BY STAFF WRITER FERAL MOSSRIDER
So, you’re new to Second Life, you’ve made your first tentative steps off Welcome Island and you want to make your mark in this crazy, eye-popping, mind-blowing brave new world. Where do you start? You’re acutely aware that everything about you screams ‘Noob!’, but you want to be taken seriously, show a bit of class and stand out from the crowd – here’s the deal though, you’re on a tight budget, (OK – I’ll rephrase that; you have nomoney and you’re not about to start splashing your cash on Second Life just yet!), and you have absolutely no idea about how to go about making things happen.
Fear not, this top ten guide to Second Life coolness will take you by the hand and lead you gently along the road to success…
1 – Don’t Panic!
OK, so I stole this from Douglas Adams, but it’s probably the single most important thing to keep reminding yourself. Arriving in Second Life is very much like being transported to an alien planet – if you freak out, you’ll get nowhere fast… so, just relax, enjoy the experience and, if things do go horribly wrong, count to ten and think things through. It may be embarrassing or just plain weird to find yourself naked in a crowd of people, stuck inside a bit of furniture or break dancing in the middle of the street -but none of these will ever kill you and, you can always ask for help, teleport away or log out… but never, ever panic!
2 – Ditching the noob look
That avatar you chose when you signed up… is it really you? The first time you go to a crowded place, the horrible truth will dawn on you – everybody else looks so much better than you do; they walk and move naturally and you desperately want to be like them. Here’s what you do – find a quiet place and spend some time playing with your appearance. Open up that ‘Library’ folder in your inventory and play around with what’s in there – you can mix and match, try out different eyes, skins and shapes. Still not happy? Try tweaking your look by using ‘edit appearance’ – just about every part of you is adjustable and you can customise your look to your own unique tastes!
Next you need to get yourself an Animation Overrider (AO) -this will stop you walking like a monkey! Type it into search and see what comes up, or hunt around the freebie malls – there are plenty of decent free AO’s out there, and you can use different ones, as the mood suits you. While you’re at it, see if you can pick up some decent freebie hair too!
3 – Getting togged up
Listen carefully – I’ll only say this once – stay away from noob stores and freebie malls! You’ll be sorely tempted to avoid this particular piece of advice: The lure of freebies is strong, but stand firm and resist it. In Second Life, you tend to get what you pay for – clothes you find in these places may cover your nakedness but they’ll almost certainly make you look as if you’ve clothed yourself at a village jumble sale! Avoid ‘bling’ too- you think it looks cool; everyone else thinks it looks completely naff! The more you sparkle, flash and shine, the less seriously anyone will ever take you.
This is what you do – go to the Second Life Market place and spend lots of time treasure hunting – there are some fabulous clothes, made by top class designers being offered completely free of charge, but you do have to hunt them down, and it’s a process of methodical and thorough searching for the bargains! (Just remember that many of the free Marketplace items are demos – they’re clearly described as such – if you really want to make a fashion statement by walking round with a big ‘DEMO’ sign over your head, great… But, for now you’ll probably want to steer clear of those particular items!) Next, get inworld and go on a serious shopping spree… many, many stores offer quality free gifts if you join their groups – do it! (You’ll usually find the group joiner by the front door). Many stores also have ‘LuckyBoards’ or ‘Lucky Chairs’ – these display a letter for a limited time; if your name begins with that letter, you can claim the prize. I’ve seen L$2000 items offered as prizes on some Lucky Boards!
Finally, read up some of the Second Life fashion blogs -these will give you the inside information on free fashion and are also a good source of information for ‘Treasure Hunts’, which you really should check out. A typical hunt will involve visiting lots of locations to find themed prizes – good fun and a great way to fill your Second Life wardrobe! (Try some of the blogs recommended by Moonletters).
4 – Home sweet home
You’re looking good! You’ve lost that noob look and you’re wearing some decent threads… you’re starting to think about setting up home. Stop! Think carefully about what you really want – although not unheard of, finding somewhere free of charge to live in Second Life is very difficult. If you really want your own place, the chances are that you’re going to have to pay for it – either by buying land or renting accommodation. If you don’t wantto fork out any cash and just want somewhere to get changed in privacy, there are plenty of ‘changing rooms’ you can use for nothing – or simply fly up to a few hundred metres and get changed in the sky, where no-one’s watching!
If you’re completely serious about finding somewhere to live free of charge, you could consider partnering someone who owns property, (the Second Life equivalent of marrying for money!) – not really recommended – or you may be fortunate enough to find a job or vocation inworld that offers accommodation – chances are though, that you’ll need to invest your own time and effort into earning theright to live there!
A word of caution – an empty plot of land is not an open invitation to take up squatters’ rights and rez that freebie mansion you pickedup recently, neither should you just move into any empty house or room that you may come across as you explore… It may look empty but somebody owns it, and is paying for that privilege – it’s not yours, so don’t even think about claiming it!
5 – Making friends
This is probably one of the most important things to do in Second Life – and it’s the one thing that noobs get hopelessly wrong. You wouldn’t ask someone directions to the shops and then immediately ask them to be friends in real life, nor would you randomly pick out complete strangers in the vicinity and ask them to be your best buddy! The same holds true for Second Life – please don’t do this: It puts others in an awkward position and refusal often offends. Don’t ask people for money or ‘stuff’ – Second Life people are generally very generous and will often offer noobs gifts, help or landmarks to useful places – but don’t ever expect this as a right!
Take time to get to know people – hang out with them for a bit (ie. not just for 10 minutes – a friendship offer sometimes comes weeks or months – maybe never – after getting to know someone!), talk to them, share a few landmarks with them… in fact, why not wait for them to ask you to be their friend, instead of the other way around? A useful thing to note is that most people prefer to talk in open chat, rather than in IM with strangers or when they’re in a group.
Fill out that profile! Use it to tell people what makes you tick and who you are – and read other people’s profiles too. The groups in someone’s profile, they’re profile picks and all the other things stashed away in there can be a real goldmine for sharing interests and information about one another, without ever having to ask… They make great starting points for conversations and can tell you a great deal about the individual, for example; if you take the trouble to read someone’s profile and find that they have a partner, it’s not likely that they’ll respond positively to you trying to chat them up!
Similarly, exercise restraint when meeting people, particularly if you don’t know them well. Questions about real life, where they’re from, or anything of a personal nature are rarely welcomed coming from a stranger. Stick to Second Life and what you can glean from their profiles and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
That’s it for this week’s tips – more to come next week, when I’ll be providing you with some indispensable inside information about Second Life, including the big question everyone wants the answer to… How do I go about making a huge pile of virtual money?