Elf Clan Social Network

-- a commentary by Wayfinder Wishbringer, Founder of Elf Clan

IS VIRTUAL REALITY SATURATED?

Over the past few months a statement has been repeated in the Inworldz forums, namely that the virtual reality market is "saturated"... that Second Life has already pulled as many potential customers from the market as are likely to exist and that any new customers are going to have to come from a totally new-concept market.

Personally... I disagree.

MOM'S AND POP'S--A GREAT PLACE TO EAT

Mom and Pop opened a nice cafe, "Mom's Home Cooking".  They had many loyal local customers who raved about their food.  They tried to get more customers by varying their menu from time to time, and their current customers appreciated the variety offered.  But Mom and Pop's place just didn't seem to grow over the years.  It made a profit, they did well and had a great reputation, but as far as growth... there simply was none.

On the other hand, Bob across town opened up a restaurant.  His food was decent and filling and of reliable quality, so he drew in customers.  Rather than sticking to one restaurant he obtained funding and managers and opened three more in the same city, then expanded through franchising.  By the time five years had passed he had the nickname "Big Bob" and there was no doubting his success.

What is the difference here?  The answer is obvious:  Mom and Pop simply failed to think and move big.  Instead they stuck to their one restaurant, working themselves to the bone day after day, hiring a few employes but never doing the things necessary to expand beyond their small business.  While they often tried new dishes and recipes and their customers liked them, there was only so much they could do themselves.  And after all, there were so many other restaurants out there and they were already over-worked in just keeping one restaurant open; how could they possibly open additional locations?   Besides, they must be doing things right because their customers love them and their food is great.

In short, Mom and Pop thought small and remained small.  They had dreams of course.  They were hard workers and had loyal customers, but they didn't do what was necessary to expand.  They did too much themselves and rather than seeking sources of capital for investment, hiring managers and employees and doing all the necessary things that Big Bob did... they merely remained stuck where they were.  Mom and Pop insisted on retaining all ownership of their business, didn't want to bring in new partners, didn't want to delegate responsibility or control... and there was only so much Mom and Pop could do in a 16-hour day.  So despite having a nice, successful business that customers loved... it remained a small, single location.

SATURATED MEANS "NO MORE CUSTOMERS"

A business website defines a "saturated market" as follows (I paraphrase):

A market in which all prospects already have the product, with new sales resulting only from a replacement  situation, with little chance of new-customer sales.

When a market is "saturated", it means there are no more new customers to be gained.  We've found such in the area of desktop computers and automobiles.  Most people who are going to own a desktop computer already have a desktop computer.  As a result, the primary business to be gained in that area is from already-existing customers... either a company's own or the competition's.   The same holds true for the auto market except for one classification:  those entering or just out of college.  That's why auto merchants target that specific market: it's the only "new" market they have.

Is the Virtual market saturated?  To be so it would mean that every computer user on the planet that might have tried virtual reality has already tried it... and either accepted or rejected it.   Is that the case?

HOW MUCH OF THE MARKET DOES VR ALREADY HAVE?

Second Life claims to have millions of "registered" users.   However its regular-user base is a bit below one million.   In contrast, there are some 6 billion desktop and laptop computers on this planet.  Are we to believe that Second Life has accessed the entire computer market, to the point that there are no new customers to be gained?

That can be ascertained fairly easily by doing very simple amateur market research:  ask random people throughout your day if they have ever heard of "Second Life".   I have done this.   The population I've accessed has ranged from friends to computer professionals.  

Would it surprise readers to learn that about half the techs I've spoken with have never heard of Second Life?  This means one thing:

       If computer professionals haven't heard of Second Life... virtual reality is by no means "saturated".

SO WHY IS VIRTUAL REALITY STAGNANT OR DECLINING?

It's very easy and very convenient to blame lack of growth or even declining numbers on "market saturation".  That's the scapegoat within easy reach.  Better yet, market saturation means no one is responsible, no one is to blame... because the market is saturated.  There's nothing management or sales can do about that.

However there are two problems with saturation-thought:

1) If the market isn't saturated, it means someone in marketing simply isn't doing their job

2) If the market is saturated, it means someone in management isn't doing their job by re-purposing the product and opening up new markets

Either way, someone is failing to see the full potential of what's out there.  How do we know this?  Because computer companies still sell computers and auto makers still sell cars.

