A decade ago, information about Second Life® was scarce. Newbies would drop into a Brave New World and get completely confused. There were in-world volunteers — and the Linden Liaisons — to help you out, but often it was hard to assemble a lot of information to get you going. There were already the LL forums, of course, but newcomers might not know where to find them.
The year was, oh, perhaps 2009 or so. In the middle of all the excitement about virtual worlds in general and Second Life® in particular, professional 3D designers were raising eyebrows at a new opportunity to sell their content.
A virtual world with a million regular users who were engaged in consuming digital content, specifically, 3D models? And doing so regularly? Half a billion US$ of yearly transactions? Strong DRM in place (what we residents call “the permission system”)? All that just to prettify avatars and put them on poses on top of some virtual furniture? Well, it seemed too good to be true. And there was, indeed, a catch: you had to use Linden Lab’s own application to create content — which was designed having amateur content creators in mind, not professionals.
Professionals, well, used meshes — and had done so for over a decade. They populate marketplace sites like Renderosity, DAZ3D, BlendSwap, and who knows what else; doing business selling COLLADA files (or at least Wavefront OBJs… or Blender files… or whatever was popular at the time as a file format). They used Maya, 3DS Max, Blender — professional content creation tools. They had graphic pipelines fine-tuned for their own work — design once, deploy everywhere. Well, everywhere except Second Life, because SL had no way to use their creations: you had to do everything from scratch.
A few naturally went that way, and prospered. But the rest of the professional 3D content creation world stayed away. And, ironically, as the media started to lose interest in SL, Linden Lab spread rumours that mesh import would be available as an option in the near future.
Recently I was “forced” (in the good sense of the word!) to get back to work on Beta Technologies’ own OpenSimulator mini-grid. It usually remains pretty much empty (and open to attacks from, uh, “visitors”) most of the time, ready to be used when something comes up — like a customer, some work for my PhD, or even some friends needing a temporary setup with a few islands to experiment things, and having no patience or time to set up their own environment. It’s not a “public” OpenSim grid by any means; on the other hand, it’s also not a “public sandbox” but mostly a “storage” of old projects and ongoing ones.
And the server lacks the ability to run everything smoothly. It’s actually an old PC who was used for a while until it became too obsolete for running the Second Life® Viewer. Now it gets an extended life as a Linux server running an OpenSim grid with 22 or so regions, behind an ADSL connection with poor bandwidth. Not exactly the best of circumstances — but it tends to work.
So, bear with me as I describe a very technical and boring way to deal with all this 🙂 Maybe — just maybe — this might be useful for someone else who is running their own OpenSim grid.
Since many of you search this blog for beginner’s guides and similar information, I’m leaving here a few links that hopefully will help you on your first steps in Second Life®.
Well… almost! Ariane Brodie has a long list of all the kinds of tips that you would love to have had when you joined the Second Life® virtual world for the first time — from avatar settings, to free skins, to dozens of scripting tips for most things, and to get rid of that newbie look in no time — all in a short one-webpage-tutorial!
Thanks to Ana Lutetia for the tip!
I’ve just been pointed to this nice sharing tool, a way to share PowerPoint, PDF, or OpenOffice presentations via the web. I’ve just shared most of my presentations vaguely related to the Second Life® environment and platform, and, who knows, some might be useful to you.
Well, here it is. After two days of getting the open source code from Linden Lab to compile under XCode, I’ve managed to raise up to Zen Linden’s challenge and compiled the WindLight First Look Viewer for my Mac.
Zen Linden hinted that the next version of the WindLight FL will be under development (based on the input from a tremendous number of users who tested it) “for a few weeks”. For those of you that can’t wait until Christmas or 2010 for a new version, I’ve compiled my own from the sources.
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 🙂
Franimation Overrider v1.7
Copyright (C) 2004 Francis Chung
Documentation by Gwyneth Llewyn and Kex Godel
Wet Ikon Distribution
Welcome to the wonderful world of animation overriding!
We hope that you enjoy this open source product.
Please note that although this object allows you full technical permissions, you must still abide by the licensing terms specified below.
You are welcome to distribute the Franimation Override script with your products in Second Life, compliant with the Gnu Public License. I would ask that you contact Francis Chung to add yourself to the volounteer support group.
This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.
The Wet Ikon (amped) model copyright CCA-NoDerivs License.
The following people have generously offered their time to help with animation overrider questions:
QUICK START GUIDE
So you’re itching to try it out and don’t want to read the whole manual? Good for you!
To get the Franimation Overrider working, there are just a few simple steps. If you need more help, details are provided in the Documentation/FAQ section below.
1. Rez the Franimation Overrider on the ground.
2. Drag your custom animations for walking, standing, sitting, etc. and drop them inside the “Contents” folder of the Franimation Overrider.
3. Open the “*Default Anims” notecard located in the Franimation Overrider and type the EXACT name of each custom animation below every “posture state” line. DO NOT add any lines or remove any lines to any part of the notecard. Just fill in the blank lines. Also note that spaces, punctuation, hyphens, etc. ARE relevant here!
