Nine summers ago, I went for a visit, To see if the moon was green cheese. When we arrived, people on earth asked: “Is it?” We answered: “No cheese, no bees, no trees.” There were rocks and hills and a remarkable view Of the beautiful earth that you know, It’s a nice place to visit, and I’m certain that you will enjoy it when you go.
Neil Armstrong, 1978
Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012
First man to walk on the Moon
Missions flown: Gemini 8, Gemini 11, Apollo 11
The latest Premium gift arrived yesterday, together with yet another push for people to up to Premium. In keeping with the transportation / vehicle theme that has marked the majority of the gifts to date (the last two being a sailboat and a railcar respectively), this quarter sees a dune buggy as the offering – so no-one can accuse LL of not trying to get people out and around SL in order to use their gifts.
As with previous gifts, the buggy is mesh, with a total LI of 58. The level of detail on it is OK, if a little basic texture-wise. It seats two, and the promotional blog post makes a big point about taking friends along for the ride, although the buggy is restricted to owner-only driving.
Driving-wise, it uses the usual controls either the WASD keys or the arrow keys. It has a “turbo” feature – doubling-clicking the W/up arrow accelerates the buggy and produces a green glow under it, and you can use this to pull wheelies. Use the SHIFT key in combination with the A or D / left or right arrow keys, and you can produce tight hand-brake turns. The front wheels don’t turn when turning the buggy, but a particle dirty / dust effect is given off from the rear wheels when in motion.
Once seated in the vehicle, you can call-up a menu allowing you to change the colour for various parts of it: frame, seats, wheels, etc., allowing a degree of customisation. A help card can be accessed from the menu, although the vehicle really is simple enough to get to grips with without it.
As with the railcar gift from May, the notecard includes a number of places where people can go drive their new toy, although one of these is on a time-limited basis and “may disappear after the promotion period for the buggy”.
Personally, I’d actually suggest this 4-region, Premium-only area potentially represents more fun / value than the buggy itself. It offers plenty of space for people to race vehicles, fly aircraft and generally socialise. If you’re listening, LL, consider expanding it by a couple more regions rather than packing it up in the future, it’s a place where users can do what they do best – make their own fun.
Of the three vehicle-related gifts supplied by LL to date, this is potentially the weakest in terms of appealing to established users. Anyone with any interest in vehicles is liable to have at least one sitting in their inventory already. However, for the curious / those new to SL who signed-up to Premium, then the buggy may well have appeal. Certainly, there were a fair few trying their gifts out in the 4-region driving zone. How long the appeal lasts, however, is questionable.
It’s a shame LL opted to restrict the buggy to owner driving only. Giving at least an option to set it to group access / driving would have offered the potential for people to have far more fun with friends, Premium and non-Premium alike, at any of the major race tracks and driving zones around SL.
For my part, and being a bit grouchy, the buggy is another “meh” gift; I have a beautiful car in the form of a Classic 43S GT which, while not as efficient as the buggy in terms of resource use, is actually a lot better looking and far more fun to drive – and I can share it with friends, as it has the option for “guests” to drive. It’s also available for free on the Marketplace).
The major issue with this gift, again, is it’s hardly an incentive to take-up (or even maintain) Premium membership. And in that respect, if LL really do want to get more people to jump the fence from Basic to Premium, they would probably have more success overhauling the entire Premium package. Although quite how they do this without upsetting something, somewhere (and doubtless a lot of a people in the process), is something of a L$64,000 question…
Friday 24th August marked the start of another of the regular pushes by LL to encourage people to sign-up to Premium accounts, with the usual banner headline “Save 50% on your membership when you sign-up”. This time the offer runs through until Friday 31st August.
As per usual, the discount comes with strings: it only applies the Quarterly plan and only to the first quarter’s payment. This tends to make a bit of a mockery of the “Save 50%” headline (which should more correctly read, “Save 50% on your first payment” – but that doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?).
The promotional page again features the same list of benefits and the same glitzy video, and still carries the same overall question marks around it.
While I’m Premium myself, I admit that there is much about these ads I find objectionable and misleading, particularly the “more” statements, something I touched on when reporting the last Premium offer. But that’s the major problem with Premium; when all is said and done, it actually offers little in the way of tangible benefits outside of Mainland ownership and Customer Services support. Even stipend, it might be argued, is little more than a refund of money already paid to LL.
A Personal Opinion
I re-upped to Premium at the start of November 2011, and went through getting a Linden Home and trying-out the Premium Sandboxes. If you’re considering Premium, you might want to give those articles the once-over. However, before you do so, consider your options carefully.
If you need a decent amount of space in-world (anything over 2048 sq metres and allowing for the 512sq m free tier option), you’re probably not going to get much out of upping to Premium. Similarly, if you’re a builder and have your own space in which to build, you’ll need to weigh-up how often you need to use a public building space and whether or not non-Premium sandboxes are really that bad when you do.
However, if you are downsizing in SL, the Premium may well offer benefits: the Linden Home may not be a state-of-the-art build, but it comes with an available prim allocation / land capacity of 117. This is enough to provide reasonably comfortable living space, particularly if you’re not downsizing with a view to leaving, but simply don’t want the expense of land rental. Even at $22.50 a quarter ($7.50 a month before your refund … er, stipend …), Premium does offer value-for-money if you want to maintain a modest home without the hassle of weekly tier (and $7.50 is an amount you can easily pay out per week elsewhere for a small parcel of land). Just make sure that, as per my item on getting a Linden Home, you have a good look around – and don’t forget that if the first place you get doesn’t suit, it’s easy to abandon and try again.
The end of October marks my first full year since re-upping to Premium. I’ll be offering more thoughts and feedback then.