Monthly Archives: May 2015

Secure Browsing and Better Hypergrid Support in Kitely Market

Secure Browsing using SSL

All communications with the Kitely website are now encrypted using SSL. This means that you can visit our website from anywhere, even over public Wi-Fi networks, and have your private information remain secure from eavesdroppers.

SSL

Simpler Delivery Options

We changed the Kitely Market shopping cart to make it easier to understand which avatar will receive the items that you purchase. Previously there were three delivery options: “Me”, “Gift” and “Other Grid”. This confused some of our marketplace shoppers, who thought that “Me” referred to their avatar on another grid, when in fact it referred to their Kitely avatar (we automatically create an avatar on our grid for anyone who signs up for a Kitely account).

Therefore, we’ve changed the shopping cart so that now it includes only two delivery options:

  • My Kitely Avatar – the items will be delivered to the Kitely avatar that belongs to the Kitely account that you are logged in with.
  • Other Avatar – the items will be delivered to a different avatar. That avatar may be a Kitely avatar (one of your alts, or another Kitely user’s avatar), or an avatar that belongs to a different grid altogether.

Market Delivery Options

Easier Delivery to Other Grids

We added a feature that’s intended for grid owners, and makes it easier for their users to buy from Kitely Market. The problem is that in order for Hypergrid users to buy from Kitely Market, their grid needs to be included in the list of grids in the Shopping Cart. Only a few widely-used grids are automatically included in everyone’s grids list, e.g. OSGrid. All other grids need to be added manually using the Grid Manager (you can see the link to the Grid Manager in the screenshot above).

In order to make adding a custom grid easier, it’s now possible to create links to Kitely Market that automatically add a custom grid to the user’s grids list. This is done by adding a parameter called “grid” to the URL. When we see this parameter, we find the specified grid; add it to the user’s grids list; and make it the currently-selected grid. The value of this parameter is the grid’s Grid URI (sometimes called the Home URI).

For example, suppose you want to buy items for your avatar in the OpenSimulator Community Conference grid. Now you can simply click on this link: https://www.kitely.com/market/cart?grid=cc.opensimulator.org:8002. Do this now, and you’ll see that the grid has been added to your grids list in the shopping cart. This works even if you’re not logged-in yet, and even if you haven’t signed-up! (The grid will be added to your grids list once you login and/or signup.)

We created an image that grid owners can use in order to help their users access Kitely Market:

kitely-market-metaverse-marketplace

To use this image, first open it in an image editing program and add your grid’s logo at the bottom. If you don’t have a grid logo then you can add your grid name as text. If you do that, and you want your grid name to appear similar to the rest of the text in this image, then use this font: typeface Meiryo; regular; size 18px or more; color #082e6c. If you don’t have the Meiryo font then use whatever else looks similar, e.g. Helvetica.

Once you’ve finished preparing the image, upload it to your website. Then, add a link in your website to Kitely Market, using the special URL that adds your grid to the user’s list of grids. For example (replace YOURGRID.EXAMPLE.COM:8002 with your real Grid URI):

<a href="https://www.kitely.com/market?grid=YOURGRID.EXAMPLE.COM:8002"><img src="kitely-market-metaverse-marketplace.png" title="Kitely Market" width="200" height="200"></a>

Please note that this will only work if the grid is already known to us and verified for use with Kitely Market.

Increased the Idle Visitors Timeout

We increased the Idle Visitors Timeout from 30 minutes to 1 hour. This timeout determines when we disconnect avatars who have been in-world for a long time without doing anything (i.e. without moving, chatting, etc.).

Please note that in some cases we use a longer timeout of 2 hours:

  • For World Managers, when they’re in one of their own worlds.
  • For users with a Premium Account or Gold Plan, when they’re in any world.

Better Error Checking of OAR Files

People get OAR files from many different sources, and sometimes those OAR files contain problems which prevent them from being imported into OpenSim. In order to help people handle these cases, we improved our validation of uploaded OAR files. We now detect problems in OAR files faster than before, and when we detect a problem we show error messages that are easier to understand.

Phasing Out Premium Accounts, and a Limited-Time Offer

Soon: No More Premium Accounts

Starting on June 1, 2015, we will no longer be offering Premium Accounts. Users who already have a Premium Account on that date will be able to keep it, but new users will no longer be offered this option: they will only be able to choose one of our Fixed-Price Worlds.

The reason we’re making this change is to simplify our offering. Currently we offer two very different ways to get land: Premium Accounts and Fixed-Price Worlds. However, we’ve found that having two different pricing models is often confusing to potential customers. Once we explain the benefits of Premium Accounts people understand them and often choose to get them. But this requires a significant sales effort, and we don’t always get the chance to do that: our analytics, and the customer feedback we’ve received, show that often people become intimidated by the wealth of options that we currently provide and decide to just go elsewhere.

What are Premium Accounts?

If you’re reading this and you aren’t a longtime Kitely user then you may not be familiar with our Premium Accounts, so here’s a recap:

Kitely currently offers two main types of worlds: Fixed-Price Worlds and Premium Worlds.

