ReactionGrid moves away from OpenSim

Florida-based ReactionGrid, a pioneer in OpenSim hosting for corporations and educators, is scaling back on its OpenSim business in favor of its Unity-based Jibe platform, and considering closing down its namesake grid.

ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy

“We will focus on very high level OpenSim work only,” ReactionGrid co-founder and CEO Kyle Gomboy told Hypergrid Business.

However, the company will continue to provide hosting for JokaydiaGrid, which is focused on serving educators.

“We are pushing educators to Jokaydia,” Gomboy said.

Meanwhile. the company’s view of its namesake grid is “evolving,” he added, and the grid might even be closed.

“We’re debating that now,” he said. “I’d like to keep it up as a portal of sorts for a bit but we’ll be deciding that soon.  The push is to promote Jokaydia Grid as our choice for educators which is who primarily use ReactionGrid the world.”

ReactionGrid was one of the first companies to offer OpenSim hosting, with brand-name customers like Microsoft.

ReactionGrid’s central landing area was one of the best-designed welcome regions on the early hypergrid, and featured a freebie store with business-appropriate avatars and clothing.

Over time, however, the company began to focus on its proprietary, Unity-based Jibe platform, which runs in a browser.

Meanwhile, OpenSim continued to develop, while ReactionGrid failed to upgrade its grid servers, and the namesake grid fell behind.

Today, ReactionGrid is about 80 regions in size, down from around 150 in September 2009, when Hypergrid Business first began tracking grid statistics, and reported just 105 active monthly users this month. This was a drop of over 300 active users compared to the previous month, when ReactionGrid was one of the top ten busiest grids, and the decline may have been due to the end of the academic year.

ReactionGrid also pioneered a flat $25 per region rental price, which was discontinued in 2010 in favor of server-based pricing.

However, JokaydiaGrid continues to offer individual regions at about the same price. JokaydiaGrid has also been updated to a recent version of OpenSim, so that users can now teleport back and forth to other hypergrid-enabled grids.

ReactionGrid has already removed the OpenSim options from its online store, which now focuses almost exclusively on Jibe products and services.

In addition in being a pioneer in OpenSim hosting, ReactionGrid was also a pioneer in the Unity space. It’s Jibe platform was the first, and is still the most well-developed, of a new breed of browser-based environments.

Other OpenSim hosting companies have since followed suit, and began offering their own Unity-based environments, including Sine Wave and Second Places.

Unity’s advantage over OpenSim is that the worlds can be embedded in a Web page, and don’t require heavy viewer downloads — just the Unity plugin itself. In addition, they can be exported to Flash. However, these worlds are also completely mesh-based and can require professional 3D development skills.

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.

  • A ReactionGrid customer just forwarded me an email from the company, which provides a bit more information.

    Excerpt:

    “By the end of the month of July, we will be closing ReactionGrid’s public OpenSimulator grid.

    “We understand some of you may have islands with us that have been paid through to a certain date and we will work with you to prorate any time left on that pre-paid contract.

    “To help you migrate all your content, we can provide you with a final OAR file for every region you maintain on our public OpenSimulator grid before we close your regions.”

  • Jessica Random

    I do find this a bit of a shame, as Unity (great as it is) does impose a lot more limits on the end user. For big customers that either have, or can buy in, the 3D development skills for Unity meshes this may not be an issue. For the small time end user however it means they can do less, and cannot develop anything themselves.

    I don’t mean to say it’s a “bad” thing, but I do hope this isn’t a sign of things to come with more grids moving away from OpenSim to a more restrictive environment.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with this.

    • You can build simple mesh stuff with prims in SL using Cel Edman’s Celzium. I’ve no idea whether the meshes work in Unity but they are fine in OpenSim

      • Jessica Random

        @graymills yes I know you can use meshes in SL, and I know there are tools available for you to place certain prism and convert them to sculpties. However in SL and OpenSim you can build with prima in a way you can’t with Unity. I’m not knocking Unity, just saying that content creation is not in the reach of the average user.

