Inside a Japanese themed house in the Linden Homes. This one seems to have already been occupied and furnished somewhat.
Yeah, I know. Sorry about the title. But somebody had to say it, and I figured I might as well get at the head of the line.
Soooo, anyhow....there has been a good bit of discussion lately about the goals and perceived benefits--both for certain groups of residents and for LL--of the newly announced “Linden Homes” program. The idea of this project is to provide ready-made housing as a part of the benefits given to Premium Subscribers for their princely $9.95 per month.. It is currently in Beta, with the houses being offered to a limited number of Premium account holders, and if it goes well, they plan to make this a perk for all the Premies.
You can find out more about it here:
And you can see where Hamlet Au has posted about it, asking for people’s reactions:
Is it a good idea? Is it something that will really help facilitate new residents’ acclimation to life on the grid? Or is it just another way for the Labsters to try to squeeze some more blood from the turnips, by boosting the number of premium accounts? Is it maybe a little bit of all of that?
Some commentators have suggested that if LL really wants to make this program something that will help newcomers to SL, they should make it available to all newcomers for something like their first three months in-world, and not just run it as a perk for the Premium account folks. They do have a point there, though conceivably, that could require an awful lot of little prefab homes.
Many people so far do seem to agree with the idea that new folks would be helped by having a ready-made place of their own, to decompress, to talk to friends, to suddenly realize that you don’t have to completely undress before you put on a different outfit...
But what are these places like?
Well, let's just set aside the larger issues of whether this will work as intended, or will be another one o those experiments where in about 6 months everyone will be standing around a large, smoking hole in the ground, staring into the ashes and going, “My...that was interesting...”
What I wanted to do for this first post on the subject was to simply go and look at the actual builds. I wasn't planning on making any big judgments on the idea or its merits, I just felt a desire to see what the builds themselves felt like.
So I took the trip the other night, using map numbers gleaned from Prok's blog, and by golly, I had a real interesting time. I found myself starting out at the Elderglen infohub:
It’s a nice, rambling elven-esque sort of visitor center, surrounded by some public park land with big colorful trees and huge toadstools, and just beyond the trees, the first in a series of themed housing tracts. The area closest to Eldgerglen has a “fantasy” theme, featuring what some of us in an unkind moment (and making a judgment based only on pictures rather than a live in-person visit) labeled as “Hobbit McMansions.”
In fact some of these are kind of cute. There are about four different models, some with grassy roofs, some like mini-castles, some with roof decks and some that are sort of stump-like. Scale is a bit odd, but they are not unpleasant. The way they are randomly distributed through the woodsy/toad-stooly environment makes it feel like it may have sorta happened in an organic way, rather than being built all at once like a Elven Levittown. But you know...I kept thinking, I bet a certain kind of new resident is gonna like this, and be happy for a few weeks or so until they figure out how to become a land owner or renter of something really cool. Or maybe they’ll just end up being enslaved by Goreans or Panther Women. Either way, it’s a place to start.
Surrounding the huge tracts of fantasy homes are three other themed housing developments. First I went to a modernist woodsy type place with about four different variations of big A-frames.
I think I liked these least of what I saw. They have a lot of wasted space, though I suspect it might encourage some of the new folk to begin learning how to play with prims as they find themselves driven to make wall partitions and lofts for these things.
Next, I went to the modernist suburban area, with lots of flat-roofed, large-windowed structures that are a paean to the rectangle.
I actually kind of liked this area, partly because the houses had these big plate windows which made them kind of less claustrophobic feeling, and also there were lofts or second floors in some of them. They just felt more interesting...and frankly, my affinity for these builds may also be a reflection of my innate affection for the square prim. You see, my most successful building efforts in SL have happened in the course of my exploration of the square and rectangular genre--rugs, windows, doors, chimneys, tables, benches, bunks, fireplaces and forges, cigar boxes and pictures, posters and dry sinks, etc. In fact, my friend September Blaisdale and I have been thinking about starting an in-world store called “Rectangles R Us.”
Inside one of the modernist suburban homes. Note this is on the second floor. In retrospect I am not sure if this second level was done by the Linden builder, or by the homeowner. I should check.
Anyhow, there again seemed to be about four different models, landscaped with rocks and trees in between them.
The last development is the “Japanese”-style housing tract. This was kinda fun, though I was struck that the houses were a lot less interesting on the inside than they were on the outside. Again a lack of second floors, no windows opening to the outside, and porches that had no access points--just a little odd. As a matter of fact, I came across a house that someone had furnished, and they seem to have done exactly what I thought people would want to do inside the A frames, which is to add their own loft or second floor.
The other thing about the Japanese area was that the trees in this development struck me as rather garish and cartoony.
But still..it was kinda fun. I could see someone new coming into SL, and going “wow, this is cool..I can LIVE in one of these?” And then later on, they will see some of the kickass Asian builds, and this will no longer stir their souls. But like the other forms of Linden Homes, it is a place to start.
Interior of a Japanese themed house--not bad really...well, other than the tree bits sticking through the back wall.
Yep, that is what these all felt like--starter homes, an environment to get your feet wet. A place to try to develop a certain level of comfort with functioning in-world, in an environment where most everybody is in the same boat, or perhaps just recently graduated from a dinghy to a Sunfish.
I just hope that part of the deal is that the Lab will make sure that this environment is not overrun by the egregious neck-biters, and griefers and griefing recruiters, and all those chinless bum-biters who seem to frequent many of the new folks areas, giving them a hostile and negative initial impression.
I did see signage at the info hub that stated what was not permitted in this part of the grid, but I hope the lab takes a more pro-active stance in this matter, perhaps with some regular patrolling by Lindens or maybe even a sting op with ringers posing as newcomers, and then crushing and banning anyone who harasses them.
I would enjoy seeing that.
The only thing I am not too sure about is how long a Premium account holder would wish to hold on to this kind of property. Yes, if they decide after a while to use their 512 allotment to apply to something better, then their Linden Home would automatically go into the pot to once again be redistributed. But would some people hang on to it for sentimental reasons after they no longer need or use it regularly, provided they don't want to to use their tier for another property? I really have no idea how likely it is that someone might get this and stay just because they liked it. I would be surprised if they did so, because these builds do have such a starter home feel to them. Most people in all likelihood will not want them forever. And that would be good as it would be nice to maintain a sense that people in these areas are predominately a community of new folks, who can be mutually supportive of one another.
I hope the Labbites think that one through, rather than letting an unused stockpile of these build up as people move on, but don't necessarily cut loose of them.