Elf Clan Social Network

"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 Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 25, 2016 at 7:32pm

"So for it to work, I'd need a team with a strong but fair leader I respect and trust to make the right decisions--everyone gets their ideas heard equally, but then the fair and trusted leader makes the decisions based on everyone's input and their own more-experienced and proven knowledge of what works and what doesn't. What I can't abide is control freaks,"

 

That pretty much sums up my take on things Siwan.   In my experience the best way to run a company is with a sharp leader overseeing a bunch of creative people.  There needs to be a final decision maker.  If that decision maker is good, the project works.  If not, the project fails.  But I think Steve Jobs is a prime example of proving that "the right leader works" if he's got the right people underneath him (although I don't particularly like Job's or Gate's style of "leadership").   The best leader makes his team want to succeed, not yell at them when they make mistakes.

 

So yup, my way is to gather a good team, throw all the ideas in a hat, have some discussions, get everyone's opinion.   Then the "leader" makes the decisions and throws it out there for the team to review, to see if there's anything s/he missed in the process.  But in the end game, there needs to be one person in charge of getting things done.  Otherwise large projects almost always wind up with good-intentioned folks butting heads.

 

Yichard, the reason I called our current style of VR "dino software" is because, well, how many software packages do you know of that are still in "beta" after 14+ years of production?  How many games do you know of still working on the same basic hardware engine they worked on a decade ago? 

 

I have to disagree with the old saying that "modern games are better because" and then a bunch of excuses.   IF interactive, real-time virtual reality was written correctly it would not lag.  Period.  How do I know this?   Because there was a time on Second Life, in the early days, for a very brief period when private sims ran like greased lightning with zero lag (save for asset server issues) We could host events with two dozen people before experiencing any lag at all.   That lasted for about 3 months, then Linden Lab did something that botched the whole process, and it's never recovered.

I don't buy at all that "static" games require less resources than "dynamic" games.  That is so much Linden Lab propaganda that unfortunately a bunch of techs have bought into as well.   It's total nonsense, I don't care how loudly "Mr. Super Tech" screams it.   If it is coded correctly a totally dynamic environment can work with lightning efficiency.   There is no reason why a region in which nothing has changed, nothing is being edited, no new scripts being written and nothing being built should still lag just because it's "dynamic real-time".   Even when someone is building or scripting, the percentage of dynamic operation that is changing on that sim is such a minute percentage as to be statistically insignificant.

 

In supposedly "static" games... there are still real-time users moving in dynamic manner, hundreds of non-static bullets are flying everywhere, NPC monsters are doing unique, on-the-fly things depending on what the players are all doing, and there can be 2 dozen players in a full fire-fight with as many NPC monsters... and there's not a bit of lag.   There is no difference conceptually between a pre-programmed "static" mesh building in a game... and a pre-built mesh building on SL or Inworldz.   They're both there, already on the server, and not moving.   They don't lag.  

 

It was proved very, very long ago, in early tests I ran personally on SL, that prims don't lag.  This is historically established fact, with all kinds of records in SL forum archives to prove it.   Further, Tranq on Inworldz proved that properly written scripts don't have to lag a region (they just allot only so much processor time per cycle for script function).   When Inworldz Phlox was running like lightning, Second Life mono scripting was still lagging from LISTEN scripts.  

 

For years I and  Balpien Hammerer waged an ongoing JIRA battle with Lindens proving that all the Linen claims regarding the causes of lag were pure hogwash.  Linden Lab would make a claim, and Balpien and I would run tests and gather statistics conclusively proving those claims to be total nonsense.   In the end game it came down to one, simple factor:  Second Life lagged because the code was some of the sloppiest in the entire "game" market.   Lousy code.  

 

Of course, few people believed us.  We had all sorts of LL sycophants trolling and flaming us constantly... until Linden Lab finally released their Viewer code open-source and everyone saw just how extremely badly that was written-- and it finally occurred to people that if the Viewer was that bad, the asset server code and region server code was probably just as bad.   Came the dawn.

