First published under my pseudonym, Xay Tomsen 1 April 2013 ~ Page and archived comments moved here 4 April 2016
Naturally most of that experience - incredibly wonderful and incredibly sad - was gained in Second Life.
I've seen the best and worst of Second Life.
After the events of 2008-09 that signalled its obvious culture change, I said to everyone who would listen that it can't all end like this.
I left, as did all of my closest friends. I forayed into InWorldz and SpotOn3D, and then finally attempted to set up my own grid using the services of Sim Host.
The lack of time however, compounded by the latter's obvious incompetence, made that unviable.
So finally, in late 2011, I went back to SL. It wasn't a case of customer satisfaction that led me back to Second Life. It was purely a lack of options.
The fast rise and tedious fall of Second Life
I find Second Life an ugly place now. It never used to be. Pre 2008, it was a wonderful dreamy canvas, where Linden Labs' catchcry of a world created by residents was actually true. People came in droves to see what it was all about, while others saw an opportunity for artistic creation. That was certainly my inspiration. And I did create - Thousands and thousands of things. I never intended to become a land baron as well. That happened accidentally, and so the Irukandji Continent was born.
It was a raging success, but unknown to me, that success would lead to its downfall. Irukandji and Jillaroo Estates had 18 good months followed by 18 bad. A succession of amazingly incompetent bigshots at Linden Labs decimated the grid; not just my estates but everyone's.
At some point - Phillip Linden, I believe from memory - apparently didn't like the fact that the likes of Anshe Chung, myself, and a handful of others with close to a hundred regions each, were making money, so the powers-that-be at Linden Labs decided to have their cake and eat it too.
Their first step towards taking market share from 'Land Barons' was to devalue the price of regions from US$1675 to US$1000, to make sims more affordable to the masses. That much was fine to a point, but no compensation was given to those who had paid the higher fee. Hence, I lost US$45,000 overnight. The next stunt was to increase the cost of the monthly tier on water spaces by 67%. And that pretty much, was the end for most of us. And the end of the old Second Life.
Complaints fell on deaf ears. No apologies were given. In the words of one Linden Labs support helper, if you don't like it, leave. That's what my US$100,000 a year that I spent with Linden Labs got me. So I did leave. I have never felt so victimised in my life.
For Linden Labs though, the move was reportedly profitable. New region owners came, and without the knowledge of what SL once was, they have developed some large - if irrelevant - estates. That's not their fault though. With LL's current business model, it isn't viable for a land baron to create the best possible user experience. Hence, the world map looks like a checkerboard. The grand estates with bays and seas that people once wandered about at their leisure, are gone.
To me, that was the one great thing about being a land baron - building a community of like minded people, with covenants to protect them, with facilities for everyone to enjoy.
Profits were a bonus if they came. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't. As I said earlier, I wasn't really there to be a land baron. I was there to build community, and in Second Life, with so many people disenchanted and its exorbitant price points, that isn't achievable anymore.
A short time in SpotOn 3D
Look, as far as stand-alone grids go, SpotOn 3D is making a go of it. I'm not sure what market share they have or how big their population is, but it is a worthy venture. I bought twelve sims and gave myself three months to make a go of it. I didn't. No one ever visited, and there was little real world promotion for the grid. For my purposes at least, SpotOn 3D doesn't suit my needs.
A big problem I had with the grid though, was the viewer. The mindset at SpotOn 3D seems to be to integrate the 2D web with virtual reality, and I'm all for that, but the way that their viewer is set up, I honestly felt like I was bombarded with that goal. I did not feel like an avatar in a virtual world, but rather a guy sitting on a computer moving an avatar inside a web browser. When I use virtual worlds, I want escapism from the daily grind, not a reminder that I'm hiding from it.
In the Open Sim community, there is a lot of animosity towards SpotOn 3D regarding patents on certain bits of code. I'm not familiar with the key points of the problem so I won't dissect it here.
The Sim Host experience
Was disastrous. I could write an entire blog on it. I won't. Another guy has already done so and I echo his experience. I just want to put it all behind me.
InWorldz has come of age
On the search again, I decided just a few days ago to venture into InWorldz once more. When I first visited in 2011 - and my apologies to its creators - InWorldz was tragic. It felt like out-of-the-box Open Sim, which it probably was, and had nothing more to offer me than what I had already built myself. And the lag? by God, it was horrendous. I didn't walk away from InWorldz - I ran!
So it was with very low expectations that two years later, I tried it out again. What prompted me to do so was an article I read on some website where the usual collection of I-want-everything-for-nothing whingers were complaining about InWorldz. Some were bitching that it wasn't on the hypergrid, while other complained of its low population. Another writer, seemingly well informed and clearly an Open Sim guru, beefed about InWorldz forking away from Open Sim, and how they were stuffing around with perfecting the old V1 platform instead of embracing the advances of other virtual worlds. Footnote 4 August 2013: Since writing this post four months ago, InWorldz has progressed to V2.
It was this last comment that interested me. The fact that InWorldz wasn't following the herd into building more and more unstable platforms was comforting. And I liked V1. And I liked that they're serious about hypergrid security. What others saw as negatives, I saw as positives. So I ventured over to InWorldz again.
Overall, I was impressed - very impressed. A few hours later, I ordered four sims.
The pros and cons of InWorldz
Sure, this is personal bias, but I like V1. Things were simple then and things rarely broke. According to those i've spoken to, the mindset at InWorldz seems to be to perfect V1 before adding features, as opposed to other grids that seem hell-bent on adding unnecessary features to unreliable foundations. And yes, that includes Second Life.
