Niche grids, Kitely do well in survey

The results of the 2011 Hypergrid Business grid survey are in, with mid-sized grids serving language communities dominating the rankings. A record 459 people submitted responses this year, with a total of 63 different grids visited — up from 194 respondents and 35 grids last year.

The most surprising result was Avination scoring the lowest of all grids on its overall rating, and at or near the bottom on content, technology, community and support.

The top scorer on overall quality was Island Oasis, a mid-sized grid with 43 regions and 997 registered users. Nine respondents wrote in the name of this grid as the grid where they spend the most time. Island Oasis also scored tops in content, community,  and support, and second overall in technology.

German Grid, with 77 regions, 2,858 registered users, and 294 active users, scored second overall, also with nine respondents.

German-language Metropolis was third, French-language FrancoGrid was fourth, and 3rd Rock Grid was fifth with 21, nine, and nine respondents, respectively.

Best overall grid

Kitely had a surprising showing, with 72 respondents giving the grid an overall score of 4.6 — where 5 was a rating of “excellent” and 4 “very good.” Kitely only launched this past spring, and is still missing many features common to other grids, such as teleports between the regions on the grid. However, this was offset by Kitely’s ease of use and innovative cost structure.

Italian-language Craft World, with 140 regions, 1,677 registered users, and 187 active users was seventh with 14 respondents. Gay Nations, with 136 regions, 513 registered users and 70 active users, was eighth with six respondents.

Of the most active grids, InWorldz saw the highest ratings, with an average overall score of 4.5 with 143 respondents. InWorldz currently has 845 regions, 48,731 registered users, and last week reported 4,500 active monthly users.

OSGrid was next, with 96 respondents giving it an average score of 4.4. OSGrid currently has 9,963 regions, 69,741 registered users and 3,507 active users. Unlike closed commercial grids, OSGrid allows people to connect home-based regions for free, resulting in uneven performance across the grid.

Avination saw the lowest scores, with 72 respondents giving it an average score of 4.2. Avination scored below private grids — company, school, personal grids and even grids-on-a-USB-stick. Avination currently has 632 regions, 42,606 registered users and 3,420 active users. After a meteoric rise to the top last winter, Avination has been seeing a steady decline over the past few months in both regions and active users.

All other grids had five or fewer respondents rating them, including ReactionGrid, SpotOn 3D, New World Grid,  JokaydiaGrid,  ScienceSim,  Avatar Hangout, Virtyou, MyOpenGrid, AlphaTowne, Dorena’s World, OpenNeuland,  Nova,  Haven,  MOSES, OpenLife, RolePlayWorlds, Virtual Highway, Aurora Test Grid, DestinyZero, GerGrid, IcaruS RealmS, Nirvana, SimWorld, Tertiary Grid, Twisted Sky, Virtual Worlds Grid, Wilder Westen, YourSimSpot, 2nd Life, Arda, Astra Grid, AvWorlds, New Genres Grid, NextLife, NZVWG, OneWorld Grid, Pseudospace, SecondLearning Grid, UFSgrid, and Virtual RP.

Community

Average scores about community.

Private grids and Kitely scored the lowest on community, which makes sense given that private grids tend to have few users, and Kitely has only recently been adding community-oriented features like the ability to find popular regions.

Content

Average scores about content.

Avination — surprisingly for a commercial grid — had lower scores for content than the non-profit OSGrid or private grids.

Support

Average scores about support.

One downside of running your own sims is that you’ve got nobody to turn to for tech support — and the ratings bear this out.

Technology

Average scores about technology.

Respondents were happy with German Grid’s technology infrastructure, while disappointed with Avination — even though its founder is an OpenSim core developer.

Most visited

Percent of respondents who visited each grid.

OSGrid lived up to its reputation as the cross roads of the hypergrid, with 89 percent of all respondents having visited the grid. InWorldz was in second place with 67 percent, and Avination in third with 48 percent.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of all respondents had visited some kind of private grid — company, school, individual, or Sim-on-a-Stick. This was up from 22 percent last year.

Many people wrote in with comments about their grids, and we’re reprinting a representative selection of these quotes below. Please note that all comments were submitted with the assurance of anonymity. In general, comments were overwhelmingly positive, with respondents praising their grids’ communities, founders, and support. This is only to be expected — people were asked to rate the grids they spend the most time on, and few people would spend time on a grid that they did not like.

Despite that, there were some critical comments about Avination and InWorldz.  People complained about gambling on  Avination, and a lack of physics, mesh, and other new features on InWorldz. In addition, although most people were happy with the community on the grids where they spent their time, some respondents said they had problems on Avination, InWorldz, and OSGrid.

3rd Rock Grid

“3rd Rock Grid wins hands down among all the grids for the partnership that is fostered between management and community. Management gifted community a 25 sim core and, aside from the ToS, the policies of the grid are determined by the community which elects its own leaders. I see it as an exciting social experiment in business management, quite different from any style I have encountered before.”

Avination

“Avination is a grid full of friendly, helpful and knowledgable people. The only grid I have been on were I have experienced very little griefing and no hassles. The support is fantastic and the bugs and features are constantly being dealt with and upgraded. The content is mainly very good and professionally made.”

“In Avination I can teleport to Welcome to find most of the time a Mentor or an A-Team member who cares about my little problems and a ticket system where I receive usually a response in less than 24 hours.”