In short, blaming stagnation or low numbers on "saturated market" is a cop-out.

How do auto companies sell cars despite decades of a totally-saturated market?  They come out with new models with new features.  They re-style existing product so that it looks better.  They convince customers their current product will de-value if they don't "upgrade".  They build intentional obsolescence into their product (something which I detest, but that's what they do) so that the old product wears out and forces people to re-buy.  They advertise so that people who have rejected their brand in the past re-visit the concept and re-consider buying.

WHAT VR MARKETS ARE OUT THERE?

There are several VR markets to be tapped, the most obvious being the first:

* Dissatisfied Second Life customers.  Just because someone hates Second Life doesn't mean they hate VR.  Many of them come to Inworldz to get away from the extreme prices and heavy-handed policies of Linden Lab.  That is a ripe market.  Further... there is nothing "wrong" with swiping the competition's customers.  Businesses do so every day.  Note:  I am not condoning "sniping" customers, which is an entirely different matter.  But if a SL customer is considering leaving SL for Inworldz, there is nothing wrong with presenting to that person every conceivable reason for doing so.  That's called sales.

* People who are bored with other computer activities.  As computer users get older, existing activities become more "boring".  The old slash-and-hack of online computer games are out-grown (hopefully), they wish to move on to new things, they're looking for more of a challenge, they want to be more creative.   VR offers that potential.

* People new to computers.  While this is becoming less common, there are still people (mostly older ones) who are only now purchasing their first computer.  That market is small but it's there.  That very demographic group is a prime market for virtual reality.  In addition, every year there are immense numbers of people entering high school, graduating high school or college, or opening businesses who will enter the professional computer market for the first time.  Even children raised on computers will go from child-based to adult-based activities.  That is an entire new market potential being formed every year, several times a year.

* People upgrading computers.  Perhaps in the past someone had an older computer with poor graphics and could not use VR properly.   But due to lowering prices they just purchased a quad-core screamer and they now have all the power they need to access VR.  All they need is to be reminded of that fact.

* Companies who tried Second Life but grew tired of the exorbitant prices, heavy-handed company policies, buggy systems, excessive lag, crashes, poor scripting engine, self-serving nature, unprofessional company conduct, etc etc.  Inworldz presents a similar environment at far less cost, considerably more power and leeway in creating, and better technology.  There is less lag, fewer glitches, less crashing, more reliability, more prims, megaprims, no link limits... well, we all know what Inworldz has to offer.   In addition while Second Life gained a reputation as a virtual brothel and pedophile haven... Inworldz does not have that reputation.  It's a different company.  Just because businesses rejected Second Life doesn't mean they've rejected virtual reality entirely.  They may think they have.  But maybe they just haven't been made aware of the features of Inworldz "new model of automobile".

That's just a sample of potential markets.  To put this simply:  the markets are there.  They just need to be tapped.

TO GROW BIG, THINK BIG

If a company is to grow it has to think on growth levels.  That means acquiring growth capital, hiring employees, empowering department managers-- and being willing to let go and delegate authority.  This is something we see missing in all virtual reality companies save perhaps Second Life.   Second Life has of course been the most successful in growth... but even with their significant profit levels and commendable positive achievements (such as putting VR on the map)... they still failed to meet their full potential.

Not being one to sugar-coat, Inworldz itself is a prime example of "Mom and Pop" thinking.  This is a company that has been in business for over five years.  It's a good company.  It has loyal customers and happy customers and they have a good product.   They've made significant improvements in the code and serve up "new dishes" from time to time, which their customers enjoy.  But for the past three years (or so) the grid has hovered around 800 private regions and has not grown beyond that level.  Perhaps that is wise considering the platform isn't yet quite stable enough to attract a huge audience.  Perhaps they're waiting to reach that point.   That's not a bad way to go.

On the other hand, perhaps Inworldz is so deep in correcting Second Life and OpenSim errors they're missing opportunities in marketing... and perhaps even missing a very limited launch window.  I know some will cry "Heretic!  They know what they're doing!" and... maybe they do.  But consider:  in five years of operating time, could they have been further along?  