  • Fixed-Price Worlds – the world manager pays a fixed price per month, and then never has to pay anything more to use the world. In particular, the world manager doesn’t need to pay when users visit the world. Fixed-Price Worlds have varying prices (starting at $14.95): the more expensive worlds support more regions, more prims and more avatars.
  • Premium Worlds – the world manager doesn’t pay a fixed price per month to use these worlds, but does pay a small fee for various actions performed on the world. In particular, when users who don’t have a Premium Account visit the world, the world manager pays 1 KC / minute for each such user. (Premium Account users can visit Premium Worlds without costing the world manager anything.) In addition to being very cheap, Premium Worlds have another advantage over Fixed-Price Worlds: all Premium Worlds have performance that is equivalent to the most expensive Fixed-Price World (the Advanced World, which costs $99.95/month): they all support up to 16 regions, 100,000 prims and 100 concurrent avatars.

Only users that have a Premium Account can create Premium Worlds. This allows them to have a lot of land very cheaply: a Premium Account includes 10 free regions (upgraded today; previously it was 5 regions), and additional regions cost only 300 KC per month.

The only downside of Premium Worlds is that they require the world manager to have some idea of how many people will visit these worlds, as that can affect the total cost of maintaining them. (But of course, you can always restrict who may visit the world.)

The Return of the Gold Plan

Hundreds of Kitely users currently have a Premium Account. You can join them by getting a Premium Account before June 1. Anyone who gets a Premium Account before June 1 will be able to keep it for as long as they continue to pay for it.

We’re also making two changes to make Premium Accounts even more attractive:

First, we’re bringing back one of our most popular options from the past: the Gold Plan. The Gold Plan is a type of Premium Account, but it includes 30 free regions, and costs just $34.95/month. This is the absolute best way to get a lot of cheap land anywhere! This offer, too, will expire on June 1.

Second, we upgraded all Premium Accounts to get ten free regions (instead of five previously). This change is effective immediately, for both current customers and anyone who gets a new Premium Account before the cutoff date of June 1.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is Kitely making this change?

A: Premium Accounts and Premium Worlds offer people great benefits, but their existence makes our offering hard for people to understand and explain to others. This means that we’re losing sales because of our flexibility. By offering fewer options we’ll help people understand the value of our service better, which will help increase our sales.

Q: Does this change affect me?

A: If you only visit other people’s worlds, but don’t own your own worlds, then this change doesn’t affect you at all.

If you do own your own worlds, and you have a Regular Account, then the only change you’ll feel is if you Copy one of your worlds, because the new copy will now be a Stored World (which no one will be able to enter) instead of a Premium World (which Premium Account holders can enter). But the copied world will still contain a snapshot of the state of your world, and you’ll be able to Export it, or upgrade it to a Fixed-Price World.

If you have a Premium Account (or one of its variations) then this change doesn’t affect you as long as you retain your account status. However, If you ever cancel your Premium Account after June 1 then you won’t be able to upgrade back to a Premium Account, and all of your Premium Worlds will be converted to Stored Worlds.

Q: Will Kitely still provide a free trial period to new users who want to create a world?

A: Yes, as today.

Q: When does this change take effect?

A: The Gold Plan is available right now. You can upgrade to it (or to a Premium Account) by clicking on the “Change plan” link in your Kitely Account Settings page. (You might need to refresh the browser in order to see the new plan.) The increase of Premium Accounts from 5 free regions to 10 free regions is also already in effect.

Q: If I have a Premium Account, can I still get Fixed-Price Worlds?

A: Yes. You can have both Premium Worlds and Fixed-Price Worlds in your account, and you can switch individual worlds between these two types. Of course, you must get a Premium Account or a Gold Plan before June 1 in order to have this flexibility.

Act Now!

We encourage you to take advantage of our limited-time offer to upgrade to a Premium Account or Gold Plan before the end of the month, and get the long-term benefits that will be provided exclusively to those plan holders. This offer will not be available after May 31, so if you want these benefits you should order now.

We believe that Premium Accounts offer by far the best price-performance anywhere in the OpenSim metaverse, and Kitely is the only company capable of offering them because we’re the only ones who use on-demand cloud-based simulators. The only reason we’re discontinuing Premium Accounts is due to their complexity. But for people who understand their benefits and want to take advantage of them, there is no better choice.

Resize Kitely Worlds Using a Graphical Tool

One of the reasons that Kitely is a leader in OpenSim hosting is that we provide our users with the ability to easily manage their account on their own, with a feature-rich control panel. Today we’re happy to announce the latest addition to our lineup of advanced tools: you can now change the size of your worlds using a graphical map.

How to Resize a World

In the past, the size of a world was chosen when the world was created, and couldn’t be easily changed afterwards. However, we have now added an easy-to-use dialog that lets you change the size of an existing world.

To resize a world, click on Change world size in the Manage World dialog:

Change World Size

This opens the Change World Size dialog:

Resize World

If you’re making the world bigger then select where in the bigger world the existing regions should appear. The rest of the regions will be filled with empty land.

If you’re making the world smaller then select which of the existing regions to keep.

Resizing a world is free for fixed-price worlds, and costs 150 KC for Premium Worlds.