 

So when I say "dinosaur code"... I'm not talking about the changes Tranq made to Phlox, or the advances Inworldz made to OpenSim (which made Inworldz so much better).  I'm speaking of the general concept, the basic foundation upon which all Virtual Reality worlds were based:  the original Linden Lab code.  Instead of starting over and doing it right, they tried to imitate what LL had already done, writing code to support existing viewer code-- and as a result winding up with the very same problems experienced on Second Life.  It's simply a poorly-designed system all around.  To overcome that completely, Tranq and a good team of a dozen coders under him would have to re-design and re-write VR from the ground up, starting with a totally new concept and leaving SL way behind.  

 

Tranq has actually stated in the past that was their eventual vision for Inworldz:  to cut the SL apron strings entirely and re-do VR.   I'm not sure if that vision is still intact or on a far back burner, but it was surely the right idea.  Because our computer society is quickly outgrowing (or has already outgrown) the Linden Lab method of computer interactivity and is looking for something new.  

 

Yes, Google blew their VR venture.  Minecraft didn't.  They proved very successful, despite their simplicity.  Now, imagine someone with the Minecraft team savvy deciding to create a full-bore VR world on the scale of SL.  Imagine someone with the coding skillz of modern-day computer games applying those skills to a virtual society.   You'd wind up with virtual worlds you run on your own computer (like OpenSim), a hundred times more powerful, with a solid foundation and bugs fixed and udpated on a daily basis.  The only reason they don't (I believe) is because they want no part of this schizo-troll-griefer society that we call virtual reality.   At least with gamers the companies know their customers are going to blow stuff up and harass other players.  ;D

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 25, 2016 at 7:41pm

Siwan: "I was allowed to make my own decision that, yes, I'm willing to give up certain small freedoms--like putting out holiday decorations or the strict G-rating--in order to be part of the continent."

That's been a major strongpoint of Elf Clan Siwan.  Our members feel just like you do:  at least with our group they know exactly where they stand, and they know our entire group is self-moderated to support the Elf Clan Charter.    By giving up a little freedom (ie, to do whatever they durn well please and hang their neighbors), our members gain a whole lot more freedom-- freedom from bad neighbors, freedom from trouble-makers, freedom from people who would destroy the group theme and harmony and peace. And as you say, no one's arm is twisted to join Elf Clan.   They can accept our Charter and the benefits it brings, or set up an island elsewhere, no problem.  You summed it up very well.

Long ago in my "quotes" section here I wrote:  "Freedom without restriction invariably infringes on the freedom of others."   That's why real life speed limits and stop signs exist: they restrict absolute freedom to guarantee better freedom:  the freedom to drive with relative safety.   When people decide to break traffic laws, that's when people's true freedom turns into nightmares of injury and death. 

 

There is no rule or guideline that 100% of the people agree with 100% of the time.   That's where benevolent leadership and management comes in: to decide what restrictions are reasonable and necessary for the good of our group.  We restrict religion and politics, blatant sexuality and similar things because those things are divisive and destructive.  How many female members of SL over the years have we heard complain about being stalked and sexually harassed?  That's why we have G-rated lands. How much drama have we seen destroy group harmony (including our own)?   That's why we now have a "No drama, zero tolerance" rule, binding even on the Eldar and sim owners.  In fact, especially on the Eldar and sim owners. We do at least try to behave ourselves.  :D

 

As a result, our members tend to get along pretty well with one another, and problems that do crop up are easily solved by referring to the Elf Clan Charter.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 25, 2016 at 8:02pm

Scuse the multiple postings.  Replying as I read down the page. :D

"And speaking of hanging out with dwagons ... isn't it funny how having alts can bring out different sides of your personality and give you a different perspective on things? At least I find that, and a recent article I read on recognizing and embracing your various "personas" can actually be useful in psychotherapy!"

