Is Frogger More of a Virtual World Than Second Life?

This morning in the tub when I was trying to think of some more headlines that would make Second Life sound bad without being too obvious about it, I decided it was again time to make some subtly negative comparison of SL to something else. And the perfect example was right there on the bathroom wall, on my poster of old arcade games: I would make a post saying that Frogger is more of a virtual world than Second Life!

Now this might seem weird at first glance, since people don’t usually consider arcade games to be virtual worlds, but the thing is, there’s no one agreed upon definition of “virtual world”, so really I can write anything that pops into my head, and no one can say that I’m wrong. So nyah-nyah in advance to all you negative commentors!

In order to make Second Life look as bad as possible, I think it’s useful to think about all the ways Frogger is more or at least as much of a virtual world than Second Life, and not think about any of the things that suggest the opposite. Here’s at least eight:

  • Frogger is geographically contiguous – Second Life is not. Long ago, it was possible to walk from one end of Second Life to another. Now, SL is dominated by thousands of private islands, many of which are artificially inaccessible. By contrast, you can hop from one end of Frogger to the other, if you don’t get run over, just like it’s possible to walk from New York to Australia in the real world.
  • Frogger has an internally consistent, universal physics — Second Life does not. In some areas of SL you can fly; in others, you cannot. You can even change the position of the sun, and soon, the very way light is filtered. And so on.
  • Frogger has a pre-existing ecosystem of flora and fauna — Second Life does not. Alligators and speeding trucks thrive in Frogger. Outside of virtual pets and the rare virtual ecosystem, SL is mainly bereft of animal species, and has none that exist independent of their human creators and owners.
  • Frogger is self-contained and relatively separate from the the wider Internet — Second Life is much more integrated with the web, and therefore, arguably less “worldly”.
  • Frogger doesn’t have much dynamic user-generated content — but Second Life doesn’t have “natural” dynamic user-generated content either. In Second Life, user-created objects artificially instantiate out of thin air; also, Minecraft is better than Second Life, too.
  • Frogger is a single unified experience of a world — Second Life contains multitudes of very different world-like experiences. A “world” that contains, for example, space marine shooters, fantasy MMOs, urban roleplay, furries, Goreans, real life educators, metaverse artists, and so on and on, seems less like a world, than a platform for multiple worlds. The real world, after all, contains only one kind of thing, not many different ones!
  • Frogger has not stubbornly continued to be successful despite my constant sniping — Second Life has. Not that I’m bitter or anything. But someday SL will finally fail, and then people will stop snickering at me behind my back, pointing and giggling about Blue Mars! Someday they’ll all pay!!11!1!

Ehem. Sorry.

Of course, none of this suggests Frogger is superior to SL, oh no not at all, didn’t mean to suggest anything like that, any more than I did in my “Why call it Second Life when it has a low retention rate?” story, or my “Coffee and Power can succeed unlike SL which is a pathetic failure” story, or my “Second Life has failed due to poor execution and market timing” story, or my “Second Life is doomed because I am not in charge of it” story (parts 1-27). But I will say this: If you’re interested in widening the market for virtual worlds (and I am), it’s a good idea to widen the definition of the category, preferably enough so that it includes some CEO that will reliably return my calls.

Second Life’s Transformation into Profitable Chicken Farm Seriously Threatened by Second Life Users’ Hate and Fear of Change

I was recently talking to one of my very good CEO friends with whom I regularly hang out at exclusive meetups and other trendy events, and while I don’t know if he agrees with me about everything, I do know that many present and former Lindens, US Presidents, and the prophets of all major religions, including Philip Linden, probably do, because after all I am right, and Second Life is doomed unless it changes completely.

In particular, Second Life will inevitably vanish into oblivion unless it does three things:

  • Implements “click to move your little person around” like the Sims,
  • Integrates intimately with Facebook,
  • Transforms itself into a chicken farm.

And I don’t mean some stupid virtual chicken farm, I mean a real-life chicken farm, with chickens and stuff. Have you seen the profit margins those places make? It’s insane!

