Island Oasis quits the hypergrid

Island Oasis started out as a unique grid — a commercial world that allowed both region exports in the form of OAR files, and hypergrid access to the rest of the metaverse. (See related story: Why the fuss about Island Oasis?)

Both of these features were pretty darn resident-friendly, and our readers voted it the top grid for community, content and support in a survey last December.

“When we spoke several months ago … we indicated that if we feel that having hypergrid is hindering our ability to grow as a commercial grid, we would shut it off,” grid co-founder Karl Dreyer told Hypergrid Business. He goes by Damean Paolino in-world. “Well, we have reached that point.  We have lost several potential content creators and vendors due to the fact that we have hypergridding.  We have also had vendors leave as a result of it.”

Island Oasis shut down hypergrid access last Friday morning, he said.

“It really was not an easy decision to make but I think we had to take a step back and think about who we are as a company,” he said. “Up until now, we were sort of unique… a hybrid as it were.  A commercial grid that lets content leave the grid.  Although that made us different and unique, I think the idea was too different for a lot of folks and made people feel uneasy.  So, we made the decision to do what we feel is best for Island Oasis and our future growth.”

It’s not the first time the grid has changed its policies on what residents can do with their content.

In January, the grid reversed its position on OAR exports. OAR exports allow residents to save full copies of their regions and all the content on them — terrains, landscaping, building, objects and even scripts. Residents can keep them as backups, or upload them to other grids, or run them on their home computers, or distribute them to friends or colleagues.

Users — especially those who do a lot of building — love OAR exports. And so do people who want to move from one grid to another and want to bring their stuff with them.

However, OAR exports also allow users to make multiple copies of their content, and to access the asset database to change item permissions. As a result, many content creators are wary of selling their items on any grid that allows unfiltered region exports. Some commercial grids, like Kitely, get around this problem by filtering their OARs, only allowing items to be saved if the user has both copy and transfer permissions, and Kitely has donated the code to do this back to the OpenSim community for other grid owners to use.

This Island Oasis hypergate used to take local residents to far-off grids. No more.

Hypergrid teleports, like OAR exports, also allow content to leave the grid. Some grids turn on limited hypergrid access, so that avatars can teleport in and out but content can’t leave the grid. This means that visitors can come and look, but can’t take anything home with them, and local residents can teleport out and bring things back — but they show up naked at their destinations. Currently, no fine-grained hypergrid access controls are available, such as allowing only full-perm items to travel.

The closed minority

In shutting down hypergrid access, Island Oasis joins a small community of less than two dozen closed, commercial grids that include InWorldz, Avination, SpotOn3D, 3rdRockGrid, Kitely, and a few smaller role playing grids. Island Oasis, with 289 active users as of our last grid survey, is the fourth most popular grid.

But that pales in comparison to the more than 6,000 active users on the 100-plus hypergrid-enabled grids. The vast majority of the 131 active grids we’re currently tracking are on the hypergrid, and 60 of them are reviewed in our Hyperica directory. They include large non-profit grids like OSGrid, ScienceSim, New World Grid and FrancoGrid, as well as regional grids like GermanGrid, and a fast-growing number of grids run by colleges, universities, and individual companies. We’re working our way through the list, but new grids are popping up faster than we can keep up.

Meanwhile, as hypergrid travel gets increasingly secure and reliable, hypergrid traffic is increasing as well. Last night, The Hypergates — a hypergrid gate network — announced a record peak of 200 hypergrid teleports in a single day. The Hypergates, which today reported 4,078 hypergate travelers, currently has its gates on 42 different grids.

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.

  • What a shame. I wonder why they didn’t realize before all the ramifications of being a grid allowing Hypergrid teleports. It’s not for everyone… yet 🙂
     I’ve met some nice people who have come to OSGrid via Island Oasis hypergrid teleports. Although I like the grid I doubt I will ever visit there now. With so many places to see on OSGrid and so many places opening their doors to HG there is really no reason for me to create a new account someplace just to go visit and not be able to shop and take anything back with me to my home grid. Still I would not be on a commercial grid and try to run a business if I didn’t feel secure so I understand the reasoning. I have always thought that commercial grids should not have HG until the time comes when all the permission issues are taken care of. And I have faith that that time will come someday. 

    Good luck to you Island Oasis. I wish you the best and I hope that soon you will change your policy on this issue so I can come back to visit. 🙂

    •  I agree Linda but I would go further and say Island Oasis is probably making a long term mistake for the sake of short term gain.

