Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Experiment

I thought I'd take a series of posts to discuss things involving the expedition, my dear Rusty Buchanan, and Second Life in general. Treat it as the first behind the scenes episode on the imaginary director's cut DVD that gives you a look back through the monitor window. The images seen in ths series of posts are random shots from my SL wanderings with no real context attached to them. Gives me a chance to show off some screenshots that were gathering virtual dust.

I first encountered Second Life back in 2004 and was amazed. Unfortunately, I got distracted by other virtual amusement parks like Asheron's Call, WOW, and City of Heroes. I drifted away from SL. Late last year, a dear friend of mine on the west coast discovered SL and invited me back as a way to stay in contact. We had been using Yahoo messenger up to that point and that was, indeed, an intense change.

From that point forward, I wanted to treat Mr. Buchanan and that account carefully. Given my financial situation, I thought it would be fine to run without a credit card number and an unconfirmed account. It was not that I did not WANT to spend the subscription fee every month, it was that I simply did not have it. In fact, I had to give up both WOW and COH for the same financial reason.

I also saw the opportunity to try an experiment. Would it be possible to take an unconfirmed account and get enough going either through a SL business, contacts, or something similiar to justify spending the monthly fee? Would it be possible for a newb to get that far and what sort of prejudices might I have to deal with along the way? The goal was to eventually acquire a subscription account and own my own land.

A brief moment of explanation for those unsure what I am talking about. SL veterans reading this feel free to jump a few paragraphs forward. *grin* First off, its true, Second Life is free to play. Its one of its largest draws. However, once you decide to actually pay the monthly fee, your account become confirmed with a credit card number and several options open up to you. One, you begin to receive a weekly allowance from within the game of Linden dollars. Two, you are given the option to own land. Three, you are allowed into areas that some folks may have cordoned off from folks without a solid account. That's it, really. Otherwise, you are not penalized in any other way to run with a free account.

Of course, that's how it appears at first.

The other angle that is not readily apparent is that the griefer situation on Second Life has become a large problem since I was around in 04/05. What's a griefer? A griefer is someone that comes into world with a free account and then proceeds to be a pain-in-the-ass by purposefully doing things that ruin the experience for other folks. It could be as simple as leaving a bunch of complex items about your storefront to induce lag or as complex as an actual attack on the grid itself which causes the whole system to be shut down. Since they are using a free account, there is little that can be done to track the troublemaker. They're not anonymous, of course, due to IP addresses and such things, but its pretty darn close.

Also, to put it simply, someone with an unconfirmed account is not taken seriously. I understand this view perhaps the best because why should they be taken seriously? Someone with an unconfirmed account is effectively anonymous and not interested in paying their fair share, their dues that other account holders have been paying for months or years. Like I said, I understand this one.

Regardless, I decided to see what I could do by patiently climbing against the obstacles. I've treated it a bit like a personal quest to see how far a SL account could get after starting with no money and the simple basics. For now, as I look back over the past four months, it's not been without its low points but things seem to be working just fine.

Next Episode -- You Want To Start a What?


ursa said...

Utterly unrelated to anything, check this out:

Yeah, totally awesome. (;

Captain Yote said...

Agreed and seconded! Thats a pretty sweet little find. Thank for sharing! And the photography!!! WOOT!!

Ursa said...

Yeah. I think i'm gonna start trying to do portraiture a la old Western portraits. Surly and i have already been trying to figure out the lighting and such.