SL Halloween: of house tours and premium gifts

The Haunted Halloween Tour is back, with new twists

On Tuesday, October 2nd, Linden Lab announced the seasonal re-opening of the Haunted Halloween Tour together with a further Premium member’s gift.

Now in its fifth iteration since being unveiled in 2014, the Haunted Halloween Tour is an experience-led ride through (and under) an old house that echoes the Bates residence from psycho (I’m still surprised there isn’t a trip through a bathroom somewhere along it).

Reached via either Portal Park 1 or Portal Park 2, this latest take on the tour keeps the house, the usual coffin “cars” to ride in, and takes a familiar route through the house. But, as with previous years, there are a fair few new tweaks and changes to things.

We’re all probably familiar with Experiences by now, but do remind you need to grant permissions to the Tour in order to enter it. These are revoked on your departure

As the Tour is experience-led, those wanting to try it will have to accept the experience prior to passing through the Tour’s portal at either of the Portal Parks. This sometimes causes concern, partially due to the large dialogue that is displayed by experiences which indicates control of some aspects of the user’s viewer will be taken (see right).

There’s actually no reason to fear these dialogues: they are there to inform users over what is likely to happen and offer reassurance that it is all correct and proper (although admittedly, the dialogues could perhaps be made to be a little less threatening). And at the end of the ride, all permissions are automatically revoked until the next time you join the Tour.

However, if there are lingering concerns after taking the ride, the permissions can always be manually revoked – just go to the Avatar / Me menu (viewer 5+), selected Experiences, locate HA2014 in the list, click on it and select Forget. Should you do this, you will have to re-allow the experience on your next visit to the Tour.

I’m not going to dwell on the tour too much – there are new wrinkles, as noted. What I will say is that since 2015 and the first return of the Tour, I’ve tended to find it perhaps a touch too long, running for about 15 minutes. This variant is roughly the same length, but I (mostly) didn’t feel as if time was dragging as I have done with past iterations.

The Premium Gift comprises a camp site with tent, open fire and logs set around it for seating, the basics of the camp might suit any number of locations. The Halloween element comes with the inclusion of a spooky tree, pumpkins and grave stones.

The entire LI for the set is 85, but this can be reduced by only rezzing the items you require – so, for example, the tent, fire and seating could be used year-round, as the pumpkins could be removed. The gift is supplied with a rezzer in the form of a radio on a tree stump, which will also “read” stories in chat – one story is supplied and more can be added, if desired.

The 2018 Halloween Premium gift camp site. Credit: Linden Lab

I’m admittedly not a great fan of this type of Premium Gift – I much prefer practical benefits, vis more group slots, etc.). However, high LI aside (when compared to other mesh camp sets), some could find this one has use well beyond the Halloween season, although the static animations might be seen as a little limiting.

Premium gifts can be collected from any of the kiosks located in the Premium sandboxes.

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Premium subscription changes: a little more news from Grumpity

At the April 20th, 2018 town hall event, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Linden confirmed that as a part of pivoting Second Life’s revenue generation away from a heavy reliance on land, the Lab are looking at introducing a range of Premium account options which will have different levels of benefits associated with them – see here for more (includes an audio extract of his comments).

While details have yet to be finalised, Grumpity Linden spoke to some of the ideas under consideration at the Web User Group meeting. Because her comments are likely to be of interest beyond that meeting, I’ve provided a transcript of her comments, with an audio recording, below.

to précis Grumpity’s comments:

  • The Lab is looking at a range of Premium subscriptions, not just the single tier we know at present.
  • As per Ebbe’s original comments, how many and what they might each comprise is still TBD.
  • The over-arching idea is to make premium options so attractive, it would be “insane” to ignore them.
  • Simple examples of additional benefits being looked at is guaranteed access to in-world events / early access to in-world events, but overall, the Lab is looking at a broad range of benefits and (in the case of Basic accounts) limits.
  • With regards to Basic accounts, the Lab’s view is:
    • There are many things within Second Life which come at a cross to everyone’s in-world experience, but which are offered on an “unlimited” basis to Basic account holders – this may change.
    • Despite rumours circulating on the forums, there are no plans to prevent Basic account holder from rezzing things in-world.
    • The Lab wants to provide a Basic account experience sufficient to give incoming users an understanding  / flavour / taste (call it what you will) of all aspects of Second Life, while encouraging those who engage with the platform motivation to move to a subscription tier.
  • The coming changes are not about curtailing any use of Second Life or limiting what people can do or “nickel and diming” everything that can be done within Second Life.  they are about giving people more reasons to go Premium, make them happy / excited about premium opportunities, and hopefully of driving revenue generation.

