Vehicle physics tops feature wish list

The results of the 2013 OpenSim hosting  are in, and the biggest surprise was the lack of votes for SimHost, once one of the leading vendors in this space. Another surprise? Vehicle physics tops the list of wanted OpenSim features, just as it did in 2011.

Percent of this year's survey respondents who missed features in OpenSim.

Percent of this year’s survey respondents who wanted to see these features in OpenSim.

Overall, 53 percent of respondents said they missed vehicle physics, a set of features which allow OpenSim vehicles to behave like those in Second Life. This was up slightly from 52 percent in 2011.

The next most-wanted feature this year was an online marketplace, with 33 percent of respondents, up from 20 percent in 2011.

Content came in at 25 percent this year, down slightly from 2011’s 29 percent, and community was at 20 percent, down from 2011’s 25 percent, a possible sign that both of these issues have improved a bit in OpenSim over the past two years.

Almost every respondent said they “would absolutely recommend” their hosting provider, and OpenSim pricing was described as “a bargain” or “reasonable prices for the services provider” by almost every respondent as well.

OpenSim hosting customers would recommend their providers, feel they're getting a bargain.

OpenSim hosting customers would recommend their providers, feel they’re getting a bargain.

Respondents also rated the stability, performance, support, and user interfaces of their hosting providers. Please keep in mind that the number of respondents is very low for each vendor, since there are relatively few people who rent grids or regions from independent hosting providers, as opposed to renting land directly from grid owners. For reviews of grids themselves, please see last month’s survey of OpenSim grid users.

Dreamland Metaverse leads in support

Dreamland Metaverse is the grand-daddy of today’s OpenSim hosting providers, with a strong presence in the educational sector. The company is based in Switzerland and offers support in both English and German, with data centers in Europe, North America and Asia.

Although they are known for running private grids for educational institutions and companies of all sizes, including Fortune 500 firms — “hundreds of grids” at last count — they also provide hosting for individual regions on OSgrid and Metropolis and standalone mini-grids.

“I have relied upon Dreamland Metaverse for three years, with their high quality US data-center servers, to provide a low-lag experience for the 40 to 100 visitors my OSgrid region sees every day,” said one responder.

Dreamland gets top marks for support.

Dreamland gets top marks for support.

Hispalab and TomaHost, both newcomers to our list and both based in Spain, also had “excellent” scores — but each had only one responder on our survey. MA Rentals, Zetamex and Oliveira also did very well. The only negative review was of YourSimSpot.

“While their prices are low the support really lacks,” said one user. “We tried hosting two regions with them and we could not get simple things to work like currency with VirWox — they lacked the knowledge of helping us get that set up.”

The user also complained about slow connections speeds, a control panel that only worked sometimes, and a surprise price increase. “We were told that prices were not going to be changing anytime soon when we signed up,” the customer reported. “After all of this we cancelled.”

YourSimSpot CEO Anthony Gill apologized for the problems this user had.

“We would like also to apologize to anyone who had any type of negative experience while using our service,” he told Hypergrid Business. “And we encourage them to engage us with any issues they might have or had with our tools and region hosting. This would only help us to improve the quality of our offerings.  We greatly appreciate our customers and are always ready to serve them in any way possible.”

Zetamex has most responses

Zetamex is relatively new to OpenSim hosting, but has quickly grown into a major player after rebranding earlier this year from its previous incarnation as SoftPaw Estates.

Last summer, Zetamex stepped up to provide hosting for Linda Kellie’s content, setting up the new Zadaroo website. Zadaroo is now home to the single largest collection of Linda Kellie’s work, all licensed CC0 for use in any grid, for any purpose — including commercial. In addition to individual virtual items available as XML downloads, the site also includes 30 different OAR files of full regions packed with content, including shopping malls and themed builds.

Zetamex is currently working on version 2.0 of its ZetaPanel user interface system, which will include tools to rename regions, change region coordinates, and get region access statistics.

Zetamex CEO Timothy Rogers is also known for being helpful to other grid owners, whether or not they’re current customers, and to other hosting companies. For example, Zetamex has been helping out Fernando Oliveira, of Oliveira Virtual Lands, who has been working on OpenSim support for the PostgreSQL database. PostgreSQL is a database designed to work with large, enterprise-class databases, and may scale better than the MySQL database currently used as the default in OpenSim.

