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An Hour In The Life


SL Web Viewer Login Screen

Sirs Not Appearing In This Film


I managed to get a chance to try out the SL Web Viewer Beta; a fun little piece of technology that has been in planning for a while now. Coming right off it, I can tell you that my experience was pretty good. It has quirks, it has limits, it has potential. The technology however seems stable thanks to GAIKAI, the company that seems to be doing this for Second Life. In a nutshell, it’s not that different from OnLive, and if you know what that is you likely already know how you feel about that. If you don’t, or if you’re interested in some more information, well, don’t worry, I have you covered after the jump.

Talking about which, how do I put in a jump?

Oh There it…

…is. I think. On with the show.

My one hour in a Second Life began with a little 1 held in tiny parentheses upon my Task bar. I won’t lie I’ve only just begun to pull out of dreading those things for various reasons, but curiosity won out and with a pick and a click I opened up the new E-Mail that had arrived. Honestly, I have no idea how many of these things they sent out, when they started sending them, or how rare it is to even get into the Beta after getting it. All I know is it read like a Bipolar invite to a party.


We’ll be running tests like this from time to time, and we may ultimately choose to further pursue some or none of these approaches, depending on what we learn from our testing, but we’re very excited to make SL an easier experience for guests and look forward to hearing what you think.

*Note: We’re in the early stages of testing this technology, and not everyone who navigates to the link will be able to access the SL Web Viewer.


“Really, it’s going to be a wonderful party and we’d love you to come. I mean we’re just dying for your opinion on our new room. Oh, and just so you know, you may not actually be able to get in. It depends on this and that, you know, nothing personal or specific, just how it goes.”

It really isn’t as bad as I make it out to be, if you’ve seen the E-Mail or received one yourself you probably already know that. It really does seem arbitrary just how or what they base qualification upon though. If I had to guess, it all comes down to Connection Speed. That was OnLive’s big requirement after all. It wouldn’t surprise me if that video and 45 seconds or so they require before telling you if you qualify is a Speed Test of some sort. It seems I passed.

As you may have noticed up above, the lovely Loading Screen has a wide variety of avatars and looks that really show off what Second Life can be these days. It is perhaps a tad Human-Centric, but rally that’s not surprising anymore. I can also say that not one of those avatars is actually a choice to try out. And oh yes, you get a choice.

Let me get this out there and make it clear at the start. The SL Web Viewer beta is not in any sense of the word a functional client for anyone who actually already uses SL. You’re given a guest account with the rather reasonable limits that entails. You don’t have an inventory, you have no Lindens, you can’t build or Rez anything out. There are also some other limits that are perhaps less reasonable, but still sensible when you consider how easily this could be used to grief. The first of which is a limited selection of Destinations. The Destinations may be based off the Destination Guide on the site, in which case you can definitely expect them to be rotated in and out over time. The other major limit is a one hour time frame upon which to explore SL per session. You can, for now at least, always just go right back in, which if you pay attention to the time left on the upper right you’ll notice I did, multiple times.

With that over with though, I think there’s a lot of potential in this client. There’s little stopping them from making it a fully functional client for people to run SL on much lower-end computers, and right now it’s not a horrible demo of what Second life is. There are a lot of people out there who gave SL a try, and don’t care to do so again, especially with the hassle of making an account, downloading the client, so on and so forth. This is definitely a quick way to say, ‘Just check it out.’

Of course, a lot of what they’re checking out will depend purely on the Destinations allowed to them. I personally found one of the destinations to just be completely amusing to find as one of the ones available.


Fantasy Girl in front of Toxia Port Authority

I think I stick out a little.


Toxian City.

It’s not that surprising, the Destination Guide has always been filled with various and sundry locations to explore. Doomed Ship actually ended up there once, which was quite the surprise to the Roleplayer’s there. Also as you may note, I did indeed stick out a little, and was already getting ready to switch when I took the picture, as you may note from the bottom bar.

That is indeed the interface, it’s based off Viewer 2.0, and all it really has is the bottom bar there, which when you click on ‘Avatar” or ‘Destination’ brings up the lower panel beneath it to choose your selection. The top bar as in 2.0 is where your sound controls are, and the sound defaults to on when first logging in. Through the various pictures I’ve tried to vary which avatar I’m using, and I’m fairly sure they are all in the library anyway, but I haven’t checked.


Toxian City information posters.

An AO, an AO, my tanktop for an AO.


As said before, without an inventory you’re basically limited purely to the pre-made avatars and the default animations of Second Life. It’s definitely not the best first impression, but I imagine people will see other people in much better poses and hopefully ask or assume there is a way to access those in the full client. Still, those duckwalk animations really need changing if they want to make a really good first impression. Star Wars TOR is getting bashed for the animations and it’s still a fair way from done. A finished product with that sort of animation is just plain unacceptable to a lot of people.

