The Trouble With Mainland

Shermerville Central

The trouble with mainland is quite simple, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I popped along to the sims around Shermerville, places such as Shermerville Central, Shermerville NW, West Haven, Blumfield etc. and they feel quite a lot different to sims such as Bedos, Molay, Croix etc and the reason they feel different is because they are different. The former sims have a nice road network, they feel like a small town and the way they are designed seems to encourage good neighbourly practices, although there is drama. The latter, they have a lot of grass, far less of a road network and they don’t feel like community sims, they feel more as if each parcel or a set of owned parcels is its own kingdom.

I can recall when I was a lad in Second Life asking Jack Linden why there weren’t more sims such as Shermerville and he told me something along the lines of they were an experiment and weren’t that popular. Now if you’ve never been out that way, I suggest you do. When you come out of the straits of Shermerville across the suspension bridge, you feel like you’re entering a new town. The way these sims are designed encourages that feeling of being one community, although as I said, that doesn’t mean all the neighbours get on with each other.

Entering Blumfield

The forum archives give us some clues as to what happened here, in a thread about Linden Homes one post says:

anybody remember blumfield? free houses for new premium accounts, ante-Shermerville.  We who lived there hated that there was poor community planning and no zoning. And it was a megaflop in some ways and left us quite disappointed, despite our community meetings.

 The linden who managed it and apparently promoted the idea vanished into the ether. most of us thought she was fired.  and they think this will work again?

Another thread reveals someone who found the whole thing a bit creepy:

I just noticed these sims. What is the deal with them? I got there after dark and it was like some horror flick, endless streets of US suburban houses, most with For Sale/Sold signs on them, and no one there except one away AV looking like a floating corpse.

However it does seem that when these sims arrived, they had more of a community feeling going on, exemplified in this post:

Shermervillagers have just what we in Blumie and WH need, a community meeting place, a playground and a community pool. The pool, however, is too deep and not as much fun as the Blumfield Community Pool, if I do say so myself. If there’s a way, I would be happy to leave a swim machine for community use. Can a Linden contact me about that?

 SVers still need a marketplace, or they may find their little neighborhood full of strip malls and strange shops like we in Blumie and WH have.

However, the other side of the coin is that a lot of people do not want to be part of a wider community and they want to build their own little place and I would hazard a guess that that is what Jack was talking about when he said the concept behind those sims wasn’t that popular. Since Blondin left there hasn’t really been a community Linden and that’s a shame, but if people aren’t happy to be part of the communities, then it’s a thankless task trying to foster relations.

Then comes another point, that mess in parts of mainland, those floating prims, the fact that your neighbour can arrive and build something you find painful, I’ve met people in Second Life and the forums who absolutely adore that mainland can be like that, they absolutely love the wild west feel, the fact that you can build pretty much what you want, where you want (within maturity guidelines), to some people that is what makes Second Life special, so it’s not difficult to see why Linden Lab have found mainland difficult to manage.

This doesn’t mean that some managing can’t be done, the later Linden Home sims strike me as a compromise between the two camps, they don’t have the community feel of the Shermerville areas, but their very design leads to them looking neater than other areas of mainland.

I can’t see how Linden Lab can ever fix mainland, largely because one man’s meat is another man’s poison, mainland is what it is, warts and all, but I would like to see more sims like Shermerville around, but that’s my preference, your mileage may vary.

Shermerville NW

8 Replies to “The Trouble With Mainland”

  1. LL is not a good neighbour or land manager on mainland. they should auto revert abandoned land. and a employ a mole to return junk items (thank fully not the problem it was) redraw parcel boundaries and stick the occasional tree or minor feature on plots.
    It is a lot better than it was but LL still needs to tidy up after people. Many an ugly sim is half an hour a way from looking attractive.

    Giving private sim controls to any sim that sets up an all land owners group would be a great way to foster communities.

    1. I think there’s an opportunity now, with all this abandoned land, for those who are left in a sim to be allowed to come together and agree to some rules for their sim. For example, if those left want roads, no commercial activity, etc. they should be allowed to put forth a proposal to Linden Lab for those to be the rules for that sim from this day forth.

