Ilan introduced the meeting by saying: "We all agree the existing Kitely Plaza needs to be replaced the question is with what. Let's call the world the Kitely Welcome Center so we have a name for it (we can change that later). The KWC will be the recommended entry point for new users (replacing the Kitely Plaza).
The goal for the KWC is to help convert visitors to active users. People love the free world concept and the 100,000 prims. The pricing for Gold Plan (unlimited time) for 20 regions is also a big seller. The problem is conveying that info to new users. Many people have a lot of misconceptions when they log in the first time."
The meeting was very much a brainstorming session -- lots of ideas, but no clear consensus at this point. However, as several remarked, this is how it has worked in the past, and eventually consensus emerges. As Ada said: "We're getting there. This is the mentor group process and it's working."
Define the vision
Immediate responses: "Something with fewer, smaller textures", "Fewer purposes", "Smaller, simpler", "More unified design", "Simple setup but fancy and informative", "A welcoming public space for a good introduction"
Shelenn suggested using walkthrough gates to replace shops, thereby eliminating many textures. Ada agreed. Ilan said, "The easiest thing to maintain over time is a fixed world that doesn't include any content that wasn't added from the beginning. This means that any shops, activities etc. will be through scripted gates that show an image and maybe some text." Allen agreed that using gates would be easier for upkeep. Dundridge thought that it would still need active management for a long period. Ada added that checking on a sim once a month is about right for this purpose.
Sarge pointed out that if the gates teleport users to a different region, newcomers may become impatient while the world starts. Ilan thought that that would self-regulate as worlds that take a long time to start could be rolled out of being linked to from the welcome center.
Shops would remain at the existing Plaza. However, a few selected avatar components might be included in the welcome center to help people get their avatars set up.
Sherrie asked "If it's just to be a welcome center with no shops, why not just use this world? This center looks nice as a start." Ada explained that the Mentors Hangout region has too many textures for a lag-free welcome center.
Sierra has set up a model center to help spark discussion: http://www.kitely.com/virtual-world/Sie ... come-Plaza
What should be included?
- "Welcome center, information center, shopping portal, social hub", "Welcome center, a meeting place"
- Shelenn thought that customizing an avatar would come first.
- Sally: Clear instructions on what to do upon entering the Center, their options; maybe an offer of a "temporary" free house while they move in
- Ada: Enough tuts for newbies, that are easily avoided by experienced metaverse rezzies
- Steven: Free packages (or folders) to get started
- Cider: just provide some free shapes, skins, clothes, and maybe some links
- Sierra: How to walk. Then we can give them choices on where to go.
- Dundridge: I'd like to see "points of interest" that just get people staying in the area playing. New people will stay put in one place longer, more experienced will move around a lot more (after they finish reading)
- Allen: How to make your own world (several others agreed that this would be a key idea to get across; making a home is a way to become invested in a grid).
- No sandbox.
- Keep it simple, but beautiful.
- Inclusion, not exclusion. Many ideas that can be used, though with some "tweaking"
Sally commented that what most impressed her when she first arrived in Kitely was the face to face welcome and offer of help from Ilan and other community members. Dot, Sherrie and Allen agreed, Allen adding that "Early stories of SL success are similar. People stay if they meet others, or if they build things." Sherrie said: "Old and new users want to connect with people."
Sarge suggested: "Mentors/Greeters at the Landing Point, perhaps a 'soda shop' off to one side (I enjoy hanging out for my morning coffee on occasion), 'highway signs' to the various routes?"
Sherrie asked if mentors could be notified when someone logs into the welcome center so new people aren't likely to spend their first moments alone.
Getting information across
Various methods were suggested: simple signs, videos, quest-based learning, signs along a path/road, newcomer orientation areas (e.g. from SL, Caledon Oxbridge, Virtual Ability)
Ilan: "The question is what has the most positive impact on the average visitor -- quest or signs?" The meeting was divided on this aspect. Sherrie commented: "People have more impact than either."
