First Impressions

Cenedra Rivera just wrote an excellent post on her blog, where she went back and described her very first few days in Second Life. It was really entertaining to read, and brought back SO many memories of my own first experiences. It was so much fun to read, that I’m going to follow in her footsteps and do the same thing. I’m trying to get her to issue a blogger challenge for everyone to recall as much as they can from those first days, in as much detail as possible. It would be fascinating to read those stories from the eyes of a newbie. So many things were different then- we take the most simple things for granted now. But how much can you remember from those first hours, or days?

My memories of that time are still pretty vivid, as its not even been a year for me. I remember getting a new computer, and hoping it would run SL. In fact, I specifically shopped for one that I thought could handle it. I had tried to install SL a year or so earlier on an old 2000 eMachines, but it couldn’t handle it. So I decided when it died, I’d try again on a new system. I remember getting that new computer before Christmas last year.. actually, I believe it was just after Thanksgiving. But I didn’t bother trying to install SL yet, because I really didn’t think it would run. Finally, I was bored enough one weekend that I felt motivated to try. I did not have my hopes up. I installed the software, and created an account. I didn’t have the patience for the HUGE list of last names I was supposed to pick from. Especially given that I really didn’t think I’d be able to connect to SL at all. I skimmed the list and picked the name Dreamscape with no real thought or care. Even if I could connect, I honestly didn’t think it would hold my attention for very long. I hate video games, so I assumed I’d get bored of this in a few days.

I watched the login progress bar with some trepidation, and plenty of curiosity. When I had tried to connect on my old machine a year or more ago, I had gotten logged in for maybe 5 seconds. Long enough to see a sign and some people flying. But then it would lock up and crash every time. So I expected the same this time around. I saw myself connect, held my breath and waited.. No lockups. I was in!

I rezzed in on some orientation island, surrounded by other avatars that all looked alike. Many of them, just like me. Everyone was stumbling around in confusion, me being one of them. I ‘got’ that I was supposed to go through some tutorials, that was to be expected. I was impatient, though. I had logged into Second Life for the specific reason of finding Podcast Island, and some of the podcasters I knew were around.. somewhere. I hate learning things, or following instructions and tutorials. I was tempted to try and bypass that whole process and find my way out of there, but somewhere I had seen a message saying that if I left before I completed the orientation, I wouldn’t be able to come back and finish it later. So impatiently, I rushed through it. It really didn’t take me that long at all, and I was on my way. I’m not exactly sure where I ended up immediately after the orientation process or how I got there, but it was not any of the welcome areas. I don’t know if it was part of Orientation Island, since I’m not able to go back and check, but I remember walking down an empty street with large buildings, and cars parked along the side of the road. It looked impressive, but it was empty. There were no other people around, except maybe somewhere in the distance. I distinctly remember still feeling impatient and confused. I knew it looked pretty neat, but I wanted to go where the people were. I remember  thinking, ‘there must be more to SL than this..’ I was a little bit afraid that Second Life was a mostly empty world, with very few people and nothing to do.

I don’t recall how I found my way to Ahern from there. I think I must have found a sign to teleport to a welcome area, and clicked on it. I remember rezzing into a fairly crowded area. Most of the people were gathered in the center where there were some benches and planters.

Most of the people looked like they were as new as I was, or didn’t really know where they were or what to do. But I noticed one woman standing on the steps, with amazing hair and clothing compared to the rest of us. There were pink particle hearts coming from her, and floating around the welcome area. She definitely stood out and looked important, and I saw she had an SL Mentor tag over her head, so I knew she must be in charge. I can’t remember exactly what I asked her, but it must have had something to do with how to find where to go. I think she must have explained how to use search, or the map. I can’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but once I figured search out, I found Podcast Island listed in no time. I TP’d over there, and as soon as I rezzed in, the first thing I saw was exactly what I had been looking for.

I was so excited when I saw the Podcast Pickle building. It was Gary Leland of Podcast Pickle that caused me to hear about Second Life to begin with, since he mentioned it on his podcast several times. The only reason I even came to SL was because I wanted to meet him, and whatever other podcasters might be around. I found a mailbox for him at the Pickle building that said I could leave him an offline message, which I did. I don’t remember what it said, just something about having heard him talking about this on Today In Podcasting, so I signed up to look around.

