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  ‘Electric Sheep’ Improve ‘Second Life’ Interface  
Posted 2007-10-11 by Tony Walsh
The Electric Sheep Company, a large third-party developer of virtual-world products and services will soon launch its own window into the world of Second Life. The pending client software (known as a "viewer") has been commercially licensed by Second Life maker/maintainer Linden Lab, according to an official press release.

Based on a limited range of screenshots and online discussion about the upcoming viewer, it appears that the Electric Sheep Company has gone a long way in addressing one of the chief problems facing new users: The interface. Historically, Second Life's viewer has been difficult to use, suffering from the classic "designed by engineers" syndrome plaguing many graphical user-interfaces and software applications.

Dubbed "OnRez" (after the Electric Sheep Company's recently-launched line of consumer services and tools), the new viewer seems to have been thoughtfully designed. It appears similar to a web-browser, giving new users a familiar interface structure; complex options such as the "Build" button have been hidden or stripped away; disorienting options such as "Fly" have also been tucked out of sight.

In all, the viewer appears to be idiot-proof. Which is appropriate considering the expected influx of idiot-box viewers later this month, when fans of the TV series CSI: NY will become active participants in the show's storyline and invited to sign up for a Second Life account through a specially-crafted portal, downloading the OnRez viewer.

There's a lot to be gained here for the Electric Sheep Company aside from merely lowering the barriers to entering Second Life. Users who download the OnRez client are being exposed to Second Life through a non-Linden brand, and given direct access to Sheep-created add-on features such as OnRez shopping, an upcoming OnRez-branded search (probably based on an earlier Sheep-developed search system), and currency exchange system. This gives the Electric Sheep company a degree of ownership over the new user experience, which is likely to establish an early, positive relationship with newcomers and bolster the Sheep's position as the leading third-party Second Life developer.
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Comment posted by FlipperPA Peregrine
October 12, 2007 @ 10:48 am
Just to clarify: no functionality whatsoever has been "stripped away." This is a fully functional Second Life client. When I started Second Life in 2003, I'd say about 95%-99% of the population were content creators / creative types. Now, maybe 1% - 5% are significant contributors when it comes to the world's content. The last time there was a major overhaul to the interface was in late 2003 / early 2004 (when we got the light blue buttons at the bottom of the screen), which is far too long considering the percentages mentioned above. The most significant changes to the interface since then have been things like renaming "find" to "search." The absolutely useless features like "Notes" in the profile are frustrating as well: there's no way to search them, or view a list of profiles on which you've made notes! Completely random.


Comment posted by brettreasure
October 14, 2007 @ 2:16 pm
Can't wait to see it. Sounds terrific. Congrats to Flip and other Sheep.
Comment posted by SuezanneC Baskerville
October 20, 2007 @ 5:11 am
I like the idea of alternative viewers, but the fly control is not one I'd want to hide.
Comment posted by SpaceQ
October 22, 2007 @ 1:33 pm
Flip: on CNN Linden said it was ~40% and this number still remains same it didnt drop as they expected or as you are assuming.
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