Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Avatar Island Orientation Zone

While covering the CyberExtruder personalised face graphics software in the last post, I mentioned that Avatar Island is also about to launch its own Orientatation Zone as part of Linden Lab's outsourcing of Second Life entry. Since I've covered a couple of other such zones, I thought you would be interested to see their approach.

First though, I want to offer my thanks to Trogg Garrigus and Captain Borgnine of CyberExtruder, and Korvel Noh and the team from Cranial Tap, for putting up with my dumb questions and giving me a comprehensive tour of the extruder lab and orientation zone.

The orientation zone is of the "5 and out" model that I have described before. Newcomers are given a set of basic lessons, sufficient to get them started in Second Life. Each lesson is accompanied by a brief description in 5 different languages, but the lesson itself is basically graphical - and is thus language-independent. The newcomer steps through a series of slides that provide the necessary information. The first lesson, shown below, is on movement; the second, inventory; the third, editing appearancs and so on. A nice touch here is the transition from third to fourth lesson. The newcomer is taken below the sea, where s/he can marvel at the sealife (excellent, by the way) and gain an idea of the power of SL. The fourth lesson is about flying and the fifth, and final, lesson is about obtaining goods (freebies! Yay!) and using a teleport (to the Cyber Extruder lab). Throughout, touching blue surfaces will pull up addtional helpful hints (according to the message that appears when you arrive).

The blue circle below is actually part of the flying lesson - but I will leave it to you to go figure it out.

We spoke at length about the approach to orientation. Newcomers will get here either through a registration portal on the CyberExtruder website, or from the generic Second Life website. The workings of the latter are not clear, but what is clear is that different newbies, arriving at different zones, will get different orientation experiences - some better than others. It seems that, for Linden Lab, this is part of their intention. By using a range of different orientation techniques they hope to see what works, and use that as a template for future orientation zones. They've already had a tour of this zone and have been thoroughly impressed.

I am not a huge fan of "5 and out", but I think this is an excellent example of what can be crammed into such a constrained set of lessons.

(Thinks: I can't recall where chat and IM were covered, but they must've been - mustn't they?)

UPDATE: Here's the starting page for the CyberExtruder Second Life Portal.


call me cynical but said...

Avatar Island - offered as a 'community' on the registration pages. If this is the way sl intends to improve the experience for new users,we should be worried for its future.

Sure, the orientation is fine, as far as it goes, but what happens when the newly born avi emerges from her initiation? The arrows leading you through orientation direct you to the centrepiece: CyberExtruder's offer to get your avi made up with a pic of your own choosing for a mere 2700 L. Now just imagine, you're new to sl, you don't know what to expect, and here are some big arrows directing you straight from orientation to the place where you pay to get your avi. And next door, the places to get your expensive clothes and accessories. Hmm, might some people not get the impression this is what they HAVE to do?

CyberExtruders' website claims there is a team waiting to welcome you, but when I was there all I found were half a dozen bewildered noobs asking each other what to do next. Well, pay for your avi and stuff, of course!!!

THe island is open to residents, so there was the usual contingent of well wishers and smart-asses helping or showing off.

I remember my orientation fairly well. It wasn't bad, and then I found myslelf in Help Island where I hung around for quite a while. There was a decent collection of freebies, lots of similarly baffled newbies to chat to and theoretically at least mentor support. I say theoretically, cos they were sometimes there, but not often. The policing wasn't wonderful. For one whole day, an alt devasted newcomers with a cage gun and flamethrower with absolutely no intervention from LL, and there were not a few Goreans trying to collar new slaves. I can't see Avatar Island being any better protected, being open to allcomers.

For all that, it was a helpful place to be with some sense of commmunity and without the pressure to buy $L unnecessarily and spend them straight away.

Is this shift to 5 steps then buy buy buy the new way forward?

Aleister Kronos said...

I think you make an excellent and valid point regarding the natural expectation that you are now obliged to stump up for a photo-real avatar, with nothing actually pointing out that this is entirely at your discretion.

Most orientation islands (all?) are open to residents - I've done a bit of samizdat mentoring myself at one or two of these. I still point most of my would-be noobs at Orientation Station. Sure, it is commercial - but it provides in-depth coverage, does have real people to help you (if you wait!) and has some nice freebies.

My own orientation was less traumatic - but nonetheless, I wish it had been more like that offered by many of the independent sites - even tho most seem to believe "5 and out" is enough.