5 mistakes of renting cheap OpenSim land

There’s never been a better time to stock up on low-cost OpenSim land. Sure, you can run regions or mini-grids at home for free, but then you’re responsible for all your own tech support, backups, and upgrades — and the number of visitors is limited to what you home connection can support.

Free residential plots on Tangle Grid's Shores Haven region.

Free residential plots on Tangle Grid’s Shores Haven region.

1. You forget to check in

Many grids these days offer free land plots, of various sized and prim limits, in order to attract users.

But they don’t want that land to sit around idle, so most grids want you to check in on a regular basis — once a week or once a month — to show that you are still, in fact, an active resident.

So set your calendar and make sure to stop by. And if you know you’re going to be away from some length of time, let the grid management know, so that they don’t give you plot away to someone else.

Grids typically offer a limited amount of these, and they fill up fast!

Free homestead plots on the Jasper region on Pillars of Mist.

Free homestead plots on the Jasper region on Pillars of Mist.

2. You got land that you can’t upgrade

That $3 region might be exactly what you need right now. But tomorrow, you might find out that you need more prims, more power, more support, or more features.

Before committing to a region — and no, I’m not talking about paying the $3, I’m talking about all the time and energy you spend building your region and building your community — check to see if upgrades are possible.

Some grids and hosting providers will let you add more capacity, others just have that one flat rate.

3. You can’t get your OAR out

You think you’ll be on that grid forever, but, you know, things change. You grow apart. You want to move your region to a different grid, or a different hosting provider.

Will you be able to get an OAR export of your entire region?

With some hosts, all you have to do is go to your web management panel, click a button, and the OAR comes flying your way, ready for you to upload it to your new home.

With others, you have to put in a support ticket and wait.

And others won’t let you take an OAR at all. If you leave them, you’ll have to leave your build behind, unless you export it piece-by-piece as an XML file.

4. You lose half your stuff

So you’re settled in, and the grid closes. Or crashes. Or you have to leave because you were dating everyone on the grid, and you broke up with them, and now they all hate you.

And you find out that none of your content is exportable.

Maybe you bought it from merchants who were paranoid about security.

Maybe all your builds have lots of collaborators, so you’re not the clear creator of anything.

So now you’re starting over from scratch.

If being able to own your content is important to you, then pick a grid that lets you save your inventory, also known as an IAR file. And avoid grids that are closed or filtered.

And if you do decide to settle on a filtered grid, pay close attention to what content can be exported, and what isn’t.

There’s a list of which major grids are open and which are filtered and which are closed here.

The opposite is true if you’re a creator. If you don’t want people to take your stuff anywhere they want, then pick a closed or filtered grid for your store. But don’t do your building there. Do your building somewhere where you can make full and plentiful exports of all your work, then bring it to the closed grids to sell it.

5. You can’t hypergrid

In the past, if you left one grid and joined another, you had to say goodbye to all your friends.

Not anymore.

The hypergrid allows you to not only make friends on other grids, but to see when they’re online, send them messages and content and teleport requests, and join groups.

There are about 200 grids on the hypergrid right now, and more are popping up all the time. There’s some really cool stuff happening out there, and the hypergrid is growing at a faster rate than any individual closed grid.

Plus, with hypergrid, you also get access to the Kitely Market.

Of course, there are some good reasons to be on a closed grid.

For example, they might offer a roleplaying experience or a niche social group that you can’t find anywhere else, that is only possible because strangers can’t just teleport in. You might want to keep certain activities private and separate from others, and a closed grid could be a better bet.

But unless you specifically want the security or the unique offerings of a closed grid, a hypergrid-enabled grid might be a better bet, especially in the long term.

This is especially the case now, when filtering allows commercial grids to restrict their proprietary, high-end content from leaving the grid at all, while still letting other content — and their residents — travel freely.

Now, go get your land!

Here’s a round up of the best current offers:

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.

  • Frank Corsi

    Great article. With summer about to start, desperation will set in as grid operators compete for your $$

    • Frank — I was going to add another option for getting low-cost regions — buying in bulk. But when I went to the CloudServe site, I literally couldn’t figure out what your region prices where. There was just so much stuff there.

  • To model 1904 Dublin (for Joyce’s Ulysses) is an inevitable but huge and very long term group project. Ideally I’d like a sort of GitHub strategy that lets anyone contribute via forking paths, with no monthly rent and the ability to handle heavy traffic every June 16 (Bloomsday). I’ve got simple models of two sites already, and am pondering ways to add scripts that quote relevant text passages.