Obviously, it would be nice to have more in the way of specifics – and these will come it time. As has been noted, it is still somewhat early days in what is being considered / planned, and I (and others) will obviously be reporting on things as the plans are made more public.

In the meantime, for those interested, here are Grumpity’s comments, and the audio recording of those comments as made at the April 25th, 2018 Web User Group meeting.

What’s coming on the premium tiers? We are looking at all of the existing premium benefits, we’re also looking at what is included with Basic accounts. Our goal is to make a basic experience that allows you an introduction to all areas of Second Life.

So I saw some fascinating speculation on the forums, and I don’t believe we’ve ever considered not allowing Basic members to rez. That would be probably insane on our parts, because this would take away from an integral part of Second Life.

But there are certain things that impact everyone’s experience on one hand, and are completely unlimited to a Basic account on the other.

So we’re looking at different ways of putting in limits that will actually improve everyone’s experience, give basic accounts a sufficient taste of what it is like but also; honestly, our goal is that if you’re committed to Second Life and  you’re invested in Second Life, the Premium benefits are such that it would be insane not to be Premium. And that’s the end goal.

And we’re looking at all sorts of limits, and we’re also looking at higher Premium levels that give you even more things. Like you could get into events even before all the other people, and you’d be guaranteed to get into the hair fair or something.

I can’t give away specifics, because this is so far away, and then when we announce you guys will be, “Oh, this is old news!”  So, we’d like to hold some stuff back. But our goal is to make you happy; it’s not to make your lives miserable and to nickel and dime you at every turn. It is to make Second Life more profitable and successful by making our residents happy [and] also by making new residents’ introduction to Second Life smoother.

90-day transaction history premium benefit

On Tuesday, November 7th, Linden Lab announced their new Premium membership benefit, previously hinted at  in recent blog posts.

In short, and with immediate effect, Premium members will have access to 90 days of L$ transaction history – almost 3 times as long as Basic members, who will retain access to  32 days transaction history.

The blog post also reveals and interesting statistic – quote:

Every day, the Marketplace alone sees more than 20,000 unique buyers purchasing more than L$16,000,000 worth of goods from more than 15,000 unique sellers.

Allowing for the caveat of “more than”, with a 5% commission on all Marketplace sales, this would indicate that the Lab is generating some L$800,000 in revenue from Marketplace sales, or very approximately some US $1,123,077 per year. While approximate, this gives some idea of the contribution the Marketplace makes to the Lab’s revenue stream.

Having an extended transaction history kept on file is something a lot of merchants will likely find useful, particularly when dealing the customer enquiries or issues. As such it will be interesting to see the feedback on this benefit.

Certainly, a benefit like this, together with those such as the extended access to concierge support, the increase in the number of off-line IMs Premium members can access on next logging-in, and the increase in group slots from 42 to 60 for Premium members, is likely to be a lot more welcome among a broader cross-section of Premium members than the “gift” type of benefit might reach, and liable to be far more practically used.

 

 

Of snowball fights and premium discounts in Second Life

Winter Wonderland - the snowball fight Arena awaits
Winter Wonderland – the snowball fight Arena awaits

The Lab has been awash with blog posts this last week. There was news of  a new Marketplace promotion – the 12 Days Of Savings, which launched on Wednesday, December 14th and runs through to December 25th. It sees the Lab hook-up with selected content creators to offer up to 70% off selected goods for the period.

That was followed by the announcement of the Jolly Holiday Crawl, and a chance to meeting Linden staff as they hop across wintry regions before retiring to Winter Wonderland for the time-honoured residents vs Lab snowball fight.

The Jolly Holiday Crawl will start at 1:00 SLT on Monday, December 19th, and conclude at :12:00 SLT at the Winter Wonderland, ready for the snowball engagement at Winter Wonderland, which will continue through to 14:00 SLT (officially!). There’s a special gift on offer for those taking part, and the itinerary reads as follows (all times SLT):

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

To coincide with the above, and the opening of the all new Portal Parks (see my post here for more), the Lab officially announced the re-opening of Winter Wonderland on Thursday, December 15th, together with an end-of-year Premium Membership discount drive.

The five regions of Winter Wonderland offer the Village of Lights (with the main landing point), the snow track for snowboard and snowmobiles (rezzers at the starting point), the skating rinks, Ferris wheel, walks in the snow, and – of course – the snowball fight arena.

