Over the last two weeks I have visited several different worlds for the first time. Among them were:
– A visit to a world which had a surprising number of regions and yet no reason to look around as they were nearly all empty. My entire experience there left me puzzled.
– A visit to a world that was right up there with the worst first visits I have ever had. It was maddening. I never left the welcome area – and not for lack of trying, I assure you.
– A visit to a world that gave me the best first visit experience I have ever had in a virtual world.
I ended up staying for about three hours! That’s a long time for me on a first visit. As much as I would like to have all first visits run that long, something usually gets in the way. Multiple crashes is not unusual; there’s no place to explore once I’m finished with the welcome area; or the welcome area is not very welcoming, Notecard and Landmark givers don’t work or there’s no way to do a quick fix to the avatar and I’m stuck with Ruth.
The best first visit I have ever had was to – drum roll, please – Virtual Highway.
Their website was informative and the inworld welcome area was a very nice lodge with free starter avatars and easy to get information about Virtual Highway and how it works and places to visit. It leads you easily to a free shop with avatar accessories – unless you want to go somewhere else.
Once I had my avatar presentable enough to venture forward, I looked around the rest of the mall area and a nearby cinema and headed to an information center next door. Virtual Highway targets roleplay communities as part of its sales pitch so there was a lot of good information for people who signed-up for that reason. I wandered over to the general info about places to visit and as I was taking it all in, a passerby said hello and welcomed me.
Turned out, it was one of the owners, Tiffany Magic. She gave me additional information via notecards and I asked a few questions.
She told me Virtual Highway currently has 126 regions – 36 of those are Mainland – and over 900 members so far. “Our mainland is for commercial use…. the residential regions are off shore.” Tiffany said she and her business partner (Logger Sewell) are both veterans of Second Life, going back to 2007. “We just got sick of seeing LL ripping people off with their prices for sims.”
Virtual Highways prices are much lower than SL. For example, a full region, which comes with 40,000 prims, costs 75 USD per month. Homestead and Water regions can be added to your estate and there are three different price options for renting a quarter-region.
Virtual Highway just opened to the public last month (*correction in Comments) but it’s not the empty world you might expect as they have been working on it since 2009. They wanted to wait to open “until we felt ready.”
I asked Tiffany about currency and she directed me to their website where I bought some V$ and then headed back to the shopping mall. I also TP’d to a couple more shops for clothes and hair. Along the way I met Marianna Monentes, another shop owner who was doing her own personal shopping just as I was. Most of the first visits I’ve made to various worlds are a bit of a letdown at best but this one ended with my avatar ready to make a proper start and two people on my friends list.
I went back today to hang out at the bar in the Midnight Romance Ballroom and write this piece.
I really enjoyed my stay and plan to go back to explore more of Virtual Highway soon.