“We use Zetamex Hosting for our newly opened grid,” wrote one customer. “There was a lot of planning prior to our launch and I think between myself and Timothy Rogers we had over 200 emails… The support we received was second to none… Adding to that, on day one of our launch we did have massive problems [with] corrupted files… Timothy spent over 24 hours online, repairing it, setting up new regions, bringing in content to replace what we had lost. All in all I would rate Zetamex as 11 out of 10.”

In fact, many grid owners are now turning to OpenSim hosting providers to handle the technical side of running their infrastructure, while they themselves focus on marketing, sales, and community building. Zetamex is quickly becoming known for being friendly to customers without technical backgrounds.

“I especially like that even when the support problem I am having is related to my lack of knowledge, they take time to help me learn and do so with patience,” said another customer. “They have never shrugged me of with a claim that their stuff as working and the problem must be me. When it is me, they help me figure out what I am doing wrong.”

Performance scores of the OpenSim hosting vendors. In other words, how much lag is there on their sims?

Performance scores of the OpenSim hosting vendors. In other words, how much lag is there on their sims?

By engaging with the community — helping grid owners and competitors, writing helpful articles and blog posts, and always being ready to explain things to the media — Zetamex has quickly positioned itself in the top tier of OpenSim hosting companies.

Based in Last Vegas, Zetamex is the only major US-based hosting provider, so that might also be a factor in attracting US-based clients.

“Never have any [unexpected] downtime, only scheduled, and always told in advance, which I like,” wrote one Zetamex customer. “The hardware used by Zetamex is all very good and top notch. Great connections to the servers no issues.”

MA Rentals scores high in stability

Germany’s MA Rentals is best known for hosting individual regions attached to OSgrid. The company runs the regions in a virtualized cloud-based system that automatically allocates resources to regions when they need them.

As a result, the company stored top marks for stability.

“Performance of the region is excellent, the only performance issues so far were related to slow grid services from OSgrid or bugs,” said one customer. “Bugs were usually fixed within the same day.”

Stability

Stability ratings of OpenSim hosting vendors.

MA Rentals also got top marks for its interface. The company’s web panel provides a great deal of functionality for region owners, including self-serve OAR and IAR downloads. A demo version of its webpanel is available on its site.

“The webpanel offers me all the daily needed settings and stats and I have more time to enjoy my inworld experience,” wrote a customer.

Ratings for the user interfaces of the OpenSim hosting providers.

Ratings for the user interfaces of the OpenSim hosting providers.

Do it yourself hosting

Many respondents said that they were running OpenSim on their own, either using the standard OpenSim distribution, the Diva Distro, Sim-on-a-Stick, New World Studio, the Metropolis distribution, or AuroraSim. By far the largest group of respondents were using the standard distribution, followed by Sim-on-a-Stick and New World Studio.

Scores for stability, support, performance, and interface varied greatly, since every deployment and use case can be different.

“I am my own provider,” wrote a user running the standard distribution of OpenSim. “I use command-line tools — they are easy. I don’t need a gimmicky GUI.”

For example, performance tends to be excellent when OpenSim is run on a local computer and used by only one person.

“Sim-on-a-Stick is very useful for me when I wish to just work on terraforming without interruptions or net issues,” said one user.

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.

  • Lani Global

    Dreamland Metaverse has been absolutely wonderful. Of course, they are well-known for their top-notch customer support. But I must say, they are to be congratulated for the low-lag stability of their servers. I depend upon them to keep my high traffic region running smoothly with 99% uptime 24/7/365.

    • Lani Global

      Free open source vehicle engine (with linked accessories/ propellers/ scripts/ lights/ brake/ landing-gear/ doors). Many free physical vehicles are in the shops of various talented creators. All available at the new Lani Mall, in Lani region in OSGrid. Hypergrid: hg.osgrid.org:80:lani

      • Lani Global

        The region border crossing situation in core OpenSim is about to get a lot better very soon. We look forward to releasing new physical vehicles for multi-passenger cross-country travel on the mainlands, flyways, highways, and outer space of this vast OpenSim world.

      • Lani Global

        OpenSim Vehicles?
        ☑ Yep. Got them.

  • ok, did my vote twice as I like how Tim of Zetamex does things, and I love their pricing [pls always keep offering low entry priced, limited use plan[s]]…and, of course, I did one for SOAS, which I like doing most of my terraforming in…thx Ener!!

    • Savino van Meirhaeghe

      hmm i know some company’s i have run years ago. last i know is softpaw ..and Zetamex.. some i me good know are SimHost
      Dreamland Metaverse..
      YourSimSpot..

      now this day’s run i self for some tests…
      hugs
      savino
      (sit on a prim)

  • Jonny Vayro

    Zetamex gets my vote everytime. Customer service is brilliant.