It seems there is potential that has been missed.  In a recent forum someone asked why Inworldz, seriously in need of development capital, never attempted to access crowd sourcing (a method of raising immense amounts of money through customer reward-based donations).  It's been questioned why the company didn't extensively and actively court the Educational community when Linden Lab gave them the shaft removed their special discounts.  Why is it that a company desperately in need of cash has focused more on development than in procuring development capital?   Has that lack of funding actually impeded development?

A man can build a house himself or he can hire men to help him build it.  Either way it gets built.  The question is whether he'll ever get a chance to actually live in it.

Some will argue that Inworldz only has three Founders and one employee and a small handful of volunteers and there's only so much that can be done with limited staff.  That is quite true.   But the question arises:  why not then procure the capital to hire more staff... especially in the marketing and coding areas?   One can understand waiting until the code foundation was solid before making a big marketing push, and I certainly won't deny the wisdom of doing so.   But has significant opportunity been missed during a crucial time... a time before anyone else had a chance to start ramping things up?  Could the company have benefited from hiring additional coders and management staff so that they could achieve their goals in three years rather than five?   Will they have time to achieve their goals at this stage of the game?

POTENTIAL COMPETITION

Aside from the obvious counter-market competition by companies such as Facebook and online computer games... VR is facing potentially severe competition within its own ranks.  Linden Lab has announced plans for a Second Life 2, a totally-revamped virtual reality system.  It is a fact that since Linden Lab's announcement of SL2, members of Second Life have been jumping ship and coming to Inworldz.  But that's luck market.  Should we expect all (or even a significant number) of Second Life users to take that step?  Inworldz may experience some region growth due to that announcement, but until SL2 appears and people find out what it really is even that growth potential will be limited.  Until then, SL2 very likely poses a greater competition threat than growth boon.

Philip Rosedale, ex-CEO of Linden Lab and founder of Second Life has announced his own project based on open source code, in which anyone can run their own virtual world.  Despite popular thought, in my opinion he is not to be underestimated or taken lightly.  Philip knows how to start a company (he's done it before) and he has significant personal investment resources.  There is a chance he just might pull it off.

In addition, great concern comes from a little company named Yahoo... which has been suspiciously buying up gaming and virtual reality firms... and has been very closed-mouth about what they're planning to do with such assets.  Google once tried VR and failed. All that means is that Yahoo has a very good example of what to avoid.   It would be foolish for anyone to ignore this potential heavy-hitter in any endeavor they tackle.

A SHORT WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

I believe there is a short window of opportunity for virtual reality "as we know it" to get its act together.   Our home Inworldz not only needs to succeed at its current goals, it needs to grow and expand with intent to compete with these potential major market threats.  

Linden Lab has already made it very evident that they consider the current Second Life to be old beans.  That would include anything based on the SL concept-- which includes both OpenSim and Inworldz.  The fact that Linden Lab has showed pretty much zero concern for the existence of OpenSim or Inworldz either one is strong indication of how lightly they take either operation as an actual threat to their dominance.  Perhaps that's a foolish stance... or perhaps it's because they've been planning the next generation of VR for some time.  Despite any ill-will and disrespect one may justly have for Linden Lab as a company-- it would be most foolish to ignore them as a force-to-be-considered.  After all, they pretty much created VR as we know it. 

So do the virtual reality worlds continue to operate as "Mom and Pop's" restaurant, keeping the business close-to-home and operating their companies as a "family business"... or do they do what is necessary to pull in essential investment capital to fund needed development and management staff?  Do these companies continue to stagnate, failing to change current methods that have proved unsuccessful in promoting growth-- or do they follow the established methods of business proved over decades and start thinking like the "big dogs"?  

MAKING GROWTH HAPPEN

One does not have to give away a company or shaft customers in order to succeed.  I fully believe if Linden Lab had put their customers first, treating their customers with respect and ethical behavior, they could have been ten times, a hundred times larger than they are.   Failing to protect customer interests, failing to keep their word in operations, destroying customer relations-- these have been their biggest mistakes.  "Make the customer happy and the money will follow."  Tick off the customer... and you lose the customer.

It's possible to put the customer first and still be a highly successful company.   Amazon is proof of this.  Gevalia Coffee is proof of this.   But such success doesn't come by keeping such a tight hold on the horse's reigns that it can't run.  For a business to grow, management has to think growth. 

