Category Archives: Other Worlds

Kitely launches hypergrid market and a new logo

kitely-logoIn August 2013, I covered the opening of the Kitely Marketplace, having previously reported on its development in January 2013 when it was first announce, and again in May 2013, when it opened to merchants.

In developing the Marketplace, the Kitely team of Ilan Tochner and Oren Horvitz always had the goal of making it possible for merchants to not only sell into Kitely itself, but also into other hypergrid-enabled grids, using a special Export permission flag which can be set by merchants. At the start of March 2014, they took a major step towards this with the opening of the Market Hypergrid Delivery Beta Test.

On March 21st, Kitely announced that the Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery is now open to all.

The blog post provides guidelines and instructions on using Kitely Market to purchase  goods from the Kitely Market for delivery to hypergrid-enabled destinations, and I don’t propose to repeat things here. By default, the Market offers delivery to the top five (by use) hypergrid capable grids of Craft, GermanGrid, Littlefield, Metropolis, and OSgrid, and more are promised should they prove popular among purchasers. I also understand that delivery to other grids supporting hyerpgrid can be manually configured using the Market’s built-in Grid Manager – all that is needed is the grid’s loginURI.

Customers browsing the Kitely Market can now opt to have goods delivered to other hypergrid-enabled destinations – providing the creator has set the Export permissions flag (thus preventing goods from moving between grids against the creator’s wishes) – image courtesy of Kitely Market, click for full size

Items specifically set for delivery to other grids by their creator can be located using the Export option on the Permissions search filter (lower left corner of the each Market page).

Alongside of the hypergrid delivery capability, Kitely have enhanced their merchant tools to assist with the new capability, as the blog post explains:

We’ve made it easy for merchants to test that their products work correctly in other grids. It has always been possible to use the “Test delivery” link in the Edit Product page in order to deliver the product to the merchant’s avatar in Kitely. This feature has now been extended to deliver to other grids as well. The way this works is that you go to the Shopping Cart page, and select a grid and an avatar. You don’t actually have to buy anything; just enter that information. Then return to the Edit Product page, and click “Test delivery”. The product will be delivered to the “foreign” avatar that was selected in the Shopping Cart instead of to your Kitely avatar.

Another feature for merchants is that in the Sales History, merchants can see which grid each sale was delivered to, because foreign avatars appear along with their grid: e.g., “Jane Vespa @ OSGrid”.

Also, sales reports themselves can now be downloaded as a CSV file, providing improved historical context for merchants as they track sales long-term.

Additional hypergrid-enabled grids can be added via the Market’s Grid Manager

Implementing hypergrid delivery in the Kitely Market is innovative and interesting. Many creators in walled garden grids avoid OpenSim out of fear of content ripping – not that content ripping isn’t a problem in walled garden grids, either. Some OpenSim grids (like Kitely) proactively take steps to reduce the risk inherent in “easy” content ripping (such as by limiting OAR exports to those items created by the exporter themselves). Even so, the fear is there, so it will be interesting to see how many take advantage of the opportunity to sell into multiple environments from a single point. Certainly, the option has been seen as attractive enough to well-known SL creator Lilith Heart of Heart Botanicals fame, who has already opened a store on Kitely Market.

It will also be interesting to see how this new capability within Kitely Market affects the overall OpenSim economy. On the positive side, it means that merchants wishing to extend their reach into new markets (grids) can do so from a single, powerful point, and Kitely’s own pricing structure makes it fairly competitive for them to do so, including the use of the free access Kitely Merchant Sandbox, if required. Through it, merchants can reach multiple channels and also have a good degree of control over where and how their products are used (with some obvious caveats). For those used to only dealing with one market – such as SL – this could open the door to building channels to markets outside of the walled garden environments, such as those grids with a specific focus  / purpose, such as education or business.

