Wish List SL 2.0 and OpenSim


New buildings at MOSP - LEA7

It is my rez day as this posts. I am --- have to look that up -- seven.

Or am I?

I just turned one in Inworldz, I am a few months old in Canada and all sorts of ages hither and yon where I have plunked down roots if only for a short while.

When I started this Ebbe blog (for those of you not in the know, Chic at Phil's Place is nearing 4000 posts), it was about chronicling the beginnings of what is now called The Next Generation of Second Life.

It became more than that as, wide-eyed innocence in hand, I ventured back into OpenSim.

We are all connected -- corporeal or virtual. What impacts one, impacts the others. Even though many folks ventured away from SL in fits of rage, traveling to new worlds in hopes of "true freedom", they owe much of their virtual lives to the platform that birthed us all. They don't need to return; the genealogy is evident -- invisible bindings that stretch but never quite break.

As we move into 2015 and edge closer to the alpha unveiling of the new "revolutionary" platform, I have been pondering what I hope the new world will bring. And in some ways, the answer points to OpenSim. 

I suspect that if I took a poll of Second Life residents, up toward the top of their lists of "must haves" would be a better mesh avatar. Those are available in Second Life now as add-on purchases and I give many kudos to the intrepid designers who have done wonders with the mesh bodies. Still, they are a hack -- fitting over framework more than a decade old.

So, yes, I too would like joints that don't break with real life movements and poses; ones where Photoshop isn't needed to fix the photographic flaws.

But ego aside, my TOP request for SL 2.0 would be a fix of mesh physics.

(login.greatcanadiangrid.ca:8002:Parkville)
I am a multi-platform builder these days. Things made in OpenSim make their way to Second Life and sometimes the return path is traveled also.  Recently I wanted some filler buildings for my Parkville, OpenSim city. In SL I was once again short of prims on LEA7; some streamlining was called for.

The same building could be used in both places, no?

Well, yes and no.

Here's the story and for you non-mesh builder folks I will  keep it simple.

In Opensim each object be it a simple cube or those complex trees you see in the photo register as ONE land impact. I can't tell you how my mouth dropped open when I realized that. Inworldz by the way has its own accounting method for land impact.

But even more stress reducing for the mesh creator is that physics is not an issue. Most (or at least the grids I have been on) do the physics for you, don't take that factor into the upload cost and (except in the case of Avination) WORK!!!!!  

Making a doorway that you can walk through in Second Life isn't hard, but it is boring and tedious and the folks uploading in SL for the first time get very confused. You need a separate physics model (the basic shape of your build), you need to choose factors in the upload tab and then turn the mesh once rezzed in world to "prim" from "convex hull". And if all works as it should, you can THEN walk through your doorway or to the back wall of your room.


My building in Canada, with some spectacularly detailed iron barred windows weighs in at eleven (eight for the windows) with very good long distance viewing and reasonable physics. I am standing on the landing; no pose ball.

The same building  in Second Life without barred windows is 15 with a shorter viewing distance and I had to use many tricks to get it that low. To make the "same" building (still with iffy physics in SL) the cost would have been at least 48. I am not saying It couldn't be done, just that "I" could do no better.

There are in theory reasons for the land impact costs.  Stress on the server, etc. etc. I hear that quite often. But in my mind it is still about that land to "stuff" ratio model. With the advent of mesh and smart building we can have many more details on our lots or sims in SL. While an overabundance of mesh might slow the servers some, I haven't seen much evidence of that at LEA7. In OpenSim this is also true, just that with sometimes more than three times the number of prims available, it isn't so important.

What I DO see is that WEARABLE mesh in a crowded venue can bring even hefty computers to a crawl. So along with making mesh physics more automatic and  easier for the designers, I would hope that the new avatars can both look good and be gentler on our hardware.

I do have a wish list for OpenSim too.

I hope that some of the more creative thinkers begin to edge outside the box. I see the SL commercial model redone again and again in that "if we make it -- they will come" mode. Too many places to rent (some amazingly more expensive than Second Life), not enough community and often not enough tech support.

The next big thing is out there. It may be SL 2.0; it may come from a forward thinking OS entrepreneur. Whatever it might be, I'm looking forward to being there as it unfolds.


The Dividing Metaverse - A Look at 2015


SL or OS? Sometimes it is hard to tell.  Photo used with permission.


Two ends and one middle; the metaverse seems to be dividing.

Opensim is gaining new members as well as new land mass. Some opt for the free link up of their home computer hosted worlds, others go the less techie route with full 15,000 prim sims for as low as $5 a month.

Second Life seems to be steady and even if login numbers fall and land mass dwindles a bit, with the enormous slice of the metaverse pie, I suspect it will be going strong for some time.

And then there are the folks in the middle. With the metrics figures of the second and third most populated grids in decline it is pretty easy to see that things are shifting.


Let's look at some of the factors:

Second Life

  • The king of the hill with around 50,000 people online on average.
  • Always plenty to do and places to see.
  • The option of becoming a content creator and making income.

in relation to OpenSim

  • Plenty of locations but not all that many people online.
  • Places to explore if you are an adventurous hypergrid traveler.
  • Content creation with no charges but unlikely sales. 


Now let's turn those tables.

OpenSim

Free or almost free full sims; many free smaller residential lots.
No costs involved in creating; free shops often available.
NO PHYSICS ISSUES with mesh (OMG, it is lovely).


Second Life

Extremely expensive land.
Costs for uploading all content.
Those painful mesh physics issues.

It all depends on needs, but with two fairly clear-cut choices, what happens to the folks trying to bridge that middle ground?

Back in the Inworldz and Avination heyday (3-4 years ago) the offer of sims with three times the prims and a quarter of the cost was a draw. Content creators from SL (many of them big names) journeyed over to test the waters. There was an alternative to the high priced land and choices are good.

Some residents stayed, some went back to SL and some gave up on virtual living. For awhile the lands in the middle were fairly stable. But over the last year and especially the last few months, the logins have declined markedly.

What's going on and what does the future holds if this decline continues?

With only sketchy evidence, it seems two things are happening. Content creators are leaving Avination and Inworldz simply because sales are dismal. It doesn't make sense to go through the effort of uploading goods, packaging and marketing for minimal or non-existent sales. This has been a long term problem, but the Fall of 2014 seems to have been a tipping point. For the most part, people aren't buying; they aren't even shopping. Announcements are made that so-in-so is "coming over", yet they never actually arrive.

At the same time, other folks are moving to OpenSim where they can have a virtual life at minimal cost. It is the same draw that got the folks over to Inworldz and Avination a few years ago. 

Is everyone going to move to OpenSim where free is the keyword? Nope.
Is everyone going back to Second Life where the best content creators produce all we could ever wish for? No, on that too.

The middle ground is indeed in danger, at least from my point of view and that is sad as some folks consider their gap-bridging grids home.


Two bits of improvement have made OpenSim more attractive; the hypergrid and its continuing improvement in stability and the Kitely Marketplace.  With hundreds (actually thousands but some are pretty difficult to find) of viable worlds to explore and enough good quality free things to calm the worried fashionistas, it is looking pretty good. You won't often get the very best quality skins or home furnishings, but you most likely won't be paying for them either.

There is a new colony feel which bonds folks together.  The Kitely Marketplace has a fair number of very nice items that can be delivered to many OpenSim grids. There is even nice rigged mesh hair. Yes, it costs twice what it would in Second Life, but you might be saving as much at $300 US a month in tier -- that is a pretty good trade off.

