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PayPal payment terminal on Matrix Grid. (Image courtesy Matrix Grid.)

One of the first questions every new grid owner must answer is whether to have in-world payment, so that users can buy stuff, or pay for services, or donate money while they’re on the grid.

The easiest answer is “no.” You can put up some freebie stores, have residents buy their stuff on the Kitely Market, or enable hypergrid travel and send them to Gloebit shopping areas on other grids.

For those who do want to offer in-world payments, the three main options are a purely local currency, a local currency traded on the Podex exchange, or the Gloebit multi-grid currency.

The Gloebit option has become the most popular lately, since users can spend their money anywhere, don’t lose their money if a grid goes down, and grids still make a profit when the currency gets used in their world.

(Image courtesy Matrix Grid.)

But there’s also another option, PayPal.

I haven’t been recommending PayPal much lately for in-world payments, although pretty much every grid uses PayPal on their website. That’s because PayPal charges a fee. Each transaction costs 30 cents, plus 2.9 percent of the transaction amount for US dollar transactions.

It works out okay for large purchases like region rentals, and when one of your residents want to load up their in-world currency balance. But for micro-payments in-world? It really didn’t seem worth it. If you’re selling something for $1, you’ll wind up paying 33 cents of it to PayPal.  In fact, I don’t have a single example of a grid that uses it.

Well, I didn’t.

I do, now.

Turns that that the Matrix Grid, a non-hypergrid gaming world, uses PayPal for in world payments. And it’s been working well, owner Jack Palur told Hypergrid Business.

“We use PayPal exclusively for all in-world transactions, including in-world payments for donations,” he said. “There are no costs to guests and we have not used any type of currency system.  It is way easier — and cheaper too.”

(Image courtesy Matrix Grid.)

But what about the fees?

“You can set up a special account with PayPal for small transactions, where the fee is less per transaction,” he said.

It’s called PayPal micropayments, and it’s designed for merchants who process small transactions, usually under $10. You have to qualify for the program, and then the fees are 5 cents per transaction plus 5% of the transaction amount for US dollar payments. (Fees for other currencies vary, but are also pretty low.)

So, for a $1 sale, you’re only paying 10 cents to PayPal, instead of 33 cents.

The Matrix Grid had their hosting provider, Dreamland Metaverse, set up the system.

The way it works in-world is that residents log in to play table-top games, like D&D, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, and Star Wars, or meet in encounter rooms that recreate settings and genres for a more cinematic experience.

“And if they enjoy it — which everybody does — they drop a few bucks into the PayPal machines in gratitude,” said Palus. “Simple, really.”

(Image courtesy Matrix Grid.)

How to set up PayPal

According to Dreamland Metaverse owner Dierk Brunner, also known as Snoopy Pfeffer in-world, there are two main ways to have PayPal inside OpenSim grids.

For existing Dreamland customers, there’s a free PayPal Money Adapter system, which only works for local grid customers. It makes PayPal work the same way that a local currency does, without requiring users to go to a PayPal page to confirm the transaction.

Dierk Brunner

“All servers are hosted by us and we ensure that all transactions are safe,” Brunner told Hypergrid Business.

What about grids that don’t get their hosting from Dreamland Metaverse?

They can still have PayPal payments, by installing his open source PayPal Money Module.

The advantage of the PayPal Money Module is that it works for hypergrid residents.

And as long as the person making the payment and the person receiving the payment both have PayPal accounts, all the regular in-world LSL functions work, Brunner said, with the exception of llGiveMoney.

This is the option that the Matrix Grid uses, he said.

(Image courtesy Matrix Grid.)

The downside is that users have an extra confirmation step, where they need to agree to the payment on the PayPal website.

For grid owners, there’s also one other downside — if the payment is from one user to another user, the grid can’t collect a portion of the transaction, like it can if it uses its own currency or Gloebits or Dreamland’s proprietary PayPal Money Adapter.

Grid owners also need to know how to compile and install OpenSim, Brunner added.

Or have a hosting provider that does it for them, of course.

One major advantage of using PayPal for payments is that most users are already familiar with the platform and have PayPal accounts. They don’t need to set up new currency accounts with the grid or with Gloebit in order to start spending money.

“PayPal is a trusted, safe payment solution,” said Brunner.

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Still from the French premiere of film “Pneumo Hacker” by Taiwan’s Poké Poké Creative & Redbit Pictures and the Innolux Education Foundation. (Image courtesy NewImages Festival.)

If you are a resident of Paris or visiting this week, check out the NewImages Festival.

For five days, the “City of Lights” will host an array of innovative VR program that includes virtual reality films as well as outdoor experiences, keynote speeches, and table discussions.

Keeping in tune with the festival’s philosophy of “Images should not only be watched and analyzed: they should be lived, felt and palpable” attendees will be able to take in creative storytelling and perspectives.

The festival runs from June 19 to June 23, and this year for the first time includes a market where XR creators can get funding for their projects.

Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series- Episode I Official Trailer - YouTube

One of the major highlights of the festival is the Vader Immortal: Star War VR Series which is making its European debut there. Released on Oculus Quest in the US in May, Vader Immortal will be having its premiere during the event. Attendees will get a chance to play the role of a smuggler operating near Mustafar, the volcanic world that Darth Vader calls home. 

The interactive experience Mechanical Souls will also have its European premiere this weekend. This VR-powered experience focuses on androids hired to help with a sumptuous wedding ceremony, but something goes wrong.

It is one of a dozen projects that will be vying for prizes, including a 10,000 Euro Masque d’Or grand prize award.

Check out the Mechanical Souls trailer here:

MECHANICAL SOULS - TEASER 2D CN - YouTube

Another European premiere is for the VR film “7 Lives,” which features a ghost dealing with the aftermath of her suicide at a Tokyo train station.

