Second Life First Steps

posted under by Philip Howlett
Well I spent the last hour of my life signing up to second life, downloading the software and completing the tutorial. If I have to continue using this piece of software over the next few months I'll probably throw my computer out the window in frustration. I haven't reiterated the point in a while that I absolutely despise RPG's and MMORPG's. With that in mind I'll give my impressions on the experience so far.

The most awful part of this whole experience are the graphics. I suppose I expected them to be terrible, as this is an online game with huge environments so they're limited as to what can they achieve. When you've been spoiled with the kind of graphics seen on the PS3 or Xbox 360 you feel like you've gone back in time and you're punishing your retinas unfairly. It's very clean, linear and sharp, but ultimately it's boring. I didn't feel any desire to explore the environment as a result. Walking through the world felt like a chore more than anything. The instances of pop in is incredible, you're looking in to the distance and you can see the world loading up in front of you. There's not even an effort to make this less obvious such as a fog or smoke effect to cover up the draw distance. Even as you walk past a tree you see it load up from the low res to high res version. With my loathing of how this game looks it's hard to have any kind of fun. There are some positives in this cyberworld however.

After having a play around for a while I started to realise the scope of what you can do. I've only been on the tutorial island so far and there was a ton of stuff to play around with. For example you can sample the vehicles, interact with objects, watch video streams and buy objects. What impressed me was the tutorial system. This game at it's core is very complicated, and being thrown in to it unaided would be really overwhelming for the average Joe. You get four distinct paths to begin with, which are colour coded, and they add up to create a jigsaw when completed. When you work that out it's very clear what you have to do to progress. Tasks are indicated by a big flashing circle and when you reach it a step by step tutorial is provided which you go through at your own pace.

The main reason we're using this software is to play with the character creation feature. I've not decided on how I want my character to look, so I'm saving that for later. I had a look at what was possible though and it's a very in depth system they've implemented. I'm actually quite looking forward to getting stuck in to that.


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