Sarge suggested thinking of three types of people: 1 the experienced Metaverse traveller; 2 new to the Metaverse, though with some experience of SL; 3 totally new, no experience whatsoever.
Ada emphasized the need to keep the KWC G-rated. She also mentioned that preschoolers hate clicking on things, but they do like collision scripts, trees, wilderness. She expressed hope that the teleports to other sims not work for the kids. "This is the only grid where I can bring a child safely and I'd like that to remain true." Ilan commented that underage users are already blocked from TPing into adult rated worlds. Ada responded: "I just want it to stay that way not so interested in fascinating and knocking socks off which for many metaverse travellers means adult socializing." Ilan responded with: "The KWC needs to remain family friendly. It can include obscured gates (no pictures) to more mature worlds."
Ilan commented that for the foreseeable future most people going inworld into Kitely would be people coming from SL or from other OpenSim-based grids, and that these would be veterans rather than newcomers to virtual worlds.
There was some discussion on how best to reach those coming from SL. Sierra thought: "we need a landing point that is sophisticated and knocks them off their socks the second they land. We want them to stay." Ada commented how the people she knew coming from SL were primarily interested in how cheap Kitely is, and how free.
Allen asked: "Keeping in mind Ilan's target - do we agree it's important to a. explain simply the pricing? b. make it easy to create your first world? c. provide links to community events and spaces?" There was some agreement with this, but others felt that the needs of newcomers required further focus -- that they were bringing in people totally new to virtual worlds, and that meeting their needs was from the start was vital. Sierra said: "Structural and logical wise, you have to make the central area for [newcomers to virtual worlds] -- they can't even walk sometimes.... but everyone else can walk a step or two to get to their stuff." Camera control was another topic of difficulty.
Shelenn commented: "Allen, I agree with your statement on providing easy info for experienced users... but I think to make it be engaging, build loyalty, and a sense of natural competition and for community development and user retention, we need to employ gamification techniques with the KWC build."
Sarge mentioned Maria's and Linda's texture signs for teaching basics of movement and building.
Dundridge commented that experienced users visiting a new grid for the first time often took time to get their bearings -- that then they too were newbies. Ada agreed: "We need instructions for SL refugees, and OSG people who don't get Kitely cloud, and also newbies to the metaverse -- 3 different kinds of newbies."
Routes for different audiences
Sierra picked up on Sarge's idea of three audiences: "could we not lead them to 3 doors and ask them to choose the appropriate door for them?" Sarge liked the idea: "One that goes straight through for the uber-experienced, one that runs a little off to one side for the not so experienced and the third for the total noob, of which all three later join together at a Destination." Dundridge added: "I'd like to see new people one way, and give me the differences the other way -- even experienced travelers arrive slightly dazed." Sherrie said: "it wouldn't hurt to have a gateway for new people, another region that focuses on teaching."
There was some discussion about having a separate KWC for children. Ilan said that it would be possible to drive underage users to a different world; it would just be more work creating multiple worlds, and the children's parents would still see the invitation to the main KWC, so the problem might not be solved by this approach. However, Ada said: "I'd like to see one KWC, so that we maybe snag a few parents into seeing the business possibilities, while keeping their kids safe at the same time."
Ease of navigation
Dundridge said: "I don't want to see much in the way of artificial barriers - like teleports, massive walls, areas that can't be reached by walking normally. It should all be walkable, easy to navigate, no dead ends." Ada, Allen, Sherrie, Cider, Dot and Steven agreed, the latter adding that it "needs to be small enough to get around efficiently".
Min said she likes the idea of a basic megaregion that is always on, "the welcome center in the middle ... paths leading to the special interest areas through gates/ tp to another part of megaregion." Minethere agreed.
Ada mentioned that for 4 year olds sim edges need to be blocked; "they get confused by the sim edges, but are OK with hitting an invisible barrier and falling back."
Avatar set up
Cider: just provide some free shapes, skins, clothes, and maybe some links. Sarge suggested setting that up step-by-step.
