Grid activity down slightly in January

This year begins with an anniversary celebration on Dorena’s World,  rapid growth on the newly-opened Great Canadian Grid, and a positive reaction to pricing changes on Kitely.

The top 40 OpenSim grids by land area reported 31,136 total regions this month, a new record high. The total number of registered users jumped by 6,377 to another record high — 330,398. However, active user numbers dropped by 247, to 18,368. This could be due to users taking time off for the holidays, or schools shutting down their grids for winter breaks.

Jan 2014 Top 40 region counts

The biggest gainer was the non-profit OSgrid, with 477 new regions, followed by Kitely with 406 new regions, and Metropolis with 101.

There were 248 public grids active at least some of the time over the past month, 211 of which reported statistics. There were a total of 33,380 regions, 346,468 registered users and 20,273 active users on those 211 grids.This count does not include private grids, such as grids run behind school firewalls, or grids set up to run large corporate simulations, or the more than 2,001 mini-grids running on personal New World Studio installations.

There are now over 7,000 more regions on the public OpenSim grids than in Second Life.

OpenSim has an edge over Second Life when it comes to land because individuals can set up regions for free, or rent regions from a number of vendors competing on both price and service at about a tenth the price of similar Second Life regions.

However, active OpenSim user numbers on the public grids are a tiny fraction of Second Life’s active user base.

Popularity

For company and school grids, relative popularity is not an issue — the grids are set up for a specific purpose, and if they meet that purpose, then they are successful. The same is true for grids run by niche communities or that serve a special need not met elsewhere.

But when it comes to general-purpose social grids, the rule of thumb is: the bigger and busier, the better. People looking to make new friends look for grids that already have the most users. Merchants looking to sell content will go to the grids with the most potential customers. Event organizers looking for the biggest audience… you get the idea.

With that in mind, here are the 10 most popular grids this month:

There wasn’t much change on the popularity list this month. Kitely fell a spot as a result of losing 119 active users either due to pricing changes or seasonal variation. 3rd Rock Grid also fell a spot, as  a result of losing 67 active users. German Grid completely fell off the top ten most active list, as a result of losing 19 active users even as Logicamp picked up 10 new ones.

The single biggest change in active users was on InWorldz, which lost 287 but this change was small compared to the grid’s total user base. InWorldz also gained 1,803 new registered users, more than twice as many new registrations as its closest competitor, Avination, which gained 740 new registered users. Kitely saw 641 new registrations, OSgrid saw 574 new registrations, and Metropolis reported 169.

Overall, there was a net loss of 247 active users on the top 40 grids, possibly due to seasonal effects. People may be spending more time with their families, and school grids may be scaling back their activities.

News from around the grids

We have a major new grid launch, an anniversary celebration, and lots of music event announcements.

Great Canadian Grid filling up fast

The Great Canadian Grid launched just around two weeks ago, at the end of 2013, and since then more than 1,600 people have visited the website, and 70 people have become official residents.

And more than 18,000 content items have been donated to get the grid started, grid owner Roddie Macchi told Hypergrid Business.

“Tons of Canadians — knowing that our grid is the first of its kind — have been sending us fully licensed free content of their own creations in  for us to put out on our Great Canadian Grid to help us,” he said.

And Frozen North, the owner and creator of Yukon Homes, has joined the grid to provide handcrafted virtual log homes for grid residents. Speaking of homes, the grid is also giving away free 600-prim homestead parcels, and the lots are going fast, said Macchi.

Check out the grid by teleporting in via the hypergrid to 162.220.166.151:9000. 

The hypergrid connectivity won’t stay up for long, Macchi added, as the grid expands. Meanwhile, discounts are available for large businesses looking to expand to the grid.

The nude beach on the Great Canadian Grid. Brrr. (Image courtesy Great Canadian Grid.)
The nude beach on the Great Canadian Grid. Brrr. (Image courtesy Great Canadian Grid.)

Dorena’s World marks anniversary with music, race, hypergrid tour

The German-language Dorena’s World turns four years old this month, and you can read all about the events planned on the grid here.