The downside to this is the it might make it that much harder for smaller grids to attract content creators directly, and thus users – who tend to look for the content first. Grids may well also lose out on opportunities to lease virtual land to merchants, as they’ll potentially have little need for in-world stores. However, it’s fair to say that Kitely Market could actually help grids attract users: if it is seen that a grid actively embraces the Kitely Market and its growing numbers of merchants, then the could leverage that fact in attracting new users, as the lack of visible in-world merchants is negated by the ability for merchants to reach the grid via the Kitely Market, particularly if said grids also take steps to ring-fence what can be exported via the likes of OAR files.

New Logo and OpenSim Core Group Invitation

Oren Hurvitz

Alongside the Hypergrid Delivery launch, Kitely unveiled their new logo (seen in thumbnail at the top left of this article), and have included a few notes on making it easier for people to get started on Kitely included the blog post.

And in a modest footnote to the piece, Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder, reveals that he has been invited to join the OpenSim Core Group of developers. The invitation is in recognition of Oren’s ongoing contributions to OpenSim on behalf of Kitely, and is very well deserved; my congratulations to him.

EVE Online garners widespread coverage with epic battle

The battle of B-R5RB, EVE Online

The battle of B-R5RB, EVE Online

The media is all a-quiver at the news about a titanic battle which has taken place entirely within the virtual, but which has an estimated real-world financial impact (so far) of around £181,000 ($300,000).

The battle has taken place in EVE Online, the massively multiplayer online game set in space and encompassing hundreds of star systems, peoples and alliances, with players taking-on a range of roles including mining, piracy, manufacturing, trading, exploration, and combat (both player versus environment and player versus player).

It is with the latter that EVE Online has hit the headlines, following an epic struggle between several thousand Eve Online players from around the world which has witnessed the destruction of 75 of the game’s Titans. Those familiar with Titans know they are the biggest spacecraft in the game, each ten kilometres (6.25 miles) or more in length. They take weeks to construct and can cost around an average of £2,400 ($4,000) a pop in real money, depending upon exchange rates between real-world currencies and ISKs, Eve Online’s internal currency. To give some idea of the scale of the conflict, the previous record for destroyed Titans was 12.

The battle rages

The battle rages

Conflicts are not new to EVE Online and its 10-year history. They can be of varying sizes and triggered by a range of events. This particular one has its roots in a series of skirmishes and exchanges between rival alliances stretching back to October 2013, and which have been dubbed Halloween War. Just last week it saw the RUS Alliance gain something of a bloody nose from opposing forces in a further confrontation between forces.

But on January 27th, 2014, when the Nulli Secunda Alliance forgot a payment on a strategic space station in the otherwise unassuming B-R5RB system, things escalated rapidly as opposing sides sought to gain control of the system. In all, four major alliances werre involved, pairing off against one another: the Nulli Secunda and Pandemic Legion on one side and the CFC and RUS on the other, with neither side willing to back down, committing more and more forces into the battle in the space of some 12 hours. In the end, the outcome was only decided as America awoke as dawn broke across the Atlantic, and the CFC was able to secure reinforcements from its American members.

According to EVE Online developer, CCP, the overall cost is still being counted, and is expected to rise much higher than $300,000 – not in terms of actual costs from the battle, but in terms of the overall investment players have made in the game and in building things like the ships. The battle was so massive that EVE’s servers struggled with the load – but while they “sweated”,  with a few tweaks to the system – they stood up.


A portion of the battle filmed by a neutral observer

This is an incredible advert for a massively multiplayer online game; a scenario wherein several thousand players from across the globe have been able to come together and join-in, in real-time, an event of enormous proportions.  As Harvey Crabsticks points out, you have to admire the dept of participation on the part of the players. It’s a remarkable feat – and by no means the first; just the biggest so far. One which has ignited (or possibly re-ignited?) media interest in a platform as old as Second Life.

Makes you wonder what it would take for the media to respond to SL in the same way…

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Cloud Party team joins Yahoo! Platform to close in February

logo-CP

Update: Botgirl Questi pointed me to this coverage of the Yahoo! buy-out of Cloud Party, which includes a statement from Yahoo! on the acquisition.

