Elf Clan Social Network

IMPROVING INWORLDZ

Note:  See also  Let's Make a Fantastic Welcome Center

    Recently I had a nice conversation with Elenia via email (she really is very pleasant to email-chat with) and we discussed how to make Inworldz grow- an item of interest to most of us.  In consideration of privacy I won't discuss the conversation itself or Ele's thoughts on these matters.  But I wanted to share my thoughts and concepts with our members and invite feedback on any of this. 

     Please note that the following very lengthy blog is indeed my opinion-- but it's based on some heavy realities.  This contains not only my personal observations but the observations of others.  As the Founder of Elf Clan and owner of a certain curious dwagon... I read these things quite regularly via conversations, IMs and emails.  These observations also come from more than twelve years of my own intense involvement with virtual reality.  They result from my own decision to "semi-retire" from VR... because of many of the things discussed in this article-- and discussions with others as to why they made the same decision. I've also spoken with many, many people who love Inworldz and asked them what they love most about it, as well as what they'd like to see to make it better.

    In short, there is a lot of real information  behind this opinionated blog.  ; )

 

    The existence of this article and its length should be proof that I've not lost interest and that I still care about Inworldz.  This article has the sole intent of suggesting ways to help Inworldz improve and grow.  I'm still involved in VR-- just not as much as formerly.  If you manage to make it to the end of this article it will leave no doubt you care as much about Inworldz as I do.

    Many of these things apply not only to Inworldz, but virtual reality in general-- including Second Life, OpenSim grids, and OSgrid-- all of which are close to the hearts of many people.  But Inworldz is our home, so that's where I focus my attention. During this entire blog I will do my very best to keep things politically correct and not step on any toes.    (Okay, maybe I'll just be honest. You know my writing style.  I lay it out there.) 

    THE REALITY.  Inworldz is stagnant and has been for quite some time.  It's not growing.  People have left in disappointment (especially merchants).   Our own group, Elf Clan, has dropped in size by 15 full regions.  Why is this? 

    Several reasons.  One primary reason is that Inworldz failed to meet its promise of a mass-marketing campaign and expected growth by the end of 2014.   That was the "deadline" for many people and resulted in a slow-but-visible exodus both in support and region ownership, especially by merchants who were counting on and needed that market boost.   Fortunately Inworldz membership picked up a little in people that were new to Inworldz and expected nothing more.   But currently the general shape of Inworldz is that of a child that grew, lost motivation, and then stopped growing.   That is cause for concern, and the purpose of this article.

    Note that Inworldz is not alone in this.  Second Life, OpenSim, OSgrid and others are having the same struggles.  It's all a similar platform with similar problems.  The difference is that Inworldz has both the opportunity and simple power (via a central authority nexus) to change their grid for the better.  "The most beneficial rule is a benevolent monarchy".   That's basically what Inworldz is-- the Founders having the power to make changes, and the user-based background to understand our needs.  Second Life doesn't have that.  OSGrid and others do... but lack the resources of Inworldz to make the major improvements we've seen on this grid.   This makes Inworldz unique in its opportunity to improve its environment and user experience.

     All of this will be discussed in this blog, and more.  It's long.  I hope you have the will to hang in here, as I've had the will to write it.

    IDI ISN'T WORKING.   But I want to qualify:  IDI is a fine build.  I don't know who built it (rumor is it was someone whom I consider to be an old friend and master builder), but it's a nice, well-built, pretty, well-textured... yawwwwwwn... city square. 

    And that's the problem.  As a display piece it's okay.  But IDI is supposed to serve as a Welcome Center.  It's not enough for it to be pretty.   A Welcome Center has to accomplish several things:

    * It has to have a "WOW!"  factor.   The moment a person rezzes they need to think, "Wow, this is incredible!"  Nothing less than that will suffice.   IDI is our first impression region.  It can be no less than inspiring.   Why?  Because the idea is to inspire people to want their own land so they can do this too!

    * It has to rez quickly, because nothing turns away new visitors like lag and slow-rezzing items. (IDI currently does pretty well on this factor.  It's easy to tell it was built with this in mind.)

   * It needs to be intuitively informative.  New visitors need to be able to instinctively understand what's going on, where to go next, what to do next.  Even if no one else is there, someone totally new to Inworldz should be able to figure it out for themselves, no hassle.  Which means that IDI has to be:

    * Highly Interactive.  Right now IDI has pretty much zero interactivity.   Nothing to interest new visitors, save for a jazz band that sometimes kinda works.

    * Elicit Response.   A Welcome Center needs to make new visitors become quickly and deeply involved in the grid.

    * LAND PURCHASE.  Make Land Purchase a main concept and easy to do.   It needs to make new visitors want to buy land.  (See later on the "Golden Goal".)

    * YOU BELONG.  Make the visitor feel they can become part of something.   Rather than just walking around looking at the pretty plants, they need to quickly come to feel they can accomplish something here-- something they want to accomplish.  CREATE YOUR OWN WORLD!  ENJOY LIVE MUSIC!  ORGANIZE SPECIAL-INTEREST GROUPS!  RIDE HORSES!... whatever... it must make users realize that things are possible here that they never imagined to be possible.