  • Alex Ferraris

    I have to say my opinion here.
    Ok so you got your 5 dollars region and now what?
    The region will not hold heavy traffic even if you had traffic.
    It is a sand box and because it is in a shared environment with other regions probably another 50 or so regions. It will crash, the scripts will stop working, textures disappearing and so on….
    If you cant pay for a 4 gig ram region do it in your own pc.
    No people to talk to, no currency no fun.

    • Ways to use a $5 (or $3) region:

      * Personal residential space
      * A place to have a couple of friends over
      * Personal sandbox
      * A place to change clothes
      * Together with friends, to create a large roleplaying area
      * A place for a creator to have a private workshop
      * A place to setup a business based on one-on-one or small group advice:
      — fortune-telling
      — fashion consulting or makeovers
      — custom hair or skin design
      — coaching or counseling

      … hmm… sounds ilke the makings of an article… “22 things to do on a $3 regions” — anyone else have any suggestions?

      • Alex Ferraris

        if you pay attention all Marias ways of using a 3 dollars region have limits on them.
        I think peronally that this is the reason development is so low in opensIm.
        Putting the value of a grids work and effort down by almost forcing a cheap product on people.
        The end result will be people leaving opensim.
        Yes I tried the expensive pricing before but opensim was not ready for it in the texhnological sense.
        I think I can now jump back into it and I refuse to offer a cheap product.
        4 gig ram regions, maximum 10 regions per server is my goal.

        • Nobody is FORCING anyone to rent a $3 or $5 region! And if turns out to be not enough, you can upgrade to a higher-performance region.

          • Alex Ferraris

            Yes not forcing but it has been given a tremendous amount of media.
            If people want a sandbox they can come to AviWorlds and use one of our many FREE sandboxes.
            No need to pay and even participate in a commercial environment and sell your creations.

          • Guilty as charged. I do believe that OpenSim prices are naturally coming down, and that the prices are one of the major draws to OpenSim. (There are others, of course.)

            As a reminder, we did a poll about the most appreciated features of OpenSim late last year: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2014/12/content-tops-user-wish-list/

            Having the hypergrid and having your own grid were in first and second place, but “low prices” was right up there in third place.

            I agree that there are people who are willing to pay extra for better service, capacity and performance. And they have plenty of options.

            But we’re rapidly approaching the era of zero-cost land — where some providers will be able to figure out ways to monetize at least some of their users enough to allow them to offer a lot of regions for free. GeoCities-style. And, a few years after that, we’ll be seeing free minigrids, Blogger-style.

            You have to start preparing for it. You can’t just close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing “La la la” loudly and hope prices will start going up again. They won’t. It’s like the arrow of time — computing prices only go in one direction, and that’s down.

          • Alex Ferraris

            I did analyse thay business model before. Free everything because the cost is shifted to the amount of traffic in a specific area or place.
            Most grids do not have that and even second life which could benefit on that is not using it.

            Also server prices and tech prices are not going down.
            As u once suggested Maria that a CTO should be paid 70000 DOLLARS per year?

            Again …it all comes down to value, the place where the region will be.

          • lmpierce

            I’m not sure I agree unreservedly that as an unqualified generalization ‘computing prices only go in one direction’.

            It is true that a gigabyte of RAM 10 years ago cost considerably more than a gigabyte today. Likewise, processing chips of a certain class become less expensive each year and so on. However, to obtain the latest configurations that represent today’s ‘state-of-the-art’ technology, the costs really haven’t declined much, or in some cases at all, at least not in absolute dollars.

            I bought my last MacBook Pro for $2700 in 2007. Today, if I similarly configure a new MacBook Pro, it comes in at $2700. I bought my first IBM PC for $6000 with a monitor and my first IBM AT without monitor for $4000. Today, a top of the line Alienware computer runs about $2800 without a monitor while Boxx computers run about $2,000 to $10,000 in their basic configurations without a monitor. (I’m comparing top of the line PC’s with top of the line PC’s).

            What has changed dramatically is that you can buy a $300 computer today with far more power than the $4000 IBM AT I bought back in 1984. And the MacBook Pro today at $2700 has a Retina display and SSD, as well as quad-core processor, that puts my current MacBook Pro to shame.

