First experience of Second Life

Buying a piece of land

Although you can join Second Life for nothing and still enjoy most of the benifits, there comes a time when you will want to buy a piece of land.

For this you have to become a paying resident with a premium account (costing US$9.95 a month). When you buy land in Second Life you have to pay a monthly rental depending upon the size of the area you own (details of land pricing).

However, the premium account monthly fee also includes the tier payment on 512 square metres of land (128th of an island). So, as a starter, I decided to buy a 512 sq mtr plot to see what it would be like as a landowner in Second Life.

Flying around one of the islands, I saw a "For Sale" sign floating above the edge of the shoreline and near to a very attractive entertainment beach. The size of the plot was 512 sq mtrs and the buying price was just US 30 dollars. I immediatetly transported to the unmanned office of the SL estate agent, clicked on the advertisement on the wall to pay the money and become the owner of the plot of land. Just as simple as that.

I quickly transported back to where I'd seen the "For Sale" sign, landing on the part of the beach I thought I'd bought.

Clicking on the sand to see who owned it (right clicking on land brings up a pie menu that provides details of land ownership) I found the piece of land I'd thought I'd bought was owned by someone else.

In a panic, I started clicking on the land around, but all of it was owned by other people. In a moment of desperation I clicked on the water. To my surprise the pie menu told me that I owned this piece of land - and it was under the water.

First view of the plot I had bought

After discussing my problem with some helpful avatars, I was told this was normal and that the land could be raised above the water with the aid of tools available to property owners. However, there was a simpler solution I could 'float' platforms in the water. But, before I could do this I had to mark out the corners of my plot with some posts.

Plot staked out with three platforms

As I was going to use my land mainly as a place to do some quiet scripting work I decided to create a platform twenty metres in the air (out of the way of casual visitors).

My residential platform in the air

The handicap of owning a small plot of land is that you only get a small allocation of prims (objects you are allowed to put on the land). This was not a problem for me because my main purpose for the land is to use it for experimenting with scripts. With only 117 prims allowed, I had to create a very simple residence, with the minimum of psychological comforts.

A simple structure using the minimum of prims

The stucture consisted of three round slabs of 'granite. With transparent guard rails to stop me walking over the edge and falling into the water below (which happened often before I put the guard rails in).

View of the platform in daylight

I could have left it at just the bare platform, but as I had some spare prims I added a little furniture together with some fire prims to give ambience to the platform.

Layout of the platform

Surpisingly, the ambience of residencies in Second Life is very important. With the fires I had included, the platform gave off the best ambience when the sun setting was at night time (there are four possible settings: sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight).

The platform at night

The furniture items that can be bought in the malls in Second Life are extensively varied - replicating almost every kind of indoor and outdoor funiture that can be bought in real life. It sounds silly to equip a residence with these items, but the psycological effect is almost as real as in the real world. My lack of prims limited me to very simple items, so I chose two cushions that animate avatars who sit on them to enact the pose of meditation. These proved to be very useful when visiting avatars arrived for discussions.

Using a meditation pose ball

As a little touch of luxury I had enough spare prims to lash out on one luxury item - an elaborate hammock. This proved to be very useful for getting the avatar out of the way while concentrating on an object you are scripting.

A relaxing position for scripting

Appearance, as I was quickly to learn, is as important in the avatar world as it is in real life. There is a huge number of stores in the many Second Life shopping malls, providing an overwhelming choice of selections for appearance - clothing, hair styles, jewellery, body shapes, skins and even animated walking styles. As is my practice in the real world, I had a quick tour round the malls and bought the first things that took my eye. A scruffy hair style, jeans, an animated tie (a flexi-tie that swings about as you walk) and a black jacket. The jacket appealed to me because it was billed as a Matrix coat and it had struck me that being in Second Life was very similar to life in The Matrix (the artificial world in the movie of that name).

My avatar - Eliver Rang

But, you are not stuck with any particular appearance - because it is so easy to change appearance to suit any occasion.

Eliver Rang - casual and with a beard

And, after a quick skin and body change...

Eliver Rang - without the beard

Written July 2007