Second Life

Linden Lab Launches Big Spaceship Web Design, Invisible Pods and All

Edit: Since this post, the Lab seems to have listened to the community and provided a screen shot of the new test home page. See it and comments here.

Linden Lab is rolling out a new home page for the Second Life Web site. The page, designed through their recent hiring of Big Spaceship will go where others fear to tread: a Flash-based design.

This is exciting news. New users will be able to experience Second Life before they even log in, by awaiting whatever Flash-y stuff they have cooked up, and for those on lower bandwidth they’ll know by how long it takes to load that Second Life probably isn’t for them.

Awaiting the loading of Flash movies is a lot like waiting for a teleport to complete, after all. And these don’t sound like little movies up in the banner while the main HTML page loads, they sound like, well, animated interactive things, what they’re calling “pods”….with VERBS!

OK, now, I should talk. After all, I let someone convince me to do my own site in Flash, and I’ve been struggling to keep it up to date ever since - every change requires a team of Flash developers and programmers, it seems, even if it’s just a period that’s missing or whatever. Sure, there’s some XML and other fancy stuff, and Flash has a 98% install base, but there’s still that Flash-based “teleporting now” thing that happens, the “now loading” bar which, for me anyways, is usually a quick exit to Google to find something more interesting to look at.

News that the new Second Life portal is a gorgeous design that “uses Flash” and that this is the first step in “showcas(ing) the richness and breadth of the wonderful creativity and possibility of Second Life and is a small first step towards a larger redesign of the Second Life experience” has me a wee bit worried.

Flash = loading times, no matter how minimized
Richness = more loading times
Loading times plus more loading times = a slow to load “Second Life experience”.

I’m being unfair. I know they’re promising a companion “static” site (you know, the little HTML button thingy). Reality is, most people feel like they’ll miss something if they take the HTML path and so wait it out.

And I haven’t seen the site. In fact, they announced it and neglected to actually SHOW it to anyone.

No screen shots. Just a great forum thread for our feedback, which means something like “Hey, we have a new Web site. Residents won’t be able to see it because of cookies and log-ins, but it’s really amazing and is made using Flash! Please comment in our forums on what you think! In fact, give us some ideas for the pods which you probably can’t quite visualize because we haven’t shown you anything! We can’t wait to hear your list of verbs!”

Having said all that, I do have some faith that in spite the Flash hurdles, that Big Spaceship will do a far better job creating a visual metaphor for Second Life than those awful pictures and cluttered link lists that is the current site. And I’m absolutely POSITIVE that a few more people will come in, check it out, because of a “richer” presentation on the home page. Which is the objective, right?

But please - at least post a screen shot next time, because my list of verbs is endless unless I know what noun they follow.


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