Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Breaking News! Ex-InWorldz Staff to Launch New Grid

In the wake of the InWorldz shut down, the exodus of refugees to Opensim grids and the declared aim of Beth Reischl (Elenia Llewellyn) and those close to her to launch InWorldz II, other ex-InWorldz staff members say they plan to launch a new grid as well and they intend to port the best of Halcyon code to their Open Simulator version. The grid is called Infiniti and the slogan being toyed with is "Infinite Dreams, Infinite Possibilities - Yours at Infiniti Grid" 

Infinite Dreams, Infinite Possibilities
Lecktor Hannibal, one of the founding members of InWorldz from 2009 and departed in 2010, said he is working with a small team of other ex-InWorldz staff and residents to set this up. He told me, "Infiniti will be open to all residents, however the target audience has been initiated based on ideas and information that residents of InWorldz had always wanted but never were able to experience."   He told me they did not have aspirations for profit in this endeavour, just to set things right so to speak to our reputations and how we wished InWorldz had been run for the long haul. 

Presently, the team are running a private Opensim standalone instance where they are meeting and fleshing out their plans. "We have a loose tentative goal to have something online by the weekend. If nothing else than to get started on the infrastructure."

Legion Heinrichs (John Arnolde) and Lecktor Hinnibal were part of the original six founders of InWorldz along with Beth Reischl and others who Lecktor says he has lost contact with. He said, "Over the years, Beth's strong type A personality, managed to alienate all of us. As time went on she added David and Jim to her team as technical folks." Neither David (Tranquillity Dexler), former CTO who left in 2016, or Jim Tarber, who says he won't be involved with InWorldz any longer after helping to recover content, are involved in the Infiniti project.

Lecktor continued "It is with great sadness and pain that we've watched InWorldz deteriorate over the years and what motivates us to this project. We are all excited however with the prospect of helping the Opensim/InWorldz community heal from the hurt." 

Infiniti Grid Team Meet-up July 2018
There were some things I wanted to know from Lecktor and he was forthcoming in his replies. For one I asked, "How do you and your team feel about Hypergrid?" I know there was never any real interest from Beth Reischl and it seems a lot of people from InWorldz would argue against it on Hypergrid Business comments thread when ever the subject came up. I'm also sure that many residents and merchants probably had a presence in the Opensim grids anyway and are familiar with Hypergrid and the huge network of connections it offers."
 
"Well," he replied "I have basically been a denizen of the Hypergrid Opensim Metaverse since leaving the staff of InWorldz sometime in 2010. Hypergrid will be available with our project. Most likely enabled by default with opt out on a case by case. Easier to manage the backend that way."

I suggested Gloebit would be a good currency choice and a lot less hassle as they handle the legal aspects and the currency is universal so plenty of Hypergrid users have it and many grids enable it now as well. I also suggested enabling Infiniti grid to accept Kitely Market deliveries too as Open Metaverse merchants, residents and grid hoppers expect a full set of services now which all serve to make the Hypergrid such a powerful feature of Opensim.

"Another fork in the road we'll be taking is NOT having a grid currency." Lecktor said, "Gloebits is a strong runner, PayPal will be likely available, Podex is up in the air." And he confirmed "The Kitely Market point made is and was in considerations for our business plan."

I am staying in touch with Lecktor and I will visit Infiniti grid via Hypergrid from my office at Farworldz grid for further insightful discussion and a first hand look at what they are doing. I am promised exclusive early access so stay tuned!

 

Friday, 27 July 2018

Exodus from InWorldz As Diehard Remainers Promise New World

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
InWorldz II is now being actively worked on and those close to Beth Reischl are fully behind the move now the GoFundMe appeal has been stopped after fierce accusations of bad dealing and bait and switch tactics which some claim amounts to fraud. The community is hopelessly split between those that have faith in Reischl and those that have had enough. There is already an exodus from InWorldz under way where residents and merchants are frantically packaging up all they can before the servers shutdown today, Friday 27th. They are moving onto other grids in sizable numbers so I am being told. Meanwhile, the tech-heads among the Remainers are busy setting up new servers and migrating data across including avatar registrations, groups and filtered inventory for those not objecting to the transfer of content to the new grid.

No date has been mentioned for InWorldz II to open but it will probably be several weeks given the amount of work to do. When it does open some may well return so for some of the departing refugees it might be a two-way tip - hard to say really. But there is a lot of bad feeling and people feel put out losing stuff and having to move anyway. The longer it takes to rebuild will also play a part in determining how many will return. But there is plenty of places to go anyway and some grids are already welcoming the new comers and doing all they can to help them.