A bonzai tree has its growth severely stunted, intentionally, and although it may be beautiful and gain great admiration and be a work of art... it will never be a fully-grown tree.   So in such things, one has to decide on the desired results.  Bonzai shop or productive apple orchard?  The outcome depends on what the owner decides to do now.

If one decides to not obtain necessary seed and attendants to plant and nurture an entire orchard because it's believed the apple market is "saturated"... that opinion will likely be self-fulfilling.  The question isn't whether the market is saturated... it's what will virtual worlds (especially Inworldz) do now to expand and own that market?  If current VR waits too long, if we think too small and thereby fail to progress quickly enough, there is good chance someone else will beat us to the punch.  That is one of our world's greatest threats-- and should therefore be one of its greatest concerns.

--o--

Views: 270

Comment by Balpien Hammerer on July 7, 2014 at 1:37pm

When I say the market is saturated, I have been clear that it is the SL-style market, or, what is known as the hobbyist/enthusiast based virtual worlds. The kind of people who put up with the steep learning curve of this style of virtual world, and who put up with the cartoon-like quality of the world view as compared to premier games, are a seriously tiny fraction of the virtual world/game market (around 0.1%). And, that sliver of the market is saturated, which is why we see a very slow growth in the best of times in any of the OpenSim based grids (this included InWorldz). So yes, there is a huge market for VR or virtual worlds, but it is nothing like what we see in either SL1 or any of the current OpenSim based grids (including InWorldz).

The rest of my comments appear earlier here: http://elfclan.ning.com/profiles/blogs/iw-should-have-grabbed-these...

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 7, 2014 at 3:55pm

Well-put Balpien.  I would agree there is a far larger market for a "better" VR. 

However, that better VR may quite possibly be the current type of VR, made easier-to-use.   I still think there is a lot of potential market out there for Inworldz... if they simplified the viewer interface for beginners.  That's a whole 'nuther article, but basically it would mean providing only the basics in a very-easy-to-use and intuitive format... with a toggle between that and "advanced user" mode (which itself also needs to be greatly improved).  This is a simple concept and used widely in the computer industry.  I don't know why anyone hasn't done so in our VR worlds.  But then again, I don't know why there has been such resistance to sensibly improving IDI either. ; )

I have lately been studying some impressive photos and screenshots of Inworldz graphics... and I believe the "cartoonish" nature of these worlds is the result of two things:

1) People not taking advantage of Windlight settings designed to bring incredibly awesome atmosphere to regions

2) The absence of a polygonal prim (16, 32, 128, 256 stretch points).  Sculpties and mesh is fine, but that doesn't bring fine-tuned building internally.  Instead folks are encouragEd / forced into using standard block or tortured prims.

3. Failure by builders to use textures to their full capacity.   For example, look at the difference between Ferrator's skyships and similar builds.  Ferrator builds using just basic shapes and an occasional sculptie... but his creations look awesome because the ferret has a real eye for textures.  The same can be said for Zauber.

If we'd had a polygonal prim to work with I believe builders would have done a much more impressive job of creating and builds would look less-cartoonish.  If people were taught how to properly employ textures and how to use Windlight, I think Inworldz would look incredible.  Then all we'd have to do is make IDI more user-friendly and automated... and make the viewer more intuitive. 

Right now Inworldz is focusing on functionality.  That's fine... but it doesn't make people want to use the system.  Removing bugs is essential, but it doesn't attract newbies.  Make the environment right and maybe some of these thousands of people who have been checking in and leaving would decide instead to hang around.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 7, 2014 at 8:15pm

Yahoo is one to watch indeed; they've had a focus on providing platforms for a very long time in Internet terms.

I'm not sure the main post interests me as much as most. I'd like to see InWorldz grow in the way anyone wants their favourite team to win, but mostly I just want a place to be comfortable, and growth does as much harm to that as good. I have a few things to say about the building tools.

I think we need both smooth-object editing and good, suitable texture making and manipulation tools in-world. What do I mean by "suitable"? For example, the ability to paint a seamless texture would be amazing (and quite simple to implement), but without that feature, implementing half the other features of Photoshop would be useless. Prims fall into this to a certain extent; they're not as suitable as they could be. For example, you can't make a really good rope barrier with prims. (I'm not sure of the right term; I mean a rope as might stretch between poles to keep visitors away from the art in an exhibition.) The torus is unsuitable because an elliptical torus varies in thickness. Other prims are even less suitable for that task.

