The vast majority of respondents — 87.4 percent — said they would “absolutely” recommend their grid to others, roughly the same as last year’s 87.7 percent and 2010’s 89.5 percent.
Best overall score
Lost Paradise was the surprise leader when it came to overall ranking. Counting “Excellent” as a 5, and “Very good” as 4, the grid received almost perfect scores from 11 respondents in every category — and an absolutely perfect score for support.
The medium-sized grid has 259 regions and just 59 active monthly users last month. In fact, the grid was so small that it wasn’t even listed as one of the default choices in the survey — each of the respondents wrote it in.
Last year, another small grid pulled off a similar write-in upset — Island Oasis — and quickly grew to become a top-ten grid by popularity.
However, it remains to be seen whether Lost Paradise will be able to maintain its level of support and service. In this year’s survey, Island Oasis dropped to the bottom of the ratings, tying with OSgrid for last place in the overall rating, and ranking dead last in technology.
The French-language non-profit grid FrancoGrid was second in the overall rankings, followed by the mid-sized commercial grid 3rd Rock Grid, then Brazilian social grid Meet3D, then the cloud-based commercial grid Kitely. Personal grids came in sixth, then German Grid, Metropolis, InWorldz, Craft World, Avination, and OSgrid and Island Oasis.
Keep in mind, though, that the scores all ranged between “Very good” and “Excellent” — a good showing for any grid. On the other hand, if someone really didn’t like a particular grid, they wouldn’t stay there and consider it their primary grid, and wouldn’t have rated it at all.
Lost Paradise led the charts in terms of its community, followed by 3rd Rock Grid, Metropolis, FrancoGrid, Island Oasis, Craft, German Grid, InWorldz and Meet3D. OSgrid, a non-profit which allows anyone to connect home-based regions, was in tenth place, followed by the commercial grid Avination, Kitely, and personal grids.
Kitely, unlike other commercial grids, has no dedicated community-building program. There is no official welcome region or freebie store, no greeters to welcome new residents, no promotion of grid-wide events. This has recently begun to change with the formation of the Kitely Mentors Group and Kitely’s Public Worlds page.
Personal grids, not surprisingly, ranked last on the community metric.
Lost Paradise ranked first in content, followed by Meet3D, FrancoGrid, Metropolis, 3rd Rock Grid, personal grids, Avination, German Grid, Craft World, InWorldz, Island Oasis, OSgrid, and Kitely.
It is likely that Meet3D did well because of its concert series, backed by large real-world business partners.
OSgrid’s twelth-place showing is no surprise, since the grid has no in-world economy to speak of, and Kitely only recently launched its in-world currency.
However, it’s surprising that both Avination and InWorldz ranked below “personal grid” in terms of content. They are the two most popular commercial grids, and are known for their in-world merchants and events.
Lost Paradise led the way in terms of support, with the only perfect score. However, good support is much easier to achieve on a grid with just 59 active monthly users — as opposed to, say, InWorldz with its 6,000-plus active users.
In second place, we had 3rd Rock Grid with a nearly-perfect ranking, followed by Metropolis, personal grids, Kitely, Island Oasis, FrancoGrid, InWorldz, Avination, Meet3D, Craft World, German Grid, and OSgrid.
Lost Paradise was in first place for technology, and Island Oasis in last place — possibly an indication of how difficult it is for a startup grid to do scaling right.
Kitely was in second place in technology. The grid runs its regions on the Amazon cloud, and each region — or megaregion — can handle up to 100 simultaneous avatars and 100,000 prims. The cloud hosting not only allows for a dramatically lower cost structure than available on other grids, but also allows Kitely to scale indefinitely. Kitely also uses the latest version of OpenSim, which supports mesh, media-on-a-prim, NPCs, and other new features. In addition, Kitely has built its own Web-based management system which easily allows users to create regions, quickly upload or save OAR files, restrict access to particular Facebook or Twitter groups, and install and launch viewers for new users.
Kitely is also known for its fast and personal support from its founders via its Get Satisfaction page, and also regularly donates code back to the OpenSimulator project. It is currently, hands-down, the most technologically advanced of all the OpenSim grids.
