Evaluating Blue Mars — an open letter to Avatar Reality’s representatives

Blue Mars might be seen as an alternative for them. However, two major issues seem to be obstacles for that to happen. First, there is no collaborative, real-time content creation. While technically anyone can become a small-scale developer (for clothes and some items) by signing a different agreement with Avatar Reality that will get them access to some content creating “tools” (which should actually be seen more as “converters”: actual content creation is developed using professional tools like Maya, 3DS, Blender, or, well, SketchUp. Avatar Reality’s tools are just a way to bring models created by those 3D modelling tools into Blue Mars), right now, you can’t really place that content on the open beta, but just on a sandbox. Or… perhaps not. I don’t know. If you think that LL’s documentation is lacking, wait until you see what the lack of documentation in Blue Mars is 🙂

Content will also be censored (although Avatar Reality’s reps cringe when they hear that word). They wish Blue Mars to be Disneyland: no mature content (apparently, you can’t even detach your underwear, just like on Linden Lab’s Teen Grid or in World of Warcraft; however, in theory at least, you can have very kinky underwear!). Well, depending on what you wish to do in a virtual world, this might be a bane or a blessing 🙂 Nevertheless, I understand Avatar Reality: they have a rather well-written ToS, they have seen the problems that Linden Lab faces every day, and they wish to keep away from them. In my (dirty!) mind, however, I believe that risking mature content — thus appealing to a far wider range of users; some claimed that Second Life’s virtual economy success is mostly due to adult content, and I’m not going to contest that 🙂 — is a more interesting approach. In any case, the notion that content will be filtered at some stage is going to worry a lot of people.

Oh, and of course, if you wish to have access to the development tools (which are free), you’ll have to give Avatar Reality your real name, address, and phone number. Again, this is a mixed blessing. It means that any conflicts will be quickly settled, since there will be information about your real self stored somewhere; but it also means that people like Scope Cleaver, arguably Second Life’s best architect, will never go for it.

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