#SLfeed is eating my #SL social site

I have a little time i think to write down whats on my mind before i start on a new T-Shirt model. It’s about SLfeed.

I can’t actually remember when SL feed was launched. I remember it being in Beta then suddenly being live and no one being aware of it.

Back then you could only type a message and geotag a place in world and i remember wondering if i would ever find a use for it. Now we have the ability to love posts and ad snapshots to our feed and suddenly i find myself checking my SLfeed more regularly than Facebook or the SL social site i set up to keep track of my friends adventures.

Yet there are so many that still do not use SLfeed, either because they don’t know about it or refuse to use it because they don’t want another Facebook.

For me it has become a very important process in SL communication. Part of the reason you build a social group website is to gather information on what people like and dislike. To share ideas and grow ideas. To gain support and spread the word. This is why i created the Escapades Social site on wall.fm. This is why New Babbage works so well for roleplaying, and expanding its steampunk regions and creative energy.

The social gathering is vital for a group to succeed in SL.

But SLfeed is eating into this process. I find more information about Escapades from my friends and followers on SLfeed than i do from the Wall.fm site these days. SLfeed allows me to see where people have been, what they have found, i get to see what they have enjoyed and have a direct link to those places in SL, this is how it should be.

But while SLfeed is quickly replacing my need to use a social website it falls short of replacing entirely. Here is my top list of things SLfeed would need for me to close down the wall.fm site.

 

1. Destination Guide Integration.

I touched on my previous post how i wished they would integrate SLfeed into Destination guide instead of the Facebook social plugin in. It seems counter productive to not at least have an SLfeed ‘LOVE’ button. Same should be applied to Marketplace. WHY HAS’NT THIS HAPPENED YET!???

 2. Groups on SLfeed.

When a group notification is sent out via in world group, it appears in the SLfeed of everyone in that group either appearing as sent from ‘resident’ via ‘such and such a group’ or the group has it’s own special feed created. Groups needs to be moved to SL feed in order to boost group usefulness & discussion.

3. Events.

One of the reasons i have a social Site on Wall.FM is for event calendars. There is currently no really group event calendar but if there was it would remove the need to organise and maintain an external calendar for in world group events.

4. Snapshot pools.

Thousands of Snapshots are being posted on SLfeed. It would be cool if we had more uses for them. I don’t have an ability to tag them or place them in gallery folders based on events etc. If they added something to search and view collections of snapshots, this would rival the SL use of Flickr while adding extras due to the fact snapshots can be geotagged to in world locations.

 

SLfeed is pretty cool, but it’s not without it’s frustrating oddities such as how useful is ‘Recommendations’ ? and why when i click inbox do i get Messages as default open page instead of the vastly more used Notification page? And does anyone else find it frustrating that the notifications give you no clue what messages are being commented on?

But these frustrations in no way mean you should not be using SLfeed. If you have not started using it, then you are missing out!

Babbage Chronicles – Update on Steampunk Game & #SL Destination Guide

It has been four months since the Dark Aether clue hunt game was set up and placed on destination guide. Since then i have updated and added the ‘Shadow of the 13‘ story and now finally release ‘The Black Heart‘ story updated to using the HUD system.

 

The HUD System

The HUD system basically stores all the objects, artefacts and machinima cut scenes in one place. As you explore the town you find objects and click them which in turn activates the HUD you are wearing to give you or show you the appropriate items.

While being a great way to tell stories, having video display in world has been a major headache. Shared media works differently on different viewers, different computers, different operating systems. So in future i’ll be experimenting with other ways to use HUDS to communicate story.

Visits wise, the now renamed ‘Babbage Chronicles‘ Games saw a quick drop off in visitors. Even though over 8000 visits have been counted, looking at the dark aether in game stats only about 400 of those took up the Dark Aether Quest and played the start. Only half of those got to the second part of the story but the stats showed that half continued and finished the game.

So a lot to be taken into consideration for my next gaming project called “The Founders”.

 

The Destination Guide

As you may remember the destination guide is the place where ‘its all at’ if you want visitors to play your game, and a wonderful thing the destination guide is too. Originally designed as a little place for newbs to browse places to explore when they first log in, it has grown to be something of a monster.