Mediocre things about InWorldz compared to Second Life
There are some things in InWorldz that don't function as one would expect in SL.
- In Second Life you can attach multiple objects to the one attachment point. This is a relatively new feature and handy. In InWorldz, it is still one object per attachment point. 20 June 2013 - Multi attachment points now work beautifully with the InWorldz V2 Beta viewer.
- The traffic count doesn't work, but I don't think people believe traffic figures anyway;
- The world map is the old school less-pretty style;
- Clicking on 'Buy Land' does transfer the land but not the funds; 27 April 13: I stand corrected. It just doesn't transfer the funds on-screen until you relog. The funds appear instantly in your transaction history and will be on-screen when you reopen your viewer.
- Covenants don't work in the About Land boxes. Only the estate owner can read them. The workaround is to set up a landing point on the block you want to sell and have a notecard giver to issue the covenant; 28 Oct 2013 - Covenants now work exactly the same as SL.
- Low resident population but that can change and who really knows how many alts are in SL just to populate the sex venues? A long term friend of mine with a chain of adult venues has 145 alts in Second Life. I'm sure s/he isn't the only one doing the same. As for InWorldz, the welcome area always looks busy and people are chatting away. It's just a matter of steering those people out into the 'burbs. 7 August 2014 - It's been 16 months since I wrote this, and it's not really growing. Lots of new users but for whatever reason, the grid seems to struggle hanging onto them.
- Offline message notifications do work but they could be better. That is, you do get an email to say you've received a message but the email doesn't contain the actual message like it does in Second Life. You have to go inworld to read it. It's mildly annoying but I guess no worse than having to check the message bank on your phone; *In the past few days since I wrote this, the problem has either been fixed or it only applied to notifications other than IMs. I am getting IMs through to my email perfectly fine now. Good stuff.
- When you buy a new sim, it is added manually like it used to be in SL. Nowadays a new sim appears instantly in Second Life, whereas my InWorldz sims took 18 hours. It needs to be said though that an SL sim has a $1000 set up fee as opposed to $75 for InWorldz. It also needs to be said that when SL used the manual system, a new sim could take up to 14 days to appear;
- I haven't explored physics engines yet but apparently there are big things happening. Maybe someone in the know can add a comment down the bottom of the page; The welcome process needs work - More on that later.
- Added April 2014 out of sheer frustration: If you expect to find any information on the InWorldz website, say like an easily navigable FAQ section that contains current information on important topics, you're out of luck. You need to join the forum and hope to get an answer from someone in the know. Be warned, it can be a volatile place.
That's about it as far as the below-par things go, and one has to bear in mind that all of these problems are inherent to all Open Sim platforms, of which InWorldz is one, even if it is a forked version. In the Open Sim communities, solutions don't appear to be forthcoming, so maybe no one is working on them or they are keeping the info to themselves. Perhaps one day InWorldz will fix them. Given the Open Sim community's seeming unwillingness to solve the problems or share the fixes, maybe forking was a wise way to go.
Things that are the same in InWorldz as they are in Second Life
- The stock viewer is very good and reliable. I recommend it over the Imprudence Viewer, which to me seems crash prone on any grid. I only use Imprudence to import stuff from Second Life. I've crashed twice in InWorldz using Imprudence, and not at all with the stock viewer. Editing big builds with Imprudence is a nightmare; 4 August 2013: My preferred viewer is now the InWorldz V2 Beta viewer. It is basically a Firestorm viewer, and users from Second Life will also enjoy its familiar functionality.
- InWorldz has its own web-based marketplace inBiz, just like SL, though it's pretty average;
- Currency works fine. You can pay other avatars and buy goods in stores just like SL;
- Friend and group permissions work exactly the same;
- Estate Manager abilities work the same BUT you need to add the estate manager to each individual sim. The new estate manager also needs to relog for it to take, which sometimes happens in Second Life as well. Again an inherent OpenSim issue but not a biggie;
- Lag levels on InWorldz private regions is easily comparable to private regions in SL, and way less than on the supposedly top-shelf Bluesteel mainland regions. The sims that take forever to load in Inworldz - the Australia sim was awfully slow - was due to the huge amount of annoying scripts and way too many textures;
- InWorldz has attracted creators of the calibre of Luna Bliss and Craig Altman, and well ... now me :) Without doubt, this is due in large part to InWorldz wish not to join an insecure hypergrid. Re content, I say this to every grid owner - You need top notch animation dudes on your grid to stand a chance of competing with Second Life. The presence of Craig Altman was the final deciding point for me to buy sims here; 5 May 2013 - I have since discovered some brilliant creators here who only produce for IW. And there are many, many good animators. I swear it's easier to find good stuff - and help - than in SL.
- Terraform lag, which I found problematic on SpotOn3D and ridiculous on SimHost, is virtually non existent here; maybe a tenth of a second at the worst of times; 7 Aug 2014 - This is often problematic now.
- Another problem on past Open Simulator grids was sim edge stitching, i.e. terraforming the edges of two sims to make them appear as one contiguous land mass. This is seamless in InWorldz; 7 Aug 2014 - Sorry, no, I have to backtrack about what I said here. It used to good but something has changed in one of the code updates along the way. Sim edge stitching is pretty terrible.
