Tiering Up

(A Tier In My Beer? Little Tierdrops? Tier-stained? I considered a bunch of tier / tear puns for the title, but none of them made quite the right kind of nonsense.)

Anyway! I decided to give myself a little present and tier up (again) to the quarter-sim (plus 512m2) level. I bought one little plot in the Rise adjacent to some of my land, that I’d had my eye on, and then found that there was no more land for sale in the sim. Natch!

There was significant abandoned land, so I went to the URL in the parcel descriptions, followed the instructions to open a ticket, and after a few days got a very nice reply from Dee Linden saying that she had put a set of abandoned Rise parcels for sale to me for the standard 1L/m2, that should just about max me out.

And they did! Here is the ownership map of Hughes Rise currently (green is me, red is Other, the couple of mysterious dots are some particles or something photobombing):

Tiered up again!

Note how nice and contiguous most of it is, and how I now have land on both sides of Wellington Road in the corner there. Fun!

(Note also that Up is East on that map, because for some reason that is always how I look at the Rise.)

I think I have like another 48m2 before my tier is full; maybe I will donate it to some worthy group (if that small amount wouldn’t be insulting and I can figure out how), or buy a tiny parcel in some totally random place just for grins…

I haven’t done anything with all the new land yet, nor do I have any specific plans, but sitting around looking at how many free prims I have and rubbing my hands together and cackling is nice. :)

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Wandering the Mainland (and the non-death of SL)

Mainland wandering is something I spend a significant amount of time doing, because it is fun. :)

Going through some of the more ancient (but unsorted) stuff in my inventory (also something I spend a significant amount of time doing!), I came across a couple of freebies from a place called The Muffin Shack. I went there some time ago, on some hunt, and I remembered it as a place with lots of smoothly-textured pretty things at very reasonable prices, in a little pastel-wood roadside store on the mainland somewhere.

So just on a whim I put on the Muffin Shack tee shirt from one of the folders, found a Muffin Shack landmark in inventory, and TP’d there.

And I landed in an empty piece of roadside land, up for sale.

Now anyone who spends any time reading SL-related weblogs or Twitter feeds or anything will have heard people (generally comparative oldbies) opining that SL is dying, because of all the people and stores that are leaving and all. And the vanished Muffin Shack seems at first to be evidence for that.

But the rest of this story is, I think, evidence against it.

Being a bit sad that there was no Muffin Shack, I looked up the creator’s profile, and looked at Picks, and found another store in there, called Old Dirty Bastards. That store, as it turns out, exists!

(And not only that, it has a wall with an assortment of old Muffin Shack stuff for free or for sale, which made me smile.)

So the Grid lost a store, but it probably also gained a store. A sign of life rather than death, there.

Then, being on the mainland, I wandered out the door and found myself on Route 1 in Spini, on the West side of the bay in Heterocera. I found a rezzing place, and randomly rezzed my Lemon Burst Scooter (from {{Ripe}}), and drove off down the road in first gear to sightsee.

About one sim later, near the Mormo-Parva border, I was here:

Citizen D, Mormo

That is Citizen D (SLURL), a great little store with robots and Star Guys toys and a variety of Jawa AVs and resale vendors for sale and random fancy and/or amusing stuff at both high and low prices (so that’s my Recommended Shopping Destination of the day!).

In the background is Deeproot Manor, a very atmospheric haunted parcel with a haunted house to explore (don’t miss the mysterious roof), and trees that turn their many eyes to look at you, and ghouls hanging from trees, and all sortsa spooky stuff like that. Also a hatrack that will give you a copy of that nice hat I am wearing (black with feather!), and various surprises for the explorer to be startled by.

(And when you visit Citizen D, don’t miss going outside to Newbie Bob’s Route 1 Mormo Souvenirs, and the Famous Mormo Sign! All very mainland, and I love it.)

And then a little further down the road in Parva, random general beauty:

Homlett Estates, Parva

That’s “Homlett Estates”, but as I’m not quite sure if it’s actually a place of public accommodation, I won’t give the direct SLURL. (Although there are greeters that tell you that they have a public rezzing room.) I just thought it was sort of gorgeous. :)

My explorations stopped there for today because I wanted to go listen to the live music at Wharf Rat Blues.

Which might also be considered evidence against the whole “SL is dying” thing. :) I think it’s just that oldbies in particular get used to a certain set of things existing, and as change happens and some of those things stop existing, and they are maybe too set in their ways to go out and look for new things, it looks like the set of things that exist is getting smaller. But actually it’s just changing. SL may have more or less plateaued in population lately, but it doesn’t seem to be shrinking in any significant way.

There’s lots of stuff out there! Scooter down the nearest mainland road, and see what springs up. Or go listen to some Jazz… :)

For us mainlanders, how about raising tier limits?

So the other weekend the Lab had a big sale on estates; waiving the renormous setup fees that they usually charge, for all normal or Homestead estates sold on the weekend.

Which is nice, if a bit gimmicky, if you’re someone who wants to own an estate. (Or if you’re a speculator who wants to buy a bunch and them flip them next week for people who missed the sale, for a reduced setup fee, or something Wall Street like that.)