After leaving him the message, I started exploring the island. At some point in my travels I had come across a box with a free sweater in it, so I put that on. The sweater was absolutely tragic, and even in my newbie state, I knew I looked like hell. I was still wandering around trying to figure out what to do next, when I saw two people standing behind a house nearby. I walked a little bit closer and wanted to say hi to them, but was really shy and not sure how to strike up the conversation. Turns out it was Chugabug Goodnight and Radar Masukami, who are two of my very best friends in SL today. 🙂 Chug is really good with newbies (Why is she not a mentor, come to think of it?), and I’m quite sure she was the first to say hello. Once they greeted me, I wandered a little bit closer and explained what brought me to Podcast Island. Radar mentioned he had an SL podcast- SL Under The Radar, which I made a note of. I remember being really excited that they were podcasters, even if I hadn’t heard of that podcast yet. But they literally were the first podcasters I ever actually spoke with, despite me being an avid podcast listener for years. During this conversation, I noticed that the awful sweater I was wearing had giant cuffs, but I was only wearing one of them. I remember it being SO noticable to me, and I was so embarrased about it. I kept hoping they wouldn’t notice I had a giant sweater cuff on one arm, and wanted to hide that hand behind my back so badly. I was afraid that if I detatched it, they would see it suddenly disappear and that would somehow bring even more attention to it. It makes me laugh now to remember how mortified I was over that damn sweater cuff. They offered to show me a tour of the island, and when I saw them turn away for a moment, I quickly took it off.

I subscribed to SL Under The Radar and started listening the very next day. In one of the first episodes I heard, Radar had Crap Mariner on as a guest. I didn’t know who he was, but the first thing that really stuck out to me about him was his enthusiasm for building, and the unlimited possibilities of being in Second Life. I remember him ranting about being able to ‘pull a prim out of your ass and build a tower out of matzah’. I thought he was interesting and funny. He had been talking about Edloe and the Clocktower he had built, and it sounded like there were other podcasters on Edloe as well. So the next time I was on, I did a search for Edloe and TP’d over there.

I landed at the base of the clocktower, between some water and a spiral staircase leading up. I had literally only been there for maybe 15 seconds and was still trying to get my bearings, when Crap TP’d in right next to me. I remember greeting him enthusiastically, even though he had no idea who the hell I was. I explained that I was new, and had heard him on Radars podcast. He was still a robot midget at the time, and something about that look seemed somehow fitting of what I expected. Quirky, funny. I really do wonder what I would have thought of his current she-bot avatar, if thats how I would have met him the first time.

We were still standing there talking, when CalebBullen Balut and Yxes Delacroix rezzed in together. (For the longest time, I thought they were married!) Crap introduced me to them and explained I was new, then suggested we go take a walk over to Daphne Abernathy‘s house. As soon as we started walking, Crap stopped and turned to me, then handed me an AO. I had no idea what it was, but he told me to wear it and I did. I still use that AO today, and love it! Thanks, Crap! We walked up to Daphne’s HUGE house, and I remember feeling so intimidated. I figured she must be rich, famous and/or pretty important to have a huge castle like that. She answered the door and Crap introduced me. I remember one of the very first things Daphne said to me was that I needed skin- LOL. I was so confused by that, and said I thought I already had skin. I even asked her, ‘don’t I have any?’ And she told me no. I really couldn’t comprehend what she was talking about at the time, but its so funny to me now.

I remember thinking I looked great at the time. After all, I had spent so much time carefully weeding through all the freebies and finding the best Second Life had to offer. I thought I looked so cute, I spent a lot of time one afternoon trying to get a nice picture of myself for my blog. I ended up with this one, and thought I looked awesome!

My favorite past time back then was camping. I know most people hate camping and swear up and down that its a waste of time. I could not disagree more! I think camping is vitally important to newbies. Its part of the learning process. People have to understand that a lot of newbies who are first coming into the game don’t know yet if they want to commit to it enough to pull out the credit card. Or maybe they can’t. And to the people who scoff at camping rates, and joke about having to camp for 10 hours to get $2L, thats not at all true. Camping was a huge part of my growing stage, it taught me how the economy worked. I met people and made friends- Salaamata Afarensis is my second oldest friend after Chug and Radar. I still have him on my friends list and always will, even if we never really talk anymore. In addition to learning and meeting people, camping was also a good source of earning money until you figure out where your niche is. My favorite spot was the Freebie Zone, and I loved hanging out there. (I thought I looked so hot in my ‘cute’ little freebie outfits.)

