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"Stagnation and declining numbers should be sufficient warning to the wise." 

    This is a follow-up to this post.  I would like to encourage Elf Clan members and other readers to circulate this blog URL to your friends and anyone who cares.   This time I'm keeping things relatively short and to-the-point.

    From Inworldz to Second Life to OSgrid to Hypergrid to OpenSim... virtual reality as we know it has stagnated.   OSgrid is still recovering from their disastrous no-backup system crash.  Second Life and Inworldz both are failing to grow.  Hypergrid is fragmented and confusing to use, with widespread copybotting (just as was predicted in these blogs).  OpenSim, despite years of development, still is nowhere near the stability and performance of Inworldz... which itself is still nowhere near the stability and performance it should have after some six years of hard-core coding.  (The same can be said for Second Life itself, and it's more than double Inworldz age.)

    The Linden Lab style of virtual reality is stagnated globally.  It's difficult to use, the viewer still confusing, the cache system still doesn't work, the graphic system still crashes rather than regulating itself, 2-D textures still do not load properly-- after more than a decade on the market.  This field is like an adolescent child that has reached a certain age and mentality and just refused to grow any further.

    So, to the point.  Why is virtual reality (and Inworldz in particular, since it's our home) failed to grow?  Why is it still like the full-grown adult living at home rather than venturing out and expanding?  

    It would seem because it simply isn't trying to expand.   Because if it wanted to, it surely could.

 

DOWN TO THE CAUSE ON INWORLDZ (and I'm gonna be blunt)

    First, I am not anti-Inworldz.  I and the dwagon enjoy Inworldz.  It's the home of Elf Clan.  We've accomplished beautiful creations there.

    However, as a group we've dropped from some 60 regions to under 40... and this is with our grandfathered regions.  Established merchants throughout Inworld have closed shop and left the grid.   Why is this?  What happened to the enthusiasm? 

    The matter is simple and has been said before.  It is easy to summarize:

    1. Inworldz seriously needs to totally re-design and rebuild the "welcome" center.   It is unimpressive and unwelcoming.  Sorry to be blunt, but them's the facts.

    2. Inworldz very much needs to offer a product the average person can afford, namely:  limited-purpose $20-a-month regions.  15,000 prims, 20 avatars max, 4 sims stacked to a "server" (if that even applies any more... whatever is required to reduce hosting costs).   Four such sims = $80, same resource expense.  This is essential if Inworldz is to grow.  This grid must compete with OpenSim if it is to ever grow beyond its current status. 

    3. SIMPLIFY THE VIEWER.   The viewer (and intake experience) is still a nightmare of complexity for new users.  It is not intuitive.   It is not "learn by doing" as it needs to be.  There is nothing built into the viewer to automatically lead and teach brand new users.  Games have proved this method to be a necessity for decades.  No one wants to read a lenghty manual, and many, many of the "features" in the viewer are undocumented / without details.  The viewer still crashes.  Client cache and texture management still doesn't work.   The Viewer needs overhauled bigtime and simplified down to the very basics.  People can learn to build and script and set this and that tweak later.  Give new users a viewer that works, is easy to understand and use, and offer them the ability to advance one step at a time.   Major job? Yes.  Essential to the future of VR?   Absolutely.

    4. Inworldz needs to adapt and comply with Firestorm URL standards.  OSgrid works with Firestorm and their URLs work just dandy.  Why should Inworldz have its own specific, non-compatible, non-conforming URL format?  It just makes things difficult for customers not using the official Inworldz viewer.

   (There is a 5th need, but I'm saving that as a post-script so we can emphasize the above four items.)

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE TASTE

    Do I know what I'm talking about?  I would hope after being active in VR since the year 2000 I would have a clue or two about how it operates... and what the everyday person thinks of it. 