  2. The reason that communities like this never really took off is because there wasn’t an underlying need for them. This is a topical solution that assumed a root cause was there, which is a little backwards thinking at best.

    Think of it like this:

    At the root of community is a need to stick together. This stems ultimately from scarcity of resources and the need to pool together in order to maximize the pool of those resources through collaboration. That’s why towns and cities spring up, and why interstate highways and all forms of traditional transportation exist. When you remove the actual common need, the application becomes superficial, and thus rejected.

    Why have roads and vehicles if everyone teleports everywhere? Why have airports and shipping routes? The consumer aspect of entertainment value or relaxation reasons (cruise ships, automobiles, and flights) stems from the commercial need for them in a different context.

    We live in communities because we’ve come together out of need and it’s convenient, but in a virtual world where teleportation is free and exists, all of those root causes vanish. This, of course, has wide reaching repercussions on the entire virtual world and how things are created or organized. Without that resource scarcity, there’s no reason for shops to spring up catering to people who need it. There is no supply or demand to justify. A majority (if not all) thing on Marketplace or sold in-world are superficial but not a need. Therein is another repercussion of this one, simple, decision.

    For example, there is a lack of continuity in spatial locations because of this underlying lack of design choice (scarcity of resource). There really isn’t a mantra of business such as “Location! Location! Location!” and so, there is no real prime real estate since they all are about equal and accessible. But in the real world, scarcity and location alter that perception – A Manhattan Nightclub will invariably pay far more per month than if it was in the back-woods of Arkansas, but then there is a stigma of higher visibility and prestige that you’re paying for as well since you’re smack dab in the middle of NYC nightlife versus out in the sticks.

    Therein we see the continuing repercussions persist in that without resources and scarcity, we have nothing to transport and so roads only get built out of superficiality but more often are ignored. Because of *that*, nobody from the Linden Lab side sees from an early stage that region crossings need to be flawless in order to not break continuity and metaphor immersion. After all, only a very small fraction of the population might use cars to drive cross country, and so it’s not a priority.

    This, too, leads to wide sweeping repercussions in that there is no need to create contiguous ocean to cross between land masses and regions, and so what oceans exist are there purely for superficial (at best) use for boating. But again, there isn’t a perceived *need*. And because of the complete lack of fostering continuity, it leads to the inability to really see a need for intercontinental flights.

    At the end of the day, this is the result of one simple missing ingredient that would have changed the entire dynamic and outcome of Second Life.

    Scarcity of resource.

    This is the difference in knowing how an ecosystem works and only pretending that you do. When you apply video game methodologies, you make these mistakes and never really realize you’re making that mistake (often times even far after it failed on you) because it never really dawned on you that you’re dealing with a very different premise that shares similarities with a game but patently is not one.

    This is why communities like this failed.

    1. First of all, thank you for such a well written reply, secondly, I don’t agree with all of it!

      I certainly agree with you about the scarcity of resources issue regarding the need for communities to arise and maintain themselves and there’s no doubt that teleportation reduces the need for roads and seas.

      I’ll go further, I have a Medieval roleplaying sim, I would not want that joined to mainland, it absolutely needs to be its own independent unlinked space, someone driving through it on a linked road in a 4 x 4 is going to ruin the immersion.

      However, what I see in Shermerville isn’t the sort of natural community that scarcity of resource creates, it looks neat, we’re into broken window territory. Due to the layout, people are largely more respectful of their surroundings.

      I do however ultimately agree with you as to why these communities failed and this probably explains what Jack Linden was telling me, once again I also thank you for such a well written and thought provoking post.

  3. Blake Sea regions, don’t tell me there is no market for those who love using other then tlp to travel.
    , Sl has the unique (besides Inworldz) but in a much bigger scale feature, Mainland and the ability to use it and avoid teleports most of times to reach other continents!
    Teleport is a way but there will be always those who do prefer to use more similar to rl means of transport to explore!
    And if i do use only teleport Ill be on open sim always!

    1. Protected waterfront land still commands a premium, although logically it’s all just bits and bytes, people will pay for the view!

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