Thursday, November 29, 2018

Commentary: Has the Collapse of InWorldz Stopped Many Second Life Residents From Considering Another Virtual World

By Bixyl Shuftan

When there were a number of residents raising serious questions about Linden Lab and the future of Second Life in late 2013 and early 2014 during the ToS Content Creator controversy, when it looked like Linden Lab was reserving the right to take any content it's customers uploaded and use it for it's own purposes or even sell, some started making plans to leave. While a few talked about leaving virtual worlds altogether, most comments I heard were from people saying they planned to head to another virtual world. Of these, some talked about an Opensim world, but most talked about one particular one: InWorldz, the second-largest of the grids in population. The concerns got to the point a number of my neighbors got a few sims in InWorldz as a "lifeboat" in case Linden Lab shut down our virtual world. It was stated at the time that if Second Life folded, about a third would head to InWorldz, a third would head to OpenSim, and a third would give up virtual worlds altogether. But eventually, Linden Lab responded to the residents about the Content Creator controversy, and the plans to head to InWorldz were put aside. But still, if anything happened to Second Life, InWorldz was still around as our "backup."

So with Inworldz itself folding in July this year, how has this changed the answer to the question "Where would you go it Second Life shut down?" If Linden Lab was hoping for some to consider their "Next Generation Virtual World" Sansar, they're in for a disappointment. I've only heard of a handful of people saying they go on Sansar regularly, and only one region from the older grid has moved there. Sansar has more going against it besides the people here already having a virtual home. While Sansar looks good, you can't really interact with objects and people like you can in Second Life. And even among next-generation worlds, Sansar is far behind VR Chat in popularity. Some of the comments I've read are from people who remark that socially it has more of the feel of the early Second Life.

Listening to friends, some stated they would head to Opensim. But there's no one world that people seem to favor. When InWorldz fell, there was a great diaspora of the residents among a number of places, Kitely, Sinespace, DigiWorldz, Discovery, Tranquility, The Great Canadian Grid, and many others. When talking to my virtual neighbors, many commented they'd spent more time with friends in games, such as Ark Survival Evolved or Fortnight.

So with no "second place" virtual world, it appears instead of an exodus mainly to one destination, a shutdown of Second Life would mean a virtual diaspora with it's residents heading to a number of far smaller worlds and a number of MMOs. Once seen as "Internet 2.0," it would be the end of an era when a virtual world could hope to have thousands of active residents.

There is one thing to consider. At this time while many residents still have the love-hate relationship with Linden Lab they've had for years, it's much better than the days of 2013-2014. While a number grumble that the Linden's effort on Sansar could have been much better spent here, there's no crisis of confidence like there was in the ToS CC Controversy, no big worries that Linden Lab is going to steal the content of it's users, or that they plan to up and shut down this world. If there were, they'd start making more serious plans for exit strategies again.

So while today things look like the sudden end of this virtual world would mean it's users would be scattered in the wind, perhaps five years from now, the answer will be different. That is, unless the big fear is realized and Second Life really does end up shutting down.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 26, 2018

Eleven Years of Reporting

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was about eleven years ago that yours truly got his start as a reporter here in Second Life. Before coming to Second Life, I had been writing a few science-fiction stories and posting them on a personal website. They got some reads, and a little fanart. But by 2007, I felt it was time for a break, so put that on pause. In the meantime, I had taken an interest in Second Life, and that year started logging in on a regular basis. Wanting to know more about this virtual world, I began looking up websites and blogs. I eventually came across a few newsletters, the one getting my attention the most being "Second Life Newspaper." It was owned by JamesT Juno and run by Dana Vanmoer. After a while, I came across an invitation for it's readers to send in "reader submitted" articles. So I wrote a few and sent them in. James and Dana were impressed, and invited me for a job interview. After several minutes of talking, I got the job.

Although I wasn't always sure what would make for a good subject in the first few weeks, I soon got the hang of things. I would write about a variety of subjects about the people, places, and events of Second Life. While occasionally my stories were a bit on the sensational side, such as writing about "Zig Zag" and her adult media company, more often than not, they were about how Second Life sometimes mirrored real life, such as the 2008 Presidential Election, people doing good things in Second Life, notably the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Relay for Life, the various things people made here, or people just having fun such as the games and virtual pets. And of course I was part of a great time, some who would become my friends.

In Spring 2010, James and Dana were having to deal with real life situations that would not go away, and made the decision to close the Second Life Newspaper. Four of us, Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shellie Sands, and I made the decision to start a new paper with me as the leader. And so my role changed from just another writer to the head of the team. Over the years, the team has seen people come and go, such as DrFran, Zymbers Slade, Grease Coakes, Majik, and others. But the team remains, with Gemma and I still writing stories.

As Second Life has changed, I've written about new places, things, and people here, such as the development of mesh and Bento. I've written about other virtual worlds, such as InWorldz. And as my friends here also play games outside Second Life, I've written about those as well, such as Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and more. But the main focus continues to be this virtual world. I'm able to write one, two or three larger stories each week, plus briefs for the front page about Linden blog announcements and other breaking news.

So now what? For one, I plan on continuing what I've been doing all along. But I also have something else going on. Before getting into journalism, I wrote a few fictional stories, some short and some long. And recently I've started up on another science-fiction novel, "The Corsean Encounter." This is the story of two men as they end up on an alien world that in some ways is quite familiar, in others very different, in a pivotal moment in it's history, and the decisions they and their friends and enemies make will affect the world for generations to come. As of now, it's slightly less than halfway done. The Newser keeps me busy.

Eleven years later, much has changed. But the primary objective remains the same, getting the word out about the people, places, and events, of Second Life.

"And that's the way it is."

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

My Cape Heron Lots

By Deaflegacy (Kalaya Karringten)

I remember the day I saw all these Cape Heron lots.  They are at a good size and have plenty of prims available.  I was living in an apartment back then.  I was paying one linden a week.  I really liked having an apartment but I couldn't resist asking myself if I'd like to have a parcel.

I talked to Stepin (stepinwolf.darkstone) about getting a parcel because he owns several parcel lots.  Stepin recommended that I talk to the manager of the parcels.  I did and got a parcel.

The parcel grew into two.  The next thing I knew, it not only grew into three, but into four as well. It was my desire to have a lot with some trees and a big house.

Soon enough, my lots have became a home to my family.  I also have some trees as well as a large gazebo for a piano so Ari (arisia.vita) could play on our piano for us to enjoy his music.  I did get some horses.  I have been taking care of horses for some time now.  I even named my horses after some people in real life. I cannot say who but I know who they are.  They are my inspiration.

I shouldn't say 'my lots'. Instead, because I'm sharing the lots with a few other people who are in my family, it should be 'our lots'.  So I think from now on, I'll say, 'our lots' because I like to share our lots with my family members as well as best friends.

For security reasons, I cannot say where my parcel lots are but I can tell you that it's Cape Heron.

I hope to have these parcels for a long time. I'm willing to pay for these parcels for a long time to come because I have started to consider our lots as a home.  A home to go to.  A safe place to be. It's a really good place to be.

I can definitely say right now that I have two homes – one in real life and one on Second Life.  Only that our lots are more beautiful than my real life home.  That's a fact.