Example: If you have a custom animation for walking called “Sexy-Walk #1” you have to type exactly that on the line under the “-=Walking=-” posture state keyword. Your notecard should look like the following:
4. Attach the Franimation Overrider to yourself.
5. That’s it! Enjoy your “new moves” 🙂
Enable the Franimation Overrider
Disable the Franimation Overrider. This will make you revert back to using the default animations.
Make the Franimation Overrider attachment invisible (if you don’t like it to appear with your current outfit)
If invisible, make the Franimation Overrider visible again.
Reset the Franimation Overrider script. This can be useful if the script is acting strangely, or if you just want it to reset and re-read the default notecard.
Immediately switches you to the next standing animation in the list, or the first one if you’re at the end of the list.
/ao col [colour]
Changes the colour of the model. [colour] can be a name (such as red, tan, or mauve) or a colour vector. ( for blue)
This tells the Franimation Overrider to load a different notecard, in case you want to use multiple animation sets and quickly switch between them. You must specify the exact notecard name in place of “” above.
Play an animation. (eg. /anim hold_r_handgun)
Stop playing an animation. Play an animation. (eg. /noanim hold_r_handgun)
Stop playing all animations.
For example, if you want to play a different set of animations when you’re tired, you can create a second copy of the Default Animations notecard, name it “sleepyanims” and then switch to it by typing: /animset sleepyanims
DOCUMENTATION / FAQ
Q> What is “animation overriding”?
A> This is a way to replace the default body movements that SL does on your avatar with custom animations.
Your avatar has different “postures”, which technically are a “state” you’re in, for example, “Standing”, “Flying”, “Walking”, and “Sitting on Ground” are a few of the many posture states your AV can be in.
An animation overrider makes it possible for you to play a custom animation whenever you are in a specific posture. This means you can choose to replace the way you look when you are standing, flying, sitting, etc.
This means that you can make your avatar move, stand, and sit in a unique way.
Q> Where are the custom animations?
A> The Franimation Overrider does not come with any custom animations, you will have to add your own.
Q> Where do I get custom animations?
A> You can get custom animations in stores, or from friends. There are also a bunch of free animations floating around the world and reportedly available at the Bazaar in Stillman.
There are nice people collecting dozens of freebie animations, for example, if you look or ask around some people have a “pack” of 200 free custom animations.
If you need more sophisticated animations, then you may contact one of the many wonderful professional animators out there or buying animations from their stores. You can search for them in world under the “Find” button, with the “Places” tab selected, or search the forums at:
If you feel bold, creative, and technically competent, you can try making your own custom animations.
All custom animations in Second Life were uploaded in “BVH” format from a software program called Poser. You can upload your own if you own a copy of Poser, or if you have any BVH files which are compatible with the exact format that Second Life needs. Most random BVH files will not work without first being processed through Poser with the P2 figure.
There are several public domain, open source or shareware alternatives to Poser, but so far, they all seem to need the final tweaking done in Poser to work correctly in Second Life.
There are several tutorials online (again, search for that in the forums) for creating your own animations. To help you get started, here is a rough guideline for creating a still standing pose with Poser:
– Use a P2 model
– Create two frames
– Set both frames as keyframes
– Leave the first frame unchanged (ignore it)
– Pose your model in the second frame
– Export BVH
– Switch to SL and select “Upload Animation” from the “File” menu
– In the preview window, check [x] Loop, and set “Ease In” and “Ease Out” both to “0.5” (roughly)
– Click the “Play” arrow button to confirm it looks ok
– Click the Upload button
Important Note: Using Poser and getting it to work with SL can be very challenging. We really can’t help you overcome it’s learning curve in this document alone or through Instant Messages. If you do need help with Poser, *please* ask on the Second Life forum created specifically for animation discussion.
Q> How does the Franimation Overrider work?
A> The Franimation Overrider detects your posture and plays a custom animation whenever it changes.
The Franimation Overrider is an attachment containing a script and a configurable notecard. The Franimation Overrider script will read the notecard so that it knows which postures to override animations for, and the names of the animations to use in their place.
While the Franimation Overrider is attached, it will constantly monitor your posture state. When it sees that your posture has changed, it will send a command to stop playing the current animation and start playing the custom animation you specified in the notecard.
Q> How do I add animations to my Franimation Overrider?
A> Just drag and drop them into the contents of the Franimation Overrider, as so:
– Rez your Franimation Overrider on the ground (must be in an area which allows building)
– Right click on the Franimation Overrider, choose Edit
– In the edit window, if you see a button which says “More >>” in the bottom right corner, click that so that it opens up the edit window to show you more options
– You should see several tabs “General”, “Object”, “Content” and “Texture”.
– Click on the “Content” tab. You will see some notes and a script, don’t mind them just yet.
– Now locate the custom animations that you want to use in your inventory, and drag-drop them into the Contents folder
– Right click on the Franimation Overrider and choose “Take” to take it back into your inventory
Q> How do I configure the Franimation Overrider notecard?