“The grid owner doesn’t attend community meetings, and points that are discussed at the community meetings seem to take a real long time to be implemented, if they are at all. Management doesn’t seem overly concerned about the lack of residents, and for the first year and a half, did not allow freebies at all. Freebies are still restricted due to the obvious slant towards content creators over consumers. As a result, you get a grid full of creators with no one to buy their wares, and 600 empty regions.”

FrancoGrid

“Very stable grid, excellent support for media which is crucial to developments and projects that need to provide a media rich environment. This grid focuses on innovation to support integration with ventures and enterprises in real life and provides an excellent infrastructure for innovative development.”

GayNations

“I love this grid! This is so updated, so smooth, and we have had no problems at all rezzing, staying connected, anything at all on this grid. It’s amazing! I spend 90% of my time on here now. Kudos to the grid owners! Awesome job on this!”

InWorldz

“After so many years on Second Life, and having tried many other grids, after a year of observation, I felt confident enough in the future of the InWorldz grid to sell my sim in Second Life and ‘move over’ to InWorldz where I now have two sims. I have also brought several friends over who have also sold their Second Life sims and have now also settled on InWorldz. All of us are builders and creators from Second Life and we love the value and the service we get from InWorldz founders, staff and mentors.”

“I really like that the founders do try to keep out the griefers and gambling. The number or prims and low cost of sims make this a very appealing grid for builders and role players.’

“Everyone seems to be hanging their hopes on physics. Often I have heard, ‘Once physics gets here…this or that will be better…. then the people will come…..it will be awesome….’ The simple truth is getting physics working is merely restoring a missing feature. It may be new to InWorldz and a technical marvel there but it’s nothing new to anyone who has spent any time in Second Life or several other OpenSim grids. Other OpenSim grids have physics and yet Second Life has not collapsed because of the flood of people going there.”

Island Oasis

“Island Oasis has many things to offer to everyone that enters the world. They have combat, vehicles, games, clubs, and more. The low lag I experience is great. I would recommend this world to anyone who enjoys to build, script, socialize, and have a good time.”

“One of the nicest grids I have been to. The people there are very friendly and helpful. They have motorcycles that actually drive. I haven’t found that in anyother grid. I’m glad I made the decision to make this my home.”

Kitely

“As far as community goes in Kitely, this world is just beginning to start up and therefore wake-up in this area, so community is the last part to develop I think. With the excellent technology, hands-on support and drive of the CEO’s, especially Ilan Tochner, who is making community one of his main objectives, I have no doubt it will grow and make Kitely one of the all-around best OpenSim alternatives.”

Private grid

“While I have my own grid and spent much of my OpenSim time on it, I’m part of the communities of Dorena’s World and GermanGrid. With the hypergrid, its not that easy to separate the experiences. So albeit my grid has technically only one user — me — it is well integrated into those communities.”

OSGrid

“There is actually some good community and friendly helpful residents. For example there are small, but growing, role play communities — try Lani Global’s Dune world for example. Lani runs a roleplaying meet on Sundays in which players get to run with a story line and quests. They have great working combat systems and working space craft! There are plenty of freebies in OSGrid too, most notably Linda Kellie Designs. There are also regular weekly meetings at the plazas where you can voice your thoughts. Mentors are often at the plazas too, to help people.”

“For less than the cost of renting a measly 3750 prim homestead on the Linden Grid, I run a dedicated server capable of hosting more regions than I can fill with prim. I have total control of my virtual world and its content: extended scripting with OSSL, IARs, OARs, regions… you name it. I can get on with my building projects without Adult/Mature/PG dont-do-anything-that-might-offend-puritanical-Americans nonsense. OSgrid doesn’t try to be a Linden Labs clone with newbie avatars, a marketplace and ‘premium’ membership. It just provides infrastructure to connect regions to a grid.”

“One thing that always stood out in OSGrid is thenon-commercial aspect of the grid. There us a spirit of sharing there, with information, tools and goods.”

“OSgrid is marvelous, and a perfect fit for me personally. But it isn’t going to be perfect for everyone. To get the most out of this grid, you must not only be willing to tinker, but take joy in it, even when it means failure. As OSGrid is a test grid for the OpenSimulator project, these sorts of efforts can also contribute code and feedback that improves the server, benefiting all the other grids. I would easily recommend OSGrid to people who regard creating, experimenting, or being a crash test dummy as the highlight of their virtual world experience.”

SpotOn3D

“So so very pleased with SpotON3D, especially since they have voice that is needed for our educational group. We have 30 in our sim at times, with no lag; support is better than excellent, and security of grid is top notch!”

Virtyou

“This grid is very stable and the people of Virtyou work hard to get it even better. We run schools on it so we need a reliable environment. They are.”

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • sim-on-a-stick is a grid too!  w00t! 

    lots of nifty uses of it including the US Air Force Cyber Terrorism whatchamacallit =) 

  • Hm,..”Dorenas World” is in Top40 Grids,.. more Regions how another Grids in the voting-list.????!

    • It’s not just by size — we tried to pick a variety of grids based on age, visibility, growth, traffic numbers, and other factors. We’ve left off several very large grids from the list.  We have Dorena’s World listed as having 42 active users last month — but despite this, several folks have already cast write-in votes. (Did we get the monthly stats wrong?)

      Meanwhile, as of Friday night, we  haven’t had a single response yet for ScienceSim or ReactionGrid — two large, well established grids — though many people say they have visited those grids. 

      The list will be revised again next year. We’re trying to make it as convenient as possible for folks to take the survey by keeping it as short as possible while still providing the grids they’re most likely to choose.