    Let me introduce as an example Replicant City, built by a small dwagon.  Most of you already know of it.  Many of you have been there.   It is in high sky of ElvenSong region:

 

This is the basic initial layout of Replicant City, built in just a few hours, including scripting and animation.  It remains to this day as region center:

    The point is... is it possible to build fascinating welcome centers?  Visitors to Replicant City seem to think so.   The self-guided tour takes them throughout the entire multi-genre, multi-exhibit region-wide display.

    I'm not saying the Inworldz Welcome Center has to be a Replicant City.  It can be greatly simplified and of a totally different design and still be impressive.    But it needs to catch attention, it needs to inform, it needs to encourage exploration and eventually... investment in Inworldz.  The current Welcome Center does not do that.   It must do so if Inworldz is to grow.

    Does Elf Clan have experience in achieving goals?  There is little doubt our Eldars have lead this group to glorious accomplishments, and a colorful, vibrant history.  But at this point even we have reached the bottom of our bag of tricks.  Without the cooperation of Inworldz Founders there is only so much we can accomplish.  

    Peter and I have "retired" from VR, mostly because we've been at this far too long, but also partially from frustration at the lack of progress in this genre (not just Inworldz but all of VR).  Although we still work in the background to keep Elf Clan functional, we've left management of the group in younger hands.    But as a result of Inworldz "failure to launch" and resultant stagnation, Elf Clan population has declined as well.   The health of Inworldz affects groups throughout the grid.  There is a direct correlation.  That is why this is important. 

    We like Inworldz, mostly.  But changes need to be made if it is to survive existing and coming competition.  If anyone believes it is impossible for Inworldz to fail, we need to be reminded that no one is too big to fall.  Such falls usually come quickly, unexpectedly, from unforeseen causes, and are almost always a result of failing to plan ahead and adapt to changing times (OSgrid is a prime example).   Currently we do not see Inworldz adapting and changing.  Just the opposite-- we see resistance to such when it is obviously needed.  Change is required.  Failure to change = failure to grow.

 

    That's all I have to say this time around.  Thanks for listening.   Please direct your friends to this page.  If you want Inworldz to prosper, someone is going to have to get the Founders to do something different than what is currently being done.  Because what is currently being done is not bringing about the growth of virtual reality... anywhere.  

     Just the facts, ma'am.

Your friend and Founder of Elf Clan,

Wayfinder Wishbringer

--o--

Post Script:  here is the 5th item needed on Inworldz:

    5. OAR functionality.  Inworldz is still under the illusion and delusion that grids can somehow be gated, protected.  They can't.  That is a fact of life . Anyone who does not believe this is the case is (pardon my frankness) naive to how virtual reality works.   Based on simple examination of history and competitive grids, Inworldz needs to drop the delusion and provide customers with the basic tools and features they need and want.  That includes backing up their own sim to their own computer.  Failing to recognize this reality of life is hiding one's head in the sand and hoping someone "doesn't break the rules".  While the first four items listed in the main article are far more important, this still is an issue on the potential customer's mind and should at least be seriously considered.  

    What happens if Inworldz vanishes overnight?  It's not impossible.  There are myriad things that could cause such a thing.   Users of OSgrid will verify that the unbelievable can and does happen.  Even Second Life could be closed down instantly.  Does anyone think Linden Lab incapable of such a decision?

    Perish forbid, but what would we do if something catastrophic happened to Ele and Tranq at the same time?  All of our work, years of effort and investment, and we have no backup.   That is why this needs to be strongly and fully considered... and the worst possible scenario planned for.

    I hope this helps.  If virtual reality as we know it is to survive and flourish... it needs help.  Stagnation and declining numbers should be sufficient warning to the wise.

Views: 1258

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 22, 2016 at 12:06am

Vedui!

I don't think the main causes are in Inworldz. Inworldz is not perfect, but still the best. So why don't everybody come here?

The main causes are within the attitudes of the media and advertisers toward virtual life. It started with the denigration of Second Life, which was said to be "full of pedophiles and sexual perverts", or the people in here were "psychos unable to cope with reality" of "addicted".