  • Perhaps somebody can clear things up regarding vehicle physics. My vehicles work and they are sit in and drive, not wearables. They use LSL scripts and work both offline and on Kitely. I have flown one of Lani’s ships when I still had an HG capable sim, and that was before 0.7.4. Nebadon’s OKC Racers work.

  • hack13

    Thank you to all our customers who submitted feedback! 🙂 We love you all <3

  • BalpienHammerer

    I do not quite understand that vehicle physics wish since there are three grids that have it working: InWorldz, Kitely, and Avination. Here Is an example of InWorldz fully implemented LSL vehicle feature:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDqe9yIOmCE&hd=1

    • hack13

      While yes vehicles do work in the grids you mentioned above, such as InWorldz and Avination because they use their own physics engine. Kitely because there is no region crossing, vehicles work fine on mega-regions.

      • BalpienHammerer

        What is the status of bullet physics? I thought that was becoming the de facto high end physics engine for the noncommercial OpenSim grids? And yes, some grids use different physics engines (InWorldz uses PhysX), but my point is that the LSL support for vehicles is the same as in SL. The InWorldz LSL vehicle support is the complete set of functions, Avination is very close to that (since I last checked), and I thought they were releasing all that to OpenSim. That’s my surprise, that the rest of OpenSim does not have it by now.

        • hack13

          Bullet is coming along nicely. On the note of Avination, they donated certain functions to opensim, but not the code that allows vehicles to cross sims.

          I have played with bullet, a lot of people are a bit upset because it does make you have to edit your ODE scripts to work with Bullet now. As far as scripting engines go Avination and InWorldz both use their own scripting engine that allow scripts to run better, I really wish someone would contribute fixes to XEngine or contribute an entirely new engine because a lot of scripts don’t always work right.

          • Joe Builder

            Many years ago a scripter back in 2009 used a base LsL vehicle script and was able to achieve a drivable car using ODE. That project has stopped for some unknown reason. I was able to obtain that script make many modifications to it, Mind you now I’m not a scripter. But I do have the will and patience to try and try till I got it right. (over 800 attempts). This base Kitto Flora script is still used today and works perfectly. There is a few that took different directions but never seemed to get it right. It all about the WANT, When the want and need is present anything is possible. A few examples are Cars that travel 600MPH, Race boats, Motorcycles that turn and lean on curves, Hovercrafts, Underwater Submarines and Scooters, Helicopters, hover Boards just to name a few. Link up a castle of 600 prims I’ll make that fly to. There is no limit to what ODE can do.

          • hack13

            I just want to point at my comment above this one, where I explain that ODE is impressive considering we are pushing it to things it is not supposed to do, and I am affraid we are on the verge of breaking it.

            Bullet is designed to do gaming, this is the major difference ODE is built for simulation data, not what we are making it do.

          • Alex Ferraris

            Not sure but didnt Avination contribute certain commands to ODE that would make it easier for vehicle scripts to work? A while back I think.
            ODE was made for simulation data but perhaps avination and others did place certain commands so it could do certain gaming actions? But anyway regarding vehicles the reason there was no interest was simply due to the fact that no did it. Once its done and people start improving them more and more; I m sure people will want to buy cars, boats, plans, scuba diving equipment etc to use in their open sim regions or grids.
            The market is there just grab it! Anyone?

          • Alex Ferraris

            And I want to give my two cents here regarding Zetamex. I personally think Zetamex is the future of Hosting Simulators and grids. They go above and beyond what you need and they are lightining fast in responding to your support tickets. Plus their prices are just right!
            As I said before AviWorlds had many problems with other hosting companies and we found our home in Zetamex.

          • hack13

            Alex, actually what they contributed was code that allowed the “gravity, tension, weight, bouncy” flags to actually work which didn’t originally.

          • Joe Builder

            Once FutureWorld in Osgrid is complete there should be no reason why anyone will do without. This will be a one of a kind free world with all types of vehicles on display.
            There will be almost every type of vehicle from cars to Star Trek for the free some scripted some not 🙂 Once I get this “No Sell License” in order and lose this cold 🙁

          • Alex Ferraris

            Joe but you could still place nicer ones for sale no?

          • Joe Builder

            To be honest, Now this is the funny part they may not even want the free ones. Best joy here is to complain, Without complaining its just plain boring. That’s the mindset.