7LIVES Trailer (ENG) - YouTube

One entry, Fisherman’s Tale, is a VR puzzle game that is already available to purchase for Playstation VR, Vive, and Oculus Rift platforms.

A Fisherman's Tale - Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Do you like reading science fiction and telling authors what’s wrong with their books?

I need you!

The draft of my second story in my Krim series is done and I’m certain that it’s full of plot holes and incomprehensive motivations and other problems that I’m just not seeing because I’m the author.

Can you help?

And if you start reading and find out that you just can’t get through it, I want to know. Did the story get bogged down? Did it get too annoying to read?

Though it’s novella-length, so not too long. And it is set in a virtual world — but definitely not based on any grids that I know.

I’ll try to fix as many problems as I can before I publish it, but I probably won’t be able to fix them all. If I try, the book will never get published! The best I can do is keep getting better with each story.

If this is something you’re interested in, please email me — maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

Or if you’re also interested in writing stories based in the metaverse, and want to exchange ideas.

Or if you just want a character or place named after you or your grid!

Thanks, everyone!

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Active users were down this month on OpenSim’s public grids by 1,872 users, but regions were up by the equivalent of 1,521 standard regions.

OpenSim is a popular platform for educators, so traffic is routinely expected to drop during the summer months. However, most of the drop this month was actually due to the fact that Tag Grid, which had 1,768 active users last month, did not report its user numbers this month. The Public World stopped reporting active user numbers on its stats page. The grid reported more than 300 actives last month.

Together, the lack of data from these two grids more than accounts for the drop in active users.

But OpenSim’s data problems didn’t stop there.

Neustadt active numbers were down by 660, because the grid had problems with their database and lost data — including user inventories.

“We had errors in the database,” the grid posted in an announcement on its website. “That’s why we had to recreate them. Your user data has been preserved. Unfortunately, your inventory is not. Please be understanding, that you have to recreate your avatar.”

92 Miles Grid also ran into problems this month.

“I am not happy with the new upgrade it is giving some bugs and issues,” grid owner Ehson Miles said in a Facebook post last week. “In case I need to reinstall the server, the regions will be saved, and backed up.”

The following day, he posted that the bug had been fixed and the grid and all of its regions were back up — but that users had to create new accounts. As a result, the number of active users the grid was reporting was down from 147 last month to 21 now.

Considering these reporting problems and other issues, it looks like the actual OpenSim user based increased this month.

Total regions, in standard region equivalents on public OpenSim grids. (Hypergrid Business data.)

These stats do not include most of the grids running on OutWorldz’ DreamGrid distribution of OpenSim, or private company or school grids. OutWorldz, for example, reports that 3,670 grids are either currently offline or running in private mode, behind a firewall.

OutWorldz also has its own database of OpenSim grids, and reports that this month, there have been days where the number of active hypergrid-accessible grids exceeded 500 grids, hitting a peak of 514 on June 2.

OpenSim is a free, open source virtual world platform that’s compatible with the Oculus Rift. It allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds, and then teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their own servers for free, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region.

A list of hosting providers is here. Download the recommended Firestorm viewer here. And find out where to get content for your OpenSim world or region here.

You can also add your grid in the stats if it is not being crawled by OutWorldz. OutWorldz also provides OpenSim users with free mesh itemsOARs and free seamless textures that you can download and use on your grids.

Top 25 grids by active users

When it comes to general-purpose social grids, especially closed grids, the rule of thumb is: the busier, the better. People looking to make new friends look for grids that already have the most users. Merchants looking to sell content will go to the grids with the most potential customers. Event organizers looking for the biggest audience… you get the idea.

Top 25 most popular grids this month:

  1. OSgrid: 4,257 active users (HG hg.osgrid.org:80)
  2. GreekLife: 2,191 active users (HG hg.grid-greeklife.info:8002)
  3. DigiWorldz: 1,726 active users (HG login.digiworldz.com:8002)
  4. Sacrarium: 1,705 active users (HG sacrarium24.ru:8002)
  5. Metropolis: 1,595 active users (HG hg.metro.land:80)
  6. ZetaWorlds: 1,540 active users (HG hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Welcome)
  7. Eureka World: 1,258 active users (HG 54.77.238.20:9000)
  8. Foundation Grid: 1,115 active users (HG gridfoundation.ddns.net:8002)
  9. Kitely: 1,103 active users (HG grid.kitely.com:8002)
  10. Party Destination Grid: 852 active users (HG partydestinationgrid.com:8002)
  11. Exo-Life: 778 active users (HG hg.exo-life.onl:8032)
  12. VartownGrid: 687 active users (HG vartown-grid.ddns.net:8002)
  13. Discovery Grid: 641 active users (HG discoverygrid.net:8002)
  14. DreamNation: 509 active users
  15. Breath in Freedom: 477 active users (HG breath-grid.info:8002)
  16. Freedom Grid: 452 active users (HG freedomgrid.world:8002)
  17. Dorena’s World: 437 active users (HG dorenas-world.de:8002)
  18. Free Life: 431 active users (HG freelife.outworldz.net:8002)
  19. Craft World: 428 active users (HG craft-world.org:8002)
  20. Tranquility: 395 active users (HG tranquility-grid.info:8002)
  21. Dynamic Worldz: 388 active users (HG grid.dynamicworldz.com:8002)
  22. Neverworld: 380 active users (HG hg.neverworldgrid.com:8002)
  23. Social Mouse: 373 active users (HG grid.thesocialmouse.net:8002)
  24. Anettes Welt: 359 active users (HG anettes-welt.de:8002)
  25. First Life Brasil: 357 active users (HG firstlifebrasil3d.ddns.net:8002)

The biggest gainers this month were Neverworld, which gained 241 active users, Sacrarium with 224 new actives, VartownGrid with 212 new actives, Outworldz with 165 new actives, and Breath in Freedom with 110 new actives.