After this came the second row of attacks: they speak a lot of virtual reality... but THEIR virtual reality. For them, virtual reality is 1) a 3D helmet 2) ready to think experience 3) immoral or ugly video games.

After that, the idea that we can create our own virtual reality, and make beautiful and interesting things, is totally absent from the same media and advertising. The idea of user-created content is rejected by the establishment, as anything promoting freedom is. As a consequence, Inworldz recruits only from ancient SLers, which is a dwindling population. And when new people are invited, they think "oh it is full of perverts" or "what is the game here" or "what is the purpose of this".

So now to the interesting question are:

1) how to reach NEW people

2) how to break the barrier of prejudices or ignorance.

 

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 22, 2016 at 12:23am

I would add that the barrier of prejudice and ignorance is very strong. When there were the COP21 meditation events organized throughout the world, I did one such event in Inworldz. I expected it would be hailed as an innovative initiative, by these people who are (theoretically) among the most progressist in the world. Believe it or not, I had no support and no replies to my query of having my event "in the virtual". Instead it was placed in the middle of the Indian ocean, so that nobody found it. Useless to say it did not attracted much people in this way. Still thanks to the one who helped or attended inside Inworldz, understanding it was an occasion to bring entirely new people.

So we may think maybe it would be easier to reach tech-sawy people, because they already know. This is not easy either, because they ar hit frontally by the anti-virtual propaganda, or they may be accustomed to much better quality in their specialized domain (games, or science simulation). 

So we can size the difficulties, and see better what we can do. These difficulties are one of the reasons why I put videos on Youtube, so that people see what we can do in here.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 22, 2016 at 11:41am

I agree with pretty much all the points you bring out Yichard-- especially the point about Inworldz being the best and it not being Inworldz fault that VR world-wide is suffering.  That is certainly true. 

 

However, even if the media reputation and the failure to reach new people were overcome, the points made in this article would still hold true.  SL turned a lot of people against its brand of VR just from being so flawed and such a bad company.   And the truth is, even if we marketed and reached new people-- what are they going to find when they come here? 

* An uninspiring "welcome" center.

* A lack of self-teaching, "learn as you grow" systems built into the viewer and environment.

* A very complex, difficult-to-use viewer.

* Performance issues that should have been corrected years ago.

In short, the first four points made in the main article would still exist, regardless of the reputation created by SL and regardless of whether new people show up or not.   There are new people visiting Inworldz all the time.   What they find is similar to what they find everywhere else.  Although Inworldz is indeed the best of this type of VR, it's still difficult to use, uninviting, the viewer cumbersome and non-intuitive.  Until these things are corrected, the current state of stagnation and decline world-wide, in all virtual grids, will likely continue.

 

Inworldz has the best software, but an unsatisfactory welcome center.  Second Life is... Second Life.   OSgrid and OpenSim are the "people who try very hard only to regularly fall short".  Seriously, as long as OpenSim has been up and running and as free and open as they are, one would think they would have left SL sitting in the dust.   But coding bugs are dinosaur-age.  

 

The same (in some areas) holds true on Inworldz as well.   (I discuss Inworldz in particular because it is our home.  I'm more interested in it because I have greater stake in it.)   Just yesterday I had to post yet another Mantis reporting the sound system is broken... again.  (How many times is this now?)    The viewers still don't handle 2D textures and cache properly (how much more basic a concept can one get than 2D texture loading and system cache?).    These issues have harmed VR ever since SL and continue to plague all grids, including Inworldz.    

 

Does anyone think any 3D computer game on the market could survive if they had trouble loading basic textures, have items not rez, have meshes (or sculpties) not rez, have characters in the game not rez, have sound constantly fail, etc etc?  

 

That's why VR isn't growing.   The primary issues on Inworldz:

1. The unwelcoming "welcome center"

2. Non-intuitive, cumbersome viewer interface.

3. Product is still too expensive for the average pocketbook.  (Not everyone needs a 45k group-level high-performance region at $75 a month.)