A> Follow these instructions:
– Attach the Franimation Overrider to yourself, or rez it on the ground
– Open the contents tab (as described above)
– Open and edit the notecard named “*Default Anims”.
– Reload the notecard by saying, “/animset *Default Anims”
Here is where you assign a custom animation to each of the possible “anim states”. “Standing” is a special state – you can have up to 5 different standing animations, and Franimation Overrider will cycle among those 5 animations occasionally.
The notecard configuration is rather simple. Lines starting with things like “-=Sitting=-” identify the posture that will be detected; the line immediately following that one will have the NAME of the custom animation that you have dragged into the Franimation Overrider’s inventory.
*CAUTION: It is very important not to add or remove any lines!
When you first open the notecard, it will have the names of all states, and all lines in-between will be empty. It is important that you only change the empty line between each -=Posture=- line.
The empty lines should be the name of the animation which will be played for the posture specified immediately above it. Make sure you write the name EXACTLY like the animations’s name – with spaces, punctuation, and caps.
Sometimes the name can be something very weird, or, if you don’t have an US keyboard, some characters may be very hard to reproduce. In that case, either change the animation’s name _before_ you drag it into the Franimation Overrider’s Contents, or you may open up Properties on that custom animation, use the mouse to copy the name, and paste it into the notecard. Just make sure you don’t get any extra spaces at the beginning or end of the animation name when pasting – Franimation Overrider needs the EXACT name to work properly (otherwise you’ll get some errors like “Couldn’t find animation XXXX”).
You want to override your default sitting animation with a custom animation called “weird0-S1tDown #345”. Your notecard configuration should have something like that:
Notice the empty lines after “Hover” and “PreJump”, meaning you don’t have any custom animations for those, and Franimation Overrider will simply revert to the default animations. Also note it is very important not to add any extra lines anywhere to the notecard.
You should make a copy of a blank notecard first to your inventory, just in case you delete too many lines and can’t remember the state’s names afterwards. And make a copy of your own, modified notecard – you’ll save time when a new version of the Franimation Overrider comes along!
Q> What if I leave a line blank?
A> That is fine, if you leave a line blank, the animation for that posture will revert back to the default animation.
Q> Why are there 5 stand animations?
A> The Franimation Overrider will cycle through all five animations every 40 seconds or so. This behavior is much like the default standing animation where you occasionally shift your avatar’s body to different positions.
Q> I’m having animation glitches with my vehicle/dance script when the Franimation Overrider is on.
A> Other scripts which also play custom animations may interfere with the Franimation Overrider. Turn off the Franimation Overrider before you interact with these objects (see command reference for the off command).
Also see the Drawbacks section below for more details
TIPS & TRICKS
* Proper Application
Most animation states are rather simple to understand, but some of them are tricky. For example, you can run instead of walking.
In most cases, the animation for one would not look proper for the other, which is why there usually are two different custom animations for those states (i.e. two different Sexy Walks or Power Walks).
Using the wrong one generally looks quite weird (i.e. avatars “running in place” or “taking too long of strides”).
Also note that there are two different sitting animations – one for sitting on chairs (actually, any kind of object surface) and the other for sitting on the ground.
* Smooth Transitions
If you have an unusual custom walking animation, you probably will want to also customize the Turn Left and Turn Right animations as well. Otherwise your avatar will seem to go through a complex “dance” every time you turn left or right.
Flying is also complex, since you have things like “hovering” (standing in the air), flying slowly and quickly. You will want to probably choose a set of animations which makes these flow together well. Note that the “Flying slow” posture state is actually quite rarely experienced, unless you have a flawless connection and very high frame rates, but it does happen 🙂
Landing is also another problem, since you have soft and hard landings (depending on the speed) and free falling (not flying at all!).
So for most realistic appearance, this means that you have to “combine” all these animations properly and see how they work together – that’s normally not very easy when you just grab a few freebies (or worse, just poses and no real animations). The same, actually, applies to “swimming” – “flying” at the water’s surface or below.
* Idle Standing Cycle:
Standing is a special case in animations. The Franimation Overrider allows you to have up to 5 different standing animations, and will cycle among them every 40 seconds or so. If you just have one standing animation, be prepared to wait a while until it’s displayed!
For maximum flexibility, the Franimation Overrider also allows you to enable *multiple* animation with each posture. To do so, you put each animation name on the line, separated by commas.
Why would you want to do this? Well, often you will find that a single animation doesn’t fit what you want to do because of animation priorities. The problem sometimes is that high priority animations will completely override the lower priority animations.
If you are able to create your own animations in Poser, you can avoid this problem by breaking up your animation into multiple parts, which customize different parts of your body, then use the Franimation Overrider to re-play all of them together by specifying them as a comma-separated list on the line in the notecard.
This not only allows you to work around some of the limitations caused by animation priorities, but allows you to extract much more variety out of your animations since you can play them in different “chords”.