Metropolis was in third place for technology, followed by 3rd Rock Grid, Meet3D, Avination, German Grid, FrancoGrid, personal grids, Craft, OSgrid, InWorldz and, finally, Island Oasis.
InWorldz may have suffered a bit because it is still working on rolling out its own physics engine — other grids just use the standard physics engine that comes with the latest version of OpenSim. InWorldz is also missing mesh and other features available in recent OpenSim releases.
SpotON 3D should have been ranked for its technology, with its innovative, browser-based grid viewer, as well as other patent-pending technologies. However, not a single respondent chose SpotON 3D as their primary grid — and only four respondents wrote in the grid under grids they have visited.
Most visited grids
We added up all the grids that folks either picked as their primary grids, or that they said they’d visited, and OSgrid was the most visited grid, with 472 out of 644 — 73 percent — of all respondents saying they had been there. InWorldz was in second place, with 68 percent, Avination third with 41 percent, Island Oasis fourth with 25 percent, and 3rd Rock Grid fifth with 23 percent.
Personal grids came in sixth, with 20 percent of all respondents either picking it as their primary grid or saying they had visited one. Kitely was next with 19 percent, followed by Craft, German Grid, Meet3D, Metropolis, FrancoGrid, JokaydiaGrid, Virtual Highway, a company or school grid, Logicamp, The Other Universe, Lost Paradise, and Olantica.
Several grid were mentioned less than ten times each, including Dorena’s World, MOSES, AviWorlds, New World Grid, Grid Nirvana, SpotON 3D, Haven, Speculoos, What Virtual World, Dreamnation, IceGrid, Littlefield Grid, NexXtLife (also known as The Other Universe), OpenLife (now 3Dmee), Utopie Grid, Created Worlds, FleepGrid, Gay Nations, Hippy Grid, Hyperica, Infinite Grid, Misfit’s Folly, Moonglow, MyOpenGrid, Neuland, New Genres Grid, Pseudospace (no longer active), ReactionGrid (also closed, company focusing on Jibe), SirinHGpole, Tertiary Grid, AngelFire Grid, Twisted Sky, UFS Grid, Valhalla Virtual, Virtyou, and Your Alternative Life.
There were 62 grids total that our respondents mentioned as having visited.
The number of grids chosen as primary grids was smaller, with just 27 grids named, plus company, school and personal grids.
InWorldz was chosen by 186 respondents, or 29 percent, as their primary grid. OSgrid was second with 144 respondents, or 22 percent. Meet3D was a distant third, with 47 ratings, or 7 percent of all respondents.
The following grids were chosen as primary by less than 10 respondents each: AviWorlds, Dorena’s World, Dreamnation, Grid Nirvana, Haven, Ice Grid, JokaydiaGrid, MOSES, Neuland, New Genres Grid, Olantica, Valhalla Virtual, Virtual Highway, and private company and school grids. We didn’t factor in their results because the small number of votes meant that their ratings were the least reliable.
Some 200 respondents wrote in comments, some very detailed, about their experiences on the grid.
We’re reprinting the most representative comments here. Please keep in mind that the comments were submitted with the expectation of anonymity, so might express views which might not be expressed otherwise.
3rd Rock Grid
“3rd Rock Grid is an incredibly friendly place to be with a real sense of community. There is a wide range of great activities and experiences and I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it.”
“The social activities are great and weekends you don’t need to leave the house. They have European events and USA so there is always something going on. Weekday live music is the best on any grid and people love to come and play here.”
“Avination has come a long way, technologically, from where it was a year ago. Having been to many other grids, I’ve happily returned to Avination now that the previous major issues are resolved. There has also been a change in the social temperature, in that I have not (this time around) met anyone who wasn’t friendly and ready to help other residents. New people are coming in, old people are returning, and it feels like home.”
“I really love the physics system in action, it is by far the best.”
“Craft is a lively fun community with a very engaged owner and manager. It is very personal and you never feel left alone, if you have a problem. And – oh wonder! It works without monetary system, which is a joy! Anyone who wants or needs something – a sculpt, mesh, texture, scripts or some help – can get it just by asking. It is a very international grid which makes it interesting to meet other people as well.”
The vast majority of the comments were very positive:
“A nice community… but a little slow on the technical side. Physics takes ages to come to the grid. Aside from that, nice and stable.”
