August 3, 2018
by Yichard Muni, elf bard
This is my official statement about the closing of Inworldz, as a user and social group leader.
The closing of Inworldz results from a synergy of several serious faults. For long we were feeling of something wrong, but we were taught only four days before.
The four last days were an horror, each rescuing what he could from his broken life, making his inventory appear in the sims, to do OAR files and perhaps restore our world. And people to pile all their possessions loose, in tears and desperate, frantically trying to save memories and contacts with their friends or lovers. The sandboxes showed a pile of random objects, trees, boats, furniture, houses, fountains flowing for nothing, portals continuing to tell welcoming words without any more purpose. All this of a great beauty: all what was in private sims that people do not usually show. It was the saddest scene I ever saw in the virtual: pieces of broken dream, made visible by our wonderful technology.
There were very few warning signs. We started by not receiving payments from Inworldz, via Paypal. One of mine was stuck on July 21st. Then, on July 23, Beth Reischl (Elenia Llewellyn in Inworldz), the only one of the three founders still in place, announced that the hosting company, Rackspace, would shut down the servers on the 27th, by lack of payments. All our inventories would be lost, because it was impossible to save them in such a short time.
For a moment, hope resurfaced to be able to pay Rackspace with a GoFundMe: 16,000 dollars were raised in 24 hours! However the disappointment came quickly: GoFundMe would not send this money before the 1st and the 15th of August. Then followed a delirium of accusations of Beth Reischl mounting a scam.
Anyway, Inworldz is now closed, and the inventories definitely lost. The precious OAR files are in the hands of Beth Reischl, who finds herself alone to recreate Inworldz.
After an interesting start, the situation of Inworldz deteriorated insidiously.
The beginnings of Inworldz
When Inworldz was created in 2009, it represented a highly anticipated alternative to Second Life, its bugs, its exorbitant prices, and its contempt of users. Anger had been at its peak in late 2008, when they chased the poorest residents. 20% of the residents left... but they accounted for 90% of the social activity. This is the proportion in which participation in my «Shedrupling» meetings fell.
In response, several important groups migrated to Inworldz.
Then ... this movement dried up, without explanation. People were even returning to Second Life!! Apparently, paying hundreds of dollars a month for a hobby was finally not a problem for them.
We received a lot of attacks from some supporters of Open Sims, especially from «hypergrid Business» led by Maria Trombly (Maria Korolov on the Internet).
Price dumping has been practiced (often unaware) by some creators of Open Sims «grids»: it is enough to create an Internet server to think we are a «business manager». The apparently free system allowed to set very low prices for «sims». It is just to forget that managing a virtual world requires a lot of time and energy, while it does not pay for the grocer. So many of these attempts disappeared after two or three years. But others were keeping to come constantly, also lured by their total ignorance of the operation of a company.
Another insidious form of denigration has come through the media, or by various propaganda and manipulations, such as making a difference between «virtual reality» and «virtual worlds»: promoting 3D helmets while stifling what they are supposed to show .
Under the enlightened guidance of David Daeschler (Tranquility Dexler in Inworldz), physics, mesh, and rigged mesh appeared. This new simulator then distinguished itself under the name of Halcyon (on Github). Inworldz gradually became technically the best, and its reputation has grown.
Despite these qualities, potential new users continued to sulk Inworldz, and to prefer more expensive alternatives.
However, it soon became apparent that the forum were not moderated, including from several notorious trolls. Worse, rage crisis from the founders became the way to impose standards and decisions. Several important contributors left the community because of such disputes. We even saw climate deniers speeches or fox-news style, all in stark contrast with the nice and smat community inside Inworldz.
from 2016 to 2018
The departure of founder David Daeschler (Tranquility Dexler in Inworldz), then the relocation of Beth Reischl to Panama, began to fuel doubts and speculations.
Believing in the future of Inworldz was more and more becoming an exercise in positive thinking.
However, there has been, in recent months, a surge of beauty and attendance. Especially, my Elf Dream Meetings were finally beginning to attract some regulars. The situation seemed rather a new birth. Until Beth Reischl posted the above annoucement.
Of course, I do not have access to pure truth, and we will probably never know it. But I think it could be summed up by saying that multiple faults were needed to allow the unthinkable to happen. Likely, Beth Reischl's intransigence would have finally triggered a retaliation from Paypal, or the later engaged in a political action hostile to Inworldz. In any case, we have objective facts accusing both: Beth says she let the situation fester in secret for two months, while Paypal does not reply to my support requests.