  • It’s funny how eager some grids want their users to vote. I even got a newsletter from one, but luckily there was an unsubcribe option attached.

    Marketing is indeed necessary, but there is a thin line between information and advertising when letting own folks know about a survey.

    Again the survey looks well made and I’m sure that Maria will manage to professionally chart it.

    • Kai advert a survey is not only marketing, It shows the strength of a communiy too. Especialy it shows the differents between “using” a Grid and “loving” a Grid.

  • Survey was only open a week?  It seems to be closed now. 

    • Samantha —

      If you’d like to add a grid review, you can do so here, in the comments!

      Meanwhile, we’ll be doing another story over the next week about OpenSim hosting providers.

  • Good job Maria, I only would like to say about Craft that it has a big italian community, but the majority of people in Craft are not Italians, so it is more something like an international community at the moment.
    Just to be clear, the first four citizens of craft were a Scotwoman, a German, an American and a Sardinian… (that is me 🙂 ), then we have collected the community of Cyberlandia, but generally we have always been an international grid with italian flavour, and Tao Quan, the co-founder of Craft, does not speak italian.

  • Hi Maria. Thanks for yet again  making this survey. I  hope this will  be something HG  will  do   every year 🙂
    Id like to  comment on the  physics comment  under inworldz if I may 🙂

    Now I dont think  that  any one in  InWorldz (or other  OS grids closed or open ) thinks that  physics will make Second Life  go belly up. Nor do I think  you will find a lot that  would wish for that.
    What I do think  people  are saying is that with  physics a lot more  merchants will start setting up  (expecially those whos products depend on  physics) also a lot more residents will find things they  enjoy doing in  Second Life, or other worlds, where there is physics that they can  also enjoy in InWorldz. It will  bring another element into InWorldz and a good one  because by judging  by  past  InWorldz Founder behaviour and standards it will be good and it will be  maintained.

    In regards to InWorldz one has to take into account that uptill now they have run with a very  small crew; Three founders & a handful of volunteers to help  with  coding. It really is amazing that they  have been able to  stabelise and upgrade the grid as they  have. It shows a rare dedication to their  grid and their residents.

  • Good survey Maria and thank you for the support you give the Open Metaverse with your relentless coverage.

    I would like to say one thing about OSgrid in terms of support where it faired pretty low against other grids. OSgrid is still the Opensim test platform and supported by volunteers and donations. The management of OSgrid can’t offer the kind of support the commercial grids give nor should it given it is a none-profit organization. However, it should be noted that many hosting providers attach sims to OSgrid with some large estates and, from what I know, many of them do provide excellent support to their renters. I personally am a big supporter of Aurora sim and run a server with that platform but I think OSgrid has the best of all worlds in many respects. It’s a great entry platform for those interested in server side while there are many estates and gaming venues. No one should judge OSgrid by a single visit especially if they only visit someone’s standalone on their home PC. They should get around the grid and find the many high powered professionally run sims. There are lots of them!

    I have to admit it’s true about the freebie culture of OSgrid but then it is open to the Hypergrid unlike the commercial grids so it is not the best place to make money on content if that is what you are looking for but, on the other hand, it’s a pleasant surprise to get high quality items free. For people arriving from Second Life OSgrid is highly stable, has reasonably good physics (I often sail my wind powered boats there) and very low on cost given you can get a hosted sim for as little as $10 although I would recommend looking at the $30 price range if you have more than a few visitors. OSgrid offers a lot to new people wanting to get into Opensim worlds and there is always lots of help and advise at the Plaza sims. I would also call OSgrid the HUD of the Hypergrid with many small mini-grids and standalone sims connecting with it through Hypergates. In deed. I would say OSgrid is bigger than it looks and it certainly is big enough anyway. So much of the Open Metaverse is hidden from view!

  • Catie Chiung

    Many thanks for this beautiful survey.Many sorry but on this kind of survey is not the best way to find the best Grid.1. Many Grids are small, so they hasn’t so many users that can be vote.2. Grids like AVN hasn’t so many users that vote on this site.3. Other Grids had create a big marketing like this survey, so many users give the most point from this.Avination have many users that like to be there, but they are commercial. So they haven’t a Hypergrid or other. So they hadn’t the interest to vote here.For exampel Dorenas World have many regions but not so many users like Inworldz. But the user like this Grid too, I know that. And the technical support is very good too. And I know in many other “smal Grids” too.greetings,- Catie

  • this is rigged! 100% of Enclave Harbour residents give it a 6 out of 5! =p (this was biased by one pink-haired resident giving it a 10 out of 5)  =D

    this is a neat article Maria! i was particularly thrilled to see the number of respondents you had – i think that speaks volumes about both the OpenSim community and its growth. by community i mean people are more involved in both taking the survey and sharing the word about your survey

    that 236% growth shows the underlying groundswell (i guess that’s redundant eh?) occurring in OpenSim. and how can there not be a groundswell?

    in the last year there have been more and more bloggers, facebook posts, flickr pics, YouTube vids, and tweets about OpenSim – so awareness and toe dipping are inevitable

    thank you for such a great post and interesting look at the different grids – being from the grid i’m from, i never get out or have avatar contact, so it’s great to read about grids that actually have people on them!  =D

  • Wayfinder Wishbringer

    I appreciate the efforts of Maria in this article.  However, having worked for years at professional survey coding and analysis, the results were pretty much what I expected– irrelevant. 

