Thursday, 24 May 2007

virtual Manchester goes for Big Chips

Tonight the UK's Second City (unless you are from Birmingham) - Manchester - opened its 4-sim presence in Second Life. Despite some trumpeting in the Press and the web, this is apparently NOT the official opening, but rather a soft launch to trial it. This being the case, why in God's name, use the occasion to host a RL-SL simulcast of the Big Chip 2007 Awards? An event whose website unabashedly states: "This is almost certainly the first time an awards ceremony has been shown live in Second Life. The virtual ceremony will be the launch party for a new area in Second Life – Manchester UK." I'm not sure that the first assertion is true, while the second does rather suggest that the island is officially launched - unless the Mayor is going to come and cut a virtual ribbon next week, which is by no means impossible.

I won't go further into the background of the sims - since it is in this post from January.

The Big Chip Awards are described as the top awards for ICT and "New Media" outside London. I attended the Second Life event, which at least saved me the 75 quid I would have had to find to stand a chance of attending the RL event. But before talking about the build, let's take a look at my snapz:

The place has a distinctly unfinished look to it, and I think the build team will be hard pushed to complete it by next week. I am not privy to the inside story on this and can only go from my observations - having tried to access the sim on many occasions. After its initial acquisition it seemed to show no progress of note for months. It is only in the last 4 to 6 weeks that I have spotted a sudden surge in build effort (using the Satellite Map as a rather poor measure). It feels like a deadline had been set - this award ceremony - but the construction did not start at a time that would allow a successful build.

As a result the site feels half-empty and disjointed, with the shells of a number of Manchester's iconic buildings dotted around the landscape. Few, if any, have anything inside. The build quality is hard to assess right now, accepting the soft launch argument, but if pushed I would say... umm... "rushed."

There were problems with the streaming too... both audio and video suffered huge delays, rendering the award show both unwatchable and unlistenable to. A shame, since presumably a significant effort was put into this. It was not due to sim overload, as there were perhaps 15 people present at the time.

I'm sorry to be so critical of the build. I know and love the city of Manchester (though not their football teams), and perhaps for this reason I feel even more disappointed than I might otherwise.

As for the longer term usage of the SIMs - I think I will wait until it is "officially launched" before popping back to investigate further.

Oh... and I finally met Nic from the excellent Kzero blog:

Hi Nic!

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