        • Joe Builder

          Vehicles work just fine, ODE has that same ability as shown in above video and its been there for years. Problem was not enough people gave it interest. Matter of fact some Vehicles preform better than SL because of the Havok restrictions, Speed being one factor. Have a lookie in Google Plus under Joe Builder Profile. Everything moves from the day I started using 7.4 to 8.0 ODE. I do have the scripts all one has to do is simple ask and I’ll be happy to give one,

          • hack13

            While as I explained this on Google+ the issue is not with Bullet or ODE, the issue is with the scripting engine. This was pointed out a couple times by Justin Clark-Casey, where XEngine just doesn’t do what it should do when it comes to vehicle scripts, because no one has taught it to understand them correctly.

            I personally get far better results on Bullet than I do on ODE, because keep in mind ODE is developed for simulations and not gaming. Bullet is designed for gaming, meaning it can take bigger hits and keep going. The reason why many people think vehicles don’t work right on Bullet is because XEngine, the scripts are not made to work with the physics engine correcting, the opensim scripts out there now are made for ODE and not Bullet. I had to modify and write some scripts to work on Bullet, and i have to say turning is much more realistic, timing so much better, and you have so much more control when drag racing as well on it.

            Bullet is defiantly the future, and is why the developers are so excited, it is just as the common issue in any development. The people are left to figure out things on their own thus making first impressions look bad. I mean people took to Bullet and went “this is going to be awesome!” rezzed their car for ODE and it didn’t work right, so they quit. That is the average user, this is because no one explained you need to modify it for Bullet.

          • Joe Builder

            My scripts work on Both ODE and Bullet, I have done things that has boggled a developers mind what ODE is capable of, Again its all there, People are lazy to just do it. I agree Bullet may be the Future but for now its ODE and like I said and my videos to back up things work just fine considering we are and never will be a SL type of place.

        • Apparently you only know of the commercial grids aspect of opensim….as Joe says below, physics is alive and well in the free Meta.

    • Actually, physics, which is non-news to anyone but inwz, is alive and well, so much so that it is a “who cares” type of thing….those who enjoy it, have done so, and do so all the time….just one example here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGvM_hJ0Z3o

      And Mike’s new grid: http://next-reality.info/ where you could go by and see for yourself, and even help him with ideas, maybe.

      And as Sarge said below, Lani’s region where she gives physics stuff away for free, and many other who do such things. I have some awesome mesh cars as well as a speedboat, all free, and I am not really into all that.

      • Rene

        That was a nice demo, fast speed, but it seems a tad stiff and jumpy. Now the region crossing was very good I noticed. Which physics engine was that?

  • Maybe the vehicle issue is more of a public relations problem? Does anyone have a set of scripts, or ready-to-go vehicles that they can donate to the community?

    Meanwhile, I know Avination is in the process of donating region-crossing code, so that should fix one major problem with the next release of OpenSim.

    • I am not so sure it is PR as it is more that since anyone can vote for this, some who did so had agendas. Which balpien does…as will likely become more apparent if he comments more-)))

      I found my full perm speedboat in Wright Plaza, and Mike, as I mention below has all sorts of vehicles, as does Lani and Joe and others I am sure.

      • Joe Builder

        Without speaking with Mike on this, I’m sure he wouldn’t Mind setting out a few of his wonderful Mesh Vehicles. We sorta worked together Him being the Master Mesh guy and Myself did the scripting. So with that said. http://next-reality.info/ May be the place to go to get a copy. I do have what I call signature Scripts which I don’t release. Because there more or less super scripts for large land areas Extremely fast. But I have more user friendly that are free, and will fulfill anyone’s needs. At present time I’m more into doing educational/Role play worlds, And the vehicle scripting thing is on the back burner. I’m sure the region-crossing would be great being The scripts used now is only 1, less info to cross to other regions.

      • Rene

        Ah, Minethere, still harboring your “Miney hatez InWorldz” agenda?

    • hack13

      While yes they are donating region crossing code, i am not sure as what I read from them was very vague. A lot of things go on at region crossing, so I am not sure if it is going to include the fix for vehicles to cross regions or not. But I am deffiently ready and eager to test and see.

      It should also be pointed out it is not just a physics issue, but as well as a scripting issue why vehicles do not work as expected, I talked more about this on Google+

    • Rene

      I have a set of standard vehicle scripts for every vehicle type, which I can make available.

  • I wanted to add in this guy who does some cool physics related [and other stuffs]…

    http://blog.ingen-lab.com/?p=17766