“We are proud to say that over the years we have grown a small but active community of residents, whose personal relations often exceed the range of mere virtual connection,” grid owner Dorena Verde told Hypergrid Business.  “We thank our residents for four years of true companionship. We had lots of fun together and hope for many more years with all of you!”

The celebration starts out on Friday, January 17 with an evening of Irish music and beer on the grid’s oldest pub, Gulliver’s Pub, on the Anachronia region. Metaverse residents can teleport in via hypergrid to dorenas-world.de:8002:Anachronia.

The festivities continue with a downhill race on the Landing region at dorenas-world.de:8002:Landing where participants are allowed to use any vehicle they wish.

On Sunday, OpenSim Creations founder Vanish Seriath will present the “OpenSim Hypergrid Tour 2014,” also on the Landing region.

(Image courtesy Dorena's World.)
(Image courtesy Dorena’s World.)

OpenSim ‘well received’ at the Pentagon

Douglas Maxwell, founder of the MOSES grid and science and technology manager for virtual world strategic applications at the U.S. Army Research Lab, was called to the Pentagon this past month to provide an overview of OpenSim and the MOSES grid.

“The briefing was well received and we were commended for our efforts,” he told Hypergrid Business.

The group also conducted a training experiment in which one group of soldiers heard a traditional classroom presentation and another got their training inside a virtual world.

“They were then put in a live training environment and their performance evaluated to see if there was any difference in their ability to complete the mission they were trained for,” he said.

The results of this test will be coming soon, he added.

The Defense Department's MOSES grid. (Image courtesy MOSES.)
The Defense Department’s MOSES grid. (Image courtesy MOSES.)

Metropolis has big plans for 2014

The Metropolis grid plans to release a new update to its website by the end of this month, which will include new region management tools such as saving and uploading OAR region backup files and IAR inventory backup files.

One unique feature — the ability to “isolate” a region by reserving all the empty spots surrounding it, so that nobody else can place their region next door.

“At the moment it is about 20 percent ready to use,” grid founder Lena Vanilli told Hypergrid Business.

ava-1
New region management tools on the Metropolis grid. (Image courtesy Metropolis.)

The grid will also move forward with its plans for the Metro Parliament, an experiment in grid democracy.

“In 2013, we were able to hold the first session,” Vanilli said in a report posted on the grid website. Now, the parliamentary procedures have been drafted and are expected to be finalized by the end of the first quarter. “Then democracy can find its way into the Metro,” Vanilli said.

In other plans, the grid will be carrying out “far-reaching changes” in grid assets, communications, and hypergrid connectivity.

“The keyword here is: decentralization,” she said.

Metropolis will also release its own version of the OpenSim software, designed to allow users to easily and quickly connect regions to the Metropolis grid or to set up their own standalone mini-grids. The first release of this tool will be available before the end of June, she said.

Metropolis will also be hosting the Summer of Arts, a biannual event to which the grid will be contributing three regions. Preparatory work begins in April.

Summer of Arts on Metropolis in 2012. (Image courtesy Metropolis.)
Summer of Arts on Metropolis in 2012. (Image courtesy Metropolis.)

Kitely donates 32 patches and bug fixes

The cloud-based Kitely grid has donated 32 patches and bug fixes since the start of the year, Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

These patches mostly deal “with permissions and object persistence to make sure that content creators will be able to reliably sell content in OpenSim,” he said.

Kitely is getting ready to roll out multi-grid content delivery from Kitely Market, which will be followed by full hypergrid connectivity.

Littlefield opens art gallery

On Thursday — tomorrow, January 16 — the BioLabs region of Littlefield grid will be hosting the grand opening of the Littlefield Art Gallery.

This is a joint venture between the grid and BioTech Labs, grid owner Walter Balazic told Hypergrid Business.

“Artist presentation from around the grid and around the hypergrid are welcome,” he said. The region is accessible via hypergrid teleport to lfgrid.com:8002:BioLabs.

Then, on Saturday, January 25, the grid will be celebrating Australia Day with a dance at the Speakeasy Dance Club, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Pacific. Teleport to lfgrid.com:8002:speakeasy.

