By Phil F. Kearny
I just received notification from Blondin Linden that Ambrosia Dance Club has been selected to Beta Test a new feature for Second Life that will enable avatars to access SL from a web based application much like currently existing versions of the IPHONE App.
This is only a beta test that will last about two weeks with a limited number of venues and select participants. Here are the FAQs I recieved that answer some questions about the upcoming test.
System and Access:
Q: What are the system requirements?
A: The web experience can be accessed from PCs running Windows XP or Windows 7 using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome and Mac O/S X using Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. Access to the experience will also require a broadband internet connection — we’ll be testing various connection speeds during the test.
Q: How does a guest access the experience?
A: During the test, a select number of participants will be presented with the option of accessing a web-based version of Second Life. For those guests, a link will be displayed that can be used to launch Second Life inside their browser.
Q: Is this open to existing Second Life Residents?
A: Any existing Second Life Resident has the potential to access this test. However, only a small number of participants will be exposed to the link needed to access this test.
Q: Can an existing Resident login with their SL account?
A: No. This test aims to validate access options with potential new Residents and, thus, there is no option to login with an existing Second Life account. Participants will appear as guests and will not have the option to use an existing username or to define a new username during their visit.
Q: Is this going to replace the Viewer?
A: No. This test is not meant to compete with or replace the existing Second Life Viewer. Depending on what we learn from our testing, we may ultimately pursue some or none of these approaches, and your help with this test can help us to determine if this approach should be part of Second Life’s future.
Q: How long will this test be conducted?
A: This test is currently planned to begin on or around Nov. 8 and will run approximately two weeks. However, Linden Lab may extend or shorten the duration of this test in reaction to our early findings.
Q: How are the destinations selected?
A: In order to introduce the best Second Life experience to potential new Residents, Linden Lab has selected a small sample of locations that demonstrate some of the most interesting, entertaining, and popular types of Resident-created content. Test participants will only have access to limited features and interactivity, so Linden Lab aimed to omit locations that rely on features not supported in this version (such as HUDs, etc.).
Locations were selected from the wider Destination Guide, which also factors in a venue’s popularity, appeal and overall quality. More information on general Destination Guide criteria can be found on the Second Like Wiki (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Destination_Guide).
Q: Can test participants teleport to all existing Second Life location?
A: No. Test participants will only be able to teleport to the set of locations listed in a streamlined version of the Destination Guide. They cannot respond to teleport requests sent from residents or to SLURLs posted into chat.
Q: Will the test participants be distinguishable from existing residents?
A: Yes. Each guest will have a temporary username that distinguishes their “guest” status. All guests will be identifiable through use of a common naming protocol.
Q: Can they buy items in Second Life or in the Marketplace?
A: No. Test participants can not give or receive L$ and cannot have inventory.
Q: Can they change avatar appearance?
A: As they begin each session, test participants will be able to select from several introductory looks. They will be able to change between the available looks at any time during the session. However, since they will not have inventory, further avatar customization will not be possible.
Will their avatar and username be saved after the session ends?
Test participants will have a maximum of 60 minutes to explore and experience Second Life. However, the avatar and username information is not retained once that time has expired. Guests will have the option to download the full Second Life Viewer and register a unique username to continue their exploration, or they may return through the Web Viewer and initiate a new session.
Q: How many times can a guest visit through the web viewer?
A: There is no limitation on repeat visits during the test.
Q: Where do users go for help?
A: General Second Life questions and troubleshooting can be found in the Support section of the Secondlife.com website. (http://secondlife.com/support/)
Interactions with Residents:
Q: Will users be able to IM(chat) with other test participants and Residents?
A: Participants will be able to use text chat with all Residents. Guests will be unable to hear or initiate voice chat.
Q: What happens if a Resident offers inventory or a notecard?
A: Test participants will not see any incoming inventory offers, including notecards. They are unable to receive, give or hold inventory.
Q: Can a Resident offer friendship to the users?
A: No. Friendships will not be supported in this test.
So as you can see this is just a test. I suspect that the Lab has no idea of what the effect of all of this will be. I am proud to offer up the Ambrosians as guinea pigs if it means that we have the possibility of accessing the grid from our smartphones.
This is the way that the future is going and in my opinion if the step is not taken we will continue to see our user base diminish to nothing. I would appreciate your input during the testing as to what you think so I can pass it along to the Lindens.