The chicken franchise is, after all, orders of magnitude larger than the Second Life franchise, or even the Sims franchise. Everyone eats chicken! mmmmm, chicken!

Of course Second Life’s current stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid users, who don’t listen to me and even satirize me in their weblogs even though they have probably never even talked to Rodvik, will moan and whine and kick their little feet about this, because they hate and fear change. And chickens. They are chicken-haters!

The inevitable changes to the UI that will allow you to click and move your little person to the window where they can buy Linden Lab stock, the only necessary operation once the company is transformed into a profitable chicken farm, will be met with stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid whining, but I will counsel my good friend Rodvik (who I call “Rod”, or even “Roddy-baby”) to ignore them, since one’s current users are always less important than the millions of users that one might have in the future if a miracle occurs.

And you should by no means read or pay any attention to people who advise listening to current users, because they are wrong.

WordPress made a post for me! :) “2010 in review”

Wasn’t that kind of them? Here it goes, enjoy:

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 79 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 260 posts. There were 33 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 18th with 205 views. The most popular post that day was Dept. of OMGWTF.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, davidchess.com, adric.us, slofdreams.blogspot.com, and wiki.secondlife.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for roger dean, dale innis, bank of ganja, ganja, and evony play discreetly.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Dept. of OMGWTF January 2010
12 comments

2

Play DISCREETLY on your browser NOW! July 2009
4 comments

3

The floating rocks (tx to Roger Dean) June 2008
5 comments

4

Harden the — August 2010
18 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

5

The Narrow Gallery, in Hughes Rise August 2010
1 comment

Happenings!

Posting a weblog entry for no particular reason (well, and I’m waiting for someone to answer a piece of email at work).

Boy Dale in Stereo:
Boy Dale in Stereo

Inspired by Lillie, but mine doesn’t seem to have worked as well. Which maybe isn’t surprising considering that I did it all by hand and pretty haphazardly. :) But perhaps my poor effort will inspire others. And maybe I’ll try again sometime!

(Original (larger) size may work better for some people. Or worse. :) )

Drop me a line or leave a comment or something (or don’t!), if you make one of these yourself. Or if you want me to explain the dead-simple method I used to create this one.

My very own posting at Second Thoughts!

Explaining what a [expletive] I am, not to mention an [expletive] [expletive]. I haven’t been putting much in here about the ongoing Prokofy Neva drama, ’cause I feel y’all might not be all that fascinated. But Prokofy is like the one person in SL (in the world?) that I know of who really dislikes me, and it’s really hard for me not to try to fix that. The fact that I have no idea how it might be fixed apparently does not deter me!

The Rogue Nation of Enormous Frogs!

Followed a link to NationStates while catching up on the rest of Second Thoughts, and created my very own country! So far it’s a libertarian loony-bin. I should create a socialist loony-bin also; are you allowed to have two countries? (I note with some fright that in the ten minutes that my Rogue State has existed, I’ve gotten three (make that four) different “telegrams” from “regions” asking me to join them. I suppose I ought to find out what a “region” is, and what it means to “join” one. In my copious free time haha.)

And now Jennifer Government is on my Amazon wishlist…

How long, and how rich?

A picture of my weblog, for my weblog
So the first question in the Big Bad Blogger Challenge is: “How long have you been a blogger? How has it enriched your life?”.

For some reason I shudder at the words “blog” and “blogger”. :) But I’ve been writing a weblog since October 1999 (woot!), or perhaps since August 1999 (depending on how you count the rather weblog-like “news” page on my personal domain). On September 17th, 1999, I presciently wrote:

I think everyone in the world should be forced to write a paragraph a day of thoughts, events, rants, or whatever, and to put it up on the Web for everyone to read. Of course that would imply universal literacy and computer access, but that’s OK! Anyone who refused to post their daily paragraph could like have their livers eaten by eagles or something.

thus personally kicking off the entire Personal Publishing Revolution single-handed.

