On Saturday November 30th, a discussion about the InWorldz virtual world took place in Second Life. A stage had been set up in the Purrfection Estates sim, near the beach club there. Originally scheduled to start at Noon SL time, it was delayed a few minutes due to minor technical difficulties. The meeting and talk was hosted by Nydia Tungsten, the owner of White Vixen Enterprises which runs the sim.
Besides Nydia, on stage were Zia Larina and Amore Crux, who run the Second Life/InWorldz Connection Center in both grids. Elina Llewellyn, whom Zia identified as one of InWorldz' founders was there. Kelly Mekanic was also one of the speakers. Zia and Kelly used voice the majority of the time. The size of the audience varried, with people leaving early and dropping in late, though it is believed more than forty people saw at least part of the discussion.
The idea for the meeting came around mid-November due to Nydia and her friends getting asked a number of questions, and having a number of concerns mentioned about InWorldz. This included some harsh accusations about the place, calling it a pale imitation of Second Life, and worse. The owner of White Vixen Enterprises, which has recently purchased a couple sims in the InWorldz grid in addition to the number in Second Life it manages and outright owns, got together with Zia and Amore and soon organized the meeting.
Zia Larina added she too had started in Second Life and learned quite a bit there, including running sims, management, and time in business. Once in the InWorldz grid, she was able to focus more time on content creation. She found her time in both virtual worlds a positive experience. She commented if people found her voice unusual, it was from spending years on American Indian reservations.
There were numerous questions asked and answered. The first was about scripting in InWorldz. Elenia explained it was once based on the OpenSim code, but had long since branched out, "We have rewritten inventory, assets, physics and phlox which is our scripting engine from the ground up." One InWorldz resident present, Morrice DeClaun (morphman), commented, "There's some scripting differences, but not too many. And there's a great scripter community to find out what is different there." Kelly added, "InWorldz has done great work with the Beta mesh support viewer which is the equivalent in appearance and use of the Firestorm viewer that we here are used to without the new code that has caused apparently many issues for users with older comps."
Kelly went on to say, "InWorldz is a builder and creators' heaven. (It) gives people a chance to create and learn. Not only that..but they have a mentor team that is very helpful to get started and when they arent at the Welcome area..many creators and residents spend their time there to help. She compared going between Second Life and InWordz to commuting to and from a busy city and a quiet country home.
Jenn Chant, a Second Life resident who has spent some time in InWordz, commented, "While InWorldz is a closed grid like Second Life (good for keeping IP rights intact), I do love the fact that they are still far more open then SL in many respects. You can backup your inventory from their website. Also there is no charge to upload resources. I often feel in SL like I'm being nickled and dimed to death, and that's just not the case in InWorldz." Kelly commented, "Second Life is a money-making venture," saying the Lindens have been up front about that.
Storm (electrasky) asked, "if InWorldz will charge in the future for uploads to cover their costs?" Elenia answered, "we can not speak for LL, however, our vision is to create a place where people can explore freely their own imagination. Part of that is uploads. Sure, it's great to make money off that, but we want the imagination to run free, and how best can you do that? By uploading for free. Will we ever change that policy? We have no plans anywhere in the future to do so. And we certainly would not think to make such a massive change without input from our residents beforehand as we value their input strongly when we make decisions."
Syndi Dryke had a shopowner's question, "How does the cashing out work? Is it reliable and do you lose more in the transactions, then you do in here? And can you transfer currency back and forth.. I know it works that I can deposit money here in SL and withdraw it in IWZ, but does it work the other way around too?" Elenia answered, "Syndi, we removed the ability to transfer back to SL on a general basis because the credit card fraud was becoming intense, causing both companies to lose thousands of dollars. As a smaller company, we have a pretty good view on fraudulent transactions."
Nydia commented, "the community itself helps to fight this as well, in a group chat I have seen botters harassed for copybotting, residents in BOTH worlds need to call out the copy botters." Kelly spoke in voice that it was important to "cover your own butt" as Grid owners couldn't be expected to do it for you. Those who wanted to be big designers, she advised to copyright their work. Elizabeth DeClaun (kenniem) remarked, "I get why people are so up in arms about the new TOs, but its gotten a lot of creators to pull their finger out and Copyright their stuff. Linden Lab isn't going to do it."
Mimi then asked what the InWorldz policy on freebies was. Elenia answered, "InWorldz, as many know, has removed the freebies from the main welcome area. We only have a generic ao, the LM hub and one other thing. We are allowing it to be ran by our residents instead which is proactive to the region owners, shop owners, etc., rather than us running it." Kelly felt, freebies were welcome and can be found most anywhere in InWorldz, "gives (new) people a chance to get a head start." Morrice felt, "As with SL, creators generally keep the stuff they've worked on the hardest at a price and have older things and lesser things for free as promotional tools."
