It’s been nearly three years since I first discovered Torley Linden’s blog post (humorously titled Samurai Island Pizza Cats) and absolutely fell in love with Samurai Island. Prior to that, I was just kind of wandering around playing with stuff and exploring this strange and wonderful new Virtual World I had heard about.
During that time, I had tons of fun and had the awesome opportunity to meet some tremendous people. I’ve learned a lot about topics I never thought I’d be interested in, and have gotten to express a creative side of me that I had never before been aware of. I found the motivation to develop skills that until recently I had never seemed to be able to find the time to work on, and have experienced a lot of personal growth as a result. I even had the amazing opportunity to earn a little money while doing those things. I am truly grateful for those opportunities.
I have had my share of frustrations, too. I have spent thousands of hours working on things that Linden Lab seems to be determined to break on a nearly weekly basis, and have expended a tremendous amount of energy on attempting to compensate for Second Life’s inability to scale properly and perform consistently.
Those things have often left me intensely frustrated and feeling unimportant to the makers of Second Life, but it was always something I would get past relatively quickly. More recently, and most importantly, recent actions by Linden Lab have managed to destroy any remaining bit of faith or goodwill I had toward them.
Until recently, if you wanted to build Virtual World content for others to enjoy, you were very limited in your options. Only Second Life provided the opportunity for just anyone to build nearly anything they wanted, and an open scripting system to make those creations come to life. Only Second Life provided the economy to make it worthwhile to spend thousands of hours doing so, and only Second Life provided the kind of free-form "do anything you want" world that didn’t have set goals and encouraged community and social interaction.
Until recently, Second Life was "the only game in town" that would have allowed someone like me to experience all of those wonderful things I have listed above.
That may no longer be the case.
Some of you may have already heard of Blue Mars. Some of you may have even heard me mention that I’ve been a part of the Blue Mars Beta developer program. It is in this direction that I will be focusing all of my new content creation efforts for the foreseeable future.
You may very well be thinking “What is Blue Mars?” Well, that is difficult for someone like me to describe. Easier to start with what it looks like, I suppose:
As for what Blue Mars actually *is*, here’s a quote from the Blue Mars website:
Blue Mars is a free to play massively multiplayer virtual world featuring stunning graphics, realistic characters, and endless social bonding activities. The Blue Mars virtual world is made up of an expanding set of independently operated cities that feature unique themes, activities, and attractions such as shopping, avatar customization, unique personal spaces, and games like dancing, racing, and golf. Cities on Blue Mars are tied together with a unified login system, persistent global Avatar ID, and platform wide participation based reward system that encourages users to explore, play, and make new friends.
Of course, Blue Mars has been generating some intense interest among others with a passion not just for Second Life, but for the amazing possibilities of Virtual Worlds in general, and I’ve found posts by Not Possible in Real Life‘s Bettina Tizzy such as this one (for example) to be down-to-earth pragmatic while still recognizing the massive potential that virtual worlds can have:
That Blue Mars will deliver spectacular fidelity, physics and scalability that 6 year old Second Life might not ever be able to attain unless it’s rebuilt from the ground up is not under discussion, but I can’t help but wonder if it will be able to catch up to the amazing content and growing user-base that SL’s residents have come to expect, along with the attending friendships and social, educational and business experiences.
Either way, I am welcoming Blue Mars with open arms. While I applaud the efforts of the open source OpenSim community and want to encourage them to move forward, I will never have enough options, and Blue Mars is exactly that: A very viable option.
It’s too early yet to tell whether Blue Mars is going to be a massive flop or a tremendous success, and certainly too early to tell whether there’s any real future there for me, but I strongly feel that now is the time for me to jump in with both feet and give it my best shot.
That’s not to say that I’m abandoning Samurai Island. I am not. I will absolutely continue to support not only the C:SI customers, but the fabulous C:SI community. I will continue (as much as Linden Lab allows, at any rate) to update my weapons with bug fixes and enhancements. I will continue to work on fun projects for everyone, as much as my time allows.
But I will not be making new content for Second Life for the foreseeable future. I hesitate to say that I won’t ever make new content, because I am too full of anger at Linden Lab right now to even know whether I’d be saying so simply out of spite, but certainly for the time being I feel that it would be a better use of my time and effort to attempt to branch out.