Even easier you can visit the region named: Barks and get properly sized and proportioned shapes made by Penny. Plus she has a free Ruth to Ravishing kit. Get the Landmark and hand it out to new users in SL.
To understand the art of making a shape see Penny’s: Penny’s Shape-Making Guide (Abridged).
Scale of Building In-World. Penny wrote an article on this point titled: A Matter of Scale. Penny explains how our currently wacked up avatar size uses up additional real estate and drives up the cost of land ownership. By building to scale land looks bigger and we can put more in the same space. Her idea is we need less land and thus we can save money.
Penny practices what she preaches. Check out her builds; The Island of Milk & Cream and Doomed Ship. Milk & Cream will give you a funny insight to the name and a new meaning to the name cowgirl. This is an Adult region and can get lewd. Doomed Ship is also an Adult area, but it is all enclosed spaces.
Default Camera Placement – This is another problem that Penny has written about before. The problem of the default camera placement creates distractions and detracts from the immersive nature of SL. She wrote: Improving the SL Camera (Short Version) which is a remake of the original article that inspired me to write: Second Life Camera Position Tips. These changes can greatly improve your experience of Second Life.
Penny thinks addressing these problems will begin to improve player retention. She may be right. But, I think her second article has more a more productive idea.
The second part of her analysis is: A Critical Look At Second Life – Part 2 – “Bringing Content to People”.
In the second article Penny follows up with a look at delivering content to users. She is addressing the often heard complaint: ‘There is nothing to do.’ She is NOT on about a poorly performing Market Place. In the sense Penny is using the word ‘content’ she means the content of the SL World, places and things.
In the article she discusses:
Destination Guide – Surely you have seen it. Penny’s point is: don’t wait for them to find it, show them how to open it. Have the viewer do a bit of training during the first login.
Interest Tags – We have ‘interests’ listed in our profiles. Penny believes how these are used could be improved. She points out they could be extend to groups, land, events, and the Market Place. Penny explains how that might done while avoiding spamming. Events could automatically post in groups with similar interests. Allow people personal calendars and the ability to copy/paste event listings to and from their and others calendars. Check out her article for details. I think these are great ideas and I’ll explain why.
I came to Second Life as a D’ni Refugee, a group of us looking for a new home because of a virtual world that closed, Myst Online: Uru Live. It has sense reopened.
For years the Myst community debated how to get more people playing Uru and save the game. It really doesn’t take years to learn most people put their personal ideas out with little if any though, research or experience. There is no reason to think the SL community is any different.
However, numerous academics have studied Second Life and its users. So, we do actually know what keeps people in a game and specifically what keeps them in Second Life. But, knowing what keeps people in a game does not tell us how to best implement the knowledge.
We can predict which people are most likely to stay and most likely to leave. Chun-Yuen Teng’s and Lada A. Adamic’s published paper: Longevity in Second Life. It is referenced on Lada Adamic’s page on her web site.
In the study they say, “Rather than looking at initial interactions, we aim to predict which users are likely to leave, and base our predictions on the structure, intensity, and profitability of a user’s activity.”
Their direction of view is similar to Penny’s. The researchers went through and looked at as many measurable metrics of life Second Life as available. The Lab helped with the study and provided the raw data it is based on. Those metrics were compared to the longevity of players to find the part of their experience that was unique to players that stayed the longest.
These studies use the scientific method to sort out our preconceptions and assumptions. They replace them with facts and objective information that can be turned into an actionable plan. For anyone looking at improving player retention in SL or for that matter in their region, this is the most helpful reading of which I know.
The short story is the Teng & Alamic study shows that in a broad sense and for a majority of all people the factors influencing player retention comes down to player interaction and how many friends one makes. Or as the author’s simplified it: the more chat conversations and partners one has the more likely they are to stay in SL.
Penny’s ideas for improving the use of Interest Tags and connecting more people with their interests and people with people of similar interests would build on the Teng & Alamic insights better than most other suggestions and ideas I have heard.
While I think several of Penny’s suggestions would help Second Life’s player retention only the improved use of Interest Tags is likely to lead to a marked increase in chat conversations and simplify finding and making friends. The meet ups with people of similar interest, I believe, are likely to create longer term conversations and interactions. These are the only things that studies have shown have a pronounced and consistent affect on player retention.
The study is not the be-all end-all on player retention. But, it does point what is working to keep people in SL. So… do more of that.
If people want to see Second Life change, their choice is to hope someone will make it change for them or to work at changing it. It’s hope verses work.
While I think all of Penny’s suggestions will help, I think the real gold is in how Interest Tags could be used.
I’ve started a couple of threads in the SL forum: UPDATE: Commerce Forum-Merchants: Finding the Right People and Places – Sales – People-Make Friends: Finding the Right People and Places
I plan to submit a feature request in the JIRA. UPDATE: BUG-1078 – Feature Request – Improved Interest Tag Use for Player Retention.
If you would like to see use of Interest Tags improved, comment her, in the threads, and if you can’t see JIRA item BUG-1078 post a feature request and refer to it.