NextReality, Pillars of Mist closing this month

(Image courtesy Next Reality Grid.)

(Image courtesy Next Reality Grid.)

The owners of the Next Reality and Pillars of Mist OpenSim grids have announced that the two virtual worlds are closing this month.

“It pains me to have to say this, but from the 15th May 2015 The Next Reality Grid will be going offline,” said grid owner Mike Hart in an announcement this week.

Hart has been involved in OpenSim for eight years, and is best known for his mesh vehicles and racing scripts, and his recent attempt to help keep the AviWorlds grid up and running.

He will be focusing on reviewing games and products related to driving and racing simulators.

“I will of course stay in touch and keep up to date with OpenSim,” he added.

Mysterious ruins on the Port Oak regions of the Pillars of Mist grid.

Mysterious ruins on the Port Oak regions of the Pillars of Mist grid.

Pillars of Mist launched just last month as a mystery-focused grid, but owner Merrie Schonbach has been involved in Second Life and OpenSim for a decade.

Due to a move and other real life issues, she will be shutting down the grid by the end of this month, she told Hypergrid Business.

Some of the individual regions, such as the main Port Oak region, will be moving to Refuge Grid, however.

Pillars of Mist has no paying customers, but some users of free residential land.

“I notified them about the move,” Shonbach said.

While the loss of these two grids might affect only a small number of users, it is yet another example of the loss of a historical record of the early metaverse.

There is currently no virtual worlds archive similar to the Internet’s Wayback Machine.

In fact, while the Wayback Machine can archive Web pages, books, videos, audio, images, and software, it currently has no section for archiving virtual worlds. This is something I’ve written about recently.

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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. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

20 Responses

  1.' Fly Man says:

    Sad to hear that both worlds are going to be gone. But it shows indeed as Maria said that there’s no “backup” system by the Internet Archive setup to keep grids that “poof” somewhere safe. Luckily we always have the OAR backup system when grid do go “under”

  2. I just posted a note about this on OpenSim Virtual:

    I’m willing to donate money — and time — for a non-profit content site for OpenSim. Is anyone working on this?

    •' Dot says:

      Saving the archive builds as Premium Worlds on Kitely might be one possibility. Storage costs work out to be 1 USD per region per month.

      • That’s not really a scalable or sustainable option.

        However, if we have a low-cost archive for storing them, then people who’d like to visit can just load them up to Kitely (or to Sim-on-a-Stick or any other open grid).

        •' Bryan French says:

          How would this work with copyrights and intellectual properties? As nice as it would be to store defunct grids in an archive for people to visit I would be concerned with copyright violations by loading them on Sim-on-a-Stick and distributing them or uploading them on to another grid.

          • Here’s how the Wayback Machine works:

            “Internet Archive uses the exclusion policy intended for use by both academic and non-academic digital repositories and archivists. See our full exclusion policy.”


            It’s the same way that libraries can save copies of newspapers on microfiche.

            I’d like to see either the Wayback Machine itself tackle virtual worlds, or something like it.

            For all other repositories, however, the OAR creators would have to give the repository the rights to host their OARs or distribute their OARs.

          • While I like the concept, I think in reality the issues surrounding copyright would be pretty tricky to get round. Its not the same as libraries with microfiche at all. Not even close.

            The only way to do it “safely” (by the standards I am guessing most creators would want) would be for the objects to be cached externally on a server somewhere and for them to never actually “download” to your PC via OAR or transmission to a viewer. So it would need to be something along the lines of SLGo. Otherwise it would just be used as a giant free content library.

            While that might be fine for a lot Opensim grids, its not an overall solution. Many have paid to export from SL, purchased things from Merchants like myself or come to some other agreement to get content into their worlds. I would guess that in 99% of those cases it has been agreed to not redistribute the content. Putting an OAR up for public upload is distribution in my book.

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            Exactly. You’d probably could only run the OARs in a canned environment for display only. Even avatar interaction with it in such an environment could be tricky.

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            I don’t think you can handle OARs or IARs the same way as the content archived on the wayback machine because the OAR and IAR files are archives themselves which can contain nested content that each can have a whole series of IP issues associated with them. You shall be hard pressed to find an OAR where everything is original creations of the individual creating the OAR file.

          • It’s a new are for copyright law, certainly. But when they save a Website to the Internet Archive, they’re saving a lot of copyright content, where the copyright belongs to other people. And anyone can go into the Internet Archive and with a couple of clicks, copy anything they want.

            And the Internet Archive even archives video games.

            So I think the copyright issues are similar. The only difference is that many of us are used to a closed-system environment like Second Life, which tries to constrain copying as much as they can through technical means.

            On the Web itself, copying the digital content is constrained by legal means — DMCA filings. Anyone can copy any text or images off this website, for example, and I can’t stop them. If they set up a competing site, however, and, say, then I can file a DMCA.

