Events System and Other Improvements

We updated the system today with a feature that makes Events in Kitely much easier to find and attend. This update also includes several other bug fixes and improvements.

Events

Events are a great way to meet other people and have a good time. In this update we’ve made it much easier to see the list of active and upcoming events. The list of events in Kitely is now shown in the viewer’s login page:

Events List

Click on an event to see its details. Then, click on the event’s location to enter the world where the event is taking place.

Event Details

The Kitely Events Calendar is maintained by the Kitely community. If you’d like to add your own events to the calendar then see How to Add Events.

New Design for the Viewer Login Page

We redesigned the viewer’s login page in order to make more information visible, while taking up less screen space. We heard from our users that the previous design (where the panels appeared one below the other) was too tall, so some users didn’t see the lower panels because they appeared below the bottom of their monitor.

Therefore, we’ve changed the design. The four main panels now appear in a 2×2 square. Each panel only shows part of its information. To see the full panel, simply move the mouse into the panel: it will immediately expand to show more information.

Viewer Login Page - 2x2

By the way, you can view this page from a regular browser if you want (not just from a viewer). The URL is: http://www.kitely.com/viewer_login.

Email Notifications for Group Notices

Kitely has an option to send emails when a user receives IMs or Group Notices while offline. In today’s update, we’ve split this option into two parts:

  • Send me an email if I receive an Instant Message from a person while offline  (Default: on)
  • Send me an email if I receive a Notice from one of my groups while offline (Default: off)

Offline IM Settings

The reason for this change is that some users want to receive email notifications only when someone sends them an IM, but not when one of their groups sends a Notice, because Notices aren’t directed personally at them.

We’ve made the new option (send email on Notice) set to Off by default. So if you do want to receive emails on Group Notices then go to your Settings page and turn this option on.

Other Improvements

We fixed a bug that sometimes caused IM’s to stop working after a user teleported to another world.

In a previous update we added the ability to redirect a Kitely Market order from a Kitely avatar to a Hypergrid avatar. We’ve now improved this feature so that even if the order contained some No-Export items (which can never be delivered to a Hypergrid avatar), we’ll still redeliver all of the Exportable items that are in the order, instead of refusing to redeliver anything.

Some products in Kitely Market have demo versions. We don’t allow sending Demos to Hypergrid avatars; they can only be sent to Kitely avatars. Previously, if you had selected a Hypergrid avatar then we silently ignored your choice and sent the items to your Kitely avatar instead. But this wasn’t clear: people were left wondering why the Demo items weren’t delivered to their Hypergrid avatar’s inventory. So now we show an error message if you attempt to deliver Demo items to a Hypergrid avatar.

Try Demo

We created a server-side workaround for a viewer bug that causes viewers to fail to load the avatar’s inventory when some of the inventory items contain unusual characters in their name or description.

We fixed a rare problem in Kitely Market Analytics that could cause some Views and Impressions to be double-counted.

We updated the version of the Facebook API that we use to version 2.6. This shouldn’t have any visible effect, but if you have a Facebook-connected Kitely account and do notice a problem then please let us know.

Improved Viewer Login Page

We updated our system today with an all-new Viewer Login Page. We also added a way to report Kitely Market products if they violate the Terms of Service.

New Viewer Login Page

The Viewer Login Page is the page that appears in viewers (Firestorm, etc.) when the Kitely grid has been selected, before you press the “Log In” button. Until today, this page just displayed a screenshot of the Kitely Welcome Center. But now it shows constantly-updating information that is useful to people visiting the Kitely grid.

Viewer Login Page

The Grid Info table shows the number of users, worlds and regions in the Kitely grid. It also shows how these numbers have changed in the last 24 hours, and in the last 30 days.

The Destinations panel includes several publicly-accessible worlds that may be currently interesting to visit (because they are popular or currently have other people inside them). You can click on a world to select it as the destination. Then, press the “Log In” button to enter that world.

The New in Kitely Market panel shows some of the newest products that have been added to Kitely Market.

The New Forum Posts panel shows some forum threads that have recently had new posts added to them.

The bottom of the page contains several useful links.

The grid statistics in this page are updated once per hour and the rest of the information is updated every five minutes.