I do not give much for Inworldz: all the inventories are lost, many creators asked that their work be removed from the OAR files, and many residents will have found other hosting solutions before Inworldz is reborn from its ashes. The famous OAR files could even be mortgaged. But especially the name is discredited, many team members withdrew, and only remains the person at the origin of the disputes and mismanagement. And this person is not the kind to consider other opinions or give up any power.
Not to mention the dreadful karma of whoever reduced years of work to nothing, destroying the most beautiful virtual world ever and its warm community, where several real marriages were conducted and celebrated.
Fifteen years later, nobody has understood anything yet: it is the simple tools of Second Life: communication, groups, building, etc. which allowed its massive appropriation by common people, non-experts. Still, even today, only simulators derived from Second Life offer these features.
Of this family, Halcyon is without context the best (in 2018). In more, it is open source (on Github). However, there is still considerable work on it:
-Solving the problem of immutable assets, which produces an exponential swelling of the stored data.
-Remove (finally) the Internet UDP protocol, and replace it with TCP (in progress).
-Allow easy installation on a server, by non-specialists.
-Accounting with the numerous proposals I made at the beginning of Open Sims (and that of course nobody read)
-The most important of these proposals is that a copyrighted object is hosted by its own simulator. Thus it can perform hypergrid jumps in an insecure world, without this world having access to the copyrighted elements.
-Another important proposition is that we each have our personal hosting for our inventory, in order to avoid seeing everything destroyed by the defect of a society.
-Interpolators, terrain editing and mesh tools, etc.
-Have their own viewer, instead of running after Second Life.
-Which would finally allow for a fast and modern 3D rendering, instead of a lagging old jalopy.
Well, now, with a small and unmotivated team, there is a clear need for energy, and wise leadership. Because there is not a scarce will to implement the above solutions.
Unless this is finally the opportunity to restart all on a healthy and modern basis, without having to compromise with Second Life. Follow up here.
My trains in Inworldz (vidéos: Winter Fest 2014, Winter gala 2015, Fall Fest 2017, Elf Village 2017) were a leisure activity, but I let it take more and more space, because it indirectly served my spiritual purposes. Indeed these trains were very successful, and I sold a surprising number of them (especially the lovely 250mm tracks for Dinkies). They owed me a repute of a builder of beautiful and smart things. I was surprised that my fame extended even beyond Inwordz. In fact, I can state without false modesty that I have never seen trains of this quality in virtual worlds of this family. To have better, you have to be in video games dedicated to trains.
Gortax Robots served a more obscure purpose: to compensate for the absence of interpolators in the LSL scripting language, to animate complex objects. I succeeded, with the script GX-MOTOR, which animates the robot visible in this video. However the whole affair turned to a nightmare, with a huge complicated script which revealed the decline of my working capacity with age (Retirement is at 60 for a reason). While 17 years ago a similar realization with VRML interpolators only took me a single day! In Unity, the Lerp function even allows to make nonlinear interpolators, with a single line of code. However, this is only the reiteration of a situation that I had already experienced in the cult of which I was the victim: when we devote (more or less unconsciously) the majority of our efforts to compensate for the shortcoming of an organization, instead of directly useful activities, it is that there is a big hidden vice in this organization. Lesson learned the hard way, I shall not again involve in advertising any solution for virtual worlds or another.
I not yet decided what will become of these activities. If this is possible, my former customers will receive free copies of their lost trains. Lesson taken, I shall no longer try to compensate for the shortcoming of a world.
These activities directly served my purposes: to share a vision of a better world, through meetings, stories, and wonderful objects (Lysaer, the Elven constructions visible in this video). As for the trains, my stories were loved. But it is only in the end that I started to gather a few people in the Elf Dream meetings.
The destruction of Inworldz occurred precisely when I finally had the means to pay a «sim» (unit of ground), to build an elven village there. I had already started working on the landscape, looking a bit like Bora Bora, just smaller.
But the Elf Dream will not be so easily stopped. Elves are persistent. I will also continue the stories, although I do not know yet where or when (see the main page). For the marvelous Elven houses, the problem is the lack of protection of intellectual property in Second Life and Open Sims: I do not want to find them simply retextured elsewhere for different purposes.
It would be much simpler for any progress of Mankind to be simply accepted, without the need to struggle for it. But History shows that all progress has been achieved only at the cost of fighting, suffering and sacrifice, through the hands of unconscious p-zombies. Such a sacrifice has been imposed on my work, and on all residents of Inworldz, bringing a level of suffering and destruction comparable to a war.
I did not choose the path of sacrifice, it was imposed on me. But I know what to do in this case.
I dedicate all this suffering to that finally appears
a system of modern virtual worlds, technically up to date,
fulfilling the needs of users,
and managed by psychologically normal people.
(Amithaba sand mandala, Wesak 2018, Mahatare Buddhist centre, Singapore)