So my crystal ball sees the continuance of the slow exodus from the middle to the high dollar and no currency grids. It would be comforting if all worlds could flourish, but the flow of people and dollars is a constant thing. Some folks will opt for that top notch prettiness; other for almost complete freedom with FREE the key part of the word.

For me -- both work. And I like it that way.

This Week in the Metaverse

It has been a busy week in the metaverse.

The big news for Second Life is the newly available  SL GO ap for Firestorm which promises "50FPS in a crowded region with a draw distance of 256 at full ultra with shadows graphics settings".   With my new graphics card and fairly high speed internet connection, I am not really a candidate -- at least it wouldn't seem so, but the last couple of days have been dire.

Crashing and stalls abounded on various sims (not mine but not busy ones either). I had to relog in order to continue projects and when running two avatars one could not see the pose the other was using -- something that normally doesn't occur. So the new deploys didn't work well for me, at least it seems that way. But according to official reports only the main server channel received updates.

The sims where I had issues were not ones I normally visit so it is difficult to say if the problem was "them" or "me". I did NOT update my Firestorm viewer yet, so no changes there.

SL GO will also work with OpenSim. 

There are plenty of venues going on as well as the normally huge amount of hunts. And then there is Advent. The realms have been busier than normal and the fifth occurrence of Tyrah's realm opened one day, the first time anyone I know had seen it.

The official grid statistics came out today, mirroring my not scientific at all view that both Inworldz and Avination had taken big hits this last month or two. 30 day user statistic are definitely lower than previously and according to Hypergrid Business " InWorldz lost 390 active users and Avination lost 297."  I can confirm how very slow it has been on both grids.

The big dra-ma (and it was that) has been over at Aviworlds where I am no longer. I can report on occurrences before my exodus however.  Here's a recap.  Alex announced the closing of the grid; Alex announced the selling of the grid; Alex announced the return as CEO and grid owner (unbeknownst to the then new owner). Renters were given a day (IF they found the message on the website) to lease their land once again. If they didn't accomplish that chore in those few hours, it was lost.  The next day Alex announced the closing of the hypergrid and the new commercial closed grid status of Aviworlds.

Whew!

It of course got very messy over on Opensim Virtual; the moderator deleted many posts that I never saw but was was available to read was bad enough. NOT, mind you as treacherous as the IW Forums which once again this week crucified a long time community member who had given hundreds of hours of volunteer time to their beloved grid.

Once the hypergrid closed there was no point for me to be in Aviworlds, and that bitter taste in my mouth wasn't encouraging me to stick around. I don't suspect Aviworlds will last more than a week or two at this point. Did I mention that more of the crew was fired and the CTO and webmaster left?

After a headspinning week in OpenSim and dizzy week of fashion and design blogging, it was nice to relax in Canada and just build with prims, an old pastime that I have rediscovered. 

I had a little personal fame and glory this week winning three prizes at the University of Western Australia's machinima expo. A long lost magazine article (MOSP and ME) publication came to light (very bizarre story) and I became the "staff hypergrid expert" at GCG.


Another interesting statistic is that the public hypergrid enabled platforms moved ahead of closed grids for the first time. Second Life is not included in that statistic.


Rising from the Almost Ashes - Aviworld

News in this early morn is that Mike Hart ( of racetracks and open waters fame) will be taking over Aviworlds.

From: Mike Hart

New Owner for AviWorlds|Hi Everyone. From today 10 December 2014. 
Mike Hart becomes the new Owner of AviWorlds.
I am hoping I can count on your continued support with Aviworlds.

When a Grid Dies

All things have a life span.

That's you and me as well as our avatars and our grid(s). We try not to think about death -- well most of us anyway. Still it is an inevitable part of life, even virtual life.

Aviworlds will cease to exist in a few days. With it goes our avatars. We can replace them on another grid, and in many instances we can replace the goods we made, found or purchased. Still "that life" is no longer.

I don't suspect Second Life to disappear any time soon. It may outlive some of us. I have a very bad real life photo on a 1995 Australian website that I would SO like to disappear quietly, but it ain't happening. Longevity appears in the strangest places.

Grids number 2 and 3 in the metaverse have been taking hits this holiday season. Monthly concurrency is down. I suspect that Second Life statistics mirror that but with transparency leaving the building some years ago it is difficult to tell. Obviously, the point.

The -- well let's call them boutique grids -- seem to be growing at a slow but steady pace. The half a hundred grid sized platforms do have a sense of community. It is quiet. Folks meet up and play games or party now and then. If you aren't trying to make money and don't need to have the newest and best goods, it works.

These days I have my builds on several grids. It was partly a adventure to begin with, now it is also a protection policy. 

Backups come in many forms. 



Aviworlds Gone Again December 12

Well if you were watching you had to know it was coming.

We can only surmise what went on behind the curtain.


From: Alex Ferraris

AviWorlds GRid|Attention

AviWorlds will shut down December 12. We have lost our CTO and our Web Developer 
I work 18 hours per day and it would be impossible for me to continue this project.
Thank you all

Alex Ferraris

Holiday Shopping in SL

December retail in SL.

Snow and Santa; Advent and Naughty 'n Nice bags. 

When something shifts, I want to figure out why. Postulations  and suppositions come into play and sometimes the actual answer is found. Sometimes not.

Retail in SL is different this holiday season. While the big name venues go on as before with the top notch folks, the second tier events have taken a hit. Some of those second tier folks (Chic waves her hand here) have apparently decided not to partake. There can be plenty of reasons. Mine is simply that I am overbooked in about five areas in SL and still want to keep a hand in the other worlds I visit and live in.

Annual retail celebrations are just as large as before -- some larger. But the quality of the offerings has diminished markedly.  This isn't just one event, this is several -- and the month is just beginning. Some very new and or not too talented folks have entered the game.

While everyone needs to start somewhere, a venue full of  2006 goods is not going to do well -- at least not with the folks that have been around awhile. For the most part, they are knowledgeable shoppers and do know the difference.

I can't imagine the folks in the themed holiday areas are going to do well. A few well known retailers simply put out the items they were required to (not an unheard of plan, just not the norm with "these" sellers) leaving the rest of their stores in minimalist decoration.  

Advent is always fun and while my fashion blog briefly announced a plan to showcase the best gifts each day, a midnight run as the season began was enough to sound the alarm. Not going to work. There ARE a handful of places giving out very nice gifts, just not enough to make cohesive posts. Workloads diminishing is an OK thing, but it is a little worrisome too.  The story is the same, plenty of content -- not enough quality.

Note December 3rd: The good news is that a lot of folks were just LATE, not absent. And there are still some with inactive calendars :D, but not as dire as it seemed. 



AT THE SAME TIME -- and also very interesting -- the Arcade yardsale items are flying off the racks. I was up early on December 1, headed over to my favorite sale yard (and got a tip from someone about another) and purchased the items I was looking for at the regular machine price. There were folks at the sales, but it wasn't super crowded.

An early evening trip found BOTH of the areas almost empty of goods. One is very large, the other more boutique. Folks were shopping ... 

Just in different places :D.





Grid Report December


3rdRock via hypergrid

The grids continued to be sluggish and slow in general during November with Avination and The Great Canadian Grid holding their own and making modest strides.

