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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 Kasha Selona on June 24, 2016 at 6:09am

nounformally a plural of, agendum but usually used as a singular with plural, agendas or agenda.

a list, plan, outline, or the like, of things to be done, matters to be acted or voted upon, etc.:
Comment by Kasha Selona on June 24, 2016 at 6:14am

Not sure what you read, but I asked whether the O.P knew what people want or need. Not sure how that is interpreted as a bad thing. All the shops and such like may not be what everyone wants, when I first came, and left again, there was Nothing here, but there was this huge camaraderie with the ones who saw it as a new start, a kind of pilgrim's paradise to do with it as they saw fit. The essence of community was what attracted me, not how much money i could spend. I deliberately did not mention what i miss or want.  

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 24, 2016 at 9:45am

The problem of the viewer existed before, in SL, and it did not precluded SL to grow. Just that people unable to use it made the millions users who registered, entered once and never returned. Same happens in IW, but yes, a simplified viewer would be a good point for beginners or casual users. This could be just a skin for the regular viewer, where all the confusing options would not appear, only the basic ones.

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 24, 2016 at 9:50am

About people having abandonned their PC for a tablet or other powerless gadget, this is part of the strategy to control and castigate the Internet: people are offered simple to use devices and programs, but which lack power or interoperability. Example: why de we need to download "apps" when we can just open a standard website with a standard browser? Other example, making people think that they can "look at 3D" with a $25 goggles in cardboard...

This said, tablets able to handle a viewer like Inworldz or true 3D goggles may come in a matter of few years. Let us hope they can be used with Inworldz  

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 24, 2016 at 10:00am

As I explained in the previous blog, having a second family-friendly grid would attract more people, by removing  the 18+ barrier (for teens of course, but also for most people who think that 18+ is a porn site). Another advantage is that it may have a much more palatable name (Sorry but "inworldz" has 4 consonants in a row, making it difficult to tronounce in many languages). 

Of course there would be teleports (with age warning) and a common market, so that the two worlds would not be really separated. 

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 24, 2016 at 8:11pm

Reading back I can see there was a misunderstanding of the use "agenda".   I'm glad Kasha clarified, but I understood the points she was making, and also understand the misunderstanding.  "Agenda" like so many words in our language, has a double-meaning, unfortunately one good and one bad.  As Kasha pointed out, I would have an Agenda for Inworldz if I were a Founder, but I'm not and so I don't.  Ele is pretty sharp so I'm fairly sure she has an agenda (good sense of the term) but not sure it agrees with my viewpoints.   I think we just saw a major step in her own agenda with the new website, which all in all is a major step in the right direction (imho).   It is much easier to read, and although I think it needs a bit more emphasis on why owning "land" on Inworldz is worthwhile (in quick, easy to use bullet points perhaps), all in all I was fairly impressed.


One thing I've always noted in this blogsite:  just because someone has an opinion doesn't make them right.  That includes me.   These blogs are just my opinion of what Inworldz needs.  Yes, many people agree with me, but I'm sure there are many who might disagree as well. 


It basically boils down to two primary points:  IDI and the Viewer... either and both of which I believe to be counter-productive to Inworldz growth.  IDI isn't difficult to change.  The Viewer-- that's another matter.  That would take some real effort and some real knowledge of user interaction and interface. 


I specialized in that for a number of years in software development (I both designed user interfaces and wrote user manuals that were actually readable), so I can say this:  there is a whole lot of stuff that is currently in the viewer menus and Preferences area that really doesn't need to be there.  The current viewer menu is unnecessarily complex and over-itemized. 


As an example, the Preferences menu has many defaults that are poor settings for newbies, and far too many settings in general, trying to be all things to all people instead of being what's needed for general use.  That menu could be greatly simplified, with an Advanced Preferences option available in the Advanced Menu.  That's just one way the Viewer could be simplified.  There are far more concepts just as basic, just as common-sense.   Simplification should be the rule of the day when it comes to the Viewer, with all extra options in an "Expert User" menu.  


Here's the deal:  most of us drive cars, right?  Gas pedal, brake, gear shift, etc.   Now, what if the controls on a car were more like the cockpit of a professional airline plane?   How many of us would be quick to get in a car and drive?   Driving is difficult enough to learn without someone complexing the blazes out of it.  