- Ban lines work fine for group, individual avatar etc;
- Land deeding works the same as SL;
- Sculpties work the same;
- As of October 2013, InWorldz has LSL vehicle scripting 30 May 2014 - Ignore my YouTube video on this - What could be done then, can't be done now. After spending months and months developing vehicles, they changed the code and made a zillion patches or whatever, and now none of my vehicle scripts work.
Things where InWorldz kicks other virtual worlds
- Account setup is dead simple. You can be inworld in under a minute. Yes I timed it :)
- The InWorldz landing point is usually populated by a couple of mentors who readily greet you;
- Texture uploads and object imports are free;
- Support response time is virtually the same day. I put in a ticket and go to bed. When I wake, it's fixed. Compared to SL which took 8 days for them to mark a 512 block of abandoned land for sale to me earlier this month, I'm impressed.
- Regions cost $75 compared to $1000 in Second Life;
- Regions have 45,000 prim capability compared to 15,000 in Second Life;
- Maximum prim size is 128x128 metres compared to 64x64 in SL. There are Open Sim based grids that allow much larger again, but really? 128x128 is a good max compromise of size versus lag, especially when the prim allowance is so high;
- Estate Owners are rewarded for bringing people to the grid with a discounted tier based on the number of sims they own, compared to getting nothing in Second Life even if your tier bill is a hundred grand a year;
- I can upload RAW files from the old Irukandji continent that I hosted on SL (2007-2010), and they appear perfectly true to the original. Even Second Life screws them up, where you have to spend an hour raising the land half a metre then smoothing every edge. I had to do the same fix ups on SpotOn3D and SimHost which is doubly weird. This wonderful 'phenomenon' of getting RAW uploads right seems to be unique to InWorldz; 14 September 2014 - Yeah another backpedal. This is very hit and miss nowadays.
- RAW files take about three minutes to take effect in InWorldz, which in Second Life can take up to 20 minutes or not appear at all. In SL, you also have to remain in the sim for the upload to work, which isn't necessary in InWorldz. Here, you just set the upload then hop to the next sim and do the same while leaving the system to carry out your commands. Neato;
- InWorldz' policy of not joining a hypergrid unless it can be absolutely secure shows their commitment to protect the IP rights of the artists that make the grid what it is. Second Life also has this policy however copy bots still run rampant;
- The website region management interface - Wow! I can change my region name and estate name at whim. It's totally self-service and instant for the princely sum of $5 a region. In Second Life, that same process takes days and costs $50 a hit;
- Also on the website interface, I can reboot a sim while out of world if it fails to boot up properly. Assuming that I end up owning oodles of sims, this feature will be extremely handy on days when I only have website access;
- The asset servers aren't clogged full of newbie's free startup stuff or well ... anything at all. You basically have empty folders and I like that. Startup inventories are a huge drain on resources in Second Life and I suspect that the InWorldz crew chose this route to ensure they did not replicate the problem. The absence of startup stuff also forces the newbie to interact with his/her environment and go check out the freebie shops adjacent to the Welcome landing spot. I like this practical introduction for newcomers;
- InWorldz don't sell parcels of land like Second Life and SpotOn3D do. In the latter, I found it almost impossible to compete as a land developer, and in SL the only land worth having is absolute waterfront, for which you'll pay a premium. Even then, the guy behind you might have a gothic castle spewing fountains of blood into your tropical paradise and there's nothing you can do about it. A private region is SL? Apart from the inexplicably high setup cost, the tiers are unfathomable. $295 a month is off the grid - forgive the pun. For that sort of money in InWorldz, I can have 3 regions and 4 bays, and as I said earlier, they are just as good and just as fast as in Second Life;
- There is no grey definition about land use. Open Space sims are exactly that. InWorldz defines in clear language what that means and penalises anyone who doesn't comply. In contrast, the response in SL was to blanket-penalise every open space owner by increasing tiers 67%;
- The ease with which objects can be imported from Second Life using the Imprudence viewer eliminates the need for the sluggish and glitchy Second Inventory system.
A problem with first impressions
Note 17/8/2013: Since writing this, IW has addressed nearly all of these issues and the welcome island has had a complete rebuild.
First impressions count, right? InWorldz needs to take this fact on board as a matter of urgency. Earlier I spoke glowingly about the welcome experience for newbies, but it's a long way from being perfect. Indeed, the welcome process needs serious attention.
The mentor system is a great idea but it's not enough. I've logged in and out at different times of the day with different avatars in order to see what really goes on there. This is important to me if I'm promoting land sales on my website and attracting people who may have never used a virtual world before. In fact, this is my target market - not SL refugees but bored Facebook users - so I'm assuming that the newcomer will be a complete noob to 3D social media in every sense.
First login: The noob (and I use the term lovingly - I enjoy noobs) has just set up their account, downloaded the viewer, and logged in. By default, they arrive at the welcome area. Herein they are utterly lost. They don't know how to move or communicate or interact with their surroundings. They are helpless and immediately need assistance.
The following scenarios are from six welcomes I experienced over two days, at different times of the day, and using 3 different avatars for anonymity:
- The first time was the worst time. There were no mentors around, just a single male avatar in the welcome area. He greeted me then asked what I wanted. I said I'm just looking around. He immediately went on the attack about me being some sort of mentor police spying on everyone, then lauched into a rant about hating InWorldz and Second Life; conspiracy theories and so on. In short, he was nuts. I had the good sense just to block him and walk away. However, if I was a newbie unaware of the lunatics who can reside in virtual worlds, I would have logged off and told all my RL friends NOT to try InWorldz. That said, it happens on every grid.
