Last week, Second Life announced that premium members are now allotted double land for their starting tier!
I tried and failed to think of a title for this post that would convey how important this really is. Let’s just say, what I’m about to blog about is a pretty big deal. Enough for me to announce my return to Second Life!
A Quick Personal History
My past with Second Life stretches back to 2004 when I first stumbled into the strange virtual world. I created an avatar named Aywren, and chose the last name Sojourner from a list of possible surnames… which became a name that I now use for just about everything.
I came and went from SL over the years until I got caught up in breedable pets back in 2010. I had a pretty successful SL pets blog for a while, and it was a lot of fun. But, I eventually drifted away to other games that required more time, and though I still enjoyed breedable pets, it wasn’t enough to hold my interest and sub money.
I put down the blog and said a first farewell in 2014. I know that I came back for a time the next year, probably around the holidays… since I tend to feel the pull to return around Halloween for some reason. I came to the same conclusion I did the first time, and with FFXIV calling for my time, I said a second farewell.
Owning Land in SL
Part of this was because how archaic Second Life is in providing land, even to premium members. While you can enjoy SL if you don’t own land, the truth is, owning land and making a home/shop/whatever is really where it’s at for people like myself.
As a premium (subscription) member, you were allowed a parcel of 512 land, which gave you 112 prims to work with. This is very paltry, even if you try to make it stretch by using low-prim decorations. Every item you place on your land takes up some of this prim count… so if the house you put down is 50 prims, and the couch is 12, and the coffee table is 5… well you can see how that starts to add up fast. Let’s not even think about trees and outside decorations.
Not to mention, back in the day, only mainland plots were available. So you had to find a plot of 512 land for sale, then pay Linden dollars to purchase the land… and that wasn’t a cheap thing in the early days! Also note that if you claimed more than a 512 parcel of land, you’d be charged extra on your sub per month, depending on how much more land you owned.
Things got a little better when SL introduced Linden Homes. This happened about the time I was returning to the grid in 2010.
The nice thing about Linden Homes is that you are promised a 512 lot with a house. That house doesn’t count against your prim count. So you had a full 112 prims to decorate, and you didn’t have to go hunting on the mainland, or pay an additional cost for land. Especially when the mainland can get to be a cluttered mess, depending on your neighbors.
There are a few downsides to this, however. You’re placed in a rather static, sterile neighborhood where nothing ever changes. The housing style depends on the type of neighborhood you select — there’s a fantasy style, an oriental style, a rustic cabin style, and a modern style.
Each type of neighborhood allows for about 4-5 different types of houses. So there’s a little bit of variety, but most of the time, you’re in a neighborhood where everything feels the same. The house takes up pretty much all the lawn, and while some have an outdoors deck, there’s not a lot of wiggle room.
You’re also assigned randomly to a spot in a random neighborhood. This means that even if you and your friends choose the same type of housing, there’s no way to ensure you can live next to a buddy. You can’t choose your neighbors at all, or even your location.
Also, rules say that Linden homes should only be used for residential stuff. So, no setting up a shop on your deck, for example.
Increasing Land Allotment
In 2016, Second Life finally announced the first prim increase for land owners. At a 33% increase, premium members now got a whopping 175 prims for their 512 land or Linden Home. Up from 112… I guess something was better than nothing.
It was still way too little to work with, and I wasn’t swayed.
Last week, SL sent me an email to tell me that they’d doubled the land allotment for premium members.
Oh… oh… okay. Now you have my interest.
Doubling means you can pick up a 1024 lot with a premium account and not pay any extra tier, which allows up to 351 prims. Now… this still isn’t a huge amount to work with, but it’s a step in the right direction, and enough to catch my interest.
I still feel SL is being pretty stingy with the prim count. But maybe they’re starting to understand that you need to give a lot more to hold interest and subs in their virtual world. There’s a lot of games out there now that give much more in housing with all the same social interaction. So maybe not all the building and flexibility, but not everyone needs the amount of options SL offers.
I returned to SL as a premium member this weekend, and spent a while hunting for land. While you can pick up a Linden Home and a 512 parcel of mainland, I didn’t want to split it.
Finding a nice 1024 plot that was priced right and in a good location was no easy task. The increased land allotment had been in effect for several days before I got this email, so I’m sure that many prime and cheap lots were already snatched up in a land rush.
I ended up finding a 1024 plot in Gandymede for 4K L$, and I liked how it looked, so I bought it. In shopping around, I saw many plots that had a much less desirable location that cost a whole lot more. So, I think it’s worth it.
It’s positioned on the side of a mountain, which made teraforming and building a little wonky. I learned how to use a land scanner to create a map file of my terrain so I could texture the ground to be something other than the mountain stone ground. It wasn’t a cheap device by any means, but it did the trick.
I haven’t put up trees and bushes yet, so this is still a work in progress.
The neat thing is that my front yard opens into what’s known as the Riverwalk Medieval Renaissance Village. The ad that brought me to this lot said it was an “ocean view.” It is… if you look past the village. 😉
Down the hill from this is a place called Riverwalk Park. I later learned from Xaa that this was a very historic area of Second Life, and a place that used to attract a lot of visitors in years past.
You can’t really tell from this picture, but there’s all sorts of things here. Art, shopping, rides, a boat tour, and education center. It really must have been amazing back when it was first built. It’s so cool to see a piece of this history preserved like this. Not to mention, having a home really near to all of it.
I didn’t realize the significance of the area until I invited Xaa over to my house and told him, “Hey, check out this park.”
Apparently, it was somewhere he used to bring new people to in SL, and a place he knew well. I hope to be able to spend some time there and see what all it has to offer.
You can expect to see a few more posts about SL this week — I’ve made some amazing discoveries about how the world has changed in the past three years. I’m super excited to share them with you, if you’re interested! 🙂