Spellscape grid launches marketplace

The magic-themed Spellscape grid has just launched an online market , currently in public beta testing.

“We now have a marketplace system with direct delivery to users inworld inventory,” grid manager Xander Bing told Hypergrid Business. “We are still working on some minor features at this time. All the main functions such as taking items from a merchants inventory and delivery to customers are working well. The items listed at this time are mainly Linda Kellie freebies but as we continue to build the grid and develop our game module we will be adding our own items and hope that our users will start listing their own creations as well.”

(Image courtesy Spellscape.)
(Image courtesy Spellscape.)

Avatar Sex Grid opens hypergrid visitor areas

The folks behind the Avatar Sex Grid are ready for the public again after some technical difficulties — and have opened six of its 21 regions to hypergrid visitors, to make it easier for everyone to get a sense of the grid.

The rest of the grid, however, is only accessible to premium members, who have local accounts and pay a membership fee to be part of the grid.

“We still have work to do with the website and such but we think and hope the grid is now more or less finished,” grid founder Gennifer Eros told Hypergrid Business.

Avatar Sex Grid -- ASG Home
ASG Home, the welcome area of Avatar Sex Grid, can be reached via hypergrid teleport.

3rd Rock Grid announces land sale

The closed commercial 3rd Rock Grid is holding a “two for one” land sale during the months of February and March, with no setup fees and a bonus of GO$500 in local currency for each customer.

Customers who pay for three months in advance will get a GO$1,000 bonus, and those who pay for twelve months up front will get the 13th month free.

The grid has also changed its pricing structure a bit, with mainland regions less expensive to encourage development, said Butch Arnold, who was just named general manager and technical lead for the grid. Grid owner Jim St. Clair — also known as Lazuli Pooraka in-world — is now responsible for customer relations, including overseeing community events and handling customer service issues.

The grid has recently upgraded to OpenSim 0.7.6, the latest stable release, and has rolled out the new Bullet physics engine and the Warp3D map module.

“We have also added the ability for our users to download copies of their regions in an OAR format and we have made several upgrades to our platform including load balancing which will present our users with a much smoother and more stable experience,” Arnold told Hypergrid Business.

The OAR are exports are filtered based on permissions, he added.

“If an item does not allow copy and transfer to the owner, it is simply not included in the OAR file,” he said.

The grid is also looking for help, both in-world and technical. Those interested should contact Arnold at [email protected].

“The upcoming months will bring many new and exciting changes to our feature lineup so stay tuned,” he said.

Virtual Highway gets ready for romance

The winter holidays are barely over, but Virtual Highway is already breaking ground on it’s Valentine’s Day-themed Festival Park project.

The grid is also welcoming new performers and DJs to the grid, including Welsh singer-songwriter Lyn Carlberg, known as “Mr. Romance of Second Life.”

“He likes to sing traditional Irish and Welse love songs and has a collection of original songs of his own,” said Virtual Highway grid founder Gene Call. He also performs bluesy and romantic covers of Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison and other soft-rock and folk classics.

Another new arrival is Dial Halostar, billed as “the Scintillating Songstress of Torch, Blues and Jazz.”

Call also mentioned that visitors should stop by The Garage, an adult venue located on the Woodstock1 region. On most Monday nights, DJ Justme Troncon will go from one one-liner to another while he and his friends play old rock, blues and jazz.  This past Monday, the venue hosted DJ Wolfette’s Gender Bender Ball.

Master Kaj  Qinan  at the Garage on the Virtual Highway grid. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)
Master Kaj Qinan at the Garage on the Virtual Highway grid. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)

Possibly as a result of its packed activities and events calendar, the grid has doubled in size over the course of the past year. Land area more than doubled from 123 to 260 regions, registered users also more than doubled from 808 to 1977, and finally active users also more than doubled, from 119 a month to 256.

Now, the grid is preparing for more growth, Call told Hypergrid Business.