A brief story about that:

When I first created Snoots (under a different alt name on SL), at first I didn't tell anyone other than Peter and a couple of close friends that he was an alt for Wayfinder.   I had played Wayfinder for so very long, and he was "The Elven King" (a title I never chose-- it was thrust upon me by, well, a role-playing group lol), the problem-solver, the one everyone came to with questions.   I was worn out in that role, so I created the dwagon and started playing it according to a totally different personality.   I kept it a secret because I didn't want the dwagon to be bombarded with the same things Wayfinder was constantly bombarded with.   In short:  I wanted to have some fun.

 

Later on I realized that people were wondering who Snoots was and why he knew so much and some people thought Snoots was an Eldar (which he vehemently denied), and I realized that to avoid confusion I needed to set the matter straight.  When a good friend who'd known Wayfinder for years found out Snoots and Wayfinder were owned by the same user, he said, "I think you are the best role player I have ever known."   LOL.  He'd had no clue they were alts, because I played them as completely different personalities.

 

I considered that a high compliment.  So yes you're right Siwan, having alts can be very theraputic and fun.   In my case it allowed me to let my hair down, change to "scaley butt" (as Zauber calls him) and unintentionally establish a whole new genre... by simply being more myself  (my sister says Snoots is in reality me in tiny form.)   :D

 

Which brings up another funny memory:  when my great nephew was born he spent a bit of time over here and of course he would observe me playing Snoots.  Even at just a few months, the character fascinated him no end.  

 

When he was about 6 months old, one day my sister started to feed him one of his favorite dishes, and clear as a bell he uttered his very first words:   "Nahm nahm nahm".

 

Bwahahahahhaaaa....

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 25, 2016 at 11:09pm

Thanks for the reply, Way! ok, you brought more accuracy to my statements on tech. It is true and well known that the SL code is lousy (and the original open sim code still worse). I hail Tranq's vision to rewrite it entirely, and he did a lot of work in this way, toward Halcyon. But rewriting the viewer would need much more resources that Inworldz has today. Instead, Inworldz was forced to get the code of the SL viewer just to be able to keep the pace with features. But with this linden code comes again the sloppy code, catastrophic frame rate and ugly hearse-looking user interface. Had Inworldz just some times more sims, we would have the best viewer without depending on SL anymore.

One of the reason why the SL viewer is so bad is the rendering library. Already this 1995 library was used in 2000 in the Cortona viewer for VRML worlds. And already the frame rate was 10-50 times slowier than in games like Flight Simulator or EF2000. These never had any noticeable lag (frame rate always above 25, when it was inferior to one in my VRML scenes). All this of course with the same computer, and with similar scenes (only some hundred "prims" in this time).

Of course Inworldz could use a better technology, there certainly are several in the video games, and build an excellent viewer with the highest possible frame rate, no alpha texture bug, etc. But this would not be cheap: need to buy a patented technology perhaps, and surely a lot of work. This would be possible only if Inworldz has 3-4 more sims, to be able to pay 2-3 full time devs for 1-2 years. 

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 25, 2016 at 11:44pm

Some find fun to speculate on the end of Inworldz, hoping that if Inworldz disappears, people will do in better places.

I say this is not true. If ever there is not enough people and effort to support Inworldz, there will not be any more people and effort to support any other system.

Unless they do a kind of "3D facebook", free, but with permanently a camera looking at our butt, accounts suppressed at random, and no sex, lol  

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 26, 2016 at 9:43pm

Siwan: sorry, my remark on people having "fun" speculating on the end of Inworldz was not at all aimed at you. I rather replied to Wayfinder, but here again I do not think he is speculating on this.

To be frank, the prospect of Inworldz closing is not fun at all: I spent years buiding stuff and a community, and if Inworldz closed, it would be several years of my life lost, and hundreds of friends lost too.

I know from experience that when a virtual world closes, then people are dispersed, and they seldom gather in other place, even not keep track of each other. 

But especially, if Inworldz disappears, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE. So that it would be really like dying.

Well, as the remark says, it is just speculation. Inworldz is still online, and the worrying trends can still reverse. Or it may just be a random fluctuation. 