- Every subsequent time, I was greeted by a mentor, and usually with three or four other noobs/mentors within chat range. On one occasion, I was given a welcome folder. That never happened again, so I guess it's a random thing. On every other occasion, it was clear that I had interrupted two mentors chatting about their RL home lives, i.e. what they're having for dinner and so on. They said hi to me then carried on with their other conversations. Cool, that's fine - Hanging about as a mentor can be boring - I get that, and it's all very social to chatter away. It shows that there's a vibe, but it's also intimidating. Look at the real world to qualify this statement. No one likes cutting in on a conversation, especially a GenX like me who was taught that it's rude to interrupt. Also, noobs don't want to look like noobs. I cringed at the label that appeared above my head - "Please help me!" By God, what a horrible tag for an already intimidated newbie. Thankfully, I knew how to deactivate it. As a result of these first impressions, for the first few logins at least, I ended up walking off or asked a stranger for help or joined a band of equally bewildered noobs wandering the streets of what I have to say is a very dated and bleak looking sim.
- The most obvious and easy fix to help noobs begin their InWorldz experience is an automatic scripted giver that delivers three things on first login:
- A notecard with a quick how-to guide. Keep it brief. Simple things; how to use your keyboard to move, how to type in the chat box, how to use the Home key to fly, how to use right-click to interact with an object. Basic stuff that has many noobs tripping over themselves for days. At the bottom of the notecard, have landmarks that can teleport noobs to the various freebie shops on the sim;
- A 512x512 map of the welcome area so they have a visual of where to go;
- A landmark back to the welcome area. Noobs will have questions in days to come. They need to be able to find the welcome area again. I had to search through the world map to find it, as there is no landmark in the welcome pack.
What I will add in closing about the welcome area is that when I did approach a mentor, I found them helpful. When I wandered about as a noob, I also found that strangers were quite happy to talk and show me where to go. The vibe is certainly more friendly and natural than I've experienced on any other grid, hence my willingness to offer help if required.
I didn't set out to write a 5000 word essay, which unfortunately I have, so just a few brief things.
I haven't addressed the comparatively low resident population of InWorldz. To me, this isn't a big issue if the grid owners are proactively promoting the grid, and to the right audience. Also, addressing the issues I mentioned above re the welcome process will boost the retention rate significantly. Land developers and content creators actually doing some hard yards on their websites or via their offerings on other grids will also help fill InWorldz.
One of the big things I learned in Second Life when I first started out, was that the population didn't matter. I simply had to build and people would come. The Irukandji, Jillaroo, and Volpe continents were the result, and at their peak, turned over $175,000 USD a year.
A final suggestion to the owners of InWorldz is that they should market the grid to newcomers to virtual worlds, not refugees from Second Life. Forget being an alternative and be something new. You should assume that newbies have never been to any other virtual world, and I'm sure that many of them are in that boat.
With this in mind, my points about the shortcomings of the Welcome process need fast attention, or the noob will simply go to another grid.
For myself though, and only four days in, InWorldz has won me over. It is now my grid of choice.
To disenchanted former devotees of Second Life, if you liked the way things use to be, the time is right to give InWorldz a chance.
I wish its founders, managers, and fellow residents every success, and I look forward to a mutually fruitful relationship.
Xay Tomsen (Andrew Thompson in RL)
Jim Tarber - 1 April 2013: That's a great article and shows amazing insight for someone four days in. I love the balance between the good and the bad, and the helpful constructive criticism. The article is well-organized and well-written. I want to welcome you to InWorldz and just say that I think you "get it". I see that you understood the rationale between making more of the existing functionality better and more reliable before adding too many "bells and whistles". The philosophy is clearly to create a solid foundation upon which the residents can build greatness. You also noticed the attempt to avoid directly competing with existing landlords -- not offering InWorldz land smaller than a full region. InWorldz is trying to avoid making some of the mistakes Linden Lab made with Second Life, especially in the area of residents trying to create business models that succeed or fail on their own merits, rather than to be ruined by grid policy changes in mid-plan. I joined the InWorldz development team years ago as a volunteer, mostly because the philosophies and rationales and priorities were refreshingly simple and sensible. I've been down the same path you have, however on a much smaller scale (only a few full regions and Open Space regions in SL at the time of the changes). A couple of the finer details might not be 100% (for example, there hasn't been a region setup fee for some time, it is probably still documented but waived). Some of the negatives like multi-attach are coded but awaiting a deployment vehicle, i.e. we don't want to make too many significant changes at once. This week's update is to include several features including draw-distance based object culling. This significantly reduces bandwidth use, which otherwise causes several fundamental problems like movement and chat lag, slow rezzing, rubberbanding of movement, region crossing problems, inflated Internet usage (if billed or capped), etc. Basically everything is a lot faster in the new update. Multi-attach and the V2/V3 mapping should be a part of the next update after this week's. There's an IW 2.0 viewer in beta, derived from the current Firestorm builds, but adapted for V1 familiarity. We want some of the V2/V3 codebase, but clearly SL residents haven't been very happy with many of the V2 user interface changes. Mesh is mostly complete and you can see this on the InWorldz beta grid, if running a mesh-enabled viewer. InWorldz is going to introduce a better mesh though, and I believe the plan is to offer that back to the viewer community (including SL if they want it). I'd say the biggest positive technical feature of InWorldz that was missed above was the Phlox scripting engine. Unlike OpenSim and SL, scripts are not compile to native .NET/MONO DLLs and run as native code. They are compiled to intermediate "p-code" and under a tightly-controlled (memory/CPU/etc) virtual machine designed for this use by InWorldz. If I were Linden Lab and could take my pick of any one feature that someone else has, it would be Phlox, without question. InWorldz will not rest until there is no such thing as "a bad script" (very close now); that's passing responsibility for controlling region server performance to the users, something that just should never be done. In terms of a smaller user base, when I started Second Life, it had just over 200,000 users. InWorldz now has over 73,000, and is more active and popular than the next 4 virtual worlds combined (I think about 7000 unique monthly visitors now). I truly think this is a case of "if you build it, they will come". And some of the builds in InWorldz are truly amazing. At any rate, it's very good to see you giving InWorldz a realistic and detailed trial. We'll do our best to help you make it everything you dream it can be. -Jim ("Grid monkey", a.k.a. one of the grid server developers)
Andrew Thompson - 2 April 2013: Thanks Jim. Like I said, if you need any help, just yell out. TC
Talla Adam - 2 April 2013: Good review and insight into the experience at Inworldz these days. I think it is a fairly balanced view and set back to back with Second Life it did pick over some thorny old issues and pricing. I gave a more fuller review of this blog article at Opensim Virtual, the Google Plus community I run so I put a link back there and I hope more get to read this and find out about Inworldz as it is today.
