Thursday, November 19, 2009

xstreet alternatives- meta-LIFE

Test drive 2: meta-life. I'm...less of a fan.

Step 1: sign up and get a box! In fact, I ported into the one and only place listed to get started 3 times- first time, getting password; second time- got the wrong box full of stuff because I found the popup menu confusing. That was my own fault though! I also changed out of the lingerie during this as I kept porting over to random stranger being there. So, following the doorstep service of apez, minus .001, meta-life (because really, this is not something you'll do often, so it doesn't really matter! Just teeny tiny annoyance).

Rezzed the box in my corner, dumped shirts in. Headed off to the site. The site...confused the crap out of me. In fact, I still don't know if I'm listing properly.

Now, as an aside here- I am NOT interested in using the in world vending solutions provided by these services. I don't like scripted vendors generally. Scripts = lag, even low lag vendors add up if you've got a lot, and I use scrolling vendors somewhat sparingly because seeing everything is better. I think, if I liked in world vendors, I would like meta-life more.

Content management tab takes you to options for setting up stuff. First, set up the brand(s) you want to sell things under- this is great. I then made a group for the Oxfords with My items groups. Then went over to my items to start editing.

Bad Things:

Images. Gah. I HATE the way they do images. They just want you to dump UUIDs for the textures uploaded, not upload your own images. They still need to upload these to their servers...the quality is shitty. The aspect shitty. I am not interested in making these things available in world through an affiliate or my own vendors, so this gets _me_ no advantage. Mostly I cry because the quality is shitty and I have to dig through inventory, copy the UUID, paste it in, and can't update my listings when I'm logged off SL. Images are basically my only real hate, but oh, how I hate. Also, I put in a secondary image. It has the UUID there. It ignores it everywhere on the site other than sitting in blah blah numbers in that text box.

Item groups don't appear to have searching goodness- it's great for listing, put all the things to mass edit in one place so it's easy. But, I don't see any way to _see_ everything that's in there as a consumer, which is not as useful.

Good Things:

MASS EDITS! HUZZAH! Tick your checkboxes for items, edit the slew of them at once, and boom, there you go! You'll still need to edit individual bits, but that gets you way way way ahead started on listings- PLUS you can go back and change your mind and edit them all easily. I wish Apez had mass edits _this_ way too. Annoyingthing: perms are NOT one of the things that are in the mass list...THERE. Images are...but perms aren't. Which is less cool. You CAN mass set perms, BUT it has to be a different step, which is clunky. Not seriously clunky, just teeny tiny bits of clunky, but still, offputting and seems left out in the other thing, and easy to miss. Category also weird and easy to miss, in a similar fashion.

Tags! That I can see! And use! And click on to see all the other things with the same tags!

I listed all the Oxfords, every single one, in less than 5 minutes. BUT, that's because I didn't slot out the images for each individual one. Because I hate hate HATE getting all the damn UUIDs. The image thing is quite obviously a deal breaker for me, for a LOT of reasons (hell, the image for the oxfords is fucked up because of the way I had to cheat to get it to work in SL and fix on prims). I have zero interest in also having in world vendors linked to the website presence, and always have, and have always avoided tying SL textures into vendors, even when it was _easier_ to do than this. If meta-life changed the image thing to allow uploading off my harddrive, I would probably be saying, right now, "let's all switch to meta-life". It's not as slick looking as apez (but black text on white, so better for readability), but it's got solid functionality aside from the image thing.


Naoki Ninetails said...

I do hate the way they do images. BUT. Everything else is solid, so I'm staying. Just the branding/affiliate thing and the fact that its vendor can officially replace my JEVNs and save me one extra step (hours of work) is enough for me. I'm not sure if Apez is the same way.

Ruina Kessel said...

Thanks Allegory, I really appreciate your doing this review - it's so helpful!

Allegory Malaprop said...

I don't do that side means nothing for me. I never associate in world textures in any way with items because I have no interest in that, I'm _just_ looking for a web service. So, for me, the image thing is a very serious problem. Especially since aspect rations will _always_ suck, which...makes things look bad. I can't add extra images I don't have (and have no reason _to_ have, or to spend the 10L uploading) in world. Not that I can get extra images to work at all.

