Poking at the new Welcome Islands

The new Welcome Islands

Update: Keira Linden indicated as well as A/B testing against the Learning / Social Islands, the Welcome Islands are also being compared with throughput via the Firestorm Community Gateway. you can find more on Keira’s comments on the Welcome Islands and the Guidebook in my July 7th Web User Group meeting summary). 

Following my recent look through the new Guidebook that now forms a part of the official Second Life viewer (and is filtering its way into TPVs), and which is aimed at helping those get started on the platform, I’ve had the opportunity to take a poke at the new Welcome Islands that are designed as an arrival point for incoming new users, and which leverage the viewer’s Guidebook.

Before getting down to some of the details, it’s worth pointing out a couple of things:

  • The new Welcome Islands and Guidebook appear to be in A/B testing alongside the existing Learning Islands / Social Islands that are in use.
  • This means that should you opt to create a new account to try-out the new Welcome Islands, you may not actually be directed to them, but are instead directed to one of the existing Learning Islands / Social Island (reviewed here).
Arrival: the Guidebook opens at the first page, and a path directs you around the island

Given this, I opted to use the Guidebook within the viewer to get me to the new Welcome Islands rather than creating a new account and relying on pot luck to get me delivered to them via the on-boarding process (when I might easily be routed to a Learning Island).On arrival, I found the Guidebook had opened itself at the first page – much as I would expect it to do for a new user on their arrival at the Welcome Islands. As with other new user experiences, Welcome Island presents a path for  arrivals are to follow, one that meanders through a park-like setting built around a water feature. The latter offers an interesting view of the Second Life grid – as a planetary globe, canted on its axis and spinning gently, its watery surface dotted by the Mainland continents, mini-continents and private estates / islands.

The Avatar picker area displays a selection of start avatars, all of which are animated in their display area

Along this path can be found the three main stations referenced within the Guidebook for interacting with objects,, changing / customising an avatar and gaining familiarity with avatar attachments, all of which sit relatively close to the landing point. Beyond them are two more large stations – a bar and a café, each with interactive food / drink givers – and a number of open-air seating areas offering the chance for social interactions – if there are sufficient new users on an island who wish to mingle.

Also to be found on the islands is a sign directing all those who wish to move on elsewhere in Second Life to use the Destinations tool bar button. However, what the sign fails to indicate is that if it is clicked, it will (via a dialogue box) offer to open the web search at the Destination Guide, which can then also be used to locate places to visit.

Two new arrivals work on avatar looks – or try to(?)

These islands are a simple in design, easy-to-explore settings with some nice touches (e.g. seats that actually offer poses, drinks and refreshments trays that attach objects to an avatar in order to help new users gain familiarity with interacting with scripted object) and sits well with the Guidebook.  However, part of me does wonder if it is a little too minimalistic in approach in order to satisfy all incoming new users.

The grid as a globe within the new Welcome Islands

Certainly, there is a strong contrast between this somewhat contextual approach and the more tutorial-oriented Learning Island / Social Island approach. There are strengths and weaknesses to both, so continuing with them on a side-by-side basis even beyond A/B testing is likely not a bad idea, so it will be interesting to see what happens down the road.

What I will say is that, whilst loitering in the Welcome Islands I was delivered to, several people dropped in as well. Those who responded to me indicated they had just signed-up (although looked like they were coming back to the “Welcome Back” Island where I was hiding, rather than being “brand new” users”), and further indicated they were finding the Guidebook useful – although this obviously didn’t stop questions! – although one who had managed to find their way into inventory did admit to getting somewhat confused and wanting more information on have to change looks without having to pick an entire new avatar, and what was the difference between WEAR and ADD.

I’m not sure we’ll be given any clear insights into how well the new Welcome Islands perform when compared to the other routes into Second Life, but hopefully it will contribute not only to getting people into SL, but also giving them the level of information they need to keep on visiting – and exploring.

In Perpetuity in Second Life

Perpetuity, July 2021 – click any image for full size

Designed by the in-world partnership of Tamara Sierota and Camis Sierota (Camis Lee), Perpetuity is a Full region presenting a refreshing pastoral setting that is open to visitors to enjoy and photograph. It offers much to see in as very natural setting that carries  something of an emphasis towards lovers and couples, as the About Land Description indicates:

A place for quiet moments & photography with areas to bring your date, lover, partner or to come alone & relax surrounded by nature in all its beauty. 
Perpetuity, July 2021

Group membership is open for those who wish to have rezzing rights, and motorbike and horseback riding are welcome along the dusty track that winds its way around the region, whist a bicycle rezzer is also available at the landing point for those who are sans horse or motorbike options, but who wish an alternative to wandering on foot. Poses for photography may also be rezzed via group membership, with the request that these are kept small and are discreetly used – and are cleaned-up afterwards.

