Update 2010-09-06: The Display Names Wiki page has been updated and provides load of new information and answers.
Earlier I blogged about Display Names and referred to Gwyneth Llewelyn’s article Identity Crisis! The expected roll out for Display Names is late September 2010. However, Linden Lab just announced a Project Viewer for those wanting to test Display Names.
For me this appears to be a first case test of whether we are dealing with the same ol’ Linden Lab or the new more communicative and sensitive LL. Consider this part of their statement;
After the flood of comments that greeted our announcement of the upcoming Display Names feature, we’re happy to announce that we are now releasing a Project Viewer to help us further test performance and let Residents get a sense for how Display Names would work should they go into production.
The ‘…should they go into production’ part hints that users might be able to change how Display Names will work. I doubt SL residents will be able to stop some form of Display Names from being used. Some form of them is needed to make SL more consistent with other Internet applications and games. But, we may be able to change how they work and make them more useful.
Also Jack Linden says they have read the 1,000 plus comments made in response to the announcement of Display Names. The primary concern residents have is impersonation. The Lindens thought limiting name changes to once per week would take care of the problem. As Gwyn pointed out that limit doesn’t do that much and hamstrings the feature for those that would like the feature for use in their RP games, where quick names changes could enhance RP game play. (Think playing in more than one game per week, a common practice.)
Jack says they want to get more feedback after people see how it works on the beta test grid. Then after residents have had a chance to see it, another round of discussion with residents will be opened. Once they have that feedback they may offer some more ideas for what may be possible to reduce the danger of impersonation.
We can watch this process to see if we are dealing with the same ol’ Lab or if Phillip’s changes are actually changing the behavior of the Lab.
This testing is going to happen on a test grid, not the main grid. This means you can test it and not worry about messing up your avatar name in SL. Also, the once per week name change is suspended on the test grid. That will allow one to do more testing in a shorter time.
One of the features I like is the ability to change the names of friends to display in a different color. That could be handy.
Oskar Linen points out that the ADITI grid may not recognize your password if it has been some time since you visited ADITI. The fix is to change your main SL password and wait 24 hours. See http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Preview_Grid#Updating_Your_Account_on_Aditi
This is a special Project Viewer and it installs in its own folder. It is hard coded to go only to the ADITI grid. It is hard to tell if it uses its own cache or a separate one (one can not read the full cache path in the dialog. Browsing to set a new location does not take one to the default cache location but instead starts one from user login root – Desktop -> [User ID].) As best I can tell it uses the Second Life default cache, which concerns me. I am a big believer in using separate caches to reduce viewer problems. I changed mine to a separate cache (see other articles here for instructions).
The viewer did not seem happy that I changed the cache location. But the SIM was having problems so that could be the problem.
The viewer creates its own desktop icon, Second Life Project Viewer.
The name change feature can be found in your Profile Settings.
At this point the SIM was having problems and I could not stay logged in. I’ll try again tomorrow.
I made it into ADITI today (9/2). I haven’t double checked but I think the Project Viewer messed up my SL cache. I had trouble logging on with SLV2 after the Project started using the default cache. Once I made the new cache for the Project viewer and cleared the SL cache everything started working. It could have been coincident with grid problems, who knows.
I did get to tryout the name change. One opens their profile, opens its settings, and clicks Set Display Name. Easy enough. After one changes their name a notice pops up advising you that it takes some time for the name change to propagate through SL. I says to give it a few days for the change to update in objects, scripts, search, and etc.
One has to wonder what is going to show up in your friends’ Friend List. How will I find Lolita after her name changes to John Bobbit? Will this change affect Calling Cards too? I think these name changes could get confusing.
What about scripts that control access to my apartment? I see where the LL teams are working to get LSL changed to handle the new avatar names. Will older scripts break? I suspect so, from what I’ve seen, but I have not really dug into it.
Merchants are not likely to be happy. It is going to be easy enough to change a name and then sell knockoffs of top selling products. Of course if they change their name back, the creator name in the products will change back too. This means they would have to devote an ALT to the name.
While I think this is a good thing for new signups and conforms SL to the standards most are used to for login and ID, I think it is going to create a lot of problems and a flood of abuse reports going into LL. They are already getting a bad rep for lack of enforcement.
I agree with Gwyn that some means of registering a name, even for a fee, would greatly reduce problems. Merchant’s with a valuable name could register it and prevent others from using it.
I also think it would be more useful if I could have 5 or 6 names to switch between in RP games. I can see this being complex because of how they have name changes propagating to everything you own. So, I suspect that is unlikely to ever happen.
I like the idea of display names. I think there are lots of problems to work out.
One of the interesting things about the ADITI grid is SIM crossings. The grid crossings on the ADITI grid are pretty nice, much smoother than on the main grid. We know LL’s new teams are working on the issue of SIM crossing lag. While we don’t know when this crossing fix will make it to the main grid, this is encouraging.