      I believe one should start out as they mean to carry on and people may or may not agree with your business model but they will respect you if they are confident you will not suddenly change course after they have bought into it as one resident of IO above has made clear.

      I too have met people in OSgrid who were traveling from IO and, on what I recall, they liked being able to do that and spoke with some small affection for their home grid.

      I do understand the need to protect content. Not everyone is willing to give it away free if it can be copied and sold in SL and I think Whitestar above makes out a good case for a 4th perm but, as Lawrence pointed out, shopping is not everything and a grid has to build up themes and entertainment as well as reputation in order to get people to return. Shutting down hypergrid is effectively saying we want to trap you in our rather limited grid. They would have done better not to have HG open in the first place.

      New commercial start-up’s need to have an owner with a well paid day job or deep pockets because the open Metaverse is becoming more competative but I really believe, like so many others, that in time hypergrid will build a far bigger market for virtual content than any one single closed grid can ever hope to achieve. Even Second Life is declining faster now.

      • With enough participants, there could be virtual communities that have boundaries, yet are large enough to be complete and satisfying within themselves.  This would foster additional markets for artistic production and commerce.  I see no great advantage in replacing Second Life with one large OpenSim based metaverse, sort of a Second Life at bargain rates.  Differentiated grids allow for diversity and specialization all at once.  And there will always be an OSGrid (large, mass audience, Web-like mash-up of everything under the sun).  Obviously I do not subscribe to the idea of necessarily modeling the metaverse after the Web, in the sense of one browser reaching all sites.  And even the Web has sites that require a unique membership for participation.

        I agree though that people currently invest in a grid and feel irritated, angry and more when they lose what they started with, whether it be inventory, HG access and so on.  This has really become a difficult issue for everyone.  It forces complicated choices on users when it seems that we are all playing in the same basic ballpark, and it makes switching plans a real pain.

        It is still a “buyer beware” market in the truest sense.  That does not help growth, but what is the choice, all things considered?

        •  >>>Lawrence

          Opensim worlds are new and unregulated unlike Second Life which is a monopoly but I think it is kind of insulting to the many of us who invest time, money and energy into it in the belief we are working towards an open and connected Metaverse to dismiss it as “sort of a Second Life at bargain rates.”

          Of course Opensim is cheaper than Second Life but that depends how you look at it. Linden Labs have highly inflated prices and what they have going for them is that they were first, had time to grow a sizable community and they take care of the server for you.

          Opensim is more realistically priced even by hosts who will handle the server for you and it requires more knowledge to do it your self but you don’t get it for nothing.

          However, the advantages of Opensim are far greater than the low cost even if that is a big incentive to many. I view the Metaverse in much the same way I use to looked at Second Life. The difference is I HG/TP everywhere, in fact it’s becoming easier than SL when I can just walk through a gate with the name I have in OSgrid. Island Oasis has made a choice but new HG enabled grids are opening up all the time and those who shut themselves off will have to compete with the bigger commercial grids while the open Metaverse continues to grow and it’s traffic increases.

          OSgrid was reduced to 555 regions from 11,000+ during the recent cull but already it is back to over 8,000 which confirms my belief that OSgrid has become the HUD of the Metaverse with many hundreds of small grids and standalone’s connecting to it via portal regions. I wrote about it recently and I stand by that article…

          http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/2012/02/second-life-shrinks-as-hidden-metaverse.html

          • Gaga,

            I would agree that like the telephone systems around the world, we would all benefit from grids that allow interconnections, and clearly Linden Labs is not moving in that direction.  What the CEO of Linden Labs did declare recently is that Second Life will be focusing on virtual consumerism.  This more or less coincided with the termination of the education discount, the enterprise product and other changes.  To this development, my generalized personal reaction was: Great, Second Life just became the world’s biggest virtual goods shopping mall.  To their credit and tenacity, some other types of venues have continued in Second Life, so that in actual terms the environment is not exclusively about shopping, but more and more it is becoming that way.

            Now, when I read about OpenSim and HG and the excitement people have being able to teleport to all areas and get things they can keep (shopping – for paid items and freebies), I personally feel a bit disappointed.  It is as though virtual world users are jumping ship from the very costly Second Life to the nearly free OpenSim to pick up where they left off being consumers of virtual goods.

            To avoid a countering comment that suggests I’m against shopping as a valid activity, let me just say that I like shopping too.  It’s how we acquire things we cannot make.  It’s even fun.  It provides an income for some and it’s a great avocation for many creative content creators.  The issue I have with shopping is how it dominates so many discussions about what to do in a virtual world.  Linden Labs has formally declared that it is their raison d’être.  Informally, it has been a strong mover of thinking in OpenSim grids as well.