* Randomized Animations
You case separate animations in the notecard by a ‘|’ symbol. The Franimation overrider will randomly choose between ‘|’ a pipe separated list of comments. For example, suppose you have two separate jump animations, “gwinjump2” and “gwinjump4”. In the notecard you can enter:
:: [ Jumping ] ::
So when you jump, sometimes you will jump with “gwinjump2” and sometimes you will jump with “gwinjump4”. You can also use this trick to increase the number of different stand animations you use.
* Smooth Transitions (CONTENT CREATORS, PLEASE READ)
If you are creating and uploading animations, please note the importance of the “Ease In” and “Ease Out” settings. I strongly recommend setting these at 0.5 or higher, otherwise your animations will SNAP into place far too quickly, and it looks very unnatural.
By default, the preview window is usually set far too low. Every time I upload an animation, I usually set each to 0.5, sometimes higher (such as a slow dance movement where you want a very steady transition), and sometimes lower when applicable (such as the ease-in on a falling-to-the-ground animation).
The Franimation Overrider is a nifty script, but as it is not part of the native code in the SL Client/Server architecture, you may occasionally encounter some very minor discrepancies from the intended behavior.
1. Animation Download Lag
Animations are rendered in the SL client program – and not server-side – so this means that all animations have to be loaded from the server into your program, for all avatars “seeing” you.
While the default animations are immediately available for everybody (as said, they already come with the SL application), your cool custom animations are not. This means that you’ll probably see them working for you, but on a particularly slow sim, others won’t see them immediately.
This is exactly the reason why sometimes you go to a club and nobody seems to be moving. After a while, you see everybody connected to the dance machine moving, and finally the one having dancing bracelets or loading custom dances.
The Franimation Overrider works the same way. People who haven’t recently “seen” your custom animation will have to download it from the servers before they see it in action. This means that probably just after teleport, or when using a “fresh” animation (say, sitting for the first time), people will NOT immediately see your custom animation, but the default one. There is nothing you can do about it, except fretting and wishing that Linden Lab(TM) gets you faster servers 🙂
2. Polling Lag
The way the Franimation Overrider works is by polling your current posture in a loop to retrieve your current state. This means that there will be a slight bit of response time between when you changed postures and when the next polling event occurs.
3. Conflicts With Other Animating Objects
The Franimation Overrider only knows how to override the default animation states. It will get into conflict with other objects which change your animation and should be turned off before using the other objects (see command reference for how to turn it off).
Examples of other objects which will probably interfere with the Franimation Overrider include dance bracelets, dance machines, and vehicles which use custom animations. Some other animation scripts may have some odd behavior as well, such as the hug animation script.
1.7: Added randomized animations, added fix for llGetAnimation bug for turning left/right
Documentation written by:
2004 Oct 17 – Gwyneth Llewely (first draft)
2004 Nov 28 – Kex Godel (edited and reformatted)
Update: the 3rd edition of this Guide is now available for free as an ePub.
Here the text for the 2nd edition:
Welcome to Second Life!
Welcome to Second Life! For all of you just starting, I hope you have lots of fun in this virtual world!
My name is Gwyneth Llewelyn, and I’m a Mentor. This is a group of users — almost 1600 by now — who help newcomers to get started. You’ll see them mostly at the Welcome Area — like on the Ahern complex, Waterhead or Plum, where most of you probably entered this world after leaving the Orientation or Help Island, or on one of the “public sandboxes”: Morris, Cordova, Goguen, Newcomb, Sandbox Island, etc. — places where everybody may freely build (but not sell items!). You can always ask Mentors for help, they are here for that!
If your questions are very technical – mostly connected to objects or a bad/slow connection — you should get in touch with Live Help, an option you have on the Help menu on the top gray bar. They are also users, volunteering their time to answer your questions online. Finally, you may also find Liaisons. These are employees of Linden Lab, the company that runs this virtual world. You’ll notice that all of them have the “Linden” family name. Lindens may sometimes be very busy answering questions to other players, so be patient if they don’t reply immediatly! Think of them as the inworld technical support staff of Second Life. They also have special tools not available to users to fix the most complex problems.
How do you “talk” to these helpers? If there are few people around, just chatting on the Chat box at the bottom of the screen is ok. You can call them by name to make sure that they understand they’re being addressed, for instance, say “Gwyn, can you help me with this?”. Remember to press the History button (to the left of the input box) to scroll up to view past conversations — it’s a very useful feature!
If there is a crowd around, you may prefer to use Instant Messaging, or IM for short. Simply right-click on the person you wish to talk and select IM. IM is like a secure mobile phone — it works across the world and is completely private, no one will listen to your IM conversation, and you can talk to as many people as you like. You can even send IMs to people offline — either the messages will be stored for them until they log in, or they can be forwarded to an email, if you select that option from Preferences.
How do you IM a person who is not online? Well, the easiest way is to trade calling cards with him/her. Right-click on the person and select More >> and then Give Card. The other person needs to accept the card (most will), and afterwards you always will know if he/she is online or offline. Their cards will show up on your Inventory (more on that later): white if they’re online, grey if they’re offline. Simply right-clicking on the card will allow you to open up their Profiles, and from there you’ll be able to send them an IM.