4. No OAR file backup.   This spooks people.

 

Past reputation, media and marketing have nothing to do with these three things.   These are issues that are preventing existing VR users from switching to Inworldz.  They are preventing new visitors from being impressed with Inworldz (they take one look and go back to playing Candy Crush or Minecraft).   These are the things that must change if Inworldz is to ever grow and thrive.

 

Just sayin'.   It's totally up to the Founders what they do.   But if I were a Founder, I know what I'd be doing right now.  And I'm pretty confident that within 3 to 6 months Inworldz growth figures would be climbing significantly as a result.

Comment by Kasha Selona on June 23, 2016 at 7:02am

I know I am going to regret this but I will say it anyway.

How do you know that the four points, indeed any of your points, are reasons for the decline in interest in Virtual Reality. How do you both know what people want or need? Your agendas are clear and always have been, but if you notice none are responding because maybe you keep repeating the same things?

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 23, 2016 at 9:38am

Reasonable questions Kasha.  I'll try my best to answer.

I know the four points are valid because:

1. I have a decade and a half of experience in VR running what has been one of the largest, most active groups in the genre.  That experience has taught me how to motivate people and (to an extent) what tends to appeal / not appeal to VR customers in general.   Elf Clan has won awards for its work.  Several of our members (including myself) have won Inworldz awards for our work.  So we do have experience in these areas.  

    I also have a tendency to ask around and do quite a bit of research before posting a major blog.  : )

2. Before that I spent some 25 years as a computer consultant and software engineer.  I spent most of my time either getting management / tech to understand what the customers wanted, or helping customers to understand the seeming gibberish management/tech produced.  In that environment, one quickly learns to understand what is working and what isn't.

3. As the Founder of Elf Clan I receive regular feedback from Elf Clan members, from Inworldz members, from Mentors and ex-Mentors, and even from people I've never met regarding my blogs.  People may not step up and comment in public (many are rightly afraid of getting on someone's bad side or being harassed for their views), but I get feedback all the time-- and the vast majority of that feedback is I'm right on the button.  This is especially the case with observations regarding IDI and the Viewer. 

    There is also (sadly) a growing belief among users that the Founders are no longer listening, no longer available, no longer share the same vision as their customers.   (Whether that is true or not I don't know.  That's just the feedback I get.)   So people tend to come to group leaders instead, hoping we have more "clout" than the average user.  (We don't.  Hate to dispel that myth, but we're just everyday customers like anyone else.)

4. I keep repeating these things because seldom in history has progress ever been achieved by somebody making a point once.   It seems we humans are somewhat hard-headed.  We tend to require something repeated over and over until it finally gets through.  

Look how long it took and how much effort it took to allow women to vote, to get racial equality, etc etc.  Scientists world-wide tried to warn society about Global Climate Change until they were blue in the face-- and it did no good until it was too late.  And now here we are, beyond the "point of no return" and we have no choice but to ride it through... because as a species we refused to listen even to repeated, authoritative warnings. 

That's why I repeat these things over and over... in hope that Inworldz sees to needed change before it hits a "point of no return" (which in the case of VR usually means either collapse of the virtual environment, or a bigger dog takes over).  I consider these repeated blogs an "early warning system".  It doesn't just beep one time; it keeps sounding until people take action.  I keep thinking "this will be the last blog, this will be the last blog"... but then a few weeks or months pass and nothing has been done to improve the situation, and I find myself almost compelled to sound the siren again.  Will they listen this time?

Consider:  Inworldz has been stagnant, has not grown, and has had prominent people (including major merchants) leaving for over 2 years now.  Many people have said time and time again that IDI needs re-designed and rebuilt.  I just heard (yesterday) through a reliable IM grapevine that when the current IDI was being considered, the Mentor body was asked what they thought and the vast majority "voted" against the design.  According to the report they felt the design wouldn't work well for Inworldz.   But it was built anyway.  (Again this is a 3rd party report, but from a source I consider very reliable.  I believe if I had been consulted I could have practically guaranteed it wouldn't work.  The results were predictable.)

