Linden Homes: recent expansions future thoughts

Welcome to Bellisseria

Since their introduction in April 2019, Linden Lab have released more than 10,000 new Linden Homes across Bellisseria, including the southern extension to the continent and southwards towards the Mainland continent of Jeogeot. They represent an extensive mix of themes: “traditional” homes, houseboats, campers & trailers and Victorian, all of which have proven very popular – as evidenced by the speed with which releases have tended to be snapped up.

The more recent updates have seen the southern section of Bellisseria that arrived with the release of the Victorian type of home directly connected with the northern, and additional off-shore expansions that place Linden Homes in the waters off the north-west coast of Jeogeot. The latter do so by offering what might be seen as the first “cookie cutter” element of the new Linden Homes, duplicating as it does the original houseboat expansion, together with a couple of the sand bar layouts from elsewhere around the continent.

Victorian Houses and the railway in the southern extension to Bellisseria

These extensions fulfil Patch’s promise that the new continent for Linden Homes would directly connect Jeogeot with Sansara to the north, providing water access (including the coastal waters of Bellisseria) between the two, and which goes well beyond the narrow corridor of water originally linking Jeogeot to Bellisseria.

In addition, the extensions close to Jeogeot also encompass one of the earliest Mole builds – Pyri Peaks. It was designed to offer anearly attempt at an interactive adventure involving a storyline, a fun fair and a network of underground tunnels and chambers. It is a setting I wrote about in 2013  with Pyri Peaks: the mystery of the lost Moles (2013), and whilst it is perhaps a little long in the tooth by today’s building / design standards, it is good to see it folded-in to the new Linden Homes in a move that might encourage interest in this part of SL history.

Pyri Peaks: home of the Pyri Fun Fair and now within sight / reach of Linden Homes

Whilst there are still houses within Bellisseria yet to be released, just where any future new locations for the homes might go raises an interesting point to ponder. One doesn’t have to look too far west of Bellisseria to note the number of private regions lying in that direction, together with the likes of the recently-arrived SS Galaxy, the QA versions of the Shop’n’Hop regions as well as the actual shopping event regions.

While these latter regions might be relocated to provide a little more western room to expansion, it would seem the the eastern side offers a far better opportunity, although this runs the risk of sliding into the open space to the east of Jeogeot, which might eventually lead to that continent looking crowded-in and limit expansion somewhat. So, might the Linden seek to offer a new continent elsewhere at some point in 2020? If so, will it see further home types?

Campers and Trailers in the Linden Homes regions extension just off the coast of Jeogeot

Offering new styles of Linden Home certainly helps maintain interest – but it comes with a potential risk: new houses could encourage those with Linden Homes to vacate and rotate from type to type, making it difficult  / frustrating for others who have yet to claim a home and who want to get one of the newer styles (something that has already been the case).

That said, were I to be asked, and given the potential for a more “offshore” style development alongside Bellisseria, I’d love to see something along the lines of houses built along a network of canals, with each house having a modest boat house or mooring space within the parcel and suitable for a small boat or two. Admittedly, it would require careful design to provide a mix of houses, waterways and footpaths (rather than roads) to connect everything together (and likely require a fair number of bridges), but such a design could generate interest and provide something more unique in terms of layout and options.

There are still regions in Bellisseria awaiting release to user, such as this area of Traditional Homes, sitting in the hills overlooking the southern extension to the continent

I’m pretty sure others have ideas for what they’d like to see, if there are to be further Linden Home types – feel free to comment with ideas! I’m also sure the Lab has plans of their own in terms of house types, if more are to be offered. In the meantime, as noted, there are still numerous regions in Bellisseria and the southern extension still to be finished, and the LDPW are once again back at work to get them finished and available as part of the weekly release cycles.

Names Changes: rounding-up what’s known ahead of any launch

Name Changes – the ability for Premium subscribers to be able to choose their own first and last names – is due to be deployed in 2020, possibly as soon as February. I’ve provided two prior summary updates on what has been released about the capability already.

However, while much of what is already known is unlikely yo e news to many, I thought that now we’re almost on the cusp of the capability being made available, I’d pull all of what is known from those updates and via more recent Lab-led meetings to offer what is (I hope) a reasonably complete, one-stop summary of what is known, and what might be surmised fee-wise.

The Basics

  • Name Changes will be a Premium-only benefit.
  • Qualifying users will be able to change their first and / or last name as often as they like.
  • First names will be entirely free-form.
  • Last names will be selectable from a list (see below for more).
  • Both first and last names can be up to 31 characters each.
  • Combinations of first name + last name must be unique, and can never be used by any other user.
  • Subject to final confirmation, it may be possible for a user to change back to a first name / last name they have previously used.
  • There will be a USD fee payable for each name change (see below for more).
  • The ability for Premium members to change their first / last names will be via an option on their secondlife.com dashboard, not an in-viewer option.
  • Names Changes will not be replacing Display Names, which will remain available for any user wishing to use it.

