The New Marketplace

What's a girl to do when frustration gets overwhelming? Well put on her skimpiest bikini and get in a little beach time.

It started a couple of days ago when I read that a merchant had their store deleted during the upload process of the new marketplace.

Now I was looking forward to the new and improved market. Admittedly, marketplace listing is at the bottom of my fun to do list in the retailer area, right above "networking" which I simply do not do. But still, improvements are good and I could see in part the wisdom of having store inventory kept in databases of the shop owners. Well it seemed like a good idea.

Then I found out that a friend of mine who I work with sometimes had his store corrupted somehow. Now he cannot delete unlisted items (maybe he never could, I don't know if that is a feature or not) OR upload anything new (now that's a biggie). His numerous existing items seem to be OK -- at least for now.

He is of course not happy and had that "leaving the building look" in his eye (OK, it was an IM but you get my drift). So he is taking a break in hopes that they fix things. Support was of no help. Many of us have been there before :D.

In the meantime, I have been working my key combo fingers to the bone in Blender making a cycles rendered skybox -- not a simple thing and at the fineness of my renders it takes 40 minutes to process with many tries to get what I want. Lesson learned there -- well part way through and it was learned, but I am a stubborn gal and so I finished with many house cleaning breaks while Blender looked at numerous light sources and various textures in an attempt to be real.

I got my skybox finished and up on the Kitely Market in OpenSim. I had already tested much of the build in SL on the beta grid and even had most of the SL physics correct (First try! I was so happy). Planning to upload and use in SL and put in my store ...

And here I am today.

Do I want to take the chance of losing my 100 items store (for awhile most likely but awhile translates into dollars) OR the ability to upload items (again maybe short term, maybe not so short).

A long time friend of mine of real world status who has been working in e-commerce backends from the beginning of e-commerce explained that the "live" nature of the market while pretty impressive makes it also very difficult to  -- well "fix" works in layman's terms.

Indeed my market store friend with the issues received continuous emails  (many pages worth deleted) of "unlisted due to failed delivery" messages even after reporting -- and he apparently has marketplace notifications off.   I don't want to deal with that either.

Since I believe that stumbling blocks often offer opportunities I tried to look at the last few days in that light. So what could I do if I was unwilling to take a chance with the current state of affairs?

Well I could, it seems, make a new account and upload things that way. I couldn't find anything saying that was against the rules although it might be in there somewhere.  Could I have my alt (already with payment info on file and mesh upload certified) make a store? Much easier.

Well NO, apparently not. She could not get the website to accept her acceptance of the marketplace terms. There is also a note on the marketplace front page stating that the viewer based browser won't finalize orders for some folks -- so apparently website problems. 

I could ask my RL ex to make a store (he has my RL credit card so that is about as trusting as ya get), but I didn't want to drag him into all this -- and what is to say he would have better luck making a store?  I could possibly partner with a good friend who already has a store (although empty at the moment) and give her part of the profits for uploading hassles.

None of these options are making me want to do a song and dance.

Now I know there are always issues when a big change occurs. I know databases are often problematic; I have certainly lost plenty of virtual  things over the years due to there quixotic nature. But in the back of my mind I kinda feel like the SL folks are being used as beta testers. Is this leading to the improved Sansar Marketplace?

There seem to be many good changes, but at least in the old days a store owner could often fix their issues. With this new model, most of the power is with the tech folks running the show. I am not sure if I like the trade off.

So, after a very long day and lots of thinking, I guess my plan is simply to do nothing so far as the Marketplace goes. I have noted lately that a lot of the big name folks are NOT on the market -- or are not uploading anything new. This was before the changes, so not due to that. Maybe it is the percentage deducted?  I have no issue with that; the Marketplace is a service after all. Maybe the just don't like the extra hassle?  Well I really get that one.

Perhaps taking a step back to when shopping was inworld wouldn't be such a bad thing.  There was a certain charm there. Exploring. Experiencing.

And so ends my very long and frustrated musing of the day. May the issue rectify themselves soon.  

A Comment on a comment - SL versus OS

Just for myself mostly, I wanted to repost (save) a comment I made on the blog of someone newly exploring Opensim. Over ten years old in SL, she does have some background in VR. She visited Inworldz and now Kitely, but has yet to actually discover what Opensim and the hypergrid is all about. *wink*

Talla pretty much said it all. In my experience CURRENTLY Kitely is a much better choice than IW. From all accounts and the folks that I talk to still in IW (and login statistics) like most or all closed commercial grids, IW is in decline. SL is too of course, but it is so big and with THE BEST content creators that slow decline doesn't count for all that much.

Most of us have been where you are, trying out worlds. The thing that may take you some time to understand is that the hypergrid OS "is" in many ways the equivalent of a grid such as SL. So while there may not be that many folks in Kitely, there is the WHOLE hypergrid that is actually part of your world. Things are very different here and there is no way to grasp that in a few weeks.

IW has very little to do with OpenSim even though it is technically part of it due to the platform. They have a model much like SL only cheaper. That worked for a long while, but now there is plenty of evidence that shows the hypergrid is the growing part of the metaverse.

Time will tell. I was in the alpha program at Hi Fidelity but there are MAJOR issues for content creators there that don't seem to be on the docket for change. That means it will be the hobbiest creators that make up the world. That isn't a bad thing, just that I don't see that we should expect top notch SL content there. When I was there briefly, well known designers were leaving in mass simply because publishing content there was much like giving it to the world (there is that issue in OpenSim in general also so I am not saying OS is better than HiFi in that regard *wink*). 

