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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.)


    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


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: 1260

Comment by eekee eebus on July 19, 2016 at 11:12pm

If two people better informed than I tell me there is a vocal minority propounding this nonsense, then I ought to believe it! I still don't get why Elenia would go along with it, especially as it's a minority. Needing to know they reasons for everything is a life-long flaw of mine, but I think in this instance I should give up. If I did learn why I might not like it, and to be honest I don't like Elenia very much any more for other reasons.

I probably should have said in my last post that I don't believe there's any such thing as "no favouritism" in this situation, similar to your opinion Wayfinder. I'm sorry if I accidentally implied otherwise.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 20, 2016 at 1:26am

I just had a look at InWorldz latest welcome center, and... yes it's builder name is not hidden and it's an improvement on the last one in almost every way... but I'm a bit shocked: It is not a new build. I've seen it before, a couple of years ago, and I'm almost certain it was on another grid. The layout of the park, the church, the style of the buildings, the steps on one side of the park which don't go with the building style very well; all the same. I don't remember the very long building being quite that shade of red in the other sim, but that's hardly a major change. Why is the second-biggest virtual world using a recycled or off-the-shelf sim for its welcome center? The other time I saw it, the sim wasn't even a welcome center. I might be wrong, it might be an independant rebuild of some real-life location... I don't know, I might get used to the idea, but for now I don't like it.

Contrast Metropolis. Its welcome center is unique, I've seen very little that resembles it. I made an oversimplified list of the features in Let's Make a Fantastic Welcome Center:

  • Info Zone
  • Teleport Hub
  • Stores
  • Hangout Area
  • Showoff Builds
  • Event Area
  • Vehicle Area
  • Sandbox

In a compact but not cramped low-lag build (perhaps half a sim square), Metropolis's welcome center crams 4½ of these 8. It itself is a showoff build. It contains a teleport hub, multiple hangout areas, and an event area. I rank its info zone as "½" because the info on display is a bit minimal, but there are info kiosks I didn't try. It's not fault-free, I did find it a bit confusing at first, but now there's a clear walk-in portal to get to the teleport hub, and everything else but the event area is on the top level. "Compact but not cramped" is a good thing in itself, it keeps the avatars together where they can be seen to be there. Most full-sim builds look like ghost towns to me.

Did I mention it looks amazing? It looks real, with rich but not overwhelming textures and details and... I'm not enough of an artist to describe it. It's not just one style either; the teleport hub and the event area are in different styles to the bulk of the building.

*sigh* YadNi is remarkably good in lots of ways, but texturing is his weak spot. Texturing is very important, for most builds I'd say it's more than half the visual presence. YadNi's textures tend to look a bit cheap. The current IDI build isn't the worst-affected by this cheapness, but it is affected a bit.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 20, 2016 at 7:59am

I was emailing with someone just yesterday.   The bottom line seems to be this:

The primary, bottom-line purpose of a Welcome Center should be to make new visitors want to buy their own land and spend money on the grid.

That's it, end game.   If a Welcome Center does not accomplish this-- no matter how fancy or beautiful-- it's not performing its primary job.  That job is to make the grid grow.  That job is to get new visitors to spend their money here, both on land and merchant offerings.  


If a Welcome Center does not accomplish that (and to be honest, IDI hasn't accomplished that for at least 2 years now) then it's not performing its primary function, no matter how it looks.

Now, if all people want is their own little community and a decently comfy income for the Founders with as little hassle as possible and no disturbance in the force-- if folks want to sit back on their laurels and just have fun-- then I'd say Inworldz is there.   So long as the merchant trickle-exodus doesn't cause other region owners to leave, the grid can function.  

Inworldz at this time has about 1,100 privately owned islands (what percentage of those are 2x2s?).   But a grid that discourages new users from becoming residents doesn't live up to my expectations.  And that is why I turned my attentions elsewhere.  I want to accomplish a bit more in my twilight years than contented stagnation.

