Before I start I would like to throw out a picture of a Bunny and a Marble Fox as well as simple relaxing music for you to go and enjoy should any of the Doom and Gloom articles I’m going to be publishing within the coming weeks become too much for you to bare.
Two things caught my eye this week, the first was a notice sent out by DOR Spearhead by their Grand Supreme Overlord Da Admiral forbidding it’s members to talk to the Press, specifically the Second Life Enquirer. Exactly why DOR doesn’t want it’s members talking to the press I will reveal later just to keep you all in a state of suspense, but perhaps more interesting ,once again, DOR has announced it’s run out of money so ,once again, it’s closing. Rather than report on these two issues separately I’ll do them both at the same time later when the Dor-goes-bankrupt-a-fourth-time fiasco resolves itself.
The other thing was this picture sent round by Fey Twin of Unity Airport.
Now don’t get my wrong, I have nothing against Unity Airport, they are a fantastic bunch as well as big supporters of the Jeogeot Gulf project ,to which I am very grateful for, so a big congratulations to them for becoming the most popular airport in Second Life. But this does leave me with something of a sour taste in my mouth because after six months of solid day-to-day greifing (Thanks Linden Labs) every airport in the Jeogeot is suffering record low traffic numbers, save for Unity.
Now generally I don’t care about traffic numbers, they’re stupid, easy to manipulate and exclusively used by region owners to measure their e-penis, but what struck me about this one is, while it is a tremendous achievement, Unity didn’t actually achieve this by being an Airport. In fact in the time it’s taken me to write this Article more aircraft have taken off and landed at Second Norway than ever have at Unity. Yet ,according to this screenshot, it’s sitting way back on position #10 so what the hell?
Truth is Unity got to that position, not through any act of Aviation, but by being a Dance Club something once known as the Hallmark of a dying region. Like the great calls of a beached whale on it’s last gasp many failing Airports or Aviations clubs would hire in DJ’s, buy huge dance floors with ludicrous lighting effects, fill the sploders with money and then spam every Aviation group with notices, calling those out to spend their evening zombiefied pressing “Play in World” on their favourite Dance animation while a self-proclaimed DJ booted up iTunes, hit “Playlist”, then expected tips.
While these events would boost traffic for a time in the end all it achieved was to alienate it’s core members who ,like rats from a sinking ship, would flee the lag as their once beloved Group sailed off a cliff. Happened all the time, for reasons that would take another article to explain, but back then there was a lot of small time Aviation groups they could float too, in fact there seemed to be no shortage of them. Every Airport had it’s own Fighter group, it’s own firefighter group and it’s own display team and none of them every really struggled to find members.
These days of course, things are different. Today’s Airport Owners concentrate solely on Hanger Rentals, Hanger Rentals and Hanger Rentals with very little thought in Community aspects like running events, hosting races and Roleplay groups believing ‘community’ is something that happens to them because “people will want to spend time at my airport because it’s so awesome”. Something which has become industry standard with very few notable exceptions.
In days where I was a nooblett pilot the typical Aviator was in his middle to late 20’s, was most likely Aspbergic and they judged each others piloting skill entirely on combat. They didn’t have much time for the new Pilot, they were quick to judge and couldn’t see the point in flying a plane with no guns on it. Yet ,While we still had our disagreements (there is always Drama), all pilots back then shared the same simple objective, they wanted to get into the Air and Do Something. Disagreements were settled in the Air, Drama was extinguished at the barrel of a 50 Cal and Pilots earned their respect, not through their combat prowess, but how they handled their defeat and how much they laughed afterwords with the person who shot them down.
These pilots were eventually replaced by the “fly for fun” crowd. This is where the Fighter Ace clubs and the super strict RP groups started to die off, inevitably the idiots in charge would fuck up , mostly by promoting favouritism and alienating it’s other members, and people would leave. Until this point they had always been guaranteed a fresh supply of new recruits, but they soon found that the infinite supply of noobs wasn’t so infinite. These new pilots had gone along with what was laid down previously by the Old Gang but had little tollerence for the drama of the clubs, they didn’t give a shit about combat and were more interested in small, vintage aircraft and the joy they got out of being in the air. For the first time Civil Aviation become a major thing.
They began to look for a place outside the control of the Aviation groups, what they found was the Blake Sea and despite heavy resistance from the Sailors and even one or two attempts to Ban Aviation from the Blake, they were able to make a home there.