Two of the most popular grid saw less traffic this month. OSgrid’s active monthly user numbers went down by 345, to 4,257. And Metropolis saw a loss of 335 actives, down to 1,595. NextLife dropped by 162 actives, down to 321 this month.

The actives list is based on active, unique 30-day user login numbers that grids report on their stats pages. Those grids that don’t report their numbers might be just as popular, but we wouldn’t know. The active user stats are also used to generate the popular hypergrid destinations list, which is useful if you have a hyperport and want to put up gates to the most popular grids, or include the most popular grids in an in-world directory.

This list is also a good place to start if you want to open up new stores or hold events, or are just looking for places to visit.

I measure active users by counting both local residents and hypergrid visitors. After all, hypergrid visitors attend events and spend money just like anybody else. If I’m looking for a happening grid, I want one with a lot of people on it — and I don’t really care where their home avatar is based. In fact, several grids are encouraging users to have their avatars on other grids, such as Kitely or OSgrid, in order to reduce the load on their own servers. Many grid owners are also increasingly willing to rent land to visitors, and even give free store space and homes to visitors as well. Their money, after all, is just as good.

Yes, this means that people are double-counted, based on all the grids they visit. But they’d also be double-counted if they created new avatars on each grid. So it comes out even in the end.

Here some information on how and why you should set up a stats page for your grid. Of course, not all grids need a stats page, especially grids that aren’t open to the public, like school grids, private company grids, small family grids, and so on. From prior surveys, this “dark metaverse” of OpenSim grids might actually be bigger than the one we know about, because those grids don’t need to promote themselves, and we never hear about them.

Top 40 grids by land area

The list below is a small subset of existing OpenSim grids. We are now tracking a total of 1,428 different publicly-accessible grids, 284 of which were active this month, and 224 of which published their statistics.

All region counts on this list are, whenever available, in terms of standard region equivalents. Active user counts include hypergrid visitors whenever possible.

Many school, company or personal grids do not publish their numbers.

The raw data for this month’s report is hereA list of all active grids is here. And here is a list of all the hypergrid-enabled grids and their hypergrid addresses, sorted by popularity. This is very useful if you are creating a hyperport.

You can see all the historical OpenSim statistics here, including polls and surveys, dating all the way back to 2009.

Below are the 40 largest grids by total land area, in terms of standard region equivalents.

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Hypergrid Business by Maria Korolov - 1w ago

$5 per month for a 20,000-prim standard-sized region on the hypergrid-enabled 92 Miles Grid.

Other region sizes also available:

  • Two-by-two 30,000 prim varregion: $7 per month
  • Three-by-three 35,000 prim varregion: $10 per month
  • Four-by-four 45,000 prim varregion: $15 per month

There is also a 10,000-prim starter region for $3 a month for new residents.

Check the grid’s land sales page for more details and to order regions.

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A private virtual grid on Kitely.

If you, like me, are looking to launch a little OpenSim grid of your own — or even a big commercial grid — but you don’t want to mess with all the details of setting up and configuring servers, installing and patching the software, managing the network connections and load balancing, doing the backups and the end user tech support and all the other technical tasks that go into running a grid, then using an OpenSim hosting service is for you.

What an OpenSim hosting service can offer:

  • Set up and manage the grid’s hardware, software, and network connections
  • Set up Vivox voice, Gloebit or other payments, Kitely Market delivery, and hypergrid connectivity
  • Upload your starting OAR region files and IAR inventory files
  • Take care of regular backups
  • Handle tech support requests for you and for your residents
  • Create a page that allows user registrations and shows grid stats

Some providers will also:

  • Set up a full website front end for your grid
  • Set up filtered exports, so that some content stays on the grid, and other content is allowed to leave via either hypergrid teleports or OAR or IAR exports
  • Create classes of users, so that, say, teachers are allowed to hypergrid teleport in and out and upload content, but students are not
  • Offer an OAR or IAR upload and download service for your residents
  • Move, rename, and restart regions
  • Create an online region rental system so that you can rent land to your residents

You will need to decide whether you need a fully-functional grid website, whether you want hypergrid connectivity, and whether you want a mini-grid — a “standalone” that fits on a single server — or a full grid — also known as a “Robust” grid that includes a separate server for central grid services and can grow as big as you want. Read more about how to choose your OpenSim grid type here.

We have several OpenSim hosting providers listed on our independent hosting page. There is also one, Kitely, that isn’t on the list, but their virtual private grid offer can be a good alternative for a traditional private grid for many organizations.

Here’s an overview of the options:

Dreamland Metaverse

Dreamland Metaverse is one of the oldest and most-respected hosting providers on our list. Their prices start at $45 a month for the central grid service, plus $30 each per region. There’s no setup fee, and they’ll have your grid up and running in three days. Their web management panel is excellent, allowing you to add, rename, or move regions, as well as to download OAR region backup files. Owner Dierk Brunner, known as Snoopy Pfeffer in-world, is patient, can easily explain things in plain English to non-technical people, and is extremely responsive when anything happens. Dreamland Metaverse is based in Europe, and in addition to English, Brunner can also help customers who speak German. Dreamland Metaverse is the first choice for customers who want to set up high-performance grids for schools, non-profits, and private companies. Of particular interest to educational clients, Dreamland Metaverse can also create a lot of users all at once, so, for example, you can send them a list of all your students at the start of the school year, and they’ll set up new avatar accounts for all of them all at once. They also have nice school-friendly default avatars and can set up users with different privileges so that, say, students can’t hypergrid out or upload new content, but teachers can.

I’ve hosted a small grid with Dreamland Metaverse before and can vouch for their excellent support and stability, and for the ease of use of their online management panel.