Ada suggested having a few things for business people, a few jeans and tshirts, and a few things for kids. all G rated.
Dundridge reminded the meeting that the Universal Campus has similar material, and suggested having different clearly labelled buildings for different types of avatar. Ada said "No buildings" -- newcomers find buildings difficult to navigate.
Minethere suggested that Kitely provide better default avatars, including a reasonable AO. Sherrie seconded the AO.
Shelenn commented on almost all of the default avis available on every grid and in the viewers are culturally insensitive: "If Kitely wants to be the gold standard, we the merchants need to provide MUCH better avatar resources."
Ilan said: "We're very open to alternative avatars -- the ones we have now are what I could morph from the Linda Kellie ones"
Creating a world
Allen asked if it would it be possible to create your first world from in world, rather than via the Kitely website. Ilan thought Kitely could create an API call that could be called from the KWC only and create a world.
Dundridge suggested adding a free house to the world creation OAR list.
Allen recommended that rather than using passive delivery of information, the wealth of creative and technical potential of the group be used to make it an interactive, story-driven first encounter, one focused with clear objectives, e.g. get them to create a world.
Sarge touched on his current work on the quest components of Myriad.
Several liked this idea. For example, Sierra thought it would serve both experienced folks from SL, etc. AND folks new to virtual worlds. Min and Cider agreed: "it's not enough to just give the newcomers the very basics and then leave them alone ... you need to to get then fascinated, stunned ... curious about Kitely!"
Ada thought this might be too complicated as a first step, from her own experience in coaching a newbie. However, she thought that teleporting to a location that shows and tells world creation would be a good idea -- and that this might apply to other ideas to "fascinate and demonstrate", because what fascinates some might repel others.
Shelenn thought that a well written scenario that includes customize avatar, use of building tools, then creating a home region combined with information resource portal and a social calendar could fit the bill to make it a welcome center that is usable for all. "People love to go to school, learn something new, earn badges and bragging points."
Shelenn mentioned the gamification committee currently being set up, adding that one form of gamification is quest based learning (interactive rather than passive). The first meeting was to form the committee. "We will work on our mission statement in the second meeting and then define how we can use any of the aspects of gamification as a community growth tool." For more details about the gamification, go to gamification.org; there are also some case studies and a good writeup in Wikipedia. The gamification committee is being organized mostly via the Kitely Virtual G+ group, which was set up by Kitely users for Kitely users, and which Shelenn encouraged people to join. (https://plus.google.com/communities/111 ... 4656181042)
Allen commented: "There is some substantial evidence that there might be some things we can do to contribute to growth by implementing some of the conventions of games - strategically. Specifically, i believe that narrative and challenges would encourage broader adoption and longer retention."
Shelenn suggested having a newbie portal off the welcome center, similar to that in There.com. [Dot agrees -- the There.com Welcome Walkway was very well done, with simple practical tasks, each resulting in a small reward, covering the basics of movement, interacting with the world and with other avatars, and leading to options and activities.]
Shelenn continued: "So if the welcome center targets experienced folks, maybe it just needs portals off to one side for newbies, portals off to the other side for shopping, and then forward into social hot spots and showcase billboards, and then backward to social gathering casual areas where people who like to help or are looking to meet new folks hangout. The multiple quest based learning paths that allow users to choose their own quest level so to speak is one of many gamification methods that have been studied and shown successful by US Military training."
Ilan expressed concern at how much time/work such quests might take to make. Dundridge and Allen suggested that it would depend on how much the quest needed to do, and that it doesn't matter how much time if the reward is worth it: "At the end of x you will create your free world".
Ada expressed doubts about using quests for the businesspeople and children she brings in. "The kids' parents will want to take them immediately to the kid sim where they'll be safe, and the business people want to get to the meeting for which they have a URL already. Whatever gamification you have in mind must be easily avoidable."
During the meeting it was agreed to continue discussions in the forum. Please see (and add your comments to) the following threads.