On the other hand, I started weblogging here on June 20th, 2008.

Hey, so I’m coming up on my tenth year of weblogging in general, and my first year of SL weblogging. What fun!

How has it enriched my life?

I’ve always loved writing, loved speaking in the textual voice; and similarly (I freely admit) loved reading my own words, listening to my own voice. In general I don’t speak in voice-voice nearly as much or as comfortably; I’m not that fond of the sound of my voice, and I speak kinda fast (not to mention I say weird things) so people often don’t hear and/or don’t understand what I’ve just said in voice. In print, they will at least see the right words, and they can reread them a few times if they seemed too nonsensical the first time. Not that that always helped. :)

Writing stuff in general has wildly enriched my life, I’d say, in ways and reasons that I can’t lay out in obvious milestones or promotions or new family members or titles of nobility. I’ve made friends, of that mysterious delicious textual sort of friend that one makes through letters, through words, through text. I’ve recorded bits of my life and later gone back and read them again, to great advantage in memory and placidity and general happiness. I’ve had nice validating comments from various people (you read what I wrote! you considered it significant enough to react to! maybe you even liked it!). And in general I think writing to the world, and hearing back from interesting parts of the world (I have the best readers) has kept me sane (more or less) and enriched my life marvelously.

Also I get to post pictures of myself! :)

A whole week of postings? Gasp!

Chestnut points to Alicia Chenaux’s Big Bad Blogger Challenge, which dares the world to post something to their weblog (“blog”, wince) every day for a whole week.

Oooooh! :)

‘way ‘way back in the day that would have been no challenge at all; I used to post regularly to my RL weblog every single day, always, with just the occasional off-day that I would apologize to my readers for. That was a long time ago! Before Second Life, before World of Warcraft, before a bunch of things. And also before WordPress; my RL weblog was (and is) hand-edited HTML (heavly copy-and-pasted from week to week of course), uploaded via scp. Old Skool!

Nowadays I post to the RL weblog maybe two or four times a month, and I post here utterly sporadically, as you know. But given this challenge, maybe I’ll try doing a whole week and see what happens.

‘course I’m already a day behind; maybe I’ll do two today to catch up…

Teh Rules!

Bar Rules

Ladies and Gentlemen, treasured Readers, the days of lawlessness here on the weblog are finally at an end! The Council of Weblog Aldermen is proud to present:

Teh Rules

Lemme know if they are annoying. :) They are mostly for fun, but it occurred to me that I might someday want to enforce some sort of rule here, and I thought it’d be sociable to have written them down first, to sort of set expectations…

I am a SLBlogger!

SLBloggers logo

I have joined SLBloggers, the Ning site for Second Life webloggers started by the mesmerizing Zoe Connolly (or should I say Zoe Connolly?). You can go admire my SLBloggers profile.

Ning is this simultaneously brilliant and utterly chaotic thing that lets anyone and his cousin Fred start a new “social network” site, with profiles and friend links and blogs and comments and comments on profiles and comments on blogs and pictures and videos and comments on pictures and videos, and also groups and forums and just about anything you can think of. So SL bloggers (who presumably already have their own weblogs, being SL bloggers and all) can now join the SLBLoggers Ning network, and have yet more blogs in there, not to mention joining groups and posting to forums and etc etc etc.

It’s social networking taken to all sorts of extremes: imagine if for every interest you had someone started a Ning network on it (and in fact someone probably has, in fact a dozen someones probably have), and you joined them all and tried to keep your friends network up to date on each one, and follow the relevant blogs on each one, and uploaded relevant pictures to each one, and followed and posted to the forums on each one. You’d never have time to sleep! Or more shockingly (’cause who ever does have time to sleep after all) you’d never have time to go into SL and spend hours dancing and building exploding things!

But I joined the SL Bloggers one anyway, because (a) what the heck, and (b) they’re doing to have a party sometime soon, and (b) Zoe is cool. :)

What does your SL look like?