“InWorldz is a growing grid, evolving every day. I find that the community, the support, the reasonable cost, the available prims, all of it combined make this an excellent virtual world for me.”
“Have tried several OpenSim grids, got ripped of in some, got rude awakenings in others. InWorldz is my only OpenSim home now since this is in my opinion the best one. Good support, great interaction, great community, and they move pretty fast and well thought-through with their updates.”
“I can’t wait until I make more money in InWorldz than I do in Second Life so I can just leave my stuff on the marketplace and finally get to spend most of my time in InWorldz. I love it so much I finally treated myself to a sim, something that I could neither afford, nor make financially viable in Second Life.”
“I have been in InWorldz for over two years now and have many sims – the founders and the support of the founders I find to be of superior quality. I enjoy my time there and the work that I have put into the InWorldz grid. I look forward to the bright future that InWorldz hold for 2013. I have not found any other OpenSim [grid] that met the quality and or the excellence of InWorldz. Although physics still maybe lacking it is an issue that soon will be remedied in the new year.”
“I have found InWorldz to be supportive without being intimidating. I have grown far more in a short time than I did in Second Life largely because of a content creator-friendly atmosphere rather than a competitive one. That is, it has been much easier to find full perm components such as scripts, animations and sculpts for me to include in my creations. In Second Life, I was intimidated by MLPs [Multi-Love-Poses]. In InWorldz, I am a master of the MLP.”
“InWorldz gets better every year, and from the number and quality of builders joining our world, it’s clear the content in our neck of the woods is second to none.”
“InWorldz is just heaven for creators — so many things are possible because of the prim allowance and the affordability of land. The company is very grounded and down to earth, very communicative with the users, and extremely helpful. The improvements they have made to the usual OpenSim scripting engine, etc. are deeply appreciated. Still in beta, but coming close to coming out of it — physics in beta testing now. For a new person, the mentor program of folks that greet you when you arrive is a welcome change from most grids where you stumble around with no info or have to already know someone there.”
“The team behind InWorldz are organised, thorough and serious. The design and development by Tranq and Jim is second to none. Other grid owners could learn a lot from the way InWorldz operates.”
“InWorldz is probably the best all-round alternative to Second Life at present.”
But there were a couple of negative comments as well:
“Of all the OpenSim-based commercial grids, InWorldz is the most expensive, least stable and offers the fewest features. They try to distance themselves from OpenSim (different script and as yet to be released physics engine) yet frequently blame OpenSim for many of the problems experienced there. They are quick to announce coming features but fail to deliver those features in a timely manner. Physics is an obvious example, the newsletter is another. Originally announced two years ago, then again several months ago, a single issue has yet to be delivered… These will be my last comments for InWorldz as I am spending more of my time now in Kitely.”
“Lack of physics is a big problem. People that have shops have to pay way to much for materials… Impossible to make a business work in InWorldz. Not enough users to buy your goods no matter how well made they are made. And InWorldz is becoming very cliquish.”
“I use Island Oasis to build, create and design new items because it’s a closed grid (3rd party material is secure), because uploads are free (free uploads freed my imagination to try and test ideas in my mind without thinking of how much I have already paid for a work-in-progress product) and I pay only US $15 for 5,000 prims. Having low land costs takes the pressure away to have to produce and sell a lot to get back the invested money for materials and land costs.”
“This is home for me and my partner. It is friendly with lots of lovely people here. No matter where you go, you are welcomed with open arms and lots of hugs.”
“Island Oasis seems to be having a few issues with server downtime lately. I hope they get it sorted out as as the grid is growing, it seems to be more frequent.”
“I am disappointed with the customer service. When contacting staff about sim crashes or some other grid issue, they tell you nothing s wrong with the grid and say it is viewer or some script or some scripted item on your avatar.”
JokaydiaGrid has recently switched hosting providers — it was formerly hosted by ReactionGrid, and has moved to SimHost. This was reflected in the comments:
“I think JokaydiaGrid has rather suffered from being a ReactionGrid-hosted grid and thus unable to autonomously upgrade to new versions of OpenSim in a timely fashion. However, I have maintained my two sims on the grid and will be using them again next year for educational purposes. Support and customer service is good and I am very hopeful that once it has bedded down with its new host we will see a more vibrant community again.”
