Each round of the Enchantment shopping event in Second Life is based on a theme from a fairy tale or fantasy, and this time around, the theme is the Snow Queen! There’s also a Snow Queen hunt with free hunt gifts.
In this picture I show you the Pearl Crystal ballgown by Petite Mort, one of the vendors participating in the Enchantment event (SLURL). In addition to the pearl colour shown, it comes in blush pink, periwinkle blue, and black, at only L$230 per colour:
In addition to this stunning ballgown, my Snow Queen avatar is wearing three free prizes from the Enchantment Snow Queen Hunt:
The Snow Coronet crown by Spyralle (with snowflake particle effects you can turn on and off by clicking on it);
Frostelle snowflake earrings by MOEKO (with a HUD to change them to one of six different colours, including the icy blue shown here);
If I could sum up in three words how I am feeling this weekend, they would be: disenchanted, disillusioned, and depressed.
It’s not my own circumstances that leave me feeling this way. In my personal life, things are going well, both at work and in my life outside work. Between my truly wonderful Patreon patrons (thank you!) and my Google AdSense and WordPress WordAds blog advertising, I am covering the hosting costs of this blog, for which I am grateful.
But what is bothering me (and especially weighing on me this weekend) is the current state of social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, and the many travails, upheavals, and setbacks it seems to be going through. I spent my lunch hour sitting in my local McDonalds, having a text chat with someone who had invested in MATERIA.ONE (formerly Staramba Spaces), who saw my mention of a possible lawsuit being launched against the company in a previous blogpost, and wanted to know more information. I feel for him; like so many of us, he saw the promise and potential of a particular metaverse platform, and wanted to get in on the ground floor, only to get burned. It can happen to any of us.
After seeing what happened this year to both High Fidelity and to Linden Lab’s Sansar, and how so many other projects are struggling to become profitable, I am feeling disenchanted about the future of social VR. I don’t know if this feeling is a temporary grey cloud in my sky, or an indication of something more pronounced and permanent: an omen of more bad news on the horizon, more bad tidings to come.
Having covered the metaverse so assiduously over the past three years, I used to feel that I had developed a sort of sixth sense for determining which platforms will succeed, and which will fail. That sixth sense has completely abandoned me (or, more likely, I never had it in the first place).
Someone on Twitter alerted me to a brand-new, 15-minute Sansar promotional video posted by Disrupt, featuring CEO Ebbe Altberg and Sansar’s new General Manager Sheri Bryant, along with other Linden Lab staff such as the hard-working Sansar Community Manager Galileo Linden (a.k.a Ryan Crowe):
It’s a well-produced video, and an excellent, upbeat introduction to Sansar to someone who is new to the platform. Ebbe and Sheri and company cheerfully and valiantly hit all the major selling points of Sansar: making profit selling user-generated content, etc.
But I watched this video, as good as it is, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I used to believe that Sansar was a sure thing, a can’t-miss bet. Now, I am disenchanted, disillusioned, and depressed.
We’ve seen attempt after attempt after attempt to sell social VR to the masses, with very limited success so far. As Shakespeare once said, now is the winter of our discontent. The question is: when will we get our glorious summer?
First, if you purchase their Legacy mesh body (male or female), you will save L$500 during the promotion period (Nov. 15th to Dec. 15th, 2019). Please keep in mind that this brings the price of the Legacy mesh body down to L$4,500, which is still significantly more expensive than competing male and female mesh bodies that have much better designer support, and which support Omega skin and makeup appliers (TMP bodies do not support Omega, although I do believe they now support Bakes on Mesh).
Also, there is a contest which you can enter for freejust by entering your avatar name on this website. The rule is one vote per avatar, but if you choose to promote the contest using your Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts, you can earn extra chances to enter this contest.
The contest prizes are as follows:
100 First Place winners will each receive a Classic or Legacy mesh body from TMP, plus 4 gift cards and/or fatpacks randomly chosen from participating sponsors (sponsors are listed below); first place winners have the option to gift the winning body to a friend, or may receive a full refund if they purchased a body during the giveaway period (Nov. 15-Dec. 15);
100 Runner Up winners will receive one gift card or fatpack from participating sponsors.
The sponsors are a veritable Who’s Who of Second Life brand names!
My original plan was so simple: retire early from my librarian job at the university, devote my resulting free time to learning how to use the Marvelous Designer software proficiently, and embark on a fabulous second career as an avatar fashion designer in Sansar, emulating so many successful brands that I had seen in my time in Second Life.
But, as often happens in life, things have not gone according to plan. My financial advisor at the bank strongly advised me not to retire at age 55, and I have listened to that advice, after seeing how much better my pension would be if I were to stay at my job until I turn 60, for instance (which is the new plan). I will continue to take things year by year, and see how I feel about it all. And 60 is only four years away now.
And watching what has been happening in Sansar this past year, as an increasingly concerned observer, I am not feeling quite as bullish about hitching my wagon to this particular star (particularly after the recent layoffs of approximately half the Linden Lab staff working on Sansar). Simply put, my initial enthusiastic infatuation with Sansar, which has buoyed me over the past three years, is showing signs of fading. And therefore, my original dream of becoming an avatar fashion designer there is looking a little less likely than it did a year ago.
Frankly, I’m in a very good position to take able to take a look at all the social VR platforms out there so far, and I’m just not feeling a tug towards creating content such as avatar clothing (or, for that matter, anything) for any of them. I think I am going to bide my time, continue to watch from the sidelines, and see how things shake out over the next year or two.
I may decide, instead, to pour my off-work hours and energy into learning how to edit digital video well. My producer of the Metaverse Newscast, Andrew William, is still tied up with real-life work projects, which means that future episodes of the show are currently on hold. This might be my opportunity to pick up some new technical skills! (I do have some limited video editing skills that I picked up as part of my paying job, using TechSmith’s Camtasia software to create student tutorials, so I already have a foundation I can build upon.)
The lesson I am learning here is twofold:
Don’t be too tied to any one platform; and
Don’t be too tied to any one plan.
Be willing to go with the flow and adjust to changing conditions and circumstances. I’m sure that many content creators (and potential content creators) are biding their time as I am, watching and waiting to see what platforms will be worth the investment of their time and money. Nobody wants to have sunk resources into a losing platform.
The vendors might not like it, but waiting to see how things shape up in social VR may be a smart strategy, especially in a time of high uncertainty such as this. Invest in your content design skills using Marvelous Designer, Blender, Avastar, or other programs, test out a few creations on various virtual world marketplaces to see where and if they are popular, and just be patient. Eventually, one or more social VR platforms will have their breakthrough moment, and then you can make your move!
So, what do you think? Am I right or wrong in holding back? Feel free to leave a comment below, or, as always, you are welcome to join the freewheeling discussions and debates about social VR and virtual worlds taking place on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the first cross-worlds discussion forum! We’d love to see you there.