Friday, May 1, 2009

the Adult viewer

Well, we normally do not discuss the technical part of second Life here, basically because most of our members are too busy having fun to care. But I will have to make an exception now, as the new release candidate (which is an unofficial release and will evolve yet, as issues are discovered and corrected). This Release Candidate ("RC") of version 1.23 was rumoured to contain code for the enforcement of the new "Adult" ranking system, so I could not contain my curiosity , and tried it out. And as I wrote several times about the ranking system, I figured you too would be interested
Let us first be clear, that this is an RC0, a very first release of the new version. The previous version was finalized at RC11, so we can expect some time to pass, before we reach anything resembling the actual upgrade. So any issues I report will likely be solved before that, especially those that are mentioned in the "known bugs" section of the release notes.
Those release notes are impressive, in the sense that it takes quite a while before one has read the lot. Most of the new functionality revolves around the new rating system (which is what we are investigating now), but the Lindens put in a lot of fixes too. Reading the forums, they seem to have inserted a lot of new problems next to the fixes, and quite annoying ones too, judging from the emotional reactions. If you are as curious as I am and want to try the viewer too, take care that Europeans will experience severe difficulties, because the viewer ignores the local settings of your computer. It will read configuration information expecting an American decimal dot. If your local settings specify a comma as decimal sign, your viewer will crash. And crash . And crash again. The only remedy at this moment is change the local settings, until the Linden correct this in the next RC.
Also, the forums report of graphical issues. I didn't have them , but it seems that once again, the new version raises the graphical stakes ; graphics cards that were already groaning with the current version now wave the white flag. Some people claim that many skins are messed up (once again, not with me), and as we ladies do tend to be a bit vain, this could lead to a great deal of emotion here too.
But enough of that. I had promised to speak of the rating system.
first the good news : while the viewer does give you a "rating", it does accept payment info as basis for its decision. If you registered your credit card (or other payment track) you will be accepted as an Adult. There is a new option in preferences (General tab, near the bottom) , however, that determines what kind of content you can reach. If you are acknowledged as Adult, you can pick the PG, M & A setting, but by default it is set to PG & M, courtesy of the Lindens. If you don't change the setting, you will not be able to enter sims that are flagged "Adult". You will get a message telling you why and subsequently may end up in the Victoriana sewers, like me.
And that is the bad news : it will take some explaining before the not technical savvy amongst us will figure out how to reach us again. And it will raise the thresholds a newbie will have to conquer , before he is at ease in his new environment. In this world of instant gratification many will simply give up in the face of yet another barrier. I predict that shops will scramble on all fours to get out of an Adult zone, not just for the odious reputation it will carry with it, but for the invisible force field that will bar part of their potential customers from entering and browsing.

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