First Ever Questions

This started as a “joke” between Mentors (volunteers in Second Life that are willing to spend some time with new users and answer their questions…), but soon it became a FAQ of its own. Yes, most of these are indeed “first ever questions” that almost everybody starts to ask as soon as they rez on Help Island 🙂

Note: the weird icons below are actually links to locations inside Second Life, I just copied & pasted this text from a notecard I usually give to new users in-world. I might get these links to work from here as well… one of these days… perhaps 🙂

Welcome to Second Life! While most certainly you’ll have lots and lots of questions, it’s usual for you to have, to a degree, a wish to get some answers on the following ones, which are, by far, the more common ones:

1) How do I make money?

This is not easily answered and I usually run a whole class just about that. But basically put, in Second Life, since it’s not a “game” but a virtual world platform, there is no “farming” or “experience levels” to get you along with “skills” to find jobs or such.

Instead, the skills you have, are — you real ones! So, if you’re a 3D modeller, you’ll probably enjoy becoming a builder, and selling houses and furniture for a profit. If you’re a graphical designer, you’ll highly likely be doing clothes or skins or textures soon. If you’re a programmer, you’ll be glad to know that all objects here, to interact with us (the avatars), need to be programmed, and your skills will be well employed. What about social skills? You’ll be able to employ them to host events, parties, organise meetings and weddings. And if you’re good at doing business? Well, probably land transactions or mall ownership is a good career.

But simply put — it’s up to you to find whatever you like, and a way you can employ your real life skills to successfully be an agent of Second Life’s economy!

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Money is shown on the top left corner, in green. The money unit is the Linden dollar, L$. L$ 300 is about 1 US$ — and yes, you can exchange L$ by US$ and vice-versa. Some people make a living out of Second Life. The richest person in Second Life earns around US$60,000-80,000 *per year* and works full-time in-world.

2) No, I meant — how do I make money *fast*? I can’t wait until I have understood everything about Second Life!

Well, your best choices will be to go to events and contests or play games where you can win money (Tringo is a popular choice).

There are also things called “money trees”, “camping chairs”, or “money balls” (at clubs) which will give you some money for free a while. Look for them on Search > Events.

3) Are you NPCs or advanced AIs?

No, we’re all human. Really. Trust me. There are no NPCs in Second Life, although some people have created a few AIs for fun.

4) Why are there so many girls in Second Life??

While Second Life certainly has a larger female population (50%) than most virtual worlds — usually, in the 35-55 age range (average being 33), which is quite uncommon on other platforms — and on average they log in to Second Life more than males, don’t confuse “gender” with “looks”! That said and done, you have been warned 🙂

5) Hey, can we have *sex* here?

Sure you can — cybersex is quite common around here. Remember, if you’re reading this notecard, you’re an adult, and everything is allowed here between consenting adults. You should stick to Mature areas, though (every area shows if it’s Mature or PG). Be warned, while cybersex is mostly done through chatting, most people also use all sorts of visual props — many of those who “animate” your avatar, and the triggers for those animations are inside “pose balls”, usually found on furniture. Blue is for male avatars, pink for female avatars, but some creators tend to use other colours as well 🙂

Also, respect people’s lifestyles. You’ll see all sorts of sexual behaviour here — don’t be too harsh in judging others. Remember, anything is fair between *consenting adults*, and we’re quite a lively bunch in SL 🙂

6) How many items are there? Why do I have to pay for them?

The last estimate is around 300 million unique items or so. There are no real statistics. Remember, *all* content is created by the *users*, not Linden Lab (the platform creators). Creating content takes hours of patient work, and quality items are done by very skilled artists/builders/programmers. They expect a return on their investment in time, and that’s why they charge you for their high-quality work.

However, there are literally dozens of thousands of free items, you can get them at some places like these:

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7) I made a mistake with my name when logging in on the first time. Can I change it?

No, sadly, it’s impossible. Your name won’t change *ever* — this is to prevent griefing. If you really, really dislike you name, your best option is to cancel your account and start from scratch with a new one.

8) Why do I have a box on my head?

This happens to all of us! Some items that have others inside (like freebie boxes, or packages containing clothes, vehicles, etc.) should be dropped on the ground instead of “attached” to you.

