November 27, 2012

The newbie experience in Second Life sucks!

I haven't made a new avatar in like forever but my recent post about retention and tier sparked a few comments that made me want to test the "new user" experience. Honestly Linden Lab, it's horrible. It's big time awful. As in really bad. Sucky.

You start by picking an avatar. I chose one that looked sort of like a biker chick. Then you download and install the viewer. That didn't go too well. First try gave me a download error. Had to retry 2x to get the damn thing to finally install. (Yes I had cleaned off remnants of previous SL viewers including doing a registry purge.)

OK finally a successful install. First thing that happens? I can't log in. It didn't accept my password (very carefully typed) or user name or something. Tried again. No luck. Waited a few minutes, tried again and success!! I guess the login to the world wasn't exactly synced to the website account creation.

Now what? I get dumped into the middle of a big circle with glowing things all around me (Destination Island 8 to be specific). Huh? No explanation as to what to do next. No tutorial. No nothing. I remember the old login where you had to accomplish a few simple things like find a sword, attach it, walk here, fly there, interact with x and y and z. There's absolutely NONE of that!

Oh and did I mention? I showed up as Girl Next Door, not biker chick. Not good.

How to

So what do I see after looking carefully at my viewer window? A little button called "How To". Ohhhhhkkkkayyyyy. I'll try that. The walk explanation is fine. Chat I think I can get that.  Private chat (IM) slightly murky but still ok. Change your Profile? WTF? Doesn't even tell you what a profile is! Change your view. Click and drag on the world? Huh? "For more control, click on the View button at the bottom of the screen." WHUT? There is NO "View" button at the bottom of the screen. There's a Camera Controls and a Walk/run/fly but there's no "View" button. Oy.

Next up is "Find places to go". This is all before I even know why I would want to go anywhere. And STILL nothing to tell me what those swirly gateway looking things are that surround my little circular Romanesque Stonehenge starting point.

I won't go through all the rest of the silly tips they give you under How to other than to say they are woefully inadequate and afterthoughts rather than actual things that might help you figure out what you can do in Second Life.

Where to go

Another case of WTF. Again, what do those portals do? (Yes, they take you places even more obtuse and totally incomprehensible for a newbie.)  And clicking Destinations brings up a whole bunch of random stuff that typical newbies would have no idea about what they can or can't do for you. Let's see, "Newcomer Friendly". What does that mean about the rest of SL? Anyway clicking it leads to some really bad, generic descriptions about this or that destination being a fun (safe) place to learn and hangout.

With all this nonsense, it's a wonder anyone stays past their first 30 minutes. Oh and even though there were about 5 others standing around, no one tried to start a chat with me and no one responded to me trying to start a chat with them (public). IM was no better.

For giggles, I decided to click on the "Art" portal looking thing. Woosh. Now I'm in a big huge dome with LEA on the floor, a few signs around the glass dome and absolutely NO clue what to do and no clue how to get back where I was.

So let's see maybe I can try Teleporting Home. Wouldn't that take me back to where I started? Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! Now I'm at Pooley Stage. For grins, I thought I'd ask in chat how to get back to where I started. No answer from any of the 5 avatars standing around Pooley Stage. (And yes, I know you can click the back button next to the browser address type window but how many newbies will realize that?)

Epic failure

I really feel sorry for anyone involved in the new user experience. I feel totally sorry for the newbie who will be clueless about what to do, how to do it or where to go. I feel sorry for the support groups like NCI, Caledon Oxbridge, White Tiger, The Shelter, etc. who will only be getting people because they happened to randomly click on a destination (not by design or intent). And most of all, I feel sorry for the rest of us in Second Life who understand that without more support for first time users, our world will continue on it's slow death spiral. (By the way, those links are all SLURLs that will take you to each of their main locations in Second Life.)

All this experience did was make me sad.


Well I don't know why SL decided to dump my newly made avatar into Destination Island but I finally found the Welcome Island Tutorial by trying to get back to Destination Island via the Back button. I got the cryptic message "To repeat the tutorial, go to Welcome Island Public". Now that's useful. Not.  But being an experienced SL'er, I did find it via search (even though there are lots of them.)

And arrrrgggggghhhh! The tutorial is not even a tutorial. It's like walk, sit, fly, chat, now where do you want to go? Nothing about attachments. Changing looks. Driving a vehicle. Wearing a different top. Searching. It's so utterly lame compared to the old find the sword tutorial as to be insulting.


  1. You are right on most here but then,,, Some people come in after being wickedly lured by friends, so they do get a little help.

    Another area that LL (Linden Labs) has fallen down is the Help Groups and Mentors that used to exist but LL disbanded them.

    In the end, if those who do enjoy Second Life want it to stay a pleasant experience, we need to do our best to help the newcomers (hate the term newbie) when ever we see them.

