Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Free Second Life

I first joined Second Life in December 2005. At the time, I couldn't manage my first life, much less take on a second one. I think I logged in only a few times and barely figured out how to move around. Almost a year later I had gotten my real life somewhat in order, and a good friend of mine talked me into giving Second Life another chance. It was because of her that I had signed up originally, and by now she was practically addicted. I couldn't remember my password or anything, so I just created a new account. For some reason, though, I just still couldn't really get into it. By January of 2007, though, I was honestly starting to feel a little left out of an important part of my friend's life. Every time we got together, she'd talk about her SL friends as if I knew them, almost forgetting that I had no idea who she was talking about. Ok, I'll admit it. I was feeling a little jealous :) . Finally, after I discovered that a couple of other friends of ours were also really into Second Life, I decided I needed to give it another chance. I'm really glad I did, because I've found it gives me a creative outlet I've never really had. It's also given me an excuse to learn some really cool software like the Gimp and Blender, and a reason to start a blog.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I realized the other day that I would do things a lot different if I were starting Second Life now, knowing what I know. I could have saved a few dollars. Quite a few dollars, honestly. Unfortunately, I've already spent that money and I can't get it back. What I can do, however, is help other people avoid some of my mistakes.

So I've decided to try a little experiment. I'm calling it "Free Second Life". I want to see how good of an experience someone can have in Second Life without spending a single penny of real money! Yesterday, I created a new alt account. I did this so that I can make this experiment as realistic as possible. I wanted to start fresh with just the newbie inventory that Linden Labs gives you when you sign up. I'm going to post my progress here, ending with my Linden balance at the end of each day that I post. I do plan on earning some Lindens. You would be extremely limited in hat you could do without them. The rules for this experiment are:

1. I can't purchase any Lindens. I can set up a credit card so that I have payment info on file, but I can't buy any Lindens.
2. I can't transfer any Lindens from any of my other accounts to this one. I'm not giving up my other SL accounts, and I can still spend real money on them. But none of that money can end up in the hands of my Free Second Life account.
3. No begging for Lindens. I suppose this is a valid way to get a few Lindens, but I just can't do it. I've had complete strangers ask me for Lindens before, and it annoys the crap out of me.
4. No accepting of gifts of Lindens from friends of my other alts. I just think that would be cheating.
5. No accepting of of Lindens gifts from people who read this blog.
6. Gifts of clothes, objects, other items, and Lindens freely given to me in world by people in was that don't violate riles 3, 4, or 5 will be accepted. I think this is realistic. I've had people give me gifts before for various reasons, and I don't see a problem with that as long as I'm not going around begging for gifts or Lindens.

I think those rules are enough.

So, I created a new account. My Free Second Life name is Elsbeth McMahon. I wanted Elizabeth, but that name wasn't available with any of the current last names. I chose McMahon because it was the closest thing to my RL last name, McGough. Ok, maybe not that close. But they're both Irish.

I went through Orientation Island like all other newbies. I won't go into details of that here. I think the Orientation Island process is pretty good. The instructions they provide are fairly easy to follow. Once I finished that and got to the mainland, I tried to remember what it was like to be a newbie. To be honest, that wasn't as easy as you'd think. It's very hard to pretend you don't know what you know. At least it was for me. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to get into doing any role playing :) .

I decided the first thing I wanted to do was not look so much like a newbie. I looked pretty awful compared to the beautiful avatars you see on the Second Life home page. To get started, I consulted an expert. Natalia Zelmanov has an excellent guide for newbies on her blog. Following her suggestion, I first went to New Citizens Inc. On her blog, it's called New Citizens Plaza, but they've changed the name since she wrote her guide. When I got there, it was very crowded and extremely laggy. This is, unfortunately, not uncommon for some of the mainland sims. If you are new (or even if you aren't) and find yourself somewhere where everything is taking a long time to rez into view, and you can barely move, try not to get frustrated. Each sim (also known as a region) on the mainland is an area of 65,536 square meters and is hosted on it's own server. Some servers are faster than others, and each can only handle a certain number of people in it at the same time. I think the number is 40. Anyway, crowded sims mean a full server. And this means slow. You have two choices. Be patient and accept that it's going to be slow, or go somewhere else. I have very little patience. I opted to go somewhere else.

I went to Free Dove. I so wish I had known about this place when I really was a newbie. The place is loaded with free clothes, shoes, hair, skins, and a lot of other stuff. It was very crowded, but not laggy. I guess it's on a faster server, I don't know. Anyway, I picked up almost everything there for the taking. A couple of the skins there are actually quite nice. And I was able to find a nice, normal looking casual outfit that didn't make it overly obvious that I was a newbie. I didn't really like any of the hair I got there, though.

Oh, another thing. I think there were some shapes there, but you don't really even need a freebie shape. All of the shapes you can buy (or pick up for free) are created using the slider bars under the Edit Appearance menus. You hopefully remember how to change those from learning about it in Orientation Island. I was able to use these to make my own shape that I think looks quite nice fairly easily. I may post a detailed blog about that tomorrow.

That was pretty much it for day one of Free Second Life for Elsbeth McMahon. My Linden balance at the end of the day was zero.

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