    Let's be honest:  right now Inworldz Desert Island accomplishes none of that.  Which is why Inworldz isn't growing and hasn't grown in... how long?   At least two years by my count, possibly longer, maybe double that.

SO HOW DO WE FIX THIS?

   The first step is wanting to fix it.   Leaving it as it is and expecting Inworldz to grow would be the very definition of wishful thinking.   It's not working.  It hasn't worked. It won't work in the future.  It's been tried-- and failed to impress.  So what next?  

    Change.    Yes, again.  No matter how many times change is required, we change IDI until it works.  When it works, then we can stop changing it.   This current layout has been there long enough to prove it's not accomplishing what Inworldz needs.  

    But what kind of changes might be employed?   I've mentioned most of this before, so I'll try to re-word it in the hopes the ideas get across.  Lots of stuff to consider.   

    First there is one nasty elephant in the room to get out of the way-- and I'm pulling no punches on this one.

IGNORE, DELETE, REMOVE, REDACT THE CRY OF "FAVORITISM"

    This drama / paranoia - induced phrase has been bandied about enough to make all of us sick of it.  Face it, Inworldz is a business and as a business has to make certain decisions.   There is no way in creation all of those decisions can be pleasing / favorable to all the people all the time.  (This is a well-known fact of life, yes?)  The opposite is true as well:   some decisions are going to be more favorable to some people than to others.  That is just how life is and how business runs.  People need to show some maturity and deal with that fact of life and stop the whining cries of "That would be favoritism!".  In short, get over it.  This is the reality of things.

    If Inworldz makes a decision and an individual or group of individuals or genre benefits from that decision a little more than others-- good for them!  They came out on top this time.  Maybe the next essential decision will benefit someone else.  It all tends to even out in the long haul.

    Most importantly decisions must be made, and (forgive me for being blunt) they must be made without worrying about stepping on eggshell egos or wondering which drama queen Inworldz is going to tick off next.     

    Let's be friends and talk seriously:  we cannot afford to be jealous / envious / angry at fellow Inworlders and the Founders.  That's just bad for everyone.   It's bad for business.  It holds back progress.  If Ele and Tranq and whomever have to worry about seeming to favor one person or group over another every time they make a business decision, then we are going to wind up right where we are now.  Zero growth.  Stagnation.  Declining reputation.  Dashed hopes.  Extreme loss of potential profits.  People giving up on the grid and going elsewhere, doing other things, and costing Inworldz even more profits. 

    Is that what people want-- stagnation due to resident-forced indecision?

    So before we get into recommendations regarding helping Inworldz grow, all of us need to realize that some decisions the Founders make are going to be more favorable to some people than others... and that's just how life is.  No where else on the planet is it any different.  It's not the Founders "showing favoritism";  it's just a matter of something working out well for someone this time.   If something works out for one person or group of people... it eventually tends to filter down and work out for others as well.  

    It doesn't matter who builds what, who accomplishes what, or who is in the limelight for the next 15 minutes.  If it's good for the grid it's good for all of us.  

    So we need to put the egos and jealousies and covetousness and all that away, and start moving forward.   I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.  This attitude has done serious damage to Inworldz and its members for far too long.  Inworldz members who have made this claim need to stop worrying about who has the bigger half of the cookie and start thinking more about the good of Inworldz as a whole.  Inworldz cannot grow if people keep slapping the Founders with fanatic cries of "Favoritism!"  Get over it.

    This said, let's get to the good stuff.

    * RENAME IDI.  "Inworlds Desert Island" is not the most appealing name for a welcome area.  Sad to say it's kind of accurate-- because it's pretty deserted most of the time.  Let's not re-enforce that with a name.

    What name would I give it?   If nothing else strikes the imagination, "Inworldz Welcome Area" would be appropriate. "InZone"?  "Inworldz Central" perhaps.   If I took five minutes I could come up with a dozen more potential names.   So surely we can come up with something better than Inworldz Desert Island.  It's not a desert island.  No one wants to live on a desert island.   Desert islands aren't a positive concept in our vernacular.  So let's change it to something more positive, more welcoming, more first-impression acceptable. 

    I actually kinda like InZone.  Has a nice ring, y'know?  Plus it has that that "INZ" thing going on.

REBUILD THE WELCOME CENTER  

    I hope I don't sound too negative here, because this is the 100% truth:  I cannot relay how many times I have heard this, from numerous people, in exactly these words:   "IDI is pretty, but it's booooring."  That's not the fault of the builder; it's the concept.   A standard town square, non-interactive, with no place to go and nothing to do.   How is that supposed to sell regions and help Inworldz grow?

    The Welcome Center needs to be amazingly hot.   It has to have a "wow" and "pizzazz" factor that goes through the roof.  When people log in stuff needs to rez quickly-- no snail-slow-loading sculpties or poorly-designed mesh.  It needs limited textures with no texture exceeding 512x512 in size.  If mesh is used at all-- it needs to be prime stuff, guaranteed to load first time every time.   But in reality, a good Welcome Center can be created using raw prims and look just fine.  

    A welcome center doesn't have to be the latest and greatest technology to be impressive.  It does need to cater to the lowest common factor in new visitors (after all, if they can't see it on their screens, it's not going to impress them).  Not everyone logs in with octa-core dual-graphics-card gamer machines.