            That doesn’t mean that writers and photographers can’t make a living, however. I get paid a very reasonable amount for my day job work for CSO magazine and Network World and both have recently switched to online-only publication. Plenty of other people make a living creating content for the Web, as well.

            In the long run, once the metaverse gets significantly bigger, it is entirely possible that the consumer market for low-level 3D content will either disappear or be dramatically transformer — just as there is very little of a consumer market for photographs or articles.

            But the enterprise market for these products will expand dramatically, and more than make up for it. So companies will need virtual worlds, so will schools and government agencies, and they will pay for clear rights to professionally produced content.

            Individuals, however, will only be buying 3D content in very closed environments — like, for example, the way they buy ringtones for cell phones, or emoji (or whatever the kids are spending money on these days). Or through curated stores, like the Apple and Google Play app stores or iTunes, or through all-you-can-eat services like 3D equivalents of Netflix or Spotify.

            So, for example, it’s currently easier to buy virtual content on Kitely than to hunt for it all over the hypergrid — I’d rather pay a few KC for an outfit than spend hours looking.

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            It is difficult to say exactly how this will pan out.

            In the copyright legislation here there are made distinctions on what happens to a copyrighted work if it has been published or not, and therefore how it then can be used. Published works (with a bunch of exceptions) can be used for derivative works for instance. The question will be; is the sim the OAR is created from published when the sim is presented in a closed grid – which has a limited audience? Using the OAR as the basis for a new sim would clearly be a derivative work in my view. It could possibly be used on the closed grid, but not elsewhere – perhaps.

            The publishing on iTunes is not necessarily a good gauge for where the lines are drawn. You would probably be shocked if you connected to the Norwegian iTunes and saw how limited the selection is comparatively because there are very complex copyright and distribution rights the minute you cross borders. No TV shows at all, limited selection of movies, limited selection of music, limited selection of apps, books, magazines and so on. The same is the case throughout the countries.

          • I think the geographical restrictions are going to be evolving rapidly … and if 3D content is already commonplace when the international treaty bodies revisit this issue, they might well lump 3D in with the video, audio, and other kinds of content.

            But you’re right … it’s too early to guess, and too early to make any major bets as to how it will turn out. The common sense thing to do is to move forward assuming that it will take aeons for the laws to change, and that the copyright system we have now is going to last for a while.

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            As far as I understand it the 3 key questions are:

            1. Has the work been published
            2. Do you have distribution rights (and usually only the copyright holder has unless other agreements have been made)
            3. Will the work be used for a derivative work, or for personal use (which can also be derivative.)

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            Actually I think the distribution right is the most pressing issue, and is the point in Linden’s TOS there has been so much contention about. Their TOS is formed as it is for LL to be able to distribute and publish the work (of a copyright holder) technically to other viewers. Paypal also recently changed their TOS to sound very much like the LL TOS on that point.

          • “And the Internet Archive even archives video games.” – Yes, video games that are now in the public domain. So Copyright is no longer an issue. You cant get the latest Sims games via the Internet Archive, or the recent GTA games, or the Elder Scrolls, or any IP that’s currently worth more than a few bucks. So this argument does not stand up to scrutiny IMHO.

            At this stage, Virtual worlds are something between a web page and a game. So drawing direct analogies to the web is bound to fail.

            “You would probably be shocked if you connected to the Norwegian iTunes and saw how limited the selection is comparatively because there are very complex copyright and distribution rights the minute you cross borders.” – Likewise so in Germany. About 50% of all videos on youtube are blocked on copyright grounds. European netflix is likewise gutted of a lot of stuff that is available in the US.

            For the record, I really wouldn’t care if my work ended up somehow archived or used in a way that goes beyond my terms. But I am not everyone by a long stretch, and I think the issue is much more complex than you make it sound.

        •' Dot says:

          It depends on the original size of the grid/project and what its members wants to do.

          For Pillars of Mist with just seven regions (HG Business Statistics April 2015), Kitely Premium would probably be a good fit in terms of price and performance — $19.95 per month to keep the concept alive.

          I speak from experience with multiple Devokan group builds (30+) originally on OSgrid. Grouping the regions via SoaS then loading them as Kitely Advanced Megaregions helps maintain their visual integrity and story links, while optimising performance.

          Active builders in the Devokan group have gone for the Kitely Gold option for $34.95, giving them 30 included regions each; this enables them to archive old builds and continue to develop new ones.

          I agree that this wouldn’t work for NextReality — that needs huge varregions.

  3.' Alex Ferraris says:

    God Speed Mike.

  4.' Tony Anytime says:

    Well, I would offer free hosting to either one for some of their regions if they want.

  5.' Michael Sietz says:

    Merrie and Mike, get hold of me. Don’t give up. There is always a way forward. If not over the wall, around the wall. If not around, a way under. I really hate to see either of you lose what you have worked so hard to create.

  6.' Michael Sietz says:

    UPDATE: Pillars of Mist is now hosted on DigiWorldz. And to top it off Merrie’s regions put us over 700 regions….so we gave them to her with out cost.