The Premium Membership discount is this time in respect of the Quarterly  Billing plan, and relates to 50% off your first payment under that plan.  (all subsequent payments will be at the standard rate), and provides all the usual Premium perks. In addition, new and existing Premium members can claim yet another premium gift, which this time also includes a Premium Badge which unlocks exclusive options at Winter Wonderland (e.g. upgrading snowball weapons in the snowball arena).

For those who are interested in the Premium Membership offer, it expires on January 2nd 2017, at 08:00 SLT – be sure to read the small print on both the official blog post and the Premium sign-up page.

New Horizons in Second Life

Image Courtesy of Linden Lab
Image Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Tuesday, November 15th, Linden Lab announced a new Mainland community initiative called Horizons. It’s been the subject of much speculation and debate since two blocks of 60 regions associated with it appeared on the main grid map for testing purposes in October. Patch Linden further stirred up interest by posting some teaser images to his Profile feed!

Picking up on the SL13B hints, I contacted the Lab with the idea of covering Horizons – not only what it is, but also how and why it came about. Patch and his team were very receptive to the idea, and as result, I had the opportunity to tour the regions ahead of the opening, and learn more about it from  Naughty Mole of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

In short, Horizons presents a new 36 region Mainland community residential environment open to Premium members. Associated with this are four identical info hubs and two community regions, together with twelve regions of open water. All of this has been built around a new, six region experience-based adventure / quest called the Horizons Experience, which is open to all residents.

As I’ve covered the gaming experience in Inside the Horizons Experience in Second Life, this article focuses solely on the residential aspect of Horizons, and the supporting info hubs and community regions.

The residential regions have 1024 sq m parcels with a 702 LI (x2 object bonus). The supplied houses do not count towards the LI per parcel, the limits of which are defined by the "inner" white boundary markers
The residential regions have 1024 square metre parcels with a 702 LI (x2 object bonus). The supplied houses do not count towards the LI per parcel, the limits of which are defined by the “inner” white boundary markers

As noted above, the residential regions are available for Premium members. Designed with a “retro futuristic” look (think The Jetsons and you’ll be getting close), with integrated road system and waterways, each of these regions offers a number of 1024 sq metre parcels which, with the increased land capacity for Mainland, coupled with a x2 object bonus, have a total Land Impact capacity of 702 each. But that’s not all.

Associated with each parcel is a “mailbox” control centre allowing parcel holders to select one of six different house designs which are provided “free” for their use: they do not count towards the parcel land impact allowance. The houses can be held individually or by a group, and can be used for residential or business purposes. In addition, the “mailbox” offers a resource pack containing textures and bits to allow the houses and parcels to be dressed, while each house design includes a built-in control panel for lighting, window shades  security, etc.

For those who don’t wish to use the six supplied house designs, there is an option in the mailbox to clear the parcel. Land holders can then put down their own choice of home / structure instead – although this will count towards the total LI capacity for the parcel. It is hoped that those who opt to go this route will select a design in keeping with the overall “retro futuristic” theme of the regions.

The six supplied house styles
The six supplied house styles

A couple of further points to note is that the Horizons regions are all Adult rated and are connected to the north side of the Zindra Adult mainland continent. I’ll get to why in a moment, but suffice it to say for now, this shouldn’t be taken to mean the environment is for purely adult activities. The second point is that terraforming, including parcel subdivision, is not allowed on any of the regions.

So how did this all come about?

“We decided to develop Horizons as a result of thinking about what we could do to give the Mainland something new and exciting for residents to both participate in and enjoy,” Patch replied. “We wanted to offer a structured residential experience, somewhat modelled after the success of Bay City,  together with a really unique six region gaming experience. However the basic idea is to give Premium residents the ability to purchase and own parcels that are all uniquely themed and intermixed with the gaming experience itself.”

“It’s been a very big project for us,” Naughty Mole, of the Linden Department of Public Works, added. “It’s something we’ve been working on for the last seven months. We have the thirty-six residential regions, the info hubs and community regions, rezzing zones for boats and flying vehicles, which we hope residents will find attractive. All of the waterways can be navigated, and the roads are suitable for driving along.”

“We wanted to give people maximum flexibility,” Patch continued. “Making the houses opt-in or opt-out offers that kind of flexibility. We also have a lot of little neat features and attributes scattered throughout the regions for people to discover. Then there’s the Info hubs as well. They’re designed to tie-in to the current info hub system that’s out there, but are different to the traditional info hub in that they have different areas residents can visit to find out more about Horizons. So people can explore them, watch videos, visit the gaming experience from them, and so on.”