In a comment on Hypergrid Business, Rene said "We are receiving a goodly influx of IW immigrants in DiscoveryGrid - Most of the IW people coming here marvel at Hypergrid and the ability to traverse the greater Metaverse. I'm sure other grids are receiving IW people, so lets help out the people who chose to move onto OpenSim, show them the places to get started, explain large regions, good crossings, and more. Let's get the welcome wagons happening."


One of several DigiWorldz promotional images for affiliates.

This made me wonder if any of the bigger commercial grids like Kitely Virtual and DigiWorldz were seeing a similar influx so I sent an email to Terry (Butch Arnold) of DigiWorldz asking and he replied, "We have received many new InWorldz users over the past few days. We've added approx. 150 new users to our system since 7/24/2018 and we've also added approx. 42 new regions in that same period." I was quite surprised by the numbers but it may well reflect the extent of the bad feeling amongst IW refugees. Anyway, I also asked Ilan Tochner at Kitely grid, which is well known for it's unique cloud-based worlds on demand, to see if they were experiencing a similar influx.

Ilan Tochner replied, "We've seen a significant number of people migrate into Kitely as a result of Inworldz's pending shutdown. Many of them have been ordering new Kitely worlds and buying items from Kitely Market to start building up their new avatar's inventories. We've also seen an increased number of content creators opening new Kitely Market stores."

Welcome to Kitely Virtual
Opensim code has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and there is a lot more security offered. Kitely has added code of their own too such as proprietary cloud-based Inventory and Asset systems that work significantly better than the ones that come with OpenSim and backup content to multiple datacenters across the world to prevent data loss.  Ilan told me, "Kitely has been open to business since March 2011 and offers 16-region sized private estates (VarRegions) that allow for up to 120,000 prims and 80 avatars for just $39.95/month. We've implemented export controls to protect content creators creations while at the same time enabling people to easily export their worlds to filtered OAR files on-demand." See: https://www.kitely.com/virtual-world-news/2013/06/12/export-permission-implemented/ "I think it's important," Tochner said, "for people searching for a new virtual home to consider the stability and performance of the grid they select for storing their avatar and their land. Almost all OpenSim grids worth visiting are now open to the Hypergrid thus making it less important to select the same provider as your friends as you'll be able to use the Hypergrid to visit them no matter what grid they have chosen themselves."

I asked Terry how he felt about the situation with InWorldz and what he could do for the refugees. He said "It's a sad situation when any grid closes, but especially one with the reputation and history Inworldz has. We are pleased many of the Inworldz users have chosen to try DigiWorldz and we welcome them with open arms. We'll work hard to make sure their experience in DigiWorldz is the best it can be and by all means, we'll continue our tradition of doing whatever we can to help protect the rights of not only our residents/creators, but any resident in any grid."
Kitely Market online & can deliver to any grid!


Kitely also has a very popular Market Place. Here is what Ilan Tochner said of it, "One thing that is important to keep in mind is that if someone wishes to sell in Kitely Market they'll need to have a Kitely avatar to be able to do so as items are added to Kitely Market product listings via direct access to the uploading avatar's inventory and that only works with Kitely avatars. Kitely avatars are also the only ones that get direct deliveries of their Kitely Market purchases into their inventories. Avatars on other grids need to use our Hypergrid delivery system which is less robust." 

There are other options too depending on one's desire to do business or settle into one of the community grids such as OSgrid and Metropolis. These grids are well known for their share and share alike culture which others say amounts to tolerance of copybotting and even Communism! It is true they don't have grid currency either but not everyone on those grids thinks or behaves like a Marxist and some do run businesses and sell products for Gloebits which is a universal currency and given that people connect their own instances to the grids they can indeed set up a currency like Gloebit on the server running their simulator. It only takes a viewer with Gloebit enabled to spend money in enabled regions.

Upgrade your viewer for an improved commerce experience.

Outworldz Dreamworld
Anyone can set up an Opensim instance at home or on a VPS server. It is less complicated than setting up Halcyon even. In fact, the Outworldz DreamWorld is a free, pre-packaged Windows-compatible virtual reality Opensimulator system that is easy to install, easy to run, and powerful. It is free and open source. 

