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.

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


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


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.