Two users can also become Friends of each other. Right-click on the avatar of the other person and select Add Friend. Both have to accept, and from now one, they will show to each other on the IM list. Just click on the IM button to get a list of all the friends you have, and to see who is online at that moment. Then you can IM them directly from here, even if they are elsewhere in the world! You can even get this list from Second Life’s web site, on the Friends menu. Friends can also be tracked on the Map, so some people will prefer to simply trade cards.
Some “slang” and what it means
Most of you have probably some experience with online chatting, so you’ll see everybody using “lol” for Laughing Out Loud or “rofl” for Rolling On Floor Laughing. “ty” for Thank You, “yvw” for You’re Very Welcome, and “brb” for Be Right Back are also very popular, as well as all the usual smileys. The cool thing about SL (Second Life) is that you can animate your avatar when saying those things! You use Gestures for this. Select that option from the Edit menu (or right-click on yourself), and you’ll see that you can bind animations and sounds to “triggers”, special keywords that will start the gesture. Most players will have a trigger for “lol” animating their avatars with a belly laugh, or really smile when they type 🙂
Other acronyms are unique, like SL for Second Life (also referred as in-world), RL for your Real Life, and LL for the company Linden Lab. We call LL’s employees collectively “The Lindens”.
Your persona in SL is the avatar, which is usually abbreviated to AV or “avie”. You, the user, are referred as “a resident”.
SL is run on around thousand computers, colectively called “the grid”. Each computer runs a bit of the world, which is known as a “region” – the region name is shown in the top bar. The computer running a region is called a “sim”, short for “simulator”. Most servers on the grid are pretty powerful, so they usually run several “sims” at the same time. There currently are about three thousand sims overall.
Each sim handles a region of 256×256 meters and about 15.000 objects which can be built from several types of primitives (cubes, spheres, cylinders, etc.), called “prims” for short. Also, one sim can handle about 50 avatars at the same time.
“Lag” can be caused by many things. The major reasons for lag are usually related to some sort of network problems. Second Life’s servers are currently located somewhere in California, US, and the furthest you are from there, the longer all data has to travel across the world, crossing several “Internet hubs”. It’s often very hard to understand what is going wrong when the connections are not working as well as they should
But it also happens when too many avatars are in the same place, or too many objects are being displayed at the same time, or even some faulty servers. The latter is usually fixed quickly by the technical staff at Linden Lab. However, many people also wonder why Second Life is usually slower than online games. Unlike those, Second Life is a fully dynamic environment where everything can be changed by the residents — nothing is ever stored locally on your computer (except for a disk cache of recently seen objects/textures). This means that a different technology has to be used to bring the dynamic world to your computer — live streaming. It’s quite different from other technologies, and while Second Life aims to provide you with an average of 15 frames per second, sometimes your computer simply cannot keep up with that with all the objects being downloaded to you (textures come heavilly compressed over the stream, and your CPU will have to work hard to decompress them and send them to your video card as quickly as possible). As a rule of thumb, a very dynamic location will usually need a constant stream of around 100 Kbps, but this can spike for a short while when you have just entered a new region and need to download everything that your avatar sees.
The easiest way to move around regions is by teleporting. You can click on the Map button, select a point at random in the map, and you will be teleported to the nearest point possible — sometimes needing to fly, drive or walk the rest of the way. But if you wish, you can be teleported (“tp”) by a friend directly where he/she is.
Abiding by the ToS
Please take some time reading the Terms of Service (“ToS” for short). Unlike some sites or programs where you can safely press Enter and forget about it, here the residents live by the ToS and it is actively enforced by them — you can report abuse by someone or something violating ToS, and this can lead to suspension or even expulsion from Second Life — or even a lawsuit against you. We live in a virtual world where everybody can do what he/she wants, except violating ToS. The first thing to notice is if you are in PG or Mature land (you can look to the top of the screen to view in which area the current sim is). PG is much more restrictive – no violence, no sex, no offensive language, no running around naked or with “revealing” clothes (or even changing clothes!). If you think this is too restrictive, stick to mature regions and events.
At the very least, you should read the Community Standards. Since they’re so important, we’ll copy them here:
Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life’s Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life.
Given the myriad capabilities of Second Life, harassment can take many forms. Communicating or behaving in a manner which is offensively coarse, intimidating or threatening, constitutes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or is otherwise likely to cause annoyance or alarm is Harassment.
Most areas in Second Life are identified as Safe. Assault in Second Life means: shooting, pushing, or shoving another Resident in a Safe Area (see Global Standards below); creating or using scripted objects which singularly or persistently target another Resident in a manner which prevents their enjoyment of Second Life.
Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Lives. Sharing personal information about a fellow Resident — including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, and real-world location beyond what is provided by the Resident in the First Life page of their Resident profile is a violation of that Resident’s privacy. Remotely monitoring conversations, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without consent are all prohibited in Second Life and on the Second Life Forums.