Right-click on the attached box and select “Drop”. That will do the trick. Next time, just open Inventory, locate the box you wish to open, and drag & drop it on the ground. That’s all!

To look at the items inside the box, right-click on it (when it’s on the ground) and select “Open”. To get the items, you just need to drag them from the box into your Inventory.

9) Why can’t I stand up from this sofa?

Well, you *should* always be able to stand up using the “Stand Up” button which is at the middle bottom part of the screen (just over the chat box). If by some reason this doesn’t work, try to relog again (should be very very rare).

10) Why can’t I rotate the camera up and down when sitting down?

This is sadly a bug (I think). The camera does not rotate fully when sitting down, only in the XY plane, but not the Z one. You can either stand up, or use other keystrokes to move the camera when sitting down.

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11) Where is my avatar in Inventory?

While this may sound strange to you, it’s located either under Body Parts or under Clothing, usually under a folder called “Male/Female Shape & Clothing”, although you might have changed its name. Weirdly enough, avatars are just nice textures on top of a polygon mesh, and changing the avatar’s looks is just a question of dragging things like shape, skin, eyes and hair on top of yourself!

BTW, you can have as many different avatars (male, female or otherwise) as you wish, there is no limit.

12) Help! This isn’t me! This is some ugly avatar with some short brown hair! (And it’s FEMALE, yuck!)

Don’t worry! You’re probably on a bad connection, or eventually on a very very slow sim. All avatars (yes, even male ones) derive from a “common” polygon mesh, and the “standard” avatar, which for some reason is called “Ruth” (legends tell that Ruth was one of the first residents in Second Life, long even before Alpha…), is an ugly skinny female with short brown hair. Just wait a bit and you should return to “normal” as soon as your SL client loads the proper settings.

If this is taking a *long* time, I’d advise you to relog. Sometimes, changing avatars when the update is taking too long is worse! (you might be able to fool the system and get all your avatars mixed up)

12) Why have I pay to own land?

You can picture Second Life’s creators, Linden Lab, as “3D content hosting providers”. Their business is running a “grid” of around 1500 computers (providing 5000 sims of 256×256 m in size). Think of those as 3D web servers. “Land” is just an abstract representation of disk space, CPU consumption, and bandwidth. The more resources you require, the bigger your “land”. That’s the same concept as hosting web pages, and paying for more MBytes of disk space, or more GBytes of bandwidth traffic, etc. The more resources you use, the more you pay for it.

Remember, this is Linden Lab’s way of making money, since a basic account is for free and you don’t pay anything for the SL viewer client (the application you installed) or to connect to Second Life. If you don’t wish to pay anything to Linden Lab *ever*, you can rent land from other residents — they’ll charge you an amount of L$ every week to allow you to set up shops and your home on their land.

You don’t have to own land to enjoy Second Life, although Linden Lab hopes to encourage you to become a Premium user and buy some land, so that they may pay their developers to program better features, give us faster servers to run the grid, and so on 🙂

13) What are those words above your name?

These are a “group title”. Groups are a way to get people with similar interests together and form communities. Some groups even hold land jointly. You can see which groups are available by searching under Search > Groups.

All group members have titles, which show over your name. There are two types of members: regular members and “officers”, who have access to more tools (for instance, they can change the titles, or buy/sell land for the group, eject regular group members, etc).

14) Why do you look so much better than me? Why do I look like I have rubber skin and cotton hair?

The default avatars have very low-resolution “standard” skins, and the regular Linden hair is really not good enough. The very creative resident artists have launched special, high-resolution skins to offset the “standard” ones, and you can build very complex hair using primitive objects (basically by twisting around cylinders and parts of spheres or rings and torii so that they “look” like better hairstyles).

Also, clothes by better designers are usually found outside the “freebie” spots.

All these are often expensive (since they require much work to do) and sold on many shops around the grid. Just go to Search > Places and search for “clothes”, “skin” or “hair” to see what is available.

15) Where do I find a party? How do I go to classes?

The social life of Second Life is available by looking at Search > Events, where all public events are commonly listed. You can also take a look at the SL Forums (http://forums.secondlife.com) where often special events are announced.

Look at the time they’re being announcedand remember, SL time is Pacific Standard Time.

About Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...