Avination has a holiday contest on. It is lovely and white and icy as far as the eye can see. My small build is underway.

The Great Canadian Grid has new citizens as well as some new sims to explore. I made a theater up in the city open to all. Head on over to Parkville if you want to watch some short films.


Inworldz continued to lose in the metrics game and reports from the forums (I seldom venture away from my store sim these days) mentioned that several Big Grid designers were in the process of leaving. They had come with an announced timeline for success and that didn't pan out, so they are heading out. That can't be good.

Toys for Tots preparation was the big event for November. If the traffic in my store's mall and my sales are any indication, things are not going well for retailers.

**************************************

The most interesting news of the month was the proposed new rental model in AviWorlds (now defunct) where the rules seem to change almost daily -- nope let's make that hourly. The free residential land became $150 a week land with camping stands put out in order for folks to make their "tier".

Less than a week later the pay every 10 minute camping boxes stopped working -- all that I could find anyway -- and the grid announcement stated that there was a new board where you click EACH 10 minutes to reap your rewards. On the plus side you would get paid (that wasn't always the case on the random money givers). The negative is of course that you really would have to pay attention.

But never fear, that happened so briefly that it was over almost before it was instigated. A notice on Google Plus at 5:33 pm said it was active. Checking in the morning showed that all boxes AND new board had disappeared. A new media screen had arrived.  The land rental (for now as I type this) is on hold.

The head spinning factor is dizzying.

Adding to that tenuous feeling Mike Hart pulled his 100 plus regions from the grid towards the end of the month. A long "conversation" on Opensim Virtual tells a story with a lot of deletions.  At this point I am not sure how many "partners" are still in the mix. The board with support folks and owners disappeared mid month.



****************************************


Second Life seems to be recovering from the unusual Fall retail slump -- at least in my little corner of the world. I still though see a lot of designers working way too hard (just my point of view) cranking out new releases for the plethora of venues that abound. Presumably they have bills to pay and since prices are generally dropping (yes in part thanks to the venues) the end dollars need to be made up somehow.

I was very happy to see a NEW WELCOME SCREEN on the Second Life webpage. I so hated the one before. So happy dancing in the streets here.


****************************************

Several new grids opened this month and 3rdRock went hypergrid. After a week or so I got the hyper part of gridding to work *wink* and found a very nice welcome area with some DIFFERENT items (a happy surprise). It is layed out nicely and easy to get around and a mentor was on duty when I and some others arrived.  

I found the Destinations kiosk and chose Ironbridge 1837 which is a lovelly role play sim with a quest and free role play garments. I will enjoy exploring there in the future.

grid.3rdrockgrid.com:8002  (type that into your search area in the map)





Cherry Manga Now in Opensim

If you follow the arts at all you know that Cherry Manga has been a prominent artist in SL for some time. I was happy to share a second place prize with her some years ago. It was only because there was a very small pool of creators I am sure *laugh*, but it made me happy.

I missed the party, finding her announcement on an OpenSim community portal, but she is closing her SL sim and will create now on the Franco grid where she has been for some while. Her long explanation is quite informative and perhaps a mirror of various artists. It has been evident since the TOS of August 2013 that many artists have stopped producing.

Whether it is because of those still faulty terms of service or simply a monetary thing, the numbers of those applying for grants as well as entering contests have noticeably declined.

Romping around OpenSim has been a pleasure and I have learned alot including my forgotten pleasure of prim building. (I AM much better and faster now than I was so that helps too.) I appreciate OpenSim for what it is and Second Life for what it is. Two different worlds, I exist happily in both.

I had to smile at Cherry's comment about avatars not obsessed with their nails and breasts. I have NEVER cared for prim boobs in any form on anyone so that wasn't an issue. Still, after seven years as a fashion blogger I DO want to look good. Happily I have found some places on various grids that generously give away some very nice things so that those of us that care CAN look good as we go about our hippie-like existence on the anti-establishment grids.

I wish Cherry all the best and will definitely be visiting from time to time. I have always enjoyed her work and plan to keep doing so -- on any grid.


Just Like Old New York

Designing Worlds had Thanksgiving a little early in virtual land; most attendees probably have events on Thursday should they be USA folks.

During the meal, LaPiscean Liberty gave his thoughts on that Next Generation Second Life. For me, his analogy was "spot on" as they say across the pond. He likened SL 1.0 to New York City. Not all parts of the city are impressive, new or up to date -- but there are still many folks who call it home.

I haven't actually been to New York City. A motel in the outer regions on a trip home from Morocco was as close as I came unless you count the airports. Still, you could say the same about San Francisco which I have visited often.

For me, SL is doing just fine. Not everything works perfectly but certainly better than it has in the past. There are plenty of things to do, TONS of people and lots of new shinies cropping up each week. We have the best designers for our type of virtual world and we can make or environment into our dream.

I am of course excited to see the new world. I don't expect I will be one of the first through the gates. I am not a big content creator and my fame points are only in a tiny circle *wink*. Still I will venture over when I can to see the vision and to likely make some new things in a new way for the new platform (that is SO what I do!).

Meanwhile, I wanted to pass on that great thought from LAP; there is something sort of cozy and comforting about it.

Bait and Switch?

Now I am going to try and be really fair here because I CAN see both sides of the issue.

AviWorlds sent out a message tonight apparently in the same time frame as this note went up on the Google Plus site:

Now there is nothing actually technically wrong with this statement -- but of course there is a but.  While the land may be free, the "tier" is not. It is -- as of this evening's announcement -- going to be $150 AVs per week ($75 linden dollars). Now this nothing of course -- 35 cents or so?  But still, it is bothersome.

The reasoning behind the decision is that some folks come, get free land and seldom return. That plunk a tree down and call it good syndrome.  I get that.

Camping boxes have been set up in various places (some are working -- some are not) and you can earn $3 per 10 minutes if you are the ONLY one there. If there are others? Well ya take your chances; they are random money givers. I did a little math an you need to camp for at LEAST 8.5 hours a week to keep your land plot.

For some folks that isn't a big deal. They can log themselves in while they are working or doing email or watching Hulu. For others, their virtual life time is limited; I doubt they will want to spend so much of their week standing around to pay for their "free" land.

Is this going to backfire? I am thinking yes. Folks with commercial sims could in theory pay their rent with the proceeds of sales. Then again they need to have sales. With a small grid that may or may not happen. 
Later Note: Commercial is free.


The most worrisome thing from my point of view (and I have already figured out I won't be making any art there so I am not personally invested) is that the rules seem to change weekly. I kinda like a bit more firm footing.

It IS all very interesting though -- and I like interesting.

The Future of VR - Desura Sale

Did you know that over a million dollars are paid out each week to Second Life content creators?

Learn this and a few more facts in a round table discussion on the future of virtual reality. Ebbe is one of the panel members.

See it here.

Also, Desura is no longer under the umbrella of The Lab. Read the press release here.

Venues Venues Everywhere


Are we having fun yet?

This is a screenshot of the monthly events from Seraphim's blog.  While they have most of the prestigious events covered, I am betting there are quite a few that didn't make it on the list.

Like hunts gone before, the venue addiction has blossomed into an overabundance of places to go things to see.

I don't shop. I don't keep up with all the places TO shop. I do note new events opening, mostly from notecards that come in blogger bundles. I am happy to be kept in the know one way or another *wink*.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy events -- the easy shopping, the "here is my special item for this venue" thing. When I buy things (not all that often) it is frequently at a specialty venue.

