Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March 2013: summary

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Marstol Nitely
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Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March 2013: summary

Post by Marstol Nitely »

Attending the meeting:
Anna Adamant
Bladyblue Bommerang
Brian Roberts
Dennis Albion
Ilan Tochner
Marstol Nitely
mat mahogany
Minethere Always
Villain Baroque
Virtualbelfast Ireland (Stiofan)

Ilan started the meeting by talking about the recent roll out of the transfer stations along with some other changes to make the login process easier. They included almost everything originally planned, except the customization, which would have taken too long to implement and caused an unnecessarily long delay in the marketplace development. He wanted to know if anyone at the meeting had any feedback about using the transfer stations. There were no negative reactions and general consensus was that they were working well and doing what they were designed to do.

Ilan reminded people that unless they were entering a world that took a long time to load, they would not spend much time in a transfer station. They exist to simplify the login process and to allow login to offline Kitely worlds directly from the viewer. In a few months they will also be used to enable Kitely to add support for Hypergrid access to offline Kitely worlds. Transfer stations are only used when logging into Kitely and only if the world being entered is offline. The time in the transfer stations is free and does not count toward plan minutes.

Ilan wanted to know if anyone had brought new people in after the changes. He said, “I'd be happy to get feedback from people who had previously encountered problems logging in. If you know of such people please ask them to give Kitely another try and see if they can now login.” He suggested that those who hadn’t seen the blog post about the changes, read it at http://www.kitely.com/virtual-world-new ... -stations/

If people are having difficulty logging in, they should go to the Settings page where they will find a link to all the information they will need along with a link to download a compatible viewer. When logging in via the viewer, the login begins immediately to the desired world if it is online, or to a transfer station if the world is offline. When logging in via the website, the viewer will be started immediately after the Enter World button is pressed. The desired destination will either already be running, or will start while the viewer loads. If it isn’t ready by the time the grid login process is completed, a transfer station will be used to enable the user’s avatar to remain inworld until the world completes its startup process and the avatar can be transported to it.

There was a short discussion about using Firestorm with both Kitely and Second Life and if there were tutorials explaining how to use the viewer in both grids.

The Kitely Plaza is now opened to the public, but not officially. The Plaza is a 4-region Advanced Megaregion that is always on and free to access. It is a community build. The Kitely Plaza world page is located here: http://www.kitely.com/virtual-world/Ila ... tely-Plaza. After arriving at the Plaza look for the box containing the Kitely Plaza HUD (which was designed by Dennis Albion). It works well as a roadmap and transport to all the areas at Kitely Plaza. It will also teleport you back to the plaza if you use it in another world. The welcome dialog points new users to the plaza when they create an account. “We expect people will quickly congregate there so it'll be easier for an in-world community to grow,” said Ilan. He encourages everyone to visit the plaza. It is under construction, but has come a long way.

There is a new Kitely Volunteer group that coordinates Kitely Plaza mentors, greeters and instructors. Bladyblue Bommerang wanted to share the following information concerning the volunteer program, “I just want to add that the mentor/greeter/instructor volunteer program that Anna Adamant and I have volunteered to put together is centered around the activities at Kitely Plaza”.

Sentual built us two headquarters and classrooms that will be run by the mentors and the greeters as a collective. Anyone can put themselves on the instructor list to teach beginner to advanced classes in the two buildings at the plaza.

By next week there should be a schedule available at each building so Kitely Residents can volunteer the time(s) they are available.

“One thing we wish to start focusing on is getting people in-world to help form a community that can help spread the word about Kitely,” said Ilan. Kitely Plaza is a free, always on location that people can hang out in even if they are on the free plan. So it should help when bringing people in-world to see what Kitely is about.

Villian Baroque was curious about Kitely’s statistical data. Specifically user base, average number of in-world users, number of sims… Ilan said that Kitely sends monthly stats to Maria Korolov and they appear in Hypergrid Business: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/statistics/.

“We aim to do a lot more than what we're currently doing,” said Ilan. Minethere Always said that many are watching closely for when the Hypergrid will be enabled. She wondered if there was a timeline. While Ilan said that the transfer stations would help implementation of Hypergrid, he was reluctant to give a date. He did indicate it would probably be much less than six months. Depending on what things will preempt the current Kitely schedule.