    The welcome center doesn't have to present thousands of textures on all 45,000 prims to be beautiful.  It just has to be wonderfully functional and attractive.  It needs to be devoid of non-functional things.  Everything there needs to have a precise purpose-- that of impressing, informing and motivating new visitors.

    I've examined several Welcome Centers across the grids and found the best ones to have similar properties.  I'll outline some of them here.  

 

    CREATE A CENTER OF ACTIVITY.  When someone logs into IDI currently, there is (and I quote many), "No where to go."   There's no directive, nothing that catches focus.  What we need is a log-in area that is a center of activity.   If anyone has visited LBSA PLAZA on OSgrid, you will see a pretty decent version of this concept.   There are attractive chairs surrounding a large center opening.  People can sit and chat, or there's room to stand, move around or dance if they want.  If members have a question they know they can come to this central area and someone will likely have an answer.  This is where the Mentors will be.  This is where friendly residents can hang out to help welcome newcomers.  

    Important:  there must be nothing in the center to break up movement.  No central fountain, no statue, no TP gazebo.   The central area must be open, easily accessible, visitor-friendly, with no obstructions.

    MORNING COFFEE.   Remember Morning Coffee?  Not the one on IDI, but the one sitting in the open in the middle of a bunch of buildings, with open walls and funny signs and tinies running rampant, sitting on the counters?  The Morning Coffee where you could always find a friend or two and enjoy your RL coffee while you enjoyed the conversation of friends around you? 

    That place needs to be part of the Welcome center again.   We need that fun little shop where critters sat in the cleaning sinks and took baths in the water pot on the stove, where people had fun and let their hair down.  Hang cries of "favoritism"... Morning Coffee needs to take back its rightful place at the Inworldz Welcome Center.   It harmed no one and would give new visitors a chuckle.  Morning Coffee was a permanent, 24/7 "event" right at grand central station.  I've seen three versions of Morning Coffee:  the one at IDI, the one in the shop district, and the one we have now.   I like the new one, but really loved the shop district one; it had incredible personality.   We can make it live again.   It can be done.  We have the technology.  It belongs at the Welcome Center.

    MULTIPLE IMPORT POINTS.  Rather than one import point in the center of the area, there would be six to twelve such points surrounding the central meeting area.   A script would alter between these points as people port in.  This will help prevent congestion and will port newcomers in where they will feel less conspicuous and can look around at what's going on from the edge.  Then they can sit and chat, walk around, join others there, or visit the...

    INTRO KIOSKS.  Surrounding this area would be attraction kiosks.   These would be automated, highly-interactive displays introducing people to Inworldz.    These displays would be very interesting and intriguing, compelling visitors to interact with them.   They would have large, bold titles and fully-functional scripting.    The main headings could include such things as:

     * YOU CAN OWN AN ISLAND!  This is / should be / must be the primary focus of Inworldz.  When people purchase islands, Inworldz is profitable.   A profitable Inworldz is a productive / progressive Inworldz (they get to hire more devs!).  People who purchase islands tend to purchase wares to go on those islands-- which is good for merchants.  They often join islands to willing groups-- which is good for groups.   There is no downside to people buying islands.   So the Welcome Area MUST have a kiosk that makes purchasing an island understandable, attractive, easy, and affordable.    It needs to make such purchase appealing, even compelling.  Highlight all the benefits of owning an island.  And this is essential:  offer multiple products within their pocketbook range.  (See more on this later.)

     * PLACES TO VISIT.   Highlight points of Inworldz, places that are well-known and active.   Again-- forget the cries of "favoritism".  There are areas on Inworldz that have been here almost as long as Inworldz has been here, and deserve recognition for sticking with the grid this long.   Or if that idea is too much for some folks to handle... the "places to visit" could offer centralized landmark areas in specific genres, such as the well-known Role-Playing Hub.   We could also have a Nightclub Hub, Shopping Hub, Arts and Museums Hub, etc etc.  That way everyone gets a chance within their field of specialty.   Most importantly, the visitor gets to choose what interests them the most and go from there.

    * GRAB AN AVATAR!  If there is one thing people like it's avatars.   All kinds of avatars.   So Inworldz can have merchants donate free avatars (along with advertising for the merchant-- that's only fair) and newcomers can pick from a kiosk of avatars to better suit their moods.  A specialized vendor could offer different genres as well as avatars within that genre.   The advantage?   New visitors get to pick an avatar they love, merchants get to show off their skills, and Inworldz gets happy-camper visitors and merchants both.   This is one of those "everybody wins" things.

    * EVENTS KIOSK.  Inworldz already has this.  Make it prominent, as part of a set of kiosks, easy to find and easy to use.   In short, make even better and more prominent use of what we already have.  (Test:  can anyone reading this recollect where the events board is on IDI?   I can't.  That may be a hint that it needs to be more prominent.)

    * HOW TO.  This informative kiosk would contain several specialized notecards containing info such as:

         -- How to visit new areas

         -- How to shop, buy items, open boxes and "rez" items

         -- How to move and fly

         -- How to chat and instant message

         ... etc.  I can't think of every "How To" that might be handy, but one can understand the value of such a kiosk.  Individual notecards, short, concise, to the point.  

