Last Updated: February 2, 2009
This Guide assumes you are a new Second Life resident, fresh from Orientation Island. The goal is to give you the essential information and skills you need to explore the rest of SL on your own.
1. Coming out of Orientation Island
OK, you just picked your first and last names, and somehow managed to get out of Orientation Island. You are probably at a Welcome Area somewhere wondering where to go and what to do.
If you ever need to go back thru Orientation Island again, click on the "Help" option from the top menu bar, select "In-World Help", click on "Orientation Island Public". When the map appears, click on the "Teleport" button.
If you have some SL questions and want to ask fellow residents, check out the Help Island! Click on the "Help" option from the top menu bar, select "In-World Help", click on "Help Island Public". When the map appears, click on the "Teleport" button.
At this point, a lot of new residents ask, "What's the goal of Second Life?" My standard answer is: "Theres no defined goal. You are in Second Life to have fun (provided that you do so without hurting someone else)." I also wrote about "The Meaning of Second Life" in a blog entry.
There are a few essential skills you need to get around SL. They are covered in these guides:
Movement, Camera Control, and Interaction Guide
Teleport, Finding Places, and Landmark Guide
Inventory, Clothing, and Objects Guide
2. Teleport Basics
For long distance travel in SL, we teleport (or TP) around. Its almost instant travel from one place to another within SL. Check out the Teleport, Finding Places, and Landmark Guide for more details.
So how do you find a place to teleport to? The best place is the Search window. Click on the Search button at the bottom of your screen. The Search window provides a wealth of information to find just about anything in SL. For now, select the "Places" tab. In the "Find:" box, you can type in any keyword to get a list of places. For example, if you are shopping for shoes, you can enter "shoe" to get a list of shoe stores (and other things too, unfortunately).
For now, enter "tutorials" in the "Find:" box and click the "Search" button. You should see quite a list of places, arranged by the amount of traffic they receive. Just because a place is popular doesnt mean much: a lot of places pay for people to come and sit in camping chairs. So always check the descriptions to get a sense of what the place has.
For now, click on "NCI Kuula-New Citizens Incorporated" and click the "Teleport" button. Congratulations, you found your first teleport destination and TP'ed there!
Just FYI, one alternate way to find a place in SL is via the SLURL. These are links on Web pages (like this one) that will provide you with a TP destination in SL. This is a good alternative in case Search/Places isnt working. However, you should get used to using Search/Places as your primary means of travel.
Here is the SLURL for "New Citizens Incorporated": Kuula (54,175,29). Clicking on this link will also take you to New Citizens.
3. New Citizens Incorporated
New Citizens is a place designed to assist new residents in SL. All services and classes here are offered for free. Theres even a collection of freebies, including avatar skins, clothing, hair, shoes, and gadgets.
There are "notecards" available with information on everything from adjusting your appearance to getting money in SL. The best part is that if you had any questions or need some extra help, there are volunteer "NCI Helpers" walking around who can assist you. There is also a group of regular folks that hang out here, so if you need help, dont be shy. Just ask!
I would recommend that you spend at least an hour at New Citizen's to get familiar with various aspects of Second Life and try out some freebie clothing items. They may not be the coolest cloths out there, but just get an idea of how to put on various clothing items and attachments. We will do serious shopping in a few minutes.
Check out the Inventory, Clothing, and Objects Guide on how to get the freebies at New Citizens.
4. Free Dove
(Here is an old photo of me, coming out of Orientation Island! :P)
I am assuming that your first priority is getting your appearance in order. That means getting together items to wear, preferably for free. Free Dove is the best in that regard. So click on the Search button at the bottom of your screen, select the "Places" tab, enter "free dove" in the "Find:" box, and click the "Teleport" button. Here is the SLURL: Gallii (113,53,33).
By the way, if you are a guy, I have a little bad news for you... As you will quickly discover, there are far more clothes and avatar-related items for girls than guys in Second Life. (Thats because most of us like shopping and most of you dont :P) Unfortunately, this means it is more challenging for guys to put together a nice outfit. But dont despair! You are a real man. You are tough. You can shop :) I wrote a blog entry about Getting Started as a Guy. I hope this helps. Also, check out section 9 below for some special newbie deals.
