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Rising from the Almost Ashes – Aviworld

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

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.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2014/12/rising-from-almost-ashes-aviworld.html for original post date.

This Week in the Metaverse

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

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.

Whew!

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.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2014/12/this-week-in-metaverse.html for original post date.

The Dividing Metaverse – A Look at 2015

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

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.

OpenSim

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.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-dividing-metaverse-look-at-2015.html for original post date.

Wish List SL 2.0 and OpenSim

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

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.

(login.greatcanadiangrid.ca:8002:Parkville)

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.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2014/12/wish-list-sl-20-and-opensim.html for original post date.

SL 2.0 Testing Sign Up — Really?

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

Rumors are flying about the SL 2.0 “next generation” testing sign up.

Is it here? Is it coming soon?

A friend wrote me today SURE I would be the “one in the know”. Well she obviously has me in a loftier position that I actually inhabit .

I did some research, wrote to some “in the know friends”.

You know that theory “you can find out anything if you ask your three most influential friends and they ask theirs”?  Well you might be able to get to the President that way, but finding out about testing signup? Not so much.

I have decided to let it all flow by me. I am a patient gal and I don’t feel all that comfortable with alpha testing which I assume this would be. I can be in the second or third wave.

But keep your eyes peeled. There may be something behind this rumor. 

Or not!


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/01/sl-20-testing-sign-up-really.html for original post date.

Finding Our Perfect World

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

Or better yet, the world that is perfect FOR US.

New Years is my favorite holiday. It marks new beginnings and for me is a time of reflection.

I have been out and about in the metaverse this last six months (well, a year really but in overdrive since summer) trying on grids and seeing what was out there.

I have no plans to abandon Second Life. Too many friends, too much invented, too well ingrained in the culture for a departure — I still like to know I have choices.

There are plenty of other grids out there. Largish and tiny, each with their own owner and siren’s call. I visited maybe fifty and joined maybe a dozen. As the calendar turned I was sifting through my picture postcards to decide which grids were “keepers” — just for me, you understand.

My list is not your list. We each make our choices based on our needs and sometimes on our links within a community.

I have decided to divide my time between Second Life (SL 2.0 should a beta come along and accept my candidacy) and the Great Canadian Grid.   Parkville is feeling a lot like home these days. It is peaceful and restful and I can both play and explore. SL with my seven year history and ties to MOSP-LEA7 is pretty much a no-brainer. Honestly I can’t imagine life without it. I would cope as I DO that, but it would not be a pleasant experience.

I will be leaving my “stuff” in Inworldz but not be taking part in the community. I sell very little there these days (the first two quarters of 2014 were very good, the last dire) and the toxic nature of the forums is off-putting for me. I have a very good friend there and will visit her often and likely upload  new creations for HER (I have been doing that) as gifts, but commerce is no longer part of my scenario there; neither is the art world. Of course there are stories and details, but they really don’t matter.

I will likely be abandoning Avination and wishing them well. Nothing much for me there.

Hanging in with Virtual Life as I actually sell more there than most grids if you factor in the population, I will not be making or porting anew. My stores are reaching prim limits. No personal ties there; the folks I knew have mostly left.

Other grids fall into the same pattern, not many sales — no personal ties.

And that pretty much tells the story.

What keeps people coming back?

Low cost is good. You can have a sim (or several) in OpenSim communities that let you host on your own computer and hook up to their address (sort of like free webhosting). There are $ 5 per sim grids and $ 8 per sim grids and $ 10 per sim grids — the list goes on.

But there needs to be something else to tie folks together. If people simply wanted to make a sim and create their world, there would be no need to become part of the metaverse.

I am not the most social person. When I am in the midst of a project I tend to get annoyed if someone wants to chat. What can I say? The creative muse is a harsh mistress. But I do like knowing other folks are out there. I like contributing to the community. I like having visitors see what I have created.  I think that is true for many people.

I want to watch the metaverse grow in all its forms. I want to be able to say “I remember when the hypergrid didn’t work all that well and landmarks to other grids would not get you where you wanted to go”.

Things will change radically in the next decade. I have no vision where we are headed, but I suspect it will be grand. Our personal jobs right now are to find a spot to call home.

Go forth. Explore. Set down roots.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/01/finding-our-perfect-world.html for original post date.

FBX the winner for SL 2.0?

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

I have to admit that I haven’t been keeping up with SL 2.0 announcements of late. I have been spending a lot of time in OpenSim in Back To The Land mode.  But this bit of news got my attention today.

SL 2 will only use Autodesk FBX formatted files, the scripts are based on Javascript and it will run in Chrome

This wasn’t an official Linden Lab press release by any means but it came within a very long, well written response to a question about mesh versus prims. I could not find any official disclosure that mirrors his statement and have asked the writer to site his source. No reply as yet, but I will update this page as I get more information.

{later note: The poster wrote back stating that this was (I am paraphrasing) an educated assumption based on High Fedelity (see the comments to this post just now up) and Unity. 

Looking up the poster I found someone with many hundreds of followers who is in both SL and OS and has lots of techiness in his portfolio along with mesh building — a perfect candidate for an invitation to test the new platform.

So for me, and for now, and until I hear differently — this statement seems to be a lapse in that non-disclosure-agreement, most likely brought on by the siren song of the creative writing muse. I go there too. I am personally treating it as that; you can make your own decision.

Recently I have downloaded some mesh files for personal use on my land in OpenSim. I found that some converted well from their native format and others not well at all. Hopefully this won’t be an issue for builders.

IF this intel is correct, it puts the new platform in the Cloud Party camp (different tech undoubtedly but still browser based as we already suspected).  The rules were very different there so it is likely that designers will need to think differently.  Hopefully many of them are over there now working on their skills to make a beautiful world for the first arrivals.


