This was posted on Inworldz forums but I decided to post it here as well, as part of the ongoing history of Elf Clan's involvement with virtual reality and Inworldz.
CUSTOMER OR COMPANY RESPONSIBILITY?
It has been suggested that the task of growth falls on the customers. That has indeed been the case for the last several years, but that phase is past.
There are only so many contacts customers have. I think it safe to say Elf Clan has spent the last few years exhausting our pull from SL. As a result we have 60+ regions here-- and are very grateful of that environment. We could have never accomplished that on Second Life. Could we accomplish more? Yes-- if we had the tools to do so. But we don't have those tools-- the things it takes to convince our remaining members on SL that Inworldz is better. (Better viewer, easier to use, awesome interface, compatible physics, a growing market...)
Our own resources for assisting company growth are currently exhausted. Inworldz is a business. We helped it get started; it is now the responsibility of that business to see to its own growth.
LOOK OUTSIDE THE VR BOX
There are several valid points made in the prior posts. Tranq is correct: Inworldz cannot continue to look to SL to spur its growth. I believe the time will come that we will receive a significant fallout from that grid (unless SL2 is surprisingly attractive), but that's something Inworldz should not count on. The future of Inworldz is from currently-untapped markets external to existing VR.
JUST HAVING FUN FOR FUN'S SAKE
Sara's short-but-sweet post is also right. She has the view an Inworldz user should have: I'm having fun and that's what counts. That's the view we'd like a whole lot more people to have. So how does Inworldz create that sense of fun and belonging and more importantly-- make that obvious to new visitors?
The RP Hub concept is great (so long as the creators cooperate), as is InShape. Inworldz may have really lucked out on Google adopting its physical fitness concept at the same time that InShape is getting fleshed out. Time will tell. However, no matter how much work is done on the RP Hub and no matter how great it is, it is only a partial solution that may attract part of the market. Why? Because not everyone is a role-player. The past has proved that the majority of VR users enjoy socializing, live music, shopping, and events.
NOT FOR GAMERS-- YET
There is a huge gamer market out there, but VR isn't what they will be attracted to. Pursuing that market will be largely a waste of time-- as SL has significantly proved. The only way Inworldz could attract that market is to offer them something new that they don't currently have-- with software that performs on a gamer level. While buildable-VR is certainly something they don't currently have... software that performs at the level of current computer games is a pipe dream at best. We blew that possibility when OpenSim decided to follow the SL track rather than creating a new-and-improved concept. Is it too late to fix that? Most likely. So we've got to go with what we've got and hope that SL2 is a stinker that totally fails on all levels.
Speaking of SL, now that we have PhysX... what are we supposed to do with it since it's not totally compatible with SL scripts? There are very few physics scripters on Inworldz, almost none of them are coming over from SL and hardly anyone is willing to learn / figure out the specifics of PhysX. Balpien has tried to work on compatibility, but my simplest flying scripts from SL don't work. Automobiles nosedive into the ground regularly. Nothing I've tried has been able to overcome these problems... and most scripters from SL aren't going to be willing to take the time to even try to upgrade their scripts to be Inworldz compatible. As long as I've been scripting, if I can't get physics to function here... what are we to expect from the casual user who just wants to get his car to run down the road?
PhysX is great. But we need compatibility work-ins. If that's not conceptually possible-- then Inworldz really needs to start providing users with some very operational and versatile vehicle and "popgun" scripts so people have at least a chance of getting started with physics on Inworldz.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
The big problem here is that we have not eliminated three primary blocks that kept Second Life from growing more than it did:
1) A complex viewer that needs a totally re-designed interface (and please... no repeat of SL Viewer 2.0)
2) In a related issue, an extremely high learning curve for new users, which brings us to...
3) A failed new-user experience lacking in both attraction and accomplishment
These are three realities, realities that I'm guessing the majority of readers here will readily agree upon. So what can be done about that? I hate non-productive criticism... so here's how I'd fix that:
1) The viewer functions are just fine, and are much better than they used to be. But the viewer is non-intuitive, cumbersome and far more difficult to learn and use than it has any need to be.