During the Dark Aether exposure on the main login screen i went from being overwhelmed by visitors to being lucky to have two or three a day. At first i blamed that on LL’s Categories. The Babbage Chronicles is listed in the Games category which is not listed on the Login Screen destination Guide. While Escapades Island is in the Adventures & Fantasy Category which is on the login screen and gets a steady flow of about 50 visitors a day. But the John King Experience which is also in the same Category as Escapades Island manages only two or three visits a day. Just goes to show how odd this game of destinations is where perhaps just the words “Looking for adventure? Look no further than Escapades Island” makes all the difference.

Linden lab recently announced that the 9th Second Life anniversary celebration would not be organised by them but rather us Users would create magical destinations that they would then place on… you guessed it.. the destination guide. Ad to this the descission to push Newbs through portals to random places on the destination guide, showing how it has become the standard place for ALL things that is happening in SL.

The destination guide is brilliant but it’s still waiting to be upgraded and integrated with the SL Feed as well or instead of the Facebook Social plugin.

I’ve said it before and i totally believe destination guide is one of the the most important weapons in SL’s arsenal. My hope is they will one day evolve the destination guide into a more intergrated social and perhaps gaming experience i.e. collect destinations to visit, collect favourite destinations you have visited, share destinations with one click to the SL feed.

As a growing developer of games and stuff in SL, i need more exposure and more ways for friends and fans to effortlessly share my destinations. Currently it feels like a flash of exposure then being tucked away in the bowls of the destination guide.

They could already be working on such a thing, who knows XD.

The scale of quality gaming in #SL should not be understated

 

This year in Second Life is fun. But the scale of what i want to do has slowly dawned on me.

The big buzz that came with the new Humble SL CEO was games. Immediately those who knew Humbles past started to connect him with a possible new direction for Second Life into gaming. Not long after the gaming tools, now renamed ‘Experience’ tools were announced as a way to make common game actions much easier than they currently are to implement.

When it comes to Second Life and games there really hasn’t been anything that looks professional, simply because SL is limited. Looking back over the years the funnest games i can think of have been the Zombie shooting games and Gelatinous cube fights. These are your standard SL puppeteer moving objects that scan for nearest avatar and moves towards them…… and thats it. Occasionally you might have wanted to turn damage on your parcel, but you ended up loosing all your friends that way as they died and were teleported home miles of regions away :-p.

In the coming months (i hope) we will get tools to allow more diversity in how we kill each other and how monsters can attack and wonder plus evade. Just recently i created a new game where you have to find Egg stealing Goblins and get the eggs back to put on your Easter Hat. It took me a week to create and uses the old style ‘sensor’ approach to enemies where you can’t die and can only attack.

The Village and Goblins were made from mesh as well as the updated mountain it is all placed on. I used a new Animation technique to get a smoother more organic movement from the Goblins. As soon as the new experience tools and pathfinding is released i will be updating this game as my test to see how big a difference to gameplay the new tools will bring.

Original Reference Sketches for Goblins

 

Building the Goblins in Blender 2.6

But again this is just a small test game with a few Bugs (i still have issue setting object permissions). With Experience tools, Pathfinder, Mesh, New Physics and possibly stable Shadows and Lighting effects we should be able to create on this old platform game experiences to mimic or even rival that of big gaming studios. Why should this not be possible?

But thats when reality dawns….. i want to do this, i want to build a universe of my own design…. and i will….. but it’s going to take  a bit of time. I’m not games studio hiring a group of creatives and programmers, i’m just one person with big dreams and a multitude of skills. It can take some games studios up to six years to develop a game that flops in the mass consumer games market.

I’m hoping what i’d like to do in Second Life won’t take that long but I’m not going to pretend that good semi-professional games in Second Life are possible without the processes used in games studios. What i mean is planning, concept design, story driven, time consuming content creation, beta testing, behaviour research.

It is probable that in the not to distant future games developers will not look at SL and see the possibilities. It’ll be up to those of us who love SL and have the skills to do so to step up to the challenge of creating games experiences that push SL’s tools to the limit. There ARE rewards, people ARE willing to pay micro payments to enjoy a good experience. But these good experiences will need a fare bit of time to develop, time which most of us don’t have time to invest in SL.

I’m of a different stock though, i have time, and i have stories to tell and i love what i do, I’m an SL do’er. XD