I notice some designers in a mad rush to be in just about every arena that is out there. Is this a good thing?  Some stops on the list seem to get left behind a bit in the frenzy to make something for everything.

I mentioned not long ago a downturn in sales (mine anyway and judging from the atmosphere others as well). This is odd for this time of year.  October has traditionally been a top month -- folks coming back after taking the summer off; that ghost and goblins fun thing etc.  Not so much this year.

The lackadaisical nature of Fall seems to translate over to other grids, not just SL. So we can probably cross of the "not buying new stuff because of the New World" factor.

In the scramble to make up lost revenue we have a onslaught (not new - just continuing) of EVENTS (yes, caps is called for). Happily (or sadly depending on your point of view) I think we are getting to the saturation point.

Of course I said that with hunts and they continue. However, hunting is SO not the same as it was a couple of years ago. Most of the shops that actually put out "good stuff" have opted out. There is -- now and then but rarely -- an old time version of "the great hunt" that we knew from days gone by. I have declined invitations this last year. Hunts used to bring in some new customers; in the recent past -- not so much.

So what might be The Next Big Idea?   You know there must be one out there. Still, it has been a long time since something new appeared in the sales generating arena.

I am watching -- as a bystander of course.

December Grid Report WAY early :D

OK. This isn't really the December Grid Report, but there is a lot going on out there and while I was going to START writing up the report and press that save button, it was not in the best interests of journalism.

So here is a brief update on "some" of the grids.


Great Canadian Grid

Great Canadian Grid has had lots of new residents this last month and are in the black so far as server bills and dev team salaries. I had been a bit worried when I saw folks disappearing from the free housing area, but no -- they were only leaving for their own sims.  As a non-profit enterprise, " It means from here on in, everything will be going towards more options, better modules and better service."

Money issues (aside from the opting into to Virwox system in order to either buy or sell goods) seems to be over and Virwox apparently will now work with vendors (maybe only some as I am not a vendor gal) which is a plus for all the grids. Thanks for Roddie's dev team for working so hard on that.



Aviworld

Things have been up and down of late with Aviworlds. On minute the grid had 418 regions, then next back to 300 something. Severs were down for regions at times, asset server (or the database for clothes and such) not working. Things were back to normal yesterday. I assumed that putting in new regions caused an issue.

Being a good little sleuth I checked the Google Plus group site to find that a grid merger had come and gone. There is an explanation there for anyone that wants more info. I expected that not all inclusions would go smoothly; that is just the nature of humanity.

I did note in the night (yes, I made an account with the intention of putting in an art installation -- we'll see if that works out) that there is a new multi sim area for kid's going up. Looks like it will be cute with a town and a playground. There is also a lovely oriental grid (I am guessing an OAR file) just up and lots of other places to explore.

Also on the plus side of the equation, there is now a search engine for the grid in the backend on the website. This makes it a bit easier to find things. I suspect that in order for things to show up they need to have that "show in search box" checked in the object tab of the item.

Another very important change (at least for now :D) is that the FREE LAND offer will not be going away on December 4, so all my musings in a previous post will never be proven either way. That's OK!  I noted a whole slew of new subdivided sandy sims on the grid waiting for new arrivals.


Kitely

Now I haven't been all that kind to Kitely in the past and apparently I don't have an account there; I thought I did but the database doesn't agree. I can visit via the Hypergrid though and that works well.

I also have a real life friend with an account in Kitely and he gave me a tour the other day. I was impressed with the improvements. I had noted on my hypergrid journeys that the wait time was much less. As I watched from the sidelines I saw that the way station has disappeared; you don't even notice the cloud aspect of the equation. Now, possibly if you went somewhere the server wasn't expecting, it might be there, but GREAT improvements!

I also got a brief view of the backend of the Kitely Market and I was very impressed with how well it worked and how intuitively. This is the best workflow model that I have seen for a virtual marketplace.





Land - Barons - Prims

As of December 4th, the free land on Aviworlds will be discontinued in favor of the land baron business model. This got me thinking about land in general and the prims to land connection.

Most virtual citizens live in Second Life or at least started out there. Before mesh came into the picture counting prims just wasn't a hobby, it was a necessity -- at least for folks on their "first land" 512 plots.  Land barons were firmly entrenched in the economy when I arrived seven or so years ago. Chung was a name in the real life news long before that.

Since the amount of STUFF you can have has always been directly tied to land size and seemingly what it could hold, we have always been at the mercy of the prim. People bought more land in order to have more pretty things or to expand their business. Mesh has in some ways buffered that by lowering the land impact on many good. What would have been 41 prims (my new outhouse) can be as little as 4 with half way across the sim LODs.

Even with the advent of mesh, we can run out of prims. LEA7 is close to full and I took down a build the other day in order to make way for new releases for the holidays. Now even though I am a careful land impact watcher, I am at the mercy of those darn "prims".

So what happens when you have MORE prims per parcel?  Well the need to count prims goes down. Many grids have a typical 45,000 prims per parcel ratio; some grids let you choose your prim allotment up to 100,000 prims. We used to think (in SL) that a piece of land was only ABLE to hold that many prims; we now know differently.

Indeed, even with MOSP filled with layers and layers of displays, the frames per second are still stable and good. There is little difference than when it was born a couple of years ago, possibly due to better server performance -- but still. The sim where my shop is hosted in Inworldz is using over 35,000 "prims" and has no unusual performance issues.

So while mesh is working on its kingly status in Second Life, it is not so well embraced on OpenSim and other grids based on the OpenSim platform. It has taken me almost a year to actually "get" that at a gut level. The idea was there but the ingrained prim counter in me still wasn't accepting that prims didn't count.

I have been a builder all my life -- even in real life *wink*. Currently I make mesh. Not a lot of mesh; I make things when I need them and then stick them up on the marketplace and sell some here and there. When I go to new worlds they are often begging (yes, literally) for content. A few discerning or perhaps newly transplanted consumers are happy to buy nicely made mesh items, but not because of the low prim count.

*****************************

So let's fast forward a bit and see how the shift to land baron status might play out and change the economy. It's an interesting exercise after all.

Currently in Aviworlds you can have one residential lot and one commercial lot (each a quarter sim) for free PER TYPIST (read the TOS folks). You may not combine lots with family members or build out over you neighbors land (well natch). 

Right now there are no smaller parcels that I can find. There are a few apartment looking places but they are not for rent -- really, what would the point be?

So as the year closes some entrepreneurial folks will no doubt buy up some sims and either divide them up into plots or build communities where folks can rent parcels. People will no longer have 3750 prims to play with, they will have 234 or 937 or whatever -- just like in Second Life. Prims will once again become precious for some.

You might think that mesh would become more popular at that time like it has in Second Life, but looking at Inworldz as a model, that hasn't proved true at all. People are still making and buying primmy stuff ala 2008; sculpts are actually king in all their laggy glory.

I took out one of my old installations the other day in order to port it over to a grid (more on that in another story) to find that I had made a ticket booth that consisted of an unbelievable amount of prims (like 80 maybe). This was from when I was given a 1/8 of a sim to play with and I was feeling very prim rich :D. Most of the rest of the build was good.

I imported, added some new mesh faux buildings and I was set. I could not in any way live with that 80 land impact ticket booth. I made it over in mesh -- better of course with a nicely cut out space for tickets and money to be exchanged as well as ambient shadow textures. It is one land impact. In OpenSim all single objects count as one no matter their size or complexity - and the physics work!

