I have enjoyed Second Life on and off for years now, (over 5) but I have to be honest in saying that it has mostly been off. Every time I get excited about some new project in the world, something comes along to destroy it.
The idea behind Second Life is a very cool one, but it doesn't work half the time: allow the players to build whatever they want. You can make your own games, homes, stores...whatever you can think of. I used to spend hours just tweaking some texture in a vehicle or making little pieces of digital art to show off. Now, I haven't played for a good chunk of time in near a year, otherwise just logging in for a few hours here and there. And despite recent changes to the game, there is always that one element that messes it all up.
If you allow everyone freedom to build what they want, 90 percent of it will be trash.
This is not some attempt at me trying to impress my "tastes" on others. Any long term player of Second Life knows exactly what I am talking about. In a world where a house can be nothing more than 5 squares arranged together, and in a world that allows textures to be anything, the few beautiful and amazing builds are sitting right next to hideous dance floors and shopping malls. Frankly, the game is embarrassing a lot of the time. And it's really sad, being that there is such creativity in the game. Granted, players can escape to private islands and sims, but that takes money. You end up with pockets of cool people with money to spend surrounded by mostly perverts with a few dollars.
Speaking of perverts, I will bet you a hundred buckaroos that Second Life is kept afloat only because of the perverts. You know the ones..the leather-wearing 40-sumthin's that want you to have a threesome with them....in game. They work hard on obtaining the latest "sex position ball" so that they can pretend that they are having sex with other 40-sumthin's while chessy industrial music plays in the background. And oh yeh, they all pretend to be vampires. But that group of player, the pervert, not only makes up most players in SL I will bet, but spend the most money.
I will bet you that LL owes everything to these people that are willing to pay big bucks to own a sim that allows for non-stop virtual sex. Remember, this is a world that had major issues for a long time with players making CHILD avatars for others to have sex with. Play acting rape? It's in there, too.
So, needless to say, I am always disappointed when I log into Second Life. Not only is it too expensive if you want to own anything, but there is no guarantee that the guy next to you won't use HIS land to just build a giant pink house with a dance floor on top.
I want to build something with others, but something that feels as though it is part of the world. Give us freedom, but make all of us in the game be restricted by some rules. Hell, Second Life would benefit from, at least, allowing certain textures in certain sims, to keep everyone's creations at least a little in line with each other. While the idea in Second Life is to allow total freedom, look at how that worked out for the quality of work on MySpace!
WURM Online, a game that pits players against the environment, does what Second Life never will (unless players pay a good deal of money to someone else, with no guarantee of rules) and keeps all the textures the same. Yet, you can get very creative in your lay out, in the size of your place, and in what you do for a "living." It's more of a game than Second Life, which is what I like.
While I think Second Life succeeds at being what it set out to be (a big glob of ugly freedom, allowing players to grief each other with texture warfare almost anywhere) I would rather have some limitations on the players.
If LL would only completely restrict some things, in only some areas, they could have entire communities sprout up that follow certain themes, and new players would stop being discouraged because of lack of funds or because they were pushed out by a neighbor that builds a giant wall with a picture of John Stamos on it. And yes, I am aware of the restrictions for "PG" areas, or whatever they are now calling it. I am also aware that within the guidelines of "Safe for Work," players can still offend you. Well, not offend you, but literally surround you with their creations.
I am enjoying WURM for the reasons that I wanted to enjoy SL. I want to collaborate with people, and build something. I like community. But allowing players to have absolute freedom is a sure-fire way to get exactly what Second Life has, which is players that log in only to check their store-fronts once in a while, and perverts that stay logged in to build giant boobs.
Right now, for example, me and some members of www.mmovoices.ning.com are building a little settlement. We are trying to figure out who will do the farming, the metal work. We are all stumbling through the forest, learning as we go. We are sharing information. Me and my friend Alik killed a wolf that had been pestering us for a long time.
We do have creative freedom, but we are not going to be able to build a giant wall with any texture next to our neighbors if they bother us. While there can be griefing in the game, it can be fixed pretty easily. The chat can be nutty at times, but you can walk away and the words of those bad players disappear.
I love the fact that everyones build, no matter how bad their lay-out or building, at least looks like it falls into line with the world. While the game is definitely not a graphics powerhouse, and in fact looks really dated, it works because of the consistency.
That's exactly what is lacking in SL: consistency.
So try out WURM if you have found yourself disappointed at Second Life. They are different "games," for sure..but the basic ideas are the same. Where you might have been frustrated at Second Life because of annoying players, you will find yourself loving the fact that those players, at the very least, have to use the same textures you do in WURM Online.