It’s been the darling for some, and has come a long way in a short period of time. However, it now appears is if things are to draw to a close at Cloud Party, as spotted by Phadrus on the SLU forums.

After a year which has seen some rapid development, particularly in the latter half of 2013, with features and options being added nigh-on weekly – such as Oculus Rift support, and e-mail updates hitting users’ in boxes as a matter of routine, the company has today announced a major change of direction via a new blog post from Cloud Party’s CEO, Sam Thompson.

The blog post reads in full:

We’re excited to announce that the time has come for the Cloud Party team to start our next adventure. We are joining Yahoo! The last two years have been an incredible experience for everyone here. We’ve been continually amazed by your creativity and the worlds you’ve built and shared with us.

Cloud Party will continue to run until February 21, 2014. We want to support our community during this transition. In the interest of preserving your extraordinary Cloud Party creations, we’ve added export tools and written this guide to help you export your content. If you have any questions, please contact us at support@cloudpartyinc.com.

We are privileged to have had so many wonderful users share ideas and creations. We are excited to bring our vision and experience to a team that is as passionate about games as we are. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with us, and we hope you stick around for what’s next!

Claudia222 Jewell is one of a number of well-known virtual world artists who has been involved with Cloud Party

Claudia222 Jewell is one of a number of well-known virtual world artists who has been involved with Cloud Party

While “closing” isn’t specifically mentioned in the post, an end-date for the service is clearly given – February 21st. This tends to indicate that this is more than a matter of Cloud Party simply transitioning to a new owner following acquisition, and that the platform is indeed going away. This begs the question as to what Sam and his team will be doing at Yahoo!, and will the experiences they’ve gained through running Cloud Party be part of whatever plans their new employers have?

Given that this is Yahoo!, who haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with either the acquisition of Flickr or the overhaul of their own Yahoo! Groups, will anyone from the “old” Cloud Party be sufficiently motivated to sign-up to whatever does follow?

While it perhaps never attracted the volume of users it might, Cloud Party offered some intriguing concepts, many of which did attract a fair few content creators from the likes of Second Life, particularly given the ease with which mesh creations could be designed and imported into the platform.

So far, there has been no visible response to the announcement on the Cloud Party forums, although the word is spreading.

Hi Fidelity put out call for alpha testers

HF-logoI’ve been keeping a sort-of eye on news concerning Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity from something of a distance, occasionally checking the website and seeing what is going on. However, as a lot of it goes somewhat over my head, I tend not to report on it, preferring to wait as see to what actually starts to emerge in the future.

Nevertheless, Ciaran Laval poked me earlier in the moth that some interesting news might be coming out of the company, and so I’ve been watching various feeds to see what does. As a result, I caught Hamlet Au bringing the news, courtesy of “Epona666″, that High Fidelity have put out a call for alpha testers.

High fidelity: seeking alpha testers

High fidelity: seeking alpha testers – click to follow

Hamlet refers to the company as looking for “creative builders” for the Alpha testing. However, the sign-up form is scant on specifics, and leans more towards the hardware and operating systems applicants have at their disposal, rather than on specific skill sets of any description. There also doesn’t appear to be ant blog post associated with the announcement, so it is a little hard to discover further information relating to the call.

The application form: hardware and OS-focused

The application form: hardware and OS-focused

This request is somewhat easier than the company’s last, as reported by Ciaran Laval at the time. In December, the company invited those wishing to work for / with them on code aspects of the platform to build the High Fidelity user interface from source code and then log-in to the system to get the company’s attention, and then attempt to tackle one of the current tasks the company has listed on Worklist.

The company's last call for assistance took the form of a challenge to those interested

The company’s last call for assistance took the form of a challenge to those interested

For those interested in signing-up for this alpha testing can do so by following the link from the High Fidelity home page, or by following this link (or click the banner ad towards the top of this article) to the application form itself.

Hamlet also points to a new subReddit where High Fidelity can be discussed by those interested in the project.

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