Monthly Archives: September 2012

Removed Support for the Second Life Viewer

As of today, Kitely no longer supports the Second Life Viewer. We had to take this step because Linden Lab, the creators of the Second Life Viewer, have released a new version that no longer works with OpenSim. Since the Second Life Viewer automatically updates itself, most people will get this viewer “improvement” even if they don’t want it.

If you’ve been using the Second Life Viewer to access Kitely then you will need to change to a different viewer. If you have any other supported viewer installed then your existing Kitely Plugin will automatically detect this viewer and use it. If no other supported viewer is installed then Kitely Plugin will help you install our default viewer, the Firestorm Viewer.

Linden Lab’s decision is a desperate attempt to curb the growth of OpenSim, which they view as a threat to their business model of charging very high fees for virtual land. It’s easy to understand their reaction when you consider that Linden Lab charges $295 / month for a private island, while a similar island can be had for about $60 / month on professionally run OpenSim grids (and even cheaper on Kitely’s on-demand system). However, Linden Lab are trying to close the barn doors after the horses have already bolted: there is a vibrant community of developers that have created third-party viewers, such as Firestorm, that have chosen to continue to support OpenSim.

To give you a sense of how much this is a non-event for Kitely, here are the most commonly used viewers on our grid in September 2012:

Viewer NameVisits
Firestorm Viewer56%
Imprudence21%
Kokua Viewer8%
Second Life Viewer5%
Zen Viewer2%
Other8%

We can live without the Second Life Viewer. Buh-bye!

New Kitely Avatars

We changed our default avatars today. When users join Kitely they get a default avatar, and until now we were using the avatars from the Diva Distribution (Ken, Paula and Jessica). We replaced them with seven new avatars, using modified assets based on the ones provided by the designer Linda Kellie. These avatars are better-looking than the previous avatars, and will help newcomers to Kitely to make a good first impression.

Meet the avatars

User-Created Transfer Stations

What are Transfer Stations

In one of our next releases we will be introducing a new feature called Transfer Stations. Transfer Stations are miniature worlds that users wait in while their world is being loaded.

Kitely is a cloud-based virtual world provider, so when a user tries to enter a world that is currently offline we need to start the world first. This is fairly quick, but not instantaneous. Currently users look at a progress bar on our website while the world is being started, and once the world is ready their viewer is automatically launched. Transfer Stations are going to change this: when a user tries to enter an offline world their viewer will start immediately, but they will enter a Transfer Station instead of the desired world. Once the world is ready the user will be teleported to it automatically.

Transfer Stations will be used only when entering the Kitely grid, i.e. when your viewer isn’t already logged into another Kitely world. If you are already logged into Kitely then you will wait in the current world you are in while the world you are heading to is being started (this is also how Kitely currently works).

If several people try to enter the same offline world at once then they will be placed in the same Transfer Station. This will allow you to talk and chat even before the world is ready.

Transfer Stations have several benefits:

  • They reduce the time it takes to enter an offline world, because the time for starting the viewer is spent in parallel with starting the world.
  • They make it possible to enter a world by starting the viewer directly (instead of from our website). Currently that isn’t possible: we require users to click “Enter World” in our website first.
  • Once Kitely supports HyperGrid access, transfer stations will enable people to HyperGrid teleport into Kitely worlds even if their destination worlds are currently offline.
  • You’ll be able to start chatting, dressing up, etc. with other people going to the same world as you even before the world is ready.

User-Created Transfer Stations

We discussed this feature in this week’s Kitely Mentors Group meeting, and a few people asked about the possibility of choosing the theme of the transfer station that will be used for their worlds. Subsequently several people volunteered to create such themed stations. We think this could be a nice touch, so we’ve decided to accept a few themed stations in addition to the standard transfer station that we’ll create. Once Transfer Stations are enabled, world managers will be able to choose which transfer station should be used for their worlds.

If you are interested in creating a Transfer Station then please consider the following guidelines:

Overall Structure

  • A transfer station is a small, self-contained, simple build. Here’s an example (please note that this is an incomplete rough draft):

  • A transfer station is a structure roughly 48m x 48m x 48m in size, which is enclosed within a larger box whose size is 127m x 127m x 127m. The large box must contain skybox textures, as shown in the screenshot above. (You can make the inner platform slightly bigger or smaller than 48m if you want, but the outer box must be exactly 127m.)
  • The station should be open-space with no closed structures. People should be able to see the entire station and everything in it by zooming out. For example, it’s ok to use arches, but not tunnels. The station doesn’t have to be circular.
  • The station can’t include any scripts or physics.
  • The station must be very low on the prim, texture, and mesh counts so that it will rez quickly when people enter it. Textures should be 512×512, unless they are used for big areas in which case 1024×1024 is acceptable.
  • Consider the physics engine load in your design. Don’t use hollow prims/meshes that are non-phantom. To prevent avatars passing through such barriers, simulate the physics mesh with non-linked transparent non-phantom prims. If you use multiple prims to get multiple textures on the ground then make the textured prims phantom and cover them with a single non-phantom megaprim the user can walk on.

Contents

  • Each transfer station has a few required elements:
  • When you enter the transfer station there should be a large sign directly in front of you. This sign will explain what is happening, e.g. “You are currently waiting for your world to load.” The sign should take up at least 50% of the visible space in front of you when you enter the world. Use a blank rectangle as a placeholder for the content, because the real contents of the sign will be rendered via a script by Kitely when the station is set up.
  • If required, attribution for you and other content creators can appear on a small 0.5m x 0.5m plaque near the landing point. The plaque needs to fit the theme of the station and must not stand out visually. It should state “This Kitely Transfer Station was designed by X and includes content which was created by Y, Z, and W” (where X is your name, and Y, Z, and W are the names of the people who created content which you included in your build).
  • Don’t include any links, ads or promotions in the transfer station. The only exception is the attribution plaque which can include the name of your company (not a URL, or logo), e.g.: “This Kitely Transfer Station was designed by John Smith of John’s Designs”.

Legal

  • You will retain your copyrights for anything you build, but you will need to license your submission to Kitely using the Creative Commons CC BY 3.0 license.
  • Don’t include any content which Kitely can’t use commercially or that includes share-alike license requirements. If you use someone else’s content then it must be permissively licensed and you’ll need to give us direct links to all the website pages from which that content was obtained.

What’s Next

If you wish to contribute to this project then please add your name to the comments section below. Once your world(s) are ready, please edit that comment to add a link to your submission’s world page(s). If you wish you can contact us privately instead.

Please keep in mind that we may ask you to make modifications before accepting your submission for inclusion, and that your station might not end up being included in the Kitely Transfer Station world even if it adheres to all the aforementioned requirements. We’re very open to providing feedback, however, so if you have ideas or drafts you can ask us about them.

This entire blog post is a preview of an upcoming feature. We might yet discover that we need to make changes to the way Transfer Stations work, and if that happens then we may ask you to make changes to your build.

We’ll start considering submissions on October 1st so please add your preliminary builds before then. The Kitely Mentors Group will travel to all submitted worlds; information about these field trips will be provided ahead of time.