Before I get back to Seconderth (16 posted, a mere 31 left – oy veh!), it’s time for another one of those “loose ends” posts. I haven’t just been busy on the blog.
Inroads into InWorldz
Taking a cue from some “evangelists” in SLUniverse, I created an account in InWorldz back in early April — mostly to reserve the name, though why anyone else would want to pass themselves off as Lalo Telling is beyond me… Their website led me to believe that the Hippo viewer was usable there, and I already had that for use in OSGrid (because Emerald still refuses to load textures in OpenSim worlds). But Hippo wouldn’t stay connected – couldn’t even complete the login. So I set InWorldz aside for a while.
Then around Memorial Day, I caught “the building bug” as a side effect of a new friendship, using a platform in the sky above her rented parcel and cranking out some decent work as a team… even packed them up and listed them on XStreetSL (haven’t sold any). Then the June 9 Earthquake happened at the Lab. In the aftermath, while talking about alternative grids, I mentioned my sim in OSGrid, and that some people had been talking up InWorldz. We decided to check it out. This time, I installed the InWorldz viewer (yet another branch/clone of the old reliable Linden 1.23.5).
That was three weeks ago. In the intervening time, Imprudence’s latest beta (1.3.0 beta 5) fixed the problem it was having staying logged into InWorldz. Now we’re both using that, making converts to it, and building like crazy:
OSGrid claims 4806 regions connected to it. The real number may be somewhat less than that, as they’ve admitted themselves. They also count 4,965 “active users”: those who have logged in within the past 30 days (with no mention made of login duration). Their total registration is 43,858; peak concurrency in a day averages 120.
By contrast: InWorldz has 274 regions and 6945 members. Unfortunately, the only way to learn this — or to get an idea of concurrency — is to go to their log-in page; they don’t publish running statistics, however much they should. In my time there, I have not seen concurrent logins below 60, nor above 99, so let’s call it 80 for a working average maximum.
What’s steering the sign-ups to the smaller, newer grid? “It’s the economy, stupid.” InWorldz has one, OSGrid deliberately does not. When I first established my sim in OSG, I was about as gung-ho as one could get about the complete lack of cost to be there, since my region was self-hosted on my desktop. As I posted back in February, it all felt very much like pioneering. But, just like real pioneering, it was lonely. The numbers bear it out:
SL: 50,000 median concurrent/1.4 million “active” = ~ 2%
50,000/19.7 million total accounts = 0.25%
OSG: 120 max concurrent/~5000 active = 2.4%
120/~44,000 total accounts = 0.27%
IW: ~80 concurrent/~7000 total = 1.4% — better than five times SL’s participation rate, and six times OSG’s.
SL: 50,000 concurrent/31,846 regions = 1.6 avs/sim
OSG: 120 concurrent/4806 regions = 0.025 avs/sim
IW: 80 concurrent/274 regions = 0.29 avs/sim — a long way to go to reach SL’s density, but almost 12 times OSG’s.
The most important reason for the growth spurt of IW concerns who is coming to it: quite few are creators with stuff to sell, which also conveniently explains why. “Build it and they will come” has never been a guarantee of success (not just in virtual worlds, either); “build it and give them an incentive to come — like, you can make money here” seems to work a lot better.
And it’s self-reinforcing. Call it attention to appearance, or vanity, or whatever you like; the plain fact is, everyone desperately wants to de-Ruth as soon as possible after arrival in a OpenSim-based grid. OSGrid has limited resources for that, all of them freebies and all of them of the low quality and outdated technique we’ve come to associate with most freebies in SL. InWorldz has its share of those, too — but it also has an increasing supply of better items, imported by their creators on a nearly daily basis, at prices one has come to consider standard. Combine that with the fractional cost of owning your own sim in IW compared with SL (USD 75.00/month during open beta; no setup fee), and what was a trickle of buyers and sellers is becoming a steady stream. Builders of the more architectural sort (like me) love it, too: 256 meter dimensional limit, and 45,000 (!!!) maximum prims per region.
Auf wiedersehen, OSGrid
So… because I’ve been spending more time in IW than in SL, and no time at all (since May) in OSG, I decided to take LaloLand down from OSGrid. No loss, however: I logged in with Imprudence, took fresh Exports of everything I’d built worth saving (with the intent to Import them to IW to sell), and made sure my OSG Inventory also had copies. After logging out, I made a fresh backup of the whole sim (called an OAR file), then typed ‘quit’ in the command line.