  • I would not be concerned. From my reading of the news, OpenSim is not losing favor, but rather gaining favor even as other technologies with different advantages grow as well. As examples:

    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/06/grid-numbers-rise-visitors-fall/
    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/07/hypergrid-passes-100-grid-milestone/

    The projects that implement Unity are not meant to be open in the same way as many OpenSim-based projects. OpenSim worlds can be edited immediately in real-time and lend themselves to easy access which clearly works well for school projects, artists, role-playing, community activities and some forms of business work.

    Unity projects require prior construction using tools outside of the environment of course, but are very well suited to simulations where more control is desirable, even necessary. And, when well implemented, Unity environments are visually more realistic, another reason they work well for certain kinds of simulations.

    One factor that influences all these developments is cost, so the fact that OpenSim is free to download, is open source, and is accessible for building through relatively easy-to-use inworld tools ensures its future proliferation (along with all the other reasons people use it).

    Since many grids have been growing recently and use OpenSim, it makes sense to me that some grids would consider creating a place for themselves using other technologies that have their own appeal and audience. But yes, Unity is not for everyone. However, OpenSim does not meet everyone’s needs either, so overall these developments are creating, not taking away, opportunities and rewards.

  • June Peoples

    With ReactionGrid closing its OpenSim-based product, I want
    to make people aware of an alternative.
    Our company, FireSabre LLC, has just brought our Starlight
    edu grid out of closed beta. Starlight
    offers both secure private spaces aimed at K-12 users as well as Starlight Public
    Spaces for educational non-profits, colleges, universities and other educational
    users that want a public-facing virtual world.

    Starlight operates on an enhanced Aurora-Sim platform, a
    next-generation OpenSim environment that’s more stable, high-performance and,
    in general, offers much more functionality. We have Vivox voice, groups, and
    offline message capability. There’s also
    a web dashboard for browser-based account and world management functions
    including creating groups and accounts, ejecting and banning, tech support, restarting
    regions, and access to metrics and sim stats.
    A basic $150/month package includes 262,144 square
    meters of land (equivalent to four SL or OpenSim islands), and allows use of
    100,000 prims. We’ve tested our spaces
    and they support well over 200 avatars at a time.

    FireSabre, launched in 2006, has long been one of the
    leading suppliers of virtual worlds for education, dating back to our work in
    Second Life’s TeenGrid. We helped create the first non-profit educational
    project for TeenGrid and built the first K-12 build for a school on TeenGrid. While we are big fans of the possibilities of
    browser-based virtual worlds, we are committed, in principle and practice, to
    the idea that residents need to be able to easily create their own content,
    especially for educational applications.

    For the next 30 days, we’re waiving set-up fees for anyone
    displaced from ReactionGrid.

  • I just hope the Worlds Fair 1939 regions can find a new OpenSim home. They were standouts at Reaction Grid. I’m not interested in Unity because I lack the skill to build my own content, and my employer barely rewards my OpenSim work; it counts as an innovative class assignment, not as some cutting-edge part of my annual eval. As with many educators, I find that it’s easier and more profitable professionally to author a new article or develop a new class than to learn new and complex content-creation tools.

    It’s great that Jokay’s grid will continue, however! So will my use of that grid.

  • Joe Rigby

    So presently Reaction Grid, Rivers Run Red, Tipodean (ArchEngine), SineWave, Designing Digitally, IDIA (Hadrians Villa) and Rezzable have all shifted or are perceptibly shifting from Second Life through Open Sim to UNITY 3D? Does this indicate that for business, training or serious enterprise applicatons that UNITY 3D is the future?

    • Joe —

      What I think this indicates is that all the vendors are moving up-market, and up-market customers wants the features available from Unity 3D — namely, the web-based viewer.

      This is the same way that a lot of corporate websites use Flash. It offers stuff that regular HTML websites don’t — but requires professional, expensive development.

      OpenSim is a low-cost option — and, as a result, a low-revenue option for vendors, unless they’re working in bulk.

      But as established vendors are moving upstream, I expect to see even more vendors showing on the low end, offering OpenSim hosting, support, and development services. Dreamland Metaverse is going well, and SouthPaw Estates just joined up, and Kitely keeps adding more and more land area, and the number of public grids we track just passed 200.

      It’s the circle of life. 🙂