Player Retention

One of the more interesting things going on this week is a thread on SLUniverse. Ayesha Lytton made the opening post June 25 asking some questions; would you want to work at Linden Lab, what job would you want, title, what would you want to accomplish?

The thread had grown to 3 pages by 10 PM the same day. The next day Rod Humble, as Rodvik, posted asking a more specific question:

“Assuming SL improved performance enormously, from region crossings to lag to render times. (big assumption I know but roll with me here) What would you do to insure new users ‘stuck’?”

As of 9AM 7/27 the thread had grown to 17 pages. There are a number of comments as to what can be done. All the expected suggestions are there. Also, a number of novel, at least to me, ideas appeared. Here is a summary of what has been suggested. These are not all direct quotes. Many I have twisted to have them make sense when shortened.

I’ve also left out the wise cracks and jokes. I have added a comment or explanation after a ‘–’ symbol on some suggestions.


  • Motivate everyone to work together and communicate what each department was doing
  • Wants to do User Interface and Graphic Design.
  • Wants to be a policy and proposals overseer.
  • Public policy analyst, translating between the relevant legal, technical, and management languages to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Be the lunch go getter.
  • Be a Mole.
  • I would lower tier.
  • I would see to it that the Jira team is doing a quick turnaround.
  • CEO. I’d have a meeting first day, advising the lot of them they had six months to have all of this fixed *holds up list* or I’d sack them all and hire some of the umptyleven unemployed people in their field that would be thrilled to have employment.
  • Fluffer
  • Be in charge of all the pretty pictures posted anywhere LL owned.
  • Be a software engineer and add; Normalmaps, Specularmaps, Sphere reflection maps, and Custom defined skeletons for both objects and avatars.
  • Do research and development for the Lab.
  • Be head of business improvement (I took it to mean bring RL business to SL)
  • Wants to do customer relations.
  • Be a database admin.
  • Do feature integration and tool consistency.
  • Be in charge of DMCA’s.
  • Help them design a superior inventory browser.
  • Public Relations.
  • Branding and strategy – I’d call it marketing SL.
  • Fix the sim crossings.
  • Figure out the problem with new signups not staying in sl long.
  • Make a group to help newbies in sl, seriously there is no one helping out newbies in sl.
  • Make the graphics better.
  • Actually listen to the customers, because the customer is always right.
  • Art Director of the Second Life product. Within a year I’d have put into place every design change, default tweak and tool fix needed to make sims 4x bigger, land 4x cheaper, double frame rates and make SL look like it had a graphics engine overhaul without touching a single line of the graphics engine code. – This is Penny Patton’s desire and comment. I believe she could accomplish the goals.
  • Work on f_____g marketplace and work on s__t that merchants actually need.
  • I would make it so you can texture with animated gifs.
  • Get rid of all the automated stuff when you call there [SL/LL].

Answering Rod’s Question

At this point Rod asked his question. The content of posts changes at this point.

