Premium Wilderness: a new experience

So, I’m browsing the Destination Guide, looking for a suitable place to cover in my “Virtual Destinations” series, when I come across a new set of premium-only regions labelled “Premium Wilderness”.

First look – the Destination Guide

The regions appear aimed at another Premium membership promotion, and to showcase some of the new pathfinding capabilities coming to SL. At the time I started my explorations, the blog post had yet to appear, so intrigued by what I’d seen in the Destination Guide, I read the byline in the Destination Guide Jump into the adventure that is the Premium Wilderness and set sail for adventure in this new experience – and jumped.

My first stop was Tapir – although as the six regions are all grouped together and have a common theme, you can start in any one of them.

I arrived on a small pier on the edge of a river. A click me sign provided me with the following information:

Welcome to the Jungle! Feel free to explore at your leisure.

Boat Ride:
Take a boat ride and enjoy the scenery. Just click on the boat when it arrives at the dock and enjoy the ride!

Explore:
Follow the paths, you never know where they might lead!

Interact:
Click on the things you see, you never know what you will find!

Sitting on the dock of the jungle: arriving at Tapir

There is a lot to click and play with – touch a multi-hued frog and it will hop around you and then lead you away from the pier…then disappear into the reeds at the edge of the river. There’s a boat that swings by which you can catch for a cruise along the river, or there are inner tubes you can paddle and diving kit for the really adventurous.

How you get about is up to you – walk, ride, swim – and there is plenty to see along the way, with the 6 sims forming a dense jungle-type environment complete with ancient ruins,  brought together in a very atmospheric mix – moreso if you can run with shadows enabled.

Ancient ruins

The experiences within the regions vary widely in content and use. You can, for example, meet a jaguar and play “fetch” with it, or wrestle with a crocodile, or play round-up with a herd of capybaras and corral them. There are also places where you need to watch your step.

Interestingly, when encountering things you can touch, you’ll often get a chat message, such as:

Acoustic Guitar – po: Look in your inventory for Guitar. It should be in your Object folder. Or click on the Recent Items tab at the top to locate it. Right click and select Wear. Right click and select Detatch to take it off.

One assumes this is for the benefit of those new users who have chosen to take the plunge and sign-up directly for Premium membership as a part of the promo offer.

Playing fetch with a jaguar

The regions appear to be intended as a social experience as well – there are numerous places for getting together and chatting / sharing. Some of the experiences are also geared towards sharing – the boat rides through the sims, the  Tahr racing on the beach or Tahr rides through the jungle, using, I assume, the pathfinding capabilities.

Thoughts

While visiting the regions, I was surprised to see comments start popping-up in Group chats that were somewhat negative – including one that suggested the regions are a means for the Lab to “recycle” abandoned land, which strikes me as cynical.

In terms of presentation, the regions are very atmospheric – and I recommend a visit with shadows enabled if you can, especially if you are using Exodus with HDR  / Gamma Correction or Niran’s with its advanced rendering options.

In terms of experience, I have to admit it’s a mixed bag. The regions are immersive, and offer a lot to see and do – but there were some oddities. While accepting that this might be another example of the “publish-test-polish” approach seemingly beloved of Rod Humble – but it does seem odd that other new capabilities coming to SL are seemingly ignored. The game of fetch with the jaguar, for example, requires you accept a stick into your inventory each time you touch the jaguar – and one wonders why the capability to attach the stick to your avatar, bypassing inventory altogether wasn’t used. Particularly as you are repeatedly prompted to accept the stick from the jaguar after each throw, leading to a possible small accumulation of sticks. But this is a minor niggle in the scheme of things.

Overall, the regions offer an interesting diversion for those with a Premium account who might like to spent time exploring something a little different. So why not give it a try?

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13 thoughts on “Premium Wilderness: a new experience

  1. How can you visit the sim if its for premium members only.
    Conslusion another hole LL is falling in. its starting to gte a mine field.

    No, i never do premium again, really money waste.

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    1. “How can you visit the sim if its for premium members”

      – By being a Premium member :).

      Whether Premium is represents value-for-money is down to personal choice – thus the ability to visit these regions is also down to personal choice. I departed Premium years ago, but recently returned, and I’ve so far found the experience to be worthwhile – with one or two caveats.

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  2. I’ve been exploring the Premium Wilderness sims for several hours. I love the wildlife along the trails. I wrestled a crocodile and swam with a school of piranhas. I’ve enjoyed playing some games. I bumped into a couple Lindens and watched a mole repairing a trail. I’ve been meeting some very nice people. Overall, it’s been a most pleasant diversion.

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    1. Hi Pete!

      Glad we also bumped into each other while exploring :). Have yet to corral the capybaras, but will likely have a go on my next visit. My niggles are just that – niggles, as I enjoyed my time roaming and am aware there is still more to see and discover. Will likely see you back there :).

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  3. I wonder if this is aimed at the wrong target. As I said in comments posted in other blogs, I don’t find this adds any value to my Premium membership. I think it would make more sense if it was aimed to new users as a way to get them acquainted and engaged with what Second Life has to offer. With some tweaking they could use areas such as this as a playground for new users so they can learn how to use the viewer and Second Life in general.

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    1. I deliberately only mentioned the Premium membership promotion in passing in the article because I agree with you and others who have passed comment on the value aspect – it isn’t there. To me, this is just a curious diversion for people to enjoy.

      I’ve also covered the current new user experience (which is apparently going to evolve) and didn’t want to go down that path again so soon :).

      My own concern over a move like this is that I’d be uncomfortable if LL started presenting this kind of offering to users, Premium or otherwise, on a regular basis & leave them open and available long-term, as it could be seen as encroaching on the efforts of sim owners who themselves work hard to provide an engaging experience for users, but who also pay $295 a month for the privilege.

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    2. It’s partially a demonstartion of the new experience tools, so it’s an exclusive sneak peek for premium members.

      Long term I do agree with you, these tools and experiences should be aimed at new users to give them something more interactive to do when they arrive.

      PS what the bloody hell are wordpress playing at with this borking comments business?

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      1. Sneak peek is how I took it originally, but it’s not exactly listed as that, whereas Linden Realms was. It is however being promoted hand-in-glove with the Premium offer.

        WordPress – no idea. Given that Search also seems to be borking (sometimes works when searching by tag, sometimes not), and on WP.com the dashboard is being routinely tweaked, I’ve given up trying to guess.

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        1. When I talked of sneak peek I was talking of the experience tools, that’s part of the push here, they also advertise the ferries as keyframeanimation, which is a recent update to LSL.

          I would imagine that eventually they’ll open it up to more than just premiums, I guess it depends upon the numbers.

          I can’t leave a comment here with my gravatar email address, WordPress have changed their commenting system, I get an error message that my email address is already registered and I have to login, only I don’t know how you login! There’s a big thread about it on the wordpress forums I’ve discovered, the workaround here is to not use my Gravatar, which seems an odd way of doing things.

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          1. Yeah, got it on the pathfinding – although some of the offerings are so subtle that some might miss that they are seeing new capabilities. Listing-wise, it’s currently more associated with the Premium offer. I’m also assuming it will open-up after a time period so all can see the capabilities. Thing to do is keep an eye out as per LR – locations on the map started multiplying just after the Premium preview went live, which indicated the game would be made more widely available.

            WordPress is boggling my brain right now, so I’m not going there :).

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