Andrew Thompson - 2 April 2013: Hi Talla, thanks for the review. Re Open Sim, i have no problem with it. In fact I think it's great. I have a stand alone grid pretty much out of the box as well as my other VW activity. My only prob with Open Sim is that I'm time poor and find it difficult to get solutions to problems, or even find anything on Google about the issues, many of which have been reported for a number of years, eg the estate tools, covenants etc. Thanks again. Xay
Brigid Ashwood - 1 April 2013: I'm glad you've found a new home and have had a good experience with InWorldz. Mine was not the same. Several emails and a voice message to support, never got a response. Never. So I defected to Kitely.
Tranquility Dexler - 1 April 2013: Hello Brigid. I'm sorry you had such a negative experience with InWorldz. Was this a recent event? If you can remember the date(s) when you had sent in support tickets or left a voice message for us I can work with my support team and figured out what happened so it doesn't happen to anyone else ever again. Consequently, there is a phone number on our website, but that is for DMCA information. Up until recently we didn't have a number that would take messages and the official 800 number is going to be put up shortly, so I'm wondering where you had left us a voice message. Thank you for your time and best of luck in virtual worlds!
Tranquility Dexler - 1 April 2013: Thank you for the honest review Xay and welcome to InWorldz! The InWorldz team will discuss the critical points of your review and see how we might best be able to handle them. A couple things that are in the works right now:
– Fully automated setup (should be coming online in about month)
– We are in talks with residents on an offering that should provide users with different levels of skill a bunch of choices when first starting out to hopefully match. Sorry intentionally vague.
Agreed the welcome area needs a facelift. It hasn't changed for a long time. Thanks again and we hope to see you in world!
Elenia Llewellyn - 2 April 2013: This is a very awesome review, thank you AJ. Awesome, because there's definitely some things that need work, and you've gotten our mentors talking about how they can help to improve based on your points above. As Founders, we'll be taking a good look at the other points where we need to step up. IDI is one that we've been bantering around for quite some time, and it's getting closer to becoming a reality. Thank you so much for a heads up where we can improve all around!
Andrew Thompson - 2 April 2013: A quick epilogue re Open Sim: I'm writing this the day after I wrote the post. My ramblings have apparently gone viral with twenty or so blogs now linking back to this page. Part of the reason for that is various Open Sim afficionados finding a great many things to be offended by. Some of the personal attacks are beyond my comprehension as to what sort of dateless and desperate teenager is sitting at the keyboard writing. So, my brief response – There are more trolls on virtual world forums than on YouTube and the free metaverse is plagued with them. It's quite embarrassing to be part of that community. As for Open Sim, there is nothing on this page that criticises it. I love Open Sim. I use it on my hard drive for building continents before they go live, and as mentioned above, I have tried to utilise it to make my own grid. I have also produced You Tube videos demonstrating its capabilities. Open Sim is a great piece of kit. Indeed, InWorldz would not have existed without it. The virtual world community owes everything to Open Sim, and by extension, to Linden Labs for providing the underlying code. All of that said though, I don't give a toss for the politics of Open Sim versus the greater metaverse, or of this grid or that grid not sharing code, or of he-said she-said pettiness of people who've somehow been wronged. Everyone has been wronged by a grid owner at some time. Move on. I'm not part of all that nonsense and you won't drag me into it. This article, as the title suggests, was a comparison between InWorldz and Second Life, nothing more. A great many people really need to get over their egos. To those of you who can't, rant all you like. I really don't need your love.
