RTOD 27AUG2008 – Get a (Second)Life, Will Ya?! Pt.1

RTOD – Get a (Second)Life, Will Ya?! Part 1

Today, I will be starting my first part of, what I hope, a short series about a game I was recently introduced to by my wife called Second Life. I’m hoping to complete it quickly, since I have several other thoughts to handle, and I just decided to push forward with this today, since it’s my Monday (yay three day weekends!), and work is a little slow. The point of the series is to highlight the good, and bad, of this highly addictive MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).

First, the introduction. Second Life is, as I stated, an MMORPG. It requires a broadband connection to play this game, because it is completely web-based. There is a program installed on your computer, yes, but it is more for image caching and basic simulator needs that you will be using at all times. Everything else, from the images, to the islands, to the people, is 100% web-based. That having been said, it is also a very demanding game, requiring a decently powerful graphics card and a good processor with at least 1GB of RAM to play okay. I’ll explain it this way, my home desktop computer, barely a year old, needed to be upgraded to play the game. I generally just needed a graphics card, but, with the graphics card came the need for a new power supply, and with the processing needs in question, I tripled the RAM to 3GB, just to be safe.

To describe the game, the most accurate way to describe it would be that it is a free, player-built cross between World of Warcraft and The Sims 2, with adult themes. Most of the places you will run across are built by other players who have purchased land and objects, and have taken the time to implement them in a somewhat organized fashion. Movement is simple, use the direction keys to move and turn. You can also use the “ASDW” keys (A=left, S-backwards, D-right, W-forward), but that is to your own preference. As long as the person who owns the island hasn’t disabled it, you can also fly, pressing the Home key to fly, and the Page Up/Page Down to control elevation. Pressing the Page Up/Page Down keys while not flying will make you jump or crouch respectively. Your view is considered third-person view, as the camera rides over your head. However, you can manipulate the camera, using your mouse in conjunction with the Alt key or the camera adjustment controls, giving you the ability to take snapshots of moments you want to capture (if you are quick enough), or a different angle of view on different sections. While this camera adjustment range has its limits, it is flexible enough to allow a wide variety of angles and shots. Once you are done looking around, pressing any movement key will the camera to a default position above your head looking forward. Want to try a new island? Go into the map, and teleport there, no problem! The inventory, maps, in-game search options, communications, and IM controls are all arranged at the bottom of the screen, simply click to activate. Using items on the screen can be as easy as a simple click, or a right-click to bring up the menu and choose your options. Any other options you may be looking for will probably be in the file bar at the top of the screen.

Now that that’s out of the way, the game Second Life was created to be the most immersive virtual world. In that regard, if you let it, it will be. Most things you can get in real life are available, for a price. A lot of basic necessities are free if you go looking for them. There are places that will provide lots of items for little or no cost. Even if you decide to spend some money, you can earn in-game cash, called Linden Dollars, or L$, by doing jobs, escorting, or, even staying in one spot, once you sign up with the appropriate groups. That not getting you cash fast enough? The current exchange rate is L$260-270 to $1, so you can always just buy your in-game cash. I’m sure you’ll ask, “Didn’t you just say it was free?” I did, but you don’t *have* to buy the cash, it’s your choice. Just expect a LOT of waiting in one spot, or hope to find an excellent job.

If you would rather build your island, you would need to upgrade to a “Premium” account. It costs about $10 a month, or $72 a year (plus land tiers, if you buy any), but it will give you the ability to buy and own land, and give you L$1000 a week in spending money. Once you buy your land, you could make it whatever you want it to be, or, rent lots to people to make the landlord moneys.

On to your person, or avatar. This is where you make your person who you want it to be. Tall, short, skinny, fat, sexy, hideous. It’s all there. Hell, if you really feel the need, you can become an animal of some sort, called “furry,” or any of an assortment of robotics, plants, demons, pokemon, etc.  It is literally whatever you want, you can have. Don’t like the skin? Buy a new one! Complexions, hair, anatomical correctness, it’s all there if you want it. Then, add your clothes to it, and you become whatever you want. It’s all up to you!

Well, I’ve given you a leaping point to try this out! I’ll be back tomorrow with more information, where I will explore the actual islands and interactions with you all. Take care! And, if you are looking for me on Second Life, I am TheLoneWulf Ethaniel. J


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