Take One Moment to Consider Perceived Quality

parcelsettingsThe perception of how much effort is used to create a quality store environment can affect whether prospective visitors turn into a paying customer or whether they teleport away never to be seen again. Three of the factors that may apply to store quality include the arrangement of prims (i.e. textures, sizes, and organization) in the store, information visible on signs (i.e. pop-up notices and store policies), as well as parcel settings (i.e. name, media, restrictions).

The arrangement of prims can set the tone of the store depending on whether they appear to be rezzed in an organized fashion or scattered around the store at odd angles. Textures used in the store should be something other than the default of plywood and plain at a high enough resolution to show details, but not so high that it takes a long time for the texture to come into view. Alpha textures can be viewed from all angles to ensure there are no glitches and non-alpha textures at the same level overlap with each other resulting in the viewer randomly toggling between the two (sometimes referred to as flickering).

The purpose of signs in a store is to be informational without being too intrusive meaning landmarks and notecards are to be offered to the visitor only once, not every time they happen to walk into the sensor area. Store policies such as return, custom orders, post-sale support, and gifting options need to be clearly visible and available. Finally, any vendors that dispense a product needs to include not only the price of the item, but also the number of prims required and permissions allowed.

Parcel settings can either enhance the shopping experience or hinder it. For example, if the parcel is set to no-scripts then the chances of lag affecting avatars is minimized, but setting no-scripts might also disallow visitors from using their favorite HUD. Media settings such as music and sounds cannot conflict with each other, if there are sounds that you want the visitor to hear then a music stream playing at the same time may result in them not hearing the intended sound. Finally, the name of the parcel and description should be informative enough so that if the visitor decides to create their own landmark (rather than accepting yours) it will be informative when they are looking through their inventory window later.

Dealing with an Eyesore on a Neighboring Parcel

neighborparcelThe value and attractiveness of one’s parcel can be reduced by a neighboring eyesore and dealing with such eyesores can put you into a tricky situation. Depending on the covenant of the sim your options may only include putting up a fence (without being a eyesore itself) to enforcement of local ordinances through an estate manager. Some common example eyesores include buildings, plants, and antennas.

An unfinished structure as a result of construction project, especially those which are still the default plywood or blank textures tend to be the most annoying.. Structures that are textured, but are utilizing a non-complimentary color scheme as well as those having a run-down or abandoned look can be an eyesore next to your higher-quality building.

Plants including trees, stumps, shrubbery, overgrown weeds can negatively affect your landscape. In some cases these same items can be used along the perimeter of your parcel to block out an eyesore, however similar to a fence they can become an eyesore to others within the sim if you are not strategic with their placement. In some cases a tall fence can be used containing a beautiful image facing you, but the opposing side of the fence is completely transparent so-as to not become an eyesore to others.

While the land value of a parcel may or may not be affected by nearby antennas, such as satellite dishes or cell phone towers, some may still consider these to be an eyesore. In the real world many times an effort made for the antenna to blend in with the surrounding landscape by making it look like a tree. Within virtual worlds the visibility of antenna’s is less common as they are suited more for decorative purposes within urban settings without providing actual communication functionality because this is not required within the virtual world.

The Real Kicker when it comes to Music

There is no doubt that music effects our emotions, whether it be positive or negative, to some extent. Music has even been used by healthcare providers to assist with the treatment of diseases and other ailments. Our stress, social, and activity levels is influenced by music of which for some the purpose is to calm us down while for others the songs are meant to increase excitement. In a business setting some stores have used music to influence buying decisions of prospective customers.

Words within a song is one of the primary influencer whether it promotes good behavior, wrong doings, religious beliefs, anger, love, praise, or even just telling a story. Whether it be children grow up listening to nursery rhymes, teenagers listening to the radio, or adults attending concerts we are all stimulated by the lyrics which affects our memories. Everyone has a favorite jingle either because they heard it during a memorable event as well as a least favorite song because it was played during a low time in their life. This might explain why some businesses may choose to feature only instrumental music by less-popular composers in order to reduce the potential of negativity. Another attribute of music that affects us the speed of the song. Songs with a fast beat are more likely to increase excitement and happyness while those with a slow beat in contrast usually results in a calming effect. The speed of a song is measured in beats-per-minute of which some of fastest are well above 1000bpm while the slower are less than 100bpm. There are even some songs without a specified beats-per-minute such as “As Slow as Possible” by John Cage.

There are three sources of music within a virtual world; audio files played by a prim, streaming music configured on the parcel, or the audio syncronized to a video clip. Localized music can be projected from objects in-world which are scripted to play an audio file that has been uploaded to the server. The object typically will either play it on repeat or will play a series of audio files back-to-back segments if the complete piece extends beyond predefined technical limits. Streaming music can configured on a parcel by opening the land settings and copy/pasting the URL to the stream into a designated field. Video clips are configured within the parcel settings in a similar manner as streaming audio with the video itself visible on a specially configured prim in-world. For obvious reasons it is best not to use two or more of these three methods at the same time as it can be confusion for the avatar trying to enjoy it.