Destination guide.

I rushed through nights to get the experience done before Halloween night and achieved this. I then sent it to be ‘considered’ for the destinations guide. It took five days before it was finally added, unfortunately after Halloween, but by use of SLfeed, twitter and friends, there had already been some interest. By the time THE WELL2 was put in the DG visits had slowed to just 17 a day before shooting up to 67 then hitting this years record of 108 which is meagre compared to last years record of 556.

thewell2Stats

Chart showing the daily counts of people Visiting & Playing THE WELL

The problem was that even though it had been added to Destination Guide it had mysteriously been placed down in the rank of places under destinations that had already been on the DG for weeks. It only took a couple days before THE WELL dropped off the landing zone of the DG meaning you had to browse the categories to find it.

A week later the experience was moved from ‘Haunted’ to ‘Rides & Mazes’ where the visits dropped to that comparable with promoting just through SLfeed and Twitter. In fact in the last three days visits have risen to figures close to when it was first placed on the DG. The only thing i had done was re-announce via SLfeed and twitter that there was still two weeks before i remove the experience and release a new video promo.

The destination guide is a very powerful tool for bringing visitors to your destination or experience, but how its used to promote your destination is at the mercy of the editor. Some are saying THE WELL was unfairly demoted while other believe there simply is to much to be curated and promoted these days.

http://telly.com/1EM2UKG

I don’t think i will be doing another THE WELL next year. Thats not to say those who visited THE WELL didn’t have a great time, here are just a selection of quotes…

The experience was amazing and so much fun. I’ve never experienced anything like it in SL, great job!!! My only criticism is that the story wasn’t too clear, I didn’t understand the choices or rather, how to make the right choice. I’m looking to more fun experiences.

 

it was amazing lil hard at first However i had a good time it being my first time here hi5 to me giggles i sure did enjoyed it.

 

Design wise it was great, good use of normal and specular maps. However it was rather short, the sanity meter didnt see much use, as the little shadows move quite slowly. The story is rather confusing/non existing. All in all a nice little adventure with good visuals.

 

Loki I must admit your monster creeped me out.. again.. this year. As ii noticed it was not necesary to click the stuff for the experience, i disabled the UI (ctrl alt f1) witch made the game even more immersive!

 

Really enjoyed it I’d have to say I did not experience anything quite like it. I saw the extra textures and lighting, but while roaming the main hallways had to turn that off to keep my sanity. Two of the choices I was not quite sure why they were the correct ones. The voice acting was top notch as was the whole experience. Excellent job!

 

Just freaking amazing, Loki. You you outdid yourself again. Worth far more than the entrance fee just for the experience. Admittedly I had to keep turning off Advanced Lighting so I could walk like a sober person, but I’d turn it on when I was safe to see the amazing textures. At some point I gave up trying to memorize routes to get back to rooms. A few token way markers might be nice. Certainly a 9.99 out of 10 stars. Thanks, Loki!

As always i listen to what people say. How people react and experience THE WELL is as much interesting as learning how to script and build this stuff. Some people zipped through the caves in just minutes saying “dude this was to queasy and quick” while others ended up lost down there for hours saying “dude its to hard!”, which just goes to show the extremes to which users experience the same things. The same goes for the story, some people said “Dude i total understood the story it is SOOO deep” while others were like “Dude there was no story!”.

I especially liked how people sought out meanings to rationalise their choices. The choices were random, one takes you forward to the inevitable end, one takes you a step back and a third choice would send you on a parallel course. It was possible that you could choose wrong for ever and be lost down the well for ever. While some claimed to understand this metaphorical hokum others seemed to feel cheated of narrative. And i bet they did not like Prometheus either :-p In the end I’m the story teller and its up to me what you know is going on 🙂

There were some great Blog Posts promoting it for me with which i give heart felt thanks.

http://sl-playinstinct.blogspot.be/2013/11/lokis-well-sollicitus-second-life-as.html

http://wurfi.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/the-well-sollicitus-second-life-destination/

http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/going-down-the-well/

http://poultryreport.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-well.html

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2013/11/horror-adventure-game-second-life.html

 

If you haven’t visited THE WELL yet, you have two more weeks to do so. Thank you everyone who enjoyed THE WELL and took the time to message me about it.


The Well: Sollicitus

The sequel to last year’s experiment in fear returns in The Well: Sollicitus. A team of scientists investigate a strange well to uncover what happened to the young boy who vanished and the rescue team that went missing searching for him. Get the HUD and try to complete the labyrinth of tunnels, avoiding gruesome monsters and terrifying shadows.

