Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why Mainland?

A lot of people look at what I'm doing with Parktown and ask, "why mainland? Shouldn't this development be a private region?"

There are several good reasons why I'm developing Parktown on the Secondlife mainland rather than on a collection of private regions.

If you look at the above map of the Secondlife grid, you'll see the main continents surrounded by hundreds of tiny dots. The dots represent the myriad private regions that inhabit Secondlife. One of the big things that struck me when I returned to Secondlife last year, was that going from the original grid map to what we have now, it's obvious that in Secondlife we've repeated the first life issue of Urban decay.

People in Secondlife abandoned the mass common ground of mainland and moved to private regions for many of the same reasons people in first life abandoned the cities and moved to the suburbs, creating many of the same problems. Like many of our first life cities, the Secondlife mainland looked abandoned. There central structure was neglected and decayed and once vibrant lots were now empty or full of junk.

Many people, with an eye for Secondlife development, would have gone with the flow and started their community on private regions like everybody else. I'm a bit more stubborn than that though and decided to make Parktown a place that takes advantage of the many beneficial aspects of communal urban life instead of making yet another isolationist suburban development.

This sort of rediscovery of the urban landscape is happening all over the world in first life, and successfully so. I decided to try and do the same thing in Secondlife. Parktown is, and will remain, a mainland development.

With the exception of certain limitations on terraforming, there's nothing you can do in a private region that can't be done on mainland. Using the many land management and group tools, I can keep my residents as safe from griefers in Parktown as any private region.

One of the great benefits of mainland urban areas is proximity. Sure, we occasionally have to put up with an unattractive build from an uncooperative neighbor, but that's life. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, we have to learn to live together or we're going to die alone. Proximity to the things other people made is one of the great benefits of your Secondlife experience. We should embrace the difference of our neighbors and enjoy their creative instincts, instead of shunning it.

For their part, the lindens have been very cooperative in this effort to redevelop the mainland. They're building roads and railroads and have always been very cooperative with me about clearing abandoned land and setting it for sale again.

If you look at the map above, the mainland continents make sense and relate to our first life experience much better than all the random dots you see surrounding them. Mainland looks more real because it is more real.

The only thing I wish the lindens would change with regards to the mainland is I'd like to see them give whoever has the most land in a region the ability to restart the region just like you can with a private region. That way, mainland owners could maintain their regions on their own rather than having to wait for the lindens to restart them. It would also lighten the workload on the lindens as they won't have to restart the regions if the residents are already doing it.

It'd also be nice if people who owned entire mainland regions could set the water level in the region so they could make rivers and streams. Of course that would be unnecessary if the lindens would allow us a water texture for prims just as they have a texture for media. I mean the real water texture too, not the pre-wind-light textures currently in our library, but the one you see in linden water areas.

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