    The problem with a survey such as this… is that it’s somewhat comparing apples to oranges population wise.  One cannot base survey results comparing 9 respondants (which is highly manipulatable) to another grid’s results containing almost 150 respondants (much more likely to be accurate). 

    One can also not compare accurately “closed-door” grids (which bear a cost of operation) to free OpenSim grids.  That’s like trying to compare a compact car to an SUV.  Similar purposes– but a LOT more demands are going to be made on the SUV.

    So while surveys such as this are interesting, one must read almost entirely between the lines to get any semblance of meaning.  Saying “This grid won out in this area over that grid” is like saying mangos are tastier than bananas.  It’s simply a non-verifiable, non-realistic stance, and is significantly open to manipulation (intentional or subconscious), personal bias, prejudice, and simple personal taste / goals / requirements.

    • Wayfinder — I totally agree with you — I know that I’m letting down my math degree each time I print survey results without reporting the associated margin of error. (Which, in the case of a small number of respondents, would be much higher than the differential in scores.)

      This survey is most accurate when comparing the results for InWorldz, Avination, and OSGrid, since those three had the largest number of folks who responded.

      Meanwhile, I did review responses for possible manipulation, and discarded some results. Those were for grids with a very small number of responses anyway, and I did not publish those results at all, since they would have been highly misleading. 

      However, these surveys serve other purposes, as well. They can help people discover new grids that they might not have known about otherwise, and increase the amount of attention paid to grids as a whole.

      They also help change the conversation from “should I try OpenSim?” to “which OpenSim grid should I try?”

      Finally, I don’t want to discourage people from reviewing little-known grids. If I only published the results for Avination, InWorldz and OSGrid, would people even bother to review other grids? 

      And who can really begrudge Island Oasis their moment of publicity? They’re a cute little grid that most people probably never heard of before, and its residents are extremely pleased with it — they didn’t just fill out the survey, they wrote in, in detail, about the specifics of what they liked about the grid. 

      Finally, there was no evidence of any concerted campaign to give particularly low marks to any particular grid. As I’ve said before, folks tend to like the grid they’re on — otherwise, they’d leave for another grid. So despite Avination having low scores compared to other grids, when you look at the responses themselves, it just means that people leaned a little bit more towards “very good” than “excellent.” Still not a bad place to be.

      Meanwhile, I encourage other people to do independent surveys, as well. We’ll help promote them, and run press releases about the results. Given the fast-changing nature of this landscape, you can’t have too much information!

      • Wayfinder Wishbringer

        I agree with the points you make Maria, and would like to verify what you said– that surveys like this are not totally without value… simply unreliable as accurate measurement of satisfaction / accomplishment.  Since they are presented / purported to be functional surveys, imo they mislead as to their accomplishment.  There are ways to introduce new grids to people… and let people brag on their preferred grid… without using the form of a survey most of us realize fails to produce valid results. 
         
        Mind you, I’m not dissing this at all.  I took part in the survey myself, believing in advance the results would be inaccurate in the extreme.  I just considered it good fun and was curious to see what the end results would be.  I doubt any harm is done by the survey– and as you truthfully state, people are made aware of grids they may not have known of before. 
         
        But as two primary examples of problem: 
         
        1) Comparing OpenSim to true grids such as Avination and Inworldz is (and imo always has been) a conceptual flaw.  Both Inworldz and Avination are closed grids that operated by a central organization and charge fees for their service.  OpenSim “grid” on the other hand, is basically a “yellow pages” system where individual people set up their own sims and tie in together using a central catalog of addresses.  While the software works similarly… the core concept is vastly different.  Again… apples and oranges.  To claim OpenSim “grid” has more users than all others is, in my opinion, rather invalid.  Because in truth, it isn’t one grid, but rather a whole bunch of micro-grids all tied in together.  (Anyone, please feel free to correct me if my knowledge/impression of OpenSim is incorrect.)
         
        I admire OpenSim as a user-collective, but imho, it is not a true “grid” and shouldn’t be compared with other true grids which actually operate from a centralized asset server and support system.
         
        2) Risking appearing to be Inworldz-biased, the results of the “Technology” section rating Inworldz so far down the list is almost humorous.  Inworldz is one of the few grids that has their own paid dev team and that is making major advances in their software system.  I’ve used numerous grids, and I have to say Inworldz is far more technically advanced than any other grid I’ve used (including Second Life– which contains lag, glitches and bugs that are legendarily bad).  Sure Inworldz has problems (as do all grids), but it’s obvious numerous results in the survey simply are not only invalid, but unrealistic.
         
        However, I think most folks realize these things, so again, it’s unlikely most folks take the results seriously.  That is fine; the survey was still fun and interesting.
         
        I would like to mention one point of personal opinion.   One of the comments regarding Inworldz refered to physics.  It’s a valid enough comment, but the statement that some grids have physics and it hasn’t collapsed Second Life yet is, I think, rather irrelevant.  It seemed an unnecessarily negative comment that ignored the fact that while Inworldz doesn’t yet have physics… they have been working on shoring up the core foundation of the system, making it more stable, faster and reliable.  They completely re-wrote the scripting engine, which no one else has done, they’re tackling physics next on the list, and they’re actively working at improving the core software.  It seems in every article I read regarding Inworldz, there’s always some comment as to why it’s not quite good enough, doesn’t stack up to Second Life, OpenSim is better, etc.  The reality is, of all the systems I’ve seen out here, Inworldz is the one to watch to actually give Linden Lab a run for their money. 