 

    There are more "Intro Kiosk" concepts that can be considered.  We want enough to catch attention-- but not so many as to confuse.   There are other things they will see on this new welcome center.

SAMPLE CREATIONS.  Little impresses a new visitor more than to see sample creations of what can be done on Inworldz.  So buildings and rooms along the side of the region highlighting different concepts (perhaps in miniature) should be very appealing-- somewhat a "micro museum of Inworldz". 

PORTALS.  Once the visitor has been greeted, picked up avatars, looked around the Welcome Center, learned about Inworldz and become enthusiastic... it's time to take them to areas that appeal to their personal interests.   This is where PORTALS come in.

    People are diverse.  Some enjoy fantasy, science fiction or steampunk, while others enjoy more common genres such as dance clubs, music venues, museums, parks, re-creations, or other things.  So surrounding the Welcome area would be twelve (or more) major portals to take the visitors to other regions specializing in their personal areas of interest.

    These portals are similar in concept to the "Places to Visit" Kiosk... only they transfer visitors instantly to centralized "Hubs"-- answering the pervasive issue of "Where do i go from here".   The answer:   "Let me show you the Portals..."  

    The Portals are Inworldz' instant-access to exploration and adventure.   "Ohhh!   Automobiles and airplanes!  Right down my alley!"  "Ohhh!... FANTASY LANDS!"   "Ohhh!  Music clubs!"... and off the visitor goes to a centralized hub... an entire region of the best Inworldz has to show in these areas.   In this area, show favoritism.  Absolutely.  Take the most established, the best, the brightest, the most talented and have them display their wares along with information / portals of where to see more.  Visitors will go where they will.  No one is forcing them to choose.  One visitor will choose one thing, another will choose something else.   The point is to make a fantastic first impression.  We don't do that by displaying less than our best.  

    No one will be left out.   The Hubs can have signs with landmark givers to places of interest, and anyone can put up a sign (within reason.  PG content, no offensive material, etc etc.  We all know the line after all these years.)  But larger sample displays would be by invitation only and subject to approval based on their skill, content, non-lag, and usefulness to new visitors.  These are new visitor HUBs... and they should contain the best we have to offer.  Nothing less will represent Inworldz.

    Let me be a little direct here:  anyone who chooses to get their nose out of joint because "someone got to display and I didn't" needs to go out and improve their skills.   The master builders and scripters didn't get where they are overnight.  They've put in years of effort to develop their skills.  They've hung in with Inworldz through thick and thin.   They deserve the recognition and will repay that recognition by bringing sales to Inworldz.   That is the purpose of the hubs... not to promote any one store or group or person, but to get new visitors enthused about Inworldz so they purchase their own island.  That's it in a nutshell.    

    Anyone who can't get on board with that frankly needs to re-think their attitude.  When Inworldz benefits-- everyone benefits.  That means putting our very best out front, no politics, no egos, no whining.

 

A BRAND NEW PRODUCT TO REACH A MAJOR, UN-TAPPED MARKET

    Right now Inworldz is sitting on a potential gold mine... and failing to dig.   I've discussed this with Ele.  I've discussed it with many people.   After all this time I cannot believe this hasn't yet been implemented.   So for whatever it's worth:

    THE GOLDEN GOAL.    Do meat sellers refuse to sell hamburger because of the chance people won't buy as many steaks?  Of course not.  They offer whatever will sell to the market, both hamburger and steaks. People have different tastes, needs, and pocketbooks.  Please keep this illustration in mind as we discuss the following.

    Gold is the issue... namely, money.  Do you have lots and lots of it?  Just pouring out your pockets?   Do you have to move it out of the way as you walk down your marble-lined hallways?

    If this doesn't describe you... welcome to 99.99% of the community. 

    A region on Inworldz costs $75 a month, which is cheap compared to the $295+ of Second Life.   But the reality is that even $75 is too much for the average person.  It's simply out of the pocket range of "hobby money".  And because of that, Inworldz is missing the vast majority of its potential market.

    There have been surveys.  The average U.S. citizen will spend $20 on something they want without worrying about it.   More than that, they think twice.  $75 they think a whole lot.  $20 is the "Golden Goal".  Sell a sim for $20 a month... and you'll sell sims.   Lots and lots of them.  $20 is "fun money".  $20 is "movie money".   $20 is an amount affordable even by people on Social Security or limited retirement funds.   The reality is, most people can spend $20 on something they want.

    So if Inworldz can offer a full, private sim for $20 a month... and they can... a whole new market opens up. 

    How can they do this?  By offering 15k prim sims with a 20 concurrent visitor cap (increase full sims to 60k prims.  It's a no-cost bonus).  These limitations minimize server and Net costs, dropping them down low enough that Inwordz can offer $20 sims and still make a decent profit.   It can be done.   It's been proved by other grids.

    In fact, it's been proved by Inworldz themselves.  Currently Inworldz offers a "quad" offering, in which they provide four full sims for $85, which can be divided among and inhabited by four owners.   Great idea, and a nice launch pad toward the Golden Goal.   The downside is that one person has to take responsibility for that $85, they have to find three other investors, and if anyone backs out the primary owner is stuck with their part of the bill.   So it still doesn't reach the market that $20 sims would reach.