            My hope has been that the no-to-low-cost availability of OpenSim would lead to a much richer and broader metaverse that features much less shopping and a lot more culture, experience, immersion and many of the other important intangibles of life. I realize you found my choice of words, at the very least, kind of insulting.  Without repeating that phraseology, my rewording would be to say that I hope OpenSim worlds connected by HG do not simply become low-cost versions of Second Life.  I say this because at the grass roots level there has been more emphasis about virtual consumerism than virtual experience.  Everyone is excited to obtain Linda Kellie products for free, which is fantastic.  Now, where is the *comparable* excitement for seeking out the coolest art installations or music venues?

            In fact, there is a lot of creative activity in OpenSim based worlds that was never before possible, because OpenSim is at a low enough cost to prevent cost as a barrier to full participation.  I think this figures into the adoption of OpenSim as much as HG.  At the corporate level, companies have come right out and stated that their move to OpenSim was an economic decision.  Many of those users are not even implementing HG.

            I’m glad you responded because you noted yourself the need for grids to build up themes and entertainment, as well as reputation. Talk like that sends a positive message about the potential of OpenSim to be a platform for increasingly rich experiences.  I read your article that you reference and will not comment here except to say that I agree with some of your points and not others, but basically I feel I understand your illumination of a growing and (more) open metaverse than what we have known before.

      • VirtualClover

        Yep, agreed here, too. 

        If they have a closed group they prefer to keep private then I can respect that and will politely pass it by. The thing is, if they’re touting themselves a commercial grid, then closing off from the metaverse is exactly following the SL model. I can build most anything I see (most, not all), so there’s nothing about their pool hall or their nifty tropical beach that’s going to interest me. And expecting me to hop on a dance ball and listen to squealy things in the chat window isn’t going to work either. So, that leaves buying something, which I’m not about to waste time or money doing if I can’t take it with me – burned too bad in SL. 

        Closed commercial grids is a bad idea and inviting failure – *because* of the new paradigm taking shape of a free and open metaverse that is catching on and getting bigger. They can have all the cool physics engines they want and cross those sim borders but at the end of the day, they’re locking out a viable user base as much as locking themselves into a model they won’t be able to recover from. 

  • This is an important and revealing development.  I would consider visiting Island Oasis if they offered experiences other than shopping that were of interest.  It’s not convenient, but it’s not onerous either to create an account and upload avatar settings.  And it’s fun to visit museums, towns and cities modeled after their actual world counterparts, social venues with music and recreational / park areas (think Costa Rica in Second Life).  I have found there is more to virtual life than shopping for things I can keep.  For instance, I like to have experiences that bring pleasure upon remembrance.

    What I think all grids need to work on is helping us understand why we would enjoy participating.  Like giant shopping malls or Amazon, the huge grids like OSGrid will remain popular because of sheer size and variety.  But like that favorite out of the way actual world shop, boutique grids could have their appeal as well.  Some, like Kitely, which I use, require only a single account creation to then visit over 1,400 regions (and growing).  Many of those regions offer experiences that are well worth having, even without a thing to buy.

    The challenge will be for the non-product producing regions to survive without a clear path to monetization.  That depends a lot on the preferences and values of the active members of the virtual world community.  Even a labor of love will languish if people will not visit because there is nothing to take home except a positive or interesting experience.

    • If all a grid offered was shopping, then there is not much going on in the grid to bring people in. Grids survive or fail based on their community. That is, people are a social creature and socialising is the activity that drives much of our behaviours.

      When a grid cuts itself off from the larger community, this could be good or bad. It could be good if they have a unique community and participants seek that kind of particular feel.

      But, i can be bad if the grid doesn’t offer a unique experience as they have nothing that some other grid might offer.

      This, of course, doesn’t only work for virtual worlds. Facebook, YouTube and the other big name social networking sites (and yes, even Second Life fits this too) provide something unique (or did when they started and now have become the recognised brand) and what peopled desired (facebook was social communication, youtube was fame and recognition).

      If a grid offered good commercial involvement (shopping and creators making stuff to sell), but nothing else, then cutting this grid off from the outside doesn’t offer the participants anything unique (other places sell stuff too). It might offer the creators an advantage of protecting their creations, but it doesn’t offer any other type of user much (like where do they go to show off their stuff, hang out with friends, etc).

      This is the danger of commercial grids. If they cater only to the people creating stuff, then they loose the people that will buy the stuff.