“Been with Kitely since June of this year. There is a lot that is really good about the grid. The developers are very active, update frequency is satisfying. Response times for customer server are really good. My experience building, terraforming and scripting is pretty good but there are glitches and I can live with them. The pricing is absolutely perfect, especially with the new always-on option. I use the time based, $35 per month subscription myself. I want to see more shopping. There are still very, very few creators selling original content. I would love to be able to buy high quality skins, animations, landscaping, textures, etc. I don’t need freebies, I need good, original content.”
“I really appreciate the Kitely business model. I like the flexibility that Kitely provides, the excellent customer service and the personal connection that I feel with the company. I like the fact that they are constantly seeking to provide the best possible OpenSim technical infrastructure and that they feed back to the OpenSim community.”
“Kitely may not be the biggest commercial OpenSim grid — yet — but I think it is the best. It leads the way in innovation, technology, stability, features, support and it is the least expensive. With Kitely, you get a whole lot more for a whole lot less. The other grids don’t even come close. Who else offers everyone a free region? Who else offers additional regions for a buck a month? Who else offers advanced 16 sim megaregions? Who else offers pay as you go or traditional sim rental options? Who else has an automated sim setup where you can ‘buy’ a sim and have it up and running in less time than it took to type this? I was sold on Kitely on my first day there, after I posted a question on their forum. To my amazement, not only was my question answered quickly but Ilan (one of the founders) came to my sim and spoke to me personally shortly thereafter. Never have I had that sort of prompt and courteous service from any other founder from any of the other grids. The innovative pay-as-you go time-based billing, while it may be foreign to many people, is actually very attractive option and could save a lot of people a lot of money. For others who are more comfortable with the old, traditional unlimited use monthly billing, it’s 40 bucks. That’s about half the price of Kitely’s competitors. I am confident that Kitely will continue to grow as people try it for themselves. It’s refreshingly full featured and stable. Physical plywood boxes even fall to the ground there. That is more than I can say for some of the other higher priced buggy alternatives.”
“Kitely’s support and infrastructure is excellent, showing the commitment and sheer hard work of the grid’s founders. Interesting content and community are made by the users, and this will build up over time. The grid is probably at an early stage here. Hypergrid will help, once it becomes available on Kitely, to maintain links with friends on other grids.”
“Now that Kitely is offering monthly plans, I can see it beginning to grow more. Right now, it consists of a small, dedicated group of residents who rarely see each other. Great stuff going on in isolated areas.”
“Only new to Kitely, but already I have found it quick and easy to resume my building challenges. I am able to use all my favorite viewers in whatever I prefer to build with. All are supported. The support from the team is excellent and any questions are answered quickly. I have had no issues at all, so just enjoy making friends and building to my hearts content.”
“Although Lost Paradise has been in existence for little over a year, it has made great strides in offering the latest in technology to the community. Grid owner Cloneu Inglewood has been instrumental in applying his knowledge of technology to the daily needs of his clientle. This has offered a stable platform for others who share his love of technology to come aboard and share what they have. In one year he has been able to offer hypergrid and a monetary system, which is still being tweaked for the benefit of those who would like to offer their builds and their talents to Lost Paradise. I love it there and am looking forward to the second year.”
“Our server ‘Landlord’ has just created a mega region for our build of 16 regions. It is stable, without annoying sim crossings, making building so much easier. All the residents and hosts in this virtual world are friendly and helpful. If a problem is experienced they go out of their way to help solve it. The ‘techies’ on this grid are continually upgrading and improving, to the benefit of all the residents of Lost Paradise.”
“If ever I experience a problem with Lost Paradise grid, I report same to the grid owner. The grid owner will get to work on the solution immediately. I enjoy my time on Lost Paradise grid more than any other.”
A signed comment:
“The US Army hosts the MOSES to support alternate approaches to simulation based training applications in a cost effective manner. The community consists mainly of military users and civilian education and training professionals. The MOSES enjoys a number of industry and academic partnerships which allows for core technology research activities that have resulted in many open simulator improvements.” — Douglas Maxwell, Director of the MOSES Project
“The Olantica Grid is a beautiful place. With friendly mentors to help you find your way around, making it easy to adjust to being a new comer to this grid. The style of this grid is setup with love and care and it shows. The prices there are competitive with other grids. They offer free shops in the beautiful Village for one year to help boost traffic, great for commerce to grow there.”