What would be suitable for a rope barrier is if you could say "I want to make an ellipse. All along its circumference I want a circle of this diameter (turning the 2D circumference into a 3D tube). I then want to cut the ellipse to this arc." That would make a perfect rope barrier, and I think it would be easier to think about than all those numbers specifying a torus. There are all sorts of tasks for which a torus is a poor choice but a circle along the path of an ellipse would be perfect. There are other path shapes; what if you could specify straight lines, splines, and arcs all joined together into a path? What if you could draw parts of the path free-form? If you specify the cross-section before you draw the path, then with automatic depth adjustment you could draw rope loosely coiled on the deck. You could just draw it! If the profile could itself be a complex 3D object, you could make chains the same way. Make a link with two arcs and two lines, finalize that, then use it as the path for the chain. Obviously you'd need a way to adjust overlap.

Another good thing would be shape math. Want a window in a wall? The wall's a big box, the window is box-shaped, so you subtract a little box from the big box. If you want a round window, subtract a cylinder. Then use the path objects described above for the window frame. Prims could be so much simpler, a sphere or a box could have no parameters other than its size, but if you could subtract them from each other they would be far more powerful than the prims we have with their limited cuts and hollows. (And what is with the way textures behave in hollows???) You'd still want parameters for taper, especially for cylinders but all rest would be unnecessary. Slice would be no use at all if we had better tools for lining prims up; which we may already have but I haven't tried them. ;) And what about making symmetrical builds? That's a computer's job if there ever was one.

I don't have any clear ideas for smooth objects. Yours is the clearest I've heard, Wayfinder. I could add that the objects don't need to be solids, they could be sheets, and that some tools for working with points en masse would be useful. The existing land tools could serve as a set of ideas point there; InWorldz has fixed them up a lot, showing they can be good. (So InWorldz can make miracles happen sometimes. :D ) Actually, I've wanted 'sheet' objects manipulated by the land tools ever since I lived in Elf Haven, so I do have one smooth-object idea. :) To be really good, you'd have to be able to link sheets, or perhaps punch holes in them... oh hello shape math, haven't seen you since the last paragraph! If you could add vertices to a sheet (or a solid), you could lower a point a lot, add vertices, and make a hollow. Instant cosy burrow; actually dug out! If you could set roughness parameters, you could make that burrow or cave look like it was dug out of soil, chipped out of rock with a pick, or eroded by water, but that's advanced settings.

Another possibility (which I don't understand so clearly) is what some people are doing with voxels. I'm not suggesting a sim be made of voxels, I'm just suggesting voxel-based tools to make shapes. I've seen gorgeous natural-looking rock arches made by painting with a 3D brush. I don't understand it too clearly, but I can imagine a 3D-brush based eraser/burner tool which would make it a thousand times easier for me to make my caves. I think it would be even easier than what I described in the last paragraph.

I didn't realise how many different possibilities there are for better tools until I wrote this. Stupid stuck in the mud LL... but maybe they decided years ago that keeping content creation to a small part of the population was in their best interests. I think that might make sense economically, but I don't want to think about it too hard.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 7, 2014 at 8:39pm

I almost forgot about the "blob objects" I learned about from a copy of PovRAY I picked up around 1992. (Actually I got shape math from it too, but it was called Constructive Solid Geometry. I didn't want to scare people off by making it sound more complex than prims when it's really much simpler to use.) Blob objects were made of points and lines each surrounded by a 'field' which decreased in strength the further it was from the point or line. The shape existed wherever the field strengths added up to more than 1.0. It's simple stuff once you understand it, makes tolerably organic shapes even in the most simplistic usage, could be improved with curved lines and field strength gradients... hmm... perhaps the initial step of understanding how the fields work could be a barrier to adoption. It's a way of making smooth shapes with relatively few control points, anyway.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 7, 2014 at 8:44pm

I have to agree with you eekee.  I've always felt one of the big problems with OpenSim was that it tried to clone SL rather than doing a better job.  They started with a super-buggy viewer and then wrote super-buggy code in an effort to attract SL populace.  It literally became a case of "they couldn't give it away".  