        Our group recently left Second Life altogether (after months of trying to stick it out).  We chose Inworldz out of all other grids (as have other groups).  If I were to lay odds on which grid will be the most profitable and largest grid within the next three years, I’d bet on Inworldz.  I think that is a probability that is being ignored and even downplayed in a lot of blogs I read.  Elf Clan has (currently) 22 sims on Inworldz… and our sim owners are quite happy there.  no grid is perfect.  Second Life itself is far from perfect, and OpenSim is no closer to stable than Inworldz is.  That being the case, I find it an interesting point of apparent psychological bias that  it seems in so many of these articles, someone always has something negative to say about Inworldz.  To such people I ask, jealous much?  ; )

        My thought is this:  anyone that gives Linden Lab some competition (and I mean anyone, any grid… any private user… any company) is doing the public a service.   I can say this:  we are far happier paying $50 a month for 45,000 prims than $350 a month for 15,000 and shabby building tools.  : )

        That all said (and sorry for being wordy… a bad habit of mine)… I did enjoy the survey.  Just felt like looking the results straight in the eye. : )

        • By “OpenSim is not a grid” did you mean to say “OSGrid is not a grid?”

          Obviously, OpenSim is not a grid — it is software that groups use to set up grids, and there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of grids running OpenSim software, of which OSGrid is the largest one.

          OSGrid is most certainly a grid. It does allow people to connect regions that they run at home, but any grid can do the same if they wish, or permit third-party hosting providers to sell regions on their grid, and many other grids do that.

          Avination and InWorldz run all regions on their own servers. On the plus side, this means that they can ensure a certain level of quality and have additional security. On the other hand, having multiple region providers — or being able to host at home — means that you have a choice of providers, and can pick the one that meets you needs. If you host at home, the region is only up when your computer is on, and you’re not going to be able to handle more visitors than your home bandwidth can support (typically five or less).  But for some people, that’s plenty. And they’re free — so you can have as many as you want.

          These grids are known as “open” grids. However, they’re definitely grids — they have a common inventory server, in-grid teleports, messaging, grid maps, etc…

          You might be thinking of hypergrid-enabled standalones.

          You can download the Diva Distro — or Ener Hax’ Sim-on-a-Stick and create your own mini-grid on your own computer. Then you turn on hypergrid, and you can teleport out to most of the other grids out there (though not Avination or InWorldz). You can even have hypergrid landmarks, friends, and instant messages. Each of these mini-grids, however, keeps its own assets, has its own map, etc.

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            Yes, I meant to say OSgrid (correcting that above to avoid confusion, thanks).  In truth, I’m not all that aware of how OSgrid works… but was under the impression it wasn’t “a grid”… but a bunch of micro-grids all hooked together.  Is that impression incorrect?

            The main thing I think I’m discussing here, is that OSgrid doesn’t have its own centralized asset server system, centralized inventory, or company (again, correct me if I’m mistaken.  Not an area in which I’m well-versed.)  As such, comparing OSgrid to privately-owned grids such as Inworldz or Avination, is somewhat a difficult (if not impossible) comparison. 

            It’s somewhat like comparing AT&T as an individual company to all other phone companies combined… because those other phone companies can all use the same telephone network.  My understanding was that everyone participating in OSgrid is in truth running their own OpenSim server locally and connecting together… in effect a multitude of asset servers vs the centralized servers of a company such as Inworldz.  Am I mistaken in this?  If so, I invite further education on my part.  Am I perhaps confusing OSgrid with Hypergrid?  Or are they similar concepts… or…? : ) If OSgrid has its own centralized asset/region servers, I would readily withdraw my objections. But I was under the impression the asset servers were not centralized.

          • Wayfinder —

            Yes, your are mistaken in this. OSGrid, and other open grids (such as New World Grid, S-Grid, ScienceSim, and others) are very much just like regular grids. They have centralized asset servers, inventories, avatars, and maps.

            Each of these grids tends to run a certain number of regions on its own servers, while allowing third parties — such as other hosting companies, or folks’ personal computers — to run the other regions. 

            When you attach a home-based region to OSGrid, your computer stores the region data — terrain, and the objects that are physically on the region itself. Your avatar, its inventory, messages, friends lists, all live on central grid servers. If you turn off your home computer, you still have access to your OSGrid avatar and its inventory.

            By comparison, when you run a standalone or mini-grid on your home computer, all that stuff is saved locally — your avatar, inventory, the grid’s map, everything. When you turn off your computer, you lose access to your avatar (as does anyone else who has an account on your minigrid). 

            This is why many people opt to attach their home-based regions to OSGrid instead of just running hypergrid-enabled standalones. Not only do their regions get neighbors — it can get lonely to be standing on an isolated island floating in hyperspace — but OSGrid takes a lot of work off their hands. And they don’t have to worry about losing their inventories if their computer crashes (OSGrid is good about having backups of its servers and asset databases).

          • Wayfinder Wishbringer

            Then I recant my objection #1 and according to the information you graciously provided here, recognize OSGrid as a “true Grid” with centralized servers.  I guess that bit of knowledge got through the cracks for me.  I’ll redact the initial post to reflect proper understanding, and thank you for the time and patience in explaining it to me.  I believe I must have been geting OSGrid mixed up with HyperGrid.

  • Wayfinder Wishbringer

    scratch this post please. Technical difficulties

  • Wayfinder Wishbringer

    Maria, a quick follow-up if I may, to give credit where credit is due in your review of the survey.  There was one section where you really hit the nail on the head and I wanted to highlight that:

    “Of the most active grids, InWorldz saw the highest ratings, with an average overall score of 4.5 with 143 respondents. InWorldz currently has 845 regions, 48,731 registered users, and last week reported 4,500 active monthly users.

