UPDATED: More Details on the Upcoming Ability to Change Your User Name in Second Life

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Patch Linden added a bit more information to the recent announcement that Linden Lab was going to allow Second Life users to change their last names. He said, in a thread on the official Second Life user forums, that you would be able to change both first and last names:

It will be complete and total name changes, both first and surname.  Just to set expectations on this, it is a later this year item.

When asked if the change would be available to everyone, or just those with the Resident last name, he added:

It will be available to everyone.  ;)

And, in answer to yet another question about whether or not you could hide your name:

No hiding of names.  First name and surname combos will have to be unique like they are today.  A couple of other questions that came up – no re-use of retired names, once a name has been used, it belongs to that account forever.  We keep a transnational name change history.  Only standard English characters will be permitted.

Just to make it clear, this is an upcoming ability to change to the actual avatar name, not the display name. When asked about how this change will affect the display names of avatars (which can be updated once a week):

This has no affect on display names and largely I do not anticipate we will change how display names work.  If anything, it somewhat sunsets the need for them.

So, that makes everything a little clearer! Thanks, Patch! I predict that there will be a land rush on names once this feature is turned on for users. Being able to change both your first AND your last name (as long as somebody else doesn’t already have that combination) is a very nice feature to have!

UPDATE March 23rd: Inara Pey has a very detailed blogpost on this announcement by Linden Lab, with even more details:

The plan is to allow people to change their first and last name whenever they wish.

  • As with the “old” system, users will be able to choose whatever first name they like, then select their last name from a pre-set list of available names.
  • Once a name combination has been created, it is forever tied to that avatar, it cannot be used by anyone else, even if the “owner” later changes their name, or their account is deactivated.
  • Previous names will be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that and get their current name.
  • As with the “old” system, this list of last names will be routinely changed with different names appearing on it.
  • To help keep the available names relatively fresh, the Lab is considering accepting suggestions from users.
  • It has not been determined if someone will be able to switch back to using a name they’ve previously used.
  • Unicode will not be supported when entering a first name.

Thanks, Inara!

SECOND UPDATE April 2nd: Inara Pey has posted more details on the upcoming ability to change your avatar name in her report on the Second Life Web User Group meeting of March 28th:

  • “Original / legacy” last names will not be re-opened for use.
  • New users joining Second Life will still be given the automatic “last name” of “Resident”, but have the option of changing if they wish.
  • The fee for name changes has not been announced, however, at this point the indication is that the fee will be in fiat currency (i.e. US dollars) not Linden Dollars.
  • One of the reasons the return of last names will take time to be implemented is that all of the SL web properties – like the Marketplace – have to be updated to recognise users as they change their names (something which applies across almost all of the SL services when you think about it).

THIRD UPDATE Aug. 14th: Dakota Linden weighed in on the whole last names issue in a post on the official Second Life user forums:

It is wise not to speculate about what “might” happen at some time in the future regarding anything related to Second Life, or life in general for that matter.

1. ALL new accounts will be created with the Resident last name. Whether your personal choice in viewers allows that name to be hidden or not, ALL new accounts will have the last name of Resident.

2. IF a user chooses to become a Premium Member, they will have an option to purchase a different last name. The available last names will be from a Pre-Approved, rotating, list. If you do not want to purchase the option for a different last name, then don’t. No one is being FORCED to choose a last name other than Resident.

3. Will having the option to choose a last name change the gobbledy-gook first names? No. Why? Because some people will still choose to have weird or goofy first names that have no meaning at all, regardless of whether or not last names are available.

4. Will using your preferred, chosen, first name be easier when last names are available? YES!  Why? Because you pick your own first name, then have an option from a pre-approved list of last names, to pick from.  This means you will ALWAYS be able to have your preferred, chosen, first name, even if someone else is also using that name. Provided you are a Premium Account member AND you have paid for the option to have a different last name.

What is new about this information is that you have to have a Premium account in order to purchase a last name for your avatar. (Thanks to LittleMe Jewell for pointing out Dakota’s update!)

UPDATE Nov. 15th: This evening, I watched the recorded livestream of today’s Second Life Town Hall with Grumpity, Oz, and Patch Linden, and I wanted to add an update to this blogpost about the eagerly-anticipated ability to change your SL user name.

Grumpity reports that the team at Linden Lab is still working on it, but this project has been more complicated than anticipated. She now estimates that this will be released within the second quarter of next year (2019), rather than this year, which is definitely a major disappointment.

As for the cost of this new service, Grumpity estimates that it will be “on the order of a few months of Premium membership” (which is currently US$9.50 monthly, or US$22.50 quarterly, or US$72.00 annually). So expect this to cost about 20 to 25 dollars, which is about what I expected.

Grumpity stressed that these name changes are not meant to be (or replace) display names. She added that it should be possible for you to go back to a name you had before (for a fee).

Linden Lab will also be accepting suggestions from SL users for possible new last names, so watch for that announcement sometime in the future!

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Updating My Victorian/Steampunk Avatar in Second Life

I decided to treat my longstanding Victorian/steampunk roleplay avatar in Second Life, who has traditionally been an old woman, to a new LAQ Vivien Bento mesh head (designed for an older woman) and a Maitreya Lara mesh body. This is my first LAQ head and I’m impressed by all the options that come with it, including very lifelike mocap animations for the face. I’m very pleased with the look I was able to get. The wrinkles you see can be turned on and off using the included HUD. (Don’t you wish you could do that in real life?)

