Improving Second Life Player Retention

Penny Patton writes thoughtful articles on various aspects of Second Life™. Penny is the one that got me motivated to make a better and more proportional and to scale avatar and she has inspired me to write a few articles. She is currently writing about some of the challenges in Second Life retaining users.

Penny Patton's Latest

Penny Patton’s Latest

The first article is: A Critical Look at Second Life – Part 1 “Presentation”, which I’ll summarize. Read her article to get the full sense of her thoughts.

Player Retention

Penny questions something I seldom think about, why do people leave Second Life? I tend to look for what keeps people in SL. The difference is in whether one looks for things to do more of or things to do less of to keep people interested. Looking at both is a good thing. Whatever, Penny decided to take a ‘comprehensive’ look at the reasons people leave.

Penny points to the quality, scale, and proportions of initial avatars provided by Linden Lab™ as a problem. The ideas were first presented in her article: A Matter of Perspective. She changed the presentation in: An Abridged Version. The ideas are the same. If you haven’t read either, check them out as they are classic for those of us looking to improve Second Life.

Ease of use – Pennies idea is that building with more uniformly sized avatars has advantages and improves the immersive quality of SL. Penny provides example of a 9’ monster beside a 7+ft human vs a 9’ monster and a 6’ human. The difference is striking. A well made point.

Getting the avatar properly sized allows us to use dimensions in the Build Panel from the sizes of things in the real world.  If we measure a RL chair and build one in SL from those dimensions it would look right. That isn’t the case now. Penny’s thought is that troughs off new builders. I agree. I ran into that problem when I was new and trying to build.

Penny's Milk & Cream Island

Penny’s Milk & Cream Island

Weak Build Panel – the Build Panel is the primary tool for anyone building in-world. That panel doesn’t really encourage to-scale building. For years the Appearance Editor has been a misleading tool as the Avatar Height was wrong. Currently it shows a 1.62m avatar as 5.3ft tall (5.3’= 5’-3.6”), which when converting meters to feet is correct numerically. To check that it reads correctly you need to make a prim that is 1.62m high (see ‘A’ in image below). Set it to Phantom and walk into it. About 20cm or 8” (0.6667ft) will stick out the top of the prim. This proves the Appearance Panel in the SL Viewer 3.4.2 (267137) Nov 19 2012 is wrong. It is disassociated from the rest of building in SL.

You can size the prim as I did in ‘B’ to get the true in world height of your avatar.

Checking Build Panel dimensions verses Appearance Panel

Checking Build Panel dimensions verses Appearance Panel

Adjusting the prim I find the 1.62m the Appearance Panel shows is 1.80m or 5.9’ or 5’-11”. That is an 8” or 20cm difference. Make a 20cm long cube and put it on your nose… its huge.

Size and Proportion - Size Matters

Size and Proportion – Size Matters

If you are into math, you can figure out height your avatar needs to be in Appearance to get the ‘real’ height right. Or I made the Model Shape Tool to help with making your avatar the right height and proportions. The Tool is the prim with me in a T-pose.

Using the Model Shape Tool

Using the Model Shape Tool

The current setting of the Shape Tool can be seen above it (5-11). The arrows at ‘A’ show where my semi transparent Tool has been dragged into my avatar, so I can more accurately size my avatar.

16 thoughts on “Improving Second Life Player Retention

  1. Grrrrrr… that bugreport link on page 2 gives a Permission Violation, which means they’ve irresponsibly hid another one of the bug reports again.

    • They don’t hide ‘another.’ All BUG items are only readable be they who file it. Sucks.

  2. I have a funny idea about improving player rentention. Imagine you would not be able to copy objects as often as you like and you would not be able to rez an unlimited amount of prims, but you would have to mine raw materials for them before. The Lindens would create a huge new continent for mining. Serveral raw materials would be introduced, e.g. wood, iron, water, stone etc. Those you use to create objects in SL. So rather then going camping in the past, mining would become something that is typically done by newbies. They mine raw materials and sell them in a special marketplace to content creators, which then use them to create complex objects like cars, houses, clothes etc. Once you have designed something, you would be able to copy it and sell it in marketplace or your shop, with the only difference that you always need to have enough raw materials in stock. That way newbies could make their first money and had something fun to do, they would be paid by content creators who in turn would be paid by the consumers of the products. There would just be a new layer to the SL economy. As you can see in other games, mining is a typical activity for newbies and can be designed to be a lot of fun and very exciting. You could even ship the raw materials to the inworld shops of the creators. Products in SL would finally become scarce just like in the real world economy, which no doubt is very successful and the opposide of boring.
    Just a fun idea that I had, when reading your article;)

  3. You may find this article I wrote about how I see the retention issue also interesting;

  4. I share the belief that shared communication is the key to retaining users. LL has all the pieces in place, it’s just not connected together. I wrote down my ideas back in July

  5. I believe after performance, Linden Lab needs to take a long hard look at their business model.

    If Second Life is supposed to be a “shared creativity” platform, the only business model that can ever make sense is one where the more people create and share, the more money Linden Lab makes.

    YouTube for example can be summed up as a “shared creativity” platform as well. Because of YouTube’s business model, the amount of money it makes is directly proportional to the amount of minutes video is watched. So it’s in Google’s every interest to let creators make longer, higher definition videos, and rather than burden creators with an abstraction called “tier” to cover the costs of disk space, bandwidth and CPU time for encoding, hosting and streaming video, Google in fact PAYS its creators via ad revenue splits.

    Yes, YouTube only deals in one content type, video, and Second Life is a completely different beast, but server costs are server costs, employee wages are empoyee wages, and anyone’s 100 prims of Premium land out in the middle of no where isn’t going to consume more disk space and bandwidth than even 20 minutes of video uploaded to YouTube for free that’ll be there forever.

    Now I know Linden Lab can’t embed Google Ads in the viewer or on prims or something and viola, the more prims the more money give everyone free land and call it a day. They can’t do that, but Second Life also can’t exist indefinitely with a business model of Linden Lab not being able to lower tier prices because it hurts them rather than help them. There’s 300 some minds at Linden Lab, a few legends on the board of directors, and they need to figure this out.

  6. I have 2 relevant suggestions:
    – There should be an appearance slider that would Scale your overall avatar, maintaining proportions while changing overall size. That is very difficult with the current controls we have.
    – For those of us in the US, a selection in the build panel Metric/English. I for one find metric non-intuitive, everything in my RL is in feet and inches.

    • The sliders don’t use either… But, you can have it give height in feet or meters. It is very consistent, both are wrong…

      A proportional scale would be nice. When I changed my avatar from 6-2 to 5-10 it was a pain.

      Even when I work in meters, I convert to feet or inches so I can get a sense of size.

    • I have grown and live in the metric world. For me it is very difficult to get a sense of size from inches, feet and miles. The fractions of inches – I’m totally lost with them. Metric system is very straight forward as it is ten based between units.
      1 meter = 10 decimeters = 100 centimeters = 1000 millimeters. In 1 kilometer there are 1000 meters. Even a child can easily understand that. Naturally to understand and to get a sense of scale of either the imperial or metric system one needs to have had grown with it.
      It could be so much easier for you imperial system users if you made the radical decision – finally – and switched to the metric one. Calculations with it are very easy and a joy. 😉

  7. Pingback: The End of Second Life? | Nalates' Things & Stuff

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