Free Dove is owned by Palomma Casanova and Wilco Walcott. They are a super nice couple and genuine Second Life entrepreneurs who provide Free Dove as a resource to help new SL residents get started.
Free Dove has rows of tables covered with boxes from various SL vendors, each with free sample products. To get the contents of most boxes, Right-click on the box, click "Buy...", make sure the price is $0L, and click the "Buy" button when it appears (may take a few seconds). You should now have a new folder in your Inventory screen. Check the Inventory, Clothing, and Objects Guide for more details.
I would recommend that you find items for each of these areas:
Hair: There is a table set aside for hair. There are 2 major types of hair: the grown hair (the ones you have from Orientation Island), and the prim hair. Prim hair tends to look better and support more styling options. Prim hair is not actually hair, but more like a wig: it is an attachment. Like wigs, you need to prepare your head first before you can put wigs on. All prim hair comes with a "base" of some kind (typically a bald base), and then the actual prim hair wig. So you need to "Wear" 2 separate items: the bald base, and the prim hair.
Some of the hairs are not in boxes, but are posters on the wall. So click on the posters as if they were boxes. Try out various styles and see what you like. Note that these are the freebies. There are a LOT of hair in every imaginable style, texture, and color you can purchase in stores later.
(Note: I make and sell prim hair in SL. I also give away free hair at Free Dove. I have recommended Free Dove long before I started making prim hair.)
Shape: The avatar shape is basically a collection of "Appearance..." settings for your avatar. This includes things like your height, size of your head, position of you lips, etc. You selected a standard shape on Orientation Island and perhaps made some adjustments. If you like your shape, or if you are comfortable adjusting the shape, go for it (I encourage you to make your own adjustments). Alternatively, Free Dove has a few pre-made shapes you can use as starting points, then you can adjust on your own.
Skin: This is the skin texture for your avatar. In most cases, this affects your makeup (if female) and facial hair (if male). This also includes your appearance when naked, but you should spend some $L on skin if you plan on stripping ;P
Free Dove has a really good free female skin from Celestial Studios named "CS Passport Skin - Malibu/Brown". Even if you dont like the skin, check out the details. The skin is in the grey/purple twisted thing in the middle of the table. Sorry guys, they do have some male skins, but I wasnt too impressed (wait for Sarah's Freebie Paradise or Tete a Pied Skins below).
Cloths: Free Dove is full of cloths, from tops, to pants, to skirts, to underwear and swimwear. Go ahead grab what you can and try them out.
Shoes: Like hair, there are 2 types of shoes: texture shoes, and prim shoes. Texture shoes are basically a distorted version of your feet, with a texture applied to it to make it look like a shoe. Prim shoes are attachments. They are actual prim-based shoes that attach to your feet. Needless to say, prim shoes tend to look better.
Like hair, Free Dove has the best selection of freebie prim shoes. So grab all you can and try them out. BTW, like hair, prim shoes have a shoe base and the actual shoes themselves. You "Wear" the shoe base, then "Wear" the left and right shoes.
Jewelry and Accessories: These are optional, but what the heck? A girl cant walk around without jewelry. :) Free Dove has a few jewelry items, although thats not their focus. You will soon discover the joys of "bling"... :P
If you have gone through all of the above items, your avatar should be in pretty decent shape. If you feel your options were limited, just remember these are freebies. Wait til you go shopping! :)
5. Camping (Optional)
Camping allows your AV to earn a small amount of Lindens ($L) just by sitting around doing nothing. The reason I am suggesting some camping at this point is that you will need a few $L (around $20L to $50L) for the next step. If you signed up as a resident, or if you have purchased/received $L, then you can skip this step.
So how do you find places to camp? Like everything else, the Search button at the bottom of your screen. Click Search, and select the tab "Popular Places". These places are popular because lots of people visit them. An unusually high amount of people, in fact. Why? Usually because they pay for people to come sit in camp chairs.