There are so many ways VR could be better.   Anyone who has used Google's Sketchup knows there are better ways to build.  Sculptypaint established there are better ways to design prims.  Qavimator proved it's simple to animate avatars.   Imagine if the power of those relatively simple tools were in-world.  

I know the old argument: why re-create the wheel?  People can use those tools outside and import, right?  Well... how about adding an animation tool that allows us to actually move our avatar in-world and then records those movements to an animation file?  Imagine being able to sit your avatar in a chair (by "editing" its position) then instantly recording that position into a sit script?  No external tool is going to provide that kind of benefit.

And the shame of it is... all this could have been added so easily if Linden Lab had just had the foresight to do it.   Media on a prim should have been part of SL from day one.  Built in animation tools should have been built in.  How about full song files rather than silly 10-second clips?  Then Snoots and other performers could offer their CDs in-world, easily, without having to spend months writing highly-specialized scripts such as AMP. 

We could go on and on... but the summary of it is that VR "as we know it" is very poorly designed from the UI on up.  Inworldz is fighting a major uphill battle to even get it to work, much less to add major improvements.  But without major improvements, I fear the computer industry is going to pass this ++decade-old technology right by.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 7, 2014 at 10:46pm

All good points, Way. I see you feel the same way I do about the origins of OpenSim, but when I read your post something hit me me hard -- "Like a sledgehammer to the face" are the words that come to mind. It hit me that hard because I should have realised it years ago.

In fact it's two realizations. The first was Why can't the viewers be a collection of simple tools, like Unix was originally intended to be?  I use a later system from the authors of the original Unix, and I can tell you the tools are very simple, incredibly easy to learn, and there's not very many of them, but in combination they become almost as powerful as Perl and Python. With the original Unix in Bell Labs they had the secretaries writing scripts for these tools!

Simple tools in combination is the first big realization I had here. I don't have any particular examples thought up, but when describing alternate building tools I suggested a path object using path object output to make a chain, then i combined prim math with 'sheet objects', and paths should have shown up again in connection with blob objects. The possibilities for combinations in building alone are probably endless. Beyond that, in just the quickest thought, what if a script could control a few nodes of a blob object?

But there's a second perhaps more useful realisation, and easier to show how this one is relevant. It stems from the first by obvious analogy with Unix. Why can't the viewer be a platform, within which other peoples programs can run? A hobbyist programmer and Second Life enthusiast originally coded Avimator (which became QAvimator). If the viewer was a platform, the obvious choice for that hobbyist would be to write Avimator to run in the viewer. No work from the grid staff would be required. This part doesn't even require a redesign, but a lot of potentially great things would be difficult or impossible unless the viewers communicate reliably and consistently with the servers; which in turn means throwing out much of LL's network protocol.

On a sour note, I think LL's protocol is the way it is for business reasons, and in that capacity it's working extremely well. The protocol is sensitive to latency and timing matters on the server. LL have the staff to tune and tune and tune timings until it mostly works, but no-one else has. All that tuning isn't clever stuff, it only requires low-paid idiots who can be fired if they get uppity, but it requires a fair number of them, especially early on. I think LL saw libSL happening, and with expansion looming up fast they had the "scalability" as the perfect excuse to introduce UDP, and more subtly to make a tar pit which would hold up even the best developers for years.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 7, 2014 at 10:57pm

And I forgot to click a button. I also forgot I'm not the first to think the system should be a platform. Years ago Lallander Parvenu said to me something like "The problem is they're thinking of these things as applications. They should be thinking of them as operating systems." I agreed, but I forgot all about it shortly afterwards. I pretty-much lost touch with any deeply techy types when Brainiacs sim closed somewhen around January 2009.

Comment by Balpien Hammerer on July 7, 2014 at 11:00pm

So, all the above are quite good and interesting concepts. Here's the thing: to make different kinds of prebuilt objects aka 'nu-prims', too make the user interface super duper easier to use, but more important, to make it animate your avatar in meaningful ways without having a degree in computer science means  pretty deep overhaul of the viewer, if not  new  viewer. Knowing the size of such an undertaking, it is going to cost something like half a million dollars just to get it started. Now that amount of money is not a lot for projects as complex as a viewer, but it does require a company to prepare to get the capital for it. Whomever it is, they have to do that tomorrow because the new virtual train is getting ready to leave the station. Miss that one and the next train is to a different virtual world company.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 8, 2014 at 5:56am

Balpien:  "Now that amount of money is not a lot for projects as complex as a viewer, but it does require a company to prepare to get the capital for it. Whomever it is, they have to do that tomorrow because the new virtual train is getting ready to leave the station. Miss that one and the next train is to a different virtual world company."

