Second Life in October

I haven't been writing much lately, but I have been thinking -- and exploring.  While there is news amidst the grids, the main thing on my mind is Second Life -- the 1.0 version.

Now I have been on record in the forums stating that business was good -- still good that is after the announcement of SL 2.0. I am still of a mind that having a new world on the horizon hasn't impacted spending habits all that much. But, to be fair -- and I always try to be -- I can't say that my previous declaration of monetary abundance was completely true.

It wasn't a LIE you understand, I just hadn't actually been working with my calculator close at hand. Last week, I did just that. Comparing January to mid October 2013 with January to mid October 2014 shows about a 30 to 33% decline in revenue. This is just me of course and I am not a big name content creator. BUT there are some other bits of info that make those numbers even less uplifting.

I am also on a variety of smaller grids these days and while they aren't big money makers they do pay for graphics cards, power supplies and the like -- so not coffee money. Adding that NEW revenue stream into the mix shows an even steeper decline in SL revenue.

I don't work for the paycheck really so this isn't a big deal for me, but it is an indication that things might be slowing down. Another indication? I have nothing to blog (OMG!).

That isn't completely true. A more correct statement would be that I have nothing EXCITING to blog. Quite a few designers are on hiatus, some appear to be bored and cranking out less than heart stopping designs  -- presumably so that they can feel they are still working. Certainly, there are exceptions, but the overall picture presented is of folks not quite as enthralled with their creative process.

How many styles of couches can you make after all? How many gowns? How many swimsuits? Eventually even the best run out of inspiration because they have already made "something very close to that". I get in that mode too at times, but since I pretty much make things for myself and THEN sell them -- there is a very different energy involved. When I get bored? I change my location. That simply isn't practical for the folks putting the kids through college or paying the rent.

The other dynamic that may be coming into play is longevity. SL has been around a long time now; many of the players have been here more than a handful of years, some a decade or more. When we were young we NEEDED things. Now many of us honestly have all we can possibly use. Hence, getting us to buy something new just for the sake of difference is the marketing strategy.

Put it all together and much of October, historically the busiest and most exciting month in Second Life, has been pretty dull.

So let's circle around again to the new world (see, I already forget the official term -- old brain cells). Folks moving over or visiting will NEED new stuff. Mesh as in furniture and houses will likely be portable but there is a whole slew of other items that will not be. We will all in some sense be starting over.

Having done that on a handful of worlds similar to Second Life, I can definitely relate -- and it isn't a bad thing! First you have a pristine clean inventory; that in itself is newsworthy for many folks. There is also a thrill when you find "the hair" or "the skin" or "OMG- fingernails!".  Most of us are pretty blasé about our wardrobes, they are so vast. Think back to when you were just out of the pod. Those were good times too. Times when little things meant a lot.

I don't have an answer to the ennui that seems to be going around. Hopefully it is a passing thing, a brief energy of the stars that is dampening our spirits. My best suggestion is to find a new way to create, a new product to mold, a new experience to grab hold of and make your own.

Then again, baking some cookies with the kids is a good thing too.

Worlds Without Money

Metro Chic at Canada Chic's sim in front of a LEA20 photo taken from a video - oh my!

A funny thing happened to me today when I logged into my Metropolis account. There was a note waiting for me from someone who apparently "knew me" but who I didn't recall. They wanted to say that they noted I had made an account in Metropolis (????) and wanted to let me know this was a non-commercial grid. Yep, there is a *wink* coming as expected.

Now I assumed their heart was in the right place, letting me know and all that. I was a little put off with the idea that I wouldn't have done my homework (which of COURSE I had done, knowing the "no money, never" or similar slogan that I found on the Metro website).  I wrote a note back  saying I had come over to help a friend, ended up in cloud status for almost two months and just now am "real" thanks to a rez kit I picked up in Canada.

That got me thinking about money.

Much of Open Sim is money free. Some worlds have money, but aside from some rental property I haven't found anything to actually BUY in said worlds -- and I really was looking. Canada now has money but it is opt in money and I have chosen not to join the system. So I will likely be rethinking my "commercial" sim (really, now how much did I think I was going to make? VERY little is the correct answer). Citizens were pleading for things to purchase; whether or not they actually want that? Well time will sort it out.

So in some worlds we have rates of exchange and in others we have a "free" economy. Now most of the free stuff is marginal at best but given freely at one time in history with good intentions so that counts.

