A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to help someone new to SL sign up.
It’s been so long since I created an account, I was curious to see what had changed.
Sadly, not much.
The first step was to create the account and pick the starter avatar.
I knew that there were now mesh avatars to pick from, but I was rather disappointed in their looks (as was the new user).
I assured them that they could change the look of the avatar after completing the sign-up process.
After creating the account, the next step was to download the viewer.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t think to tell them to download Firestorm, so they just followed the directions and downloaded the official viewer (*shudder*).
Have I mentioned that I don’t care for the official viewer?
I have really never used it, so I don’t know where anything is.
After loading the viewer, they logged in, excited to get started.
The first question was “Where am I?”
The second was “How do I move around?”
After showing them the camera and movement controls, they picked up moving around, and even flying, pretty quickly.
They headed straight off Welcome Island via the Portal.
The next most pressing question was “How do I change my clothes?”
This caused quite a bit of confusion – trying to explain that the system avatar was ‘under’ the mesh avatar they were currently wearing.
I finally used the analogy of the Russian nesting dolls.
Once they understood they could ‘peel back’ layers of mesh stuff, we made some progress.
(Explaining alpha layers also took a few minutes – imagine if you were new and had no one to explain all this to you!)
We headed over to FabFree to find some better quality items.
They were most disturbed by the skin of the starter avatar – “This skin is horrible!”
They were also not a fan of pretty much anything mesh the starter avatar was wearing.
We found a nice free skin and some clothing, and they were feeling better about the look of their avatar.
Then I had to explain how to ‘rez’ a box and open it to retrieve the items.
I also spent several minutes explaining the little icons next to each item in inventory (clothing layers, prim attachments, etc.).
That was fun, because the icons in the official viewer aren’t the same as the ones I’m used to in Firestorm.
Their only question was why mesh attachments and prim attachments had the same icon.
I have no idea.
Next up was hair.
(Just as an aside, why do you HAVE to wear a hairbase in SL? Is there something I’ve missed all these years that allows you to remove one?)
They had removed the mesh hair of the starter avatar, but underneath was one of the horrible Library hairbase hairs.
We couldn’t find any free hair they liked, so I splurged and spent $10L to send them hair as a gift through MP.
(Another aside – could someone PLEASE provide a way to remove DEMOS from a MP search? Sooooo annoying.)
The new hair arrived and went promptly on their head.
This all sounds pretty straight-forward now, but it took about an hour and half to do all this.
Imagine if you were a new user and had no one to help you find any of this or explain anything.
I can’t imagine trying to figure out alpha layers and mesh as a new user – it was confusing enough to understand system layers.
If you don’t have someone helping you, how do new users find anything?
And Welcome Island is a complete misnomer – it’s not welcoming at all.
After you leave Welcome Island, the places where you land are crowded and kind of creepy.
The purpose of helping someone start a new account was because they wanted to explore the RP available in SL.
After an hour and half of outfitting their avi, they were done.
Tired and more than a bit disillusioned, they have yet to log back in almost 4 weeks later.
As a ‘digital native’ (translation – younger than me -.-), they were not at all impressed with SL.
After helping someone create a new account, I can see why LL might have said, ok – let’s just start over (with the NGP).
I know what SL can be, and how awesome it can look, but if you can’t give people that experience from the get-go, it’s game over. 😛