Friday, 17 June 2016

Why do virtual worlds seem so empty to new users?

Raspberry stands in deserted desert town
Eden's Lair Inworldz
 It is very common after entering a new world to pass through a phase of doubting whether other users actually exist. I shall call this the post nuclear fallout  phase. If you read back through my earlier blogs you will notice me panicking that everyone else in world is a bot.

 Virtual worlds have a great deal of freedom associated with them, especially places like Inworldz where most people leave their doors open to visitors, even when they are not at home. Most new residents will enjoy hopping from place to place looking at everything, but whereas in the real world those places available to visitors are all public spaces, like parks and shopping malls, most of the area in virtual space is given over to residential sims.

 So new users are effectively doing the real world equivalent of running around in people's gardens most of the time (don't panic, this is ok, residents like showing off their builds!) As you can imagine, a sim owned by one or two users will be empty much of the day.
Raspberry looks at shop empty of other people
Oak Harbour, JP Designs, Inworldz

 Ah yes Raspberry (I hear you say) but I went to a shop and nobody was there, and a shop isn't somebody's home! You are right, but unlike in real life, a commercial venue isn't really a social space. Avatars tend to dash in, get what they want and leave. You may see them, they will probably be friendly, but most likely you just missed them.

 So where do I find the people then?? I hear you ask. I don't see people walking about, there's no work commute here, so no traffic queues or transport stations, no schools, so I don't see parents at the gate, help!

Raspberry at bottom of tropical sea with tropical fish
Under the Black Powder Sea - Inworldz
 You are right! So many real life places where you would see crowds don't exist in virtual space, and whereas in your own town or city 'everybody's got to be somewhere' in IW, if residents are at work, or busy elsewhere they simply don't appear in world.

 So it's hopeless then, I'm doomed to wander alone like a lost spirit? Not at all, it's much better than that! Virtual space acts as a filter. How do you mean? Well do you talk to everyone who walks past in the main street of your town? Of course not, why would I do that? Exactly, the empty spaces are empty, because of all the people that aren't here. Wut? Consider the gas station attendants as an example. Pardon?

Large frog on beach with jetty and shoreline behind
Clare Island - Inworldz
 Well let's say there are 100,000 gas stations in the USA. I'm not sure where this is going. It's a Raspberry explanation, things can get a little tricky, hang in there. OK. Imagine if all the staff, from all those gas stations were in Inworldz right now. Hmm. What if you wanted to chat to somebody in IW, but 99% of the people you met were in the middle of taking visa transactions, or promoting some weird gambling scratch card, that would be annoying wouldn't it?

 It would be ridiculous! Yes it would. Hang on, so what you are saying is, there aren't as many people, but everyone I do meet is actually here! Now you've got me confused. They're here because they want to be here, in their leisure time. Virtual reality takes away all those people you don't really want to talk to , or who aren't actually available anyway so it's actually a time saver! Exactly, now you are getting it!

  ..and how do I meet them then? Aha, that's a whole new blog I think! Oh what??

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Virtual worlds, who could benefit?

  Many new users joining Inworldz have previous experience of virtual worlds, but it is equally true that many do not. In fact the IW Founders are actively seeking to attract new residents who haven't considered trying out the metaverse before.

Fishing in Sims 4
  Where are these potential new customers to be found, and what are they doing right now? Could they be gamers currently operating in an online community who would like to hang out with their friends in a new environment? Those playing simulation games like the sims franchise, who already enjoy creative activity and would enjoy a larger environment to work with?  Or simply friends socialising on Facebook who would like to expand their ways of interacting online?

  Maybe architecture, or film students would welcome the opportunity to try our their blossoming skills in an environment where financial risks are low, and demolishing an experimental building is only a click away.
 Could they be recent retirees, missing the social environment of their workplace, or 9 to 5ers working to earn a living, but secretly yearning for an alternate career, possibly as an entertainer or retailer?
 Are there role players out there whose needs and environment aren't being provided by the big game companies, or artists who struggle to find an audience in their own community?

Fishing on Picnic Island, Inworldz
 What about inlanders who miss the sea, and long to have a boat? Or a stay at home parent who would love a space of their own, and conversations with folks their own age.

 There are millions of  city dwellers, dealing with noise and a crowded environments. Would a beach hut on a peaceful sandy shore provide a mental break from the endless bustle and stimulation of overwhelming urban life?
 Conversely, many live in more isolated rural environments, where the challenge can be to find others who share your interests.

  The possibilities for play and experimentation are just as wide, from the fun but trivial..."I wonder what I'd look like blonde?"... to the fundamental and life changing, such as meeting a life partner, or re-thinking a career path.
Gulls flying at Mimi's Choice, Inworldz

 In a changing world, the health benefits of virtual reality are already proven. Imaginative interactions are the building blocks of adaptive behaviour, and are as appropriate for adults as children.
 We already know this, but how do we share that good news with those who haven't experienced it yet? How do we explain the difference that interacting in a 3d adaptable environment makes, compared to chatting in a forum, or within a combat game? Is it even possible to predict what any particular individual will need, or find satisfying in virtual living.