Right now, virtual viewers (all of them) are airplane cockpits instead of automobile dashboards.  They need to be a lot more drive-able and common-sense before VR will be ready for prime time.


IDI just needs to be more common sense and serve its purpose.   We don't need a "pretty" welcome center.  We need an informative, impressive and welcoming welcome center.   That could be done with relative ease compared to Viewer re-design.   (But the Viewer still needs a major overhaul.)


The thing I'm concerned with is this:  there aren't a lot of people around with the expertise to do that kind of overhaul.  If there were, we'd have probably already seen a viewer that is much better than the current lot.  And those like me who can design a good viewer but lacking the programming background and authority to actually implement such concepts, really can't accomplish anything in that area.  First, no one will listen to us.  Second, everyone has their own thoughts as to what they think needs to be done and seem to be ignoring the reality that nothing that's been done yet has worked.  


I think that's what bothers me most-- all these grids still following the same tired formula that hasn't worked well for years... yet unwilling to try something new.  What are they afraid of, losing the pitiful-poor amount of business they've got?


All great business requires risk.  All great business requires taking a chance and doing something different.   Sorry to point out, but we're not seeing a whole lot of "different" coming out of anyone.  "Yeah, what we're doing isn't working but let's not rock the boat eh?  We may not be catching many fish but at least we're fishing."   


Meh.   If you're going to make a business work, you've got to be willing to make necessary changes and go beyond "the way we've always done it".  If that means trying new bait, try new bait.

Comment by Kasha Selona on June 24, 2016 at 11:29pm

I do not write as well as i should, you did write (Way) that we needed a better viewer and a new I.D.I in the previous blog, which most seemed to agree with. As I recall you didn't get a reply from Ele after you sent her an email, which did seem very rude. 

Two things came into my mid, either they ( the founders) have reached a point where they are quite happy to let things tick along as they are or they have something up their sleeves which will become clear at soon point. 

As a clarification I do agree with what you write, it just felt like what is the point if we are not listened to. I do think Virtual Reality reached it's peak a good while back and the lack of growth is more to do with changes in people pursuits for their leisure time. Your last three paragraphs summed that up to me. It does make me sad but I have the feeling we are done, it's time to move onto something else. 

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 25, 2016 at 3:11am

What happened with the roleplay hub is that everybody had to be heeded, and it resulted in a compromise. This is not good, we need something strong. Of course not everybody will like it, but this is not the problem as long as it really addresses the issues. So I think the way to go is:

-ask people's advices.

-From the previous, list the requirements, in a concise way so that we don't need to read pages.

-have a project which addresses all these requirements. After the experience of the roleplay hub, I maybe prefer that somebody has a compelling idea, but flexible enough to still allow for other people to hook up with more special contributions.

-present the idea to the founders.

-They will probably not reply. At this point, this is not really a problem.

-Build it in a sim, as if we were really commissioned.

-At this point, we need more founder approval, so that at least they test the idea, and let some newbies to use this sim as entry point.

-Remember that what guided the choice of this sim landscape was Tranq having a flash while seeing this fantastic build. So that we could maintain part of it. Yadni will probably be willing to help, at least providing a copy of his builds.

-No empty church. Fill it, with demos, with newbies guide, or something, but not empty. (a real church may be too oriented for a welcoming place)

-Better no half naked women wandering on the street. People may think they are prostitutes. If a church is too oriented, what to say about this.


Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 25, 2016 at 5:38am

I agree with you somewhat Kasha; it does seem VR has reached its peak-- at least the SL kind.  My greatest concern for Inworldz is that the next and best is going to come along (that's been a threat for years) and dinosaur the whole existing lot of 'em. 


As you know, I already have moved on to something else.  I don't insist on having complete control over my activities, but I like to have at least enough control that when I see something essential be done I have some say in the matter.  In my guitar business/hobby, I can at least change the layout when I see sales increasing too much and I get overwhelmed, or sales lagging and need to be boosted.  Either way the key word is change, not just sitting on a dead IDI and wondering why the grid isn't growing.