So I suspect that in 2015 SOME folks will take note of the possibilities that mesh adds when you are on a prim budget. Those on bigger parcels can happily build with prims.

And I have a secret -- I have been building with prims lately, giving myself a challenge to see what I can do with NO MESH.

It actually has been fun; I had forgotten.

Not as pretty, but BOY is it FAST!!!! 





The November Grid Report and AviWorlds

In the news this month is AviWorlds, in its latest reincarnation. I first read about AviWorlds on Hypergrid Business. Aviworlds made the news again recently when it merged with Next Reality grid.

Not needing yet another avatar account, the hypergrid was my travel method of choice. Happily there were portals at the entry point and the map was working so I had the ability to hop around. There is some outstanding content! I suspect the typical freebie spots are somewhere on the grid, but along with them there are huge regions -- a racetrack, a free to use university and a soon to arrive 36 region outer space area.

There are also free quarter sim plots for commercial (put that in quotes) and residential builds. Buy them for a dollar (you get a dollar with your AviWorlds account). When I journeyed around the commercial plot sims I found less commerce and more -- public works show and tell projects, so I am not clear on what "commercial" means for that grid. Best to ask before beginning your next large project.

There are also extremely well built free shops to use. Modern and centered around a plaza they are large enough for many small businesses. You apparently don't have to prove you are a great content creator. Even fledgling folks can have shops there and that is nice to see.

 **********************

Talking to a couple of English speaking folks I found, here is the scoop -- at least from there point of view.

The grid works well and seems to be most always up.

The biggest problem for English speaking folks is the apparent majority of Portuguese speakers. Hence, going with your Google Translator open is a good idea. It is managable and eventually folks understand each other.

The grid owner speaks English, so if he is around and hanging out at the entry point, you will be in luck.

** Making an account and logging in seems quite tricky as both folks mentioned this. So take a screenshot of the login page maybe?  Evidently there is something there that is confusing and figuring out what to type into the viewer to get your account going is a hit and miss type of thing. Maybe the powers that be can work on that as I suspect it is keeping folks away that would otherwise join.
 
Then general sense that I came away with is that folks feel wanted at Aviworlds and that the grid hierarchy is doing all that they can to make their stay their pleasant and worthwhile.

And MY grids:

Second Life

As I already mentioned October seemed slow for me this year. Many designers were quiet or just churning out stuff while a few produced some wondrous things. I had less to blog on Chic at Phil's Place and noted that other frequent bloggers were also on semi-hiatus.

It wasn't a big money month for me but let's call it "stable"; that works. According to the US real world reports, this could simply be a mirror of our corporeal lives.

InWorldz

Fright Fest was a big event in October. I didn't attend other than creating a half sim build, but with the amount of group announcements going out I have to assume it went well.

Numbers are down somewhat and that may be because the Inshape beta is completed?  I stay out of the fray these days, so can't speak with authority there.

Avination

Also slower than previously (a theme is forming I think) the folks are still very friendly. Numbers down a bit there also but that seems to be slowing so perhaps a new baseline has been formed.

Virtual Life

People come and people go and you notice that more on a small grid. The main (or maybe I should say "my") shopping center was taken over with some great improvements in look and style. Number seemed to have improved some for the now 45 region grid and logins seem stable.

The Great Canadian Grid

Things have not been good for Canada this month. Trying to appease those that wanted money the warm-hearted grid owner has been plagued with problems. Whether it is trying to work the money system into the grid or simply some bad code, the devs have seemingly been working hard with no permanent fix.

I get in very seldom these days and now and then the log in process changes a bunch of Firestorm settings which is disconcerting. A reboot usually fixes the issue. Still, it will be a game of catchup when things get fixed. Sometimes even seemingly good decisions turn out to have a problematic side. I wish them well.

Later note:  Money appears to be working now for those that have opted in and I also found out while chatting with the grid owner that lots of folks that had free many plots have opted to get their own sim. So evidently not everyone cares that much about the money thing. That's good to hear!





The Creative Chain Project

Creative woes. We all have them. Even it is as simple as what's to make for dinner. The previous post centered around creativity and consumerism (or lack thereof).

When you feel yourself in a box, the best way out is a plan. Enter the Creative Chain Project.

No I am not trying to start a movement, run for public office or even get a pat on the back. I am just here to present ONE way some folks are working their way out of a slump.

In some ways this reflects an idea from the Linden Endowment for the Arts project where one artist would make a build and then another would follow them and add to (with the ability to tear down) the previous build. While it was an interesting experiment, there weren't enough folks to keep it going -- perhaps because artists ARE very connected to their creations and rightfully so.

But this project is a house, not symbolic pieces of our souls. Here is our plan. If it sparks your interest, get your own group together. The project doesn't need to be a house. Any complex creation will do.

As instigator I started the ball rolling, sending a Firestorm oxp file (right click, save as, backup) of one of my old but popular builds. All prims, I sent without textures. So the starting point was set.

Next it has gone to a long time friend now retired from building but long ago and far away a well known creator. She is redoing the style some (enlarging I hear which will most likely elicit a round of applause for some folks) and adding all new textures. Walls are moving, windows being added -- you get the idea. And since she has just moved to a free quarter sim plot on Open Sim she is happy to be building "her house.

From there it goes to a texturing friend who will add extra depth to the chosen textures and make normal and specular maps and add them (bless her).

Then on to a mesh maker who will add a few embellishments and details and turn the build into a one piece mesh.

Then back to me who will TRY and get the physics to work in Second Life (grrrrrr).  The original build will likely never make it to the SL grid because textures being used are in part from CG Textures and that is illegal from both The Lab and CG textures point of view. If I get physics to work without too much pain, I might make all new textures OR perhaps put the old ones back on -- now that's an interesting thought.

The logistics are a little tricky as different folks are working on different grids but happily we have ways to save our builds back to our computers now and can email files or meet on grids we share and hand them over that way.

So that's our plan. Who knows how it will work out. But it is a plan and moving forward is almost always good.


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.

Hypergridding

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.

That Next Generation and the Entry Door

A few posts back I made a comment about SL 2.0 doing away with a uniform path for all new users -- that being my take on comments that were made on the Designing Worlds show.  That came into question and I agree that comments can be taken many ways AND what is planned at the moment may not be the end result.

Still, I was happy to see this post which echoed my take on Ebbe's comments. Watch the video and decide for yourself. This is kind of important stuff.

I have been busy hypergridding this last week and will write down some thoughts on that in the near future. In the process I was amazed that you can converse with someone on your home world while journeying around the metaverse. Very cool. While Ebbe stated long ago that this would likely not be possible between the current and new platforms  -- chiefly because of the vast differences in technology -- it would be a great step if the devs could somehow manage that bit of icing.

Many folks need safety blankets and having a friend to talk to while you journey far from your roots might just be the ticket.




Five Worlds


Too much work and not enough play, I decided it would be fun to chronicle my fives lives and current looks in each world. Along the way there will be some thoughts on the various grids I now inhabit.


Second Life

There is no question that Second Life is Queen of Content. We can have almost anything we can imagine and be anyone we want to be.

Along with long term content creators (Zaara above) there are lots of new kids on the block. Now whether they are really newcomers or simply alts made for that clean inventory aspect, it matters not. Beautiful things role out daily. Shoppers are faced with so many venues, the hard core of the bunch run out of both time and lindens.