Bob Bunderfeld - 5 April 2013: Hi Xay, I enjoyed reading you report on the Virtual World, I even agree with some of your points, although some points are personal likes/dislikes and I am a bit confused as to why you would insist these points are what is right/wrong with any Grid. I understand you've spent a large amount of time in Second Life, as have I actually, my life in SL began on April 9, 2003. As you, I've seen the rise and fall of SL, and hated watching such a promising Venture be ruined by short sighted money hungry fools. I do have one small issue with your report, you see I'm the guy that made those T-Shirts, and I did so because there weren't any T-Shirts to wear at the time I placed them. If you had taken one, you'd know that I didn't put in a LM to my store, because I don't make clothing, I did it because it was needed, a pure altruistic reason. I'm not upset that you think the way you do, as I've written a number of Blog entries where I felt it was necessary to point out even the smallest of issues, even if I failed to actually pursue all avenues before writing what I thought was true. I'm not slamming you here, I just wanted you to know that you made one small mistake with your report, and I was that mistake. If you had only taken a T-Shirt box, you would have seen that there was no advertisement or LM to point a New Resident to my store, which I do have, but I only sell Textures and other items for builders and home owners, but not clothing; those T-Shirts were made simply because there weren't any other T-Shirts available at the time. Why so many you ask? Not everyone is going to like the one T-Shirt, so I gave them choices, because it was the right way to do it, no other reason then that. Bob Bunderfeld
Andrew Thompson - 5 April 2013: Hi Bob, thanks for your response. I've put a pointer in the text to your comment so readers can see the other side of the story. I can see your point re lack of content in grids initially, particularly mens wear which always seems to be the last thing to reach a grid. All of that aside though, the fact remains that InWorldz needs to take control of the space inside the freebies stores. Re the personal likes and dislikes, I would need to know which point(s) you're referring to in order to make a valid comment on its merit to be included in the pros or cons. As for my 'insisting' that my point of view is the right one, I've hardly done that. Like all blog posts, mine is an opinion piece. These things don't get written unless someone has an opinion that they feel at least a semi-passionate need to express. Naturally, people will agree and disagree with my opinions. All that I can do is provide as much fact as possible from both sides of the argument to give the fairest possible assessment. The conclusions as to the validity of my statements, I leave up to readers.
Pasha Theas - 19 April 2013: I just had to chime in as I migrated 6 months ago very bored and disillusioned from SL. All of the technical aside the most refreshing thing I have found is the mindset of the community, people here do not hesitate to help no matter what the issue. There are forum's that a question is asked and responses and items are given freely. Issues concerning the founders are resolved with personal concern and the very best part is the lack of DRAMA. I once again have that creative wonder that I had 7 years ago joining SL and now we are a part of building a new and better playground as the founders include our ideas and concerns in crafting the grid (as shown above in your responses). Welcome to the new world, see you on the grid. Pasha Theas
Andrew Thompson - 19 April 2013: Thanks for your feedback Pasha. I agree with what you said about refinding that sense of wonderment. Thoroughly enjoying myself as though it's for the first time. TC, Xay
Eros Deus - 23 May 2013: Excellent article, very balanced and has constructive criticism. May I add that there is a new welcome area in InWorldz now with other helpful Islands for newcomers to be hopefully added – a bit like the old orientation Island in SL. It is rather unfortunate that you had 2 mentors ignoring you and chatting about dinner but I'm more than sure that the founders would have re-briefed the importance of meeting and greeting people first in the welcome/newcomers area. Thank you and I hope you have a very enjoyable experience in InWorldz.
Rosa Dagostino - 4 June 2013: Great Article! So Glad you decided to return & make Inworldz your Home. As Eros says the new Resident Built IDI = Inworldz Desert Island aka Welcome Area is now Active & such a refreshing delight! Hope to see you around the grid. Rosa
Cynthia Webber - 31 July 2013: I have not yet ventured into InWorldz. I have a few friends from SL that have ventured over and are talking about the costs being rather low in comparison to SL. I have been in SL for only a year and couple months so I was not there when SL was what you describe above. I am still on the fence to whether or not I will move over or even take a look into this virtual world, but I found this blog in looking into the differences. I thank you for your very detailed opinion of the differences and simularities between the two, as it has helped to receive a perspective of someone that has such knowledge and experience of both.
Raine Bernheart - 4 August 2013: I just stumbled onto your article, and I must say, I am impressed with your insight into IW. I too, have found SL not the fun and exciting place it once was. SL's purpose has become nothing more than making money for the Lindens. They do not take care of TOS violations. Like yourself, I ventured into IW a bit ago and was not at all impressed (lag, items not rezzing...typical new grid problems) Since my latest return, I have become quite happy with IW. The people are the most friendly and helpful I have ever met. All I can say, is welcome back.
Andrew Thompson - 4 August 2013: Thank you for the feedback, Raine. Like you, I'm finding InWorldz a very friendly place. It's great to rediscover that 'exciting new world' feel again like Second Life used to be.
Patrice Cournoyer - 7 August 2013: A very thorough comparison and much appreciated. I am a Second Life user since 2005, and am checking out Inworldz because two landlords I like (Victoriana and Chanwood) moved here. So far it has been an interesting experience, much improved by the v2 beta Inworldz viewer (basically a Firestorm clone) that allows multiple attachments, shadows and I think at some point mesh.
sorornishi - 4 October 2013: Great article. I migrated a few years ago and have enjoyed IW growth. A grid owned by good people is always gonna end up being OK.
Shmoo Snook - 4 October 2013: Your criticisms of SL are rather unique to those who have been "land barons." That change did not affect me at all. And I'm not a content creator, so their "We own everything" policy doesn't affect me, either. (For those who these policies have harmed, I can understand the anger and frustration.) In its defense, I've been in SL for about 6 1/2 years, and I have never, not even once, been bored inworld.
Andrew Thompson - 16 October 2013: Unique to land barons? Judging by the comments of others on this page, that's a somewhat narrow analysis. But each to their own. If you're happy with Second Life, that's all that matters.