Comment by eekee eebus on July 20, 2016 at 12:16pm

A good-looking welcome center is a big deal for me. If the welcome center looks good, then of course I think the admins care about the grid. If it looks awesome, I think something like, "Wow, there must be great artists here! How do I see more? Can I be part of a community with these artists?" My reaction is a little unrealistic, but at least a good-looking welcome center makes me want to not only stay but get involved.

Comment by Yichard Muni on July 20, 2016 at 1:31pm

The build in IDI represents Jackson square in New Orleans. It was made by Yadni Monde, a well known provider of complex and good quality freebies. So maybe yes it already was in another place.

It certainly is a great build, but not suited for the purpose of IDI. We need much more explicit stuff, like self-explaining teleporterrs, an event board at hand, and so on

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 20, 2016 at 1:44pm

I agree eekee.   I perhaps didn't state my thoughts correctly.   A Welcome Center should definitely look nice.   The more impressive it looks, the more visitors are likely to be impressed.


I think I made the point though, that if someone challenged me, "Make a Welcome Center out of Cardboard boxes" I could do so-- and it would still be a fascinating and highly-functional Welcome Center that would give visitors a chuckle and make them want to become residents.  (As proof of this, check out Snoots' Cardboard Vardo or Cardboard battleship). 


Point being made:  if one has to choose between pretty and inspirational-- go for inspirational every time.  The idea is to get visitors enthusiastic about Inworldz... not to create a pretty garden.


I think part of what bothers me a little about IDI is that it's primarily a facade.  It's a nice creation, but a poor example of the potential of a virtual world because nothing is "real".  Can't open doors and walk in buildings.   It's not interactive.   It's just a town square with pretty plants and sidewalks and furniture-- but the buildings are all like a Hollywood set.  Look around the corner and we just see board holding up the props.  It's great for a sim border because it's so realistic-looking.   But where's the interaction?


It makes me wonder if anyone has visited other grids and checked out their Welcome Centers.  I haven't seen one yet that I would give a 10/10 score on being a Welcome Center, but there are some that I'd give a good solid 6 or 7.  LBSA at OSgrid is one of them... and there's not much to it in the way of majestic builds. 


Someone in email yesterday friendly-challenged me to build my sample 9-region Welcome Center and prove my point (that person agreed with me btw.  They just said, "Do it and show 'em.").   That of course fails to take into account I don't have 9 regions at my disposal to even tackle such a project, or that I would need the aid of Lars, YadNi Monde and the Founders to put it together.  It also doesn't answer the main questions, "Why?  What purpose is it going to serve?   Would anyone give a rat's hiney?"


Last time I checked, the answer to all those questions was "nope".  ; )

Now, could I build a sample one region Welcome Center in high sky?   Sure.   I've got room and prims available.   But again we get around to the question of "For what purpose?"  If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one to listen...

Instead I'd rather spend my time building stuff like this (click to see larger size):

Comment by Balpien Hammerer on July 28, 2016 at 8:41pm

"I've seen it before, a couple of years ago, and I'm almost certain it was on another grid."

Yadni made the Jackson square build for Elenia. It was his early go at mesh based builds and it was based on his love for detailed replicas (like his San Michelle build). Yes, the buildings were facades initially, but that part hadn't been decided yet. It was originally intended for a youth history education project, cool concept, but the requirements exceeded the capabilities of what could be done in an Sl-style grid. Along with Yadni, I was one of the people who was asked to work on it. I started making the complex bot based AI system, but it turned out to be beyond difficult because of then myriad bot bugs that just didn't get fixed fast enough or at all. I had  the beginnings of a product but too many bot bugs (and other grid bugs) made that nonviable.

That education project didn't complete and eventually the Jackson Square build ended up as the new IDI. Lovely as that build is, it just is not appropriate as a welcome center. It was meant to be part of a much larger urban scene.


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