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So I’ve taken my newly updated avatar out for a stroll around the steampunk city of New Babbage, which has all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore:

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My avatar is wearing:

  • Isabella hair in silver by ChiChickie (in the top two pictures; no longer available)
  • Shirley-Anne hair in white by Alli & Ali (in the bottom two pictures)
  • Flat Isabel outfit in black by Bare Rose (in the topmost picture; includes hat)
  • Gwendolin outfit in ivory by Cog & Fleur (in the bottom three pictures; the outfit includes boots, earrings, and hat)
  • Vivien Bento mesh head by LAQ (included skin)
  • Maitreya Lara mesh body
  • Southern Belle & Woman in Ballgown Bento AO by Tuty

Second Life 15th Anniversary Announcements

Second Life 15th AnniversaryToday a special announcement was posted to the official Second Life community forums, which included a list of 15 new features and improvements to SL. A few of these caught my eye, and I wanted to share them with you.

First, and as Jo Yardley already reported, last names are finally coming back after a seven-year absence! The actual text of the announcement says:

You’ve asked for it (a lot!), so we will provide a way to customize your last name in Second Life! More details will be available later this year.

How this will work is anybody’s guess. But people have been asking for Linden Lab to bring back avatar last names for years, and it looks like they are finally going to listen. So if you’re tired of having the last name Resident, it looks like you’ll be able to change it sometime this year. Good news!

Second, it looks as though Linden Lab wants to make some adjustments to the way they collect money, depending less on the cost of virtual land and more on other fees:

Currently, Land costs can be quite high, and make up a lopsided portion of our Second Life revenues. To improve this imbalance, we plan to increase revenues in other ways so that we can lower land costs further. In order to avoid shocks to the in-world economy and to take care that we keep the business healthy, we plan to make these changes in a measured way, taking time to assess the impacts of each change as we go.

Last week, we announced that we have lowered the cost of Mainland by over 10 percent and doubled the Mainland tier allocation for Premium members. In the coming months some other fees may increase, including Marketplace commissions, Linden Dollar exchange fees, and cashout fees.

I’d better go buy a whack of Linden dollars before they raise the exchange fees! And I’m sure that some vendors will not be pleased with the news of increased commissions.

Finally, they said that they were considering having various premium subscription levels, instead of just one level like they currently do:

In addition, we will soon announce new tiered Premium membership offerings that allow Residents to choose the membership level that provides the benefits most important to them.

This sounds interesting, and similar to what Linden Lab is already offering with the various Sansar creator subscription levels.

I’m looking forward to the 15th anniversary celebrations that will happen this year, and to all the new developments that are taking place in Second Life!

Discrimination in Second Life Based on Avatar Appearance: Don’t Be a Meshist!

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Don’t judge a book by its cover (Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash).

Is there discrimination in Second Life based on your avatar appearance? You bet. Last October an avatar was banned from a popular music club, seemingly solely based on his appearance.

Yesterday, somebody made a post to the official Second Life community forums bringing up the topic:

People asking for friend but only if you are mesh. This maybe not full racist to you, but just  sub the word mesh to an ethnicity or religion.

One person replied:

Well, mesh isn’t a race, but I understand where you’re going with it. Those people tend to state that they’ve put a lot into their avie and don’t want to look at a sub par one (in their opinion)…I usually just scroll on by if it’s just the mesh thing mentioned. I can’t get butthurt over every stupid thing people write. If someone is that picky about what sort of pixels they want to associate with, that’s on them. There’s too many real issues in the world to worry about, why create more?

And someone had the idea:

Let’s just call it meshism and meshists. It’s a brand new discrimination!

You might be surprised to know that there are actually some places in Second Life that explicitly ask their users to use a mesh avatar. For example, this note appears in the rules notecard of the popular FMD club, which describes itself on its Flickr group page as “Second Life’s sexiest club and lounge”:

No noobish looking avatars. It’s 2017. Get mesh. FMD Staff determines your appearance and if you feel we’re being too harsh, take it up with someone who gives a fuck.

Now, I have been to FMD many times, and I don’t think I have ever encountered a classic SL system avatar there. Everybody has a mesh avatar head and body, and many obviously have spent a lot of time and money pulling together their look. I don’t really know if they do toss you out if you don’t have a mesh avatar, but it’s a bit intimidating.

And the thread in the community forums made me realize that perhaps I, too, am becoming a bit of a meshist. When I visit Frank’s Place, one of my favourite things to do is to right-click/inspect what the other avatars nearby are wearing. (That’s how I find some really great items to buy for myself.)

But I now notice that I am beginning to critique—in my head, not verbally—some rather dated-looking classic avatars. (“2007 called. They want their avatar back.”)

And it’s not fair. Many people who use Second Life can’t afford to shell out forty bucks to get a full-blown mesh avatar head and body, plus associated shoes, hair and clothes. Catwa Bento heads cost L$5,000 or US$20.00. The popular Maitreya Lara mesh body sets you back L$2,750, which works out to about US$11.00. (Honestly, Onyx LeShelle must be taking home money by the wheelbarrow from her Maitreya Lara mesh body sales! Maitreya must have seventy percent of the female mesh avatar body market. And as a result, everybody designs for them. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.)

Avatar fashions change over time. I still vividly remember the pre-mesh days, system clothing and flexiprim ballgowns. In fact, I sometimes pull them out and wear them to Frank’s. Stuff that Nicky Ree made a decade ago still holds up very well today:

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(All I did here was upgrade to a Bento mesh head—Catwa Kimberly, ka-ching! there’s twenty bucks right there!—and Bento Slink hands.)

What I’m saying here (and what I need to keep reminding myself, as well) is to try not to judge other people by the quality of their avatar. Don’t become a meshist!