    Inworldz needs to take the part of that "central owner" themselves, and just rent 15K sims for $20 a month.   They need to offer a new product that is within the pocketbook of the average person.  OpenSim grids are already doing this.   If Inworldz expects to hold its own against such competitors (and face it, OpenSim is a competitor)... it needs to offer a product people can afford. 

    "But... but... people will give up their full-size $75 regions and buy Golden Regions instead!"   Some might, yes.  Chances are though they're already past the prim limit of a Golden Region.  In addition, the history of Second Life already proved that adding a lower-cost product actually increased their revenue rather than decrease it.   People kept their full-size sims and bought the low-cost sims as well.   Why is this?  Because those who currently own $75 sims usually can afford $75 sims... and all the prims and parties and events they bring.   Their sim needs aren't suddenly going to dive just because Inworldz now offers a less-expensive product.  If anything, they will be more likely to expand their properties, bringing Inworldz additional revenue.

    Again remember the initial question:  Do meat sellers refuse to sell hamburger because they're afraid they'll sell fewer steaks?   No.  They still sell hamburger.   Then why should Inworldz stick with just one product, or an alternative product that people still can't afford.   Offer regions that people can afford... and people will buy regions.  Four such regions = $80, which is $5 more than Inworldz currently makes on a full-bore region.  Sounds like a win.

    Or... keep doing what we're doing and stagnate.  The choice is always up to the business:  change and adapt or stagnate and fall.   Grow or fail to grow.  Stick with what you're doing, or do better.   It's always a choice.  Sometimes to win big one has to jump in with both feet and take a chance.  Risk is the core of business prosperity.  No risk, no gain.

    My belief is this:  offer this product and within 6 months Inworldz revenues will increase significantly enough to benefit the entire grid.   If it doesn't work you can blame me for the goofy concept.  

    Remember:  the ones most likely to win are those who tried to win in the first place.  You can't win a race by walking, afraid you'll sprain an ankle if you run.

GREETERS

Ideally, new visitors might be accompanied by someone to show them around.  In the old days we called these people "Greeters"... folks who weren't tied to staying at the Welcome Center and could act as tour guides / friends to newcomers.  Believe me in this:  as the founder of one of the oldest and most well-known groups in the history of VR, as the creator of the Greeter concept and the guy who literally wrote the book on Greeting... I can positively state there is nothing that makes a new visitor happier than personal attention and assistance.  Most group leaders know this.  Most Mentors know this. 

    The primary objection I've heard regarding Greeters are: 

    Objection #1: "We already have Mentors."   Mentors have a specific purpose and are "on duty" at IDI.   Greeters would be assistants to the Mentor group.   They take over when the Mentor's work is done.  They can leave IDI and accompany visitors and help people learn first hand about Inworldz.  They offer friendship to a person who perhaps has none at the time has none.  The function of a Mentor and Greeter is complimentary... but different.  A Mentor is not a tour guide.  That is one of the primary jobs of a Greeter.

    Objection #2:  "Greeters will take people where they want to take them so their group can grow larger."  No, Greeters help people acclimate to Inworldz by showing them areas of the visitor's interest.  Inworldz is different from Second Life.  Groups have no need to "grow large" in order to pay for sims like on SL.  Whether a group is 12 people or 1200 people-- it makes no difference here.  Elf Clan has absolutely no need to enlarge our group.   So let's put that argument where it belongs:  in the "outdated SL thoughts" file... and realize that Inworldz is different.

    When we were on SL, Elf Clan Greeters were specifically instructed to "not mention Elf Clan unless the visitor inquires".   People have diverse interests.   If the Greeter is not personally acquainted with a specific area, his/her goal is to introduce the Visitor to a Greeter who is.  

    Objection #3:  Specific groups will "target" visitors.  No, Mentors will not allow that.   Founders will not allow that.   Other Greeters will not allow that if they see it happening (they'll report it to the Mentor or Founders).   Sniping members is not a Greeter's purpose.  There's no reason to do so.  There's nothing to be gained in making a group larger.   Trust me in this:  it just gets larger.  That's it.  More headaches, no benefit.

    If someone asks about a Greeter's group tag, sure, we can show them what we know.   Our enthusiasm will rub off on them.   If someone wants to make sure their group is represented at the Welcome Center-- let them serve as Greeters.  if they don't have the time or don't want to... that's their decision.  They have the same opportunity to be Greeters as anyone else-- and like other Greeters their agenda should be to serve Inwordz and new visitors, not to promote their own interests.  Basically, Greeters should enjoy meeting new people.

    Whoever is Greeting at the time has the purpose of helping newcomers.   That's all.  No hidden agendas, no ulterior motives.  Any group, no group, enthusiastic or just friendly... a Greeter's purpose is to help new visitors learn how Inworldz works, to answer questions no notecard can properly address.  

    Greeters: They work. They make new visitors feel welcome and appreciated.  And I just happen to have an already-written "Greeters Guidelines" with a history of fantastic success.

 

    Alternately, not using Greeters will continue in the results Inworldz has had all these years  without Greeters.   Has it worked so far?  Is Inworldz growing?  Are the Founders wallowing in cash so they can hire additional employees?  Is Tranq any less inundated with work?

    Why be afraid to try something that might actually work-- that has proved to work in the past?   Greeters work.  They helped put SL on the map.

