I made a new alt in Second Life recently - I wanted a second guy for some hunting picture purposes and I was reminded anew of how altered the alt making business is now that we don't have last names. It was incredibly difficult to come up with a name - I ended up using a name I'd originally thought up for a google alt email, to give you a sense of the dearth of reasonable names. You an still make a unique name without numbers, but names are essentially phrases now in Second Life, like elsewhere on the internet. It feels a little like beating a dead horse, but late last month I met someone who was newly made and had a last name - who said he was a Linden - and it made me wonder how much they had altered the code since they took away last names; clearly the last names are available under some circumstances, why not for everyone? There's never been a clear explanation for why last names were take away; some people speculated it was for the business crowd, but by the time it happened those business leads seemed to have dried up. Its a baffling sort of thing, and I'm not sure we'll ever truly have any answers at this point.
The starting area has changed, too, since the last alt I made. I had one lurking in the starting area about six months ago, when the style was cartoonish and it was a series of doors one walked through to get dropped somewhere from the destination guide. Now and then I'd run across one of these poor unfortunates, dropped randomly and having no idea what to do. It reminds me strongly of my first arrival in 2006, where I didn't last a week because I couldn't figure anything out. This time, there's a path to follow, but neither instructions nor aid to any of the poor orange ghosts on the beach. I overheard one woman talk about how she was told to log in for a psychology class - she needed to make a representation of herself - and I wondered how well she would do. It didn't sound like she'd been given any guidance on how to find some of the free resources on the grid, and without that it can be difficult to get a complete or attractive avatar.
In honor of thinking about new things, like the beginning time of a new CEO Ebbe Altberg, who has already started interacting with the more enthusiastic residents in Second Life through his twitter, I thought I'd make a short list of the things I'd like to see in Second Life.
- Last names back. I know it's been years, and things are different, but seriously people want this a lot, including me. The biggest advantage to it is that it allows more than one person to be Jane or Marcus, and people often become very attached to their names. Also, who doesn't want a joke alt?
- "Dressing Rooms" for residents that allow us to rez things and get some privacy while interacting via Group Chat and IMs with other people in Second Life. This is probably harder, but it would be a real boon to the economy (since people would have a reason to want to buy furniture and the like), and if they only exist when the person is logged in than I bet it wouldn't take up too much server space.
- "Message boxes" of some sort which takes in and organizes objects given while someone is not in world. Lets you set settings for how you get notecards versus IMs versus group messages. A lot of times people end up making redundant systems to try to get messages out, which only adds to the strain on the servers.
- Some kind of Subscribo-like group people could join with infinite capability.It doesn't need group chat or land influence, but just the means to send out messages and perhaps set a title so that one can get in-group specials. Right now, all of the work-arounds have flaws that could be fixed with something hard-coded into the system.
- Smaller minimum sizes for mesh/prim items. (Stolen from Inusweets on Plurk)
- More prims per meter on sims. Other grids have shown that a sim can support more, and computers have been increasing in size and capability exponentially. This will also enable more subdividing, and more being built on different sims. Yes, mesh is adding a lot of detail and adding to what people can have, but a pure rise in sim capability would be a welcome thing.
- More useful search, which allows for Boolean searches and checking for similar spelling, a la Google. Search right now is all but useless. Similar search capabilities on the Marketplace.
( More pictures here. )