On a complete impulse buy, earlier today I picked up the install DVD for City of Heroes at Big Lots. At least one person on Twitter thought it was odd that I would be involved in such a thing when I’ve gone on record as being underwhelmed by things like Second Life. My problems with Second Life are that the interface sucks and has a serious learning curve, that it is hard to figure out what to do and that the aimlessness of it is a barrier to entry. The conversation goes like this:
Me: “What can I do with this that is interesting?”
Second Life Dude: “Oh, it’s wonderful. You can do anything!”
As I said earlier, if I’m going to fart around with any MMO, I want to be able to punch bad guys through walls. My hope is that this has enough structure than unlike Second LIfe I’m not stuck wandering around boring things wondering what to do. If anyone reading this wants to join up and do whatever one does with other people, let me know. I have yet to start up the game because I first installed the program it had 1.8 gigabytes of updates to download. I assume that the MMO part means that I can hook up with friends to go on missions or what have you. Come join up with me and we’ll fight bad guys together! I don’t know how to do that yet, so it’s all learning curve.
Update: I’ve tried this under VMWare and Parallels and neither one runs it. This might be an epic, or it might be an EPIC FAIL!
FInal Update: Neither VM solution nor running under Boot Camp allows me to play City of Heroes, so this is done. Sorry guys, it sounded like fun but I am saved from myself by my MacBook.
Eric Rice has a post about things afoot in Second Life that have user/customers upset. Raising the prices is a serious one of those, but not the only one. In the post, he posits that user dissatisfaction coupled with the techno-alpha-geek makeup of people who have been early adopters might push the creation of an open source alternative sooner rather than later. A big chunk of my criticism and disinterest in the joint is mitigated if one can easily set up their own server and/or move their work out of own server and into another.
Eric talks a lot about people doing real work and making money in SL, but I’m not spending lots of my time building anything in a system where it is locked up, I can’t take it out and am at their mercy on rate hikes and such. To me, portability of what you build is the big stopper. I don’t want to spent 1000 hours making a scale copy of the Sears Tower or whatever only to have Linden shut it down one day without warning. When you are heavily invested in something like this fundamentally outside of your control, you are always at risk for that eventuality.
A few more opinions on Second Life. After my first post, PJ had some comments on it. In a similar vein, Eric Rice weighs in prompted by Chris Pirillo’s post. Chris’ experience is about the same as mine.
The countervailing opinion of the boosters seems to be that those of us who are bored and perplexed by SL have the wrong attitude. They say we should be looking at it as a freeform tool for creation and interaction, rather than as a game that will entertain us. PJ says I should be looking at it as a 3D modeling tool; Eric says it is true participatory media. All I know is that I was looking for something intuitive and I found something that presented me with a learning curve that I didn’t particularly want. Eric says ‘[…] it’s this wide open “The Earth: What do you do on it?” thing that is way different that something with a specific purpose’. Well, you can put me in any American city and I guarantee I can make something interesting happen faster than I’ve been able to in Second Life – which as yet I never have. I already know how to work the world and don’t need to read the manual. The world has a less shitty interface.
The basic thrust of the SL as a substrate for creativity argument doesn’t much sway me. In fact, every time I’ve shut it off in disgust, I’ve turned around and put some work in something more immediately tangible to me – AmigoFish or a podcast or something. I’m not wild about using my money to buy assets or my time to build value in such a non-portable way. When someone else can flip a switch one day and turn off my work, I don’t like that situation. Lest you protest the unlikeliness of that, I lost a lot of my writing when GEnie shut down, and it’s about to happen again with Dueling Modems. It’s not a question of if but when with this sort of thing. I’d rather have more control over my output than this.
Note that as in all such things, I’m not trying to talk anyone out of liking it. I’m saying that based on my experiences so far, this thing ain’t for me. In fact, I deleted the client off the laptop after the last unsatisfactory experience. Wake me up in a few years and maybe I’ll try it again.
Here’s Ken Kennedy’s EGC shirt in Second Life. Moreover, you can purchase one of these things in game. I don’t have this particular addiction to this particular game, but I hear that many do. If you feel like styling around this virtual world in some fine EGC gear, please do. This is authorized, and I do get a cut of the take so there you go.
I thought I had been involved in some dorky enterprises in my life, but this is either a new high or a new low. I haven’t quite figured out which yet.