Dreamland Metaverse has also ranked very high in all our reader surveys.

“We are hosted by Dreamland Metaverse since 2011,” CreaNovale Grid owner Nicole Charest told Hypergrid Business. “First, a region hooked to OSgrid and then, since fall 2014, as our own small private grid. We like them very much. Very reliable, responsive and helpful.”

Welcome area of the Golden Palace Gaming grid. (Image courtesy Golden Palace Gaming.)

Golden Palace Gaming has also been with Dreamland Metaverse, grid administrator Bugsy Melody told Hypergrid Business., and they are satisfied with the service and the performance.

“We would also recommend Snoopy Pfeffer’s service to everyone,” said Melody. “We were treated very friendly each time and they also always reacted very fast to our inquiries.”

The Metaverse Concept grid has been with Dreamland Metaverse for the past seven years.

“Their services are not only just simply excellent but also second to none,” grid manager Loïc de Montaignac told Hypergrid Business. “The speed of the regions are up to scratch, pricing is very generous and support is very responsive but also very efficient. Snoopy, the owner, is also a very helpful and knowledgeable professional, always quickly available to offer solutions to problems, be they tech or admin related, with very precise and detailed advice. On the whole, yes, I would give Dreamland a huge thumbs up and would definitely recommend their hosting services anytime.”

Exo-Life has been hosted with Dreamland Metaverse for close to five years, and now has 18 regions on four simulators.

“Working with Dreamland could not be easier,” grid owner Bryan French told Hypergrid Business. “Dreamland does cost more than other hosting providers, however you receive a higher quality of service with dedicated non-shared simulators, 100 percent uptime, easy to use interface, and our grid users always comment on our speed of rezzing, zero lag, near seamless region crossings, and very fast teleporting. Imagine a world where you can have nearly 40 people on a region during a major event and no one feels any negative effect, that is Dreamland Metaverse.”

Zetamex Network

Zetamex Network had a change of ownership a couple of years ago, and was not accepting new customers for a while. Today, it offers both mini-grids and full grids, with all standard features. A basic starter package for a full grid starts at US $198 (175 Euros) a month for central grid services and a dedicated region server. See the pricing page for more details.

Owner Vincent Sylvester recommends that would-be grid owners contact him directly for a custom quote, since every grid’s requirements are different.

“Putting a catch-all price on that does not serve the customer,” he told Hypergrid Business.

One of those customers is 3rd Life Grid.

“I would have no problem recommending them to any size grid,” grid owner Gary Justus told Hypergrid Business. “As far as performance, we have not had any problems and we have some really large regions that are script heavy like our Airport and Marina and Raceway regions.”

Zetamex has been around since 2012, when it was known as SoftPaw and offered region hosting on OSgrid. It rebranded as Zetamex in early 2013 and was ranked as one of the top three OpenSim hosting providers in 20142015 and 2016.

DigiWorldz

DigiWorldz is best known for the successful commercial grid of the same name, but the company also provides high-end hosting for other commercial grids. Customers include some large commercial grids, and they have an excellent reputation for service.

Prices start at $200 for the first server, and $150 for the second, and includes a control panel and second-level tech support. This is enough to handle 30 fully-loaded regions, and up to 60 simultaneous visitors.

“Typically we suggest grid owners have a minimum of two servers to allow us to create a slave database instance on the second server to mirror their core database server,” DigiWorldz owner Terry Ford told Hypergrid Business. The servers are dedicated, not cloud-based, with a dedicated Internet connection and 12 cores each. “We don’t intend to be the least expensive, or the largest hosting provider, but we do strive hard to be the best option.”

DigiWorldz currently hosts its own grid and eight other grids, Ford said. “And we do contract work as needed for several other grids. We don’t typically advertise our grid hosting and most of our hosting business comes via word of mouth referrals.”

One of the hosted grids is Baller Nation, which was one of the first major OpenSim grids to switch to DigiWorlz after previously being hosted with a couple of other hosting providers.

“I am still with DigiWorldz — we will be going into our three years with them soon,” Baller Nation grid owner Monique Bartley, who is also known as Malani Baller in-world, told Hypergrid Business. “I like the service. He fixes any issues we have, which is basically none. He is the best host thus far.”

GreekLife

GreekLife launched their own grid hosting service last year, and several grids now call it home. Prices start at 57 Euros a month for a mini-grid with up to 12 regions, at 20,000 prims per region, with a 25 Euro setup fee. Full grids are also available. For example, a 30-region full grid is 160 Euros a month, with a 30 Euros setup fee, and includes a choice of virtual currencies, including Gloebits, as well as Vivox voice, and a grid website.

One customer that’s been with them since the start is Tranquility Grid, which currently has 44 regions and 393 active users.

“The service is still as good as day one,” said grid owner Steve Stewart. “In fact, it’s often quicker than those grids we were on who were self-hosting.  Every host has its quirks,  but we have had maybe a total of three hours unscheduled downtime in the year and a half we’ve been with GreekLife, so yes I would definitely recommend them.”

YourSimSpot

YourSimSpot is best known for providing low-cost regions on free-to-connect grids like OSgridZetaworldsMetropolis, and MyOpenGrid. A standard region is just $25 a month, no setup fee, and includes Vivox voice, Gloebit payments, hypergrid, and an online interface where you can upload or download OAR and IAR files, restart regions, or broadcast messages to all users on your region. Other region sizes are also available.

But they will also do mini-grids on request, owner Anthony Gill told Hypergrid Business.

“The pricing for the standalone is $55 with one region with 45,000 prims,” he said. “Any additional regions are at our regular price.”

Oliveira Virtual Lands

Oliveira Virtual Lands is best known for providing low-cost regions on free-to-connect grids like OSgrid, Metropolis, and FrancoGrid, with a standard region just $12 a month. They offer a web-based administration panel for region owners, and have DropBox integration for backups. But they will also do mini-grids on request.

