I have spent the past few days now playing in the There.com meta world. It is the main competitor to Second Life, and has some vastly different philosophies that are making me take a hard look at my remaining a hard-core SL player.
First off, it does not cater to Mature content. Most would be turned off by this, but as an Until Uru player who is trying to find a way for the entire family to meet online, SL will not allow me to meet with my younger neices and nephews. They would end up on the Teen Grid, away from me (and rightly so – the content has gone from the standard R-rated stuff you’d find in everyday RL today, to near or beyond X in some cases). In There, everything is pre-screened before its allowed in, period. And they won’t allow Mature content until they can find a way to keep it to restricted areas.
Second, they have working physics, in particular for vehicles. I’ve never had so much fun on a vehicle in *any* game until I hopped on a hoverboard in There, or running full tilt boost on a buggy. An absolute thrill, and something I’ve never been able to experience with SL.
Third, an _opt-in_ combat/collision system. Called a ‘Forcefield,’ you have to turn it off to be pushed or attacked. Something that SL residents have been downright screaming for, There has already.
Fourth, system stability. I’m very forgiving of the SL system, I know they’re trying to do a lot. But between the 1.6 and 1.7 releases, plus the horrid growing pains they are still experiencing, makes certain parts of the world rather unstable. It’s not helping that stability is a fleeting thing, and not quite able to pin down the source of the latest set of server-side bugs causing this. The user community helps (I’ve seen that firsthand in the IRC channel), but even they feel stifled at times — since it appears that Linden Labs (the company running SL) is not certain what’s going on either.
Fifth, a well-defined economy. Everything revolves around the Therebuck (T), which you have to purchase from There at about 1800T/1$US. Those taking advantage of the current Basic/Premium package pair can add up to 40$US in T at discounted rate (about 2100/1) with the one-time upgrade to Premium; They specify the $40 level as ‘have everything,’ and those being even partially careful can in fact go a long way with that. Everything is bought, sold, and even re-sold from within the embedded interface so its easy to find things. You can even submit your own things that can be sold (for fees of course, but appears to be worth it from what I can see so far).
Second Life is hard to find new things to buy, and its economy has been rattled back and forth to some measure of uncertainty (I’m not alarmist, just having a partial lack of confidence regarding SL’s economy – like many others have).
And last (but certainly not least), a much larger portion of the Uru community is in There than in SL. Enough so in fact, that they appear to be helping to steer the metaworld into another form of Uru Live. That was the original goal I was heading toward when approaching SL so long ago, and its fallen a bit short of the mark (though not as much SL’s fault, as it is the downright hostility of its cummunity base sometimes).
Now don’t count me as a Therian Fanatic just yet. There has its own shortcomings, the biggest of which is that you do not have any rights to what content you submit to there.com – it becomes theirs legally. A proper comparison of the two will be forthcoming in a page post. I’m just willing to live with these for now, and as things progress I will see how things end up.
So here I am, pondering of all things a full-scale defection to There. Because it would be a rather poingant thing to do: Approaching the in-world equivalent of the Linden Labs offices like Martin Luther, leaving a prim paper of some sort on its ‘front door,’ and cancelling the Alan Kiesler account. Fitting too, since I’m a Protestant. :) I’ve definately made enough of a decision to add There to my musings at this point, and changed the subtitle of this weblog appropriately as well.
The moment this post heads up and other SL residents take notice, I’m sure to gain some interesting comments on the matter (on both sides). But remember, my reason for SL was always as a place for the Uru folks to gather. I’ve seen that both There and the Until Uru environments are much more active in that regard than Second Live would ever appear to be. Therefore, I have my two environments to hedge my bets, and SL can well fall by the wayside.