Go through the descriptions of the top places and look for camp hairs. Then TP to them. Note that camping places could get crowded, so you may have to go to a few to get an open seat.
Here is a casino with some camp chairs (the blue/black chairs). These seats are just regular chairs, except you will notice text tags over people's heads that say "Earned $10L" or something like that.
One suggestion: when you go to a new camp place, sit in a chair long enough to earn some $L (usually 10-15mins). Then stand up and make sure you actually collected that amount (a message should pop up telling you that someone paid you). If you got paid, great! Sit back down before someone takes your seat :) If not, find another site.
DavidLuis Saenz recommends filling out surveys as a way to get free L$. I have no experience filling out surveys, but it looks like you should take some precautions before doing so. Read his comments to this post if you are interested.
6. More (Sorta) Freebie Places
Free Dove is a great start for freebie items. But if you really want to load up on all thats available, you have to hit the mother lode: Yadni's Junkyard, Sarah's Freebie Paradise, and the GNUbie Store. Note that some of the items here are free, while others cost $1L to buy. $1L is one-third of one cent, but you still need $L to get the box. Thus the camping above...
Yadni's (SLURL: Leda (210,28,54)) is great for...well...the boys stuff. Buildings, vehicles, weapons, scripts, and gadgets. Sure, they have cloths too, but the cloths are bundled with dozens of outfits in a box. Unless you have a lot of time to try them out and sort through them, this could be a real pain. But there are a few useful gadgets there, so check out my earlier blog post for the items.
On the other hand, Sarah's (SLURL: Philereme (201,162,55)) is great for outfits, since she separates the outfits and makes nice displays for them. You know what you are buying, without having to sort through boxes of stuff. Theres also a free pair of ice skates here, in case you wanted to go skating!
Finally, the GNUbie Store (SLURL: Indigo (201,62,38)) has unique items not found in Yadni's or Sarah's. They dont have a LOT of things, but instead have some really cool things for both newbies and long-time residents. They have clothing, jewelry, prim hair, male skins, furniture, buildings (houses, stores, event a skyscraper), textures, gadgets, and scripts. Definitely worth checking out.
7. A Few Recommendations
OK, but now, you should have your appearance reasonably under control.
Before I turn you lose in the world of Second Life, my I take this opportunities to give you a few quick pointers?
a. Your avatar cannot be permanently harmed. Your avatar can "die" in a combat sim, but that just means you get TP'ed back home.
With that said, "griefers" (basically the bad guys) can push you into the sky, put you in a cage, set you seemingly on fire, etc. If that happens, just TP out of that location. At worst, just log out and log back in (relog). You'll be good as new :)
Unfortunately, there are many scams in SL. Some residents will try various tricks to get money from you. If you are not comfortable with a situation, just TP out.
b. Remember that there are live human beings behind each of the avatars you see. They have feelings, just like people in Real Life. So be nice. Do as you would in Real Life. Dont use people; dont abuse people; dont hurt people.
Dont blindly solicit "cyber" from every avatar you see...not everyone is an escort. This is REALLY offensive to most people. You wouldnt do it in Real Life, so dont do it in SL. If you want quick cyber, go to an escort club (click Search, Places, and type in "escort" as keyword).
c. Manage your Inventory! After the loads of freebie stuff you just got, you'll be luck to find your underwear. So start creating a folder system with sub-folders and organize your stuff. Also, use the Search bar at the top of the Inventory window...its a lifesaver at times. Check out the Inventory, Clothing, and Objects Guide for more details.
d. If you have a Real Life relationship, think about the impact you may have before engaging in a Second Life relationship. I have read several accounts of people getting divorced over SL affairs. I have also met people badly hurt by SL affairs. Cheating on a Real Life partner in Second Life is still cheating. So beware...