Last Names

  • The list of last names will likely be around 20-30 names, and subject to periodic update.
  • Previously used last names will not be made available for re-use.
  • Suggestions from users for possible last names may be taken by Linden Lab.
    • A Name Changes competition that saw the submission of 6,000 names closed on January 6th.
  • Two possible means for rotating names in the list that the Lab are considering are:
    • Replacing popular names from the list as they reach a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Replacing “unpopular” names if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over a period of time.

Fees

  • While it has yet to be officially confirmed, the fee for using Name Changes will likely be US $39.99 (based on Section 5 of the rules for the recent Last Names competition).
  • The fee will be charged whether changing only a first or last name, or both the first and last name.
  • When launched (at a date still to be determined) the new Premium Plus subscription will offer Name Changes at a lower fee (still TBA) than Premium membership.
  • The fee is being levied primarily to discourage users from making frequent changes to their user name, due to the potential impact on SL services (as everywhere a user name appears must be updated when a change is made).

Availability

  • It is hoped that Name Changes will be available in February 2020.
  • However, at the January 8th, 2020 Web User Group meeting, it was indicated that final deployment is dependent on the Lab finishing all remaining work on the capability and then testing it.

General Points

  • Name changes will be reflected across all of Second Life. This includes things like:
    • Other people’s Friends lists.
    • The Creator and Owner fields of the Edit / Build floater.
    • Group member lists.
    • Marketplace listings.
    • Chat and IM.
    • Plus anywhere else a “live” record of a user name is held.
  • Previous names should be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that name and get their current name.
  • At the time of writing, it was still not clear whether a change of name will trigger a notification to those on a user’s Friends list or not.
  • It has taken a long time to implement because Second Life was never designed to support users changing their account name, and as the account name touches every aspects of the platform, the Lab had to go through all the places the user name touches and make sure that any updates correctly reach them without being missed / causing an adverse impact.
  • Incoming users will not be able to pick a last name when signing-up.
    • They will receive the default last name of “Resident”.
    • It they upgrade to Premium as part of the sing-up process, they will be able to change their name via their secondlife.com dashboard, just like other Premium subscribers.
    • Last name choice is not included in the sign-up process because a) it is a Premium benefit; b) it has been found to be a major blocker to users completing the sign-up process (which was a major reason last names were originally abandoned).
  • When using scripts to handle account / avatar-specific information, creators and scripts are strongly advised to use the Agent Key (avatar UUID) as their reference point, not the account name.

References

January 2020 Web User Group: Events, Name Changes & Marketplace

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, January 8th, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Recurring Events

Recurring Events launched on Monday, January 8th, allowing Premium members to set a recurring events in the Upcoming Events lists available via users dashboards at secondlife.com.

In brief:

  • Premium members will be charged L$10 for listing one-off events, or L$50 for filing an event that can recur up to 12 times (weekly or monthly).
    • Basic members are charged L$50 per event listing.
  • Recurring events are events that share the same location, time, duration, and description but occur on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Recurring events are largely set-up exactly the same was as individual events:
    • Go to your dashboard at secondlife.com and select Events from left side menu to open the Events listing page.
    • Click on Create A New Event directly below the top left calendar on the page, then read and accept the Event Posting Rules to display the new Event Creation page.
    • Complete all the fields on the page.
  • For Premium members only, the page now includes two new drop-down options:
    • Repeating – allows you to select whether the event is a one-off (No Repeat) or should repeat on a weekly or monthly basis.
    • Number of Repeats (only available when either Weekly or Monthly is set from the Repeating options) – allows you to select the number of times the event is to be repeated, to a maximum of 12 weeks or months (so for a single L$50 fee you can schedule a monthly event to recur on the events listing page for up to an entire year, or a weekly event for up to 3 months at a time).
The new Recurring Events drop downs (arrowed) for Premium Members only. Note that when either is set, the event fee (highlighted in red under the form) changes from L$10 (the cost for listing a non-recurring event filed by a Premium member) to L$50.
    • When selecting an event to repeat either weekly or monthly, the fee charged to your account (displayed at the bottom of the form) change from L$10 to L$50.

There are currently some minor adjustments required for monthly recurring events, as events recurring right at the end of a month may give some incorrect dates for months of different lengths. Such areas can be corrected manually, but updates to be deployed in the near future should correct the problem. In addition, LL will be monitoring the recurring events capability now it is live in order to identify and address any other issues that may arise now it is live.

Future Events Listings Work

Further improvements to events are planned (e.g. better searching for events), but these are dependent on other work being completed first.

This work may include things like being able to push events to your personal calendar (Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.).