Contributing to a meme I first saw on HeadBurro Antfarm’s weblog, here’s a screenshot of what my SL (at least sometimes) looks like:

What my SL looks like

(Also availlable in larger size.)

Answering the questions that seem to go with the meme:

1. Name: I always have display of nametags and grouptags turned on. Mostly because I always want to be able to see who’s who and what amusing tag they’re wearing (it’s a great icebreaker), but also just because I seldom remember that it can be turned off, or how.

2. Group tags: I usually have some group tag or other showing, and this only leads to embarrassment once in awhile.

3. Chat bubbles: I never turn on chat bubbles, I even tend to forget they exist. Do other people use them? Are they useful?

4. Mini map: On when exploring, or even just moving around, off otherwise. Used extensively for dot-chasing.

5. Camera/Movement Controls: Never have either of these on; I am pretty good with the mouse-based camera and the arrow keys for moving around. And for really tricky navigational situations I can sit on my hoverdisc and use “teleport to camera position”. :)

6. HUDs: I hardly ever wear any HUDs at all. The only exceptions are my swimmer (which hasn’t worked since the latest Havoc update and I really need to upgrade) and Girl Dale’s special elegant-lady AO (which I use only at really grand affairs). Oh, and the occasional trick-skating controller or something. My equivalent of MystiTool / MultiGadget’s AV radar (a HUD thing that shows you who is around) is my magic bracelet’s radar, which is a command-line thing (i.e. I say something in chat on a particular channel, and it answers me via chat-to-owner).

7. Text colours: Pretty much the defaults, although I’m unhappy enough with the current default of “unreadably dark blue” for stuff that I say in chat that I might actually change it.

8. Selection Beam: On, and either the default color or whatever I last whimsically changed it to. :)

9. Hovertips: Always on, on all objects. (But not on land, for some reason.)

10. UI windows: I have the IM window open at the top most of the time, because I seem to be in four or five (or seven or ten) personal or group IMs most of the time. I will occasionally close it, but not usually for long. I have the Local Chat window open on the lower left if there’s local chat going on that I might want to scroll back in. And I have inventory open in the lower right if I’m, um, doing things with inventory. Other stuff gets opened temporarily more or less in the middle. Ah, and the edit box replaces the local chat window when I’m building or inspecting.

11. Search area: What search area?.

12. UI Size: 1.0, I think? And running in a window. I don’t even really know what the “UI Size” control does.

13. Bandwidth and Cache: Bandwidth at 500, I think, and cache at 500MB.

14. Graphics: These vary around alot; I sometimes turn them way down to (try to) reduce lag, or way up to see things pretty. I used to turn off Avatar Imposters, but now I’ve gotten used to the little paperdolls. At friend Bamika’s suggestion I’ve turned Video Memory down to like half of what it was, and that SEEMS (touch wood) to have reduced my really horrible sub-one-fps problems in crowded scenes (yay!).

15. Web links: open in the internal browser, just ’cause why not. I don’t click on web links much anyways.

16. Logging: all chat and IM, and new chats start up with previous log tail showing. The more information the better!

17. Camera constraints: disabled, always.

18. Away: pretty useless, as one always pops out instantly anyway.

19. Busy: I never use it, as (a) I don’t know quite what it does, and (b) I believe that one thing it does is if someone tries to give you something, you don’t get the thing. Hello??

20: Look at recent chatting person: wow, I always forget we have that! That would be a useful feature to use. :)

So in the screen shot, the windows on the sides (local chat and inventory) would often be closed in practice, as would the minimap sometimes, but that’s where they show up when they’re up. And the fact that my camera is somewhere off to the side of the default view is typical; I’m always camming around here and there and around and through.

What does your SL look like?

Owning stuff: WoW, SL, owners and holders

So this is going to be just a little rambling on the subject of how virtual worlds keep track of who can do what to what objects, who owns things, and so on. I’m thinking about these things for a paper that Zha and I are (slowly) writing, and I’m posting about it here because, hey, this is a weblog, and you’re supposed to write down every single tiny thought that you have (aren’t you?). There probably won’t even be a picture.