Other than that, I'm pretty sold on meta-life. But, that's a pretty huge other than that, for me.

Naoki Ninetails said...


the staff seem really awesome about implementing changes. I intend to push the point to the Features section. If they understand this setback, well, they'll fix it -- and then it'll be totally golden. I have faith that it's a relatively easy thing to adjust, and that they'll listen if enough people ask for it.

So, I'm staying. :) the images alone are not enough reason for me to double up on services. it takes so long to list all those products (moving to meta-life took me about 6 hours today). I don't want to triple or quadruple my workflow unless I absolutely have to.

Shelly@Moonshine said...

I find it unsettling that the aspect ratio issue is still there. I pointed that out a year ago and actually did some hmm, testing I guess? Not sure the right word..guinea piggish stuff for them & I made a big deal on the aspect ratio & was told they were working on it. To find that's not been changed after all this time puts some red flags up for me.

Naoki Ninetails said...

From what I saw at the forums, the aspect ratio issue persists because of some other people's preferences, though I don't quite understand it yet.

Robbie Kiama - metaLIFE said...

Well guys thanks for taking a look at metaLIFE - greatly appreciate!

Let me tell you couple words about why metaLIFE is much much different from any other web marketpalces by many aspects:
- once you list your items with metaLIFE - they are instantly available via the web + an in-world grid-wide network of vendors, an in-world marketplace.. This is a given with metaLIFE! This is the major difference, you may not use your own vendors, but other people do, and they might just sell your items for you via their own vendors, without you ever touching a vendor. That's just because you listed your items via metaLIFE

- it's EXTREMELY easy to become an affiliate - all you need is to rez the vendor :) no web-setup is needed for affiliates, so the network is growing organically!

- website - is just another place where we sell your items!

- Aspect ratio - some people want 1x1, others 4x3 - it's an ongoing debate!

Hope this makes some sense to you guys... I will be more than happy to give you a short demo, showing you how our tools/services work, so that you can get maximum advantage out of it! just let me know(Robbie Kiama)

Allegory Malaprop said...


I have, and will continue to have, zero interest in affiliates and in world vendors, barring some big changes in the way I want to do things. So, while the system is super awesome if you want's absolute pants for me.

I'm not looking for "just another place where we sell your items" for the website. I'm looking for the website as the _only_ feature in which I am interested. Maybe I would be wooed to the other features eventually, but currently, I'm ONLY looking for a web service. I never used onrez's vendors, nor had any desire to.

Aspect ratios: using SL textures mean you are "guessing" at the aspect ratio you want things to be. The main problem is: I'm only interested in web services where I actually have full control over my images, as opposed to SL where you have to do allll sorts of bullshit to get around the issues (and the aspect ratio issue there becomes more of an issue because everything in one vendor needs to have the same, simply with the way things work. Rescale your prim and you're golden, but, this doesn't apply to me). If I can upload a texture off my harddrive, boom, I can have my 3:4 or my 1:1 or my 5.987625:7. SL textures = resize that puppy to SL acceptable sizes and then fix it in prims later. I do this, many people do. Tying that to an affiliate vendor doesn't work because they're all different- which is all part of my "this is not something that is currently, or in the foreseeable future, in my business plan." As it is, to use meta-life, I'll have to upload hundreds of new textures JUST for setting it up for the web service that is my only interest. Thousands of Lindens plus all that time? (I will have to rescale alll those pictures and remake a bunch with different aspect ratios entirely...versus point an uploader at the directory full of pngs I keep on my external harddrive.) That means that while I love most of the other features, this is quite simply, not a service I can use in the way I would like to, which just plain makes it not worth the time and effort for the payback. If other people go with it, that is awesome for them- it's just not an option as is, for me. Plus, the real reason I said what I said about aspect ratios, is that the web interface seems to have additional aspect ratio issues on top of just playing SL's game (1:1's don't always look 1:1. Maybe it's just the textures I'm using, because they're another case of "messed up to get SL to let me do things the way I want" but they don't appear 1:1 in all views to me when they are 1:1 textures in SL).