 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

GoFundMe Wont Save InWorldz But New Grid Might Emerge

Talla @ InWorldz
The GoFundMe to save InWorldz has been a spectacular success, reaching near its $17,000 goal in just two days. But we are now told the money wont be available in time to pay off the demand from RackSpace where InWorldz servers are maintained. Merchants and residents are being told to save everything they can and the technical staff are working to provide OAR's and opening sandboxes for those who don't have land to package inventory. The activity has been frantic as the Friday deadline approaches when the servers will be shut down and everything left will be lost. It appears now that this will be the outcome regardless of the success of the GoFundMe appeal and it has lead to calls for a new grid to be set up on the proceeds of the fund. In an update to the GoFundMe appeal, Beth Reischl (Elenia), wrote, "Wow! Everyone has been amazing! So here's where things stand. I asked in discord this afternoon, once we hit our goal, then what? What about next month? After much agonizing and upset, it was suggested by the residents that we use these monies to start a new grid. We'll be able to move OARS, profiles, groups. Inventory can only be taken that can be put in a box to be OAR filed. We'll be opening the sandbox for people who have no region to place their items and can get them back."

Kings Landing - Game of Thrones by Beth Tyrell
She went on, "If you are NOT ok with this, I urge you to please withdraw your support on the page. I do not want to take anyone's money who is not ok with this!" Reading Discord and other comments, it is clear now not everyone is happy with the change of plan. There is a sizable group close to Reischl that want a "new" InWorldz but there are also many voices raised against it and some of those are questioning the ethics of changing the GoFundMe aims. Moreover, some residents are openly hostile to the plan. On the GoFundMe comments, someone wrote:

"I am sorry to hear of the troubles InWorldz is having. However, I will not give my permission for the Full Perm items which I have sold on IW to be exported to any other grid. They were sold on InWorldz for the sole purpose of being used on InWorldz and NOT to be exported to another grid. Such an action would be in total infringement of my Intellectual Property Rights and the intellectual property rights of all other Full Perm Creators who uploaded their work to InWorldz in good faith and according to the assurances of InWorldz management that our intellectual property would be protected: "LICENSE TERMS AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TERMS You retain copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to content you create InWorldz to the extent that you have such rights under applicable law. InWorldz retains ownership of the account and related data, regardless of intellectual property rights you may have in content you create or otherwise own. Even though InWorldz retains this right, your intellectual property will not be used without prior permission and or licensing to InWorldz."


Steampunk Isle Calia Estates

Another said, "Ok STOP! the fund raising was to save IW not to make a new grid!" And yet another was outright hostile, "It was not 'suggested by the residents' that you start a new grid, it was decided by a small clique of people who rudely refuse to listen to the views of others. Most residents don't even know about this yet. I think you have taken money under false pretences. The initial 'cause' has been replaced by totally different one. You should refund all donations and start again clearly stating exactly what you are raising the money for. As it stands this could be viewed as fraud."

I have kept the names back of those commenting but they can be read on the GoFundMe page so there are arguments for and against and there is no clear idea if a new grid is possible. For one thing it would need to be a Halcyon server because all the OARS are Halcyon code and none are going to work in other grids so it appears. Anyone hoping that a new InWorldz will run on Opensim I am sure will be very disappointed and I have yet to find out if any that have left and gone to other grids have been able to move their content. Likely they will be able to if they have the original inventory before it was ever uploaded to InWorldz but for many, those that have been in InWorldz for years and created there, I suspect they have no choice but to go with whatever is setup to replace the InWorldz grid.


Castle at Inland waterway IW scenic by Yadni Monde

Presently, everything is in the air and in the days and weeks to come a new InWorldz will emerge from the ashes of the old one - probably. I think one thing is for sure though, if Beth Reischl manages to pull it off and keep as many on board with the new plan then I doubt the grid will run as a  business in the same sense that it was. What I mean is that it is quite likely those that held faith and voted with their money will want more say in the running of the grid and that may well be a challenge for Beth Reischl who has held a firm hand on the helm at InWorldz since she and others founded it ten years ago. 

Update: InWorldz cofounder and former CTO David Daeschler has posted a statement on Hypergrid Business expressing doubts about a new grid and making it clear he has not been involved with InWorld management since 2016 so has no knowledge of the current affair. He said "InWorldz will always hold a special place in my heart."

There has also been heated comments on G+ Opensim Virtual community about all this. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

InWorldz Grid Fighting to Survive!

