Friday, June 25, 2010

Reevaluating Viewer 2.0

I have a suspicion that many existing SecondLife users hate the new 2.0 viewer because it's new and not because it sucks.

Although viewer 2.0 has several cool new features, they're not cool enough to be worth re-learning where everything is.  That's the biggest problem. 

Except for a few features, most of the controls are in a different place than they were before.  There are an elaborate set of controls to make SecondLife work and moving them around can make an existing user feel like a noob having to travel along SecondLife's learning curve all over again, so they simply didn't bother.

Had the viewer offered more really cool new features, or even fixed some unpopular old problems, users might have thought it worth the effort to switch, but without that they just found ways to stick with what they had.

As I understand it, the whole point of making viewer 2.0 was to make it easier for new users to get up to speed on SecondLife.  I don't really see how it does that.  SecondLife is just as complex on the new viewer, even though it might be slightly easier to find controls if you don't know where they are.

Phillip Linden said several times in his speech this week how he wanted to tear down the barrier walls to SecondLife so more new people can get in.  I wonder if that's the wrong approach...

SecondLife is complex.  That's just a fact, neither positive nor negative.  You could make it easier for new users to understand SecondLife simply by making it much less complex, but that would also make it far less potent because, in a user created world, the more tools you give people to make and use the world, the better.

Instead of fighting the complexity involved in using SecondLife, why not embrace it?  The message should be that SecondLife is complex, but it's worth the time it takes learning how to use it. 

Certainly the developers should work to simplify every control they possibly can, but the more controls we have available to us, the richer and more interesting the SecondLife experience becomes.

SecondLife isn't cinema where you sit in a comfortable chair and eat popcorn while it all happens in front of you.  Here you have to engage the art form and move about in it for it to be interesting, and that's what makes it so compelling.

Viewer 2.0, by itself, is a pretty good piece of software.  Over time, existing users will gradually adopt it or it's successors, but, at the moment, it's not yet worth it for most of them to have to re-learn the entire SecondLife control set.

1 comment:

  1. Yes it's new...and it sucks.
    Search is terribly broken.
    The layout precludes immersion.
    The chat text system is broken.
    Things that used to take one click now take two or three.
    It was designed by people that apparently had never used Secondlife.
    It's great for HMTL on a prim and voice...ain't worth a damn to build with.
    Just sayin...

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