Name Changes

  • No final confirmation on release date (although the hope has been for a mid-Q1 2020 release). The exact release time frame is dependent upon final checks on the capability being completed.
  • Even if delayed, Last Names will still be deployed before any release of the Premium Plus subscription package.
  • Over 2,000 entries have been received as a part of the (now closed) Last Names Contest, totalling some 6,000 last name suggestions in all, and LL have started going through them.
  • It is likely that when Name Changes is launched, users will be able to pick last names from a list of around 20-30.
  • One of the approaches being considered for changing the available last names is for:
    • Popular selections being removed from the list and replaced on reaching a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Having selections that appear “unpopular” (i.e. they are rarely / never selected) replaced if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over an (unspecified) period of time.

Marketplace

  • The new Marketplace limited quantities and demo items search filters options

    Marketplace search has been updated with options to exclude / include limited quantity items and / or demo items.

    • The check boxes for excluding (ticked) or including (unticked) such items can be found at the bottom of the Search Filters panel displayed on the left of Marketplace pages when either Search is used or See All Categories is clicked.
    • Both options can be found below the search by permissions options.
    • By default, both options are unchecked, so that searches will include either limited quantity or demo items in their results results.
  • Work is being put into performance improvements which, as Grumpity noted at the meeting, tend not to be noticed right up to the point where something goes wrong.
    • An example of this is the ability for merchants to search their invoices should be a lot faster following back-end updates.
  • There are still “quite a few” things the Lab have queued up to do in relation to Marketplace search, but no specific details are available as yet on what might surface when.

In Brief

  • This issue with Destination Guide submissions is believed to be resolved.

Bellisserian Victorian Homes now available

The Victorian Linden Homes are now available

The team has been hard at work over the past several months putting together what we think is our most stunning release to date.

Nearly 1600 Victorian homes will launch this week, the majority of them happening today (Monday, 16 December, 2019). Plus another 500 coming before the end of the year!

– Patch Linden, Monday, December 16th, 2019

With these words, via a forum post, Patch Linden stirred up considerable excitement as the latest and newest type of Linden Home was made available in what is (for the time being at least) the “Bellisseria Southern Continent”. This is currently separated from the rest of Bellisseria by a region-wide channel of water, but the general landscaping and the design of the Bellisseria SSPE suggest / show both are to be connected at some point.

The Victorian Linden Homes are integrated with the Bellisseria railway

I previewed this new type of Linden Home in The “Victorian” Linden Homes theme and a chance to win one (December 5th, 2019). As with the previous releases, the Victorian comes in four styles, three of which offer 2 floors of accommodation (the Shelley, Hardy and Verne) with a single floor house rounding them out (the Doyle). All offer different external styles (although the Shelly and the Verne have a superficially similar turreted look) and individual interior layouts.

With the his announcement, Patch reveals this latest Type of Linden Home is integrated with the Bellisseria railway network – something I noted in Bellisseria extension: new homes theme takes shape(?). They also flow into the coastal area of the region – with some being surrounded by sand, rather than grass. However, and like the coastal Traditional Homes, they do not provide direct access to the waters in or around Bellisseria – such direct access remains unique to the Houseboats.

One of the public spaces within the Victorian Homes regions

Landscaping within the regions for the Victorian Homes is in keeping with the theme – gas street lamps, kerbed footpaths and cobbled (or at least brickwork) roads. Bridges within the regions are equally as distinctive, being somewhat hump-backed in form, while community facilities within public spaces offer influences the Victorians drew upon – such as Greco-Roman style architecture, as seen around the public pools and fountains.

In all, some 1600 Victorian Linden Homes were promised for release at the start of week #51, with a further 500 promised later in the week, together with a further 1600 Traditional Homes, Houseboats and Campers (in fact some of the Houseboats can be seen from the Victorian Homes already available).

Two of the new houses on their own little island, with a new batch of Houseboats beyond. Some 1600 new Houseboats, Traditional Homes and Trailers and Campers are due to be released in week #51 2019

As Patch notes, the Victorian theme is perhaps the most stunning Bellisseria Linden Homes release to date, and I’m looking forward to finding a rez zone and tootling along some of the railway lines. However, as nice as they are, the Victorian Homes – lacking as they do the direct water access, even when on the coast or along a river bank – won’t see me jumping to one from my Houseboat – at least, not just yet!

The New homes are available to Premium members via the Premium upgrade page / their Premium Linden Home page at secondlife.com. The same rules of abandonment and swapping apply as will all Linden Homes (you can swap up to 5 times in a 24 hour period), with house types listed subject to their availability¹.

The Victorian Type of Linden Homes and landscaping
  1. Note that at the time of writing, it had been requested that people avoid abandoning their homes due to a queuing issues – check the release forum thread for updates.