So create a beginners interface, one that presents the primary things required to enjoy Inworldz. Make that interface VERY intuitive, easy-to-use, with all the basics new users will need to use this world. Movement, teleporting, purchasing, opening boxes and use of inventory should be highlighted and made extremely easy. Rezzing and positioning things (a new home, trees) should be fully-explained and controls simplified for ease-of-use, and new clothing easy to purchase, add to inventory, actually LOCATE in inventory, and wear. At this time just adding a new outfit is a complex task for a newbie. That needs major simplification. A newbie needs to be guided as to the difference between replacing, wearing or adding something to their avatar, not just presented with a menu and no clue as to how these things work.
Smart "How to" and descriptive options should be right-click available on everything. Pie-selections should be eliminated in favor of sensibly-organized and far more informative pop-up menus, with each item of that menu having its own available "help" option.
An intermediate interface would introduce them to building. That interface would include easy-to-use basic build functions as well as immediate access to simple commonly-used scripts for items such as doors, to make a car run, a plane fly, a boat sail across water, create a light fixture, turn something visible / invisible and phantom/solid.
An advanced interface would include the whole 9 yards, but in a much more user-friendly and intuitive format than it is now.
In addition, Inworldz needs to find and eliminate those [expletive omitted] memory leaks... and fix the cache system. Those are core issues.
Bottom line, the Viewer is the new-user interface to Inworldz. That house needs the walls torn down and re-modeled from the inside-out.
2) How do we deal with the extremely high learning curve: Aside from making the viewer easier to use, we make the new user experience more fun and informative. We make the grid self-teaching.
Many people here have played PORTAL. One of the best things about that game is that there is no need for an instruction manual. People pop in the game and they learn how to use it as they play it. They learn the functions one step at a time by going through an addictive process of easy puzzle-solving which gradually leads them to the more complex processes.
That's how you overcome an extremely high learning curve. You simplify it by improving the user interface (the viewer) and then make the system self-teaching. Which brings us to...
3) New user experience. Let's be honest: all of VR has a lousy new user experience. "Please walk through these signs which explain how to do this and that in the most dull, droll and boring method possible, highly informative... if you can stay awake and resist hitting the exit button.
I think we have a rather attractive new-user tutorial course and I don't mean to slam it. It's far better than others I've seen. But it's not interesting. It's not addictive. It fails in any way to encourage people to come back to Inworldz and maybe make this a primary hobby in which they actually buy land and merchandise. It doesn't teach them how to build, it doesn't show the possibilities in scripting, doesn't really do anything except teach the most basic stuff.
The new user experience needs to be exciting, needs to be an adventure, needs to have achievable goals and ranking. "CONGRATULATIONS! You just leveled up!" There are no results from what they do. In contrast imagine: "You just created a car. Now take it to your inventory for future use!" Where there are no accomplishments, no achievements, there is no fun.
So no wonder Inworldz isn't growing. Does it encourage growth?
PLEASE CONSIDER THIS
IDI (Inworldz Desert Island-- attractive name there) is a nice, flowery park-- and totally unimpressive. There are alternatives.
Consider: A newbie logs into Inworldz. Since we know exactly where that newbie will be landing, the textures could be already pre-loaded into their cache. The intake area rezzes around them almost instantly. Their first impression is, "WOW!" The entire area is visually and audibly vibrant and exciting. They can visit special interest kiosks, easily teleport to areas of special interest (such as the RP Hub), get valuable information from bots... and be escorted toward the above-mentioned new-user tutorial experience that will get them started on Inworldz.
Mentors would still be in full use-- but they'd be there to help people with special questions and needs, not to hand out basic information packets (a bot can do that easily). What is available (and where customer volunteers can really help) are a dozen people ready to accompany the new visitor on their tutorial quest if they so desire. Some people like to explore on their own-- others would like a guide, someone to show them around. Those guides could hang around Inworldz Intake and when a newbie comes in, greet them, give them brief explanation, and offer to guide them around. Their job stops at the end of the Newbie tutorial area as they send the new user in whatever direction they want to go.
Okay, I'm done for now. These are just ideas of the kind of bold steps needed to put Inworldz on the map. It's not up to the customers. It's not up to groups. Growth fall squarely in the lap of Inworldz and its Founders and whether it grows or doesn't-- will depend on some really major decisions that are going to be made or not-made over the next few months. This lengthy post is nothing more than feedback and constructive criticism-- the very best kind-- from customers who really care. It doesn't mean I'm totally right. But after 11 years in this business (as of last month) I'm pretty sure the above isn't far off the mark.