“We are busy reviewing our customer service processes to ensure we can meet our goals of providing excellent service to all of our residents both new and long standing,” he said. “We are also expanding the staff team and have recently been lucky enough to recruit several new team members to key roles. Interest is growing in the recently re-launched Virtual Highway forum and several enhancements have already been added to the Virtual Highway website in 2014, with more improvements planned during the months ahead.”

Virtual Highway grid headquarters. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)
Virtual Highway grid headquarters. (Image courtesy Virtual Highway.)

SpotOn3D shows no signs of life

SpotOn3D, once a significant commercial grid, has shown no signs of life for the past two months, and we’re now considering it closed.

There has been no grid-related activity on its Facebook page, Twitter feed, or official blog and its loginURI has been dead.

As of publication date, there’s been no response to emails or telephone messages asking for information.

Transitions

We’re listing 20 grids as suspended this month because we haven’t been able to get to their grid info pages or websites this month, including: Adrianopolis, Aspire Eternals, Athabasca University, Aycerus , Bess Research, Black Africa, Campus MINT, ChatCafe3D, Concadia, Dankoville, Esoteric Island, Fantasygrid, HomeTown, KTU Uzem, Nilsen, Pegasus, Tamerlane Grid, TaylorWorld, Virtual Earth Grid, and Worlds End.

Meanwhile, we’ve added several new grids to our database, including Digilands21423D Greek Educational AreaTellusNuevoMundoSecrets of Nuub, ZiggyZoo, and the Great Canadian Grid.

If there’s a public grid we’re not tracking, please email us at [email protected]. There’s no centralized way to find OpenSim grids, so if you don’t tell us about it, and Google doesn’t alert us, we won’t know about it.

The stats page for the standard OpenSimulator distribution reported 3,132 new downloads this month, for a total of more than 18,630 downloads of OpenSim from the official website since this time last year by our count. Interpolating based on trends from other distribution, the Hypergrid Business estimate of OpenSim downloads from the official website is a little bit over 112,000.

The stats page for the Diva Distro, a user-friendly distribution of OpenSim, reported 482 downloads this month, for a grand total of over 28,000 downloads since the distribution was first released in May of 2011.

Sim-on-a-Stick, a packaged version of the Diva Distro, was downloaded 868 times this month, for over 26,000 downloads total since the distribution was first released in May 2011.

The New World Studio, which allows people to set up private grids in just a few clicks with a fully automated installer, recently began publishing its usage statistics. As of today, it reports 17,590  regions on 2,001 different active grids running on this distribution of OpenSim. That’s an increase of 8,405 new regions, and 8,405 new grids.

Adding in the three other major distributions of OpenSim, we estimate that the OpenSim server software has been downloaded more than 175,000 times since the start of 2010.

Meanwhile, according to data from The Hypergates, the number of hypergate jumps on their network this month dropped by 3, to 3,294. The system now has 773 registered hypergates, up by 21 compared to month, on 65 different grids.

This data is very limited, however. For example, not all hypergates are part of The Hypergates network — anyone can create their own hypergate by dropping a script on any object, such as our touch or walk-through single-destination hypergate script. In addition, many people do hypergrid jumps without using any gate at all, simply by typing a hypergrid address into Map-Search, or by using a hypergrid landmark created during a previous jump. There is currently no way of tracking that traffic.

Comparison of OpenSim and Second Life region counts, with growth projections.
Comparison of OpenSim and Second Life region counts, with growth projections. The top purple line is the sum total of regions on OpenSim and Second Life.

Meanwhile, Second Life continued to lose land, according to data from GridSurvey, with 105 fewer regions today than the same time last month. The Second Life grid now has 26,213 regions total, down 1,736  regions from this time last year, and 5,672 fewer regions than its peak in June of 2010. According to GridSurvey, the last time the grid was this small was in May of 2009.

January Region Counts on the Top 40 Grids

The list below is a small subset of existing OpenSim grids. We are now tracking a total of 783 different publicly-accessible grids, 248 of which were active this month, and 211 of which published their statistics.

Many school, company or personal grids do not publish their numbers.

The raw data for this month’s report is here. A list of all active grids is here.

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is a science fiction writer who covers cybersecurity, AI and extended reality as a tech journalist at her day job.
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.