So, 2 years+ down the line, obviously it isn't working, I have pointed this out in these blogs, others have pointed it out, others have agreed in comments in the other blog... and yet not a word from the Founders, and IDI still continues to remain as is.   Thus I find myself compelled to ask the question, "Why?"  If something obviously has not worked, obviously is not working, why continue with the same failed theme?  Why not rebuild?    It's not like Inworldz has any lack of creators or ideas or that this couldn't be done almost overnight.  

I believe I am accurate in stating that even without help, all by myself, I could rebuild IDI from the ground up in one week and it would do the job far better than it does now (I would of course consult with other creators and the Founders for suggestions.  "Where there are many advisors there is success").  That's not bragging.  As with many others on Inworldz I'm an experienced designer, builder and scripter.  I've built many regions, events, etc from ground zero-- and I think I have pretty realistic understanding of my creative abilities and the time it would take.  Experienced creators on Inworldz know exactly what I mean; they can do the same thing.

If instead of building it myself, I held several mini building events inviting experienced builders to create specific parts of the new IDI so we could choose from the best designs... we could come up with something amazing, the work of many different creators, with real "WOW!" factor. 

So with this incredible asset in human resources at Inworldz beck and call... why is IDI still IDI?  I cannot help but wonder.  Are the Founders against Inworldz growth?  Is there something going on that we, as Inworldz customers, do not know or are totally unaware of?   Is there a reason no Founder has answered the observations and comments in these blogs?

It should be noted in these two blogs I'm not the only person with these viewpoints.  Others have verified and agreed with them.  These are not just ideas pulled out of my hat; they are based on years of experience in virtual reality.   Please also note this post isn't just about Inworldz; it's about ALL of the Second-Life-type virtual worlds.  From Second Life down to the smallest grid... none are performing and growing as would be hoped or expected.   They are all showing stagnation or decline.  When I speak of viewers I speak of all viewers for this type of VR, used on all grids.  When I speak of stagnation, Inworldz is not alone in this.  When I speak of failure, we have many examples outside Inworldz.  But Inworldz is our home.  We are more concerned with this grid than others. 

Thus these questions, observations and yes... repeated over and over in hopes that eventually some of it will get through and make a difference.   If not-- well at least I can still build guitars in real life.  https://Etsy.com/shop/wishbringer  plug plug.  Want an original Wishbringer guitar?   : )

So, valid questions Kasha.  I hope the above provides valid answers.

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 23, 2016 at 9:55am

The agenda I used to buy was "Quo Vadis Sapa X", but I stopped buying one every year. This is a french brand, not sure you find it in the US.

The agenda for my elven or storytelling event: http://www.shedrupling.org/art/daur/sojen.php

The agenda for my science events: http://www.shedrupling.org/recherch/epis/somm.php

or in the inworldz forum or events listing.

Thanks Kasha for being interested with my activities :-)

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 23, 2016 at 10:13am

Back on topic: maybe contact some persons in IW to have some brainstorming session, and propose a detailed project, with a plan, builds, etc. 

This was done with the roleplay hub, with the benediction of Tranq. Although there were too many different opinions, so that the result was a compromise lacking guts. I think it is better to start with a more focused group. Once such a plan done, propose it to the founders, with a commitment to complete the various builds and scripts, and who does each. If they agree, then go ahead.

This can retain most of the existing builds, although I have to say that an empty church is quite of a bad omen. Better no church at all.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 23, 2016 at 10:39am

I am "retired" from VR and enjoying my RL hobby.  However, if I were to start such a project I'd take the "easy route" I mentioned above:

 

* As an initial step, just to show what can be done, I would probably set up a prototype region to show the basic idea trying to be accomplished.  It would probably be nothing like the end-product, but it would at least give a starting point.  This could be done in a week or so.  Quick and easy, just the basics, with far more to come.