While the Fly for Fun crowd still make up the core of SL Aviation they are being slowly super-seeded by a new breed of Pilot. People who were attracted to SL Aviation not through any interest in Aviation but were seduced by the culture of Aviation. The desperation of the Older Clubs and Groups who turned to Dance Parties to fill traffic numbers and who scraped the corners of “Welcome Island” for new blood inadvertently introduced two new species of Pilot into the mix. These new pilots mingled with the Legends of the Old Gang and became seduced by their Gung-Ho attitude and the enormous amount of respect they Carried.
They come from either the Younger and more Immature stock left over from when the Teen Grid merged, also the 30-40 something Middle American Bored Housewives division which has only been growing stronger since the introduction of the Zindra continent and the Book 50 Shades of Grey.
The difference between these new pilots and the pilots of old is the older guys were obsessed with their own opinions, with combat, and with what ever manufacturer their group rallied behind. These new pilots are obsessed with one thing, their image.
These are the people who get behind the controls of a plane for the first time already thinking they’re a decent pilot and “This should be easy”. What they don’t want is to be thrown off their horse and into the drink at the end of the runway because they didn’t throttle up fast enough or employ the take-off flaps.
That kind of shit is embarrassing and when children (and mothers) get embarrassed there are very few of them who can take it in their stride. They become irrational and their Ego goes into Damage Control mode, they finger and blame everything around them, trying to find some excuse that doesn’t lead back to them. An example of this is Both Zora (ZSK) and Tank (Laminar) regularly receive complaints from people demanding refunds because they “couldn’t fly the plane”. Accusing your plane of having ‘shitty’ scripts because you can’t fly it is basically the equivalent of saying “the sun was in my eyes” when someone punches you.
What they want is something that compliments them and grants them unearned competency and what they inevitably gravitate towards is aircraft with flight scripts so basic and so pointlessly simple they could can only be assumed as aircraft because they look like one. Products like E-tech, Vortex, Java, Shana, Colter Craft, Elite Industries, etc etc etc. Essentially planes that hold your hand as you fly them. Their next step is to become deluded that they are now an “ace pilot” and aggressively defend themselves from any idea that the plane they are flying is “simple”.
This is the “Looks Good, Flies Great” Mentality which essentially boils down to “I look good, I fly great” and supposedly they get some joy out of how good they look flying so you can’t really argue with that, well you can but people will yell and throw things.
To give you one example I’ve been shadowing one or two of the Airlines on the brief notion that it might be interesting to review them. A lot of their pilots start up their big birds, taxi to the runway and then stop and the end and wait, and wait, and wait. After speaking to them on why they wait so long it became clear that they are not waiting on Take-off permission from a ATC, checking with the Stewarts that the toilets are clear and everyone is sitting down or even revving up the engines. They are sitting there on the end of the runway because that is what planes do.
And I think that says more than anything I could.
This all goes back to my original point which is Traffic Numbers. How can Unity have more Traffic than Norway or Hollywood. Well the reason goes back to those “L.G.F.G” pilots I was ranting about above as I said these new Pilots care more about Looking good and showing off than anything else and you can’t show off when you’re in the air as there’s no-one to see you (unless you only ever fly in the Blake of course) so they Land as quickly as possible and spend more time on the ground, idling around airports showing off and attending parties and THIS is what drives Traffic up.
This for me is concerning. Like the Old Groups ,such as the Flying Tigers, quickly found out Dance Parties are laggy and any place which plays host to one can become virtually unusable as an Airport. For Unity this will never become a problem, like many of today’s airports Traffic Numbers have become the standard to which the success of the Airport is judged and Dance parties are the most efficient way of generating this success. However as the Looks Good, Flies Great mentality expands and today’s top selling aircraft become more and more about the Looks and less about the flight scripts we teeter dangerously close to a point where Aircraft become visual props that don’t need to fly, Airports become social clubs with an Aviation Theme and the larger growing mainstream of Second Life users simply arrive to Peacock, Dance and privately agree to teleport to each others sky boxes for a little Pink on Blue poseball Action.
The amount of Lindens generated by this crowd would ultimately shift the focus of the Market from Aircraft and flying, back to what SL normally does. Cosmetics, Fashion and Sex. And I can think of nothing more boring than yet another Virtual Reality dominated by the people I play Second Life to escape from in reality. So for the time being I will continue to Fly, fly high, fly far and fly for fun. I hope you’ll be willing to join me up there because it looks like we are something of a dying breed.
tl;dr New Pilots are more interested in having sex than flying.