 

    A little history:  For those who aren't aware... the Greeter program helped launch SL.  I wrote the "Greeter Guidelines Manual" myself, many years ago, when Elf Clan was just getting started on SL.  In addition we created the sim business model which for the first time made private sim ownership a no-loss prospect-- even at the high prices of Second Life (and lo, sim sales zoomed, and cometh new  groups using business models just like Elf Clan's, and SL did groweth tremendously).   So we do have a bit of history and experience in these things.

    No, we weren't alone in such endeavors.   These weren't the only things that influenced SL membership.  But they were a large part of it-- something even Linden Lab itself recognized at the time. 

    So I can say this in confidence:  Greeters work.  They help a grid grow by making people feel welcome.  They provide the personal attention Inworldz can't afford to hire, no matter how big they get.  And isn't that what we all want, just a little personal friendship and attention... and the chance to pass that on to someone else?  That's what Greeting is all about.

FIX THE VIEWER... please

    I'm not going to dwell excessively on this or go into great detail because this should be very obvious. 

    The Official Viewer needs to be simplified, it needs to work without confusion (chicklets all over the screen, separate windows all over the screen, confusion confusion).  It needs to operate in the way that people think.  It needs a BASIC mode and an ADVANCED mode, instantly changeable.  Get rid of the myriad  buttons on the bottom of the screen and have only the essential ones present.   Get chat off the primary movement screen and in a separate window that pops up at user command.  Make that window scrollable, without having to press CTRL-H (and other multitudinous, outdated keycodes) just to get basic items to work.  The user can pop up the chat screen manually when they see that new chat is available.  Get rid of the annoying flashing orange chat button and instead have it turn solid orange when new chat is available.  Make things sensible and non-invasive.

    Make the Viewer work like people think.  That's the key to good software.  Some considerable progress has been made.  But a lot of confusion has entered in the process.  The Viewer is far more confusing than it needs to be-- even to experienced users.  In short, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY!!!  Make the Viewer intuitive.  Make it so that people don't have to constantly hunt for this or that.  Make it delightfully functional.   

    Want to impress new visitors?   Make the viewer easy and fun to use.  After all, that's 50% of the experience.

SEPARATE EVENT REGION

    We need to bring back regular Inworldz Events.  Ignore the groundless complaints of "competing" with groups (what are we competing for?).   Events keep groups alive, they keep the grid alive.  No official events means no official presence.   Official events planned well ahead of time gives everyone a chance to plan around them... and gives Inworldz a focus of activity.  It doesn't have to be every day.  It doesn't have to take up the entire calendar.  It just needs to exist.

    Regular events attract newcomers, and they won't conflict with local events.  How do we know this?   Simple:  How many restaurants are in your town?  How many burger joints?  How many movie theaters, live plays, public shows, etc etc. 

    Believing that Inworldz shouldn't host events because it (somehow) competes with groups is like believing that a City should not have a sports arena because people won't go to movies any more.   It's paranoia, nothing more.   That's simply not how life works.

   Events should be held on a region next to the Welcome Center... where people can see something is going on.  It will attract attention.  It will lessen drag on the main welcome region by being on a separate region.  It will let new visitors know that Inworldz is alive.   (Morning Coffee would do that too hint hint.)

SANDBOX TO THE OTHER SIDE

    Events area on one side of Welcome Region, and a huge Sandbox on the other side of the Welcome Region.  Make the sandbox attractive... not just flat land, but terraformed and interesting. The sandbox should contain a tutorial area. 

Nothing sparks interest in building than watching other people build.   Building is a big attraction on VR.   It's like Legos on steroids.  So encourage building by giving people an area they can see off the main welcome area, walk to easily, and get involved in building right away.  

SUMMARY

    That's all I'm going to cover right now; this article is long enough as it is.   If you've gotten this far I congratulate you:  agree or not agree-- reading it all shows you really care about Inworldz.   We'll probably discuss more in the comments.   Please feel free to join this Ning group if you wish to take part in the conversation.  You can comment and then cancel membership if you wish; your comments will still remain for others to enjoy.

-- Your friend and fellow avatar, Wayfinder

P.S. ITEMS

    These are things that don't warrant being part of the main article, but can make the new user experience much better.

    * PRE-LOADED TEXTURES.   What if the Inworldz official Viewer had a set of pre-loaded textures that are in their own permanent cache and instantly accessible when someone logs into Inworldz.   (I dunno, maybe it already does.)  What if that cache of textures contained everything needed at the Welcome Area so that when a new visitor logs in, everything rezzes quickly and textures load fully.  Would that be impressive?  I think it would be impressive.  Some people might consider that "cheating"... but it's not.  It's how Inworldz works normally on our home sims.  Our computers cache the textures and then after that our home sim rezzes pretty quickly.  We'd just be giving new visitors a preview of this when they first log in.

    * TEXTURE COMMON SENSE.   This is a technical issue, but when building, there is no need to have a 256x256 solid white texture.  What is the smallest texture available?  32 x 32?  1x1?  For a blank color texture, that's all that's required.  So when building, avoid large-size simple textures.   Textures = time loading and overhead.  The smaller the textures, the faster they load, the less computer memory they require.  If we can repeat a 32x32 texture on a prim instead of bringing in a 1024x1024 of a repeated pattern... that's the way to go.  I mention this because it is possible to build a very impressive, highly-interactive welcome area that rezzes like greased lightning.  It's not only possible-- it's essential.

