Cloud Party is the new rage -- or at least, Hamlet ne Linden Au is trying to pretend it is. And other SLers are looking forward to when business arrives. You can sign in with Facebook so it's going to, um, be just like a Zynga game.
It's a new 3-d real-time interactive world which is supposedly going to "kill" Second Life, and therefore Linden Lab "must" buy it, says Shamlet.
Cory Ondrejka, who used to be the CTO for Linden Lab and left after a falling out with Philip, first to EMI, then later to Facebook, is one of two engineers investors working on this world (the other is Cryptic Studio’s ex-CTO Bruce Rogers). Why would LL buy out the project of a guy that left them in a huff?!
It's not an SL killer, and I can't see any reason why Linden Lab would spend a dime on this.
Remember Lively? Or Kaneva? Or some of these old simplified failed virtual worlds. It has that feeling to it. Lively was Google's attempt to prove virtual worlds don't work before they went on to killing Second Life's search with their GSA while they bought themselves time, and Kaneva actually may still exist as they just sent me a birthday greetings.
In any event, let's start with the basics: you can't fly. What the hell kind of virtual world is it if you can't fly?!
Hamlet and others think it's "all that" if you can "fast-easy-fun" join it from Facebook. Except, who wants to *have* to use your real-life name or (you get a gender choice) or worse, have to put your real-life name with the opposite gender? The "fun" is taken out right at the gate.
When you land, you are in exactly the equivalent of an SL sandbox, not even welcome area. There are balls whizzing in the air, giant cannons, particles flying everywhere, and loads of plywood boxes set out. You'll feel RIGHT at home. Except...why did you leave SL for *this*?
To be sure, you will get a "starter home" and apparently even have the ability to "buy an island," but you'll first have to get through those frustrating "fast-easy-fun" tutorials and "just know" that the real estate is hidden inside of "navigation" on the "cell phone".
In order to prepare you for thinking this is all going to be great to have on a dinky cell-phone screen, all the dashboard operations are inside the icon of a cell phone that has "apps" -- which are the operations like build mode or teleporting.
You have to "just know" that you must complete both tutorials (including the build one) which are fairly easy although they lag out and disappear at times -- then you will be tp'd to a ready and available house. You can also go around that automatic system if you want a different place, but they all look the same.
They're like the Linden Homes in feel, and you will struggle to whack out a couch or whatever other newbie stuff is in the "library" -- not much. As you struggle to turn it around, you find that sometimes the entire screen and menus seem to be turning too. Surely it isn't meant to work that way.
Build mode has lots of familiar features -- even those coloured arrows as on the SL grid. But pulling out the edges and "scaling" are separate tabs from "move" and "rotate" on the Windows-like menu -- and that's just the huge annoyance. Instead of having all the build functions on the object menu -- on the object itself inworld so that you are manipulating the object as an avatar without feeling that you are losing your immersiveness in the world, instead, you get a big menu that obliterates the world. So each operation is a separate function on that menu, like Paint or Windows or any program like that. "Build mode" is a separate mode you are in where you can't do anything else -- much like The Sims Online, only without the jaunty music.
What I find really ridiculous is that when you want to delete an object (they're mesh), the entire world blacks out -- the screen asks if you really want to delete something, covering up the object a world with that big black message.
Imagine, your avatar turns into a cloud, too. Why, I don't know.
In a world where you can't fly, you feel so constrained and heavy, and you also feel as if there are "sharp edges" -- you can't walk anywhere beyond the little island, which feels like the chunk of earth in space in the story "It's a Good Life".
I for one am very big on continguous geographic metaphors and not just teleportation.
So you're in this rocky suburbia in your little wooden house with the stairs to the 2nd story, you look up at big rocks in plastic bubbles in the sky, and you can TP to them if you like.
There are no features to eject or ban or close off so all kinds of newbies crawl over your house.
Trying to build is frustrating -- the items slip around, you don't feel very much in control of them, as if they were rubber-banding.
Please don't tell me this is just in beta, and that people are working hard, and you have to be "constructive". Again -- that's ridiculous. The claim for this cloud dump is that Linden Lab "must" buy it and that it is "better" because it will scale up with lots of Facebook friends.
Baloney. I don't believe it. It has no sense of presence, contiguity, no social events (at least not yet), and just a lot of sandboxing. It will take years to get beyond that phase.
Hamlet flogs his old concept of land revenue models as being failed, out of date, blah blah. As I've explained before, Hamlet hates land as a commodity -- it goes against his technocommunist religion.
That's what Inara Pey says -- and she doesn't seem terribly vested in the idea of land as a commodity herself. Although her write-up of why it doesn't make sense to reduce tier and wouldn't help makes a certain amount of sense.
But a key reason why land -- and stores -- are diminishing is not merely because of failure to thrive, failure to grow, etc. related to some "failed land model" that has to be switched to dressing your puny avatar on a dinky mobile screen (I tried this on the Blue Mars app -- yeccth.)
No, it's the viewer.