Pammy Jo (pj.arnott) was worried about seedier elements taking over, "How much time do you give InWorldz before it becomes overcrowded and full of sex places, perversion, griefers and becomes Secondlife Jr? I see little happenings now. So many griefers coming in now. ... The Mentors are trying to protect us ... but soon I think the inflow will be too large. Why not keep Iwz word of mouth and protect it?" Zia answered, "people will play their video games how they want to, and if you want to go to those places ..."
On the subject of griefing, Zia contrasted the InWorldz welcome center, which has a strict code of conduct, with the one of Second Life, which "gets a little crazy." Kelly commented with the recent influx in InWorldz, a few griefers inevitably came with the new people coming in due to it's newfound popularity. There was talk about griefers giving new accounts a bad name, as they often made new and disposable accounts to do their dirty deeds. Kelly commented that the griefers were bored kids whom were basically angry at the universe and anyone else. But fortunetly InWordz was seeing little griefing.
Should InWorldz have an age verrification? Elenia didn't think so, "There is nothing out there for true age verification. The fact is that age verification is a company's way of CYA for minors being where they shouldn't be. We see no point in putting something in that's completely baseless in real action." One resident from InWorldz wondered about the possibility of a way for InWorldz to identify and ban those who were banned from Second Life to stop griefers from there. Elenia told her not to expect it, "it would require cooperation between the two grids. And other than fraudulent activities, which was a one sided bit of cooperation on our end, I doubt you'll see it. Also note, in the US, giving out IP's is actually illegal." Morrice added, "A true griefer would use an IP mask, so that wouldn't help."
Kelly then brought up the Terms of Service mess, suggesting it was the result of Linden Lab's history of trying to improve the graphics in Second Life. Unfortunetly, their "server-side baking" improvement earlier this year actually worsened it's performance of residents using older computers. She explained InWorldz began getting a number of POed Second Life users at this time. She felt Linden Lab's new Terms of Service in regards to content creators was caused in part by this to help ensure those going over couldn't just take their stuff with them, "anything you make here, you can't take out." Someone else countered that if an InWorldz user made something, of course they could bring it over. People also talked about the merits of creators copyrighting their work. Nydia commented, "There ARE creators that say 'if you buy my things here you can rip them where you like as LONG as you don't sell them.' "
Treminari Heut then brought up the subject of gambling, "We got a gambling group here which violated the business and professions code which overhangs SL up and down across the law.... " Elenia told her, "Our simple answer Mina is literally gambling is not allowed. The Federal laws flat out do not allow for any online gambling." Treminari also mentioned that the gamblers had gotten into a feud with a privacy group, "and as a result these 1100 member group was all sent a series of threats slandered blackmailed and attacked on several locations.... Linden Lab chose not to get involved causing the situation to degenerate into two bickering groups both accusing the other side of being criminals ..." What would InWorldz have done? Elenia answered, "it really depends on what is being done, and how we view the situation. We have had to step in between groups when it begins to hurt the grid as a whole. Sometimes they need a cooling off period, but in most cases, there is a true TOS violation that causes it and that is what we look for." Treminari continued, "It sounds good that you dissallow gambling and all.... what about games that try to skirt around notice of enforcement and get excused here... such as sploders and whatnot?" Elenia's answer to this was, "We have that down tight as well and our residents do let us know Mina. The concept of gambling is centered on the risk factor. That means if a user has the ability to lose monies on chance, it falls into gambling. Even games of "skill" we tell them flat out monies can not be the end reward as based on possibly losing. Therefore they must give away actual gifts. This removes the gambling aspect for them and we're not really equipped to go fight the DOJ for online gambling."
A debate on gambling and what it is started in voice and chat. One resident expressed confusion as she had never come across it in Second Life. It was mentioned that some places in both Second Life and real life get around gambling rules and laws, including Japan where pachinco machines get around by awarding players with numbers of metal balls, which can be exchanged for prizes. Morrice commented, "I don't think grids are good for gambling. There's plenty of gambling sites out there, so why would you do it in any grid? Gambling, per definition, is all about money, money in, chance of money out. Items are not gambling." Elenia's answers to her questions satisfied Treminari, "I fully approve that your cracking down on it and just for that I'm gonna be checking out InWorldz, I've gotten really tired of being threatened by what is essentially the SL Mafia."
The Avination Grid, one that had made some news in the past along with InWorldz, came up. Someone commented it was "dead." Kelly thought that the lack of freebies for new people was a factor. It was also brought up that gambling was allowed there, and one resident felt some of the places were cheating.
The InWorldz viewer came up, "is there a specific reason that the IW Beta viewer is still beta? The current stable release still can't see mesh and the beta has been in beta since February." Elenia answered, "I actually had a skype with McCabe on this, and he's close to release on the viewer again. however, if you can't see mesh in the beta viewer, you really should get a hold of him as that should not be the case." Of why it was still called a beta, "the reason for beta on the viewer is because of skin and shape issues and search issues. ... Once it's done and the big issues are fixed, then we'll switch over to pushing that instead of 1.4.8(10). "
Kelly commented in voice, "It's not beta, its an exceptionaly stable viewer ... its a great viewer ... in terms of content, if you want to cross grids and make this a source of income."