Lab announces “Premium pre-pay” for annual membership discount

via and © Linden Lab

On Monday, December 2nd, 2019, Linden Lab announced a 10% discount for Premium membership (see: Holiday Premium Sale – Save 10% on Annual Membership).

Such discount offers aren’t new to Second Life – they’ve been rolled out regularly for the last few years. However, the December discount is different in that it is offering 10% off the US $99.00 cost of Annual membership – the first time that the Annual plan has been included in a Premium membership discount offer (Monthly or Quarterly have been the subjects of past offers).

I noted in my December 4th Web User Group meeting summary, the Lab would “soon” be offering that same 10% discount for existing Premium members wishing to take advantage of the offer, and extend their membership by a further year for US $89.

Well, “soon” turned out to be sooner than I’d anticipated, as hours after that summary was published, the Lab announced the Premium pre-pay is now available for existing members. In short:

  • Premium members can pre-pay for another year’s membership beyond the end of their current subscription period, using the Annual plan at the 10% discount, providing they do so before January 2nd, 2020, when the current Premium promotion ends.
  • Existing Premium members on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans will have to “upgrade” to Annual.
  • For those in EU countries subject to VAT who are on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans, note that the Annual is additionally offered VAT-free (VAT was re-introduced on Monthly and Quarterly plans in July 2019).
Existing Premium members on the Annual plan or those “upgrading” to Annual from either Monthly or Quarterly can now take advantage of the 10% discount offer available until January 2nd, 2020, to extend their Premium membership by further year beyond the end of their current subscription period

How well this offer suits you will depend on your existing plan / circumstance. Given the overall pricing differential between Annual and Monthly or Quarterly, it’s hard to see how this offer cannot have appeal for those who are in a position to take advantage of it. For those already on Annual, however, it comes down to how the offer period falls compared for your usual renewal period (sadly, for me, the timing is not that favourable, but ho hum). For those who do find it favourable and are in a position to take advantage of it, I can only say, “go for it!”

The “Victorian” Linden Homes theme and a chance to win one

 

Linden Reveal and the 4th new Linden Home theme

On Thursday, December 5th, Linden Lab unveiled the promised 4th theme of Premium Linden Homes that will soon be made available on the Bellisseria continent, alongside the existing Traditional, Houseboat and Trailers & Campers themes.

The preview has been made available as a part of the American Cancer Society  / Relay For Life of Second Life 2019 Christmas Expo, (and I’ll have an article on that event available shortly), with the preview also offering the chance for one Second Life user to win a special Premium Subscription / Linden Home auction package featuring one of these new homes.

The Shelley

The new theme is called “Victorian”, and as with previous releases of Linden Homes offers Premium members a choice of four individual house styles within each parcel, all selectable as required from the “mail box” fronting each parcel. As with the Traditional homes, this new theme features wooden-clad houses, with the styles as follows:

  • The Shelley: a two-floor Queen Anne style house, complete with circular turret and a covered porch on three sides of the house with rooms laid out in a 3 down, 2 up configuration.
  • The Doyle: the one single-storey home, offering four rooms.
  • The Hardy: a two-floor house that might be considered a folk-style house, offering a large front-to-back through room that could easily be split into two individual rooms, and two smaller rooms on the ground floor and three rooms upstairs.
  • The Verne: a two-storey house with an octagonal turret (were it complete on all sides) which is suggestive of Gothic Revival (but could also fall into Queen Anne), comprising two ground floor rooms (one of which could easily be split into two) and two rooms at the top of a circular staircase.
The Doyle

Those of a literary bent might also note the houses are named for period writers: Sir Percy Shelley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, and Jules Verne.

The preview region for the homes also gives a sense of the region layout that will accompany the theme (see Bellisseria extension: new homes theme takes shape(?) for more on the regions). Commenting on both the houses and the region layout, Patch noted:

I left the design and structure, floor plan choices to be faithful period reproductions based on the research done, and that even extends to the layout of the regions for the era.

– Patch Linden, describing the new theme to me.

The Hardy

There is currently no official release date for these new homes beyond Very Soon™ – a clue to their approaching availability might be when the regions see in the SSP continent are cloned at Bellisseria.

Note that these Victorian theme house are available within the current Premium subscription packages they are not anything to do with the Premium Plus subscription offering that will be coming in 2020.

Those who would like to both support the American Cancer Society and the RFL of SL 2019 Christmas Expo and win one of the new Victorian theme Linden Homes in a custom designed parcel can enter the One Of A Kind Linden Homes auction via the 2019 SL Christmas Expo website. The auction is open to Premium and Basic users, and the complete prize package comprises:

  • A 6-month Premium subscription package (the 6 months will be added to any existing membership for those who are already Premium).
  • A Victorian Themed house.
  • A parcel custom designed by the LDPW moles.

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