Stick a fork in me; I’m done

Or, rather, GB City is done. I’m still around, and will be for as long as SL is still kicking and screaming. But I took a long, hard look at my transaction history today, and realised that – much the same as home taping was supposed to be killing music – so Marketplace has killed my inworld store.

In the last month I have had a total of 87 transactions: people purchasing things I’ve made. 86 of those were from Marketplace, and just ONE was from the inworld store. We get plenty of visitors  to GB City, but they never go beyond the landing point. Why? Well… that’s where the lucky boards are. (And yes, I’ve tried out various things, from moving the lucky boards [in which case people stop showing up altogether, because they’re too lazy to go looking for them] to building an entire roleplay location with Daros, to try and boost visitors to the area.)

I’m sorry, guys, but I can no longer justify paying for an entire region of tier (not to mention paying for a weekly classified ad) just so you can get a freebie. GB City will be closing this month and our stores will move to being Marketplace-only. I’m going to tier down to a more affordable level, so I’m no longer paying almost £250 a month for nothing. It’s long  overdue, but I’ve hung onto all of that land for as long as I could. It took us a long time (and a lot of money) to obtain it all, and I suppose that now we’ll probably end up surrounded by shitty, lagtastic mainland-type homes full of poorly-scripted waterfalls and horses (dear god, the memories I have of some neighbours who lagged the sim to fucking soup, but hey-ho).

I could be doing much better things with that £250, which right now I’m effectively throwing away. If people would bother to shift their arses out of their skyboxes and actually go around and shop inworld  then it might be worth keeping, but since most people are too lazy to even leave a fucking review on a Marketplace item, I’m not going to expect them to haul arse to anywhere except the latest lagged-out special events that only the big-name creators get to sell at. Fuck the rest of us little guys, eh?

Bitter? Me? Yeah, I kind of am. Almost ten years in this place and I still go out to visit stores in person and shop there. It’s a shame that so many other people can’t be bothered to do that anymore, and prefer to shop from an online fucking catalogue.

Dear Diary: I’ve just given up on mesh heads

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

I have just spent a truly maddening  (and expensive) two hours fucking around with mesh heads, head appliers, mesh bodies, and body appliers, as well as skins and all kinds of associated crap like that. At the end of those two hours, I was SO FUCKING FRUSTRATED that I was all but screaming at the computer, and eventually logged out of SL, fuming.

So… what happened?

Warning: A lot of text incoming…

We’ll begin with my finding a gorgeous male skin that I wanted to try. The only problem was, this skin only  came with an applier for a specific mesh head (not TMP, since I refuse to consider that one, regardless). No separate skin and no Slink mesh body applier. However, the same store did  have a full set of general male skin appliers, which – since there was only one body applier set – I assumed would work with all  of their skins. This seems to be similar to many other skin stores: they have just one set of body appliers, and the head appliers (or system skin faces) are the parts that are actually different. It’s a good business model, and it means that a store’s customers would only need to purchase one set of body appliers, and can then buy either the standard skins or head appliers that they wanted from a new release.

So I picked up the demo of the Slink mesh body applier and the demo for the mesh head. I then picked up the demo of  the mesh head. And then the fury began.

The mesh head appliers do  come with a standard skin, but only for the body. No Slink body appliers. So I wore my Slink body and used the all-in-one Slink mesh body skin applier from the skin store. I then tried on the Omega version of the mesh head, applied the skin head applier and… there’s a very visible dark join at the neck. Great.

The head applier didn’t come with eyebrows, so I picked up the demo of that, too. Tried them on, and all together the mesh head with its skin and brow appliers looked good enough for me to think, “Okay yeah. I’ll get it. It’s not perfect around the neck, but eh, I can use something else there.” Since I don’t wear mesh heads all the time, I figured that if I wanted to wear that mesh head, I’d wear a collar or choker or scarf or something to cover the join. It’s something I do quite a lot, to cover little imperfections.

So I went ahead and spent an eye-watering L$2500 on the mesh head. While I was there I thought I might as well be in for a penny, in for a pound, and also purchased the Slink body appliers, extra expressions HUD, and a set of complementary vampire teeth for the head, because one of the other head applier skins was pale and delicate, so I figured this could make a great pale vampire look. All told, a full purchase of L$3650 or so. Ouch.

I got them home and – out of interest – I tried on the ‘pale’ colour of the mesh head’s own appliers (both head and body). What this store calls ‘pale’ turns out to be what most other skin stores would call ‘deep tan’. Oh, joy.

Well, let’s try the original gorgeous skin applier, then. It applied perfectly to the full Omega version of the mesh head. Looked great. At last! Ka-ching! Might as well purchase the eyebrow appliers, too, because the skin applier doesn’t include them. And let’s get those Slink mesh body appliers, as well. I liked two tones, so that’s two head appliers, one all-in body applier, plus eyebrow appliers. Total purchase: L$1497.