~ poof ~
If circumstances change, or my mind does, I can always find a set of open coordinates on OSG’s website and plug the sim back in, and everything will be as it was before. I do regret I couldn’t export a copy of the tree soror Nishi gave me… but it’ll be there, next time. Meanwhile, I can continue to go there, to explore and photograph.
Project X Beta
Remember that? I barely do… I log in about once a week to get the latest update of the software (if there is one), look around long enough to see that little if anything has changed and no one else is there, and log out. I don’t think the boys at Micazook took kindly to my honest appraisal of their efforts, because they’ve completely ignored the interview questions I emailed them on May 26. And here I thought I was being fair and evenhanded… But don’t take my word for it — here are the questions I emailed:
In the interview with Victor Keegan of The Guardian, you described Project X’s future as ‘the Wikipedia of the 3D internet’. Can you be more specific about how the process of claiming, building, and annotation will operate?
With regard to the above, Victor Keegan had this to say in his article:
He hopes to make money by having three levels of membership (homeless, visitors and residents) allowing anyone to buy and sell land, buildings, clothes etc or run clubs with his company getting a percentage.
Does that statement from October 2009 still have relevance to the plans for Project X as they stand in May 2010?
Buildings, furnishings, objects, clothing, etc., created by the users have been mentioned as important to the development of Project X. Do you plan to implement those creation tools for use ‘in-world’ in realtime? Or – as demonstrated by the Empire State Building screenshots in your blog – will modelling be done ‘outside the world’, and then imported into it?
Wikipedia includes thousands of entries about mythological and other fictional places on Earth. Will users be permitted to construct places which do not exist in reality, but which already have much metadata associated with them – for example, 221 Baker St. in London, Shangri-La, or Atlantis?
Will completely new, imaginative constructions from the minds of the users, without reference to either reality or canonical fiction, be permitted?
Wikipedia uses Creative Commons licensing for content contributed to it. How do Micazook intend to handle intellectual property rights for original 3D content created by your users for placement within Project X?
More generally: Project X currently has neither Terms of Service (ToS) nor End-User License Agreement (EULA). Are you looking at any other virtual worlds’ documentation for guidance? If so, which ones? And, when do you plan to implement ToS and/or EULA for Project X?
In an email to me, Michael said: ‘This isn’t a SL clone or another Twinity or There.’ He has also said, while chatting in-world (paraphrased from memory), ‘Project X will avoid SL’s mistakes.’ What do you consider those mistakes to be? What experience do the members of Micazook have in any other virtual worlds (including game worlds such as World of Warcraft), and what are your other sources for knowing which mistakes to avoid?
The thing is, I knew while composing those questions that Micazook wouldn’t have answers ready. I hoped: maybe the questions would provoke them into thinking about the answers. On the other hand, you just shouldn’t expect much from a hobby project. Second Life began as a gee-whiz concept and some rudimentary software, too — but Philip & Co got some startup money so they could devote full time to it. If that’s one of the “mistakes” Micazook thinks SL made, well… they’re sure not repeating it.
…and oh, by the way…
All of these transworld peregrinations have had another affect. Not that anyone cares, and it should be obvious from my profile up there, but: I am no longer a furry. Part of it is practicality: there are no furry avatars in OSGrid, and there are none yet in InWorldz, until someone already in the business in SL sniffs the money. (To be fair, Wingless Emoto has imported his freebie vulpinoid av to IW, but to be honest, it’s painfully outdated and low-quality.) But there’s a deeper reason as well, which might be phrased “been there, done that, bought the avatars”.
I said, way back when starting this blog, that I began as a fan of furry art, and learned tantalizing tidbits about the “lifestyle” while delving into the images. I’ve also said, on many occasions, that I am not a roleplayer… and, frankly, the shallowness finally got to be cloying after a while. I’d long since quit hanging out in specifically furry venues in SL, with their ritualized behaviors and expectations, preferring instead the kind of club where nobody cares what you look like as long as the tunes and the conversation are good.
Another way to put it goes like this: I got over going to science fiction conventions, too. I still read the stuff, still love the genre and admire the best authors as serious writers, not as geeks… and I still appreciate furry art (including avatar design). I just don’t feel the urge to be one any longer.
I’m still me — I always have been — I just don’t dress up as a cat any more.