In defense of Ele, I don't think she was being rude.  I consider her a friend, one with whom I have a long history and several pleasant "morning coffee" emails in which we discuss (at length) VR issues.   She is also extremely busy.   If she doesn't agree with my suggestions, or partially agrees, it could very well be she's just gathering information.   


One thing I know about Ele:  she is one of the sharpest business people I've ever known.  In all my years as a business consultant, I've not once met someone that was as far-sighted as she is.   Often I have made suggestions to her, only to find she has already foreseen the issue and has a fix / change in the works.   The fact of the recent website overhaul proves she's not just sitting on her tail.  So it could very well be her failure to answer this blog is because she simply has things already planned-- that we're not aware of-- and is just chugging away at doing them.   It could even be she's already planning a revision of IDI and is waiting to spring it on us as a surprise.   Or not, it's hard to tell.  One thing I do know about Ele-- she is not lame.   Quite the opposite.   I have equal respect for Tranq, who although I think has the tendency to get off-track sometimes (Dreamshare, InShape... it's a hazard of the trade) is one of the most user-friendly techs I have ever met, and sharp as a whip.  Best. Coder. Ever.    I mean, look what the guy did almost single-handedly the first couple years to get Inworldz into shape from base OpenSim code.   Really sharp.


So it's not that I don't respect the Founders.  I really do.   Wish I were one of them (coulda been.  Was too fed up with VR at the time and too little energy to tackle such a project).  I still think I could help greatly with IDI... but build and sell guitars or rebuild IDI for nuthin... it comes down to economics.   Now if someone said, "Put Inworldz on the public market map and we'll make you a Founder..."  Bwahahahahaaa!

(Ooops I been hanging around that Dwagon too much.)   :D

Seriously, I am hoping Ele, Tranq and whomever else is in charge is doing something about IDI and the viewer.  If they are, woots.  If not, sigh.  The recent website change is most encouraging.

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 25, 2016 at 11:57am

I do not agree that Inworldz is an obsolete technology.

Simply because the other virtual worlds (mostly video games) don't use any new technology, but just use different software. And these softwares are not necessarily better. They have a few advantages, like uploading the textures and terrain at installation, to avoid the grey rezz time, a thing that user-created content cannot do. The only real advantage of video games is better viewers (usually 10x faster frame rate), but if Inworldz had enough means they could upgrade the inworldz viewer with these better renderers, and also support for 3D glasses, etc. instead of just grabbing the code of the SL viewer. (SL has means to upgrade their viewer, but they don't use these means).

So, once again, saying that Inworldz has a lesser technology is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

What are these alternatives to Inworldz, so marvellous that we should trash years of work and forget hundred of friends and loves? They are still projects. The most advanced are promising, yet they do not propose "grids", but separate worlds, just as VRML worlds were. Nice, super, we pay our own hosting and own our own domain. But how do we meet friends? How do we have a consistent identity among these worlds? How can we carry our inventory and outfit? How can we protect the IP right of these outfits and inventories, if they wander on foreign servers? Open Sims and Inworldz could not solve these qestions (which would probably need specific law, but this is still for another generation). So how the miracles are done?

There are good odds that things will happen as with Google Lively: in 2008, in full decomposition of SL, people hoped the mighty Google to come with a mich better solution. What they came with was so ridiculous that they had to close after some months.

To set our minds, imagine I want to create my Elf Dream world. Nice, for half the price of a sim in Inworldz, I can set, say, the equivalent of four, on a server that I own. Yes, but how do I fix the server when it goes awry? Each of this world needs its own support team, and enough income to pay one! How can I bring all the variety of items we find in Inworldz? If I do my own world, I need to recreate everything: shapes, skins, hundred of clothes, flowers, trees, houses, furnitures, vehicles, and the related textures and scripts. This is clearly a task for hundred of people, not just one.

ok, I like the comparison with the dinosaurs. Do you know that mammalz existed before the dinosaurs?  Well, the dinosaurs were certainly mighty and doing a lot of noise, in a time where the mammalz had to keep the size of ratz to remain invisible to the power to be.

But who won in the end?

The mammals, because they had something the dinosaurs were unable to understand: user created content.


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