A look at the new Belli Rub – I mean BelliHub – in Second Life

BelliHub landing area and new user tutorial

On Wednesday, April 19th, Linden Lab announced the launch of BelliHub and New User Tutorial regions – a new location within the Linden Homes Continent, open to all, which is intended to – quoting from Patch Linden’s forum post – provide:

A place where they can go to find information regarding Bellisseria, meet up with residents living in Bellisseria and have all of their questions answered. BelliHub features:
  • Information: Links to pages with details on things like how to get a home, Premium membership, using the land tools, the Bellisseria covenant, etc.
  • Bellisseria Events Centre: where members of the Bellisseria Performers Group can mark their events on the calendar for all to see.
  • Demo Homes: Finally a place where residents can rez and walk around all of the currently released home themes and models.
  • Hangout: A games area for residents to hang out and interact.
The BelliHub and BelliDemo regions are a resource for everyone who wants to help prospective new Linden Home owners, or just hang out and discuss all things Bellisseria.

– Patch Linden, April 19th, 2023

BelliHub: Linden Homes demo area

I will admit to reading the place name as “Belli RUB” at first glance, hence the title of this piece – I just couldn’t resist; however, the write-up and the Destination Guide entry left me curious enough to hop along and take a look just as soon as Fantasy Faire and completing setting-up my new PC allowed.

Sitting as a part of the New User Experience (NUX), BelliHub shares elements first seen at the new Welcome Islands I explored back in July 2021 to provide a tutorial area for new users and an introduction to Premium subscriptions, Bellisseria and Linden Homes. In particular, the kiosk-style approach to information areas seen within the Welcome Islands is repeated here, together with the garden-like layout and footpaths meandering between the different locales. However – and while I have not been back to the Welcome Islands to see how things may have changed since 2021 (makes a note to try to do soon in the near future), there are improvements here over that layout as originally reported.

Signage, for example, is much improved and less in-yer-face, giving progress through the various areas a more relaxed feel. Outside of the initial tutorial area / landing point, people are invited to touch the various signs to receive information, rather than having it shouted at them by detailed signs which can feel a little overwhelming. And talking of prior Welcome / Learning Islands, those with particularly long memories might want to to give a gentle pat on the head to the parrot at the Communications area, as he once again offers a call back to the Orientation Islands of old (all we need now is the old ball-and-table – which I think I’ve said at least once before!).

BelliHub new user tutorial
Progress is also assisted by the use of blue directional lines laid out along the footpaths, giving a needed sense of order to progress. In the 2021 version of the Welcome Islands, learning was a little more random as people could wander past kiosks without necessarily taking notice of them; here, the trails lead directly to the kiosks and through the areas to which they are linked, encouraging attention be paid to the information boards without any sense of being led by the nose.

Very good use is made of video media throughout as well – complete with auto-detect volumes which trigger videos when someone crosses them / stands on them (instructions are also provided on toggling video media manually in the viewer). The videos range from those produced specifically for the NUX (hi, Abnor!) to videos produced as a part of the Lab’s Second Life University series.

The path around the hub eventually reaches a gateway titled Bellisseria, after passing a Landmarks area where those who wish to do so can continue their explorations elsewhere in Second Life. The archway marks the end of the the “basic orientation” section of the hub, and the focus turns to the ideas of land holding – both Mainland and Private – and on Premium options, with links (including a globe of the Second Life world where those wishing to do so can upgrade to a Premium subscription (the globe itself a further link to the Welcome Islands).

BelliHub: Linden Homes demo area

Given the title on the arch of the gateway, it should come as no surprise that beyond it is a focus on All Things Bellisseria including an events area which includes the ability to book the various community centres for an event by Bellisseria residents (click on the name of any community centre to open the World Map to teleport to it). I’ll admit, reading one of the calendars, I was a little concerned that the last time Abnor Mole ate anything appears to have been April 13th…); and information on the Bellisseria Covenant and what is or is not allowed in the Bellisseria continent. Beyond this, the path ends at a Where Next? kiosk with a link to the Destination Guide and some further focus. Alongside of this end-point is a small dock where a sailboat can be rezzed for those wishing to take to the water: a nice touch.

North of the tutorials / information area and within a second region, and a looped path offering the chance to visit demos of the released Linden Home themes. Visitors can either walk the path or grab a bicycle from the rezzer at the start point and ride around the path. Again, in a nice touch, the house controllers for the demos are open to the public, allowing people to view the different styles of the various themes. Just keep in mind that if you use a bicycle from the rezzer and opt to hop off to look at a house, the bike will poof.

For those looking for a little socialising, BelliHub offers a number of seating areas, some of which also include the opportunity to play chess or draughts, whilst the beach adjoining the tutorial area also offers beach volleyball, 10-pin bowling and other activities.

BelliHub new user tutorial

Overall, the BelliHub is well designed and considered, presenting an engaging and interesting visit for established and curious established Second Life residents as well as those coming into SL who might be directed to it, whilst for those who have invested themselves in Bellisseria and its various communities, it offers a further opportunity to socialise and – possibly – meet and help incoming new users to Second Life.

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