And then… more problems. The eyebrow applier – which worked on the demo head – doesn’t work on the full mesh head. I checked several things. Yes, I’m using the Omega-specific version of the mesh head, and the brows are for Omega. I tried all three options (brow, makeup, whole head) and it refused to apply. OK then, let’s look at the HUD for that Omega-specific mesh head.

Attach HUD, start clicking through brow options… and find that almost every single damn thing  you might want to use doesn’t have an option on the Omega-specific mesh head HUD. O-kay. Now what?

I tried purchasing the OMEGA Systems installer for that mesh head. Installed Omega, and tried again. Still nothing. The brows just wouldn’t apply. I relogged. Tried a different region. Nothing.

*snarl*

Breathe, Skell. Breathe. You’ve only wasted a total of L$5200 or so. That’s (*eyeroll*) all.

I’d purchased one other skin (in two tones) from the same store. Loved the skin, then found out the Slink body appliers I’d already purchased (which were the only  ones in the mainstore) didn’t work with that skin. I had to purchase individual body appliers (for L$200 per skin tone) for that specific skin, which are on Marketplace only. Also, that skin only came with a TMP mesh head applier.

By this time, I am so fucking frustrated that I’m at the point of almost defenestrating my computer. I see this SO MUCH these days. A skin store might do one or all of the following:

  • stop selling standard skins altogether and focus only on one mesh head applier (usually TMP), so that people who have purchased their other skins and mesh body appliers (but don’t use TMP heads) are left out in the cold. At least two skin designers, in whose stores I have spent tens of thousands of L$ in the past, and whose older skins I have worn almost exclusively for years, have now moved to only creating for TMP heads and Slink body. No system skins for those of us who won’t use TMP heads. I see countless beautiful skin ads by those designers, and then I realise that oh; it’s for TMP head only. Another lost sale for them.
  • have different skins on offer, each one specific to a different mesh head (and, invariably, the only skin I love is the one for TMP, which I refuse to use)
  • not have matching head and body appliers (eg: Omega or Slink body appliers and only TMP head appliers)
  • separate out each new release to get as much money from customers as possible: system skin (no brows; they’re a separate purchase), Slink body appliers, mesh head appliers (again, no brows; they’re a separate applier) so that someone with only a Slink body will need to buy the system skin just for their head (usually the most expensive option), the Slink body applier, and the brow  tattoo layers. Whereas people with mesh bodies and heads only have to buy the cheaper head, body, and brow appliers.

My sartorial darlings, I railed against mesh heads for a long time, but by god I have tried my damndest to like them, despite that. But this is not the first time I have been so thoroughly frustrated by the confusing lack of choice in the male skin market when it comes to mesh heads and their appliers, that I am about ready to simply give up on them for good.

Seriously, fuck it. I’m done with mesh heads.

ETA: (Several days later) Okay, I’m a stubborn fucker and I refuse to give up. I finally got the damn thing working. Eyebrows are on (although I can’t wear any makeup, because it removes either my eyebrows or my hairbase, but still, the mesh head actually works and looks good. FINALLY.)

Dear Diary: The freebie effect

Dear Diary,

In the world of Marketplace-only shopping it’s very rare for me to get more than two or three visitors to my store per week these days. I would venture to say that 98% of my sales now come from Marketplace (with the attendant commission creamed off each one by LL) and the remaining 2% come from inworld sales. And that’s being generous. In fact, it’s probably closer to 99% vs 1%.

So imagine my delight when my visitor counter emailed me this morning that a total of 43 people had showed up in the store yesterday! That usually happens when something I’ve made is mentioned on a blog or in a group, and… usually that’s a freebie blog or freebie group. So it was with some small resignation that I opened up my transaction history to see what sales I’d made yesterday.

It was exactly as I’d expected.

Discounting the Marketplace sales, the inworld sales amounted to… two. One L$75 skybox, and one L$10 skybox. The remaining 41 people had simply hammered the freebie board. I have five or six free small skyboxes and photosets in that board, and yesterday I had hundreds  of ‘sales’ of those. People simply ignored the L$5 per play (try and find one that cheap anywhere else, people) gachas nearby and the L$10 simple skyboxes just on the side wall. Their focus was entirely on:

Which is fine. I know money’s scarce in this day and age, especially money for ‘a game’. And I know there are people who try to go through their entire Second Lives without spending a penny. But this is one reason why I withdrew my Free Male Avatar kit from XStreetSL (as Marketplace was once called). Every day I would get tens—sometimes even hundreds—of ‘sales’ of that freebie, while everything else just trickled off the virtual shelves.

“Well, your stuff might be crap, Skell.” Sure, it probably is, compared to some of the gorgeous mesh creations I see inworld. I’m making a bit of mesh of my own right now (still learning, though) and maybe my visual aesthetic isn’t that of everyone else. That’s fine; I never expected it would be. In the main, people are happy to pay for clothing and far less happy to pay for homes. After all, we constantly change what we wear, but we don’t constantly change what we live in, so I’m trying to focus more on furniture rather than homes.

