Posted by Chic Aeon on Sunday, November 30, 2014
|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)
Posted by Chic Aeon on Friday, November 28, 2014
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Monday, November 17, 2014
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:
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.
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Saturday, November 15, 2014
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Thursday, November 13, 2014
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Monday, November 10, 2014
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Chic Aeon on Friday, November 7, 2014
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!!!!
Posted by Chic Aeon on Wednesday, November 5, 2014
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
Posted by Chic Aeon on Monday, November 3, 2014
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.