Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Forays for the Beta Viewer

Roderick in the Basic Version ...
Location: Stonehenge!

Reading about the Linden Lab Beta Viewer for SL, I gave it a spin on a secondary machine (an older Intel-based iMac with lots of RAM). Respondents to a thread at the SLED list noted that they had real troubles with Mac-OS installs on their primary machines.  After a log in with the Beta Viewer, they were unable to relog with the Viewer 2.

On my first trip in-world, armed with this knowledge, I used Roderick Reanimator, the primary male avatar for our House of Usher simulation. He's a Poe character so we can take whatever fate throws his way. I only used Basic Mode, given time constraints but I'll try Advanced Mode next week.

Findings & Reactions:
  • The lack of landmarks or notecards in Basic Mode would hamper first-hour experiences for students, according to several SLED participants.  Hiro Pendragon disagreed, but he had a useful bit of advice about landmarks: "I wish Linden Lab would start treating them like we treat it in a browser - with a down-pointing arrow next to the back/forward buttons that pulls down history, and another pull-down menu treating landmarks like bookmarks."
  • I found that the Beta Viewer does have a back button like a Web browser, so Roderick was able to return home after his adventures with the Destinations at the bottom of the viewer's window. He made a visit to Stonehenge but was unable to get the landmark provided.  With a back-button click, he returned to his home location in SL.
  • Hiro also took issue with the idea that users need money or inventory in the first hour.  A few SLED members felt that the inventory and economy would be a good incentive for students to move beyond Basic Mode.
  • For my orientations with students, I'd need inventory but not money for the first hour, though as Eloise Pasteur notes, "you could get people used to chatting, IMing, moving around. With the destination bar you can get them to some places to let them see tping and rezzing in a new location. With the appearance bar you can move towards ideas about how you represent yourself in world."
  • When Roderick rezzed, he was in the old outfit he wore for our work with The House of Usher. I changed his appearance during his hour with the Beta Viewer, using the presets at the bottom of the screen, then logged out and switched back to my primary machine. I logged in with a standard SL client and found his inventory intact. He did, of course, have to reset himself to his old garb, hair, shape, and skin.
  • I used screen capture for my pictures, given the lack of snapshots.
  • The buttons for options are clean and uncluttered, and I found them to be intuitive.
I have not had enough experience with the new browser to provide a verdict. I don't plan to use any version of the Beta on my primary machine until I have a few more questions answered:
  • Does it prevent all third-party viewers from being used on the same machine? If so, is this a bug or a design feature?
  • Can the landmark feature be added? Can notecards? This little warning will not be of much use to noobs, who might decide not to log in again:
Beta Viewer (Basic) Warning
That's a short but important list. I'll share more about Advanced Mode next week.

    1 comment:

    Philena said...

    Did you also notice that you can't change the sun? I was in the dark on Help Island. I thought that was pointless. Why don't they just enable shortcuts?