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/01/fbx-winner-for-sl-20.html for original post date.

Firestorm in OpenSim

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

I didn’t get an inside tip; in fact I missed the first Firestorm class in OpenSim.

I was following breadcrumbs left on the Opensim Virtual Google+ group looking for a new clothes store — which led me to a Twitter page (I don’t Tweet) and I saw an ad for the first OpenSim Firestorm class. Woot!

Now it was long over but as a good little reporter I wanted to know what was going on over at the Littlefield grid.

A lovely and well-made complex awaits you at “Firestorm” (well natch). And even if you missed the class, those on the hypergrid can zip on over to the office and pick up the class notes from the box on the floor. Just click and be PATIENT (a sometimes keyword in OS).

Since I hate to miss anything I snuck over to the Firestorm Residential sim that I saw nearby on the map. Again, very lovely in any world. And I SO appreciate lovely.

So welcome to OpenSim Firestorm team!!!!!!


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/01/firestorm-in-opensim.html for original post date.

Content Creators in New Worlds

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

 

I have been to a lot of new worlds lately.

A pattern emerges.

Now before those of you reading this say to yourselves,  I don’t care about OpenSim; I’m not going over to OpenSim; I’ll skip this post — remember that  The Next Generation of SL IS indeed a new world, an even more different world as it isn’t based on the one we know.    

Here is what often happens.

*****************************************

A new grid opens its doors. Announcements are made. A few of the owner’s friends have come over pre-opening. Sometimes they set up storefronts, or at least a welcome grid with some items to buy and some gifts.

The next influx that follows closely on the heels of the opening are the second wave of creators. They bring over already made goods, set up shop and wait for the new arrivals to show up and buy their offerings.

A mini rush ensues (almost always :D); some new folks come in and buy items. Great. All is good.

More folks come in slowly and there are sales. Creators make some new things for the young grid or bring over more of their previous made stock.

But here’s the issue. It takes a certain amount of population to create enough sales to make it viable for content creators to stay. When the population stagnates or the buyers simply stop buying because  they have what they need — sales drop sharply or stop. It isn’t quite like the Walmart “we must keep opening new stores or we will die” issue, but it flows alongside that stream.

In many cases, after a few months (sometimes weeks, sometimes longer) the content creators leave.

So there is the problem. Is there an answer?

Well The Lab while it has made some pretty bad decisions in the past — mostly by not listening to the public opinion — isn’t dumb. They have that covered, or at least they hope to.

They are planning on making it as easy as possible for people to come over to their new platform. Notice I didn’t say MOVE over. Some folks will, some will visit, some will have dual citizenship.

As announced there will be the same money balance, friends list (not everyone will be in both grids of course) and perhaps some of the same goods.  I was hoping when the SL 2.0 announcement came that they were going to make it possible to click a “I want to move, send whatever I have that I can use in the new world over” button.   Silly me. It would be a good trick though.

Instead it looks like (NO inside info – just postulating from bits and pieces of information, subtle slips and things not said ) designers will likely need to port over there goods, much like they do now to those new OpenSim worlds. The file type may be different; that has yet to be officially stated — and with that comes some issues, but an option for some items. The tech and rules will likely be far removed from what we are used to.

So a furniture maker for example could import (we don’t know if this will cost yet) a mesh couch file. The current dae file may need to be converted to another file type. The uploader will likely be different, so existing notes won’t apply.  Hopefully (ALL fingers are crossed here) the physics won’t be such an issue.

Once the item gets into the new world, new animations and new scripting (officially announced as being needed although no word as to what file type or language will be used) will have to be added to work on the new platform.

Textures and material layers will get uploaded and we have our couch. Whew!

*****************************************

Just like coming to a new world in OpenSim, residents will need new things. Mesh bodies with new matching clothes?  Dances?

HAIR!!!!!
So it is important that these items are available when the new world opens to the public. Those who venture over in the first wave of tourists  and emigrants will likely want a bit more than what the visitor’s bureau hands out.   The first designers on the new platform will likely do well. 
But there needs to be enough in the new world to hold on to the population. And for the most part, that takes community.  It will be difficult if half of your friends are across the ocean.
Easier access (web based browser or specially made aps) will help. Lower land costs will help.  I am all for new, but you can’t be all things to all people so some folks won’t find what they are looking for in the Next Generation.  
The official word from Linden Lab for some time is that the new world will be for content creators. Let’s reflect on that repeating pattern. Without a buying populous, content creators have no reason to stay. 


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/01/content-creators-in-new-worlds.html for original post date.

OSgrid and High Fidelity

Previously posted at Chic at Ebbe’s Place.

Well there hasn’t been all that much news to add to this blog for awhile, but last night the OSgrid opened again! Folks were linking up even before the official unveiling and venturing over via hypergrid. It is really great to see that rising from the ashes scenario. I look forward to exploring.

Another new platform is almost ready for visitors, High Fidelity. While the home page gives the impression that you can download and begin, not so. Patience is called for. But you can sign up to be notified when  client, server and name saving are open.

There was lots of shuffling when OSgrid went down, Metropolis became the first port in the storm, then other connect for free grids came on the scene. It will be interesting to see what ripples the mother grid’s return creates in the OpenSim community. I for one am looking forward to exploring places I have never seen.

High Fidelity, in some ways, wants to be the new and improved version of OpenSim. That worries some OS folks; others see it as a natural progress of the metaverse. With better tech and the possibility of some high profile designers  — not sure about the security issues on the High Fidelity platform, so that will be a piece of the puzzle there — it could be a glorious new world.

So get ready to explore!


Visit http://chicatebbesplace.blogspot.com/2015/02/osgrid-and-high-fidelity.html for original post date.

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