Report Kitely Market Products

Sometimes, products that have been added to Kitely Market might not follow all of the market’s rules. E.g., the products might have the wrong Maturity Rating, or they don’t use Variations correctly. In such cases, users can now report these problems to us by clicking the Report product link in the product page:

Report Product

We’ll investigate these reports and take appropriate action if necessary. In most cases we’ll just contact the merchant and ask him or her to fix whatever needs to be changed. But in more serious cases (e.g., copyright infringement) we may suspend the product, which means that it will no longer be visible in Kitely Market.

Resend Items to Other Avatars

When you purchase items in Kitely Market, you can choose which avatar will get these items using the Deliver To setting in the shopping cart. Unfortunately, sometimes people mistakenly deliver their purchases to the wrong avatar. We’ve repeatedly tweaked how the Deliver To setting works in order to try and minimize these mistakes, but occasionally people still forget to change this setting. When this happens they often approach us about their mistake and ask us to redeliver the items to the avatar that they had intended to buy them for.

Until today, our only recourse was to refund their purchase, instruct them how to properly configure the Deliver To setting for their desired avatar, and then hope that they’ll reorder the items with the correct configuration. However, as this process can be cumbersome, sometimes people didn’t reorder after they’ve received the refund, so they ended up without the items that they wanted, and the merchant lost out on a sale. Therefore, we’ve added a feature that allows us to fix these problems by redelivering the items directly to the desired avatar, without refunding the original transaction or requiring the buyer to reorder. This streamlined process makes fixing these problems quick and easy.

Other Improvements

When you search Kitely Market, we make sure to show you only products that match your account’s Maturity Rating. E.g., for a user whose maturity rating is set to “Moderate”, we show only products with a maturity rating of “General” or “Moderate”, but not products whose maturity rating is “Adult”. In addition, users can choose a maturity filter in their Kitely Market search. For example, a user with an account maturity rating of “Moderate” might select to search only for products whose maturity rating is “General”. In that case, we only show “General” products.

However, until now this filter didn’t apply to the ads that we show at the top of Kitely Market searches. So in the example above, the user could still see ads for products with a maturity rating of “Moderate”. But starting today, we also limit the ads to the maturity rating that was selected in the search filter.

And finally, we’ve updated the default viewer that we offer to new users to Firestorm 4.7.7.

Kitely Market Revenue Splitting

We added a new feature to Kitely Market today: Revenue Splits. Revenue Splits enable merchants to share the revenue that they get from selling a product with other merchants who contributed to the creation of that product.

How to Create a Revenue Split

Here’s the part of the Edit Product page where you can create a Revenue Split:

Create a Revenue Split

To create a revenue split:

  • Edit the product
  • Under “Product Revenue Split”, click on the Plus sign to add a merchant
  • Type in the merchant’s name
  • Select what percent of the product’s revenue they’ll get

The Product Revenue Split applies to all of the product’s variations. However, if you wish, you can also set a revenue split that applies only to a single variation. To do so, click on Override the product revenue split, and then enter a revenue split that applies only to the current variation.

The portion of the product’s revenue that is assigned to a merchant is called their Revenue Share. E.g., “Oren’s revenue share is 30%.” All of the merchants that have a Revenue Share in a product (including the store owner) are called Revenue Participants.

Only users that have a Kitely Market store can become Revenue Participants. But their store doesn’t have to include any products; it can be empty.

It’s possible to assign a revenue share of 0% to a user. In that case the user is just an observer: they don’t get any revenue from sales of the product, but they’ll be informed whenever the product is sold.

What Happens after a Sale

When a product is sold, all of the product’s Revenue Participants get their share of the revenue added to their balance.

In addition, all of the Revenue Participants can see the sale in the following places:

  • They get an email notification about the sale
  • The Sales History page
  • Sales Reports (in CSV format)
  • Order details page
  • Analytics
  • Payouts (only if the product sold for USD)

This means that Revenue Participants can see products from other stores appear in tables that normally show only their own products. To make it clear that these products belong to other stores, the store name is shown below the product, and the merchant’s Revenue Share is shown below the Received amount. For example, the following screenshot shows a Sales History page with two items: one that belongs to the merchant’s own store (“Beach Chair”), and one that belongs to a different store (“Parrots [Solo]”). Note that the other store’s name (“Caldwell’s Curiosities”) appears below the product name.

