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The old frontier feel

March 4th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Signs of renewal

Rodvik Humble kicked off March with the announcement that last names would not be returning to Second Life, at least not in the form they exist now. While I don’t think the solution may have been the best, I can agree with him that there’s not much of a way to make a policy that would have satisfied everyone. For what it’s worth, there’s not a lot of things the lab can do with Second Life that would have universal approval.

It wasn’t the discussion of last names in the post that piqued my interest, however. About half way down, he said the following:

“Conversations with many old Lindens and Residents have led me to conclude that we have lost something of the old frontier feel.  Like we were exploring the world together, you knew people, you would bump into them more. I have some ideas on how we can bring this back more (something along the lines of a new mainland like region or making mainland better or rethinking the whole way Linden Homes works.) This will be the subject of the next little roundtable, which will follow this one.”

He also added, “I will be kicking off another monthly roundtable (probably Monday) to chat about getting that family/frontier feel back with an eye to some area-like project.”

First off, I’m a fan of the mainland. I like the possibilities. I like the scale of it all. I like being able to sail off for kilometers at a time, and I like being able to call a small part of it “mine.” I feel more hometown pride being involved with Bay City and the surrounding area than I do with my first life community. It’s a vibrant place with all sorts of strong, amazing people.

I know that Bay City is not alone, either. The East River community, Cowell, The Luskwood, and many other mainland communities populate the grid, making it better and stronger.

So I have to be a bit concerned to hear about changes to it. Perhaps no more so than the notion of a “Mainland Like” area. The Mainland was already split apart by the Linden Homes, why must we further move people away from the mainland into yet more regions, yet more servers, and end up even more isolated on this grid of ours?

Second Life has always had “mainland like regions” with that “old frontier feel.” It started with the “can’t get more frontier sounding” Newbie Corral in Natoma, then the Ahern Welcome Area and the various telehubs, then the Infohubs of today. They’re the places people (and more than a few ‘bots) get routed to when a region is offline, the place that some new Residents get routed to, they’re the home of toughened regulars, and a regular source of griefing. In fact, as I write this, Violet infohub is spewing “Joker” and “Goldeen” particles while a collection of prims shouted about the “owning” of the region.  This would seem to be no solution to Rodvik’s desires.

Now, rethinking the Linden Homes? I’m with you on that. Perhaps it was expected that these would foster micro communities. Certainly these have formed similar structured settings in SL’s past. Yet the Linden Homes ended up becoming more of a modern housing tract than a vibrant community place: many may not know their neighbors, or care to. There’s no unique personality on display, no sense of place in a sea of similar structures. So yes, maybe Linden Homes do indeed need to be rethought. They’re not the frontier.

I would first look at the communities already in existence on the mainland, finding out what works, and what doesn’t for them. Look, too, at the successful island estate communities.  The steamlands, Raglan Shire, and others may have answers for you.

Speaking as one heavily involved in Bay City, I’d say this: It is remarkably hard to foster and maintain a community on the mainland. Here’s five things that come to mind, each of which I think any mainlander can understand.

• We have a themed Linden area that has no way to manage the theme. Bay City was designed by LL as a mid-century styled urban area, yet there is nothing to stop someone from, say, butting out an oversized, anime snowman, or a medieval castle, or anything else. There’s not even a covenant that simply states what the theme is to the area. This is an even bigger issue elsewhere on the mainland, where some have set out to make their land as undesirable as possible, to cause a high dollar sale just to get them to leave, to force neighbors to sell low, or even just because they want to be annoying to others.

• In Bay City, we’re at the mercy of our Linden overlords. Who is to say I might log in one day to find the area fundamentally changed — or even removed? I faced this very issue two weeks ago, when a busy infohub region within Bay City was suddenly not an infohub. An accident, it seemed, but still a wake-up call. it’s hard to keep a footing when you the ground can shift under your feet at any time.

• Related: a long time Resident of my corner of the grid awoke to find the majority of his legacy build just… gone. A glitch or a griefing had wiped all but a fraction of the region. In spite of his time in SL, his regular tier payments, and a general sense of what is right, the Lab was unwilling to rollback the area or even try to set up a second instance to recover the lost items. It’s a basically and potentially show-stopping issue that rollbacks are available to islands, but are impossible on mainland — even when a whole region has a single established owner.

• Last summer, we faced a chronic series of griefings as two infohub regulars decided to throw lolcubes at each other every other night or so. We required a lot of Linden involvement to try and manage this situation — and there wasn’t a lot of involvement to be had. Other areas have had it even worse: I can’t imagine living in the shadow of Waterhead, for example.

• From 2008 to early 2011, we had a Community Manager who worked closely with Bay City and other mainland communities, helping to facilities our community, land, and support/governance needs. This was a huge help for our community, and helped us to grow. While we have managed to continue to thrive on our own, there are still times where it’s clear we lack that voice and involvement. Much of the rest of the mainland didn’t even have the benefit of this level of involvement from the lab.

So yes, I would love to talk about getting that “family/frontier back,” but I hope it can be done without sacrificing what we have in the LDPW, in the existing mainland, and in our communities. Let’s not reinvent the wheel nor take away from what we have now – instead, let’s make things better and add value.

Now, enough from me for now. :-)

4 Responses to “The old frontier feel”

  1. WHAT IS THIS CRAP? » I looked out across the river today… Says:

    […] Mari, The Child Of The Frontier Saffia wonders where the Residents are Mesh as clothing? Since when? Norval Joe's Podiobook Oh. Look. It's drama […]

  2. Samm Florian Says:

    I dunno what he means by a new mainland-like area either: does he think that the current mainland is too developed mebbe? That we need more land so we can have an 19th-century style land rush? I dunno if that’s what folks’re pinin’ for.

    But who knows, mebbe the changes they’re contemplatin’ fer the mainland are in fact be good ones, fixin’ the stuff you’d like t’see fixin’: community associations, more responsive Lindens, etc. One can hope. 😀

  3. Lelani Carver Says:

    One way could be like the urban renewal or redevelopment model. There are mainland sims where lots of abandoned land sits useless. Meanwhile, half-rezzed junk and crashed cars and planes haven’t been touched in years.

    What would it be like if they distributed unclaimed Linden homes in clusters in regions with a significant percentage of abandoned land? What if instead of an Occupy movement there was a Beautify movement?

    Some friends own most of a road- and rail- abutting mainland region, which is in a part of the mainland that has nice-looking builds. Other areas, far from roads, rail, or water are full of plywood crap. There’s something about roads and rails that inspires people to do better, somehow. But I rarely see people driving or riding the train…

  4. Marianne McCann Says:

    Fingers crossed, for sure!

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