Second Life Overview
Second Life does not have classes, or any traditional MMORPG mechanics. There are user-created HUD modifications that allow for a kind of combat between player avatars in certain “sims” (regions created for specific groups of individuals, like cities), but this is a far cry from what the average MMO player will be used to. The main draw of Second Life is the enabling of user creativity, avatar customization, and socializing (usually through roleplaying). To that end, here is a list of some of the more interesting locations in Second Life:
The Leaky Cauldron in Wizards Alley: This is one of the better Harry Potter sims, with plenty of roleplaying and great scenery.
SL Globe Theater: For anyone familiar with Shakespeare, this is not to be missed. The SL Globe Theater is a historically-accurate replica of the original Elizabethan Globe Theater, where many of the Bard’s plays were first performed.
Insilico: Inspired by the 1983 Ridley Scott classic Bladerunner, Insilico is the largest and most visually stunning cyberpunk sim in Second Life. It is five individual regions linked together to form a massive, dystopian city. The residents are friendly, if hardcore, cyberpunk roleplayers.
Tombstone: A heavily populated and highly popular western roleplaying sim set in the 1890′s.
The Sistine Chapel: The name is fairly self-explanatory. This is a virtual, accurate recreation of the actual Sistine Chapel.
Other locations include even places of religious worship, and virtual centers staffed by actual paid employees representing large businesses in real-life, and on Second Life.
Second Life Screenshots
Second Life Feature Video
Second Life Review
By B. Olivia
Let’s just get this all out into the open before we begin. Yes, this is Second Life, an infamous den of scum and villainy, known far across the internets for being a furry sanctuary, a virtual pr0n-carnival, a haven for the weird, the obscure, the freaky, and the downright disturbing. A place where the lowest of the online sub-humans crawl to dwell in the leaky, dank corners of the metaverse, fornicating and paying eachother for cybersecks with crude animations. A place where you might find yourself walking through a virtual nightclub, witnessing a cybernetic amputee taking invisible L$ (that’s linden dollars, the game’s currency) tips from an eight foot tall, anthropomorphic gila monster. A place where you might find yourself, after teleporting a little too haphazardly, in a vast, open plain populated by giant cats that are out to eat your avatar. It is a place that, because of this sordid reputation, most people avoid as though it were the biggest leper colony in Jerusalem.
Is it all true? Yes, it is. Every word of it is true, and there are even darker horrors buried in that place that I won’t speak of here. Yet, despite this, I am not ashamed to say that with some degree of regularity, I find myself on Second Life talking to friends, roleplaying, and seeing some of the less gross sights. I too was one to simply write the entire virtual world off as a creepy sex fesitval, until I fell in love with a big, beautiful cyberpunk simulation called Insilico. As it is with many Second Life residents, it’s all just a big, confusing joke until we find that gorgeous, personal elysium. For me, heaven is the shadows and neon lights of a Bladerunner-esque mega city. When I found out that only one person had personally scultped and created the entire city, my jaw hit the floor. I could no longer besmirch Second Life. I had to recognize that despite the freakiness in many corners of the place, it was bursting at the seams with raw, incredible talent, all fueled by a kind of virtual-capitalism – the free trade of user-created content.
You are not prepared!
Really, you aren’t. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for that initial dive into the complicated, but very powerful, UI of the Second Life client. You may be overwhelmed by what appears to be nothing more than a series of mysterious menu boxes and key commands. It may take days of solid experimentation to finally figure out how to properly equip your avatar with something that isn’t silly looking, to find an animation override pack that makes it so you don’t look like you’re walking with a full diaper on. Once you’ve mastered these controls (I won’t even begin to try and explain them, best advice is to ask someone for help), you’ll find that you can sculpt body shapes and faces for your avatar with terrifying precision, becoming a kind of virtual plastic surgeon. If it pleases you, feel free to go mad with the sliders in the mod menu, and turn your avatar into a bow-legged, underbitten elephant man. Some of the possibilities are truly scary, and of course, you can always choose to change your gender at any time, and even push the breast slider into EEE territory. Want them to sag? Bounce? Defy gravity like a pair of road pylons? Hormonally addled boys of the world, Second Life is your playground.
