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…