InWorldz announced the grid was to close just a day ago but after an outpouring of Resident grief and worries over lost money and content, Beth Reischl, leading founder of the grid 10 years ago, set up a GoFundMe and is appealing for help to save the virtual world so many have come to love and call home.



Reischl has blamed travel-related communication problems, bureaucratic mistakes and other issues resulted in the shutdown of the grid’s PayPal accounts and the calling in of the company’s business loans. Hypergrid Business reported this and, quoting InWorldz blog, Reischl also explained "In middle May, we took a loan from LoanBuilders, a subsidiary of PayPal." All was going well then everything took a down turn. She went on "The first payment was scheduled at the end of May. I received notice from them that it was NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds). I checked our bank account, the monies had not even attempted to be taken and the monies were definitely there."

"Without payment, RackSpace will be shutting our servers down," she went on to say in her initial announcement. "I’ve extended our servers out until Friday, July 27. I can not process cashouts, no payments may be sent out. For that, I’m truly sorry." However, she said she will begin issuing refunds, as much as she can before PayPal shuts access to the accounts, and she recommends customers use the PayPal dispute system on monies they paid to InWorldz which PayPal will have to honour and make refunds from their account although the dispute process may take a short while.

Later in the day Reischl came back with an addendum to her initial announcement, saying "Many of you are not happy over this, and want to do whatever you can to save the grid. I'm down for that! So what I did was set up a GoFundMe that will update your tiers and if we raise the amount needed, the grid will be ok and we'll set up new payment methods. They will not include PayPal. If you want to keep your home, please visit us at: https://www.gofundme.com/inworldz-in-trouble And let's make this happen! I can't stand the idea of going down without a fight, but now it's on our users! YOU!"

InWorldz does, indeed, have a loyal user base but there have been many voices raised against the managment over the years including my own at one time when the InWorldz founders, having migrated from another early start-up based on Opensim code, kept attacking Opensim developers and Hypergrid at a time when InWorldz was itself an early fork of Opensim and little different than the growing number of other grids around. However, although InWorldz has it’s roots in Opensim, it has diverged considerably over the years and now runs on the in-house developed Halcyon platform.




Early on in 2017 Hypergrid Business posted an article "InWorldz stops publishing falling stats" which brought a torrent of heated comments from both Opensim users and InWorldz supporters on the reasons why Reischl suddenly decided to stop giving their monthly traffic stats. The gist of the argument was that InWorldz was losing merchants and users which brought a backlash from the Iz community on HB for the article. A year later HB published a new article, this time headed "InWorldz merchants concerned about future" and reported that the public forum for InWorldz had been closed some time to try to block  complaints.

Not withstanding all the past drama and obvious drop in traffic many merchants remained on the grid and it appears they are willing to help save it because after just a day the fund stands at $11,818 of $17,000 goal. InWorldz is loved by and for its community as much as anything else and it looks like help is on the way. 


 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Kim Kardashian is Big on Second Life too!

So Kim Kardashian has switched from IMVU to Second Life and posted this screenshot to her Instagram account to promote her new perfume!

The photo already has 1,179,119 likes so that must be good news for Second Life if any of those clicking actually know SL is a virtual world. But it has certainly brought a smile to the faces of those reporting on it  - mine too!

In fact I was so bemused by the use of a voluptuous SL look-alike avatar I had to look on Market Place to see what was actually on offer and it is huge!


So there you go if you are looking for an avatar that is all bum and boob you know where to look. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


By the way, we are told this is not the first time she’s has done it either. Wagner James Au over on New World Notes tells us she did the same thing in the past used the Kimoji avatars that appear to be from IMVU.


Anyway, one can only wish her the best of luck with her product and may Second Life and and all those wobbly avatars strut their stuff to heart's content.

Wagner adds "IMVU, the social network with 3D animated avatars, said that it has provided the technology behind a new version of the popular Kimoji paid app created by Kim Kardashian West... “Kanye and I found this amazing social experience company, IMVU, and worked with them on creating some of our latest Kimoji designs and GIFs. They’re such innovators who have helped me really set Kimoji apart,”Kardashian wrote on her site." 

Kardashian's official @kkwfragance perfume brand on Instagram has even more SL pics
Heck, I haven't blogged in ages and I return with this! Well it was fun to write about.

But really, it is about time I got into blogging again. I mean there are all these new VR worlds to write about and Second Life and Opensim are far from dead. They're actually doing quite well despite the arrival of Sansar, High Fidelity and a lot more next gen platforms.