Sales History with a Revenue Share

Refunds

The Refund and Redeliver options are only available to the owner of the store from which the product was bought; other Revenue Participants are not allowed to initiate these actions. When a product is refunded all the Revenue Participants have their share of the revenue removed from their balance, and they get an email notification informing them of the refund.

Showing Partial Revenue

Throughout Kitely Market, wherever Revenues are shown, the amount shown is just the amount that the merchant received through their Revenue Share. For example, in the screenshot above, this merchant received $0.36 for the product “Parrots”, which is 30% of the total amount received by all the Revenue Participants (which was $1.20). If you were to look at the other merchant’s Sales History page (the merchant that got a 70% Revenue Share), you would see that their “Received” column shows $0.84 (that’s 70% of $1.20).

There are two exceptions, where the Full Revenue is shown instead of Partial Revenue: the Sales Campaigns page and the Ads page. These pages are only visible to the merchant that owns the Sales Campaign or Ad; they’re not visible to other Revenue Participants. Therefore, the merchant is shown the full revenue that was generated through each Sales Campaign or Ad (even though the amount that they personally received was smaller than that).

Analytics

All of the Revenue Participants in a product can see the product in their Analytics pages. They can see the full data about users’ interactions with the product, such as how many Impressions and Views it got. However, the Sales information that they see is different for each merchant: each one only sees information about their own Revenue Share.

If a Revenue Participant is removed from a product then they stop getting sales information about the product. However, they can continue to see the product in their Analytics pages, because Analytics shows historical information and they used to have a revenue share in the product.

New World Template: Kitely Evergreen Island

We are happy to announce that Kitely has a new world template option: Kitely Evergreen Island. Now whenever you create a new Kitely world you’ll have the option to start off with your own free copy of this beautiful Alpine island. Kitely Evergreen Island includes optimized mesh content from some of Kitely Market’s top selling merchants.

Introducing Kitely Evergreen Island

Whenever you create a new Kitely world, you select a template that determines the initial contents of the world. Two of these options are to start off with just some empty land, or to upload your own OAR (OpenSim Archive) file. In addition, we provide a couple of options for fully-functional worlds. Before today’s update, these world templates were Universal Campus and OpenVCE. These templates are based on freebie content that is quite dated, and also widely available in many other OpenSim grids.

We felt that you deserve more. We wanted to be able to offer you a pre-configured world full of high quality mesh content that is professionally laid out and optimized. We wanted it to be comfortable enough for you to feel at home immediately, but with enough possibilities that you could tweak it and make it your own. We wanted you to be able to change everything in that world and reuse it in other Kitely worlds. And we wanted to be able to offer you all of that content for free.

Several Kitely community members have stepped up and created Kitely Evergreen Island to address these needs (see the next section for acknowledgments). The result is a world that contains premium content from some of Kitley Market’s top selling merchants, which you can reuse in all of your Kitely worlds.

Kitely Evergreen Island

All of this professional content is licensed for use for free anywhere in Kitely. It has Copy/Modify permissions, so you can simply pick up pieces in your copy of this world and use them in other Kitely worlds. However, this content can’t be exported to other grids, using either the Hypergrid or the Export World option (which creates OAR files). You can get exportable versions of these items by buying them in Kitely Market from their creators (see the list of stores below).

Kitely Evergreen Island is an example of how a great looking world can also be highly optimized. This world starts up in seconds, and requires very little CPU resources to run.

This new world template replaces the OpenVCE template, which we are no longer offering. We still offer the Universal Campus template, however, as it’s still the best starter option for a large world that can host many people.

Acknowledgements

The creation of Kitely Evergreen Island was a community project that involved several people who generously contributed both their time and items from their Kitely Market stores:

  • Ozwell Wayfarer: designed and built Kitely Evergreen Island. Almost everything included in this world is a contribution from his Kitely Market store Worlds End Landscaping & Roleplay.
  • Zuza Ritt: contributed a cabin from her Kitely Market store 21strom.
  • Dot Matrix: was the project coordinator and created the information signs in the cabin and the landing point.
  • Tocy Sweet: was not directly involved with this project, but she deserves credit for the graphical design of the signs in this world (which were created by Dot), since they’re based on her design for the Kitely Market advertising campaign. Tocy’s Kitely Market store is Sweet Distractions.