      It is like a “food chain”. the buyers support the sellers, and the sellers support the grid owners. If you break the chain, the buyers will leave, then the sellers won’t have anyone to sell to and the grid owners will have lost all their users.

    • VirtualClover

      I agree here wholeheartedly. Those moving from commerce SL have to undergo a serious paradigm shift because of the habit of constantly looking at monetization schemes.

      I remember exactly what appealed to me about SL my first week or so in – immersive experience. Seeing the sights, all these amazing builds was literally like walking around in other peoples’ dreams, or the closest we’d been able to get to really getting “inside” someone’s imagination/dreams.

      The first and most memorable experience I had in SL was a spectacularly inspiring place called Devil’s Labyrinth. I went every other day and had the most fun, I brought my new friends and we’d spend hours being lost in the maze, playing the puzzles, getting stuck, just being immersed in it. That was the one that inspired me to learn building when my original goal was learn scripting…and I got into building mazes and game based mazes on top of the other stuff I had going on. 

      About a year in, DL shut down and I was astonished. It did come back later with a more “baked texturized sculpted HUD engineered game system” and now you get to buy the HUD and go through all kinds of tutorials and orientation – it wasn’t fun anymore, though the build itself was jawdropping. Doing all that literally yanked the immersion and fun out of it. I didn’t want to spend half an hour learning the HUD or reading instructions or disrupting it to go to the marketplace to buy something. 

      In its original form, it was a simple spooky 3 level maze with neat sound effects and creepy things that jump out at you, and every time I went there were dozens of people there too. The half dozen times I went to v2.0, I never encountered a single other person.

      User experience is key…and if the only thing you have to offer is something for them to buy, or some kissy face poseballs to so they will hang out long enough to buy something, the world will meet its own apocalypse in record time. 

      I want something to do. I’ll “see” your build regardless, kinda can’t help it, but give me something to do, engage me. Then I’ll be more willing when I have the currency in my account to just hand it over because *you deserve it* which is pretty much my criteria at this point. I may not buy your widget but I’ll hand over the equivalent in a donation if it’s available.

  • With this move they have killed the grid for me and I probably will not go back OI.  There was not that much for sell in the grid, so closing the hypergrid will be a mistake for them.  I was thinking of purchasing an region on the grid, but not now!  I have seen that want members to pay for membership, so I guess that they think they are the new SL not cool!  I rented some land on the grid, but was unable to change the name on my parcel or get any music to play on my land!  My point is without Linda Kellie ocrs files the grid would be been nothing and Linda gives her stuff out for free and not worry about how much money she could make if see sells her stuff.  That is what is being use, so very little is for sell.  

    • I noticed that also that they are now offering paid premium membership. Apparently you get a 3000 prim region if you are a paid premium member. I think they figured out that as long as people could hook a region up to OSGrid or make their own Hypergrid sim and host it “free” with their computer and still get to Island Oasis by HG jumping then they would have no need to pay them for a membership. 

      So the only way they could get people to do that is to close their gates. 
      Money always seems to be the underlying factor. Personally I have always hated the idea of paid premium memberships with any grid. 

      • Given numerous opportunities to use and enjoy this technology for no cost, why hate the idea of a premium membership?  A truly open environment would support all kinds of service models, some for free, some with memberships, some with advertising, some with donations… and people are completely free to choose what best fits their needs, values and so on. Money is a prevalent medium of exchange, not a debased ideology. Since everything needs to be paid for one way or another, including our time, money is always an underlying factor. If the customers disagree with a particular way in which they are asked to pay for a service, they will not use the that service, but the tone in this venue is often aggressively negative, as if social mores have been violated.  Most of the fledgling grids are already operating on shoestring budgets, specifically because they do not charge anywhere near the high prices most object to from Second Life.

        • Lawrence,
          I said “I” don’t like paid premium memberships. I didn’t say that there wasn’t a place for them. I am a strong believer that we need all sorts of grids. 
          I choose to not waste my money on something that I can get for free now. When I was into the commercial aspect of things for years and selling merchandise I didn’t mine paying for land and membership. To me that was all part of the game. It’s just not my game anymore. So please don’t get defensive. This was just my opinion.

          • Linda,

            You wrote that you “…have always hated the idea of paid premium memberships with any grid.”, so I took you at your words – that’s all I had to go on.  If you feel differently than those words suggest, I accept your truer meaning.

