Second Life, Linden "Mainland" - the staple of the grid. When I first entered SL in spring 2006, there were (if I remember correctly) three continents and a couple hundred "estates" (private simulator regions) and that was about it. After a few weeks I, like most others, got the land-ownership itch. I went to a few lessons graciously provided by "New Citizens, inc." - general overview of the grid and how to go about doing things. it was a two-hour class and I was riveted.

It was shortly after that class (and shortly before Linden lab discontinued the program) that I went and bought my "First Land" as my first land. The program was simple: Linden Lab offered 512 square meters to all premium (preemies) accounts at L$1 per square meter - to keep it affordable. I'll never forget those few weeks I owned that parcel in the brand new region called Glenboon. It was within a couple weeks when I decided I needed more prims and sold-out for I could buy a larger chunk (I went strait to a 4096 in Dunbeath and was the only one on that entire sim until others started showing up three months later. It was heaven.)

Private Regions: the bad.

I have never "rented" land from any other SL resident. Part of this had to do with my own perceptions. At the time everything was Anshe Chung - and expensive. I was still buying my Linden Dollars through my credit card and slowly gaining grid experience. As beautiful as those builds were (and I presume still are if they're still around,) they were expensive. Besides, I didn't want a house and luxurious place (have one already in first life. The house part, anyway.)

Like most, I wanted to create my own place. As I gained my grid experience I also started to learn how there are many estate-owners who really stack the odds in their own favor (and you can't really blame them, I guess) - and in the end, I have realized that by renting space on a private region is the same as renting from Linden Lab directly. But here are the differences:
  • First, you are paying money to a middle-man. That middle man does not have your best interest at heart, they have their own interest at heart.
  • If you screw-up or do anything to bring the estate owner's wrath against you, you can be unceremoniously evicted (it's happened to me before for really childish and stupid reasons).
  • Because the estate owner must pay his own tier to Linden Lab, they can run at-cost or more than likely, charge more in order to cover those lull-times when parcels aren't rented-out. Thus, you pay more for the same amount of prims you might when owning mainland.
  • If the estate-owner is in it for the money, you could pay "through the nose" on a premium for the privilege. Example: Anshe Chung estates.
  • And finally, there is nothing other than simple honor to prevent an estate owner from banning you from their estate just after you have plunked-down three-months worth of tier and lose all that money when they refuse to refund you.
The only real reason to rent "land" from an estate owner is two-fold: the first being the covenant. There is "management" with regard to the theme of the region, rules with regard to what your "builds" can look like, how tall, how grarish, and whether it is commercial or residential and so on.

The only other reason is that the region is "less laggy" - which isn't really always true. Private regions share server space with three others. If one of those three is loaded with agent (like a giant club or bot-farm-laden-traffic-gaming mall - it can bring the otherwise non-laggy sim to it's knees.
Linden Mainland: the good.

Basically all the opposites of the private region:
  • You pay directly to Linden Lab. No middle-men. You pay only what you owe, no overheads.
  • Linden Lab will never evict you from your land as long as your account is in good-standing.
  • You have total control over your land with regard to terraforming, access and everything.
  • You can find low-lag mainland - you just have to shop around a bit - in fact, my own mainland parcel is less-laggy than most private regions - and that's a fact, based on cache-clearing, stop-watch testing I have done.
Linden Mainland: the bad.
  • There is no covenant and so, there is no control or restrictions on what your parcel neighbors can and will build.
  • ... (I'm thinking... trying to come-up with another "bad" point about Linden mainland...)
That's about it really. If you proclaim that mainland is too laggy, you really must understand that most of it is computer lag, not server lag. It is your computer struggling to download all those horrible, oversized textures and build all those poorly-shaped prims. And it's worse the higher you have your draw-distance set to.

Combine these poor textures and prim builds being crammed into your your computer as it struggle to rezz all this stuff (like drinking from a fire-hose) - but your Internet connection bandwidth is likely also struggling to keep up. After everything is rezzed, your frame-rate is still low because of all those prims your computer and viewer are trying to draw in a three-dimensional perspective as fast as possible. So, in truth, the only really problem with Linden Mainland has to do with everyone's neighbors and what it is they do with the neighboring parcels.

It is one of the reasons I enjoy sight-seeing the mainland from a boat. Most of the mainland is rather ugly - as a whole. But individually: most builds aren't so bad. Some are tawdry at best and yet some are actually fascinating and beautiful. The problem I have is that I have my own draw distance set to maximum (512 meters) and so all the very ugly sky-builds appear. I wish people would understand that sky-builds placed between 500 and 750 meters cleans-up the sky and reduces any "prim lag" at the same time.



The real problem with mainland: bilious sky-builds littering the grid. I am fortunate in my sim of Neobelow that I have good neighbors. For the most part, no low-hanging garbage. And the one time advertising blocks were placed at 300-meters, I politely asked if they could be removed and guess what? They were removed.


The horrible sky-build: the Emerald Castle of Oz on the right. That floating part actually hangs below the upper-most portion of the one rooted on the ground - but yet not connected. However, based on the look, it appears to be some kind of fantasy-build anyway.


This place really stood-out from the crowd and just irritated me to no end. No, not the look of it, but rather the waay the parcel owner uses his land. But I'll continue to explain that in my next post. In the mean time, I looked and looked and looked but I just could not find the giant graffiti sign that said "Torley was here - LULZ!"