I’ve been following a conversation thread over at Avatar Social Network about what people ‘miss’ about Second Life. I don’t consider myself an ‘oldbie,’ but I’ve been in SL off and on since 2009.
Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, or perhaps it’s just the times ‘a-changin,’ as they do. One of the things that people found the most attractive about SL (myself included) was that it was a world where darn near anything was possible. You can RP, you can shop, you can dance – whatever you want. Can’t find the perfect outfit? Make it yourself! Can’t find the perfect home? Build it yourself!
Now, I’m not saying that these things aren’t possible today in SL. However, it sure seems like you need a whole heckuva lot more skills than you used to. Want to build something? Mesh is the new black – you need to learn Blender or some other 3D modeling program. (I’ve tried Blender – it leaves me feeling like I need to sign up for a university course in order to understand it.) Want your mesh to have a texture with all the new materials options? Take a class to learn the difference between normal, diffuse, and specular maps. Then learn Photoshop or Gimp to make your texture(s). And don’t forget the AO map!
When I first came to SL, anyone and everyone was creating something. Not so, these days. Since most people don’t have the time (or maybe the patience) to learn Blender, Maya, Photoshop, etc. They’re buying templates to create with. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve done it plenty myself. But I find that, more and more, everything is starting to look the same. Especially in clothing. I’ve seen the same mesh dress in a thousand places. Sometimes with different textures, sometimes not.
There was a comment on a NWN article that SL is becoming ‘more consumer-oriented and less “build your own world” focused.’ It remains to be seen whether that is a good or bad thing for SL.