Ordinal's Suicide

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ordinal Malaprop has left Second Life, derezzing her entire presence on the grid.

For those who don't know her, she was known for Ordinal Enterprises, a purveyor of whimsical steampunk-ish scripted items. Ordinal was one of the first creators whose products had a definite style—a personal mode of execution such that when you looked at it you knew, "Oh, this is something Ordinal would make." She called it a narrative. Unlike the thousands of cookie-cutter clothing and skin shops, Ordinal was unique.

It was for that reason that I asked for her help when I created En Garde. Ordinal made the very first custom for-sale En Garde weapon, the Galvanic Swordstick. There's a vendor for it at the En Garde Arena [SLURL]. With the rest of Ordinal's shops gone, it might be the last place on the grid where you can buy an Ordinal Enterprises product.

Why did she leave? The proverbial straw seems to have been a permissions problem. I've been there. Managing permissions of products for sale is a nightmare for anyone trying to sell something in Second Life. Especially for a complex item like a game (Danger Zone, for example) which rezzes an object (the game platform you stand on), which in turn rezzes another item (the explosives), which contains several scripts. Now if you need to edit the script, you have to take the entire thing apart, make your change, then put the script back in the bomb back into the platform back into the game. There's no other way to do it. And if you get the permissions wrong on any of those items, your whole object becomes un-sellable.

Linden Lab did install a new feature in their viewer, a "bulk permission change" function, but it quickly broke; it was discovered that someone using it could easily and accidentally sell full-perm versions of their stuff. So now the official recommendation is to use the bulk changer if you want, but be sure to check everything before you put it up for sale. In other words, you still have to unpack and repack everything.

And this is just one example. Permissions problems are just one of the hassles SL creators have to deal with. Linden Lab gets a lot of flak for having designed a viewer with a UI so awful that only 1% of the people who try it stay more than 10 minutes. But, however bad the viewer is for users, it's even worse for creators. Second Life is the worst environment for development I've ever experienced. Trying to build and sell items in SL is like repeatedly jamming meat thermometers in your ears. It's just so painful.

Here's a comment from Cubey Terra: "I have many times felt [similar feelings] myself and have come within moments of wiping everything and walking away." I've felt those feelings myself. I'm sure every SL creator has, as well.

Suicide is a form of violence. Instead of killing someone else, you kill yourself. Violence is born of anger and frustration. As Shakespeare put it,

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

The slings and arrows of Second Life have claimed another victim. Ordinal was not the first SL suicide, and she won't be the last. She will be missed.



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