Updated: Mar 14, 2022
We have an extensive range of tropical sims in the OSgrid. As with any grid, from time to time it will require maintenance. So, we have a backup region on Neverworld. We took a backup region for another reason too. In the OSgrid we are unable to tip our DJ's and singers. Not all of them have access to PayPal. Having another location in a grid with a currency gives us another string to our bow, so to speak.
We thought we had better test this region before we got everyone to register and before we booked any DJ's and Live Singers. As a region, it seems to function well. The currency used at Neverworld is Podex. We asked several friends to register and then login to our region. This is where the fun starts!
The problem we experienced was caused by avatars from the OSgrid, and even avatars from the Neverworld grid, not being able to reach the destination region, our own region. This isn't a great start when you want to invite people to attend a new establishment. Out of 6 people trying to get there through direct teleport, or with Neverworld avatars, the failure rate was 50%. Even Neverworld avatars would be able to visit other regions, but not ours. It was so random. Some would get there and others would not.
Perhaps we had better take a look at what other alternatives are out there. So next up we take a look at Aviworlds. They are not prepared to budge on their region prices even though we only wanted half the prims and a relatively light use region. I say "light use" but at times we will have parties at our club. This, added to the fact that the owner was on vacation, meant that there would be likely delays in setup so we decided to move on and take a look elsewhere. With hosting prices around the world having fallen considerably, and with regions being available on several grids from $2.50 upwards we had set a cap of $10.00 on our requirement for a 10,000 prim region.
Alternative Metaverse looks good. Lets try that we thought. They have a very good tawk.to chat applet embedded in the site and the person I spoke to was extremely helpful. Prices were good so lets go ahead with this we confidently said. After registering, the email took a painful 20 minutes to arrive. Having confirmed the verification link that they sent an account was created. Upon entering the details in the Firestorm viewer I hit the button and.....invalid password or login details. For whatever reason I had to log out, refresh pages and enter the login uri again before it finally worked.
The website is not the best laid out of websites. Something about it wasn't right. I asked three others to follow the process of registering and logging in. One gave up because she never received a confirmation emil. There was no resend button, so anyone with only one email address has had it. The second experienced similar problems to mine, so we decided not to proceed any further. It is a shame because this had looked promising.
Lets give Zetaworlds a try. I have an old Zetaworlds avatar so login was pretty straight forward. This time, when I tried to order a region, I get a Fraud Prevention Message. The business protection system has detected that I am using a vpn and that my address does not match my payment. Completely wrong. I am not using a vpn and the system is extremely inflexible. A second attempt also failed. The business prevention system must be costing Zetaworlds a lot of customers. This, and the worrying aspect of the fact that you only have to be over 13 to sign into Zetaworlds, mean't that it was probably time to try something else.
Next stop was Metropolis which is one of the larger grids. However, it looks like they do not offer any kind of currency. It did not look like this would suit our needs. Incidentally, we were hoping to use Podex as a currency and the Podex website gives a list of grids that use this currency. Sadly it is out of date. Inspires you with confidence right?. We are not so keen on Gloebit because of historic problems that upset many people, some having had considerable losses as a result of the failure of their system recently.
So, my next stop is Dynamic Worldz. Registration was easy enough and their prices are good too. Upon arrival you are unceremoniously dumped on what looks like a sea bed while your avatar rezzes. Finally you can escape into a confusing brightly lit environment that is rezzing slowly whilst you try to find your way around. This grid was supposed to be offering Podex but we received an email saying that they had switched to their own currency. It finally transpired that they were using Gloebits but due to time zones and the fact that this looks very much like a one person operation we had moved on.
There were an addtional 5 or 6 grids that I am not even going to mention. They were so bad in their presentation or registration process, it makes you wonder how they ever get any new visitors. They look unsafe and un-professional and there has been little thought given to the user experience.
Finally we settled on Digiworldz. They have a somewhat restrictive policy and make it very clear that you should be able to prove that you are the owner of the items you use on your region. Quite how you are supposed to do that is unclear. Most people collect things from around the hypergrid. They also ban Athena mesh bodies pre version 3.5 for some bizarre reason. Anyway, lets give it a go. The registration form fails. The Terms and Conditions button is highlighted in red and several attempts to complete the form do not work. This is despite sending screen shots and explaining the situation "in world" and trying to reach a solution.
Having wasted the best part of a day trying to purchase a region I decided that the whole process was just not worth the trouble. I will stick with what we have on the OSgrid and that will have to do. The only reason I was doing this was to get a backup region up and running that accepted currency so that we could tip our DJ's and singers. It clearly is not worth the trouble. Sorry guys you will have to us PayPal.
Throughout this process grid owners were quick to say that they had never had these problems before. So it must have been us then? Several of us?. I mean how difficult is it to register and add the details of a new grid into your viewer? It's not hard. What is difficult, is coming up against badly designed and dis-functional websites and quirky variables that are often incomprehensible. No grid owner that we spoke to seems to take responsbility for this. The fact that it doesn't work is your fault or something that you have done!
All the time we hear the same old statement. Well opensim is still in Alpha and not even Beta yet. This is to be expected. Really? Do you really believe that? Founded in 2007, scroll forward to 2021 and its still not reached Beta mode. And, most of the problems we experienced were just registration and login ones.
Until the haphazard and slap dash systems of opensim change, they will never compete with the slick commercial alternative that is Second Life. There are more regions than there are people in opensim. For years, people have been saying that opensim is stealing customers from Second Life so fast, that Second Life's days are numbered. Dream on. The numbers of users and grids has dwindled over the last few years. Unless opensim gets its act together and becomes more savvy, it will forever remain the wild west outpost of a cheap and cheerful, but sub standard alternative to Second Life. The bargain basement, "Don't pay for anything" mentality of opensim has held it back for years.
I do like opensim. I will keep a foot in both Second Life and Opensim as I have done for a long time. There are disadvantage and advantages for both of course. However, if only grid owners could make the effort to ensure that their systems work for people, then they might not be hemorrhaging the number of inquisitive migrants from Second Life who give up and never return. Imagine what it must be like for someone venturing out of Second Life into this? No wonder people are happy to pay Second Life premium land prices and top dollar for their avatars. They just want things to work!.
This is just an observation of a simple exercise that should have taken a few minutes, having turned into an entire day. Hats off to the guys and girls of OSgrid and all the others grids that strive to keep them running. It is often a thankless task. I appreciate that there are so many things that can go wrong. But, please spend a little more time and effort with your registration processes and websites. Make them simple and effective and most importantly make them work seamlessly for the end user. If you think I am wrong try opening an account in Second Life. You will see the difference immediately.
PS: I am using a high spec PC with an excellent connection. I have been in Second Life and Opensim for over 15 years. I do know how it works, or in this case, how much of it doesn't work.
*Since writing this we have finally managed to get our region up and running in DigiWorldz, thanks to the efforts of the team there. They realised there was a problem, and they responded quickly and professionally, despite the fact that two members of the team were on vacation that day.