But it can be dispiriting when you have other (very cheap and well-made!) items right by a freebie board and yet the freebie blinkers on your customers don’t allow them to see that stuff. To that end, this goes out to the non-content-creators in SL; the consumers, if you like:

Content creators will often gladly put out a freebie or two here and there. Sometimes they just want you to have a nice thing for nothing, sometimes the freebie was something that didn’t turn out how they wanted it to so they feel they can’t charge for it, but mostly freebies are a sample of their work. It’s kind of a “here’s what I do; if you like it I’d love for you to come back and maybe buy something”. The same ethos is why they participate in hunts: they hope that while you’re scanning their entire store for the hunt item you’ll spot something else  that you really like.

I’ll be brutally honest: it’s not always as altruistic as it seems. It costs real money to pay for tier in order to have an inworld store (you won’t pay L$10 [5¢] for a skybox, but I need to find the equivalent of L$57,978 [$234 inc. VAT] each month for tier). We need to make sales to help cover that cost. So we’d really appreciate it if you would just open your eyes and have a look around at what else we have in our stores after you’ve grabbed the freebie, rather than just TP in, grab the freebie, and TP out.

And you know, this is bigger than me just having a whinge here on my blog. Much, much bigger.

You know how many great stores I’ve found and gone back to shop at again and again after I’ve nipped in to get a free or really cheap item? Hundreds. And I’ve helped to keep those content creators in business by doing so. Pretty soon, if the TP-grab-run continues the way it is, the smaller content creators will no longer offer those freebies and will no longer be able to afford inworld stores. And we’ll all just stand on our platforms, buying from Marketplace (where the creator doesn’t even get all of the money we pay) and inworld stores will close one after the other. And then we’ll tell ourselves, “Well the reason I never go shopping inworld is because SL is so empty these days!”

*sigh*

Yeah, I just needed to get that off my chest. Normal service will be resumed, etc etc.

Dear Diary: Weekend headaches suck

Dear Diary,

Weekend headaches suck. They really do. I’ve been nursing an absolute stonker between my eyebrows for the past couple of hours (so what do I do? Yep; I get online to bitch about it, while looking at a bright LCD monitor. Smart move, Skell). Painkillers and Pak Fah Yeow should help, though they both take a while to work.

The main reason why I’m waiting for this headache to abate is that I need all available braincells to box up, put out in the store, and write the Marketplace listing for my latest item. I wanted to put something out (so the world at large doesn’t think I’ve fallen down a big hole, because it’s been a while since I released Interessovat) so I took a look around the GB City build that I put together and realised I could sell some of the empty store shells. The first one out will be the Gorean Medieval store: a giant warehouse with grunged Japanese souko textures. I’ve renamed it Chew’s Warehouse, and if you know your movie references that one should be easy ;-)

Couple of teaser pics:

In other news, I’ve been freaking out over the quality of Apple Fall’s upcoming Arcade Gatcha items. Honestly, I swear I’m going to bankrupt myself trying to get everything that’s been teased on Flickr over the past week or so. So far, I want the reclaimed dresser (all variants), the backgammon board, the chair, the plants… um, basically everything. My wallet is doomed…

I’ve also been getting to grips with CasperVend. A few weeks back, I bought the massive fatpack of everything, and I’ve slowly been going through the options, figuring stuff out and getting items loaded into dropboxes. It’ll be a while yet before it goes live in the store (seriously, we’re probably talking around Christmas!) but once it does you’ll be able to gift items, redeliver, and also use a rezzer to see and walk around anything that catches your fancy.

Ugh. My brain is practically out for lunch. Here, have a couple of pics of me sitting in our office at GB City. I love this place (and yes, I’m blond today). I’m off to find something to eat, in the hope of poking said brain back into relatively-full functionality.

Oblig. “I’m too old for this shit!” post

Yes, I’m whining again. Deal! :p

I finally rezzed the house rezzer/vendor that I bought, um… *small voice* two years ago (oh god). I’ve seen it used elsewhere, and I know it’s good, but see… the thing is… (Skell, you’re making excuses already)… *sigh*

I have SO MUCH STUFF to go into this thing! And there’s always a learning process which, sure, gets easier the more times you do it, but ARGH! Learning processes!

Oh well. I got one item done. That’s a start, right? I’ll test-rez it tomorrow. Because most of my skyboxes are fully-enclosed, people will need a teleporter to get inside. And, while I could just rez one and place the skyboxes around it, there are a couple that need teleporters higher up. That’s where it gets confusing, because it means I have to get the vendor to rez a custom teleporter for every item.

Oh… wait. I could rez the higher-up one anyway, and just bring all the other skyboxes up to that level. That would save the hassle of adding a teleporter to be rezzed every damn time (because the ones I use will re-set every time they’re rezzed). Which means… I have to do this one all over again.

Oy fucking vey.