Linden Homes – little boxes … on the hillside – nicely built, but no community
There has been some recent talk about the problems with the new user experience (clue – it’s not good) and the dire state of new user retention. A recent video by Skyspinner Soulstar goes some way to explaining why …
The issue is being discussed on Hamlet’s New World Notes – and Carl Metropolitan has offered some very sensible advice and suggestions in the comments – well worth reading. He’s expanded more on this on his own blog.
The discussion has crystallised for me some thoughts I’ve had for a long while – back to a time when a group of us, including Cain Maven and pitsch Parx discussed doing something to revitalise the Linden Homes experience. And this could be adapted to fit new user retention too.
I think Cloud Party had a good idea in creating tutorials that had you learning the basics – Move, Communicate, Build – and then rewarded you with a house. The houses were a little dull though, and not geared to foster any sense of community, which I thought a weakness.
A Home in Cloud Party – photograph by Wildstar Beaumont
It’s a weakness of the Linden Homes too, which are actually rather nice, well constructed little homes, and cunningly built to use the maximum space available (planting the Master Prim on Government owned land means that residents can spend the full 117 prims on decoration). But they lack any sense of community. They are just … little boxes, on the hillside … and, too often, they all look just the same. It’s a great idea … but one feels the love ran out. There was an attempt to create community centres and the Elderglen one is actually quite fun (you can forge metal and catch fairies) … but the Meadowbrook info hub looks like a half-hearted attempt at a country club that ran out of money …
It was this problem that a group of us discussed a few years back … and it does tie in with the new user retention.
Meadowbrook, a bleak unfinished country club
I liked the idea that newcomers who went through the community gateway process at Caledon Oxbridge could then rent a place in the student dorm for a month – it helped them nest AND gave them a foothold in a lively community. That was in the days when Caledon Oxbridge was a full sim – with a community gateway. When the community gateway programme was abruptly closed (18 hours notice from the Lab, after many of those involved had invested THOUSANDS of US dollars … that was not a happy time) Oxbridge became a homestead, focusing on education.
Inside Elderglen, a more engaging Linden Home infohub
So … this is my idea.
That like Cloud Party, there’s a task/quest/tutorial route, designed by Carl and his team (or someone like him – if that is possible!). On completion of this task – whereby you have learned to walk/talk/manipulate objects – and anything else felt to be core, you are given the choice of a house/apartment for thirty days – in a choice of community styles. NOT a soulless box on a hillside, but one of a number of community choices.
Here are just a few suggestions …
A Irish fishing village, with houses grouped around the harbour, and rising up the hill behind. Everyone gets a sea view … and there’s a pub on the quay (selling only non-alcoloic drinks – but with Irish music on the stream, maybe).
Greater Ireland: Limerick (now gone) – photograph by PJ Trenton
A set of streets with New York brownstones, two or three storeys high. Somewhere on the block, or a couple of streets over, there is a very cool coffee shop.
A lake in the Himalayas with houseboats, with a sim surround that depicts the snowy mountains.
A fairytale medieval village.
A forest with tree houses.
A futuristic city with apartments.
Whatever the type of build/community the new resident chose, they would find it came partially and simply furnished, to match the style of the community they had chosen – but still with enough free prims to allow a little creativity.
The Brownstones in Nova Albion – apartments, cafe and arts
Each location would come with several public buildings.
- A community gathering place where people could hang out or party.
- A performance space, possibly part of the community gathering place, or separate.
- A gallery that could display original Second Life Art – with links to other art venues, such as the LEA.
- A small number of stores offering freebies or dollarbies (with links to main stores).
Each location – or group of locations – would also have a community warden. This person would be a volunteer, but would get a special house, rent free, in return for their efforts. They would be responsible for making sure that the art galleries were properly maintained, that streams were available for performances … and generally oiling the wheels that keep the community functioning.
And I mean functioning. New residents would have the chance to participate, not just to watch. There could be building competitions, show and tell sessions, chances to organise visits to interesting places, game nights – things that the community residents might develop for themselves, with the support of the Warden.
Part of the houseboat community in Junkyard Blues
So what would happen at the end of the thirty days? Well, some of the new residents would not have come back anyway. But for those who have – there would be choices. They could convert to a premium membership and keep their home as their Linden Home. They could stay a base rate member and start to pay rent at a commercial rate. Or they could move out and move on.
But the idea would be that these communities would be so successful that people would want to stay. And more than that – premium members could choose to move there as well, using these new communities for their Linden Home. The idea, over time, would be to create communities that interacted, and also welcomed newcomers.
Should they all be mainland, like the Linden Homes? Possibly – although there might be grounds for partnerships here eventually with land barons. After all, they have experience in running communities.
Elegant (and low prim) Regency Homes in London, Knightsbridge
Carl has offered his assistance in developing the community experience … I can offer my rolodex for contacting the designers who would LOVE to be a part of creating regions like this (and probably my cat-herding skills too).
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