“I could host a standalone or Diva Distro region, it’s not on my website, but I do it sometimes for who needs it,” company owner Fernando Francisco de Oliveira told Hypergrid Business.

GeVolution

GeVolution is another hosting service operated by an established grid. Prices start at $150 for the first month and $125 a month after that, for a 12-core server, daily backups, Vivox voice, hypergrid, DDOS and malware protection, in-world search and classifieds, currency, profiles, groups, avatar partners, and avatar transactions history pages.

Tomahost

Tomahost is a European company, offering both mini-grid and full grid hosting, with prices starting at US $11 (9.95 Euros) a month on a shared server. Tomahost provides support in English and Spanish.

Kitely

Kitely, the on-demand, cloud-based OpenSim grid, launched its virtual private grids earlier this year. These aren’t traditional OpenSim grids since they’re part of the Kitely infrastructure and customers don’t get all the features that they would get if they had their own grid. On the other hand, customers looking for enterprise-grade user, access and permissions management will get a lot more functionality that they do in standard OpenSim.

Private virtual grids start at $50 a month for the grid services, plus $15 a month for a 15,000-prim region. But that region can be configured as a varregion of up to four, nine, or sixteen standard-sized regions, and can handle up to 100 simultaneous avatars. Larger capacity regions are also available.

You can read my review of their private virtual grid system here.

What stood out for me was how quick it was. I paid for the service, ordered a region, and the grid was up and running right away.

If your grid doesn’t require a full website front end, or if you can build your own, this is one of the best deals out there.

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Kitely rolled out its virtual private grid service at the beginning of the year. Today, I finally decided to try it out.

The bottom line? It looks like a good option for schools, non-profits and companies that need a way to handle lots of different users and regions, and need to set access and permissions policies in a centralized way that can scale easily.

For my needs, which is a small mini-grid with a very small number of concurrent users, the Kitely service is overkill. Plus, the lowest price level is $50 a month for the private grid, plus $15 for each region you add, so at least $65 a month for the smallest possible option. That’s a great price when compared to commercial grid hosting providers — or compared to Second Life — but is not the lowest price in OpenSim.

Read on for more details.

Getting started

First, you need to log into your Kitely account — or create one, if you don’t have one yet.

Then go to your Settings page which is under the “Go to” drop-down menu at the top of the screen, and scroll down to the “Organizations (Virtual Grids)” section and click on “Create organization.” You can also get to this page from the Kitely home page — scroll down to the “New! Get your own Virtual Grid only on Kitely” banner and click on “Order Now.”

It cost me $49.95 to create the organization, or — since I paid for it with Kitely Credits — 9990KC. That’s slightly less than the full price because it was prorated for the number of days left in the month.

I named my organization “Hypergrid Business.” A popup came up — my organization had been created, and the management page for it was ready to go. I even had my own webpage for it, hypergridbusiness.kitely.org.

I logged in with my Kitely avatar credentials. This actually took a little bit of work to figure out, since on Kitely, I was logging in with my Facebook account, and I have a couple of different email addresses associated with it. After a little bit of trial and error, though, I was in.

I had exactly one active user — out of my maximum of 100, and no regions. Kitely calls its regions “worlds,” which still confuses me even after all these years of writing about it. Everywhere else, “world” is a synonym for “grid.” Calling regions, “regions,” or maybe “islands,” would have made more sense. But I digress.

Next, Kitely told me to set up my viewer. There’s an app you have to download that will configure Firestorm so that your new grid is one of the options on the grid selection menu.

I downloaded it and ran it, and now “Hypergrid Business” was one of the options in Firestorm, my preferred OpenSim viewer.

I logged in with my regular Kitely account and landed on the Kitely welcome center region. My grid was created, but it didn’t have any regions in it yet.

Back to the Hypergrid Business dashboard — nope, no way to add regions here.

I had to go back to my original Kitely account to create a new region.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner said that a feature to buy new region right from the organization’s dashboard is coming, but it’s not available yet.

So, back on the main Kitely page, I went to “My Worlds” and clicked on “New World.” I had a choice of region sizes, and a choice of prims. I picked a two-by-two varregions with up to 15,000 prims, which costs $14.95 a month. I paid with Kitely Credits, which cost me 3990 KC, again pro-rated because I was buying it in the middle of the month.

You also have a choice of starting with empty land, with a couple of default starting regions, or with my own OAR file.

I used a starting OAR from the free OutWorldz OARs collection., OAR Eden by Avia Bonne. It came as a zipped file, and I had to unzip it first, so that I could upload the OAR file itself.

The Eden OAR is just a single region in size, so the other three regions on my two-by-two var were empty land.

I named the new region “Hypergrid Business” because I have no imagination.

Now I had a “Hypergrid Business” region in my Kitely account, but still no regions in my “Hypergrid Business” virtual private grid.

To add my new region to my new grid, I needed to go to my Kitely management panel, click on “My Worlds,” click on “Manage” next to my region’s name, select the “Advanced” tab and select “Hypergrid Business” for “Organization.”

Now, when I go back to my Hypergrid Business grid management dashboard, I see the “Hypergrid Business” region in the “Worlds” section.

Whoo hoo!

Up to now, it was all pretty straightforward. It was annoying to configure the viewer and annoying to have to go back and forth to create a new region, but not too bad.

Now came the hard part — figuring how to actually visit the thing.

When I logged in via Firestorm to my new grid, I landed in the Kitely grid’s welcome center again.

According to Tochner, if I had created a new local avatar for my new grid — what Kitely calls a “managed user” — I would have started right out on my new grid. The reason I landed in the Kitely welcome center was because I was using a Kitely avatar.