          • Lawrence,
            Right.  I don’t like them. I have used them and I think they have their place. But I don’t like paid memberships. I don’t understand what your problem is with my statement. 
            I don’t have to like paid membership to have used it in the past. In fact that is what I base my opinion on. Been there, done that, don’t like it. 
            I also stated that I liked IO and the people there. What I was explaining here is a possible motive of one of the reasons they may have closed HG. 
            It’s a business. I am not against them doing what they need to keep their business going. I am not bad mouthing them. Although I do think it was bad business to not have thought the hypergrid stuff through enough in the first place. Live and learn. Now they know.

          • Linda,

            I hear what you are saying about your true feelings about paid memberships.  As for your original statement I can only reiterate that when you used the words “always hated the idea” in regards to “premium memberships” with “any grid”, it sounded like a sweeping endictment of the idea of premium memberships anywhere and everywhere, not just a personal decision to avoid such services because you do not personally prefer that service model.

            Since I wrote about that you have added depth to your perspective that I can appreciate and I think I now understand what you truly mean.

          • Sorry I did the blanket statement and got you defensive. I will have to choose my words more carefully.

          • I’m glad you responded so we could explore this topic as much as we did.

            I too find it challenging to choose the best words to convey my meaning…I pause a bit every time I’m about the click the Post as … button.

      • VirtualClover

        Even that will backfire. I went with Kitely so I can have dozens of worlds for the same price with 100k prims each. Nothing about that 3k (or 30k if it was a typo) is going to impress me one bit ;-p

  • WhiteStar Magic

    This is yet again another argument for having an Export-Flag system built into OpenSim.  That way a creator has a choice if the content is exportable via HyperGrid, OAR or IAR.  
     
    Many of us create content, either objects or scripted devices and quite often things are freely given out but then there are things which we don’t want passing around the virtual planet for any number of reasons. 

    • Good thing Kitely donated their code to opensim, then! 🙂

      • This still leaves people with a dilemma.  If a person could bring in items purchased on other grids, and then built much of their sim using those items, trying to export the oar with only their self-created content would be leave much content without backup protection.  As it stands now, when an oar is uploaded to Kitely, all permissions belong to that world manager, so a subsequent save occurs without issues.  But if others can build in a Kitely world, there is no way to backup everything and everyone’s work together as an oar backup.  This is not a shortcoming, just a practical accommodation to preserve content creation rights.  The good news is that knowing this, people are on notice to make personal backups of everything which is possible using Imprudence.

        I will say that I use and like Kitely myself because one thing they have done well is offer what they can support while they work towards additional features that are desirable yet fraught with complex considerations, like HG. 

  • That doesn’t seem like a bait and switch at all… Would it be terribly cynical of me to think they intended to close the hypergrates all along and just used these features to hook people in?

    Cynical or not, would I be factually wrong?

    Oh well. I didn’t have much interest in it before, and now …I don’t have any interest in it at all!

  • VirtualClover

    I still think there needs to be a centralized *external* marketplace. This would easily solve the problem for everyone. Even LL could pave the way for this one without much extra work and then the users can *live, work and play* where ever they choose without it causing all the controversy. LL could scrap its ultimately futile gimmick plans and focus exclusively as a virtual world marketplace. Those residents – and any grid resident – can offer their content for sale and make it available for its grids of choice. It could be delivered inworld to whatever grid, or made available for download, in the case of OARs and content (like Linda does so awesomely). We’re all used to the sl marketplace and lindens – but to broaden that to work with other currencies would be ideal. 

    Content creators can put their stuff up for sale via the marketplace (and inworld if desired but no longer necessary). They get paid. They can include the various built in grid perms. Users can create an account via the marketplace instead of having to deal with 30 different ones for various grids to be able to go and do things there. 

    Personally, I’d love to see a global avatar, global marketplace, and one account to rule them all. 

  • Another walled garden is born!

    “As a result, many content creators are wary of selling their items on any grid that allows unfiltered region exports ”

    Let em go back to Second life then and stay there since all they care about is making money off it, opensim can do without them- there’s loads of talented creators around giving away their work for free who don’t do it for the money.

  • Well , here’s my viewpoint.I enjoyed being able to hop to other grids but, some content creators didn’t.
    Some people left IO and some wouldn’t come because hypergrid was open.
    Since being closed, several people have opened up new stores and malls.
    As for there being little to sell before, well,I guess you didn’t look around enough; and now there is plenty more and growing.
    As for premium membership, it’s a lot cheaper than other grids, more prims and land area for the money, plus EVERY menmber has free land available with 500 prims for personal use.
    Just like SL, no one has to go premium to enjoy IO but it does give some more options if they do.