Saturday, February 27, 2010

SL Viewer 2.0 review

Hello all…
I admit it... I have to give Viewer 2.0 overall a thumbs up. I too have seen and heard many negatives about the viewer. Things such as it isn’t builder friendly, objections to the ‘blending’ of 1st life info on main profile tab, fairly ugly formatting of user inputted text to the profile, annoying chat changes and of course the side bar pop out. As a land owner, builder and machinima maker I was certainly concerned that I might lose some functionality, but a few days into the beta… so far so good. I’ll tick off the complaints I’ve heard or seen so far.

1. Not builder friendly – For me… I haven’t seen any issues. True the build button has moved to the menu bar above. Functionality seems the same.

2. Blending of 1st life info on main profile tab – This is a concern that may be more related to a lack of trust (sadly often deserved) related to the direction LL is going. At this point, as long as the default requires me to Opt-In to reveal my information then I am fine with it. As long as this remains the case then, it is really just a change of location… folks have always had the option to reveal rl information.

3. Annoying chat changes – For me… it was irritating having to hunt for basic options. My biggest complaint (and this goes for the side bar… to a degree) is that lack of any Alpha slider. I want a measure of transparency to the pop ups. I often have many windows open at a time and it would be easier to navigate if I could tell stuff was buried.

4. As for the sidebar. On the one hand I appreciated that it did not cover a portion of my view, since it forced a change in my aspect ratio. However, on some machines this may cause it to hang, depending on the graphics card and processor on the client side. For me… I would like more control over it’s open size and transparency, perhaps the option for it not to change my aspect ratio.

For me, the most interesting and powerful change is the media integration. Last night I posted my blog on a prim, ran a machinima embedded in the same blog there and edited a typo I found… all in world in real time on that prim. Since I don’t see SL as a game I won’t call this capacity a “Game Changer”… but this is a huge wild card. Testing with friends revealed early, since the viewer changes are client side, only folks running the 2.0 viewer can see or interact with any of it. So folks running 1.23.x will see a blank prim. However, once adoption of 2.0 grows you will see a lot more media running. Flash works on the prim, etc… so I fear whole sims running Facebook pages playing Farmville (and yes I enjoy Farmville but I don’t want to play it in world.. .lol). How all of this will contribute to client side lag is hard to say… perhaps the group chat lag happening last night as we tested was coincidental.

In the end… This is a beta test… so… testers give input. Linden Labs desire to go mass market will in fact be market driven. In the end… they are a corporation and in the business of increasing profit. I do see the creation of the Enterprise side of SL as a good sign. Yet, I still say thank God for Open Sims, Reaction Grid, Blue Mars and other competitors. I will be interested to see how the folks doing 3rd party viewers will respond to the addition of media integration and interactivity.

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