“This is a new grid and they have been very supportive. They have a large assortment of free items for newcomers, especially builders.”
“Wonderful content, people and themes. Support is excellent and communication with the grid team is number one.”
Lots of positive comments about OSgrid:
“As OSgrid is a special case and very much DIY. Overall, OSgrid gives me the freedom and control I want at virtually zero cost. The costs that are involved are a lot of brain work and lack of some basic facilities, which I can live with.”
“If you want the epic example of an enormous community that is on the constant edge of release technology, people attached from all over the world, there is no other place like it. It is mind-boggling that it even exists. A grid with tens of thousands of users connected directly to the grid and unknown thousands of hypergrid links all over. Amazing. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
“I appreciate the hard work that the unpaid developers put into keeping OSgrid going, and the improvements and new features which they contribute to OpenSim and the other grids. I urge everyone to contribute a little each month to help pay for the current hardware and any future hardware that will be needed to keep it all going for all.”
“I can not say enough about OSgrid. The people here are wonderful. Everyone shares with everyone. And I would have to say that many many regions are as good or better than the ones I have seen in Second Life.”
“I know my way around, and OSgrid fits my needs nicely. There’s not as much content as I’d like, but that’s a function of being a non-commercial grid and I can live with that. Between the forums, IRC and visiting in-world I’m usually able to get help pretty quickly with any technical problems I have. I like sitting on my own region and then having people available over in LBSA Plaza to chill with when I get bored. It’s a nice, comfortable balance I haven’t found on any other grid (and I’ve been on a few).”
“I’m a long-time resident of OSgrid and currently run two servers and 14 regions. Over the last few years I’ve experienced the growing quality of the grid’s technology and the growth of the community.”
“I’m a semi-refugee from Second Life who has been on OSgrid for a number of years. I still regularly go back to Second Life, mainly for people I know, but I find I can do everything I do in Second Life, in OSgrid with much less hassle and the benefit of being able to take my builds or sims into and out of OSgrid, as well as touring around numerous other grids, via hypergating.”
“I’ve seen well over 10,000 visitors to my region in OSgrid this year. As a 3D Artist and content creator in the OpenSim community, I’m thrilled that OSgrid provides such a superb platform to reach OpenSim users, and thus, it is the best chance to achieve longevity for my products and artworks.”
“OSgrid is the most open and friendly community that I have found. Nice folks, and I have my own sims now.”
“OSgrid continues to live up to it’s reputation as the hub of the hypergrid as well as a great community to be part of and learn from. For new people starting out in the open metaverse, OSgrid is the best grid to connect to and from which to eventually branch out from once they have gained some knowledge of the way OpenSim works in general and the hypergrid works in particular.”
“OSgrid has something better then free upload of files and textures, better then free land and regions, better then free clothing, cars, houses, and other items. It has community, and that is more valuable then anything else.”
“The OSgrid has become the place to be in the virtual worlds. You are free to develop your talents in the midst of some of the most creative and knowledgeable people. I’ve looked at a few others, had sims elsewhere, heard about a lot about a bunch more….wouldn’t trade OSgrid for anything. It’s the only grid I use now.”
And there were a couple of negative comments as well, mostly complaining about the lack of an in-world economy:
“OSgrid’s utter lack of content is caused by its utter lack of economy and a culture that totally disdains any sort of commerce. So long as it is dominated by people who don’t understand that good content is not created purely for the love of creation, it will never be more than a hackers’ playground.”
“Physics in general needs implementation or improvement. I feel that vehicle physics, especially flight and open water boating are of utmost importance, as these spaces are easiest to maneuver in. Sim crossing protocols need great improvement.. even in Second Life they are horrible. Whoever figures that out will be king. On the up note — damn impressive for open source volunteers… good work.”
Check out her author page on Amazon or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Her first virtual world novella, Krim Times, made the Amazon best-seller list in its category. Her second novella, The Lost King of Krim, is out now.