Updated New World Dialog

The New World dialog now shows a screenshot of each world template option. This makes it easier to understand what you’ll get with each option, especially for new users.

New World Dialog

Final Words

We want to reiterate our gratitude to Ozwell, Zuza, Dot and Tocy. Their generous contributions of time, skill, and content made it possible for Kitely to offer you this great new world template free of charge.

To get your own Kitely-hosted copy of Kitely Evergreen Island, with Copy/Modify permissions for everything in that world, go to your My Worlds page and create a new world using the Kitely Evergreen Island template.

Unified Passwords and a Login Fallback Option

We updated our system today with several improvements that make it easier to login to the Kitely grid.

Unified Passwords

Some Kitely users have two passwords: a Grid password, used to login from the viewer; and a Website password, used to login to the Kitely website. (If you signed up to Kitely using your Facebook or Twitter account then you don’t have two passwords, so this section isn’t relevant to you.)

Keeping track of two passwords can be confusing, and quite a few people had problems logging into the grid because they changed their website password when they had intended to change their grid password. We’ve therefore decided to unify these two passwords: now the same password will be used to login to both the Kitely grid and to the Kitely website.

This change will only affect future passwords; not existing passwords. This means that for existing users, your passwords have not changed; you can keep using Kitely as you usually do. This change will only make a difference if you decide to change your password in the future: at that time, the new password that you choose will be set as both your Grid password and your Website password.

Login Fallback Option

When you try to login to the Kitely grid from the viewer, sometimes the world that you want to enter isn’t available. This can happen if the world was deleted; or if its permissions don’t allow you to visit it; or if the world has been suspended.

Until now, when such problems occurred we showed you an error message in the  viewer’s main screen and prevented you from logging into the Kitely grid. You therefore never got to enter the grid, which is annoying. Today’s update solves this problem: now, when you enter valid login credentials (username and password), we always let you log into the Kitely grid. If you can’t log into your desired destination then we send your avatar to the Kitely Welcome Center instead. Once you’re there you can teleport to other worlds, talk to people, etc.

Other Changes

Based on user requests, we fixed the LSL function llGetWallclock to return the current time in the PST timezone.

Performance Improvements and Bug Fixes

We updated the system today with several performance improvements, and fixed some OpenSim bugs that were reported by our users.

We’ve updated Kitely to OpenSim 0.8.2.1. This is a minor change, after last week’s update to OpenSim 0.8.2.

We improved the performance of our cloud-based inventory system for users with very large inventories. Your avatar’s inventory should now load faster in the viewer.

We fixed a bug that caused regions in big worlds to appear Offline in the World Map. Those regions weren’t really offline; they just looked that way on the map. Now they are properly displayed as being online.

We fixed a bug that, on rare occasions, caused teleports to high coordinates of a big world to result in the avatar being teleported to location (128,128).

One of the most advanced LSL functions is llCastRay. OpenSim now supports two versions of llCastRay: v1 and v3. We’re currently using v1, which is the default. However, we’re considering switching to llCastRay v3. If you’re currently using llCastRay then please join this forum thread and let us know what you think. If you’re a world owner then we can selectively switch your world to use llCastRay v3, if you’d like to test it.

When evaluating the alternatives to llCastRay, please test two aspects: 1) Is v3 faster or slower than v1? 2) Is v3 more or less correct than v1 (i.e., does it identify the hit objects correctly)?

VarRegions, 10x Faster Object Contents, and More Fonts

We updated our system today with several big changes, including upgrading to OpenSim 0.8.2 Release; converting all the big worlds to VarRegions; and 10x faster loading of object contents.

OpenSim 0.8.2 Release

We upgraded to OpenSim 0.8.2 Release. We were already using OpenSim 0.8.2 Dev, so most of the features in OpenSim 0.8.2 have already been included in Kitely. However, there are still a few changes:

The new version of OpenSim has changed the format of compiled scripts. Therefore, all of the scripts in Kitely need to be recompiled. The first time that any world is started after this update, it will spend some time recompiling its scripts. During this time the world will perform slower than usual, and scripts will be slow to start. This will take a few minutes, and it will only happen once.

The value shown for Physics FPS has changed. It used to be around 55 fps, but for a while OpenSim switched to a different way of showing frame rates, which caused the Physics FPS to show around 11 fps. That change has been unpopular so it was reversed, and now OpenSim shows a Physics FPS around 55 again.

