Please note this is an opinion piece, therefore it will be a lot of reading and less images. Thank you in advance.
As many of you know myself and my business partner Lyra recently opened our doors to the world with Amber Bay, a small island with a liminal mindset, situated in the Coasts of a place that kind of resembles Miami, but not quite, Amber Bay was a concept we came up with to live and allow all kinds of fun situations and roleplay to happen, but… we do not want to run a RP community.
This is a direct result of my 13+ years in the SL community where I have seen ideas, sims, rp sims, stores, content creators and resident come and go due to lack of interest, lack of content, lack of funds, or any other reason you can think of.
I was part of several RP commnunities in the past and while I enjoyed my time in all of them and respect their creators, even if some of them are iffy AF, I always ran into issues related to inspiration and several walls caused by a constant control over lore and situations. Which I completely understand since they put time, effort and money into the upkeep and maintenance of these places they get to set the rules. To this day, when people ask me about RP communities and sims I have always recommended places like Cocoon (Cyberpunk), New Frontiers (Cyberpunk), Woodcrest University (College Life/Adult), Mischief Managed (Harry Potter based), Origins of Sin (Fantasy) and more if you are looking to try your hand at Roleplay in Second Life.
However, a few days ago a friend of mine posted on Twitter about creating a sim with a specific feel to it (see thread on left), and today Walton of Contraption made a comment on Twitter about RP and cost relations as well as inspiration (thread added below).
The first one prompted me to answer in regards to sims with a similar feel to what my friend was talking about that were locked behind a RP wall in SL; meaning, you had to either apply or follow their rules in order to gain access to their sim, which means usually abiding by the lore, the type of creatures they would have/allow and in general what they should expect, do and abide by if they were to join and gain access to their location.
While none of the above is wrong, I mean as I mentioned before, you put enough time and effort into something you create and are spending money on of course you get to set the rules that people will need to follow in order to play in your home, it’s logical.
In Walton’s thread he goes into detail about how ‘the safe formula” works and why people believe it works. I have seen one too many sims and roleplays fail due to lack of funding, not people because in Second Life to own a rp sim means you require funds to keep it open and people to keep it populated. This is already an issue for several reasons, not only the fact that the search engine is weird, but also because of the s*x sims that include the roleplay tag to keep the traffic and get top numbers, which can be a huge deterrent to new people looking to join SL or the SL Roleplay communities if the top hits they see are s*s sims; but also as he mentions, the “what if” a sim creation brings forth, what if it does not take off? what if they don’t like it? what if traffic is low? what if the team/money/etc ends? There’s too much to consider.
Between the answers on both threads and my own opinions, it also got me thinking about the 2 locations that directly inspired Amber Bay’s RP policy and why they differ from normal SL roleplay places. These two are Palmwood City, a private island city, and Le Chateau Motel in Mainland.
When I first ran into Palmwood my synthwave little heart fluttered and I thought this was a RP sim that required me to go through a few hoops to get to enjoy this place, but both the owners explained to me that they just had a community for people to live in and there was the optional roleplay added as a flavoring. A few stores premade for people to ‘own’ a few others that had businesses inside (some RP, some legit) and the furries who lived here just enjoyed living in the community and occassionally will do some RP here and there for people to enjoy.
As for Le Chateau Motel, I met Victoire in my Cocoon days, she is a very talented little French bean who loves everything retro, 80s and vaporwave, so of course we hit it off. While we lost contact for a few months, when we reconnected it was because I ran into her motel. A retro feel styled motel with a camping site. I found their website and upon reading they wrote a base lore of what the story of this motel is, the time in which they have located it and the style of RP and attire you are expected to have IF you choose to engage in RP, but they made it very clear it was completely optional and open to whoever wanted to participate.
These two places gave us the perfect framework for what we wanted to have Amber Bay be, a place where people could live and come and just enjoy and create stories without us needing to control anything. Allow people to create, share and form stories that work for them when they feel like it without anyone needing to remember their stories but framed by the one specific lore.
Of the many things that allow Amber Bay to come to be the sims mentioned, my previous experience with RP sims and communities in SL and the fact that we are able to fund our project without fear of losing the sim because of lack of funds is what made for our project come to fruition.
As Walton mentions, the money issue is a big one. A sim cost is about to go up a lot for US citizens, which means that the overall online experience in Second Life is about to get a lot more expensive for a few individuals. This will directly affect sim owners and how they run their RP sims, because it will mean higher costs and upkeep to maintain the community and their sim afloat. So Walton’s idea should not be discarded at all.
In my opinion, if Second Life were to consider a policy for RP and world creation that allows for people to create spaces and content for others without much revenue, but just a community and a storyline and allow for inspiration to come forward I think it would come to help the community as a whole come to join or rejoin Second Life and give this metaverse a second chance. But it could also come with a whole lot of issues, like limitations of the type of RP you can and cannot do. What maturity levels can be had. What types of RP can be had, among others.
Overall I think it is a very note worthy conversation that should be happening nowadays between the non-profit content creators, world builders and story tellers, and Second Life community managers. What do you think?
I am leaving my twitter post for people to share their opinion there. Keep it civil please.