    OSGrid was next, with 96 respondents giving it an average score of 4.4. OSGrid currently has 9,963 regions, 69,741 registered users and 3,507 active users. Unlike closed commercial grids, OSGrid allows people to connect home-based regions for free, resulting in uneven performance across the grid.

    Avination saw the lowest scores, with 72 respondents giving it an average score of 4.2. Avination scored below private grids — company, school, personal grids and even grids-on-a-USB-stick. Avination currently has 632 regions, 42,606 registered users and 3,420 active users. After a meteoric rise to the top last winter, Avination has been seeing a steady decline over the past few months in both regions and active users.”

    Now, the reason I wanted to highlight these paragraphs is this:  regardless of which system has the most users, the most activity, is the most popular etc… this data makes a statement:  Second Life is no longer the only game in town.

    So I wanted to take a moment to congratulate all three of these grids, as well as Reaction Grid and other good-size grids… because they are all making a difference.  You are ALL making it possible for people to own regions who could never afford to own them before.  You are sparking creativity.  You are all helping to tear down the “virtual iron curtain” and opening up virtual reality to a far greater ownership base… at a price just about anyone can afford. 

    The above data proves that we’ve done it.  We have created user-oriented virtual worlds.  So to Inworldz, OSGrid, Avination, Reaction Grid and every region owner out there… congratulations.  Collectively… you’re succeeding. : )

  • Maria. It really surprises me that Open Simulator after 4+ years in development is still so misunderstood. More especially that OSgrid, which is the developer’s testing grid for OS and has the largest user base and total connected sims, suffers complaints of poor customer service (when it is NOT a commercial grid) on the one hand and on the other hand gets confused as BEING the Hypergrid as apposed to being Hypergrid enabled. HG is a protocol that can be turned on or off by any grid or standalone server administrator running the official Open Simulator platform code. I, myself, have referred to OSgrid as the HUB of the Hypergrid but that, in itself, does not make it the Hypergrid.

    The Hypergrid is all about connecting separate virtual worlds together through gateways. OSgrid is the largest of the Opensim grids that is actually and always HG enabled. It has many regions with Hypergates and promotional sims inviting visitors to teleport via the gates to the sim-owner’s own separate grid or standalone. And it is in all this connectivity that HG can be seen as a super grid which, ultimately, is what Hypergrid is meant to be.

    Commercial grids like Avination, which uses official OS platform code, could turn on HG but so far the owners have chosen not to for security reasons. InWorldz is a branch of Opensim so is currently too far removed from the official code base to become HG enabled although I am sure, if the residents of InWorldz asked for it in sufficient numbers then the owners might consider building a module to make it possible. Certainly, that is what the Aurora team did for their branch, and Tranquility Drexler of IW said as much on my blog in the past.

    I don’t want to get into a knocking match about the best grids based on Opensim but collectively, the rest of the current Metaverse is far bigger than any single grid and there is no way any one grid is going ever knock Second Life off it’s pedestal (too many residents have huge SL inventories they can’t move). But, with the enablement of Hypergrid the collective power of the open Metaverse will be bigger, better and more diverse than SL ever could be. Of that I am pretty sure.

    I do absolutely agree with Wayfinder in his last comment and congratulations to the big grids but I wouldn’t leave out some praise for the many small grids and standalones. Collectively we all play a part. The Open Metaverse is really getting going now and the response to this survey was far greater than the last time it was run which, in itself indicates just how much growth there has been in the past year. I get round many grids and spend time in my sims on OSgrid and SLgrid (SL is just another grid, right? one of many) and I meet many new faces all the time. Many are either new to virtual worlds or crossing the divide between SL and OS. I have noticed this is increasing too. There was a time, about a year ago, when my OSgrid region might only see one stray visitor in weeks while my SL region would see 50+ a day. Well, I can say my SL region has dropped by as many as ten on average a day in the past year and, surprise, surprise, my OSgrid region traffic is up by two. And I don’t mean in weeks. I mean two on average in a day!

    I know that doesn’t sound a lot and it really isn’t but the trend is upward and accelerating and that is what is striking and important.

    • Gaga —

      I totally agree with you. Except for the surprise — I’m not surprised that people misunderstand what the hypergrid is, and what OSGrid is. 

      All I have to do is look at Newsweek’s 1995 article “The Internet? Bah!” about why e-commerce is never going to take off, we’re never going to read books on our computers on the beach, “no online database will replace your daily newspaper … and no computer network will change the way government works.”

      How can someone misjudge a technology so much?

      And this was several years AFTER the Web was invented, and they ALREADY had Netscape and Yahoo. We don’t even have our Netscape or our Yahoo yet in OpenSim. 

      The only real way to explain OpenSim is by analogies: What AOL is to the Web, Second Life is to the Hypergrid.

      What Apache is to the Web, OpenSim is to the Hypergrid.

      What Geocities is to the Web, OSGrid is to the Hypergrid. (Maybe that one’s a stretch!)

      And analogies are hard work to figure out. That’s why they’re on the SAT’s. 

      People prefer to learn things through stories. Stories about infidelity. Stories about millionaires springing up overnight. Stories about weird sex acts. Stories about hot IPOs. 

      And, so far, we haven’t had those kind of stories coming out of OpenSim yet. (And I’m sure most of us are greatful!)