--o--

Views: 2016

Comment by Yichard Muni on April 27, 2016 at 11:15am

Judy, this was discussed several times in the IW forum. This is why they are installing an "export" perm (at least it shows in the iW3, but it is not yet implemented in the inworldz server). Not sure exactly what Tranq and Ele will actually do, but I trust them they will not let go the IW content so easily.

There is some political reasons here too, about why "some places" do not implement copyright protection, and they will never do it, whatever the arguments. If we worry, they reply that we must "think positive"...

This is too why my builds are in IW and nowhere else. Of course I had many demands, but I know too well what would happen: my builds would reappear elsewhere, with somebody else's name, for a totally different purpose, and I would get only contempt if ever I dared to remark that I was the original creator.   

Comment by Bellini Cazalet on April 27, 2016 at 11:21am

*wavin claw n' wigglin talons*  I gotsa question.  Whatsa OAR n' how's does you use one?  Issit like a paddle, ya knows like "uppa creek wif outta"?  Cause I be wonderin how you can squish up alla da stuffs on you sim n' saves it inna backup if you din't create it all.  I mean, wouldn't dat be like piracy? I know I couldn't pulls individual stuffs outta da box n' copy it n' sell it like it was me own, but others sure could.  ARRRRG  I loves bein a pirate as much as da next Dwagon, cept m'be Snoots, he bein da bestest Pirate o' dem all, but even he not gonna steals somebody else's stuffs (unless it a cookie), but, how can you protect stuffs from bein stole outta a backup file?  Or has I got dis all wrong again .... I does dat alot.  Alla dis technical stuffs is way over me head, I is kinda short ya knows.  

HUGGGGGGGGGGGs 

da Bellini

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on April 27, 2016 at 11:22am

Yup Judy, that is one reason Snoots didn't take DragonForge to Kitely or Canadian Grid or OSgrid or whatever other hypergrid/Opensim system is out there-- because there's a difference between reasonable security and no security-- even giving people GODMODE capabilities (which allows someone to not only copy an item but change permissions and re-create it with themselves as the creator).  

What I'm discussing in OAR ability though, is being able to take our own or full-perm creations out of Inworldz, either for backup purposes or (if we want) to set them up elsewhere.  It's not that everyone or needs to do that.   It's that there are enough people who want to be able to do so to deprive Inworldz of some serious revenue.

No, if someone buys your items and those items aren't full-perm, they could not "OAR" them out of Inworldz.  But if you built a sim, taking weeks or months or even years to do so, to be told you can't take your own full-perm creations, as a region, and back them up on your hard drive is a bit difficult for people to swallow-- and one of the primary reasons many people refuse to join Inworldz.  Their argument:  if I create something on OpenSim I can OAR it as a backup in case something happens to the main server.  

Paranoid concept?   When OSgrid literally died about a year (two years?) ago with no system backups whatsoever (extreme grid mis-management), you can be sure people appreciated the fact they'd backed up their sims into OAR files.    All those folks had to do was set up their sims on another grid.  In many cases when OSgrid was revived months later (under new, more reliable management), many people were able to return their regions to that grid. 

We should not imagine that just because it's Inworldz nothing can happen to it.   Perish forbid anything should ever happen to Ele and Tranq at the same time... but if it did, where would Inworldz be?  Do we have any assurances that steps have been taken for someone to step into their places in case of unforeseen catastrophe, or that those people would be as capable as Ele or Tranq in keeping Inworldz afloat?   Inworldz is not bullet-proof.  No business is.   Every business has its Achilles Heel.  The ability to reasonably back-up our hard work is a sensible precaution against such eventuality.  Even more importantly-- such policy might get people to start looking at Inworldz as other than an "Iron Curtain" grid.  (Second Life is viewed as such even moreso.   People don't like to have their creations "held hostage" for any reason... and Linden Lab is certainly doing just that.)

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on April 27, 2016 at 11:34am

Follow-up on this particular matter:  Why else should Inworldz allow reasonable OAR backup of our own creations & full perm items?   Simple: because it's too late to lock the house after the thief has already broken in.

I mentioned this before, there are already ways to remove stuff from Inworldz.   The CD industry has already realized it's foolish to rant and rave at people copying music.  Instead, the wise solution was to make that music more easily available and less-costly.  When the industry wised up and did that, they started getting along a lot better with their customers.

A grid can either wake up, smell the coffee and make policies that help improve customer relations, or stubbornly insist on "security" measures that don't work... and either lose those customers to the competition or have the customers use "other means" to preserve their work.  I will not go into detail here.  Any VR resident with a reasonable number of years and experience in VR knows what I'm talking about.  Ele and Tranq and every other person on Inworldz staff knows what I'm talking about.   The phrase is well-known:  "You can't stop copybotting."  That's a reality.  Which is the primary reason Inworldz should provide members a legitimate way to back up their own work in a manner that they can take such backups to another world in case Inworldz goes belly-up.   To refuse to do so is to alienate a significant potential customer population.