The downsides still include:

Very expensive land
Upload costs
Physics model mesh hassles
Lots of competition


Inworldz

Growing at a steady pace lately -- possibly because of the InShape beta, you can have most of what you want here, at a less expensive price. There are fewer choices of course and except for a couple of exceptions none of the top name SL creators venture over or stay too long. For some folks this is a perfect place. Uploads are free.


The downsides still include:

Poor default avatars
Toxic official forums
Fewer top quality items





Avination

I ran into someone last week who told me he had twenty-eight folks coming over to his mall in the near future. That's sounds good. The people are friendly if sparse. Free shops are available and some are very large. Still the 30 day matrix numbers are not looking good.


The downsides still include:

Faulty mesh physics
Limited high quality items




Virtual Life

Oh look! It's the overalls again. Now to be fair there are clothes and other goods in VL, including mesh items. I am just a Tomboy at heart.

This is a small and friendly grid. Folks come and go though. From an outsider's viewpoint it seems like they expect to make a fortune here overnight, sort of like the Gold Rush days. It is unlikely that will happen, but the grid owner seems determined and things run well. It takes time.

The downsides still include:

Limited inhabitants



The Great Canadian Grid

I am having a great time in Canada as I think of it. Free homes, free stores, almost free sims and no upload fees. I have a city built and shops almost filled. I finally figured out how to "port" things more easily and have found older but very usable items on my hard drive that now have a new life on a new grid.

Much like Virtual Paradise, folks are coming in, grabbing land and shops and not returning. It could be though, that they are simply waiting for the money issue to work out. Long story, it will likely be resolved soon.  On the plus side for me, except for my skin -- which I actually remade from the textures that came in the pack -- everything I have I have created.

I have a sim in Second Life. It isn't really mine of course, I am merely the caretaker. I love MOSP and am thrilled to be able to design sets with the best items the grid has to offer. Still, there is something about building your own world. It works for me.


The downsides still include:

Money system still in progress


And if you made it all the way through my personal chronicle, there is a very short film on my new home you might like to see. Find it here.

I have to say it is VERY nice to have the option of adding materials again!


Saying Goodbye

I recently left a grid.

Well I am still there in body and my shop is still there and I have one good friend there (the only reason that I am there at all!). But in spirit I am gone.

One of the grid owners made a statement not long ago about the company you keep. Unfortunately the company on that grid was pretty toxic. Not everyone of course but enough to make you wonder why you bother.

Lots of bashing and negative comments, very few if any thank yous for energy expended and items given -- you get the idea.

In the end the grid is as much about the citizens as it is about the company that runs it. If one is bad, the grid suffers. If both are bad, its life is marked for failure.

We need to think about that and be kind to each other. If we are threatened we need to ask ourselves why we feel threatened, not lash out at the nearest scapegoat.

It would be good if The New World was a Utopia of bright and shiny goodness. Most likely it will embrace the best and the worst of what humanity has to offer.

Let's hope the good guys are in the majority.

The Next Generation Experience

"Experience" was the key word often mentioned in the recent talk by Ebbe Linden on Designing Worlds. "The Next Generation" seems to be the official name of The New World, so jot that down.

There was much talk about collaboration, inviting people into the content creator's worlds and building community within those worlds. Sifting through the breadcrumbs, more now than four months ago The Next Generation (see that wasn't so difficult to switch) appears to be a mix of ideas from several already in existence platforms. We have Linked In (especially in its infancy) with the invitation aspect as well as a possibility of some Kitely ideas.

If I muse on the subject with my seer glasses firmly attached I see a creator based platform (official statement) where those making mesh (still in the flow chart) mix with those new experience key aficionados (introduced into SL possibly for testing) to make a platform (Desura) where creators can collaborate (an often mentioned term in this talk) to build worlds and invite folks in.

There will apparently be no induction area pipeline for the new folks; instead the introduction to TNG will come within each of the "experiences". 

Now where would the profit come from? Well there might be a charge per experience like entering a gaming world, and indeed that does seem to be a likely plan at this point. Content creators might be able to sell there mesh, animations, rigged avatars etc. to those making said experiences in a kind of template market like many that exist on the web (that Desura link).

It has already been stated that "charges" to content creators will partially replace high land fees -- or at least that was my take on the statements made. In fact, TNG is beginning to look less like a home and more like a vacation spot that you might drop into from time to time. Since the goal is to have identities and lindens transfer between old and new worlds, that might work out very nicely. It also seems that even though TNG already looks better than SL  according to Ebbe, it might not fulfill all the needs of the current SL citizens.

Playing a game, enjoying a concert, attending a meeting isn't the same as LIVING in a virtual world -- and indeed many of us have done just that for many years.


Mesh or Prims

The Second Life grid is tied to the prims and land standard; 117 prims per 512 lot, 15000 per sim.

In the olden days, before mesh, it was tricky living on a "free" lot. People were forced to buy land in order to have prims to expand their businesses. Islands (1/3 more in cost in most cases) became available and the mainland exodus began.

Over at Inworldz and most Open Sim grids, there are three times as many prims per sim. Rental stores are frequently low on prim allotments, but the sims have plenty to spare.  Other grids have different rules; in some prims are dear still, in others they are given freely.

I ventured over to Inworldz last December when someone waved too many real life dollars in front of the typist's screen. I stayed, brought a few friends over and made a few new ones. With several businesses there (free uploads so there are no costs but time) I was very much enmeshed in mesh. After spending most of the previous winter learning, the skills were GOING to be used.

This summer I visited a large number of Open Sim grids, staying at some -- saying good-bye to others. It has taken me all this time to finally get that prims don't matter there. I knew it intellectually of course, but it wasn't a part of my natural belief system -- living so long in a world of prims to land mass limits.

Ebbe has stated that land prices will be lower in The New World. Also stated, content creators will be king. Mesh will be portable so we can surmise that much of the building will be centered around mesh. Prims may no longer be part of the equation.  There will be a new paradigm of course. I am wondering what it might be.

Cloud party had the "once it is on the server there are no more streaming costs" method and that worked well. Since TNW will most likely be on hand held devices as well as computers, the world will need to be "lighter" in many ways. So no avatar rendering costs in the unbelievable range for example, a good thing.

In the meantime, rediscovering prims has been fun. I have been taking some of my older buildings over to The Great Canadian Grid. With new textures, better mapping and normal and specular maps they look pretty spiffy! And since even the free places get 1000 prims (pretty much a 512 lot size although they are all different), worrying about the prim count isn't a problem.

After all the effort of learning Blender, it will be a companion still. Both are useful -- at least for the present.



Grids Status Reports

In five worlds now this gal is such a grid hopper. Here is a rundown on what I see as October begins.

SL seems to still be going strong sales wise. There were a few dire days there but they were made up for by stellar ones, so stable seems to be a correct term -- from my point of view anyway. There are still venues opening at every turn and plenty of folks sitting on their mouse buttons trying to get in at the FIRST opportunity.

Inworldz's stats are good. I notice over 300 people online often these days. FrightFest (a Founder supported event) is in the works and yours truly has her build almost complete -- some poseball additions and I am done.

I am still not happy that materials haven't arrived as promised. June was the date and now we are looking at "the end of the year". More on that as you get further down the page.