MONEY was a big deal when I was newly out of the SL pod. You needed it to buy stuff as group gifts and freebies of worth were definitely NOT the norm then. Instead you bought lindens or you camped for them (money trees were also fun and indeed I started a business with money tree proceeds). One of my favorite camping spots was in the center of a mall. It had flowers and waterfalls and tons of campers (maybe 20 at a time). You made $18 an hour and could earn $100 a day. My friends and I (yes, real life friends folks) took turns making money.

That leads us to the "how do you measure your worth" question, which is an interesting one. In real life and SL and a few other worlds, success in some terms is measured in monetary rewards. Sure, there are fame and glory points to be added in or perhaps even replacing the $$$, but just like in many video games, there is that  -- "can I make enough to support myself and live as I would like" idea even before you move into the making a real life living area.

I looked up a few statistics that fit into this theme.  From Daniel Voyager's metrics:

According to this there are many more residents on per day (constantly) than there are sims.

This is the login screen from Metropolis, currently the busiest (?) Open Sim grid since OS Grid is down.

Look at the regions compared with the users (this was taken at 5 pm SLT). I can't explain the huge difference; no doubt there are plenty of reasons including home and school servers etc. Still, the statistic show a very different view of virtual life.

Folks complain that SL is empty - :D, well.

The one SL statistic that is puzzling to me is that 10,000 plus new sign ups a day. Really?  Where are they coming from? They can't all be alts or agents or whatever. If even the smallest percentage of those folks stuck around the concurrency would be going up instead of down.

Anyone with insights -- chime on in here. I am puzzled.


Digital Concepts - Franco Grid

Traveling has been an adventure this last week; discovering the hypergrid a fun and learning exercise.

I knew about the hypergrid of course. I even remember when Lindens teleported without inventory or attachments over to another grid. See official press release here.  That same or similar technology (so not a techie person) lets visitors today travel amid connected Open Sim grids.

Not all worlds are connected and even for those that have joined the hypergrid, travel is iffy. The technology isn't perfect by any means and there is also the issue of servers being offline. Some grids are running older hypergate protocols and can't be accessed from those on the newest version (Chic waves hand). So finding a one step ago system and THEN teleporting is the trick.

The location above is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places I have seen on any grid. The photo is now my personal wallpaper. You can get yours here - up to 2560 resolution.

Many of the hypergrid worlds are as you might suspect left in a time long ago. Most welcome grids host the same free files which honestly would have been marginal in my youth. Content is minimal in most cases.

Now and then though I have found some "good stuff". Now that definition is a relative term of course. We aren't talking BAIASTICE and Trompe Loeil here *wink*, but things that I would have kept maybe three or four years ago. And on Open Sim that works.

Happily I can make most everything I need. Even so, it gets a little boring wearing those overalls that took me ALL day to make. So when I found a small store where the owner appears to have retired from a larger grid, I was a happy gal. I even found a shop  that included  mesh clothing and fitted mesh. Only a few of those items fit me though. Skinny gals and fitted mesh (at least in its infancy) didn't go well together.

There are a fair amount of Take A Copy works like in the early days in SL. Most are 2006 vintage but again now and then there is a "oh my" moment and that is fun.

According to Hypergrid Business, "the total land area on OpenSim’s public grids rose by the equivalent of 1,616 standard regions to 52,180, the grids gained more than 6,000 new registered users." (a monthly figure)

That is a LOT of territory!

Why are folks flocking to OpenSim? Well it can't be content! There is certainly freedom with the "free" part underlined. There are several grids that offer free land to residents. You can run your own server and attach to a grid (also free) or you can opt for a very cheap sim ($4.61 a month in Canada and $8 on some other grids).

If you are looking for a place to visit with friends, teach virtual classes, create art -- it all works in OpenSim.

Not all Opensim grids are part of the hypergrid of course. There are choices among those running the server software. Some grids are completely closed with invitations needed to join the world, some are closed to the hypergrid but open to the public, some offer hypergrid visiting but goods cannot be taken AWAY from the grid (no export). All this is decided by the grid owner.

I have visited most of the popular places by now but Metropolis, where I finally got out of cloud status by a series of steps involving a hypergate and a Canadian decloud box, is growing quickly due to the offline status of the OS grid -- so more exploration is definitely in order there.

An account in any hypergrid world will let you explore the connected worlds. Happy adventuring.