And I couldn’t get to a region called “Hypergrid Business.” There was already a region with that name — set up by me, a million years ago, and never deleted — and the new region I created today was called “Hypergrid Business 2.” Searching for Hypergrid Business in the map brought up both of them, and I tried one, then the other before I found the one that worked. Good thing I didn’t name my region “welcome”!

Then I had to set all the access permissions. I am still not exactly sure what I did — I just kept trying different things in my virtual grid management panel until it worked.

In the screenshot above, you can see one of the management pages. At the bottom right, you can see the “Open to all users” as one of the groups allowed to access the region.

To create a new access permission, you have to click on the little circle that looks like a drawing palette with a plus on it. While I was there, I also set this as the default region for new visitors to my new grid.

Tochner himself came in-world and tried to explain all these settings to me. The basic idea is that you set up groups of users, and groups of regions, and specify which groups of users are allowed to access what groups of regions. One of the default groups of users is visitors from the main Kitely grid. Another default user group is visitors from the hypergrid. You also start out with a group called “Organization users,” which has a subcategory called “Admins.” Or you can create your own groups.

You can also group regions. For example, you might have a group of admin regions that can be accessed only by grid administrators. You can move the regions and users around between the groups.

Eventually, I hit on the right combination of permissions so that my new region was hypergrid enabled.

I could tell because the Kitely world page for the Hypergrid Business region now showed my hypergrid address — grid.hypergridbusiness.kitely.org:8002:Hypergrid Business 2.

Handy, because now I could also see the full region name. Everywhere else in Kitely the region name shows up as “Hypergrid Business” even though it’s actually called “Hypergrid Business 2.”

I opened up Firestorm again and logged into OSgrid with my OSgrid avatar. Could I teleport in? I got as far as the Kitely Transfer Station, which told me that the region was loading up — then the teleport was aborted and I was kicked out of Firestorm.

I tried changing the access permissions, the group memberships, all sorts of stuff before I finally had a brainstorm. I logged into Firestorm with my Kitely account, hopped over to my new region, then right-clicked on my land and selected “About Land.”

Under the “Access” tab, the setting “Anyone can visit” was unchecked. I checked it. Closed Firestorm. Logged back in with my OSgrid account. Tried hypergrid teleporting in — and now it worked!

Tocher explained that, by default, new regions have land settings that allow people to visit. But since I used my own OAR file, that OAR file had its own access setting which took priority.

“There are overlaps between the various OpenSim access controls and the Kitely controls,” he said.

In the snapshot below, my OSgrid avatar is sitting on a boat on my new “Hypergrid Business” region on the “Hypergrid Business” virtual private grid.

Enterprise-grade features

Besides the whole group management and access management functionality, there also other features designed for enterprise users.

For example, you can see the whole history of who visited your grid, when, and drill down to individual users.

This is important for schools, say, managing student access.

“The access history is also required for compliance, for those organizations that are in regulated industries,” said Tochner. “That’s very hard to do with plain old OpenSim.”

And you can create new user accounts in bulk, such as when you’re onboarding hundreds of new students at the start of the school year.

You can also create a default avatar that new users can select, based on the avatar appearance you’re wearing now, or that of any other local user on your private grid.

More enterprise-friendly features are on the way, said Tocher, such as the ability for companies to manage their Kitely grids via an API.

“That will let you turn the virtual worlds into an enterprise-grade solution,” he said. “That is already in beta.”

Organizations will soon also be able to get a customizable viewer page, to make it easier for users to log in, he said.

Tochner declined to provide customer numbers but said that there are already some organizations on the platform with hundreds of active weekly users.

“And they are intending to scale up next year,” he added. “This is just a trial run.”

If an organization has hundreds of users, it’s possible to manage them with standard Second Life or OpenSim management tools, he said.

“But when you’re managing hierarchical organizations or ones with thousands or tens of thousands of users, that’s where the benefits of the Kitely organizational features become very apparent,” he said. “We designed our system to enable administrators to easily manage hierarchies of different user types with different permissions. Managing such organizational structures without our solution is a lot more complicated and time-consuming.”

While Kitely doesn’t provide web hosting, most of its customers already have their own websites, he said.

“And those that don’t can get one from thousands of available website hosting providers,” he added. “What Kitely provides is a complete solution for actually integrating virtual worlds into organizations. Not just by providing virtual grid hosting, but by providing organizations with the setup tools, APIs and online management capabilities that they need in order to roll out such services to their users in regulation-compliant ways.

Who should get this

Based on what I’ve seen so far, the Kitely virtual private grids are a good fit for schools, companies and non-profits that want a lot of management capabilities.

So, say, if I was running a language school, I might want some regions open to the public, to hold events and open houses.

I’d want some regions just for staff, where my employees could build, or develop new educational tools.

I’d want some regions for teachers, where they could meet with each other or have their own private offices or building areas.

And I’d want some regions that were classrooms, available only to the students in those classes and their teachers.

Finally, I’d want some areas open to all students where they could kit out their avatars or practice in-world building, or attend school-wide events.

I would also want to be able to have different abilities for different kinds of users. I might not want students to upload content, for example, or hypergrid travel to other grids, while teachers and grid admins can.

That’s all possible with Kitely’s virtual grid.

With its..

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If you’re new to OpenSim, you’re probably here because you’ve heard about the ridiculously low land prices.

Many grids offer regions for $10 a month — or less — and you can get a whole grid for free by running your own

Superlow land prices on commercial grids

If you look at the Hypergrid Business list of OpenSim grids that rent regions, you’ll see that the prices are ridiculously low when compared to Second Life.

A “standard region” — 256 meters by 256 meters, capable of holding up to 15,000 prims — can be had for less than $5 a month, and is perfectly fine if you want a place to do some light building and maybe have a couple of friends over.