For instance, Kitely was working on the transfer stations when they switched to the marketplace, believing it was a higher priority. However after working on the marketplace for awhile, user feedback prompted them to decide to switch back to working on a less ambitious version of the transfer stations. This was done because the old login process was causing login problems for some new users and handling that was higher priority than the marketplace. However, due to the marketplace remaining a higher priority than the complete transfer stations plan, only a limited version of the transfer stations was implemented in order to minimize the delay to the marketplace schedule.

Having rolled out transfer stations, the Kitely team has now turned their attention back to the marketplace merchant control panel. They are considering adding a few more flexibility options, but it is too soon to say. They have the components working and are adding the fine details to provide a well-polished service.

Hypergrid will not be worked on until after the marketplace rollout. The transfer stations were a prerequisite to Hypergrid being enabled. The stations will allow those using Hypergrid to visit a Kitely world that is offline to enter the Kitely grid while that world is loading. Using Hypergrid to access grids outside of Kitely will not require use of a transfer station. Customized transfer stations will be delayed until further notice.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Ilan Tochner »

Thank you for agreeing to write the meeting summary Marstol :-)
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Dot Macchi »

Thanks for the summary, Marstol.

I've heard a bit of feedback about the transfer station.

Technically, it seems to be working well. The viewer firing up as soon as the "Enter World" button is clicked gives a reassurance that "things are happening".

However, one or two people have mentioned to me that the visual appearance of the station might need further consideration sooner rather than later, if that is possible.

For example, perhaps the design of the station could be more in line with the land-in spot on the Kitely Plaza, maybe using a similar typeface, rectangular screen shape and textures. That would help to make the experience of newcomers to Kitely more consistent.

Alternatively, what about using Johnny Night's existing design for a transfer station for the time being (http://www.kitely.com/virtual-world/Joh ... City-Metro)? This would be with the understanding that more designs could be introduced in the future when the next stage of transfer stations are rolled out.

Why do I think this is important? Because, even with all the optimisations to OpenSim made by Kitely (for which, many thanks :) ), more visually complex regions can take longer to load, so that people will spend longer in the transfer station. This suggests that, within the technical constraints, the transfer station needs to be of similar visual quality so as not to put such people off.

I realise it is all a balancing of priorities. An impossible task.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Constance Peregrine »

I am much more excited and looking forward to HG access as soon as it can be done after the market.

Johnny does wonderful work and that looks very nice too.

But a lot of ppl are waiting for HG and incrementally, people-wise, it is going to open up all sorts of possibilities for kitely.

I can bring in most of what I like in my oars to here but having my inventory available from my home of Metropolis Grid would be outstanding, as others will agree-))

besides, she is my favorite avie at this time...lolol
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Ilan Tochner »

Hi Dot,

I love Johnny's station design but there are two problems with using it as the default when no other options are available for world managers to select from:

1) It has an urban theme which makes for a bad gateway to worlds the use other themes.

2) It is built with mesh which is not supported by 100% of our user's viewers. The stations need to work for anyone entering them, at least until there are options for world managers to select from (having a mesh station isn't a problem if you're heading to a world that uses a lot of mesh).

Regarding the stations looking like the Plaza:

1) The Kitely Plaza is an always on world so people heading to it shouldn't be routed via a transfer station unless the plaza is currently being restarted.

2) The stations are designed to be as theme-neutral as possible while keeping them visually pleasant and very low prim (they need to rezz very quickly and the world containing the station needs to be able to hold a great many of them). Once people can select the station theme they can select a station that goes well with the theme of their world but until this is possible the stations need to go with all possible world themes. None of the stations that people have submitted so far can be categorized as theme neutral so we had to create what we have now.

We had delayed working on transfer station because we couldn't afford the time to build the full implementation but we found out that this caused a lot of problems for new users so we had to make a compromise. There are many things people are pushing for. While I completely understand the desire to have customizable stations, that feature is currently less important to most people we've talked to than Kitely having a working marketplace or enabling Hypergrid access. We only have so many working hands and need to prioritize. That means making hard choices and stopping work on transfer stations at this time is one of them.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Dot Macchi »

Thanks, Ilan.

