Can Philip Fix Second Life’s Complex Avatar System?

Good comment from Dee, one of many Second Life users welcoming back Philip Rosedale to advising the virtual world he founded:

I am MUCH more optimistic than I have been for a while where SL is concerned. I hope that Philips’ return will bring renewed enthusiasm and fresh ideas that are outside the Linden Lab “box”. I hope that he attends the creator group meetings held every other Thursday, or hosts a series of town hall meetings perhaps.

And the thing that is highest on my wish list is a new avatar body. Where people can continue on with the system + alpha + mesh this that and the other OR a new integrated body. The body I envision is one where existing body and head creators could make deformers to create all of the body and face types they had in mind (and to sell of course) but one single thing to be worn and arranged. No more neck seams, no more crazy fiddling with all of the complexities of the current way of doing things. Just one seamless system way of adding a shape, a skin, applied textures, etc. Like the original system body, on beauty steroids. A body where clothing makers would only have to create ONE single version of their rigged clothing item and have it work with the blend shapes right out of the box.

I think it is critical for Linden Lab to address the current complexity (and expense) of trying to have a decent looking avatar in world. Even folks who have been in and out of SL for years quickly become frustrated with all these new complexities, mesh everything, BOM, etc. Dressing yourself should not require an advanced fashion degree!

This is all very true. Offhand, I’d estimate that a highly intuitive avatar customization system that was immediately fun and easy for the first-time user would grow retention by at least 5%. (I’m talking as seamless as it is in the The Sims series.)

If only. The core challenge is, there’s already a massive cottage industry that depends on all that complexity:

As a 2019 survey suggests, nearly all the popular mesh bodies are poorly optimized — even the BOM models. But the creators of these bodies now have highly lucrative businesses based on them, while their customer base — nearly the entire active user base of SL — have spent dozens if not hundreds of US dollars to enhance these poorly optimized avatars. (Which as Dee says, almost require an advanced degree to even customize.)

That said, I’d still think Philip could improve the avatar system — but it would take a monumental, concerted effort of economics, UX design, and even social engineering to have any chance at succeeding. Then again, only someone with Philip’s name recognition and leadership caliber could have any chance at pulling it off.

Have a Great Week From All Of Us At Zoha Islands And Fruit Islands