Second Life is an adult community, but Mature material is not necessarily appropriate in all areas (see Global Standards below). Content, communication, or behavior which involves intense language or expletives, nudity or sexual content, the depiction of sex or violence, or anything else broadly offensive must be contained within private land in areas rated Mature (M). Names of Residents, objects, places and groups are broadly viewable in Second Life directories and on the Second Life website, and must adhere to PG guidelines.
Disturbing the Peace
Every Resident has a right to live their Second Life. Disrupting scheduled events, repeated transmission of undesired advertising content, the use of repetitive sounds, following or self-spawning items, or other objects that intentionally slow server performance or inhibit another Resident’s ability to enjoy Second Life are examples of Disturbing the Peace.
SL has its own economy, and it’s sometimes hard to follow, so if you are interested, there are residents offering classes on economy. To summarize it, there is an inworld currency, the Linden Dollar (L$), and you can use it to buy objects, land, clothes and services. Uploading stuff (images, animations, sounds) also costs L$, as well as rating other residents.
Thanks to several market exchanges like the LindeX, among others, you can convert US$ into L$ and vice-versa. LindeX works like a real life money exchange, where people trade on the floor placing buy or sell orders for US$ or L$, currently as an exchange rate of around US$3 for L$1000. Money is not “created” that way — it only changes hands!
So, how do you get money? Besides a limited amount that you get when joining (nothing for a Basic account, L$1000 for a Premium), Linden Lab will also pay you a “weekly stipend” every Tuesday. Imagine it like a “social payment” which will allow you to do some basic spending without working 🙂 Premium accounts recieve L$400/week.
If that’s not enough income for you — and believe me, making a living from gaming at casinos or betting on horse races is not a good idea! – you need a job.
Second Life has a very complex economy, but also a very stable one, and if you are interested in reading about it, you can consult the economy section of the SL site.
Briefly, there are some scarce resources in Second Life, and competition for those resources is what makes the economy flourish. One resource is CPU Power. CPU Power is what you need for each machine to run a sim and send objects and textures to you. The more objects there are, the more CPU power the machine will need (as well as more bandwidth, of course). Since CPU power is available at a fixed amount, it makes sense to “compete” for that resource.
Second Life has an “abstraction” concept for CPU power: land. Land is not just “space to build things”, but the important thing about it is how many prims you can build on land. Currently, for each 512 square metres (m2) of land, you can have 117 prims on it. So when you buy land, besides real estate, you’re getting an “allowance” on how much burden you can put on the machine that runs the sim. Since this is tied with “real world” economics — you’re renting part of a machine’s CPU, hard disk space, and bandwidth allowance – Linden Lab will charge you extra per month beyond the “original” 512 m2 “allowance” that you get for Premium (Basic accounts are not entitled to own land — but they can rent it from other residents).
This “extra charge” is called land usage fee and is due monthly — you pay for the maximum amount of land owned on that month (and not for “average”). There are different “levels” of land usage, and these are called “tiers”. So, if you want to own land, you have to do the following steps:
Find a place which is for sale. You can get information from the auction system. First Land (the land that is reserved for newcomers without any land) is cheapest, at L$ 1 per square metre. The rest is mostly speculation – as in the real world, location dictates pricing! If you don’t find anything on the auctions, you can try to make deals directly to people, or contact a land baron as your real estate agent.
Buy the land. This means that the land gets to be assigned into your name.
If you don’t have enough money to buy it, the SL client offers you to move to the LindeX to buy some L$ with the payment method tied to your account (credit card or PayPal account)
If you don’t have enough “tier” — meaning that by buying this new parcel, you will be over your current allotment – you have to go into the next tier before you confirm the sale. Remember that you will be billed for the highest setting you have put here on tier.
Beware of scams. Since First Land is so cheap — well below the usual prices — lots of unscrupulous residents will try to “buy it off” from you. Make sure that you don’t get overexcited by an offer which will give you 50% or even 100% profit. Real prices can be way over that, and so you should take a look at the auctions to get a feeling on what your land is currently worth.
Do you need land to enjoy Second Life? While the answer is different for every resident, you can do everything else with a Basic account, just not own land. So even if you really need land to build your own home/shop/club, but don’t wish to “tier up” (ie. start paying an additional fee to Linden lab every month) you can just rent it from land-owning residents. There are several different sorts of agreements available, from renting shops or booths at a mall, to rent a parcel of land on the mainland, to “land deeds” on private islands. Since all these agreements are mande between residents, they can vary wildly from place to place, but the resident running the rental operation will be more than happy to explain you how it works.
Inventory and what you can buy
The Inventory is your personal handbag — like a real world handbag, it’s quite hard to keep it organised and find things you put in there, but unlike real handbags, it is infinite in size.
Here is stored everything that you carry with you — from objects and items you have bought, to all your clothes (so it’s a portable wardrobe as well), textures, notecards, scripts, cards you have traded withand even more strange things like your own body (!) and animations and gestures.
You start with two folders — Library and My Inventory. Library has some common objects, default gestures, default animations, and even some default avatars. My Inventory is all that you add to it!
