The undiscovered country: Our first voyage to InWorldz

The Undiscovered Country 1 blogcopy
The intrepid new settlers begin the voyage across the treacherous waters

This week Harvey and I visited InWorldz for the first time and despite the poetic allusion of this post’s title – no, we did not meet our deaths – far from it. The voyage was swift and not without incident, but we survived nevertheless, and returned back to familiar ground, safe and keen to tell the tales of our adventures.

InWorldz saw its first login in February, 2009, which paved the way to an official opening just over a month later. Nearly five years since then, it claims over 87,839 registered users with about 200 (-ish) concurrent users today (at the time of writing this post on October 31). When I count the number of concurrent users in Second Life at the same time (28,817), one could reasonably say InWorldz hasn’t really yet taken off.

Still, InWorldz has received a lot more attention among Second Life residents recently, probably due to recent Linden Lab TOS controversies, and perhaps more chronically as a consequence of more benign forms and interpretations of neglect on the part of Linden Lab to Second Life. My purpose in this post is neither to provide a tutorial on how to get into InWorldz, to become embroiled in the outcomes from recent changes to its TOS, or to interpret the meanings of the communications exchanged by Linden Lab and those who may be considering looking west, as it were, to pastures where the grass might be greener. I just want to give you a balanced view of our experiences there.

In many ways, and no doubt influenced by the perspective gained from over 6 years in Second Life, InWorldz reminds me a little of the early attempts to colonise North America by the British.

Some went to get rich. Some went to escape what they considered persecution for their beliefs. Some were even born there. Most suffered terribly from all sorts of life threatening challenges. Yet, against all odds, a few survived to form what was to become most powerful nation in the world for nearly a century.

I’m intrigued by InWorldz for several reasons. As a builder and significant contributor to tier costs, I’m very attracted by the fact that the annual first year running cost of owning a region in Inworldz is 14 times less than the same prim allotment in Second Life.

A private island in InWorldz costs $975 in the first year ($75 set-up and $75/month), and $900 every year thereafter. The same private island in Second Life costs $4600 in the first year ($1000 set-up and $300/month), and $3600 every year after that. When you consider that you are getting three times the prim allotment (45K vs 15K) with an InWorldz private island, the first-year region in Second Life costs 14.2 times what it does in InWorldz, and 12 times more every year you own it. This should be enough of a delta for any one that rents or owns land in Second Life to take note of.

Land ho!
After such a perilous journey, land was a welcome sight indeed. Little did they know that their real adventure was only just beginning.

There are of course drawbacks. Like in early colonial America, there are very few supplies on hand and those that exist tend to be of lower quality (although I understand it’s getting rapidly better). You can’t take everything you own from the old world with you (unless you created it yourself), so it feels a bit like you’ve only got a small chest of stuff to use as clothing and shelter, and that you are more or less starting from scratch in a foreign country that just happens to speak a similar language. Personally speaking, the low concurrency numbers suggest a significant potential for loneliness and desolation. Commercially, the lower number of residents represents a much smaller market for anything you’ve got to sell.

On the other hand, people living in small towns tend to know and relate to their neighbours more than those who live in huge cities, so concurrency might not be as important as the numbers suggest. Also, given the fact that many creators and builders in SL do what they do for recreational purposes anyway (with few but significant exceptions), how big of a market does one really need? Given that running costs (land and free uploads) are so much lower; fewer sales would be necessary to break-even. There is also much, much less competition for whatever you might offer, so you’d imagine there’d be a surplus of opportunity and untapped niches, discoverable with the benefit of hindsight provided by one’s Second Life’s experiences.