  • Add a user manual. (See: Old Manual) – The manual we have was created by users/residents. There is nothing keeping the community from creating a new one. So, I started a new manual. See: Second Life User’s Manual 2012.
  • In general if you meet people with vaguely shared interests you stick more.
  • Add tutorial areas and mentors back in. – To which Rod responded, “Our experience has been in this day and age, people simply expect to be able to interact with the software without a 20 minute n00b t00b of things to jump through. At the end of it, they had forgotten most of what they had done and we were back to our ‘what do I do?’ problem. […snip…] [I] agree though a good manual and ability to watch relevant videos whenever you want is a good approach.”
  • I like Niran’s viewer for the splash page tips (forgive me if I use the wrong word) anytime you teleport the teleporting screen is an SL tip and the user has no choice but to absorb some of that even if they don’t seek it out themselves.
  • The video tutorials were HUGE bang for your buck, but even then you had to know to go look for them.
  • The search has serious issues, the least of which is that it needs more drill down categories because “places” is FAR too broad. I can scroll three pages of clubs before coming to a store. – Search has issues? There is an understatement. Fixing search came up a number of times.
  • Fix the Destination Guide, some entries are out of date. Many places are not included.
  • Get an actual artist to design areas newbies first see. Show them how good SL can look before dumping them into the middle of the mainland.
  • Make tutorial along the lines of most MMO tutorials.
  • Create better ways to get people to what they are interested in.
  • Make changing appearance easier.
  • Make better use of user interests and add them to search. At sign up have a user add their interests and adapt search and recommendations to use the info in effective ways.
  • Personalize the Destination Guide.
  • Communicate more via email.
  • Fix the Market Place.
  • Makes a Skills-Learning adventure.
  • Provide greater incentives to become invested in land and becoming a premium member.
  • Eliminate the jackassery in areas like info hubs. – Enforcing the peace is brought up in several ways. Having ‘cops’ patrol landing hubs and other new user hangout to deal with problem makers.
  • Bring back last names.
  • Make sure new users don’t encounter creepy bot nests where no one talks to them.
  • Rework the default avatar shape.
  • Add custom armatures. – This means user created skeletons for things, a form of animating mesh objects.
  • Ditch support for obsolete PCs.
  • People are left to themselves to find the various resources for modifying their experience, rather than being directed to them…. dozens of wonderful Torley videos, users groups like NCI, Builders Brewery, even the forums, and other like resources a lost in a sea of undirected search, to people that don’t know the right words to search for what they want to find.
  • Add panels for other types of favorites.
  • Add sharable user interface setups.
  • Give them a choice of places for their first login.
  • Event Listings need to be more time sensitive to avoid sending people to an event that is over.
  • Better content creation tools that would encourage more efficient building.
  • Create new user entry points that are a better example of what can be built in SL.
  • Put building tutorials in the Sandboxes.
  • Create some basic group memberships for new users like: Basic Viewer Use, Combat and Roleplay, Clothing and Fashion, Making 3D Items, and Customizing my Avatar. The groups would be staffed by volunteers.
  • Create a buddy system for learning SL.
  • Sex right out of the gate has to be an option for adult verified newbies.
  • Better starting avatars and camera presets.
  • An in world hunt for new users.
  • I would like to do is run LL led tours for different interests that newbs could turn up for.
  • The main outcome is that they get to meet other people in an environment that fosters interaction and gives them a taste of things.
  • An ex linden told me that people who find a friend within the first half hour of trying out sl had higher retention rates than those who didn’t. So a buddy system could work.
  • One of the main reasons I stayed in SL the first weeks… an amazing mentor.

By 7/27 it seems Rod had read enough. See: POST

By the time Rod lost interest, or maybe just ran out of time, the thread was 6 pages long. It has sense grown to 17 pages as I write this.

6 thoughts on “Player Retention

  1. I think the best idea is the one of having general groups created by LL for building, fashion, etc.. that would be easily available from the start. The new resident could ask any question and I am sure he would have lots of answers from more experienced residents in seconds without them being necesarily mentors or what ever.

    • The likelihood of getting a feature like ‘special groups’ is inversely proportional to how much maintenance labor is required by the Lab. Don’t expect to see the Lab making groups they have to police.

  2. The need for a way noobs can appreciate SL with *their* machine is critical. The world of computers is moving away from my beloved wired desktops and toward wireless laptops and tablets. The newbie on the Metareality podcast did not appreciate SL until he was persuaded to buy a desktop. I suspect a very high percentage of people who sign up and then leave just do not have adequate hardware. I would not be here for long if I had to wait minutes for the area around me to rez and if I could hardly move. Some kind of “cloud” service? A stripped down, feature lite viewer? I do not have the answer, but something must be done, and soon!

    • Right now mobile devices are popular. In a recent article the creator of the Myst series of games stated that mobile devices could be ‘immersive’. I seriously doubt that. I think that alone will create demand for desktop gaming computers.

      Television screens are about to double the resolution of HD units. Plus we are seeing more 3D content becoming available for TV. Mobile devices are unlikely to ever be able to compete in a 3D environment. So, another reason desktop units will be in some demand.

      The data needed for hi-rez games is enormous. It looks like communication tech will get us to where mobile devices will be able to deal with large amounts of data. SSD tech is growing and likely to provide the quantities of data storage needed.

      So, the limit is likely going to be in how immersive people find mobile devices vs their home theaters.

      • Many years ago, I was active on one of those old text-only MUDs.

        Immersion in a world doesn’t depend on fancy graphics, but SL does.

        I suspect that mobile devices are different enough that they will need something new before they can support VR, something with less-intensive graphics and not keyboard dependent.

        • Good point on the MUD games.

          Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote a good article on the change in how generations use imagination. Immersion for the current couple of generations is going to be different from the previous generations. I doubt MUD games will ever again be considered immersive.

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