this is a loaded question and there are no exact answers for it but there must be some common features that would make for an easy-to-use, avatar friendly region/campus for multi-purpose use
defined utilitarian features and sound building practices can be incorporated into various styled or themed regions
i suppose you have to take into account whether most visitors/users would be n00bs or if they would have some idea of what is going on
however, i do think that people, in general, have become more savvy since the big days of SL back in 2005 and that you don’t need to do as much hand holding as back then. there was a certain “shiny” nature to virtual worlds then that overwhelmed people and hours could be spent on customising your avatar and learning how to move, chat, and communicate. i think that many in the mainstream would simply “get it” now
that’s not to say that people won’t spend time creating their avatars, but i think there is a certain laissez faire attitude because many people have been exposed to things like Farmville and twitter profiles and are “over” making every new web experience a big deal (been there, done that). some of you will understand what i am trying to say, even though i’m not expressing it well! =p
in other words, i don’t think every region that has new visitors arriving needs a full orientation/tutorial section teaching them how to change their height and how to chat. especially for regions that see younger people and kids – students need very little instruction to figure out OpenSim (this is analogous to eLearning from 2000 when you still explained what a right-click was!)
i think there seem to be two big considerations for the type of region/campus i am asking for your input on - building practices and elements for use
building practices would include consideration for easy use by avatars and for easy camming around. for example, a scale build of a classroom or conference room with 8 foot ceilings would stink and be horrible to use. however, having walls and desks or tables would help it feel like a classroom or conference room
things like open roofs or landing spaces and clearly marked signs help a new user know where to go - “meet me in the yellow coffee shop” or “see you in auditorium 2″, where you would have a clearly yellow-themed space visible from almost anywhere or large numbered signs. perhaps a central info/kiosk area would be a good practice? Reaction Grid had a nice welcome area that was laid out like a small park in a town square complete with signs and benches to wait for others
what other building practices would be good for a multi-purpose region or campus?
building practices are one part of this, the other is what elements do you think a multi-purpose campus should have?
i’m a fan of break out spaces after reading how IBM found that a lot of good collaboration happened before and after virtual world meetings at their Innovation Centre in Second Life. i tend to think of real world analogies, like a small cafe with tables and chairs, where a couple of people could sit and chat (keeping in mind that spaces like that should have 10 to 20 metre chat distance between them for privacy)
i also am stuck thinking that there is a need for formal spaces, like an auditorium setting and smaller rooms, all of which have clearly defined media walls. in Enclave Harbour, i have several spaces for small groups such as a “hidden” open air shack for four people to talk, a campfire for 8 people to use, a formal classroom with wooden desks for 20, an outdoor stage for 16, and several open areas with cafe tables – but that sounds soooo boring to me
in your experience, what are some general design principles to keep in mind and what are some key elements to include for a multi-purpose campus?