I WISH I could find this place again, to look around for the nostalgia. And also, I’m dying to know who the creators were for all the little furniture shops. I wonder how many of them faded away, and how many are now some of the talented folks I blog about today. I don’t think this place is around anymore though. All the Freebie Zones I found in search went to different places. Anyway, I remember very clearly the very first purchase I made in SL. It was one morning before work, and I was looking around at a freebie/discount clothing store. I found a super cute pair of butterfly jeans and a matching tshirt, for $10L. I agonized until the next day over if I should buy it or not! I did end up getting the outfit and really liking it. Once I got past that initial purchase, I lost my fear of spending my lindens. I had spent enough time camping (The rate was actually $4L/15 minutes which is really good!) that I had enough money to go to a REAL store and get something expensive. Sal came along with me, and I made my very first ‘big purchase’ at Wrong. I got an outfit that cost me $250L, with money I had earned camping.

I remember being so scared about spending that much money on anything, but I really did love the outfit. The best part turned out to be later that same night. It was on New Years Eve, and we ended up on Edloe for a cool NYE party. TheDiva Rockin was DJing that night, and I met her for the first time. During the party, Sal and I were discussing the outfit I had just bought. I didn’t know him at the time, but Wrath Paine was dancing nearby and overheard us talking about the camping money I had spent. He told me that he noticed by my group tag that I was a fellow blogger, that camping was no fun and I should be spending my time out exploring so I’d have more things to blog about. Then he paid me the $250L I had spent, and told me to consider it a tip! That might not be a lot of money to most of us today, but at the time it was a HUGE amount, and his generosity has never gone forgotten. 🙂 It was deeply cool of him.

 Once I got past that initial couple of weeks, I settled into SL fairly quickly. It really didn’t take me long to learn and pick up on things. I went back to read the first couple weeks worth of blog entries as I wrote this, and noticed so many things that surprised me. Within my first week, I was starting to think about making art. I don’t remember that! Two weeks in, I somehow made two candle sconces- I had forgotten that also, and I’m surprised I was able to figure that out so quickly. But the funny thing is- for all the things I learned right away, the one thing people forgot to mention to me was draw distance! For over a month, I walked around Second Life in a literal fog. I could never find my way around, even on Podcast Island where I spent all my time. I would fly circles around the island for ages, trying to find something. One day I followed a LM in a notecard to Lost Gardens of Apollo, and stood at the top of a cliff, looking at the fog below and feeling unimpressed. Then I noticed a sign that said something about enjoying the view. The view of WHAT, I wondered. Thats when it occured to me that I had heard the term ‘draw distance’ before. I fished around in my preferences to find it. For over a month, I walked around SL with my draw distance bottomed out at 64. This is how my world looked. This is all I knew.

So I cranked the slider up to 512, and was shocked!

That was, I am pretty sure, my biggest discovery in the 11 months I’ve been in SL. That moment was sort of like a second rezday to me, because I really was seeing everything for the first time, all over again.

CeNedra, thank you so much for the topic! That was a lot of fun. 🙂


~ by Nika Dreamscape on November 11, 2008.

5 Responses to “First Impressions”

  1. This was really a fun read! You did so much your first days in world – i am impressed! Thank you for sharing!

  2. LOL You named the place!
    Seriously, that’s the exact place I was too, Ahern.
    Just seeing the pictures made me laugh.

  3. Dear M Linden,

    If everybody had a “first hour” experience like this, I think you’d have the community that Phil keeps dreaming he’ll have one day.

    Never lose sight of this one simple fact: It’s about the people. Whatever gets in the way of that or frustrates individuals into losing focus from that, sand it down or saw it off.

    Big Spaceship might alleviate the technical hurdles, but it will never do a lick of good if they’re delivered into an angry abattoir instead of a welcome wagon.


  4. What a great post. I see Salaamata occasionally around NCI. If you haven’t seen him for a long time, he certainly looks different than he did when he was new. I recognize those textures he used on his clothes in his early days. I’ll nudge him to drop you an IM just to say Hello.

  5. Nika, you left out the part where you told me that you were really Crap Mariner’s secret ALT! ha ha ha

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