In avatars’ inventories, the “# Kitely Market” folder will now appear near the bottom of the inventory instead of at the top. This is due to a change in how OpenSim handles inventory folders.

A new OSSL function has been added: osGetAvatarHomeURI. It returns an avatar’s Home URI, i.e. the address of its home grid.

Converted All the Big Worlds to VarRegions

All the big worlds (worlds with more than one region) are now VarRegions. See our previous blog post for more information.

10x Faster Object Contents

Don’t you hate it when you click on an object to view its contents, and you’re stuck looking at “Loading contents…” for a long time?

Loading Contents

To fix this, we have significantly improved loading the contents of an object:

First, we’ve improved the reliability of this operation, so the “Loading contents…” message should always disappear eventually, and the contents of the object will appear. (Previously, sometimes the contents never appeared, no matter how long you waited.)

Second, we vastly improved the speed of loading object contents. To test this, we created an object with a large inventory (95 items). In regular OpenSim (and in Kitely before today’s update), loading this object’s contents took 16.0 seconds. After this update, loading the contents takes just 3.5 seconds, a 78% reduction!

But wait, there’s more! Viewers have a debug option called XferThrottle, which can be tweaked to get even more speed. The default value of this option is 150000. If you increase it to 500000 then the time to load the object’s contents drops even more: to 1.6 seconds. So in total, Kitely has reduced the time to load the object’s contents from 16.0 seconds to 1.6 seconds, which is ten times faster than regular OpenSim!

Here’s how you can change the XferThrottle option:

  • Start the viewer
  • Make sure the “Debug” or “Advanced” menu is visible (either name might be used). If the menu isn’t visible then press Ctrl+Alt+D to show it.
  • Select from the Debug or Advanced menu: “Debug Settings” or “Show Debug Settings”
  • In the Debug Settings dialog: type “XferThrottle”
  • Enter the value you want
  • Restart the viewer (this is required)

Here’s what the Debug Settings dialog looks like in Firestorm:

XferThrottle

Two final notes: First, increasing XferThrottle above 500,000 doesn’t reduce the loading time any more. Second, increasing XferThrottle doesn’t reduce the loading time in regular OpenSim, because it’s too slow to take advantage of this setting.

Other Changes

We upgraded to Mono 4.2.1, which should be slightly faster than the version of Mono we used before today’s update (3.10).

We installed additional fonts on our servers, which you can use in scripts. See this forum thread for more information. Some of the new fonts include: Zapf Chancery, Arial Black, Comic Sans MS, Impact, and the ever-popular Webdings.

We fixed a search bug: if a world name contained a common word such as “of” or “in”, and you searched for the world using that word, then the world wasn’t found. Now it will be found. (To be clear, it’s not possible to search just using such short words. But it’s possible to include them in addition to more substantial words. E.g.: you can search for “state of”, but not just for “of”.)

We changed the default viewer that we offer to new users to Firestorm 4.7.5.

Big Kitely Worlds Will Soon be Converted to VarRegions

Kitely supports worlds that have more than one region. Currently, such worlds can be run in one of two modes (selected by the world manager): Multi-region, or Advanced Megaregion. This will change on December 9, 2015: these worlds will be converted to VarRegions, and the option to run worlds in Multi-region or Advanced Megaregion mode will be removed.

This post explains why we’re making this change, and how it will affect you.

Historical Background

Three years ago OpenSim supported two ways to create big worlds: 1) By placing multiple separate regions next to each other: this is called “Multi-region mode”. 2) By combining multiple small regions into a single big region, called a “Megaregion“.

Multi-region mode suffered from many problems. First, there were slowdowns and errors when avatars and objects (including vehicles) crossed region borders. Second, it was wasteful in server resources, making worlds operate slowly. Megaregion mode was more efficient in using server resources, although still not great. It didn’t suffer from region crossing problems, but it did have other limitations that prevented it from being a good alternative to multi-region mode. Kitely’s solution was to develop Advanced Megaregions, which were both more efficient than regular megaregions, as well as solving many of their limitations.