More typically, expect to pay around $15 a month. That’s what the largest commercial grid by land area, Kitely, charges. Even OpenSim’s most successful closed commercial grid, Tag Grid, charges just $15 a month for a standard region.

And you typically get much more functionality than you get with a standard Second Life region. Kitely regions, for example, called “worlds” on their website, are two-by-two islands that can hold up to 100,000 prims. On Tag, you can choose the size of your region, either standard size, or a two-by-two, or a four-by-four, at no additional cost.

These kinds of features — more prims, more land, more users — are commonly available throughout the OpenSim grids, sometimes for free, sometimes for a small additional cost.

But you don’t have to settle for land on someone else’s grid. You can have your own.

Get a mini-grid

When I had my own grid, Hyperica, it was a mini-grid, hosted by Dreamland Metaverse.

A mini-grid is an OpenSim grid that fits on a single computer or server. There’s a limit to how big they can get, since all the regions have to fit on that one computer. Mini-grids, technically known as “standalone” grids, are typically four to 16 regions in size, but can get bigger if you have a more powerful computer.

At Dreamland Metaverse, a standalone mini-grid starts at $45 a month.

With a mini-grid, you get your own domain name and hypergrid address, and a stripped down website.

If your hosting provider uses DreamWorld to set up your mini-grid, the website will look something like this:

92 Miles grid default home page.

If your hosting provider uses the Diva Distro version of OpenSim, your home page will be a “wifi” page that looks something like this:

Grid Nirvana’s Wifi page.

That gives your users the ability to create new accounts and to check grid statistics. Some grids create a nice-looking official home page, then link to the “DreamWorld” or “WiFi” page for the stats and user account functionality.

A mini-grid is a great option for people who want to have a small grid of their own to play on, to hold classes or business meetings, or to hold small events. And you don’t have to deal with any grid politics — as long as you don’t violate any laws, the grid is your own, and you can do on it whatever you want. You decide who gets to be a user, you decide what content is allowed on the grid, and you decide whether to allow hypergrid teleports or turn them off.

But once you start to rent out land, hold a lot of big events, and have more regions than what a single computer can hold, then its time to upgrade to a full grid.

Run your own full-size grid

The difference between a full grid and a mini-grid is that a full grid can be spread over several servers or computers. That means that it can grow almost indefinitely.

You can also put each region on its own server so that if a region goes down, it doesn’t take down any other regions with it. That’s useful if you are renting regions out to people who expect a certain level of stability.

Running your own grid takes quite a bit of technical skill.

So what do you do if you don’t have those technical skills, and don’t want to manage programmers? You use an OpenSim hosting provider.

I already mentioned Dreamland Metaverse. Their prices start at $45 a month for the central grid service, plus $30 each per region. There’s no set up fee, and they’ll have your grid up and running in three days.

Another popular option for commercial grid hosting is DigiWorldz.

The full list of independent OpenSim hosting providers doesn’t include DigiWorldz because they don’t have a webpage up that explains their grid hosting offer. You will need to contact them and negotiate a custom price based on your requirements.

Run your own for free

If you have a spare computer sitting around, and a decent Internet connection, you can run your own OpenSim, for free.

The most popular option is to download the OSgrid OpenSim Installer and you can have as many regions as you want, for free, on OSgrid. Not only does OSgrid let you have regions for free, but they’re also the biggest testing ground of new OpenSim features, so please donate. The donations help cover the costs of the servers they need to handle all the central grid services, such as the map, messages, user inventories, and the asset database.

Metropolis has a similar system, but you have to pay 1.50 Euros a month for the connection.

If you don’t want to be part of any grid, but have your own little grid for fun and friends, then a mini-grid might be the best option. A mini-grid — technically called a standalone — is a grid where all the regions can fit on a single computer. So the more powerful your computer, the bigger your mini-grid. Typically, mini-grids start at four regions, then go up to 16, and then up from there.

Currently, the single best way to set one up is with DreamWorld.

You can do it either on a spare computer, or a server you rent from an online hosting provider.

“I have a 2016 Server with 8 GB and 2 cores somewhere overseas, I forget where, just for testing,” said dreamWorld creator Fred Beckhusen. “It runs about $25 for a grid — 8 regions or so, a couple of gigabytes of prims.”

But most people just get a cheap PC, or use an old PC at home and save the money, he said.

“A used $300 PC from Ebay is more than enough for most,” he said. “Like an I3 or I5 with lots of RAM, and a router that works.  A small SSD is nice — 128 GB is dirt cheap and large enough to run my 100 region grid –) but not really necessary.  I would look for 16 GB of RAM which is a decent amount that will run anything you want.”

Another option is the DivaDistro version of OpenSim, from hypergrid inventor and OpenSim core developer and all-around superhero Crista Lopes.

Finally, there’s a full grid. Most commercial grids are full grids, with centralized grid services such as Robust.

The regions don’t have to all be on the same computer. The central grid server organizes everything so you can have as many regions as you want — just add more computers, or more online servers, and you can grow the grid indefinitely.

A full grid also offers additional management capabilities that a mini-grid doesn’t have, and, if you want, you can let people attach their own, self-hosted regions.

Beckhusen has a version of OpenSim that lets people easily create a full grid. It’s called DreamGrid, and you can download it for free as well.

“As for capabilities, it has more than most grids,” he said. “Unlike major grids, it has a Icecast server, Tides, Partners, Birds, Crash detect, auto restart on Interval, auto backup, auto update, and it takes just one click to set up a working grid, if your router is any good.  One DreamGrid can run many region servers, just like OSgrid or Metropolis,  and many hundreds to thousands of regions.”

It requires more computing capacity than a mini-grid, but Beckhusen is working to change that.

“One day soon, hopefully by year end, there will a DreamGrid update so you can run any size grid you want in just 8 GB, even on a Craptop,” he said.