Avination? Well statistically it isn't looking good. The monthly log in figures are going down. I am not keeping a daily count or anything but I can note which direction things are heading in. I wasn't in Avination during the heydays, but from a newcomer's perspective it seems like the grid has peeked. It may have a resurrection and I hope it does. There have been many good choices on the grid. Perhaps it is meant to be a place for more closed systems like schools and organizations. There is honestly nothing I want to buy there -- and that is not a good sign in my book.

Virtual Life is growing consistently and at a fairly rapid pace. There have been some folks leaving the building almost before arrival (well at least one that dropped noticeable  breadcrumbs) and there were a handful of folks that apparently came in the very beginning and left after a month  -- well THAT didn't make much sense. The rents are literally seven cents a week for a huge store and 300 prims -- so why not STAY. My head shakes a bit.

VL has a couple of things going for it. The grid owner is the programmer and is on top of things AND accessible. There are weekly grid meetings with everyone welcome and there are several folks working on things to make the grid "seem" bigger than it is -- gridwide hunts and a shopping venue. There is also at least one role play sim (maybe more). So a healthy start for a new grid.

The Great Canadian Grid has taken a very different path with free land for homes and free (huge, very nice and with 1000 prims - oh my!) shops. There ARE some issues of course. Tuesday one sim completely disappeared (well the land mass remained). It was back on the map by evening - perhaps before. I met someone during the excitement and he is now my new neighbor. A fellow builder, we can compare notes.


Now to be fair, it was a tough week on all the grids with Second Life being the winner in the momentary disaster department with the mesh server at LEA7 ceasing to function on ominous Tuesday. Having no idea that could even happen, it took awhile before clarity reigned and the region was restarted. The following day there was a long period of inaccessible database.

There were bizarre rollbacks on two other grids and particles were broken on another. Virtual life is not without issues.



On the PLUS SIDE, I discovered by chance that TGCG has MATERIALS enabled. Now Avination has stated they have materials but I cannot get them to stick. They do work perfectly in TGCG (none of the alignment problems of SL - so far anyway).

There are a few other mysterious phenomena that have appeared concerning importing mesh that has had material layers applied -- the maps seems to carryover in not the best of ways to the next grid. Since TGCG is the first OS grid that I know of to have materials more testing will be needed and workarounds found. Only the builders will care.

And a bit of news for musicians that  just came in  from TGCG:

if you play here unlike some grids...we are and made sure of before opening the doors that you our residents were protected...look up SOCAN...we at the GCG are licensed here for you to do whatever and play however
Hopefully the folks that need to know this will understand what it means!



Go forth.
Explore. 

And Over At High Fidelity

I haven't been to the High Fidelity website in awhile, but found myself there one late evening a week ago as you read this. News has definitely changed since my last visit; details are fleshing out.

They are in alpha testing now and of course I am not one of the testers :D. Once I saw the direction the project was heading in I knew it was not my thing and I was not their audience. An interesting concept, it may certainly be successful. There are many very popular bits of technology that are just not my thing.

One of the most interesting additions to the information pool was the statement that there would be crypto currency in sort of a wind generated power going back to the energy grid sort of system.

"Creators of virtual worlds using High Fidelity software can contribute their servers and other devices to each other for scalability, using a digital currency that compensates participants for shared machine time."

So venture over to their website if you are one that likes gear and lots of digital interaction! It may just be the new world for you. 

New Grid on the Block


As I start to type this post, I am reflecting on my initial purpose of this blog -- to chronicle the move from SL 1.0 to SL 2.0 otherwise known fondly in some circles as "The New World". In fact, that is not what this blog has turned out to be -- so far at least.

There really isn't all that much news about TNW; instead my typings have become a look at the Metaverse at large. Not a bad thing really and I am definitely enjoying my adventures.

This afternoon after a frenzied and productive day on three grids (SL didn't make it into Saturday's line up) I spent a couple of hours (2.33 to be exact exploring the new grid on the block, The Great Canadian Grid.  I heard about the grid -- well there was reference to a new grid that was competition so I of course did some sleuthing and found it readily -- at a grid meeting. Ya just never know.

After a long day of work, I decided to give myself a break; yesterday I actually got a little bitchy by Miller Time and that is an unusual occurrence in my compulsively creative world. So, a busman's holiday was in order.

I went to the website, read through the literature including the TOS (very reasonable except for the "we can change this any time and you are still abiding by it" clause -oh well). I already had the grid in my Firestorm list by the time I made my new account.

Here is a short rundown of my adventures and first impressions of the grid.


************************************

I landed at a very pretty welcome area, a sort of Canadian wilderness lodge. There was a grid founder (you can tell by the last names -- see I DID read the literature) present but I didn't chat him up. I was busy looking at my orange cloud status. After several trips to the Metropolis grid (No Money Ever!) I never got past the cloud thing. The grid is apparently having some database issues and entering the world is one of them.

Now the founders of TGCG had this covered (hear loud clapping here as yet another account that I couldn't use was NOT on my want list). There was a big sign saying "decloud here" or whatever. I clicked the sign and got a box (OK. Demerit for the box thing which appeared later in the story. Just give the CONTENTS folks!). So I had to find a sandbox.

Typing in Sandbox on the map found it. Well you would expect that but happy it worked. I TPed to the sandbox complete with how to build charts that I have seen in other OS grids as well as the ubiquitous script and sculpt library  and opened the box. The top photo reflects my new REZZED look.

Yes, I am solid white with the spookiest (timely on that with October approaching) eyes. Those eyes REALLY got me. The clothes weren't bad but my hands were not good and the shoe base was missing on the shoes -- so they disappeared quickly.

I journeyed off to find A Better Newbie Look.

Now I have a lot of things I have made on previous adventures. I even had a modified Elliot skin that I had uploaded in IW for the sim's freebie shop. But FINDING the files on my computer was an issue. And discovering what was available was good -- both for you and me.

The on every OS grid I have visited Freebie Mall was there. Honestly I bypassed that. I found another freebie area -- also OS based and often seen. There were some skins there as well as some three year old clothes (a typical OS look - no disrespect intended). I explored a bit more and finally found the:

FREE CREATORS MALL.

The shops are huge and very nice and the whole shopping sim is quite snazzy in a minimalist way that I love. Big points there. Now just how do I get said free shop?  Well --- there is a Live Help button on the website, so I wrote to "live help". LOL

Now live helper 1, 2 and 3 were apparently all at dinner so I left a message asking how to get a shop, putting in my SL Marketplace URL (needed in Avination so seemed like a plan) and the location of the shop I liked.  Onward ----

Now this is a new grid -- a VERY new grid. There is little there besides what the grid owners have place (malls, freebie shops etc.) But, while I was trying to find the FREE CREATORS MALL, I stumbled upon the FREE LOTS. First I found the riverside lots (pine trees if I remember, green). It had a fair number of basic prim houses in residence.

A bit later I found the free BEACH lots with only one other house there. I decided that having my pick of lots (and choosing ocean vista) was a good choice. Beach it is.

My top photo was taken right after hitting the rental sign. I got a message saying to be sure and hit it again within two weeks (or IN two weeks, not sure on that) so that my stuff doesn't get returned.


This is me standing in front of my imported linkset Bayou Shack (seemed beachy enough for the locale) with landscaping, my wear on all grids overalls with tank -- well, it IS the beach -- and some hair that I made for a friend. At the moment my doors don't open. I forgot that not all OS grids can use my fancy door script. But I have one that does work on other grids so I'll stick that in tomorrow.