e. If you are interested in someone, read their Profiles before you engage in a serious dialog. Right-click on their avatar, and select "Profile..." You will learn a lot about the person before you start talking to them. Maybe they are a mermaid, and you are alergic to fish ;P If the person says they are in a commited relationship or are otherwise unavailable, guess what? They are not lying. Dont waste your time on them. Move on to others.
f. Read and understand the Second Life Community Standards. These are the Big Six laws of Second Life. Break these and you will get banned.
g. If you see someone breaking the Community Standards (such as Harrassment or Disturbing the Peace), dont shoot back or provoke them further. Follow this guide to file an Abuse Report.
h. If you have some SL questions and want to ask fellow residents, check out the Help Island! Click on the "Help" option from the top menu bar, select "In-World Help", click on "Help Island Public". When the map appears, click on the "Teleport" button.
i. Sometime, people may tell you to "Rebake" your texture, or tell you that you have "Missing Texture" on you. To fix that issue, you need to turn on the Debug menus. Press [Ctrl]-[Alt]-D to enable these menus. You should now have 2 more options at the top of your screen: Client and Server. To rebake your avatar's texture, select Client, Character >, and Rebake Textures. This should fix most display problems associated with your avatar's textures. If not, try relogging.
j. Dont forget to take a few pictures of yourself! Its free! Click the Snapshot button at the bottom of your screen, select "Save snapshot to hard drive", pick a size and select "Save". That way, you can remember what your newbie self looked like :) Note: Other residents can hear your camera clicking away, so dont do it in crowded places! (Thanks Mereille, for your comment!)
k. Warning: In SL, it is possible for an attachment or object you rez to send your L$ to someone else. Fortunately, SL will first pop up a window asking permission to take money from your account. So be careful if you receive an unknown object asking permission to take money from you (even if it promises to give you money).
Also, it is possible for an object to re-produce itself (sort of like a virus). This can flood and crash a sim (and usually annoy the sim owners). So be careful when you receive objects from someone you dont know. Before Wearing or rezzing it, check it in a sandbox first. (Thanks Marc, for your comment!)
8. The Great Yonder
OK, you are now ready for the vast reaches of Second Life. If you are wondering what the goal of Second Life is, here are my thoughts on it.
Dont forget all the different things you do in SL listed in the Teleport, Finding Places, and Landmark Guide!
9. Great Stuff for Newbies
Lucrezia Lamont has created the wonderful "New SL Resident Resource Kit" full of detailed tips for new residents. Here is the SLURL for a free copy of her kit: Necros (249,34,49).
Anna Zwiers: Anna is on a mission to find all the freebies in SL :)
Savoir Hair: Has the most complete list of newbie and discounted hair in SL. There are always new versions of the list, so check the "Important Links" area on the left side and click on the "Newbie Hair List" for the latest list.
There is a trend in Second Life to offer free or greatly discounted stuff to new residents, typically if you are under 30 or 60 days of age. Here are just a few Ive come across. Pls let me know if you see anything else :)
Nyte 'N' Day (SLURL: Couture Isle (140,133,48): Women's newbie toolkit with skin, hair, shape for L$1 (Thanks for the tip, Demelza!)
Sin Skins (SLURL: Port Seraphine (131,196,21)): New resident pack of female skins in 7 shades for residents under 30 days old. (Thanks for the tip, Georgette!)
Fleur Skins (SLURL: Fleur (49,118,27)): Free male and female skins in 9 skintones for residents under 30 days old.
Let me know if you find other great items for newbies so I can include them here (add a comment or IM me inworld)! Future residents will thank you!
10. Final Words
Welcome to your new life. I hope it will be a wonderful journey, as it had been for me. If there is something you would like to add to this guide, please let me know (add a comment or IM me inworld), so we can share it with others!
Even though I sometimes feel otherwise, Second Life is a game. YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO HAVE FUN IN SECOND LIFE. If you stop having fun, log out, and examine your Second Life. In the worst case, delete your account and start over with a new avatar. Thats the wonderful thing about Second Life: You have the freedom to do what you like, as long as you do not injure others.
Always remember: Second Life is suppose to be FUN! :)
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