The recompression is also ugly (sorry, I'm a resolution and clarity whore, and SL's shitty jpeg2000 compression is bad enough, without the even lower compression you've got going), and I love having multiple optional images that other services have- the problem here is basically, I game the system within SL in such a way that this is infeasible to _me_, and has been infeasible for years' worth of products. If I was starting out with all this in mind, and hadn't had the option with other services? I would probably just change the way I did things and be fine with it. But, I come from web first, SL second, background, aside from operating under different rules because I had the options.

I'm not saying "oh my god whine whine whine you have to change this for meeeeeeee"- I will, in fact, recommend meta-life to others, with the caveat of "this is how it's going to work." I'm just saying that, as is, I can't use the system for more than a fraction of what I have without making some very time consuming changes that, frankly, aren't worth it unless web based services pick up in a very dramatic way- as is it's barely worth the time to list on xstreet, and they have all sorts of promo tools, being owned by the overlords, that you don't have.

Allegory Malaprop said...

My two biggest wishlist features are to do with images: 1) obviously, tack a web side uploader on that puppy. There are free canned php addons that would do a lot of the backend work of scaling, etc. and you'd just need to change the system a little to be able to slot them in (of course, I have no clue what you're using, but php is what I use for web apps, so it's what I know). It would be a bit of retrofitting, I'm sure, and I don't know how much of your system is such that would make it hard to implement. You're already storing the pictures you pull out of SL locally, I believe. You will need more storage space though (but, with the influx, you're going to need that either way, this just ramps up the degree by a fair click). 2) apez, I believe, allows you to dump textures in the box, choose the texture of your choice from a dropdown to assign it, and then delete the extra clutter (i.e. it sends the user the list, user chooses from friendly interface list, it says "oh hey sailor, what's your UUID?" to that texture in inventory, and then you don't need that texture around cluttering your box up any more), which is HUGELY friendlier for setting up the in world thing. For people into that, I think it would be a great time saver and convenience feature- I know I do 90% of my website setup while I'm NOT logged into SL, so that's another case against the UUID thing...I simply can't set things up when that's the only option. Number 2 would still not win me personally over, but I think it would be a really big boon for your current users.

Robbie Kiama - metaLIFE said...

hey there & thanks for both of your Feature Requests :) writing them down! Could you please explain a bit more on the 2'nd one?! Want to make sure I got the essence of it!(English is not my native)
If I understand it correctly - you want to be able to drop textures to your box, then setting up your items you would be able to choose a texture which goes together with this item, using a drop down list?? if that is the case - this feature is already in the system, you can do this now, no need to go and copy all the UUID's manually!

If that was not it, please let me know..

Allegory Malaprop said...

That's it Robbie- I didn't see any option for that, but it may have been because I didn't put textures _in_ the box in the first place! In which case, awesome, because I know were it something that I was interested in, it would make the listing process go _so_ much quicker.

meta does win in convenience in most other ways, the batch uploading system (which are where my listings start getting stupidly tedious with colour alts multiplying everything) you've implemented is my favourite system of them all. You've got a good interface, nice easy thumbnail immediacy to see at a glance what still needs to be done when editting (which most other services have lacked, and it's extremely helpful, especially when listing a lot at a time!) There are a few little features I'd love to eventually see tacked on as well, but it's all very web centric.

My focus is primarily the ability for providing a web based listing of products: ideally having my entire collection, or close to it, browsable in web as well as store (bonus points for great organization tools, but that's gravy that most services don't offer- apez's collections is a nice feature for that, and MVX's multi listing is another alternative that's got some very good points, although there are downsides inherent in the way it is presented). This is both for gifting convenience, as most of it is copy/no trans, but also for loading as textures in SL can be slow, and to provide another way for clear organization and ease of seeing everything that's there, presented under a different organizational scheme than in world.