I became the three millionth Resident of Second Life last night!

Fret not, loyal readers, I know many of you are here for World of Warcraft (I can tell by the referrals… though when I say “loyal readers”, I mean “people who arrived here after Googling ‘Eastern Plagueland capture’ or ‘taunt warrior’ and probably buggered off again in pretty short order when they found there’s no worthwhile information here”… mind you, they probably wound up less confused than whoever arrived from searching on “no sun up in the sky” “stormy weather”. Maybe I should stop the lyrics-as-post-title approach. Anyway!) I’m not abandoning WoW, but I heard a whisper that my company might be looking at Second Life; exactly what for, I’m not sure, probably Virtual Meetings or something equally fascinating. Still, it could be more fun than spreadsheets, so I figured I’d install the client and get to grips with it, so I could nonchalantly proffer myself as a Second Life expert if the opportunity arose. (Granted, I’d have a fighting chance of nonchalantly proffering myself as a Second Life expert based entirely on having read a couple of Warren Ellis’ columns, but I figured a bit of first hand experience couldn’t hurt.)

It’s… interesting. After zapping through the “character creation” process on the website, I logged in to join the other four billion Residents, and… found myself staring at a floating hairstyle. I didn’t remember selecting the “levitating wig” avatar option, so gave it a while, but the rest of my body didn’t seem to turn up. A quick logout and login later, and there I was in all my “Nightclub Male” glory. Except the hair. Which turned up a couple of minutes later. It was probably still off gallivanting around on its own at first.

Now, I know that a comparison of Second Life to something like City of Heroes or World of Warcraft isn’t terribly fair, with SL streaming all sorts of textures, audio, video, etc. to the client while the CoH server just says “there’s a Crey Medic over there”, and the multi-gigabyte client goes “right-o!”, and rifles through its library to find the appropriate model. (I apologise to any non-technical types for going into such complex detail there.) Even so, everything seemed incredibly clunky… Walking through treacle (god forbid trying the “run” option), pausing frequently for strangely pixellated objects to resolve themselves into something vaguely understandable, flying around with worse lag than a Hamidon raid… The driving section of the movement tutorial gave the same awesome sense of speed and control as drinking three bottles of vodka and taking a spin on a ride-on lawnmower.

During the “appearance” section of the tutorial, I was encouraged to go looking through the library of objects, so briefly enjoyed putting on a Tux t-shirt, tinkering with clothing colours, avatar size and the like. Still, having created characters in City of Heroes, there’s only so much fun to be had with body scaling sliders. Rummaging around other bits of the library, I found “Green Hair”. “Haha”, I thought, “wouldn’t it be terribly amusing to have bright green hair!”, and dragged the item onto my avatar. And sure enough, I had bright green hair… superimposed on my “Nightclub” hair. Randomly clicking around, I couldn’t seem to remove either object, but eventually removed the green texture and made myself totally bald in the “hair” settings, leaving only the wig which I seem to be stuck with (I’m beginning to think it’s some kind of sentient hair-creature from space).

Attempting to continue the tutorial, I found the handy “GO HERE AND CLICK ON THIS!” tutorial screen had vanished, and no amount of “touch”ing various panels brought it back, which stymied my progress through the Communication and Search sections. In an attempt to reset things, I used the “Teleport Home” option, and found myself in… the world at large! I probably didn’t miss anything earth shattering in the tutorial, but I might create their six trillionth Resident in an attempt to finish it off sometime…

So, here I was, in the limitless environment of Second Life! What to do? I wandered in aimless circles for a bit, teleported over to the deserted Reuters building, and decided… it was time to go play WoW for a bit. I’ll be back, though and if anyone has any suggestions of places to check out, I’d appreciate it.

Posted by Zoso at 12:35 pm