Two years later, at the end of 2014, OpenSim 0.8 introduced a third option for creating big worlds: VarRegions. VarRegions behaved similarly to Kitely’s proprietary Advanced Megaregions, but they had some important limitations. First, they didn’t support the ODE physics engine, which Advanced Megaregions did support, and that was then (and still is) the most dependable OpenSim physics engine. Second, they required all users to upgrade their viewers, since older viewers didn’t support VarRegions. Third, they were less flexible than megaregions in selecting region settings for big worlds. We therefore decided that it was premature to switch Kitely from using Advanced Megaregions to using VarRegions.

Recently, however,  OpenSim 0.8.2 was released, and it has fixed the biggest problem with VarRegions, by allowing them to use ODE. In addition, OpenSim 0.8.2 has deprecated support for megaregions.

Since Kitely’s Advanced Megaregions depend on a part of OpenSim that is no longer maintained, we were left with two options: either we keep the old code, thus making it hard for us to remain compatible with future OpenSim releases; or we migrate all Kitely Advanced Megaregions to use VarRegions, and thus maintain our ability to remain compatible with the standard OpenSim branch. We chose the second option.

Upcoming Changes

The switch to VarRegions will have the following effects:

(This affects only worlds with more than one region.)

All big Multi-region and Advanced Megaregion worlds will be converted to VarRegions. The option to switch between Multi-region and Advanced Megaregion mode will be removed. This means that even if you didn’t use Advanced Megaregion mode before the upcoming change, your big worlds will still be converted to VarRegions.

Importing an OAR file that contains multiple regions saved in Multi-region or Megaregion mode will result in the contents of the OAR file being automatically converted to use VarRegion mode. Exporting big Kitely worlds will always create a VarRegion OAR file.

The region settings of the root region will now be used in the entire big world. This will happen regardless of whether that big world had used Multi-region mode or Advanced Megaregion mode. These settings include terrain textures, water height, etc. This means that if you had set different region settings for different parts of your big world, then the settings for all of the regions except for the root region will be lost. The settings in the root region will be used throughout your world.

Some landmarks might stop working, although this should be rare. Landmarks that were created in a non-root region of a Multi-region world will stop working, because those regions won’t exist anymore. Landmarks for the root region, as well as any landmarks that were created in an Advanced Megaregion world, will continue to work. Since most big Kitely worlds are using Advanced Megaregion mode, this change should have very little effect on most of the landmarks that people have created in Kitely.

Things That will Remain the Same

All other world management features provided in your Kitely account control panel will remain. This includes the ability to change world sizes, change the physics engine, etc.

What you Need to Do

Most people don’t need to do anything.

If you want to have a backup of your world in Multi-region or Megaregion mode then you need to Export your world before the upcoming change. This will create a Multi-region or Megaregion OAR file. You’ll still be able to export your world after the change, of course, but at that point the OAR file will use VarRegion mode.

Improved Offline IMs and Friend Requests

We updated Kitely today with a few bug fixes that should solve several problems that people reported in our forums.

We fixed a couple of problems that happened when you entered a world through a Transfer Station, but spent only a very short amount of time in the Transfer Station. First, if you had pending Offline IMs then the notification about these IMs wasn’t shown. Second, if you had pending friend requests, then although these requests were shown, clicking Accept or Decline didn’t actually take effect. The reason for both of these problems was that the viewer got confused because you switched worlds too quickly. The fix is that we simply don’t send these notifications while you’re in the Transfer Station anymore: we wait until you arrive at the destination world and only then do we send these messages.

Today’s update also includes a bug fix that should solve the problem that caused Kitely to become unresponsive a few days ago.

And finally, we increased the maximum range in which we show Kitely Market analytics to 3 years. It was originally set at 2 years, but Kitely Market has now been operational for longer than that 🙂

A Minute of Your Time Can Help Bring More People to Kitely

The website Hypergrid Business is now holding its sixth annual OpenSim grid survey. Please help us attract additional people to the Kitely community by answering this short multiple choice survey.

Last year many of you participated in the survey and, as a result, Kitely came out on top for “Best Technology” with a close-to-perfect score of 4.95. Your support helped Kitely attract more users and keep its position as the leading commercial provider of Hypergrid-enabled regions. It also helped convince content creators to list their items in Kitely Market, and now there are more than 11,000 product variations listed in our marketplace, making it the biggest marketplace serving the Hypergrid. Your continued support is crucial for helping us grow both our marketplace and the Kitely user community.

Please take the time to complete this survey. Thank you!