I suspected the mesh in Johnny's build might be an issue.

The reason why I suggested using the Plaza log-in point as a design basis is that it would be theme-neutral and more visually appealing than the current station, which did provoke some quite strong negative comments, I'm afraid.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Ilan Tochner »

Hi Dot,

Can you please be a bit more specific about what bothered people about the current transfer station design. The more details the better.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Dot Macchi »

Kitely is used for a variety of purposes, including business, education, art, design, as well as for "fun".

That is why I think the design of the transfer station needs to be muted, clean, simple, businesslike and generic. Hence the suggestion to use a design similar to the Plaza sign -- a more neutral approach is less likely to jar or clash with the appearance of the world that follows, whatever the world's theme or purpose.
Plaza-sign.jpg
The current station design does not look very businesslike, and is garish and fussy in colour, textures and shapes, resulting in a similar effect to that of a printout from the very early days of desktop publishing. The station's design is often badly out of kilter with the world being loaded, again whatever its theme or purpose.
TransferStation.jpg
Does that help? It can be difficult to explain in words what works in a design and what doesn't.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Ruby O'Degee »

Thank you Dot for saying what I wanted to say only better.

I appreciate consistent and professional aesthetics. The portal experience is the first experience that new users and visitors will see - an experience that all Kitely builders share. Since there is no time to focus on the technical issues of individual portals, and it is not possible to opt out of the initial portal experience, the less "cover" fuss the better.
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Re: Kitely Mentors Group Meeting, 13 March, 2013: summary

Post by Ilan Tochner »

Hi Dot and Ruby,

I understand what you mean by muted, clean, simple and generic but what you consider to be a visually pleasing station (under those definitions) is very different from what other people consider as such. Black and white is very much in vogue in website design, especially for businesses where the focus needs to be drawn to the content and not the layout, but many people find such designs to be boring and unappealing. You want rectangular designs and other people prefer the rounded ones the stations currently use. It's a matter of taste and we can't make everyone happy with any single design (which is why we agree offering choices is very desirable).

That said, the station design wasn't picked at random. Each station needs to be visually interesting enough so that time spent inside it will pass quickly. This helped define the current design:

- 1 bluish texture for the sky bubble reused in 3 semi-transparent dynamic layers to create a vortex effect that creates a lot of variance until it repeats itself. Other colors and patterns we tested seemed a lot less natural. Staring at this moving pattern can reduce the perceived amount of time one waits in the station.

- 1 semi-transparent circular window on the landing point. This, in conjunction with the aforementioned dynamic layers that are visible beneath the window, creates visual variance that decreases the subjective perceived amount of waiting time.

- 1 white colored pattern on the floor that takes some time to visually process. A less complex patten resulted in quicker boredom during repeated entries. There may be better patterns we can use, but that's the best one we could fine.

- 1 black marble texture and 1 brownish orange marble texture for the decorative parts of the station. Marble was used because it has patterns that stimulate the eye and reduce boredom. They also conveyed a more serious feeling to the place than using bricks, wood, or metal.

- 1 white background texture for the transfer station notice. White was chosen in order to make it stand out from the rest of the station and force the eye to focus on it even if it's only visible for a few seconds before the user teleports to his or her desired destination.

The circular design was selected as it is more soothing to the eye than rectangular designs which caused the limited space to seem a lot more claustrophobic.

Please remember the stations don't need to be just natural they need to reduce the perceived waiting time. We want to eventually add some updating info to the stations, but lacking time to implement that we are left to rely on the stations design itself to achieve that goal. Doing so with less than 300 prims and very few high resolution textures (so they'll rezz quickly but look sharp and professional when the bored user cams around) is a lot harder than designing a station that is very muted and businesslike but quickly boring.

We are very short on development resources and can't continue pushing back must have features for nice to have improvements. That said, if you think you can achieve our psychological goals with a better station design I'll be happy to evaluate your completed station. If we agree that it achieves those goals and, after we put it to a vote, a majority of at least 30 active Kitely users agree it is a significant improvement over what we have now then I'll allocate the 6-8 work hours it will take us to update the transfer stations world to use that design (until we implement customizable stations this will require a lot of manual labor and QA for us to do).
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