 What would be a valid answer to the question of why Inworldz is different to Minecraft sandbox?  An interesting challenge.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Inworldz seo curries and googling necronautics

Finding your way in Inworldz
Looking towards Midgard
  Since re-joining Inworldz after a couple of year's break I've become interested in catching up with with the history of our virtual home, both to fill in the recent gap in my knowledge, and to discover the earlier history of this online platform.

  If google's search engine is to be believed then *this* blog is front page news when using the search term Inworldz. I try to produce an interesting read, but in this case I'm attributing the over helpful 'this is what we think you personally wish to see' functionality for that result. In other words, I doubt very much it is what YOU see when searching the term, maybe your own site instead?

The southernmost tip of the sailable ocean
Jamesport Inworldz
  The official Inworldz website gets a front page feature (in my search), and it is possible that result is not algorithm led, but influenced by a paid google promotion. It is only on page two that I see the first relevant resident blog, and this link is given less priority than a discussion thread on a forum not connected to IW, and an out of date article by a non resident comparing Inworldz with another grid.

  How exasperating! I began to think that fellow IW folks were having so much fun in world that none of them thought to write online before 2016.

  Luckily for me, my asus memo keyboard spell checker is even more 'helpful' than google, and leaps in to change my search terms just after I look away from the type box to check the results. A friend who was interested in the IW furry community asked me some questions I struggled to answer, so I braved google again. Due to the random way these searches are handled it took me a while to note that there was a *curry* theme to the list.
Helpful Mentors at Inworldz Desert island

Inworldz CURRIES!! Stupid bleeping tablet!!!  I was so distracted by composing an imaginary irate email to Asus so it took me a while to realise that this ridiculous search query produced more relevant results than any other combination of keywords I had previously thought of.

 So I tried some more randomish combinations, and to my amazement and delight, a raft of older IW blogs, articles and relevant information surfaced. I even discovered founder Ele's infrequently updated site which held some fascinating insights. Result!

 Of course that blog is easy to find, now I know what I am looking for, but it's the generalised search terms which are so intractable, the most obvious words that a potential new user might try when researching grids.

 Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Purple is the new black - Shopping and Sewing In Inworldz

Ooh La La Chelsea Boots in Eggplant
OCD Signature Bag Lavender Croc

 In celebration of my new craft and sewing cabin, I have been raiding my inventory for sculpty clothing blanks which have been gathering dust on a virtual shelf for several years.

 I can and do make my own fabric, but as a treat I bought a box of 21 mix and match aubergine patterns from Cupid's huge warehouse stock.
 It was fun to just grab and go, make things for myself, without worrying about stocking a shop.

 This will stretch month's virtual clothing budget, and allowed me to buy mesh accessories, which are beyond my skills to create.

  Ooh La La is one of the premium boutiques which line the pretty streets of The Lanes, a shopping experience very much worth visiting.

Over in Honeywood, OCD, or Oh Cute Designs seem to have a shop full of items I'd like to buy, including some lovely home and garden items.

Not wanting to create an unmanageable mess in my inventory, I'm hoping to stick to a few coordinating colours in separates which can mix and match for different looks.

 My schedule makes it tricky to attend evening and weekend events, so it makes sense to focus on a mix of casual and smart day wear.

I have resolved to throw away any items which don't suit me, or which feel dated, and to make the inventory sorting more enjoyable have been searching out radio shows to listen to while I work.
Fabric: Cupid's Texture - Carried Away

 This DRAX Files podcast about virtual currency had me fascinated. Will we have a global currency for virtual worlds, how could that be managed without a Bitcoin style disaster? Something to ponder.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Two avatars, three houses..developing our virtual home.

Breezy Builds in Dyonisos

 I spent a good part of my in world time this week looking at houses. We have a gorgeous cottage created by Leanna Caerndow. This occupies the quietest corner of sim, and faces the void ocean, with swallows dancing the only decor against that big sky.
This corner is my sanctuary, with minimum furniture and a very restful feel.

Ayesha, my sim sharing friend loves the feel of this peaceful retreat, but she has a much more eclectic,
personal decorating style.  Although she really was quite happy camping out among the plywood on our build deck I seemed to feel the need to drag her down to ground level to make a shared den on the more public side of our sim, so she could feel at home there.

 This new house is meant to be a cluttered up space, where we can, hang out, watch the world go by and not feel the need to tidy up every five minutes!

 I had seen a few Breezy Builds houses around the Calia estates, and decided that one of these would do very well, and at the extremely low price of 99$iz it seemed worth a try.

 This build has the dual purpose of being a boathouse, which works very well as this is our closest point to the IW Ocean.

 Ayesha and I had some fun with the furnishings, and we will probably add to it as we go.

 This left me wanting a space as my craft / sewing room, something I would love to have in my home here in the UK, but space doesn't allow for it.

 Hey this is Inworldz, we have a whole sim to play with, why not have a dedicated building? So I raced off to Offbeat Mainstore in Midsommar to pick up the Gardener's Retreat cabin and a few more things besides...oops!

  I'll keep the internal furnishings minimal, to allow camera room, but maybe pick up some themed items as I find them.

 It would be nice to find some suitable ambient sounds also, as these really make a difference. A waterside sewing cabin needs the sound of lapping waves!

 Have a great weekend, whether in world or in RL.