How do you get new objects? Well, one way, of course, is doing them by yourself, as we have already seen. The other way is to buy them from other players. You can trade/exchange items directly, or, the way most people do it, go to a shopping mall or a store/shop.
Stores or shops are usually owned by the merchant – the person having their wares to offer. You can search for keywords on Search >> Places, and you will get a list of shops offering these items, and teleport to each one in turn to check for pricing. Most shops are open 24h/7, but in reality you won’t find many sales reps inside — almost all transactions in Second Life use “automated vendors”: machines that will show you a picture (or a 3D model) of the object you want to buy, you pay to the vendor, and you get the object.
Malls, like in real life, are large structures which host several shops (which are usually rented by the week). They also have automated vendors. Normally malls have dozens of small shops inside, and this means you can get a wide selection of products to chose from. However, due to the way Second Life works, this also means that big malls will be very laggy and hard to “navigate”.
Finally, you can also offer and buy services (i.e. hire a scripter or a builder). It’s easier to do that on the forums, there is a group for such offers. Of course, some people set up “offices” in Second Life for the sole purpose of meeting with other residents who want to hire their services.
Events and what to do
So, if you don’t have a job — which is time-consuming — and have just arrived at the game and haven’t talked to nobody yet, what can you do to spend your time?
Fortunately for all of us, there are Events! Events is the “social life” of Second Life. Hosted by residents, they cover virtually anything — from inworld classes on scripting, building, economy (or even self-improvement!), to contests where you show your mental skills (or your skills at building things), to parties (and yes, there are a lot of parties), to discussions and debates. Sometimes there are unique events, like fashion shows or art happenings; sometimes there are recurring events, where you will meet the same people at the same spot.
Events can be broadly classified in the following main areas — contests (or games), where you can win money or objects; classes, where you get some courses on various events, and where you usually pay for attendance (except for Mentor events which are always free); parties, held for all possible reasons; chat/discussion events; cultural events; and all the sort of possible entertainment events which don’t fit into any category.
Make sure you list all events for the day and see which ones you would like to attend — then press the Notify button. 5 minutes before the event starts, you’ll be notified with a cyan dialog box, which will also offer you teleport to the event.
Attending events is the best way to meet new people, as well as a good opportunity to show off your skills — social and other wise — to get some ratings. And yes, it’s true, most “parties” and contests in Second Life are mature events, but there are generally enough “non-mature” events around as well.
Ratings are a way to show people your appreciation of their skills, talents, or personality. Each rating costs L$25 to give.
Skills and jobs
Unlike “online games”, SL does not have a concept of “character improvement” — say, after a playing a while, you pay an amount of money, and earn “skill points” to advance “a level”, which will enable you to get a better job, for instance. Second Life is just like your real life — if you want to make money and have a job, you need to employ your own skills. And, of course, if you want to be an employee, you need to find an employer — another resident who is currently better off than you, and needs someone to help him out since he can’t handle all his work responsability. It’s up to you to apply for a vacancy — like in real life, you will need to convince him that you have the required skills and are “the right guy for the job”.
What kind of jobs are available? Well, for the completely unskilled, not many. You might get paid just to “stand around” in a certain place (usually a mall or a casino) just to attract other users (people tend to gather around places where other residents already are! A crowd draws a crowd). Some clubs also offer jobs to dancers (for about the same reason); and a few shops use sales reps or people to advertise their products. There is not much choice for a completely unskilled resident; you must become creative in order to succeed!
Another relatively unskilled job is modelling — clothes designers often employ their own avatars when taking pictures of the clothes, but the top clothiers will need models, since there are a few fashion shows in SL. Modelling is well paid, but you’ll need expectionally good looking avatars and good animations for going on the catwalk. There are not many offers for modelling, though, but there are a few agencies.
Most of the other jobs are usually self-employment or require some skills to get hired. For instance, if you’re charismatic and an extrovert, you could get a job (or self-emply yourself) as a sales representative or event hoster. You’ll see how events work on chapter 7. The ultimate job in this area is, of course, the Land Baron — how we nickname the real estate agents. They just need to be very keen on the real estate market, have some starting cash, and be very good buyers and sellers. It’s a very profitable job!
If you’re good at working with a graphical design application — like Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or GIMP — you have two good choices, one is becoming a clothes designer (it needs one of those programs and a PSD template which is provided by Linden Lab to design new clothes), the other a master texturiser. There are already thousands (if not dozens of thousands…) of very good clothiers, well-established in SL, so be prepared to get into fierce competition here! Designing clothes for SL is mostly a creative task, it’s not “hard” to do (if you’re skilled with a graphical design application), and lots of fun!
