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.

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.


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.


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.