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 26, 2016 at 10:09pm

And yes, it is true that people of cheap grids are actively recruiting people. I would even say poaching, because they are really obvious. I have seen several instances of this, and they make the advantages shine, but not the inconveniences.

Of course I was targetted several times, because of my trains. Not because of the Elfs and storytelling, but the trains. Why this difference? Because the trains would add value to their worlds, while they don't care about a world of beauty. In more, I know that any opensims owner can take the trains and use them while saying that they are the creators.

They also actively use the complains and disputes within Inworldz, as a leverage to detach people from Inworldz. Are they doing better in their grids? There were disputes in Open Sims too, and if it is not apparent it is because they are much more than Elenia the finger on the trigger (banning people). I also suspect that the troll gang in Inworldz would serve some non-Inworldz purpose. 

Funily, there is some politics behind the free software movement. People may not be aware of it, but there are clear marxist influences. This may look absurd to USA people, because few here know what is marxism, but in France we know this better. 

One of the marxist fads is to divide people between "classes", everywhere where they come along, using existing cleavage lines or creating their own. This is why they oppose the "commercial" ("evil") worlds like Inworldz, to the "free" Open Sims worlds. In reality the split of Inworldz from Open Sims had nothing political, it is just that Tranq was not happy with the awful Open Sims software. And anyway the business model of any large Open Sims grid is exactly the same than Inworldz, just that they don't claim to be companies. 

 

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 26, 2016 at 10:56pm

What the cheap opensims do has a name: price dumping. And price dumping is considered an unfair or dangerous practice for a reason: It is often the last resort of people who are unable to offer anything good, and prefer to destroy good products instead.

Open Sims can offer cheaper prices in several ways:

-make non-viable offers. At $5 a sim, a world is soon bankrupt. But each time one closes, create several others, so that there always is one which is offering these prices, giving the impression that they are viable.

-rely on cheap lower quality hosting. Of course this is cheaper, but when problems appear, they are much harder to solve. This appeared well recently, with the DDOS attacks again Open Sims (no idea who did this and why). GCG suffered for weeks, and several small grids had to close. I don't know if Inworldz was targetted too, but if it was, the professional Rackspace infrastructure protected it efficiently.

-do not pay personnel. If Inworldz is a commercial company, Open Sims grids say they are "free" non-profit associations. The problem however is that they do exactly the same thing than Inworldz, with the same human requirements. Especially, workers need to eat and house, and if they are not supported this is not viable in the long term. 

-Do not improve the software. The free software movement claims that everybody can contribute to the software, to solve bugs or to add features. In theory this is excellent, but in practice it meets several severe problems: creating and maintaining a complex software is a team work requiring a strong discipline. It also requires a way to make decisions despite disagreements. These difficulties make that many Open Sims modifications are refused, or they are just added patches with no coherence with the remainder of the software.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on June 26, 2016 at 11:56pm

I think price-wise Inworldz currently (with the new webpage) is offering a range to fit every pocketbook.   They may not have $20 sims yet, but they offer land withing that range.  It's sufficient.  Kinda. 

The IDI issue and Viewer issue are the main problems.   In truth, the Viewer issue isn't as difficult as it would seem.  All that is required is re-arranging some menus-- not re-writing the entire viewer.  It requires eliminating some confusing things such as multiple toasts and multiple chat windows from the same person (a really bad design) instead of sticking ti all in one easy-to-access window.    It would require geatly simplifying the Preferences area, which at this time is a nightmare of setup, much of which is not set to the advantage of new users.

 

They could move the other stuff to an "expert user menu").  Right now the system is just far too complex.  It badly intimidates new visitors.

IDI is just plain confusing, boring and unfriendly, with nothing to do, nothing to impress new users, nothing to make them think Inworldz is any more than a bunch of store facades. Bleh.

Comment by Yichard Muni on June 27, 2016 at 12:16am

True, in an Inworldz 2x2, the price comes within the open Sims range. The only inconvenience, compared to Open Sims, is that people must unite at four to have each one sim. Since there can be only one formal owner, and not associations, this owner takes the risk alone.

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