If you have a good sense of 3D space and a keen aesthetic sense, you could probably become a “builder”. This is a generic description, since there are several builder types — house builders and “object” builders (like furniture, or cool-looking devices). A very good builder is usually a good texturer, too — so while all building takes place inworld, textures are done in a graphical design program. Most people are “simple builders” — it’s a very entertaining — but the trick to become a “professional builder” in SL is doing amazing stuff with a very low primitive count. That’s the real challenge. As an example, I have seen a fascinating motorbike in SL which uses 200 or 300 primitives, it looks amazingly realistic — but you can’t drive it, since all vehicles can only have 31 prims! The challenge here is doing the same good-looking design in such a limited amount. The same applies to houses and furnitures, since the average land owner will have a limited number of primitives available, and low-primitive designs appeal to a majority of users. If you seriously want to enter this market, be prepared to compete with people who have been building stuff for over a year and a half, and they know all the tricks of the trade. Unlike clothes — which is a purely creative thing — building requires knowing all the tricks. There are several inworld classes to tell those tricks, but you really need to take your time experimenting before you have “sellable” objects.
Cool objects are usually “scripted” — this means that they have a behavior inworld, they are dynamic, they interact with avatars. Good examples of this are vehicles and weapons, but most objects will need a script to work properly (like a lamp which is turned on, or a door that opens and closes). Scripters are residents having learned the Art of LSL Programming. LSL is “Linden Scripting Language”, similar to Java in concept and even syntax, and is very easy to learn (but awfully hard to master) if you’re a knowledgeable programmer in the real world. If you aren’t, you can still learn it, but don’t expect to make a living of it.
Strangely enough, the economy in SL never caught on with the idea of selling scripts. Scripters work in two ways: they are freelancers, doing scripting for other residents (and this guarantees a large income, but not a regular one), or they work with a builder (or are good builders themselves) and script objects. A scripted object sells for much more than an unscripted one (even a simple lamp that turns on and off will sell for more than the same lamp without a script). Amazing scripts which work perfectly well are usually “given away” by posting them in the forums or on the Bad Geometry Wiki (currently at http://secondlife.com/badgeo). Again, take into account that most “tricks of the trade” were already found out by the master programmers doing scripting for one and a half year. Still, there are new insights and development from complete newbies who come to the world without any idea of “established best practices” and try to innovate.
You have probably found out that you can buy all types of animations for your avatar, too. Animations are done on a special 3D animation program. There are lots of them available — many, like Blender, are for free — but Second Life requires a special format used by the expensive program called Poser. Poser (http://www.curiouslabs.com/go/products/poser) is quite easy to learn — even if you are not an expert — and if you have never done 3D animations before, you’ll be doing your first ones after a few hours of playing around in Poser and reading tutorials. Free alternatives are DAZ|Studio (http://www.dazstudio.com/) or the popular, very light-weigth Avimator (http://avimator.com) which is an open-source application developed by some talented SL residents!
Simple animations are easy to do, and that’s why they usually are given away for free. Complex animations — like dances — are very, very hard, and often they even require capturing a real person doing the dance, translating her movements into a special file format, and tweaking it in Poser to upload. This requires professional (or at least semi-professional) hardware and a studio, and hours of work. That is the reason for not existing many animators in SL, and there is relatively low competition — just a handful of “professional animators” doing business.
The forums at http://forums.secondlife.com (and many blogs and external sites) are the “life outside Second Life”. Since you can’t meet a reasonable number of people at the same time inworld (one sim will hold a maximum of 50 avatars or so, but if you have 25 at the same spot, it’s so laggy that people tend to go away), one way to discuss things with a far wider audience is on the forums. Still, remember that while you sometimes have up to 10,000 people or so inworld, the last record was 350 people at the forums at the same time. Despite its million posts on more than 100,000 threads, the forums represent a tiny part of Second Life’s population — perhaps just 10%, more likely only 5%.
You can discuss about everything in the forums — as is typical for most web-based forums anyway — but even if you don’t really care much about discussing and arguing offline, the forums are a precious source for staying in touch with developments in Second Life. News and important information are announced by the Lindens here. Most events are also announced — and sometimes with more information than on the “event blurb” inworld. And here you can also see job offering, announcements on sales or on people to hire. Finally, there are the “technical forums”, where people help each other with tips and tricks, or even post free scripts.
All normal rules of behavior apply to the forums (ie. both the ToS and the Community Standards). Several are moderated, and this means that you should try to be cordial and informative on the forums, or risk to be expelled by a moderator. Remember that the people reading your posts could meet you inworld!
Moderation vs. Addiction
Some last notes about the psychological effects of Second Life. Like several other games, Second Life is not for everyone — many new people join, test the environment for a few hours, and give it up as hopelessly boring — but, if you like SL after the initial period, the probability of “enjoying it too much” is very high.
The CEO of Linden Lab, Philip “Linden” Rosedale, attributes the addictiveness to Second Life mostly to creativity and a lack of rules. You can be whoever you want to be in Second Life, and do whatever you want to do. If you conform to ToS — a few “common sense” rules — there is not much more that people can “force” you to do, so you feel a degree of enhanced freedom that usually is absent in the real world. For some people, this can be an overwhelming experience.
I can olny recommend moderation. If you feel that you’re enjoying Second Life too much, set hard guidelines for connecting and disconnecting times — and keep to them. Have your friends know about your scheduled time inworld and respect it as well as reminding you it’s time to logout.
After all — you want to have FUN in Second Life!
last updated: 2006/07/25