Mason Navistar - 16 October 2013: Well written and, obviously, still relevant – based on the dates of posts added. I'm from the "corporate bandwagon" era of SL. brought in as a scripter to help build the new "it" for many companies. Anyway, you all know how that story ends. I recently returned (2013) to SL with an interest, for the first time, in the social trappings of a VW. And while I geek out at all of the amazing builds and creations of SL, I quickly learned how disingenuous and disenfranchised the place feels now days. I also gasped at the pricing requirements for land owners of SL, and with no "thank you" attached. Inwolrdz (IW) represents a promising new beginning. I, for one, am excited to see the growing number of people dipping their SL avi toe to test the waters. And my hat is off to the founders of IW for their commitment and persistence in making this dream a reality (all be it a virtual one :) – "warp speed sulu". Market IW to everyone , SL, RL, and random VW av's the world over! And tag it with the line – "Welcome to the new world, brought to you by IW."
Andrew Thompson - 16 October 2013: Thanks for your comments, Mason. As I write this, I'm in the process of writing a six month review of InWorldz. Hope to see you there.
Rusalka Nemeth - 18 November 2013: I agree with everything you've said in your post, Xay. I'm proud to admit that I'm a SL refugee and tried IW for the first time on Oct. 28, 2013 and I haven't looked back. SL to me is a sad place now, full of ideas with the wrong intentions. During my 6 years in SL, I've witnessed the incredible beginnings (my beloved old community on the Knysna/Outeniqua Forest sims before the price hike) to the inevitable fall (now finding an inexpensive place to rent no bigger than a shoebox and using less than 50 prims to decorate it) along with changing attitudes and interactions among SL avies. In addition, I've noticed that lag in SL has increased so much to the extent that when I log into SL, I cannot move my avie or camera at all. IW is the total opposite, with absolutely no lag in 99.9% of places in-world. Is there any explanation for that? I assume it's because the SL population and sim loads is much greater, but there shouldn't be *that* much of a difference. If you could help explain this, that'd be much appreciated! Looking forward to your 6-month summary report.
Andrew Thompson - 19 November 2013: Hi Rusalka, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Yes I hear what you say about SL now. It's getting creepier every time I log in, which is rarely nowadays, maybe once a month. As for the lag, your guess is as good as mine. I think their resources are starting to stretch a bit thin – just my guess. Glad you're enjoying IW
Janey Enderfield - 8 December 2013: Very interesting and well written article. I popped in to read it because I have waffled between SL and InWorldz for some years now. First in SL then to IW then back to SL where I now have had a sim for a year. I really only returned to SL due to lack of others in IW. I missed my SL friends and when I brought them over to see IW, they didn't want to stay because they said there wasn't enough going on at IW. However, I am once again thinking of returning to IW due to SL lag and costs. Your essay has given me much food for thought. Thank you and best wishes, Janey Enderfield
Andrew Thompson - 9 December 2013: Hi Janey, thanks for you feedback. IW does have a lower population but I've found its quite easy to meet people with common interests. I hope you give it another try. All the best, Xay
Ark - 16 December 2013: My impression of InWorldz. To make myself clear, I have to mention, that I have been running an OS world for a little while. InWorldz feels good when you get in at the first moment. But, I think that they should go their way and not trying to be attached to SL. I saw too much SL influence everywhere. I realize that if you trying to get more people, recruiting disappointed SL'ers seems a way to go. I do not think that the InWorldz membership is as free as it looks at first glimpse. It camouflaged in the tier. Yes there is a little or no lag. On the other hand, the more residents, the bigger lag is. Having hundreds users, rather than thousands is why the lag level is so low. I will be coming to InWorldz time to time to see how it progressing. They have a bright future.
Andrew Thompson - 16 December 2013: Yes Ark, I agree you are probably right about the lag comparison. At this point in time though, the lag levels in IW are generally very low. Re the free membership being camouflaged by the tiers, I'm not sure what you mean there. In that regard, IW is like any commercial operation in VR or RL, where the user pays – and should pay – for services beyond a certain level. I expect to have to pay rates on my RL land, so it is fair to expect that I should do the same in IW. But if I don't want to pay anything, I can do that too. I can choose not to own land and just live off freebie clothing etc. And that's 100% free.
Che Joubert - 26 January 2014: As far as I can tell, Second Life started as an embryo in the mid'90's, as part of the US military's research on using a computer animated world to simulate fields of battle, and related environs. I believe the name of the company that morphed into SL was 'Terraforma.' This was obviously drawn from its main purpose – to produce 'terraformed' , i.e. realistic land, for use in the practice of drone warfare in its earliest incarnation. So it's no surprise that it's first region was named 'Da Boom' with the biggest activity in SL being gun play, especially before it was opened to the public. The extensive research on this project had fairly early begun to be concentrated in San Diego, long famous for being the most right wing spot in all of California, where the biggest wing of the KKK outside of the south was based. From there selected participants at the U of San Diego, including Philip Rosedale, were brought into the project, and then also Cory Ondrejka as its chief technical officer, formally a US Navy officer. However I have a hard time believing that Rosedale was ever more than a front guy for government, specifically military money, which is what it would have taken to build an online world with so much stability. When I came in, in early 2007, I was immediately struck by the schizophrenia of the place. There was this hype about how SL was made up of idealists and love children on one hand, and on the other, there was a sinister underbelly of griefers and shysters, who picked on newcomers with impunity, mainly courtesy of Ondrejka's support for what he termed a sense of 'playfulness.' I had the impression then that it was a phony, rapacious, pit, not far from the gates of hell. For one thing, I had an older computer, and seemed to spend way more time trying to get back on after being attacked by a griefer, than I did in the 'game.' For another from the outset gambling and sex provided the extreme bulk of the activities and atmosphere of the place. Of course gambling was soon eliminated, but the rest of the rot remained. I have no idea why anyone would start off believing in the place, when this history of mine isn't that far from SL's official version of itself and should have been obvious. However, it did get worse, certainly by arranging the land swindle, and in general by continuing to feature both sex and violence as a financial mainstay. Something I don't hear anyone talk about much, at least anymore, is the quality of the new viewer – the infamous 3.0+ debacle that is an embarrassment to any semblance of computer technology. It is so awful that trying to describe it would have to go beyond words, to expressions of helplessness and horror. It is so stupid, so difficult, and so just plain unpleasant to use, that it finally pushed me over the edge into the recognition that until the idea of a virtual world simply comes from people with ideals not drawn from somewhere inside their pants, I'm outy.