    Brett Kjeller

  2. Movement and knowing what the gates are - this is common knowledge among modern 'gamers / computer users' so not really a concern.
    - Seeing the gateways, a modern computer user, likely having good amounts of experience in various 3D games, would recognize it on site.

    Chat and IMs - well if they called it 'whispers' instead of IMs, more people would get it. But even as IM, its self intuitive now.

    Profiles are as well. That you have one here is not. But once they mention it, just saying 'profile', a computer literate person would know what that is.

    LLs cannot be expected to take people from 2002 and teach them the last decade. Its 2012, so they rightly should skip some of that to get to the good stuff quicker.
    - And that is where I would agree they don't do an ideal job.

    1. Well to me Second Life is anything but an attraction for modern gamers. I know several gamer friends who see it as a 3D Facebook. BTW, I never said that movement was a big issue -- the How To button is pretty straightforward on that. But I can tell you from personal experience OVER AND OVER that newbies, even computer literate ones DO NOT GET the difference between chat and IM. How many times have YOU IM'd someone new only to see them never respond? It's because they don't know to look in a totally different window for that. As to Profiles, I was pointing out that the How To explanation of what they are and why they are is completely weak. The fact that we all have profiles in other places like Pinterest and FB only partially helps. If "avatars of the recent persuasion" (aka newbies) knew how much other SL'ers depend on profiles to decide whether to chat or not, they'd fill them out in a hurry. Just sayin'.

  3. Just a minor quibble. "Caledon" is not a new resident help group; it is a Steampunk Victorian estate consisting of around 40 sims owned by Desmond Shang. On the other hand, Caledon Oxbridge is a new resident help facility.

    Caledon Oxbridge operates on a sim leased from the Caledon Estate, but is operated by the Friends of Caledon Oxbridge group; not the Caledon Estate. In other words, Desmond Shang is not in charge, he can't help you, and please don't IM him to complain.

    I really do appreciate the mention, though!

    The distinction between Caledon Oxbridge and the Caledon Estate has been less than clear at times in the past, and I just wanted to mention this.

    1. Thanks Carl. I updated the article and put in an SLURL link to Caledon Oxbridge.

  4. I disagree with catnapkitty. Movement, understanding teleports, etc are not necessarily going to be things that are immediately understood by new users in Second Life. Second Life tends to attract a different demographic than most online games. Second Life's users tend to skew older and more female than is typical. For many of these new residents, SL will be their first experience with a non Facebook, browser-based online game. Any SL orientation does need to cover the very basics. Experienced users can skip that part, if they don't think they need it.

    In my experience, the three most common new user questions are:

    1) How do I make money?
    2) How do I sit?
    3) How do I have sex?

    I make sure that new users leave any orientation I design knowing the answer to at least questions 1 and 2.

  5. You forgot "how do I change my appearance", Carl! So often, the very first thing a new avatar does is take the familiar Appearance Mode "starfish" pose.

    The basic problem with the current New User Experience, and all previous attempts at an "automated" user guide...path-based tutorials, Basic Mode, "How To" sections of the that they are trying to solve a social problem with a technological fix. NEW USERS NEED LIVE HELPERS. Period. Of course, not EVERY new user needs a mentor...but many do, and almost everyone has some questions at some point. There needs to be a structured, self paced tutorial, AND there must be live helpers present. Caledon Oxbridge should have been the model for the New User Experience...but LL never listens to the people who actually made the world of Second Life and live there, do they?

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  7. The problem with Caledon and NCI (like any newbie place), is that you have KNOW they exist and KNOW how to get there. It's almost like, if you know that much, then you may not need them.

  8. There is a proven inverse correlation between intelligence and the desire to be in management--as if anybody but management needed to see a statistical proof--that easily explains the descent of a corporate entity such as Second Life. You start with motivated, creative people, then you go public...

    ...and suddenly you are ruled by a herd of mindle$$, Green-eyed, u$ele$$ eater$ who think the only things that count are things you can actually count.

    For the above-mentioned eater$, I will explain that the only things that really count, cannot be counted. Excessive amounts of money are for people who can't imagine what love is. Psychopaths and politicians, for example. Wait, that's an overlapping set...I'll shut up now lmao

  9. I would NOT even install such time wasting nonsense like this virtual world 2nd life thing nor partake in any type of social media BS. I like or need REAL experiences in life not all of this virtual crap. Imo even playing video games, software programming or any real actual use of a computer would be more productive but NOT just vegging out it some glorified chat room etc bs'ing to other like minded strangers with no life.

    On huge problem with these virtual social media apps is so many people are just glued to their PC's, TV's or mobile devices and are just wasting their lives away with 2nd life, Youtube, Facebook or anything similar. Pretty sad to be addicted to the internet it really is..


All thoughts are welcome.