From all that I can tell, the studies I have done and people I have talked to. Sansar will be very different from SL. For some it will work, for others not. The same for Hi Fidelity. Honestly at this point, I don't see any clear winner. They all have their pluses and minuses and it will depend on the individual which one fits the best.

And I don't see SL going away any time soon -- even five years as you say. Too many folks have too much invested and The Lab is doing a good job keeping things current and making improvements. True, it is old architecture, but it is amazing what folks on their own have figured out to make it as good as it can be. With my Maitreya body and Lelutka head, I look DAMN good *wink*.   I am not sure what my inventory is worth at the moment but it could easily be $10,000 US and I have thrown about five times that or more away (I have been blogging for eight years). It would take a lot for me to abandon all that goodness.

I love OpenSim for what it is. Free. Easy. Less drama. Creative. Sharing. It will never REPLACE SL for me. It is a different world with a different draw. I think there is room for both.

VR - A Look Mid Year

There is plenty to say about the trends in virtual reality this year, but as a friend of mine stated the other day, "we won't really know who the winners are for a couple of years." I think he is correct with that summation.

With two new contenders in the wings, one with plans fairly well stated, the other a little more vague -- there will be possibilities. Hopefully everyone can find their perfect home.

Hi Fidelity seems to be geared for the stated theme of the "3D web" with freedom being a big part of the equation.  Sansar (SL 2.0) appears to have the content creator's safety as a high concern and will likely appeal to some of the big time designers.  We can't really say how the platforms will unfold at this point; even those etched in concrete plans can take detours along the roadway to a completed project.

We CAN say that OpenSim is growing by leaps and bounds, both land and residents. The almost free nature of that platform has much to do with the popularity. Creation is mostly for fun and while there are a few lovely builds, much of the content is made for enjoyment rather than monetary gain. The big gun designers will not be journeying over any time soon IMHO, the citizens in general aren't the same addicted buyers that Second Life hosts -- they mostly  build themselves or make do.

Second Life, still in steady but VERY slow decline seems to be having a very lazy summer. I honestly can't remember such a yawn-y one :D.  That may just be my world, but I hear it from others and it isn't JUST Second Life -- it seems to be all or most VR worlds.

My business is quite good "for summer" -- especially since I gave up my demo area last month. But I sell "niche" in The Lab's domain. More mainstream designers seem to be feeling those summer woes. To either compensate or cope, some have upped their releases and event appearances -- others have taken August off.

Still, conversation on the SL forums is way down and events less often (or at least publicized less often). Some role play areas are doing exceptionally well with sims close to busting at times, but they seem to be the exception. It is all subjective of course. Some folks may be in their busiest August ever, building new sims or stores or creating art. My little corner of the world might simply be out of sync with others.

Back in the OpenSim camp, the big revelation this year was the embracing of hypergrid enabled (open) grids over closed commercial grids. Those based more on the SL model have been in marked decline -- generally speaking. Inworldz took a big hit this late Spring when the private marketplace, Inbiz, went down.  Research hasn't found any info about the missing owner; I only have forums and resident input to go on. I lost money, but not much. Others who did not regularly take their Izzies out could have lost a substantial amount.

A new market is planned and underway and you can read about it on this thread.  I won't be taking part. From all I know Wolf Hartnell is a very upstanding and honest man and my dealings with him were always pleasant and businesslike, but the process is too much energy expenditure for too little rewards.  This whole issue points out how tenuous resident owned business can be -- on any grid. To me, it does seem safer when the marketplace is owned by the grid company as in Second Life or Kitely.  

It will be interesting to see how the established worlds hold their own against the newcomers. I am thinking they might do quite well. There is something comforting about that well-worn and comfy velour shirt -- that one you just CAN'T seem to give up *wink*. 

Ebbe Speaks on Sansar

screenshot from the website

In a recent video Ebbe talks more about Project Sansar. There were a few tiny new breadcrumbs of news as well as some reiteration of previously revealed behind the scenes info. Things still seem to be a year away for the general public folks with some handpicked intrepid testers joining the team soon.

A few snippets of conversation seemed to be contradictory, but then we are looking in from the outside. The theme more of a platform - less of a world was echoed once more.

What interested me most as a content creator was a passing comment about building in Maya and publishing directly into Sansar.  This said alongside a comment about making the creation process easier.  Seemingly a dichotomy? Again, difficult to say from our outsider perspective.

In earlier reports Blender and other 3D softwares were to be supported eventually and hopefully this is still true. If not, the creator base will definitely be  shifted.

I looked up the cost of Maya. I have no plans to learn or purchase, but as I remembered the price was a hefty one. The license fee software will only be a monthly or quarterly charge in the future ($123 a month currently) with no perpetual license available.

That means instead of paying high prices for land, content creators might be spending that money in order to access the tools needed for Sansar. A larger cut of sales will be going towards paying for the platform; that seems to be a certainty as the plan is repeated often.

There was no longer a mention of tools for inworld building, but could there possibly be an integration with Maya for inworld use?  That would level the playing field just a bit. At the moment it is the only answer I can come up with that blends the revealed parts of the puzzle. 

In the meantime I will just be working on my Blender skills, content with the VR worlds I presently call home.