This complex interface has been improved and made a great deal more attractive by the newest viewer version, called “Viewer 2.0”. Newbies to Second Life are encouraged to get used to it, rather than the archaic viewer. If you do decide to make the dive into the metaverse, you’ll find yourself in a slick starting area that will attempt the familiarize you with the client’s features and controls. These include chatting, walking, running, jumping, flying, and teleporting. That’s right, walking and running are useless. They are good only for aesthetic purposes and for roleplaying, as it just wouldn’t do to have a wild west sim with dozens of Wyatt Earp wannabes flying around around like saiyans. Teleporting will be your primary means of getting to other locations. It’s as simple as searching the game’s destination finder, finding a location that seems cool, and clicking “teleport”.
O’ Lord, the Latency!
One may be shocked to find that Second Life’s actual viewer download is something like 100 MB. The uninitiated may be wondering exactly why this is. It’s because Second Life actively streams all content to your computer through your internet connection, downloading and rendering objects around you in real-time. Because objects and regions are becoming more and more complex with the advent of higher tech and cable modems, it goes without saying that a fast internet connection is preferable to minimize the “rez” time objects have to appear around you. It may take minutes for all of those blocky, boring shapes to finally turn into beautiful, sculpted polygons, and for your own avatar to turn from a hazy nimbus into your actual character. Of course, even the fastest local connection can’t help the Linden Labs servers move any faster.
If you really want to have some kind of combat in Second Life, there are mods you can equip on your HUD to give you the ability to have stats and actions within the gameworld. You can purchase the game’s currency, and use the currency to purchase mods, clothes, animations, and anything you can imagine from other players, usually through the marketplace XL Street website. These items will be digitally delivered to your infinite inventory, and all you generally have to do is set the box on the ground, open it, and retrieve your goodies, complete with instructions. The combat mods themselves, I find, are great in theory, and actually work perfectly well. The problem is that Second Life, depending on how complex and beautiful your sim world is, can be extremely laggy. This makes any kind of combat almost impossible, when basic actions such as walking twenty feet often result in a frustrating rubber-band effect. If you crave gameplay, I encourage you to play something else on the side. Second Life is and always will be a social tool at its heart.
What to do?
That is the question, isn’t it? What DO we do in Second Life? What attraction could there possibly be for the average individual? The answer to that is difficult. The “average gamer” is something harder and harder to define lately. Most people used to fast-paced MMOs will find themselves quickly bored by Second Life’s virtual space. Unless you have a very keen interest in building objects, animations, roleplaying, socializing, or seeing virtual pr0n, Second Life isn’t going to offer you much in the way of excitement. If, however, you are like me and you enjoy a good roleplaying community (one not populated by immature children) you may find just what you’re looking for in Second Life. Every possible genre and franchise is represented in some form in Second Life. For anyone with imagination, creativity, and a love for self-expression through avatar customization, this world is a winner.
Most people, if they give Second Life a real chance, may find themselves having a “wow” moment in this virtual space. I have had several, personally. The first was when I first saw the gorgeous sim of Insilico. The second was when a friend brought me up into his zeppelin airship, which doubled as his home. It moved over the rest of the virtual space, high above houses and terrain. The interior was a Firefly-inspired, pseudo-Chinese motif, complete with functioning kitchen, seats, ladders, rooms, tea, windows, and even a small bay in which one could get into the small mini-airship that could break off from the main ship and fly about independently, before docking again. Needless to say, I could only wonder how someone actually made this thing within Second Life. I kept thinking to myself, “God, why can’t MMO developers make cool stuff for players like this?!” Unlike most MMORPGs these days, Second Life, because of the player-driven creation, actually feels like an epic world in which you can truly do anything. That counts for quite a bit.
Final Verdict: Great
Second Life IS great. It is the first of its kind, the only potential competitor or replacement being the upcoming Blue Mars project. While it’s clearly not for everyone, Second Life is a spectacle, a social experiment, a hotbed of creativity, and home to some of the freakiest, coolest stuff you can imagine. It is international, social, and fascinating when you really consider just how many different kinds of people it touches all over the world. Give it a chance, get past the negative stigma, and above all, avoid the furry regions. They will scar you for life.
Second Life Videos
Second Life Player Housing Introduction
Second Life Fashion
Second Life Character Customization Tutorial
Second Life System Requirements
OS: Windows 2000/ XP / Vista / 7
CPU: 800 MHz Pentium 3
RAM: 512 MB
HDD: 900 MB
Graphics Card: Nvidia 6600+ / ATI Radeon 9250+
OS: Windows 2000/ XP / Vista / 7
CPU: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4
RAM: 1.0 GB or more
HDD: 900 MB
Graphics Card: Nvidia 9000 Series or bette