If you’d rather handle all the technical setup details yourself, you can also download OpenSim from the main OpenSimulator website.

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(Image courtesy Utopia Skye.)

The Utopia Skye OpenSim grid will be holding an art fair this month, and submissions will be accepted until June 15.

The Skye Art Fair itself will run from June 29 to July 28, with special events on the opening weekend, June 29 and June 38. There will also be a closing ceremony on July 27.

“Artists from all over OpenSim and the hypergrid are most welcome to participate in this Art Fair and proudly show their works of art,” the grid announced on its Discord channel.

The event will be located at the hypergrid address utopiaskyegrid.com:8002:Skye ArtSpace.

(Image courtesy Utopia Skye.)

To submit an application, artists can fill out a form, available on the grid’s Discord Channel, or contact event organizers Moontan Valeeva, EC Skye, Tiana Genesis, and Eagle Wolf in-world.

The grid can also be reached via its Facebook page or on Twitter @UtopiaSkyeGrid.

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The welcome region on Mobius Grid. (Image courtesy Mobius Grid.)

The gaming-themed Mobius Grid has introduced display names for its residents and is working to make the technology wider used within OpenSim, grid owner Roy Corr told Hypergrid Business.

The grid rolled out display names last year and was testing them on the hypergrid this spring.

“We have been collaborating with a few other grids to make it work properly across the hypergrid,” Corr said. “HG travelers might have noticed it working on OpenSimFest to whom we contributed the code for hypergrid testing, as well as some Mobius residents attending the event with display names.”

All modern viewers should support the new functionality without any problems, he said.

When Mobius Grid residents travel to other grids, their display names are shown to other users. (Image courtesy Mobius Grid.)

Grid owners will soon be able to install the code themselves — and might even become part of standard OpenSim, he said.

“This will certainly be made public once it is complete, and will also be submitted to core,” Corr said. “Right now we are working to make it easily configurable and optional, as well as cleaning up the code for a release state.”

Changing the display names lets users keep their same avatar name, while changing the name that shows above their head to other users.

Second Life, for example, already offers this functionality. To change their names, users open the Profile settings in their viewer, click on “Edit Profile,” click “Display Name,” then type in a new name in the “New Display Name” field. Users can also choose whether or not to see others’ display names, in the “General” tab of the “Preferences” settings, under “View Display Names.” In Second Life, users can change their display names once every seven days but can reset it back to their avatar name at any time.

“One of my earliest feature requests for OpenSimulator was to add display name support,” said OpenSim developer Timothy Rodgers. “The addition of this feature should and always with most OpenSimulator features should be optional. However, it provides users an ability to set names based on a multitude of things while keeping the same account. This has become a large thing these days with online platforms where users change their display names but keep their same username.”

However, not all developers are eager to see display names implemented.

Melanie Thielker

“All active developers despise the feature,” said OpenSimulator core developer Melanie Thielker. “In Second Life, it pretty much makes names untypeable and that impacts abuse reports because if you can’t type someone’s name, you can’t search for them.”

There are currently no plans for the core developers to work on this, she told Hypergrid Business.

“None of us would do the work — we just don’t like the feature,” she said. “But being open source, we are willing to accept patches for the feature
from the community.”

Even if the new code is submitted, however, and approved for inclusion in mainline OpenSim, it may take a while for it go get into the official distribution because nothing is scheduled right not.

“I’m not really aware of any imminent releases,” she said. “Also, it seems the initially enthusiastic work on the viewer has stalled.”

Some OpenSim users, grid admins favor display names

Many residents of the Mobius grid are happy with the new feature, however.

“There’s no reason not to include display names, plain and simple” said Mobius Grid resident Ikey Ilex. “Whether it’s for role-play purposes or just cosmetic, the ability to change your name without losing your entire inventory is a big deal. You can even change your name in real life, so why not the second?”

“I personally feel that as a whole for OpenSim it should be an adopted aspect, seeing how it’s a widely used thing on Second Life itself,” said Mobius Grid resident Dominic Alastar. “Many people find it useful for many things. As someone who has been around for almost 11 years on Second Life, I find myself changing names every so often for either business purposes, role-playing or just for silly fun with friends. Being restricted to one basic name has hardly ever been a favoured thing by users and the fact that in real life we can go about changing our names or look, it’s only logical that it’s something that OpenSim itself adapts as well for its user base. I am proud to be part of a community that has made it possible to have display names just like Second Life itself and feel that others should consider doing the same.”

“Display names are integral to the core philosophy of the original idea of Second Life, which is the concept of self-expression,” said Mobius Grid resident Syrinx Karu. “Providing the functionality serves as a further conduit to that ideology, which allows users to further customize their virtual reflection of identity in the game. It’s a step further towards the future, rather than genuflection to the past. It should be a base feature of OpenSim, and why it isn’t frankly baffles me.”

“It will be a wonderful addition to OpenSim,” Forgotten Realities resident Andrea Oreo. “I think OpenSim should adopt the Mobius Grid display name code.” Realities

Some other grid owners are also in favor of having display names in OpenSim.

“I think adding display names is a great idea,” said MisFitz Grid owner Korgi Silvercloud. “It is easier on grid owners and administrators, because they will no longer need to change a residents actual user name, and it is good for residents because it adds in a feature that many people coming over from Second Life sorely miss. The ability for users to be able to change there display name on the fly is a win-win situation or everyone.”

Display names will also let users have the name of their choice as their display names, even if that name has already been taken by another user on that grid.

“Just because most grids are small enough to not have any name collisions now doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there,” said Raz Welles, former owner of the Raz Cafe grid. “Your login ID is one thing, your visible name doesn’t necessarily need to also be your login ID. It also saves people the trouble of making a new account just because they want to use a different name.”

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