And there, in my opinion, is summed up in just four letters, one of the fundamental reasons that new sign-ups tend not to hang around in sl long enough to make a lasting impression, and possibly also why there seems to be an ever-growing exodus of seasoned residents heading towards the exit signs.
It’s a thought that’s been bumping around the cavities in my head for a week or so, looking for an appropriate moment to splurge forth. The time seemed right, following the rather predictable shockwave that has emanated from a recent post by Ener Hax on her blog in which she identifies a decline in annual private sim revenue (tier) of around $13,000,000 (that’s USD, not the linden variety!), over the last three years – equating to around a $1,000 drop in revenue for Linden Lab every day.
That’s a lot of bucks for the Lab to lose from its mainstream breadwinner and – of course – the usual suspects have come up with the usual tirade of abuse at the Lab, citing all the usual reasons why sl is dying a horrible and inevitable death, (yawn). The top three complaints, (well, just a wild guess actually, but i’m almost certainly correct), are as follows:
- Tier is too damn high
A flawed argument, in which nobody ever seems to realise that few people have the cash to throw around on luxuries they had available a couple of years ago – belts have to be tightened and the gas bill has to be paid. That’s also a prime reason that concurrency is dropping. As for the argument that reducing tier would encourage greater land ownership from the masses… are you serious? Many of the rank and file are just like me: they’re not going to pay for Premium, just to own land and have the headache of calculating monthly tier when they can pay a land baron rent to do it for them, without any penalties!
- SL is borked/no-one will ever consider sl unless you bring back V1
Complete nonsense! SL is far less borked than it ever was in the past and has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years – can you honestly recall the last time you really suffered lag? And yet, that word comes up every time when sl’s health is in question. As for the V1 troglodytes… grow up, or shut up!
- Linden Lab don’t care about/listen to their users
And when exactly was the last time that Micro$oft, Virgin, Apple, Sony, Tesco, or any other large company in the business of making money demonstrated they care about or listen to their users? Be realistic, folks.
At the risk of being publicly lambasted, humiliated and being told i don’t have a clue about anything, i shall nail my colours to the mast here and now and make it clear – if it isn’t already – the above reasons, and most of the other’s frequently touted as barriers to new sign-ups and user retention, are a load of donkey poo and, whilst they might be the root cause of maybe one in a hundred people throwing in the sl towel, the real fist holding the hammer, driving the nail into the coffin is not in any way attached to sl, Linden Lab or money, but is wielded by the people themselves who frequent sl.
Leaving aside the fact that we are, without doubt, the most wretched, obnoxious, back-biting bunch of moaning, whining, holier-than-thou scumbags of a user-base that has ever graced the internet – which certainly doesn’t lend itself to peace, tranquillity and happy wanderings in the metaverse – we, and our real world, are fundamentally different from what we were in the glory days when sl was very much ‘The Main Event’.
The large majority of sl residents would have been of the generation that grew up in the Golden Age of computing – people who were more familiar with ‘BBS’, ‘DOS’ and ‘CP/M’ than with ‘LOL’ and ‘WTF’. These were individuals who, as youngsters, had struggled to write their own code, limited to 16K, for games on the ZX Spectrum and would willingly wait through several cups of tea to load a program from cassette tape. They were people whose first taste of the internet had been on 28K dial-up modems, using Netscape Navigator, (remember watching pictures download… line… by… line?), or a freebie CD from AOL, stuck to the front of a computer magazine. Facebook was practically unknown and only the uber-trendies had MySpace accounts.
In short, these were the sort of people whose expectation, formed by experience, was that sl was a challenge to be relished. If something didn’t work, someone would come up with a hack, workaround or fix; if something was supposed to do one thing, someone would come up with another half-dozen novel implementations; people expected slow and clunky, had no problem dealing with it, and had a hundred-and-one ways of filling their time creatively when the world ground to a halt around them. If you didn’t know what a button did, you pressed it to find out… if you didn’t know how to do something, you’d find out, or invent a new way to do it.
Fast-forward, (now there’s an archaic term), to today. Our world – and in many cases, even those people i’ve just been talking about – have changed immensely. Today, we expect things to work immediately, first time, every time, preferably with a glossy UI that means we never have to look behind the scenes at what’s really going on. We want intuitive, we want straightforward, we want point-and-click and, when we don’t get it, we don’t have the staying power or the appetite to get to grips with the nuts and bolts, so – all too often – we just quit.
Which brings me back to ‘TL;DR’ – which i’m seeing ever more frequently popping up all over the internet. This is the generation, (which also includes us), of the soundbite; the acronym; the instant hit and the result on demand – we don’t want to learn new ways of doing things, we don’t want to wade through the instructions, we don’t want to go through a lengthy setup process, we want to know instinctively how to get the result we want: that’s why Micro$oft resurrected the Start Button in Windows 8 – no-one was prepared to learn how to live without it. No longer do we have a hunger for the learning and developmental process, instead we want instant wins, without all the hard work involved in achieving them. We, and our world, have fundamentally changed.
No doubt you will tell me that since we have changed so much, then so should sl.
No, no, no; ten thousand times, no! SL fits into that niche of applications that demand we work towards excellence, and to dumb it down into some bland, super-intuitive, slick sort of Powerpoint presentation will simply rip the guts from our virtual world, (remember the web-browser project?), and bring it down to a level of insipidness that will see residents leave faster than any hike in tier. Think of sl in the same terms as applications like Blender, Maya, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Melodyne… certainly anyone can use them, but the only way that you’ll ever produce anything that even remotely resembles a half-decent mesh, image, website or soundtrack is to knuckle-down and do things the old-fashioned, time-consuming, labour intensive way… there are no shortcuts for getting from zero to hero: it takes hard work, tenacity, studied application and a personal investment – but the end result can be brilliant!
SL is old school – it is a platform that provides us with the potential to produce outstanding results, but to do so, we have to learn its nuances and foibles, we have to be prepared to get our hands dirty and fiddle around under the bonnet, and – above all – we have to realise that in order to get to grips with the viewer, the physics and the virtual world itself, we’re going to have to move along that learning curve, and it can be a slow process.
That’s why people don’t hang around so much after joining up, and that’s why even seasoned pro’s are starting to head off to new pastures. We want everything handed to us on a plate. Personally, that’s not the sl i want – i prefer to be challenged and i want to continue learning – sl is the perfect vehicle for me, and long may it continue as it is.
Yes, i know this has been too long, but i hope you read it all!
I wonder what you’re dreaming
While we’re halfway cross this bridge
We’ve come too far to turn back
We’re just too close to quit
Gin Blossoms – Learning The Hard Way