Like the early colonists, there also seems to be a different spirit developing in InWorldz to the one I’ve observed in Second Life. Greeters (avatars, not machines) greet you when you first arrive. They’re welcoming, helpful and polite. The system automatically adds you to a “New Resident” group, which instantly provides you with an opportunity to relate to other newbies in the same boat as you. Members with varying degrees of experience inworld tend to be helpful and keen to welcome newcomers, which differs dramatically to the experience of most new residents when they first enter Second Life. Many residents and newbies I encountered said that people just tend to be friendlier in InWorldz than they are in Second Life – whether that’s accurate or not, I can’t be sure.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the ease in using the official InWorldz viewer (beta) which looks and feels just like earlier versions of Second Life viewers did. I found my frame rate tended to be better regardless of where I visited. They’ve even got mesh now. And, as a photographer, I was pleased to see that Phototools is also available, with all the bells and whistles to which I’ve become accustomed.

The comforts of home
Our intrepid settlers retreat to the safety and familiarity of their hearth. Glad to be home, but keen to return.

Despite the many pleasant surprises, we returned to Second Life later that night inbued with a palpable sense of relief and calm. We were home again, more comfortable in my own skins, surrounded by people that are important to us, and all of the beautiful things we like. We were weary travellers returning from a short vacation to a less developed country – happy for the experience, but glad to be home.

I have to say that despite my initial reservations, InWorldz has an air of promise that neither of us can deny. While I have no plans to leave Second Life, I’ll be visiting InWorldz more in the future, and I’ll be sending postcards.

14 thoughts on “The undiscovered country: Our first voyage to InWorldz

  1. Maybee a summer-winter cottage inworldz? :):) exploring is a good thing and IF u have a transf shape u van import it as XML file. Easy peasy! And some skina are the same tio 🙂 ~hugss~

    Like

  2. The founders of inworldz care about things such as lag. I consistently find lag to be less of an issue there. When I return to SecondLife I find the heavy lag to be very frustrating. Inworldz has physics, mesh support AND sim wind! All for tier that is fourteen times cheaper. The Lindens can’t get it through their thick skulls that the tier prices are outrageous. I can’t imagine why people still pay them.

    Like

    1. The simple answer as to why we keep paying tier them is probably audience. And building materials. But definitely audience. As Becky said, we’ll keep dipping our toes into InWorldz, but I think I speak for us both when I say that SL still feels more like home, and not just because our homes are there.

      A more complex answer for me, individually, is that I’m one of the comparatively rare males of the species that takes a degree of pride in how I dress. I’m careful about my appearance and how I portray myself to the world. Despite the arrival of mesh options in InWorldz, the range of choice is very limited – what I consider attire for me is uncommon even in SL – and until that changes it’s unlikely that I’ll feel entirely comfortable.

      That’s not to say I won’t keep going back and checking – I think I shall, and perhaps over time, how comfortable I feel being “me” will increase.

      Like

    2. Yeah, I’d agree with what Harvey says about why we keep paying. That’s not to say that I don’t find it expensive! I do. I guess it’s analogous to why I choose to live alone in a flat in Central London and pay the rent I do. Sure, I could find flatmates to live with, I could even move outside of the central zone and get more space than I have. But I can walk to work, I love my neighbourhood, I have all the space I need, I can walk around the flat in nothing but slippers if I want to, and I’m close to whatever I want to do – besides I can’t bear late night trains and busses after a night out. So yeah, I keep paying. Is it ridiculously overpriced? Oh yeah, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I guess I value the access and amenities, and the time it saves me, more than I do the money.

      Like

  3. Actually, as costs come down for hardware, and innovation increases, Kitely is showing people they do not have to pay much at all to enjoy virtual worlds.

    http://www.kitely.com/

    Their costs are in line with server costs in free opensim places…for example, one hosting company is Zetamex.

    http://zetamex.com/

    In addition, for those who enjoy Commercial opensim grids, Kitely offers up to 100k prims and up to 100 avatars.

    For content creators, their MP will open a very large Market very soon.

    http://www.kitely.com/market

    And for answers to any questions, their forums are very good.

    http://www.kitely.com/forums/index.php

    I am a free opensim advocate but watch opensim closely, and Kitely is quite interesting.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s