The east side of the region features a ribbon of beach that runs north-to-south. Watched over by a summer house and a small café, the sands of the beach offer several places to sit and look out over the water to the far horizon, and is spanned by a long pier that forms the landing point while also providing access to the rest of the setting  as arrivals walk its length.

Perpetuity, July 2021

The majority of the region is given over to an arable / livestock farm, with corn, sunflowers and lavender in the little fields, and cattle and sheep grazing while horses wander.

How much emphasis is put on income from farming, however, is open to interpretation: one field has been given over to a music event space and the main barn appears to be more used as a front attraction for Camis’ Apple Pie & Moonshine bar than as a home for farming implements and / or horses, the old tractor parked within it notwithstanding.

Perpetuity, July 2021

Elsewhere across the region are further signs that that farm – assuming the entire setting was once all a single farm holding – has diversified its business comes in the form of the little cabins and old chapel that have been converted into retreats for artists, and what might have once been a barn that is now a motor-cycle friendly bar as it sits across the track from the farm’s produce shop.

The farmhouse itself sets to the south-west, tucked into a corner where the track loops around a small natural bay fed by fresh water that tumbles from a stubby thumb of rock poking its head above the surrounding fields. Backed by the high mountains that cup the region within their off-sim arms, it’s a cosy house perfectly set to give itself a sense of privacy without actually being divorced from the rest of the setting.

Perpetuity, July 2021

Given this is a place intended for the romantics among us, as well as explorers and photographers, there are numerous places to sit and spend time with someone close to be found throughout, indoors and out, on the land and on the water. All are gently washed over by the local ambient sound scape that adds a little more depth to the region, and all can be found as a result of gentle exploration of the island.

Rich in detail, easy on the eye, with a welcome and encourages people to explore, Perpetuity is a delight to visit. A calm haven caught in the midst of summer for both visitors and the local animals and wildlife (keep an eye out for the black bears!).

Perpetuity, July 2021

SLurl Details

2021 SUG meeting week #27 summary

Cravone City, April 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, July 6th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. The meeting was recorded by Pantera Północy, and the video is embedded at the end of this summary.

Server Deployments

See the server deployment thread for any most recent updates / changes.

  • Tuesday, July 6th saw the SL Main channel servers updated with simulator release 560819. This includes internal fixes, a fix for BUG-202864 – “Change Mesh Uploader to preserve Scene File object names when a full linkset is uploaded”. and a fix for BUG230881 – “llHttpRequest(): HTTP_CUSTOM_HEADER flag is ignored”.
  • Wednesday, July 7th will not see any planned deployment to the RC channels.

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the official pipelines as:

  • Release viewer: Project UI RC viewer, version, dated June 14, promoted June 23 – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, dated July 16, 2019.

Region Crossings

During region crossings, vehicles and avatars are packaged and transferred separately to one another, before being unpacked and put back together by the receiving region. Due to the fact that vehicles are generally less complex than avatars, then tend to arrive first, and this can cause issues as the scripts on the vehicle resume and make calls (animations, etc.), on avatars that have yet to “arrive”, which can result in vehicle errors.

While there is an event flag – CHANGED_REGION – triggered when the vehicle has correctly arrived in the new region, allowing its scripts to resume, there is no equivalent flag for arriving avatars.  So user Animats has suggested the creation of such an additional event flag: CHANGED_REGION_COMPLETE.

This would be sent once the receiving simulator has unpacked and seated the avatars using the vehicle. Should this additional event flag not be received, then it is indicative that something has gone wrong, allowing vehicle scripters to use it to determine how they’d like to handle the situation.

See BUG-230934 “Add event bit flag CHANGED_REGION_COMPLETE to “changed” script event” for more.

It has also been suggested that LL give thought to a way in which vehicles can detect upcoming parcel settings. A major issue of vehicular travel is encountering parcels where object entry is disabled – resulting in the vehicle being auto-returned to the owner and all those aboard violently unseated.

A means for the viewer to be forewarned of the access settings for a parcel would potentially allow vehicles to be scripted so they can respond to “unfriendly” parcel such as stopping at the parcel border (presumably with a test notification to the driver) in a similar manner to when they encounter ban lines, thus potentially preventing vehicle return and avatar dumping.

There are again complexities to this idea (e.g. what happens when the parcel(s) being checked are in the next region, and thus on a different simulator to the one the checking script is currently running on?). However, LL have requested the idea be filed via Jira to allow proper assessment and discussion.