Less gimmicky, and for the benefit of Mainlanders like me who love living in the thick of things, I would recommend that the lab raise the amounts of (main)land that people can own at each level of tier. In the current schedule, for instance, someone paying US$40/month in tier can own up to 8,192 square meters of mainland (plus 512 square meters of tier-free Premium land). At US$125/month, it’s 32,768 (half a sim); at US$8/month, it’s 1024 (one sixty-fourth).

Mainland is quite cheap now, 1L per square meter or under in many places without direct water access. And even at that price, lots of it sits around unsold, I suspect because tier is inflexible, and hasn’t gone down with the falling economy like land prices have.

One approach would be to just lower the prices at each tier, of course; make it US$30 and US$100 instead of US$40 and US$125, or whatever.

I think it might be more interesting to raise the allowed amount of land at each tier, though, and leave the amounts the same. It more or less amounts to the same thing, but psychologically it’s simpler. Someone currently paying US$40 per month and with their tier maxed could immediately go out and buy more land, without having to think about it; whereas if the tier for their current holdings just went down to US$30 instead, they might take that extra ten bucks and buy a fancy new yacht, or even (horrors!) a couple of RL coffees.

What would the benefit be to the Lab? In the short run it’s revenue-neutral, in that they are still getting the same tier payments, and all they have to part with is lots of unowned mainland that isn’t doing them any good right now anyway.

In the medium term there’s some opportunity cost, as some people who would have decided they really did want more land and tiered up won’t do that, since they can have more land now without paying. But on the other hand there are also more sales of Lindens as all those people who now have more land go out and buy stuff to put on it.

In the long term, I like to think that having that land occupied by people who will be doing interesting things with it, rather than lying fallow and empty, will draw more people to the mainland, and to SL in general. Retention is likely to be higher if people see interesting things than if they see empty abandoned or For Sale land. And that’s certainly a benefit.

So how about it, Labbies? Can I have, say, 12,288 square meters for my US$40/month? Be your best friend! :)

Rise for Sale

I waited impatiently for land in Hughes Rise to go on sale for just days and days, and opened a ticket about getting the abandoned land freed up, and then finally and simultaneously found a nice piece of cheap land to complete my tier and also had an actual Linden come by and put the abandoned land up for auction.

So now I am finally all tiered up in the Rise, with lots of lovely available prims, and don’t have to constantly watch for for-sale land anymore.

And, of course, there is now tons of it. :)

Rise For Sale

(Green is mine, orange is for sale, red is Other.)

Cheap, too: some of it is under 2L per square meter, some of it is slightly over 4. Come and get it!

Guy Linden stopped by (land changes in the Rise)

As reported previously, I tiered up and have been looking for more land in Hughes Rise. I also opened a ticket about all the abandoned land in the Rise, including one small parcel with a spinning (and false) FOR SALE sign on it.

Well today (it’s been awhile; I suspect they are ehem sort of shorthanded) I got a note that Guy Linden had added a comment to my ticket, and also had an IM from him inworld, saying that he’d turned on autoreturn on the parcel where the sign was (and lo the sign was gone!), and that he’d gladly swap me a 512 of mine for an abandoned 512 that would make the Park more compact.

So I IM’d him back, and he was still on and he answered me (including very helpfully and clearly telling me how to avoid bumping up my tier and/or having objects returned as we did the swap), and we swapped parcels. I said that my real concern was what would happen in general to all of the abandoned land, and he said that he’d put some of it up for auction, and that in general that’s what they do with abandoned land, but it happens sooner if someone actually says something in a ticket about it.

Then I noticed that there was a 512 actually for sale, and for less than 1L/m2, in the Rise just a little ways from the Park, so I abandoned a bit of the parcel I’d just picked up from Guy, enough that I had 512 space left in my tier, and I bought that cheap 512. So now my tier is full, and I have even more prims to play with in the Rise. Yay! :)

And Guy did indeed put some Big pieces up for auction, so here’s the colormap of the place now:
Hughes Rise, parcel colormap, as of today
Green bits are of course my holdings: the main Park in the center, the annex butting up against Mooter at the bottom left (the blue bits are FAB holdings in Mooter; they are blue because I belong to the FAB patron group), and that little piece to the upper right that I bought for a song today. Then red is normal land belonging to other people (or abandoned, or Linden land), and the purple is the newly-up-for-auction land.

Woot!

So I may be getting some new neighbors. :) And anyone who knows how these auction things work is encouraged to go bid on these parcels. It’s a great neighborhood!

Zindra Pad

So I was doing my daily inspection to confirm that no more land was for sale in the Rise, and I was thinking about my recent posting about the SL7B Nipple Wars and so on, and I remembered that I’d once said, back when the whole Zindra Exile thing was just happening, that eventually most of the mainland should be in Zindra, because after all why would anyone really want to live or hang out with more content restrictions than absolutely necessary?