I spend lots of time in Second Life (SL), and also in World of Warcraft (WoW). In both of these (as in most ALGOL-60, I mean ADVENT, derived games), one has an “inventory”, where you have lots of Things.

In SL, each of these things has some data associated with it saying, roughly, what you can do with it. There’s a copy bit that says whether or not you can make copies of it (by copy-and-paste within inventory, or various other ways), a modify bit that says whether you can modify it via the Edit dialogs, and a transfer bit that says whether you can give it to someone else.

There are lots of subtlties (things can be set to, or shared with, or deeded to, a group rather than a person, things can’t be directly set to¬† no-copy, no-modify and no-transfer (i.e. all three bits set off), although there are simple tricks that let you get the same effect, the effective permissions of an object depend both on its own bits and the bits of any further things that are inside the object, and so on), but this basic “c/m/t” model captures most of what SL lets you do with your stuff.

In WoW, every thing that you have in inventory is of a certain type, and every thing that’s of that type is identical to every other (except for enchantment, which we’ll mention in a second). Every Essence of Fire is the same as every other Essense of Fire, every Blue Lake Cloak is the same as every other Blue Lake Cloak. SL doesn’t have any corresponding notion of type that I can think of.

You can never make a copy of a WoW thing (so in SL terms everything has the copy bit off, and is no-copy). You can’t really modify things either, except to the extent of, say, enchanting armor. Whether or not you can enchant a particular piece of armor isn’t a setting on that particular piece of armor, but on every piece of armor of that same type; so if this particular Bracers of Yogurt Strength can be enchanted, then so can every other Bracers of Yogurt Strength.

In WoW you can give most things to someone else via the Trade window, except for some things, which are “soulbound”. Soulbound is pretty much the WoW equivalent of no-transfer.

WoW objects can also have a “unique” attribute. If an object is “unique”, then you can have only one thing of that type. This also extends to numbers greater than one; if something is “unique 100”, then you can have none of them, or one, or two, or fifty, or 100, but not 101. SL has no corresponding concept.

In both SL and WoW, you own the things in your inventory. If you give something to someone else, they become the owner. There are exceptions to this in both worlds: in SL it may be possible to have a group-owned thing in your inventory without becoming the owner (I actually don’t know if that’s true), and in WoW you can sort of hold something out to someone else for lockpicking or curse-removing or whatever by putting it into the “will not be traded” slot in the Trade window: they can act on it as long as it’s in that slot, but they don’t come to own it. (And that’s not really an exception, because it doesn’t get into their inventory.)

Isn’t that all fascinating? :) I’d like to do a similar analysis of some other virtual worlds. Maybe I’ll go dig up an Entropia or Eve Online player or something. Or try out Twinity or vSide or There.com again.

Oh, and: it occurs to me that the second feature, that you generally own all the stuff in your inventory, smooshes together what are two different concepts in RL: owner and possessor. In RL, I can lend you something and I still own it, even though it’s you who has it right now. Would there be anything useful about having this concept in virtual worlds? What if I could lend something to you to use, but retain ownership, and with ownership certain powers over it? And what powers should those be? Should I be able to see what things I’ve lent out and where they are right now? Should I be able to reclaim them with a click, and have them return to my inventory from the lendee’s inventory, or wherever they were rezzed?

No idea if this would actually be useful for anything, but it bubbled up in my mind, and I thought I’d toss it out there…

My probability density

Due to Stuff going on in RL (not bad stuff, just Stuff) over the next few days, I may (or may not, but I’m mentioning it just in case) be less visible in the digital words (RL, Twitter, weblogs, etc) between oh say today and oh say July 1st. Just so y’ know… :)

First WordPress Post Ever

Thought it was about time I actually played with some of these hosted weblogging things, after so many years of writing HTML in a text editor and uploading via FTP. Woot!