At the Third Party Developers’ meeting Jessica said the viewer is on schedule for a November 16 or 17 release. That of course depends on whether a serious problem is found or things work as planned.
This release will also be caught up with the Linden made viewer. I think that means the Linden version 3.8.6-305981, which is the current default viewer as I write this.
If you made it to the Firestorm Halloween party you have seen the Firestorm gateway regions. The Halloween celebration was also a launch party (reference) for the gateway build. Some well known designers/builders have helped. One being MadPea.
The party featured a hunt that lasts through the month of November. So, you still have time to see the new gateway and join the hunt. Start at: The Spooky Path. They have hints here. See the Flickr photos. (Currently 77 photos.) There is some NICE stuff.
The FS team is planning to have SL residents manning the gateway to help new users. Aaaah… fresh meat… no, no, no… they want people that want to H-E-L-P, not scam the noobs. Contact Flossy Andrew, gateway manager, if you want to help as a mentor. See The Hunt Continues if you want more information on ways to participate.
The new gateway will be an interesting experiment for the FS Team and this generation of Lindens. A previous generation of Lindens turned off the gateways and mentors because stats showed retention was better among those not meeting mentors and helpers. If that sounds odd to you, you’ve plenty of company.
As far as we know the change away from mentors was based on stats measuring one aspect of retention. I doubt it was that simple. I think we all realize a number of factors affect player retention.
Player to player interaction is the most influential factor in retaining users according to university studies. So, why those working with mentors had a higher departure rate than others is puzzling. I think there is a high probability it was something other than mentoring, but something those people had in common, that contributed to the higher rate. We don’t completely know why the Lindens made a decision to move away from mentors. Whatever, we will have a new chance to look at how mentors affect retention.
The Lab provides an API (a way for private computers to talk to Linden servers) for those that want to build a web site that provides Second Life signup and an in-world place to send them to. From that web site you have control over where the person first appears in SL. The FS Team has built their web site and in-world regions. However, they are not pushing the web site. Nor will they for a couple of weeks or more.
The reason is the current API only allows a gateway site to offer new sign ups the older ‘Starter’ avatars; girl or boy next door type avatars. These are better than Ruth and Ralph, but not by much. You can find them in your inventory’s Library.
Jessica has said she is embarrassed to have a new sign up see these old Starter avatars. I completely understand and empathize. At the last Third Party Dev’s meeting she asked the Lindens if the new Starter avatars could be added to the gateway API. (See: Second Life Has New Avatars?) The Lindens say they are working on updating the API. I suspect we will see something happen in the next couple of weeks or so. Then we will hear more about the FS Team’s gateway web site and see efforts to promote it. You may even be asked to help.
Many have complained about how poorly the Lab markets Second Life. These gateways provide a way for users to show the Lab how it is done. I will point out that the complaints coming from some of the viewer developers changed as they moved in a place where they had to deal with a large number of users and provide support. I expect a similar change from those that actually try to market SL.
Then there will be the problem of tracking the people signed up at the private gateways. The Lab can track them. But, will they share the information? To improve a gateway the owner needs to know how it is performing. Retention rates are going to be a key factor in figuring out what works.
It should be interesting…