Of computers, Amore stated in voice, "I got a new computer, Second Life is okay, but not good. Second Life is hell on computers these days ... InWorldz runs more smoothly on your computer." Kelly's response, also in voice, "InWorldz is no different, except that it doesn't have the new code." Many of the new people coming to InWorldz didn't know how to adapt to the new code, or didn't want to. And InWorldz was mesh enabled. Morrice commented, "InWorldz works fine on my office laptop, and that thing can't even run Minecraft." It was brought up that the number of viewers available could be confusing to new players as Massive Multiplayer Online games all have just one viewer while Second Life has a number, "it is such a foreign concept for new people," Morrice felt, "because no other 'game' or 'world' uses several clients for the same program."
The talk turned to Second Life users coming to InWorldz. Kelly commented in voice, "The impression I've gotten is many people are afraid. Afraid of what? If you're that good here, why not head to a new place and do better?" Morrice added, "Nobody will hate you for doing more than one world. InWorldz is not a mistress on the side. (grin)" Jenn Chant commented, "It's not SL vs IW. this isn't US vs Them. We are all virtual citizens and we can be in as many grids as we feel like. She went on to say, "I think the fact that we have a founder of InWorldz here at this meeting in Second Life when we don't have an SL rep in SL speaks volumes for how awesome IW management is!" It was brought up that Opensim in the begining was sponsored by Linden Lab. But their support for them has been gone for years, Elenia saying, "The project fell apart due to a fight over who would control the information."
Elizabeth DeClaun (kenniem) asked, "When I talk to those who try out inWorldz they always say that inWorldz reminds them of Second Life circa 2006. Do you think that inWorldz is progressing at the same rate as Sl? I mean inWorldz is 4 years old now?" Morrice answered, "I see IW as an alternate universe. Go back in time to 2006, change a few things, then flash forward to today and see how it developed differently."
The prices of getting places on the two Grids came up, Erik Mouse saying, "You could find InWorldz to be better cost wise since you can get a 45,000 prim region for $75 a month on InWorldz rather than pay $295 a month for a 15,000 prim region on SL." Elenia added, "The Magellan group is great, and a good example of our listening to residents. When we put up the 2nd mainland it was way off in the hinterlands. And they stood up and said, 'HEY put them close and we'll fill the gap and build this great spot there.' So we did." Kelly felt people want to just be able to go about in a virtual world without having to update otherwise fine computers.
One InWorldz resident spoke, "it is so exciting to see more creators come in. There is SOOOO much room for growth there as a creator. We are begging for more!" Nydia seconded the need for builders in InWorldz,"no offense but the builds I have seen there so far are about the same quality as the old freebies here." Morrice responded, "Yeah, that's the builders, not the grid. I've seen amazing buildings, but there's not enough builders there, so most people end up build their own houses and just as here in SL, most people aren't expert house builders."Nydia did mention one content creator recently setting up at InWorldz, "Many of you may know 'Alessandra Skins and fashions.' She is expanding there as well."
It was also asked if InWorldz had a Marketplace website like Second Life. Elenia answered, "we do not have one, there are resident owned ones that are up and running, but we are firm believers in keeping our people firmly rooted inside the viewer and grid, not out on the webpages browsing."
One estate owner dropping in the meeting around the middle of it spoke up, " I own several sims in SL, been playing there for gong on 8 years. So I have amassed alot of stuff. So to move over to Inworldz and just leave it all behind, it totally impractical. You are talking $1000's US. So unless there is a way to move everything I have over, I see no solution for many of us." She was told no one was asking her to leave Second Life behind, "not saying to leave SL ... just expand to InWorldz and build yourself up there as well." "I think you need to see it as a similar world, not the same world. The stuff you have on your computer, you can transfer for free to InWorldz, but see it like any other game. You don't go getting all achievements in Call Of Duty and expect to have everything unlocked in Battlefield. In the same way, you cannot really expect all that you have amassed in SL to be available right off the bat in InWorldz." Elina told her, "one of the things I hear so often about InWorldz in comparison to Second Life. We're like the vacation home compared to SL. Many of our residents, including the Founders, have toeholds in both worlds. Nothing says you have to live in one world only. (smile)"
Jenn Chant, "I love the fact that I've got friends in SL and Metropolis Grid and IW from around the world. It's always cool to meet people from another country and have different points of view and outlooks on things."
Elenia Llewellyn, "I think the biggest thing is we have such a diverse culture of people and what they use."
Two videos of the meeting have been posted by Nydia. The longer one can be found at: http://www.twitch.tv/nydia_tungsten/b/484003456. There is also a youtube that can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcRHIZ8A71w.