All of the residential regions have navigable waterways - rood bridges will automatically retract as boats approach. Rezzing areas for craft (and aerial vehicles) are available at the info hubs and community centres
All of the residential regions have navigable waterways – rood bridges will automatically retract as boats approach. Rezzing areas for craft (and aerial vehicles) are available at the info hubs and community centres

It is through the four identical info hubs visitors coming to Horizons via the Destination Guide will gain their first introduction to the regions. “Each one has a landing point,” Naughty explained as we teleported into one. “Spread out around that, are the rezzing zones for boats and flying vehicles and the land information area, where people can find out about obtaining a parcel on Horizons. This has an introductory video and a link to the Horizons wiki page which has everything you could possibly need to know.

“There is also the demo area where people can preview the available free houses. This is split between individual and group owned units; the house options in both are the same, but group owned have an additional controller for group access. The info hubs also include an area for the Horizons Experience, which includes videos, a link to the wiki page, a prize display and a teleport portal to the game regions.”

An infohub, with the house rezzing areas visible top left and right. Like the new Social Islands, these encourage visitors to explore and learn
A Horizons info hub, with the house rezzing areas visible top left and right. Like the new Social Islands, these encourage visitors to explore and learn

The two community regions comprise three social areas open for use by residents: a bar – the H(orizons) Bar, a more chilled-out lounge, and a meeting facility. “These are spaces where you can socialise,” Naughty explained as we toured the regions. “You can have a formal meeting, an informal meeting, or go hang out in the bar, where we have music and dance balls, so will hopefully be a place for people to hang out, meet friends and so on.” As well as the social spaces, the community regions also include their own rezzing zones for water and aerial vehicles.

Continue reading “New Horizons in Second Life”

Lab posts about latest Premium offer and Mainland LI increase

secondlifeUpdate, November 3rd: the changes in prim allowances in full are now available in this post.

On Thursday, November 3rd, the Lab blogged about their latest Premium subscription offer for Second Life, and in doing so gave confirmation of the Mainland LI / prim allowances people had been noticing following the weekly deployments on Monday, November 1st and Tuesday November 2nd – and gave a tease for more news to come:

In regards to the latter, the blog post  – Go Premium for 50% Off* & Enjoy Our Newest Perks Plus an Exclusive Gift – noted:

Premium members are entitled to a Linden Home and can own parcels on the Mainland. Now, we’re raising the limit on the number of prims you can use in those spaces. This means you will have more prims and creative flexibility to decorate and customize your own space.  Land impact (object) capacity on Mainland Regions will go from 15,000 to 22,500 – that’s a lot more building capacity!

In addition to this, we will further carry the prim limit increases to the private estate regions shortly.  Keep your eye on our blogs for more information!

An episode of Designing Worlds comes out later this afternoon which talks more in-depth about this new perk. We’ll update this blog once it’s available.

(My emphasis on the last part of the statement). All things being equal, I’ll also have more to come around 14:00 SLT see the link at the top of this article.

The blog post from the Lab confirms that Mainland full regions now have a standard Land Capacity / prim allowance of 22,500.
The blog post from the Lab confirms that Mainland full regions now have a standard Land Capacity / prim allowance of 22,500.

The rest of the post concerns itself with the Premium subscription offer, which started on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2016 at 08:00 SLT and will expire on November 10th, 2016 at 08:00 SLT. It offers the usual 50% discount – which for this offer is applied to the first month of the monthly subscription plan, as the small print explains:

TERMS & CONDITIONS This offer begins on November 3, 2016 at 8AM Pacific Time (PT) and expires on November 10, 2016 at 8AM PT. To qualify for this promotion, you must 1) have an existing Second Life (“SL”) basic account or create a new account, and 2) select monthly (every one month) billing for your SL account. The fifty percent (50%) discount will be applied to your first month’s bill and future months will be billed at the standard Premium Membership price (currently US$9.50 per month). For new accounts or accounts not previously upgraded to Premium Membership, after initial login through the Second Life viewer following upgrade to Premium Membership and: 1) following your first full week, the L$300 weekly stipend will be deposited to your account every Tuesday for the duration of your Premium Membership; and 2) after your account has been active for forty-five (45) consecutive days, the L$ sign-up bonus will be deposited to your account.

As well as the discount, Premium members are also offered a new gift in the form of a laser-shooting Alpha Robot Avatar.