The viewer still bites, and search still sucks.
I've really tried hard to use only viewer 3.x - the latest with mesh etc. -- to try to be ready when Oz Linden finally deprecates 1.23 and waves away those trying to peer at the little man behind the curtain.
And it's just awful for trying to manage land. After about my 10th teleport to a customer trying to remove old prims, rewrite descriptions, locate prims on the land (you can no longer do that because they don't highlight), a thought suddenly dropped into my brainpan:
They are deliberately trying to make it really hard to manage land to drive people away from managing land.
Could that be?! Surely that is mere paranoia!
But the work flow is really AWFUL. Just sharing a notecard with info is an excruciating chore, and when you have to do it dozens of times, you go crazy.
Search lags on its own, and when you try to pull up somebody's profile using their object or their notecard, you get a blank screen as it lags out. Yes, I have all the http stuff unchecked.
Search still has a very odd bug -- or feature? I put in "Ravenglass Rentals" and check off general, mature, and adult to be able to see all my properties in "places". And always at the very top I get an adult sandbox which isn't my property. Why? Did they put my rentals name into objects on their land? I can't tell. Or is this how LL ensures that people get free ads and that the public is pushed toward adult lands? I try this again and again to document it -- and then it disappears. I log out, come back -- it comes back again. Something is "up".
Search/places is almost to the point where I can use it for land management, but it is putting all my owned parcels into the list under the term "Ravenglass Rentals," just because that's the land group, even though the name on the land description for many tenants is something else -- their store or home. So I *don't* want all those stores coming up on that search -- I just want the vacancies. This worked great in 1.23. It will never work in 3.x.
I have no idea how search works -- what the latest gimmicks or principles are in the never-ending effort to stay ahead of all the SEO manipulators. But there's a constant feeling of confusion around it. I don't get why some classifieds are coming into the view and not others, because I can no longer see what was paid for them. I can no longer tell what to pay for a classified so as to land on the second page of results, for example.
Will all these ongoing viewer annoyances that cripple SL be enough to drive me to this cloud land? No. There's nothing there.
I wish a Linden or two would say to themselves: let's walk through managing land in rentals groups and/or on islands from the point of view of this viewer, and see if we have a functional viewer. Maybe they've done that, but perhaps only for islands and not mainland. Everything is 10 times harder. Every function -- adding a role to someone in a group, sending something to them, etc. it's just nuts.
It's especially annoying to pull up a profile and not be able to instantly push something to someone. Instead, you have to click again on "IM," but then decide whether it is an IM or a message. Only IM gives you the interface where you can pay them or push inventory to them.
Geeks are all thrilled with Cloud Party because of its geekable factors -- it is "extendable," i.e. they can build things outside the platform or inside the platform. It's "web based" which promises web applications being seamlessly added. It's an easy Facebook log-in which supposedly means that the people dismayed by downloads will flock to it (although it still loads as long as a log-on with a download anyway lol -- the dirty little secret of web-based worlds).
Here's what Adeon Writer says, for example, in the comments on Hamlet's blog:
To me, it's killer app are the graphics toolset it makes available: It has normalmaps, speculars, reflections, rigged objects with custom skeletons - all the toolsets every graphics engine SHOULD have - that Second Life lacks. The same tools we have been begging for for YEARS - I can make my models look BETTER in Cloud Party than I can in Second Life.
But none of that is relevant to the average person. The average person who might like to dabble in amateur building and cannot easily because of its de-immersifying quality in Cloud Party and because it's just that much harder a menu to understand and navigate. The colours and shapes seem dull, mesh though they may be. There wasn't any moment when I turned the corner and said "wow," the way I would do even in Blue Mars for something somebody made custom.
The snarks want to know why LL can't get tools like this up and running as fast as the people in this little vapour-world. And the answer is -- because they have 30,000 interactive servers with user-generated content and 50,000 concurrency, not 25 with a few starter homes. I suspect the thing is going to lag and crash and spit up even more than it does now if more people come.
I simply feel no urgency for LL to buy this thing and develop and/or kill it. It will sink of its own weight, or, if it doesn't, provide a good competition to LL and help the whole ecosphere of virtual worlds grow.
Another commenter at Sham's blog says that SLers are imposing notions of pseudonymity and adult content on the devs. Well, I'm not. I don't have a problem joining a world with my real name and I don't require adult content, but I do wonder what I'll do there if I'm unable to build easily or even sit down (it's odd, the avatars don't sit). Even if they do sit or get poses at some point and furniture gets easier to put out, and you can schedule and advertise events, I would still wonder why I was in such a shallow place when there's SL which isn't *that* hard to learn.
I'll be surprised if "the masses" flock to this world because I don't know if "the masses" have an appetitite for sandboxing. Perhaps when there is more finished content, but by then the devs will have welded in all the mistakes of SL and other worlds -- dev-heavy features that delight nerds but mean nothing to norms, etc.
Someday, they will first start with the people -- the customer requirements -- and then build the world. Instead of the other way around.