There wasn’t a lot to do in Toxian, a personal choice more than an actual one. As you can see my name is hardly appealing and it’d have been rude to go out there and pester the RP’ers. I decided to see what other options were available to me as far as places to go, and low and behold I found my way to SIC. Now I adore SIC, lovely sim, wonderful shop, with some amazing hunts. I was just there the day before my little exploration and was somehow still surprised by how it looked with the web client.


The S.I.C. main building

Nope, this looked about the same.


Let me say, the web client was fast. The response time had a lag that I didn’t really notice until I looked for it specifically, but considering the technology they’re using that’s to be expected. Loading textures, sculpts, and everything else however? Smooth as silk and quick as it could be. It honestly surprised me and I wondered whether the servers they were using are connected to the Asset Servers or if perhaps at least the avatar textures are loaded on the machine. Still there was the occasional oddity, and that’s what I ended up noticing that made SIC look different.

The street textures where you land after porting have an alpha that’s used to create that reflecting puddle effect. For some reason it just didn’t seem to load as clearly and quickly as the rest of it did. It left me surprised, but hardly disappointed. I’d never even seen that effect before when visiting SIC, so bright side is I have something to check out next time.


Standing in front of SIC

A Miss Straaf lending me a helping hand.


Around this point I realized that I’d need some help, just to see how things looked and worked from a current user’s point of view. A quick round of begging and I managed to finagle the services of Miss Reghan Straaf, ever able Milliner to my services. It was about what I expected, you cannot Add Friend, or Teleport Guests by any means. And as before with no inventory, there’s no point giving them items. The Touch to Receive Notecard posters in Toxian didn’t work either actually. I’d also assume pay doesn’t work, but no point risking actually trying and losing money. Otherwise you can IM, using the Chiclets method of 2.0 as seen on the Chat bar, and interact fairly normally.

Well, until one begins to crash.


Overlay before crash

Why Miss Straaf, I do believe you're prettier than your twin.


The client at this point started to get a bit laggy and froze up. It actually did that a lot, seeming to be related to clicking open the bottom bar or closing it down. The client would freeze a bit, perhaps a connection blip. Regardless they cleared up fairly nicely, except this time, when things just went weird. Not seconds after this picture was taken the client just disappeared. It crashes cleanly, I’ll give it that, and that was the only actual crash. The rest of the times I had to restart were my own fault, like clicking out of it when I clicked on the “Full Access” button, which takes you to a Registration page.

Upon my return I realized there’d be only one proper way to end this. I would go and visit my store. Theoretically it should have been doable. Solace Beach happened to be one of the destinations allowed to me, and it was a good chance to check out what happens if I cross Sims.


In Front of Solace Beach Rental Info

Surf's Up, Dudes!


The problem however wasn’t in the end the Web Client, it performed beautifully during Sim crossings, allowing me to go from the Rental Office above all the way to San Diego City. The problem is from there the next sim is connected via a corner, Solace Reef, and Twilight Tears is connected to that via another corner.

At the corner of San Diego City

I have no idea. Qudricepsa Dentata?

That is the furthest corner I could reach, and if SL allowed you to see corner connected sims, you might just be able to have seen my store, far off in the distance. Still, it was as good a place as any to stop, especially since it seemed my leg had grown a mouth of some sort. Other people saw it that way too, so perhaps something is wrong with the outfit itself, or the way the client is baking it, but that was the only graphical glitch in the avatars that I noticed.

All in all it was a fun little adventure trying out what may very well be in the future for Second Life. If not as a fully functional client, then certainly in a smaller way as an introduction to those who are interested but just don’t have the drive to download the client and make an account.

GAIKAI certainly impressed me, and I imagine the program is eating up bandwidth like there’s no tomorrow. It’s streaming a video of the same resolution as the full-sized pictures after all. That’s not any small feat, but in the day of 720p Youtube videos and HD Livestreams, bandwidth is certainly less an issue for most of the Internet then it was. Though most of the world sadly would have a very hard time with the caps and limits placed upon them by their ISPs. If you can run OnLive, this should be easy, the resolution is less and it felt smoother. I noticed some artifacts when moving the camera around but most of the time it looked crisp and clear, if low resolution. I didn’t realize it was video until I tried to sign into Second Life and it disconnected me for connection speed issues.

Final opinion? I hope they continue with this and eventually use the tech as more than a Demo. Even a limited client that I can use when on vacation to keep in contact would be useful, especially if it could use my inventory, or at least the outfits I had created. The client right now is useless to anyone who has Second Life, there’s no getting around that. Trying it at this point is more something to do for fun than any practical point. You already have Second Life, you aren’t who this was made for yet. Still, it is fun, if you can get in, give it a try. It’s only an hour to lose.


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