And as I look at the photo I see I need to hunt up my wood texture for the poles. Plain VERY smooth paint was not the plan!  [Later Note: Oddly when I logged in later the wood textures WERE there.]

With 1000 prims I can't possibly run out. And presumably I can make a workpad up at 3,000 meters for importing.

Now like all grids there are pluses and minuses. Of course the fact that there are VERY VERY VERY few people and almost nothing to buy is on the negative side of the ledger. On the positive side?  It is the cheapest grid out there with $5 Canadian a month (so $4.50 US) for a SL type sim (15,000 prims).

There is currency but no cash out at the moment. The website appears to suggest that ability will come and this is not a  "No Money Ever" OS grid *wink*.

It will be fun being a part of this new grid. I have never been THIS EARLY of a pioneer. Now tomorrow I really need to upload some shoes and maybe a chair to sit by the water.

That' the story. May you find your own adventures.

Keeping Connections

Last week as you read this I had the opportunity to catch up with an old virtual acquaintance. We met at Iheartsl when it was young and a community blog. We have kept in touch in that every few months fashion over the years.

HISTORY is important. FRIENDS (however you may define the term) are also. It is smart of The Lab to transfer our friends list over to the new world. Certainly there will be folks in our collection that are not actually there -- but still it will give us a feeling of transition.

I have a few friends from my youth. Most are real life folks who now and then still log on. Some are people I met in my early days. Many folks in my list are designers who I suspect just want to keep track of me in case they want to send review copies. It all works.

On of the things that keep people returning to their virtual world of choice is the connections they have made with others. On one grid I log in simply to chat with the lady that gave me a home there. We also email and discuss life in both virtual and corporeal existences.

I am not a big networker. I really don't need to know everything everyone does at each hour of the day. But I do like to keep in touch.

It would be quite spectacular if we could chat BETWEEN SL 1.0 and SL 2.0. That has been hinted at but I have no idea how difficult that might be.

Here's hoping it can be done.

When a Grid Dies

I have been a resident of two grids during the last months of their existence. I watched hundreds of hours or work disappear. It was sad on many levels.


And yet, I wasn't angry. I didn't wave my fist at the platform owners or blame them for mistakes and choices. They were doing what they believed was best for them, or perhaps what they thought was their only choice.

Each citizen on each grid takes a chance. We trust that our homes and stores will be around awhile. That is the aim of the company too of course, but sometimes it doesn't work out as planned. In small businesses it could be conflicts among partners, waning of interest, not to be ignored, pressing real life issues. In bigger arenas it is almost always about the ledger's bottom line.

I have visited many grids over the summer. None of them seem as healthy as Second Life. There are problems and issues, certainly. There always have been. But the servers seem to be working close to flawlessly. Improvements are added regularly; no shoot off the fireworks changes, but small things that enhance our virtual lives.

Some grids seem on the edge, others appear determined to make their dream a success. SL is the largest and longest running platform out there. The economy is strong and seemingly stable.

The New World is a long way off and this does seem to be the safest port for now.

******************
 
And a PS added in the eve as I fix a typo :D. The ONE remaining realm is now fixed and while not overflowing with crystals as it have been a few notable times, there are no broken areas and a hud come to you on entry. So yeah for fixing that. I hope it stays. 

I understand that this is money going out for The Lab with not much reward. I also see the realms being advertised as a "come see us in SL" type ad, so obviously -- unless there are changes -- it needs to go on. Traffic has slowed a lot there, not even as many new folks as there were in early summer. Still, it may have a resurrection. I am just glad it is actually working on all fronts: I haven't seen that in well over a year.

Where have the new creators gone?

I have noted something over the last months. Thinking that it might have just been a "summer slow season" effect, I pushed the idea aside. But it is Fall now; school is back in session, vacations mostly over -- time to get back to work.

And you know what? The forums are dead. Yes, of course there are the always present ads for land sales and rentals and "hostess" and dancer jobs, but there is very (VERY) little real knowledge being traded.

A year or so ago the mesh forum and the texture forum were alive with problems, questions and answers -- many of them mine :D. While I have worked out most of my mesh making issues, you would think others would be coming in and taking my place. And for awhile they did.

The activity downturn seemed to coincide roughly with the New World announcement. Now why would that be?

I can only come up with one answer. New folks thinking about coming into Second Life to make their mark in mesh or some other creation area may be waiting to see what the differences will be in the next generation world. That makes sense really. Why spend time and energy investing in a platform that is being replaced.  Hence the quiet.



We don't actually need more creators; we definitely have plenty in most areas. 

Or do we?

What are we missing? Folks to make clothes for all the newly arrived mesh avatar bodies for one thing. With The Mesh Project, Slink and Belleza all on the bandwagon for gals and Tellaq (and perhaps others) out there for the boys, we can all look pretty damn good naked. And I hear that the Belleza body especially works well with regular mesh clothes.TMP and Tellaq are not in the clothed camp yet. Slink works "sometimes".

It seems pretty obvious that the new SL will be mesh based (not in the legacy format); we are so obviously heading in that direction even is SL 1.0.  If there are new folks thinking about coming in, it is unlikely that they are the designers to fill this gap. By now the people that were interested in creation for creation's sake are here -- more than a decade gave them plenty of time to join in the party.

There must be new kids on the block looking to become part of the content creator pool, but I am guessing that they are in that workshop category, not original creators. I HAVE seen posts asking how to use AO maps on purchased mesh for example.

While the forums are not a definitive guideline on what is happening with the creator pool, it is a pulse of a trend. Happily, the top original creators seem to be in a frantic pace to keep up with all their sales opportunities giving us plenty of wonderful goods to purchase.

A Better Plan - Groups

The long awaited Belleza mesh body for gals was just released.

Since the  Belleza sim has been packed for days with avatars popping in and asking, "is it here yet?" it was probably a wise plan NOT to have the demo available at the new store. And as I type this the sim, previously closed in the night is now full -- most likely with avatars looking for the mesh body and or demo.

I haven't  been in the Belleza group for a long while, using my group slots mostly for work and blogging affiliations. But I do have several friends in the group including some guys. One got a group message in the night with the demo attached. Well, they got an EMAIL saying that there was a demo waiting for them. It wasn't there. The others (maybe five that I wrote to and answered my question) said they knew nothing and that the archives of the group are empty with not even a "no past notices" textblock.

So THAT didn't work.

It is not Belleza's fault. With a group of over 45,000,  the system simply broke; at least that's my guess. The demo given via group was a decent plan and perhaps the best available, but large groups haven't worked in SL in years.

Originally groups were made for land use sharing and perhaps to add a sense of community for like minded folks. Then the size of groups became part of the search engine hierarchy and stores scrambled to get the largest sized groups in their category. There were free gifts, free money, free joining (fees waved)  -- on and on. Eventually some groups got to be huge and along the way stopped working in most any sense of the word.

I suspect the Belleza folks have figured this out by now and hopefully the 45 folks in the new store are at least waiting in line to get the demo. (Yes, that was verified while I was proofreading).  I am guessing many are buying without the demo. It may very well be an Arcade type frenzy.

So while "groups will transfer over to the new grid", it is important that they also actually WORK over on the new grid. That seems to be a glaring statement, but it is sometimes easy to overlook the obvious when you are deeply enmeshed in creating the new and wonderful.