Visit in Second Life

T H E W E L L 2 : Sollicitus – Horror Experience in SL

Last year i made an experience which was and experiment to see wether i could actually scare SL users with an experience in Second Life. The result was pleasingly popular with many saying they had lots of fun being made to jump out of their skin. While they loved the experience many did say it was rather too short and wished it had been longer.

well2_1

Well this year i went back and rebuilt the entire thing, expanding the concept. The caves are 5 times longer with 4 levels and with the addition of having to choose your path the terror can last quite a while as you get more and more lost in the tunnels not knowing wether you are going back or forwards. There is also more of a story element to it and thanks to Drax and kaleo’s voice acting more dramatic experience.

The story is that a year after the events of last 2012, a team of scientific investigators are sent down the well to understand the caves strange geology and maybe find a clue to why the rescue team and a young boy disappeared with no trace. You arrive a day later than the rest of the team to find the make shift lab abandoned.

well2_2

 

Building The Well 2

Last year i imagined i would simply just rez the old well again to save time, but since last year  I’ve learnt more about building with mesh and we’ve had Materials feature added to Second Life. So i basically rebuilt everything from scratch. I was most interested in how materials would enhance the experience. the most noticeable use of material mapping is in how the tunnel rocks seem more detailed and damp. Materials also make the new monsters that much more detailed, slimy and gruesome.

I remember Torley Linden once saying he wanted to see more good use of projector lighting and shadows, so i tried hard to position lighting just right. I also managed to create a hyper fast strobing effect for an eerie atmosphere. Projectors are also great for controlling shadows.

well2_3

 

well2_4

well2_5

I wanted to try and make something that could did not look like it could have been done on Second Life. Of course unless you have Advanced Lighting , Materials and projector lighting with shadows you will never get to see all this extra work. At least give it a try, you never know, your computer might be able to handle it.

The HUD uses a number of tricks I’ve learnt in the past year. When you first wear the HUD it will take you through a short intro before showing some instructions. It then asks you to accept a teleport request to venture down the well to start the experience. Once you have gone down the well you have given the HUD permission to teleport you when ever it wants to. For the rest of the experience you simply make choices by clicking on items presented to you, listen or read bits of story and avoid touching little shadows who will drain your sanity bar.

This is the biggest most complete experience I’ve done yet and while the modelling and building is complex, the experience itself i hope is simple and immersive enough to work well in the flakey Second Life environment.

I’m charging L$100 for the HUD you need to wear to Experience THE WELL. i hope those who take a look enjoy themselves, get scared, laugh and generally have a fun time.

LAND MARK TO THE WELL: SOLLICITUS – http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Escapades/218/232/3003

T H E W E L L – Aftermath

So the scary Halloween experience after four weeks planning and just two weeks open to visitors has gone from over 500 visits a day while on destination login screen to levelling out to 150 after dropping off editors choice.

For this experience i had two counters set up. One for when people first arrive at ‘T H E  W E L L’ and one for those who actually make it down ‘T H E  W E L L’ . This was important for seeing the difference between people just appearing and those getting engaged in the experience.

Even with the system to pay and wear the HUD as easy as possible, there was still a huge drop off from arriving at ‘T H E  W E L L’ and playing the experience..

Visitors in Second Life rolls in waves and you can see that at the weekends there is a spurt of visits.

By the 13th of November while still up at 129 visitors the play through rate had shrunk to just 9. I thought maybe this was an error on my part stopping people from being able to get down ‘T H E  W E L L’ but in fact it’s correct.

Making the HUD temp attach was a mistake as people who crashed found they had to purchase another one. So i went and changed it so that it added the HUD to inventory. I think it was a case of me just wanting to use snazzy new tools instead of looking at the practicality.

Trying to get visitors to take part in a game when they arrive is a real challenge and one that i’m hoping the Linden Realms Experience Tools will close the gap between by making it even easier to start things rolling. Although some might argue that the uptake would improve if i did not charge $L25.

‘T H E  W E L L’  has been a really fun experiment with so far 1000 people having a go.  I’ve also had great feedback on an SLfeed thread …..

 

“Verrrry Scarrrry!!! Loved it went down 3 times…different every time, great sl experience.”

” Very short… I don’t think it was worth L$25. I mean, I finished it in less that 1 1/2 minutes.. Good story. Well done. Just not enough of it. ”

“omg so scary, an even made my dogs jump!”

“I loved it!! Give us more please. Best thing on SL EVER and I’ve been here 7 years”

“HAHAHAHAHA! Awesome! I jumped outta my skull!”

“I thought it was good!! I don’t really understand what happened in the end?? Maybe I missed it?”

“It took about 1 minute to run through. Seriously? For 25L?”

“very fun! i jumped and screamed more then once! thanks”

 

People have wished it was longer, so i’m thinking maybe this time next year i will produce ‘T H E  W E L L  2’ . Maybe by then LL will have released the new region permissions system allowing us to see wether it’ll make a difference to the gap between ‘Visiting’ and ‘taking part’. Or maybe it’ll turn out that LL decided against having region specific permissions system… we’ll have to wait and see 🙂