(I admitted at the time, and still admit, that some people’s being unable or unwilling to adult-verify throws a kink into this nice argument. Also some people want their neighbors’ freedom of expression to be limited, but that set of people isn’t of much interest to me.)

And when these thoughts came together in my mind at the same time, the obvious next thought was “oooh, I wonder if there’s any reasonable land for sale in Zindra?”.

Turns out, there is!

ZindraLand_001

That’s me standing on the roof of a nondescript building sitting on a 1024m2 plot, right on the monorail track and just off a Linden road, right across from the ocean. And for sale at a pretty reasonable price! (Less than 7L per m2, as I recall.)

Here it is from above:

ZindraLand_002

Great urban Zindran neighborhood! You got your automobiles and brothel ads:

ZindraLand_003

(turns out “Toy Slaves Brothel” isn’t a local establishment; it’s off on a private sim somewhere with the subtle understated name “BROTHEL”).

And you got your Pawn Shop and Big Boy Penis:

ZindraLand_004

(photo slightly blurred so as not to upset flickr or wordpress).

And you got your local Dance and Escort sort of club:

ZindraLand_005

The perfect little city hangout, eh? I could not resist, and bought the land and returned the boring building.

ZindraLand_006

I built a raised platform over a nice blue pool of water, with plants:
ZindraLand_007

(That’s the monorail track in the foreground; I still haven’t ridden the monorail, or even confirmed that there are actually any trains. But I suspect there are.)

Up on the platform so far I’ve mostly just put out a few freebies and random things:

ZindraLand_008

I’m thinking once I’ve got it a bit more polished, I should throw a pad-warming party. (Adult-verified friends only, of course.) I could put up big “throw off your clothing and engage in public copulation!” signs!

Or not. :)

Free Hobbit Holes!

Hobbit Holes!I mean, Linden Homes! :)

In a recent posting to the official Second Life “blog”, the Lab has announced that they will soon be beta-testing a program in which Premium members can get a free plot of land, with a pre-installed Hobbit hole house on it, to live on. For free.

These Linden Homes will be limited in various ways:

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

If you can’t remove the house, I imagine you also won’t be able to modify it so that it consists of a single invisible phantom prim buried a meter underground. :)

My initial visceral reaction to this was sheesh here we go again with the Lindens sort of dipping down and futzing around with the world and the economy.

Sort of like having Athena Herself open a free pizza-place on the corner. Okay, maybe she only offers three toppings, and no Sicilian crusts, but I’m not sure how happy I’d be about it if I had a pizza joint in the same town. Or, alternately, if I was a big fan of Sicilian pizza!

I’ve read Jacek Antonelli on the subject, and she is hopeful that this will turn out to be a good thing even for the people that might look on it as wildly uneven competition.

I’ve read most of Second Thoughts on the subject (I admit I didn’t read the entire long chat transcript); Prokofy Neva thinks this is all part of the Lindens’ systematically destroying the mainland.

Whether or not the Hobbit Holes program succeeds in its stated aims, my larger impression is that, as I’ve noted before, the Lindens still think of Second Life as a thing of theirs, that they can of course do whatever they want with. They are not Deistic creators, setting the world spinning and then keeping their hands off; they are hands-on deities, reaching down and twiddling in ways both small and very large, not worrying all that much about what mortals might be swept asides in the process.

I have the feeling that the internal economy is in some sense not real to them; they probably know it exists, but it doesn’t figure at all largely in their calculations. They like being able to show big numbers in monthly press releases, but on the other hand they regularly do things that have large and disparate impacts on various sectors of the economy (freebie policies on xstreet, the Zindra exile, now the Hobbit Holes), and the only sign that they’re aware of this is typically some vague reassuring noises in the forums and the weblog.

And as I’ve probably also said before, this is entirely within their rights. It’s just a continuing sign that the way the Lab as a whole views the world, as a thing that they are doing, and that we are allowed to play in, and that they will periodically fiddle with in ways they think we will overall like, is quite different from the way that I would like to view the world, as a place where the Lab creates only the basic ‘physics’, and the Resis then create an actual functioning world on top of it. To me it is much less fun and interesting to see what a few dozen people in a California company would do with a world than it would be to see what thousands of random people from all around the world would do.

I’d like to be able to say that the world is gradually moving from the former model to the latter, but I don’t see it. It’s all too easy to tell a story in which things move the other way: in order to attract some possibly-imaginary set of neophobic corporate and mass-market users, the Lab wants more control, not less, over the way the world develops. And so over time the doings and the imaginations of the Residents become less and less important.

I hope that’s not the story we end up telling, ’cause I like Second Life, and I would hate to see it all cleaned up and sterile and dull and controlled. I hope that either the Lab decides that reducing Resident influence on the world is in fact not the best way to grow the business (and I think that it isn’t, myself), or we get some sort of compromise, where (sigh) parts of the Grid are all sterile and clean, and parts are allowed to remain as wild and wooly and unpredictable as (well) our imaginations…

Update: oh, and here is Ordinal, who I intended to quote from but forgot:

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

Exactly. And exactly what I fear for the future of SL.