 

* I'd then host "building contests" in which everyone was invited, regardless of experience.   Each one would have a specific theme:   central area housing,  teleporation portal arches,  prominent sign structure, surrounding decorations, walkways and pathways, etc.   Elf Clan has a long history of hosting very successful building contests.  That's one area we know well, from experience.

 

* At the end of each event we'd have the participants vote (can't vote for yourself) as to which designs they like best.  The best designs would be chosen, taking the votes into strong consideration.   Similar to judge and jury situation, in which the judge is there to prevent really odd and can't-work vote results (which is always possible).  Like the President and Congress.  :D 

 

* This would be done over several events, during the period of a month or so.

 

At the end of that time, all the winning parts would be combined, their creators rightly credited in a "Region Design" plaque (to be set up on IDI as reward to the creators), and we would build an IDI formed from the best of the best Inworldz has to offer.

 

That way no single creator is saddled with the job, nor Inworldz saddled with a single creator's vision (that seldom works). 

 

In addition the most experienced of Inworldz (and of course the Founders and Mentors) would be asked to comment (in a forum) on what they believe to be necessities on IDI.  No debates, no harassment, no arguments... just comments for consideration.  Those ideas would be gleaned by a panel (which would include the Founders, a mentor or two, two or three merchants and a couple of everyday folks for good measure), the best and most essential concepts used (can't include everything... keep it simple), and all of it incorporated together into the finished project.

 

I believe the final result would be absolutely incredible... and I believe as a result Inworldz would grow.

Then we'd just have the Viewer to tackle.

 

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 23, 2016 at 9:03pm

A surprising development:   the Inworldz website has just been significantly updated.   The splash page makes Inworldz far easier to understand... and also offers affordable options to purchasing a region.  Those options have always existed-- but now the website makes those options very clear and easy to understand.

 

Something I might suggest changing is the location of the BUY LAND section.   If someone is to buy land... they first of all need to understand why they may want to do so.   That section should probably follow a list of reasons why land is so useful, what can be done with it, etc.  Because not everyone is going to watch the video.

The "Plus Membership" area is just a little confusing.  Some simplification / rewording there might improve it.

 

Beyond that, the entire website is a major step in the right direction.   It is much more attractive, usable, easier to understand, and valuable to the grid.

(I found the Halcyon area very interesting.  Going to have to study that more closely.  Kudos to Inworldz for sharing their work to assist others.)

(See, I can say nice things about VR too.)   : )

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 24, 2016 at 5:12am

As a note:  I appreciate Kasha's post.   It makes me feel happy and comfy than Elf Clan members feel free to question or even challenge my statements in this blog.  It means Elf Clan has grown and trusts that I'm not the dictatorial type.   Kasha is a sweetie, and her post respectful.   We can't expect everyone in the group to agree.  Where members disagree with my viewpoint, I totally encourage them to say so.  Diversity of opinion over the years is what has helped Elf Clan improve.  Many of our current-day Charter points and lands came from member feedback.   Two of our Eldar were appointed Eldar because they felt free to come to me and say, "Wayfinder, I think you may need to look at this differently."   We have no need for "yes men" (or women, or critters).   Respect, yes.  Goose-stepping, no.   So I appreciate Kasha and all who feel free to speak their minds here. : )

Regarding alts... we learned long ago in a building contest that the best way to "vote"... is to have only the participants vote.  It's somewhat difficult to build with two alts at the same time.   Anyone who is visiting is welcome to watch and comment and encourage and give opinions... but it is a voting of peers, ie, the other entrants.  No one can vote for his/her own work.   That method has proved to be precisely fair and has never failed to produce valid and complimentary results.  (When your building peers vote for you, you know you've done well.)  

We also always had two "winners":  beginning division and expert division, with both taking equal honors.  That way everyone had a chance to win (that is, in competitive events) .  Sometimes our events were just artistic displays, without voting (such as the Elf Clan Museum in ElvenSong... a place of multi-contributor beauty).

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