So you’ve heard about this new place… well, not exactly a place per se, since it’s online… called Second Life. You’ve decided to give it a go, to see what can be done there. So you go to the SL website and sign up for a free account. Now what? Are you all set to go to an online world where almost anything is possible?
Hold on there cowboy. Sure, you could simply go ahead and download the client and start fooling around, hoping to learn by experience. Sure you could do that but wouldn’t it be just a little bit better to have an inkling of knowledge of what to do there? This article is going to give you a little bit of know how on getting started on Second Life. The knowledge you’re about to learn is simple and easy to learn but will put you miles ahead of those who just log on and go flying around. So pay attention!
In order to navigate Second Life effectively you’re going to need to know if you’re able to run Second Life. For the best experience you’re going to need the following on your pc or laptop.
1. A high-speed internet connection
2. Windows XP or Vista
3. An 800 MHz Pentium III or Athlon, or better processor
4. A graphics card high enough to render the images properly
And that’s just the minimum. You can visit the website for more information on exactly what you need for running Second Life at the bottom of this article.
Okay so let’s say you have the minimum system requirements or better. Now you’re on one of the many starting points for your first foray into the metaverse. What now? Well you can start picking up some of the many cool freebies lying around but if you can hold on for just a little while let’s make your experience optimal.
On the top of your login screen there’s a row of three menu items. Click the one marked “edit” and a drop down menu will appear labled “Preferences.” You can also access this menu by using the keyboard shortcut ctrl-P.
You’ll see a menu screen appear with eleven tabs. These tabs are:
1. General: These are the basic SL options, including your start location, how your name is shown, groups, language and more.
2. Input and Camera: On this tab you can determine how you want your avatar to act under Mouselook (or first person view), your auto-fly options (yes, everyone can fly in Second Life), and your camera otions.
3. Network: Here you can set your maximum bandwidth and a bunch of other options I honestly don’t understand. If you’re a techie, however you’ll know what to do.
4. Web: This tab’s pretty obvious. Here you can decide whether to open webpages inworld or in an external browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.
5. Graphics: This will determine the way you see things in Second Life. You can set how clear you want to see everything such as trees, water reflection, shadows, etc… but keep in mind that the clearer you see things inworld the poorer your computer may perform.
6. Audio and Video: Here you’ll decide if and how you want to hear sounds in Second Life. Some places have live and streaming music and some places have other media such as movies and in one case that I’ve found, internet tv.
7. Text Chat: Choose if you want your chat text to be shown at the bottom of your screen or if you want to see it in a bubble over your head. Also choose the size of your chat and other options.
8. Voice Chat: Here you’ll decide all your Voice Chat options including if you even want to use it.
9. Communication: Here is where you’ll decide whether or not you’ll allow otheres to see if you’re online, also you’ll be able to decide if you want logs of all your Instant Messages or Local Chats kept on your hard drive.
10. Popups: Decide whether or not you want to see relevent messages in Second Life.
11. Skins: Configure the look of your SL client.
What’s On The Screen?
Once you’ve set your preferences you’ll want to get started exploring but hold on just a little longer and I’ll explain briefly the Second Life screen to you.
Up top, there’s a row of menu items similar to the one on the login screen, except there are a lot more choices. I won’t go into all of them as it would take an article a lot longer than this one to do that. But basically they are self explanitory. What’s more important on the top bar is where you are, and what you can do while you’re there.
Immediately following the menu items you’ll see some icons. These icons will tell you what you can or cannot do in the region you’re in. Most likely you’ll see what looks like a little guy falling with what appears to be a no smoking sign behind him. This means that there is no pushing. Apparently that means that you’re not allowed to push another avatar and not that you’re not able to, as anyone who has encountered a griefer will be able to attest to.
Other icons may include a box (no building), a heart with a percentage (You can be killed in this region), and a little man with wings (no fly zone). What you see in that area will determine what you can do.
On the right of that area you’ll see the location you’re at. To the right of that you’ll see the time which used to be called “SLT” which meant Second Life time but now it’s just Pacific Standard time. Following that is the amount of “Lindens” (Second Life currency) you have and after that is the search bar.
On the bottom of your screen you’ll see buttons that allow you to interact in Second Life. They are:
1. Communicate: Click this button to access local and IM chat
2. Fly: Clicking this button starts you flying. Simply clicking it makes you hover a few inches off the ground, to go higher just use your Pg Up button. To go lower use Pg Dn. Forward and backwards and sideways use the arrow keys. Alternatively to start flying you can simply use the Pg Up key and go from there.
3. Snapshot: Takes a picture of the present screen view.
4. Search: Brings up a search menu if you want to find events, people, groups, etc.
5. Build: The starting point for creating your own objects, which can then be sold or given away.
6. Map: Shows a large screen that indicates where you are.
7. Mini-map: Creates a smaller map in the top right corner of your screen.
8. Inventory: Creates a pop up menu showing all the items you have. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on this as you can get a lot of stuff in a short amount of time.
These are just some of the basics of learning how to get around in Second Life. I haven’t even begun to tell you about many of the other things you can do. These are subjects of other articles. Keep in mind that this article assumes that you use a PC. Mac users have different keys, but they can use Second Life just as easily.
I hope you enjoyed this article and keep an eye out for many more of them in the days, weeks and months to come.