All we're discussing here is reality,  nothing more.  This isn't politics, or drama, or opinion.  It's how it is.   Anyone who imagines that Inworldz is a "secure" platform is most uninformed.  I founded Elf Clan 12+ years ago.  In that time I have seen just about every trick in the book, from Copybotting to Stored Inventory (now defunct-- do not buy that program, it doesn't work), to OpenSim's excessively open OAR policy.  

    There is no such thing as a secure grid.  Plain and simple.  So Inworldz might as well recognize that fact and create policies and tools that will provide legitimate tools that will encourage sales growth.  The alternative is to keep doing what they're doing now... and remain stagnant.

SAVE MY REGION AS AN OAR

Check all items on the region.

Is the item created by the person requesting the OAR and / or full perm?

If not, don't back it up.  Otherwise, back it up.

Continue until the entire sim is saved.

Realize:  OpenSim allows people to back up everything that's on their sim, owned or not.   Inworldz can at least allow legitimate-ownership backup.     It's just simple business common-sense.

    Oh, and replace IDI with something that works.   Did I mention that already?   ; )

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on April 27, 2016 at 11:56am

Bellini, OAR is a function used by OpenSim that allows backing up an entire region to one's hard drive.  The concept is:  if you're a sim owner, you have ultimate control and rights over what's on your sim.  Since a whole lot of OpenSim owners are actually hosting their lands themselves, this makes sense in that environment.  

     The advantage:  people can make backups of their entire region in case something catastrophic happens (a feature people in OpenSim really appreciate... because catastrophic things are quite possible and have indeed happened).   The downside:  they took it too far and put no safeguards in whatsoever, which allows a sim owner to be an outright thief if they so desire.   It's definitely a case of the pendulum swinging too far the other direction.

    A suggested sensible middle-ground is that if someone is the creator of an item, or if the item is full-perm, it would be able to be backed up both individually and as part of an OAR file, retaining the identity of the original creator.   I believe that to be a reasonable, logical and legitimate compromise.  It's not throwing security out the window, but it does allow people to preserve their own hard-earned work.

PS- In answer to the foreseeable cry of "but it might contain textures or parts that belong to some other creator!"-- again we get to the DRM thing.   When one becomes a texture merchant or sells building supplies (such as sculpties) in a full-perm format, that person is fully aware of the potential of that item being copied.  They are in fact stating, "You may copy this for your own use, and even re-sell it in your own builds".   So there's really no logical room for objection to someone backing up that full-perm item in an OAR file.   It's objecting to something they knew fully well was the situation when they got into the business.  It's an exact equivalent to someone building a full-perm freebie-- and then complaining because people give copies of that freebie to their friends.   Such complaints are in my opinion unreasonable and unrealistic in relation to the issue of OAR files.

Comment by Yichard Muni on April 27, 2016 at 12:18pm

Way, that an item is full perm in a grid does not mean that its creator agrees for exporting in another grid. This is why there is a fourth perm "export" in preparation. The button is already in the IW3, but not yet installed in the IW servers. I think I remember that Tranq or Ele stated that this perm will be installed. If so, it will make safe OAR possible in the way you explain, without allowing to export copyrighted items.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on April 27, 2016 at 12:50pm

Seems reasonable, Yichard.  Most likely merchants will quickly learn that full-perm builder items will need to allow export, or they'll be losing customers to those who do.

What I would hate to see is existing items defaulting to "no export".  I would hope there'd be a way around that, so that merchants could specify retro-actively. 

Comment by Bellini Cazalet on April 27, 2016 at 12:51pm

Ohhhh, ok thankies Way!  

Comment by Yichard Muni on April 27, 2016 at 1:04pm

All perms must default to the most conservative values. This is because, it we forget to set them, we can still replace it for the new owner. But if we forget to remove a perm, once the itme is disseminated it is irretrievable.

Assuming that, whatever argument, reason of policy, it is in last analysis to the creator do decide which perms he is granting or not, for watever reason he thinks of.

Comment by Judy Muircastle on April 27, 2016 at 1:31pm

I am very picky about my creations they mean everything to me.  I do not count on oar files, grid inventories for any of my creations... I started building Hobo park in 2008 on second life I have saved everything I have ever created to xml files, dae files, textures, word doc files that i have copied my scripts to,  on external hard drives and they are kept in a very safe place.  This way I don't worry about what if a grid closes or goes down like osgrid did and yes I had all my osgrid and metro oar files on my hard drives plus the server software.  One has to take care of one self in virtual worlds..I get sick thinking about how I would have felt when osgrid went down had I not had those hard drives because a lot of those 20 sims I used as practice build sims and many of hobo park rides and things were built on osgrid but I didn't worry about it because i had those hard drives and when sl got very hard to export from I didn't worry either because I had everything on my hard drives and everything I have built on iwz is on those hard drives also.  Like I said one must protect ones self because you never know about these grids and one day they could just be gone ...like a grid i was on a couple of years ago called tropical paradise... everyone there loved that grid and we were all creating ..selling ...and having fun.  But one day when i tried to log in it was just gone.  There was no prior warning no reason to believe that the grid would go down but it just closed one day and everyone lost there money and creations ...but my creations were on my external hard drive so I never lost them.  Protect yourselves creators of iwz.. get external hard drives to copy your creations to so you will never lose them!!

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