      Until then, we’ll just have to explain it all, patiently, over and over again, to each newcomer. 🙂

  • Wayfinder Wishbringer

    I agree with Gaga… mainly because I recently discovered (thanks to Maria taking the time to explain it for me) that I didn’t really understand the difference between OpenSim, OSgrid and Hypergrid.  Unfortunately, quite often websites fail to provide plain-English, easily-located core information helping total newbs understand concepts (an issue that is by no means new to the computer field– failure to remember how regular people think and talk. :D). 

    Maria, I finally just this afternoon put my finger on what it is that somewhat bothers me about surveys like this one, and about comparisons between OpenSim-based grids in general.  For the most part, those surveys and comparisons are combining open, free grids with private fee-based grids… and we wind up with confusing information.

    To make the concept clear, imagine a company goes into production selling cars.   They make a great car, set up a distribution system, sell it for $15,000 and they sell quite a few.  Along comes a rich guy or club or government organization, and it starts giving away a variety of cars for free or very low cost. 

    So in the next issue of Car Monthly, we see that the non-profit organization has 100,000 very satisfied “customers”, whereas the private corporation has 20,000 fairly-satisfied customers.  So wow… the non-profit organization obviously is much, much better!

    What such comparison fails to note is that it’s totally unfair to compare the popularity of something free with something that costs money.  This is for several reasons:

    * Paying cusomters are going to expect more

    * There will automatically be fewer paying customers, because people will take anything that’s free

    * The private corporation is going to have an uphill battle from the start, whereas the deep-pockets non-profit government organization is going to have far more resources at its disposal

    What a basic survey between these two fictional entities would fail to explain… is that in reality the private corporation produces a luxury car, whereas the non-profit club produces a compact two-seater.  So while the free car is immensely popular (100,000 “customers”, wow!)… the luxury car is far more comfortable for the “mere” 20,000 *real* customers who decided to part with their hard-earned cash for the vehicle.  So while the private company has only 1/5 the user-base as the government organization… in reality it is considerably more successful when one considers all sides of the coin.

    In the same manner, one cannot adequately and fairly compare say, Inworldz with OSgrid and say “OSgrid has the largest growth and greatest number of users!”   Of course it does… it’s free.

    What would I do to alleviate this probem?  I’m rather ashamed it took me more than a week to arrive at identifying the issue and come up with a solution, but the obvious solution is to totally separate for-profit grids from non-profit free grids.  Then we’d be comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. 

    However, I’m not sure even that is totally fair.  For example, I’ve seen grids that operated at extremely low prices ($25 per sim!!!) by either cutting corners and shortchanging their customers (sometimes without the customer’s knowledge), or setting up the grid at almost zero profit.  Again we have the situation that $25 sims are going to sell better than $50 sims… although the $50 sim company may be offering a much better deal overall (if someone has the tech savvy to look into it, if both websites are honest in portraying what they’re offering, etc).

    Let me give three very real examples:

    Inworldz sold about 800 sims at full price each (average $60 to $75).

    Avination came in and as an early-bird special, sold some 800 sims at (I forget what super cheap price.  $35?  $40)… and then about 400 more at normal price because of the “popularity” of Avination (wow, 800 sims sold overnight… it MUST be good!).  Of course those sims made them very “popular” while that price lasted.  Once those sims were exhausted however, people chose the grid they actually preferred… which turned out to be Inworldz (as is common knowledge and very clear on the stats).

    A third grid (which name I forget at this time) came in with sims at $29.95 (woohoo we’re offering you a great buy!!!).  But what was in the teeny fine print at the bottom of their hard-to-find FAQ section, was that their sims allowed only 6,000 prims… and the company did none of its own dev work (thus, their paying customers were pretty much in the same boat as users of the free OSgrid… but paying $29.95 for the privilege).

    The only benefit in these last three companies… at least they’re all playing on the same playing field… and time will tell which one really comes out on top.  But in the meantime, a survey without all the pertinent info can give a grossly slanted misconception of what is really going on in the OpenSim realm.  Therefore… of what value is the “survey”? It forms almost meaningless data (not quite meaningless, but severely misleading in most instances can be worse than meaningless).

    Now granted, this survey made me more aware of OSgrid and Hypergrid and OpenSim and other grids and what the difference between all of them really is. But how many people are going to go through the research I went through to figure that out? How many people are going to have the background to know how to ask the same questions I asked? Newbies, searching for a grid to land on, would not.

    That’s the bottom-line issue that was eating at me for the past two weeks or so… that we simply cannot compare grids in such an uninformative, opinion-based manner.   To really get an idea of what is going on, we’d first of all have to separate the freebie grids from the for-profit grids… and then let people at least choose which option best fits their personal needs.

    Long-winded post I know, but it does identify the problem.  If we’re going to get a real handle on which grid is the most “popular”, is doing the “best”, is offering the most to its “customers”… we have to make sure we’re not biasing things from the very start… and that we’re differentiating paying customer sim owners from freebie user sim owners.

    Therefore in these surveys, I would have to believe we would need to completely separate OSgrid and Kitely (and any other free grid) from companies such as Inworldz, Avination, Spot-On and others.  It’s the only really fair way to make an honest, accurate examination… if indeed such examination even needs be made.

    • The Open Metaverse is far too small to be concerned with who offers the best option to the small user base – it really is very small and the software is still in development no matter which grid you look at. Also, there is no such thing as freebie grids since all hardware and connection is being paid for and sold even on OSgrid. Avination makes a point of limiting freebies but InWorldz takes no action to limit them no more than OSgrid does. Kitely is free presently but the owners fully intend to charge once they have their software the way they want it.