            So, since each new major advance in technology costs millions, if not billions in research and development, state-of-the-art technology costs remain relatively high and if one wants to be at the cutting edge of what’s available, it’s still very expensive. At the same time, a whole new universe of possibilities has opened up like a comet’s tail providing nearly everyone an affordable entry point to the world of computing.

            Service costs vary according to industry, but in some sense, like hardware, full service still costs a lot. What has changed is that automation allows many service tasks to be offloaded from direct, costly, human support. As an example, FAQ’s are a place where users get free help, reducing a costly burden for software companies. Forums work in a similar way, but in that case the costs are born by the contributors (their time), which nonetheless makes getting support free for the taking.

            Since full service and state-of-the-art hardware (and in many cases software) still carry fairly large expenses, it appears to me that while certain costs decline over time within these systems, the differential is often closed at the price sticker because the ongoing costs of development towards tomorrow’s innovations continue at very high levels. It would only be if we reached a zenith in hardware and software technology would we see all absolute costs declining.

            As for OpenSim, part of the uncertainly looking forward is whether a low-cost/no-cost system is sustainable, and by no measure are there any guarantees. Looking to Apache as an analogy of what’s possible isn’t 100% applicable (after all, system administrators see technology much differently than consumers). Prices for a virtual world could jump dramatically if a paradigm shifting technology came about that provided so much immersion, it was like being in a literal second reality – people would pay a fortune for that! But as long as OpenSim stays basically as it is today, then yes, it will become less expensive over time, but not for the best reasons…

            … when I went one day, 10 years after buying my first IBM PC for $6000, to a computer store with a true ‘blue book’ of computer values, we looked up my first computer… it had a market value of $3.

            Please understand, I love OpenSim. But arguing for the benefits of low cost misses an essential truth of the marketplace. It’s not just about price, it’s about value.

          • Lawrence — You’re right. Staying on top of the cutting edge hardware does cost money, and continues to cost money.

            For example, Microsoft Office costs money — even though there’s OpenOffice and Google Docs for free, Microsoft still charges for their product, and continues to find a market for it. And they continue to innovate, putting out new editions, and so forth. (I assume — I’ve been on OpenOffice now for the past ten years.)

            But if you look at what we have now in the Second Life-OpenSim land market, the underlying technology requirements for a single 15,000-prim region haven’t changed much over the past few years, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything major coming down the pike in the next handful of years, either.

            And while it’s true that labor costs have not gone down, hosting companies should expect to be investing in automation to keep labor costs low, even as their volumes go up.

            So, until we have a substantial jump — like you said, to photo-realistic graphics, gesture controls, etc…, which will require us to upgrade everything — hardware, bandwidth, peripherals — I expect to see OpenSim land prices continue to drop.

            But I also agree that we’ll continue to have a market for both mid-priced land and premium land, depending on what customers are looking for.

          • lmpierce

            As you say, all things being held constant, it does seem that access costs decline over time. The drop from land costs in Second Life to land costs in Kitely is enormous (I choose Kitely because they do offer premium hosting and I know from experience it is professional quality). And even if land costs were made zero, access to the Internet is not free. So, let’s say I pay $40 a month for AT&T U-verse. Why should my hosting costs for a website or virtual world nonetheless be free? If I pay $10 a month for web hosting and $20 a month for virtual world hosting, I don’t see the hosting costs as outrageous – they seem in keeping with the online technology ecosystem as regards access that is exclusively at my disposal.

            A personal bias in all this is that I deplore the Facebook model of a truly ‘free’ service, paid for with ads. To me the ads are are a visually and psychologically offensive ‘cost’! But I get it, ‘free’ access opens it to anyone who has a computer (which, of course, does cost the user something). And ads simply mean someone else pays the out-of-pocket cost of our access – the costs don’t go away. But even when virtual worlds are offered for free (such as with OSGrid), people do not flock to them like FaceBook. So, I think we need to look at other considerations, not cost, to understand the state of adoption of virtual worlds. My position is that they still do not offer sufficient value to the masses. And I don’t think that’s a one-way street. Until the technology, as well as the social dynamics, change into something more favorable, it seems all applications of OpenSim are niche applications, and staying that way for now.

  • Shy Robbiani

    In my opinion 12 regions on a 2 GB RAM server is a no go. 25 US$ for 2 GB RAM is not cheap.