WAYFINDER'S YEAR-END-REVIEW 2012
Well, here we are the final day of 2012, and instead of waiting until 2013 I thought I'd go ahead and look back over the latest ELF CLAN year and as is my habit-- post my thoughts.
EATING CROW-- ALMOST
First the obligatory part. Late 2009 / early 2010 I predicted that 'unless some major changes are made, Second Life would be either offline or significantly different by the end of 2012'. Obviously that wasn't the case... kinda. I say “kinda” because well, some major changes were made. CEO Mark Kingdon was ousted and a somewhat sharper Ron Humble took his place. I believe that was the one thing that kept LL from taking a belly-flop into inevitable bankruptcy. So I think firing a CEO counts as a change major enough that I don't have to eat blackbird stew... at least not without some decent seasoning.
Nevertheless, Second Life itself hasn't changed all that much... and they're still online. They did improve their viewer from 2.0 to 3.something (if one can call anything in that viewer an improvement). Their society is still pretty much what it was. Reports are they've been losing sims at the rate of about 100 a month, but that's not surprising in this economy. One major thing that did happen is that they lost Elf Clan... as well as a few other major groups. So in a way, for our group at least, the prediction came true. Second Life “ended” for Elf Clan... and the grid is “significantly different”... at least as far as our group is concerned. It's pretty much history. Individual members still visit there to hang out with old friends, but our focus is now most definitely Inworldz, a different grid entirely.
So I can't claim a “win” on that prediction at all... but neither was the forecast a total failure. LL made some major changes, we dealt with those changes (as did many others) by leaving the grid... forecast at least partially fulfilled, even if I didn't hit the nail on the head. How much longer that hyper-expensive virtual playground continues to operate as is remains to be seen over time. It's certainly been an interesting experiment (as in “may you live in interesting times”).
ELF CLAN'S GROWTH
I almost don't need to mention this; I'm just doing so for historical record. Since we've moved to Inworldz Elf Clan has grown to over 40 regions plus several “scenic” regions (less-populated regions mainly for scenery, oceans and access-ways). Our group for the most part seems happy, well-adjusted to the move and is accomplishing things we could only dream of doing before (such as dozens of members owning their own sims).
During 2012 Elf Clan assisted with several large events hosted by member Jeri Rahja and along with other individuals and groups, we all managed to raise quite a bit for charity. There were several excellent art exhibits, building competitions, auctions and other fun things that kept us all active. Cinnamon hosted our Sandbox Building Events and we had lots of fun with those. So although 2012 was quite a bit more relaxed for our group (especially compared to 2010)... we still had plenty to keep us occupied.
Inworldz has grown to some 800-900 subscribed regions and kind of entered a “holding pattern” at that point while they firm up foundation software. During 2011 they installed PHLOX, an incredibly efficient and fast scripting engine that still retains compatibility with most current scripting. They moved to a new server company that allows better international support. Although they didn't quite make the hoped-for-goal of getting Physics totally installed by the end of this year... they did achieve the significant goal of having the first beta testing sims on the main grid and have announced grid-wide rollout before long. Full-bore vehicle physics should be in place before too many months roll by... at which time Inworldz plans an all-out advertising campaign to attract new members and increase both sim count and revenues. This will allow the grid to grow, giving the company the capital it needs to do more and more interesting things. All in all, Elf Clan is pretty happy with our decision to move to Inworldz.
Other grids have popped up too, most of them garage-type installments based solely on OpenSim code. The disadvantage there of course is OpenSim code, as it hasn't made much in the way of advances over the last year and still remains very buggy and unstable. The advantage is low-or-zero-cost sims and people being able to run sims on their own computer using OSgrid. If people are willing to tolerate the lag and problems, this allows folks to own sims who could never have done so otherwise. As we have said (and in fact, Inworldz itself has said), there is room for everyone. So it's good to see this opportunity available to folks who have little spare cash but want to see what it's like to own a sim. Kudos to the explorers and pioneers willing to take on the task of providing OSgrid and other small grids.
From a virtual reality standpoint there hasn't been anything more than that (that I can think of) that's been all that major or spectacular during 2012 (thank goodness). We didn't have repeat of the 2008-2010 earth-shaking (as in earthquaking) company policy changes, Elf Clan experienced what I'd say was our first total year of virtual-reality peacefulness... and the group prospered as a result. We can only hope for similar in 2013.
Personally some of our members had quite a year. Peter and Jo Lioncurt went through some pretty hair-raising hospital stays as their health problems continued; those people are fighters, I must say. I had open-heart surgery and spent some time recovering from that-- and probably adding at least 10 years to my life as a result. Maxwell reports coming through the other side of his extreme cancer-fighting battle. I'm sure others of our members have faced health problems as well and I just haven't heard of it (or have lost track... which happens when we have so many online friends). Forgive me if I missed anyone.
Koni began her hectic schedule pursuing her Doctorate (which is why we haven't seen as much of her lately). Mean Golem has a terrific new RL job in which he has quite a bit of responsibility (go figure). We've made several new friends in VR.
With the birth of my great nephew (he lives right across the hallway from me) and improved health (allowing me to be more active) my RL has taken more importance in 2012, which means I've spent less time online. Nothing wrong with that; VR is for me entertainment, and is best relegated to free hours. It's always been Elf Clan's creed: Real life comes first.
“SHIFT OF POWER”
Something very subtle happened over 2012 that we Eldars have known about but kept it somewhat under wraps. We have slowly allowed our sim owners greater dominion and taken more of a back-seat in group operations. We're still officially “in charge” and are the “last word” in establishing group policy... but our members have more and more taken on the task of managing and moderating themselves, using the Elf Clan Charter as their guide. We are pleased to see you've done quite well in this. It has allowed us to sit back a bit and take a breather after 8 years of direct hands-on leading Elf Clan to where our vision carried us. Now our group has reached a stage of maturity where we feel more comfortable in having multiple sim owners, each with their own area of authority. We give quite a bit of credit there to Inworldz itself. The friendliness and support of the Founders has allowed us as Eldar to have greater leeway, letting us relax our grip a bit and start letting the child walk on its own. Not surprisingly the child grew quickly to the mature group we now all enjoy. For us Eldar, that is most gratifying.
It's not that the Eldar are no longer leading the group; we remain as the necessary foundation for anyone who needs us. But we've noticed that need has significantly decreased over the last year. Peter handles the sim fees. I handle specific questions and with Cinnamon and Moontan help in teaching newcomers how to set up and manage sims. Other than that it's been pretty relaxed this past year. I'm sure our members appreciate the more open atmosphere as much as we do.
Along with that change in group management came another welcome change: the acceptance of new genres within Elf Clan. In 2012 we officially announced that themes other than Elven Fantasy would now be accepted at ground level. We have always allowed such in high sky (example: our TRON, Warhammer 40k and Star Trek exhibits on Old ElvenMyst). But now sim owners can create alternate genres at ground-level: science fiction, steampunk, post-apocalyptic, story-book, fairy-tale... the imagination reels. The idea is to be unusual and creative, which our group seems to do with no shortage of ideas.
So we're looking forward to 2013, waiting to see what both Elf Clan and our good friends at Inworldz accomplish during this upcoming year. Our best wishes to you all.
– Wayfinder Wishbringer, the Eldars of Elf Clan, Guardians, Greeters and Region Owners
To all of our members, the very best.