Andrew Thompson - 26 January 2014: Enjoyable read Che. Many thanks.
Che Joubert - 26 January 2014: In my previous post I called the first company preceding Linden Lab 'Terraforma' – I think that was Forterra, or a name similar to that – the Wikipedia entry that had the name is now gone, but I will search further. Thanks.
MorSuljyn - 10 June 2014: FYI–A quick search provided this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forterra_Systems) Wikipedia article about Forterra, which, according to the article is not affiliated with SL, although it ~was~ initially developed for the US Army. According to the article, the MMOR game it was originally affiliated with is ~There~ (not Second Life) which ceased operations in March 2010, one month after Forterra's February 2010 acquisition by Science Applications International Corporation. NOTE: ~There~ re-opened in May 2012, supposedly with all previous members' accounts available: http://www.there.com/. (I don't have any personal knowledge of this; I'm just reporting what the Wikipedia article said).
magma raymaker (KweenKleo Katra) - 31 January 2014: Thanks for the GREAT Blog. It helped me make an important decision about adding a sim to Planet Concourse1 in SL. IW, here I come.
Andrew Thompson - 1 February 2014: Then let me be the first to say Welcome to InWorldz :) I'm sure that you will like it.
Naughtee Static - 6 February 2014: I just found this blog article and really enjoyed reading it. It's wonderful to see someone take the time to offer well thought out opinions and information others can take to heart if they like. I am also an Inworldz fan and resident. I believe they have the right idea. I find people there generally more friendly than in other virtual forums. I also see daily a large number of helpful responses in groups designed to offer assistance finding things and navigating iw locations. It's refreshing to find genuine interest again and I hope I have the good fortune to come across you in inworldz some day.
Andrew Thompson - 7 February 2014: Hi Naugtee, I'm really glad you're enjoying it. I am too :)
Birch Wind - 15 March 2014: This was a great read. You've updated many of the issues, and thank you for that. I had been in SL for a number of years and was always just living in someone else's dream. That can be fun, but there is something about creating your own dream. I have two residential sims and I don't make money off them (and never intended to) - in IW it's only 60/month for your own mainland sim and 75 for private island. With those low prices, plus the fact that often people just offer free rent to friends when they get a sim, or the fact that most people charge equal to or less than .50/prim for rentals - one is not going to get rich renting out land or selling off land. There is so much low priced land available to rent in various sims that it's hard to compete. Housing is NEVER a shortage, or expensive. Ive had many long term tenants, and some short term. The short term tenants are usually one of the following two : 1) decided that IW wasn't exciting enough and/or they couldn't make money stripping, or dancing, or working (sorry, but in IW people help out for free most times . )It's really not a place - at least right now- where there is a high market for employment, and with the cheap prices, not really so required. or 2) they liked it so much that they went out and got their own land/sim. When people stop renting because they simply don't like it here, I figure it's just different strokes for different folks. Like when I go back to SL. I go there and much of it feels contrived. People less concerned about creativity unless there is a lot of money to be made. IW feels more casual. Less stress - and the founders can be spotted at lots of local events. (Tranquillity Dexler even showed up at a merfolk party last month , fully decked out in tail and all, haha, I have pictures!). I could never have had two sims in SL. Hell, I could barely even afford a 4096. My rentals in IW cover me enough so that not so much comes out of pocket and yet I still have two sims along the IZstraits , ocean views, ability to decorate with twice the number of prims. I've finally had the chance to tap into that creative side. Free uploads helps a lot too. The founders care about the people - even though they get their share of BS from disgruntled folk - just like in any sort of service like this. And it's that caring that makes a difference... so really IW is totally about the people. NOT the product. (hah, that being said, there are WICKEDLY awesome mesh items/merchants now. Whee!)
MorSuljyn - 11 June 2014: Loved this article. I joined SL three years ago and, not having the earlier atmosphere to compare it to, have found it to be an awesome experience. I suspect one gets out of it what one puts into it, including one's own expectations. That said, my one inworld wish is to own my own region, but at the exorbitant prices SL charges, that will not be a reality for me any time soon. I will definitely be checking out IW!
shannara - 12 July 2014: awesome article i loved it but can i add a shop keepers perspective, the old freebie shop that lived in the old layout of the welcome sim was hugely helpful for business, for newcomers to see and recognize my brand & visit my store and find me, loosing the freebie shops was a bad move, if new people can dress for free and not look ugly they are more likely to play a game.