I’ve been using the Second Life Viewer 2 since it came out. Despite the hubbub, I concluded early on that I could live with it. This is now confirmed for me by recent experience. I share here a successful project using Viewer 2, with details and conclusions.
Viewer 2 Successful Project Experience – DIT in DVL
For the last two months, I’ve had a real world / virtual world project that has allowed me to give Viewer 2 my own serious “shake out” cruise. The project is Dublin Institute of Technology in Dublin Virtually Live. For this initiative the Dublin team has had to build and operate a brand new working facility on the Dublin 3 Sim.
I’ll be the first to admit that many on the Dublin team, while they SUPPORT Viewer 2 as the de facto new visitor viewer, do not USE it. As experienced users, they are not alone in this choice.
I, however, as in-world course registrar for the Is One Life Enough three-month class, am responsible for working with lecturers and students to ensure a successful in-world learning experience. This class is our first major operations enterprise in the new DIT in DVL facility – 10 weekly classes in a row with new users.
I knew that I needed to stick entirely with Viewer 2. My conclusion? Viewer 2 has been a success for us.
. Virtual Environments: Is one life enough – award-winning, university-level module taught entirely within Second Life
. About twenty (20) art and design students,
Mostly ranging in age from about early 20’s to late 30’s;
Mostly ZERO experience with Second Life
. Two (2) lecturers;
Strong experience with Second Life (several years)
Little experience with Viewer 2
Class / Second Life Capability Observations
. Chaos To Start – You can just write off half to two-thirds of any opening 90 minute class for anything but sheer fumbling around and getting students into place
Fortunately, the lecturers anticipated this – after all, they’ve taught this module three times before.
But this class is three times bigger than any they’ve taught before – hey, digital virtual environments may be catching on!
Fortunately, there are also two experienced Dublin staffers acting as in-world teaching assistants helping sort things out
There’s just enough time left at the end for the lecturers to review course objectives and timeline
. Texture On A Prim To Start – the first classes keep things simple; click the BLUE sign to teleport to the Skybox!
. SL Chat To Start – inevitably only SOME of the students have SL Voice working for them
Fortunately, the lecturers anticipated this – as one speaks, the other transcribes
. Continued Chaos – naturally, several NEW students are added by the time Class #2 starts a week later
Fortunately, only about half of the 90 minutes is chaos this time
The lecturers get down to business on material and first assignments
. Chaos To Light – by the end of Class #3 things are down to a routine
. SL Voice For Intermediate – In Class #4, most of the students can now HEAR the lecturer; Most can SPEAK; the others still read the transcript, or type their comments
. The Class Proceeds – discussion is now on class content rather than fumbling around in SL; At Class #5 we have our first expert panel presentation at a whole another location without losing students in the teleport process
. SL Streaming Audio For Intermediate – with relatively little fumbling, at Class #6 we have our first guest speaker presentation streamed entirely in audio
. SL Build for Advanced – for Class #9 selected students are working on Rez A Prim, Stretch A Prim, Texture A Prim, Move A Prim as part of team projects on information presentation. Some students pick up how to work the build menus quickly. However I’d not try this with the bulk of the class, which is, after all, NOT about SL.
Viewer 2 Observations
. New users had no particular difficulty with Viewer 2 other than the normal, “what do I click, where, again?” as they became accustomed to it
. As the classes advanced in use of SL Capabilities (Chat, Texture, Voice, Streaming Audio, Build) the teaching assistants were able to tell students what to click
BECAUSE ALL STUDENTS AND TEACHING ASSISTANTS WERE ON ONE VIEWER – Viewer 2
Ironically, the lecturers could not help because, as experienced residents, they were on other viewers.
. In no way did the class need or depend on the advanced, distinguishing features of Viewer 2 (such as Media On A Prim)
. In every way, the class DID depend on all new users using one common viewer – and this they were able to do, easily, with Viewer 2
. Viewer 2 IS easier to use for new users, in this project
Detail – The Fall and Rise of Viewer 2
As aficionados know, there has been continuing controversy about Viewer 2 because of:
. How it was brought out (“abruptly” would be an excellent characterization),
. Major changes in interface look and feel (the infamous “in your face” sidebar in particular), and
. Short-sighted user testing prior to introduction (while adding things for new users it dropped things for experienced users).
Adding to this mix was the major shakeout in Linden Lab ranks. Not until the Second Life Community Convention, in August, was further word heard about viewer plans. Since then, Viewer 2 has consistently gotten better, thanks to the Esbee Linden et. al. “SCRUM” team. In a word, they’ve been keeping their promise to continuously tweak (improve) the viewer, bit by bit. Much better than waiting months and months for big dramatic announcements. And the third-party viewers have been keeping up as well, per Esbee’s promise to keep sharing the open source code base.
As an experienced (five years and counting) user who works with new and experienced users both, I have concluded I can live with Viewer 2, whether I am building, filming, event producing, meeting, shopping, or just hanging out. I am fine with experienced friends using the third-party viewers and occasionally use them myself. With friends who are new users, I recommend they stay on Viewer 2 until they are fluent in getting around in SL, then they can explore other viewers.
Biggest Viewer 2 Plus for New Users
. One Viewer For All
Biggest Viewer 2 Plus for Experienced Users
Biggest Viewer 2 “We’ll See”
. Media On A Prim
Media on a prim – off off off! (lag)
Improve with user bandwidth growth over time
General Viewer 2 Comments
. Necessary evil to move all browsers to a new code base
Can’t wait for the SL In A Browser experiences to roll in!
. Yes, easier for new users
. With latest improvements, OK for experienced users
Side, top, bottom menus – now OK, more customizable
Still need and have debug menu – pictures options, advanced camera range, interface hide
. Graphics settings
For filming, can still go beyond “High” to “Ultra” with my 5 yr. laptop w. NVidea; 7 yr. desktop w. Radeon, if I keep all sound and media off