      In my view the survey has huge value when taking the pulse of the open Metaverse as a whole. Grids are coming and going, small and large, some backed with funding while others are bedroom enterprises. Most are little more than hobby craft or educational platforms for schools. Business’ like InWorldz, Avination, Kitely and SpotON all have a vested interest in appearing to be on top but none of them can compare with Second Life. All the grids currently have their problems and whether they have proprietary forked code or official core code I have not yet found one grid that dosen’t falter one way or another. But we live with it as it improves.

      Second Life is laggy and the LL management are blinkered morons but they were first, well-established and command the traffic and content. The best we who support a free Metaverse can do is pull together towards common goals. People who have sims in InWorldz also travel in the Hypergrid and have sims and stores on other grids. Whatever the barriers between grids residents can still log in where they want. The survey gives a good general idea of what the open Metaverse is and how it is changing. The last survey was tiny compared to the latest one and most of the respondents were from InWorldz last time. This time a lot more people from other grids have taken part which, in my view, is a demonstration that the community across all grids is building. Certainly, it was a bigger survey than the last.

      The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a freebie grid but some are more free than others so the survey was good enough.

      • Wayfinder Wishbringer

        Gaga: “The Open Metaverse is far too small to be concerned with who offers the best option to the small user base – it really is very small and the software is still in development no matter which grid you look at.”

        Agreed.  While we all know grids are somewhat competitive, the truth is with the huge potential user-base out there, they really don’t have to be. This pie is large enough for several to enjoy.

        In my view the survey has huge value when taking the pulse of the open Metaverse as a whole.

        If we’re going to take the pulse of the open Metaverse as a whole, then let’s take it as a whole, rather than presenting it as some sort of competitive / comparative contest (which is how this survey comes across to me).  Instead of “OpenGrid has this compared to Avination, which isn’t doing very well”… why not just “the Metaverse has grown by X thousand sims over the last 6 months…”. 

        I don’t mind a chart breaking the number of sims, total users, average concurrency, etc down into readable data just for informative purposes.  But I believe (as you stated in your first line), the Metaverse is too small to present this information in a “who’s on top” basis… especially when that information is comparing highly diverse concepts.

        Second Life is laggy and the LL management are blinkered morons but they were first, well-established and command the traffic and content.

        While I certainly agree LL managers are blinkered morons, and they’re no denying they’re currently #1, I try to avoid comparing the Metaverse to Second Life.  We all know they’re the really big dog; they’ve had some 8 years head-start on everyone else.  How long that remains the case will be interesting to see. I doubt we’ll get through 2012 without that position being seriously challenged, if not overthrown. 

        The only real comparison I make between SL and the Metaverse (in particular Inworldz, since that’s where we settled) is in three areas:

        1) Friendliness and support of the host company
        2) Price and features (ie, 45k prims for $75 a month compared to 15k prims for $295 a month)
        3) Attitude (LL, iron-curtain copyright Nazis… Metaverse, not so much. :D)

        If we compare number of users and sims, we realizes of course LL was the original and has had 8 years to build up their user base.  The question is:  how fast is the Metaverse going to catch up?  As of now there are 21,000 sims out here (not all of which are active, just like on SL).  That’s starting to get suprisingly close to catching up.

        On Second Life Elf Clan had almost 2000 members when we finally shut down our final sim.  On Inworldz we “only” have 400.  So of course we don’t come near as close to our SL numbers.  But at the same time, we achieved those 400 in a year and a half– and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  Where will we be in 7 years, which was the time we spent on SL.  Conversely, on SL we had one sim and we were decidedly not happy with LL; on Inworldz we have twenty-two and we’re pretty happy on that platform.  I think that says more about what may loom in the future than anything.

        The best we who support a free Metaverse can do is pull together towards common goals.

        I couldn’t agree more.

        The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a freebie grid

        That is true, but there are vast differences in the cost and who pays the cost.  There are thousands of users on OSgrid who host their sims on their own computers and tie into the central complex.  That’s a far cry from paying $75 a month to a “closed” grid that handles all the server and maintenance for us.  Thus the apples and oranges problem.  It would be evident that a grid that supports “sim on a stick” is going to have more registered members and regions than a for-profit grid– because they’re cheap or even free.  Comparing the growth of such grids to grids such as Inworldz, Avination and Spot-on… strikes me as somewhat like comparing a Fiat 500 microcar to a Ford S-350 pickup.  That comparison is really somewhat irrelevant and a waste of time.

        The real value I got out of this survey is exactly what you pointed out Gaga:  I discount the “comparison” info and statements as irrelevant trivia… and instead add it all together to view the overall as a whole. That overall result shows the Metaverse is healthy and growing… which is to me, the heart of the matter. : )

        The only two bits if really relevant information is shared between this blog post and another, in which two very interesting points were made:

        1. Inworldz, despite its for-fee nature, has the largest user base.  Why is that important?  Not as a comparison to other grids– but as a touchstone to indicate they’re doing something right.  When we see someone accomplishing a milestone, it’s good to examine what they’re doing to see if it can be replicated throughout the Metaverse.

        2. Something went wrong at Avination.  That’s not grounds for comparing Avination to other grids imo.  What is important is finding out what went wrong, so everyone can avoid repeating that situation.

        These two items of data are important to me, because they are significant indicators that need to be closely examined, so that the Metaverse as a whole might benefit.