3rd Rock, OpenSim’s second-oldest grid, is shutting down

HG Safari at the JFK Dallas build on 3rd Rock Grid. (Image courtesy HG Safari.)

3rd Rock Grid, the second-oldest grid in OpenSim, will be shutting down soon.

“We have to shut down the grid due to a few circumstances that have technical consequences, making it impossible to further manage the grid,” said 3rd Rock Grid board member Florin Spanachi, who is also known as Eldovar Lamilton in-world.

According to grid residents, the grid had lost a key member of its technical staff when he left suddenly. Then another key member, Kira Tiponi, passed away, leaving the grid without access to a key resource.

3rd Rock Grid is a non-profit, owned by the Netherlands-based Cultural Harbour foundation. According to Hypergrid Business records, it was founded in February of 2008, making it the second-oldest OpenSim grid after OSgrid.

“Technical help is not possible, nor will a fundraiser help,” Spanachi added.

He said that the grid is in contact with its active users to manage the exit as smoothly as possible.

As of this writing, 3rd Rock Grid has 196 active users, making it the 41st-largest by active user count.

It is also reporting a total land area of 872 standard region equivalents making it the 14th-largest grid by land area. It also has 13,615 registered users, making it the grid with the fifth-largest registered user base.

According to 3rd Rock Grid board member Tara Dockery, also known as Thoria Millgrove in-world, saving the grid would require a complete re-build.

“Due to a series of unfortunate events that had technical impact, an inaccessible server, and well over a decade of technical debt in the asset database, we are faced with an unmanageable grid,” she told Hypergrid Business. “There are people investigating ways to move forward and salvage has much as possible, but no firm decisions have been made, other than that we are shutting the existing grid down on May 15.”

OpenSim community dismayed and saddened

The OpenSim community was saddened to hear the news.

Marianna Montenes

“The 3rd Rock Grid holds such special memories for me,” said Marianna Monentes. “I visited as often as possible, and I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of one of its key techs. Please accept my sincere condolences to the grid owners and the entire community.”

Monentes is an in-world jewelry designer.

“I am deeply sorry about what happened to them,” said Andrew Simpson, owner of AnSky Grid.

“It goes without saying that it is always sad to see a grid go, regardless of the reason,” said Ansjela Amat, owner of Ansjelagrid, which, like 3rd Rock, is also based in the Netherlands.

Waterway region on 3rd Rock Grid. (Image courtesy Marianna Monentes.)

“This is sad news,” said Myron Curtis, who said he can make resources available for grid or web hosting. Curtis is the owner of A Dimension Beyond, an OpenSim hosting company, and the founder of Virtual Worlds Grid.

Candy Cane Lane on the Holiday Isle region of 3rd Life Grid. (Image courtesy VisionZ.)

Offers of help

In fact, many grid owners are offering their help.

Terry Ford

One of those grid owners is Terry Ford, the original founder 3rd Rock Grid. Ford now runs DigiWorldz, a commercial grid and OpenSim hosting company, but has continued to provide technical support to 3rd Rock even after leaving.

“I would not like to see 3rd Rock Grid gone as it is a very important part of the OpenSim history,” he said.

3rd Rock was the first grid with a working permissions system and the first grid with a working economy, he said. It has also held a number of great events and fundraisers over the years, including several for Doctors Without Borders.

“There are many current and past members of 3rd Rock Grid, including myself, and some who have now passed away, who put in much effort to ensure it was a great grid to call home,” he said. “I have offered to help in any way I can and have reached out to many of the 3rd Rock Grid members voicing the same.”

Several grid owners suggested that it may be possible to reconstitute the grid by exporting and re-uploading the region files, also known as OARs, of the individual regions. OpenSim also has support for exporting individual user inventories.

Aerial view of Music Village. (Image courtesy 3rd Rock Grid.)

If the grid is not rescued, then residents will have to find new homes.

3rd Rock Grid residents who are able to get copies or their OAR region export files, or their IAR inventory export files, will also have many grids ready to welcome them.

“If any of the residents have the ability to extract their OARs and need a temporary home I am willing to set them up on a temporary basis with a four-by-four region,” said CatGrid owner Mike Cataldo, also known as Michael Timeless in-world. “Most of my residents are older military veterans but we are always willing to help those in need.”

He said that people are welcome to contact him directly at timeless.owltiger@gmail.com.

“While my grid is not as large as 3rd Rock Grid, I have spent time there in the past,” he said.

AvatarLife is also offering free land to 3rd Rock Grid residents.

“If they have OAR files of their lands we can get them to AvatarLife without any cost, as lands in AvatarLife are free,” said Sushant KC, CEO of AvatarLife, who said that he was said to hear that 3rd Rock Grid was closing down.

“I offer my technical support 24-7 if they want to start 3rd Rock Grid again from new servers,” said GBG World CEO Nick Mit, also known as Anytos Atlas in-world, who said he was so sorry to hear the news about 3rd Rock Grid.

GBG World also has free home plots available and is offers discounted region hosting to former 3rd Rock residents, he added.

Museum of Natural History on 3rd Rock Grid. (Image courtesy 3rd Rock Grid.)

“We are really saddened by the shut down of 3rd Rock and are happy to see how we can assist both the 3rd Rock team and any users in anyway we can,” said Paul Clevett, also known as Lone Wolf in-world. He is the director of Wolf Software Systems Ltd., the company that owns OpenSim’s largest and most popular world, Wolf Territories Grid.

He has previously told Hypergrid Business that he’s happy to help other grids with technical issues.

He said that he’s already been approached by some 3rd Rock residents. “We’re keen to help,” he said. “If they rent regions we are going to give them some bonus prims and also keep them together in the same area so they can keep their community.”

As a grid that dates all the way back to the earliest days of OpenSim, though, those technical issues can be significant.

Keeping grids active over many years requires a lot more work than people realize, said Kitely co-founder and CEO Ilan Tochner. “The longer grids are active the more technical expertise is required to overcome all the issues that accumulate over time.”

And the loss is even more devastating to the community when those grids close.

Ilan Tochner

“It’s tragic when grids close and their residents lose their home and all the content they’ve collected in their inventories,” he said. “It’s especially saddening when those grids are ones that have been an important part of the OpenSim ecosystem for as long as 3rd Rock Grid has.”

Kitely, in addition to being one of the biggest commercial grids in OpenSim, also runs the largest online marketplace for OpenSim, the Kitely Market.

Tochner said that for customers who bought content and had it delivered to 3rd Rock Grid, there’s a tool that can help merchants easily re-deliver content to all those customers.

“This Kitely Market feature is designed to enable merchants to easily and reliably help people recover the items they lost when their grid shuts down,” he said.

Update: Several grid owners contacted me after this article posted to express their regrets about 3rd Rock Grid’s closing, and offering help to residents. They include the owners of WaterSplash, Neverworld, and others. In particular, Neverworld owner Govega Sachertorte offered free regions to any group from 3rd Rock with more than five members.

Maria Korolov