Very good post Balpien, and you too eekee.  Balp, this is exactly the reason I wrote the "saturation" article.  It's not so much the market is saturated... as that standard business procedures aren't being exercised to take advantage of both the existing market and that to come.

What I see happening now is Inworldz doing a lot of mop-up.  It's not their own mess either; they're doing the pretty impressive and daunting job of cleaning up the mess Linden Lab and OpenSim created.  I think they're just about there too, after more than 5 years.  Sure there are still a lot of bugs, but most are at this point minor and shouldn't require major code re-creation.

But in that time what hasn't been done is the first thing most businesses would attend to:  obtaining development capital and staff required to do more.  It's akin to focusing on janitorial work and cleaning up the building while potential customers are walking out the door.

That's why "Snoots" has made several suggestions for improving IDI.  I have to say, it absolutely amazes me that IDI is very obviously not working, but the Founders are so opposed to updating it.  And it's not like the suggestions were goofy or made by someone who has no experience; I'd say the success of Elf Clan-- on two different grids-- is evidence we do know how to attract and retain new members.   

I find it very odd that Inworldz doesn't access assets available to it.  Snoots suggested three very sensible changes to IDI... suggestions which were pretty much dismissed.  Then another user asked why Crowd Sourcing hadn't been used for funding (funding which could conceivably bring in more than a million dollars in growth capital) and that suggestion was just as quickly dismissed.  I think this is one of the worst cases of tunnel-vision I've seen in a long time.   And like you say Balpien... the virtual train is getting ready to leave the station.  It's been getting ready for quite some time now and as far as I can tell, the all-aboard whistle is blowing.

Every day new potential market visits Inworldz, looks around, and walks back out the door.  If I were the Founders I would be wondering why it is that private region count has remained at 800 for three years.  As a company owner that would be bugging the blazes out of me and I'd be doing everything I could to correct whatever it is that is obviously not working.  We keep hearing about these secret plans Inworldz has that they have to keep secret and I can understand that (and even agree with it)... but in the meantime they're letting a willing, ready and viable market walk right out the door, every day, 7 days a week.  Why?  Have they never heard: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?"

The primary problem right now, at this moment, isn't old code, or bugs, or being styled like SL (those are problems certainly).  The primary problem is 1) A complex viewer that needs to be greatly simplified (which frankly, isn't all that difficult a task to take on)  and 2) An IDI intake process that needs to be completely re-vamped so that people who come to see what Inworldz is all about are impressed enough to actually stay here and buy regions.

If one is going to have a region-funded company, that company flat well better be selling regions.

If they're not, for any reason, they need to determine that reason and get their ducks in a row.   I like Inworldz, I really do.   But after 5+ years of waiting for the baby to learn to walk-- I'm wondering if there's something wrong with the child's growth that could use some special attention.

I have no doubt as to the Founder's sincerity and intention.  But what I'm seeing is a company playing too close to the vest, not accessing perfectly viable assets, and failing to consider what might happen if the "secret path" they're taking doesn't lead where they hope it does.  Because we're seeing no evident implementation of backup plans, and we're definitely seeing current viable market  walking out the door... with a result of pretty much zero land growth.  In just about any industry that is known as stagnation.  When a company is under-funded, that isn't a good situation.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 19, 2014 at 6:04am

You make some good points Siwan.  The Explorer HUD is a tool for exploration... and I have to admit I've grown tired of it being presented as the tool... to the point that other efforts to promote Inworldz seem to be discouraged or even attacked because "we already have an Explorer HUD".  

I say what's on my mind and sometimes it's not exactly PC, but I think despite the good efforts and intents, if IDI, the Mentors Program and the Explorer HUD were all that was needed... we'd be seeing Inworldz grow.  Since the lands haven't grown in some three years, I'd have to point out these things are not sufficient to the task, that Inworldz is missing a prime issue (or several) in acquiring new landholders. 

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