Sunday, 17 January 2010

InWorldz: An Interview with the Founders

InWorldz is a user-created Virtual World, based on the OpenSim platform. Unlike other worlds based on OpenSim this world has an economy, and uses a currency called the I'z. Currently, US$1 buys you $500 I'z.

There are no membership fees for InWorldz, and all uploads are currently free, with no plans to change that in the future. Residents may create content (without the need to own or rent any land) by using the provided sandboxes.

Land is available to buy, and comes in two flavours, Mainland (named Sah'ra) and Private Isles. Mainland regions are a cheaper than Private Isles, are restricted to PG content only, do not have full Estate controls, with terraforming restricted to +/- 15m, and have a prim limit of 30,000. Private Islands are full regions that are not connected to the Mainland. Private Isles have far more functionality and management capabilities than a mainland region. Private Isles have no rating restrictions, allow estate managers, and have full use of the estate tools. Private Isles come with a range of prims from 35,000 to 45,000.

Residents may also rent land from land owners, or get their feet wet from the community starter parcels, on the Ruby Shores region, from just $10 a month.

New Residents can sign up for InWorldz and get a username and password here.

To connect to InWorldz all you need is a viewer, and you can use the InWorldz-provided viewer, available from here, or the Hippo Viewer, available from here.

To connect with Hippo, follow these instructions:
  • Load the Viewer
  • Select the Grids button at the bottom of the interface
  • In the new window Hippo pops up, you'll see an Add button, press the button (this will clear all fields below)
  • For the field Login URI: type in '' (no apostrophes)
  • Check the drop down box is set for OpenSim
  • Click the Get Grid Info button
  • Click Apply then OK 
To use just type in your User First name, Last name, and password, and Log In.

InWorldz comes with an active Resident's Forum, a Support Centre, a Mantis bug tracking system, and a Wiki. From the website you can see the World Map, and also add events to an Events Calendar.

Considering that this Virtual World has been in existance for less than a year, it is remarkably advanced and well thought-out in its concept. I was impressed enough to seek out its owners, and they agreed to an interview so I could find out more.

Interview with the Proprietors of InWorldz
The proprietors of InWorldz are Elenia Llewellyn and Legion Hienrichs, and soon joining them will be Tranquillity Dexler.

Q. Tell me something about the history of InWorldz.
A. It started out at the end of 2008 / beginning of 2009 with a few of us in a chat room discussing  if we could even DO a full virtual world, it was a testing phase for us. Then we had people who were actually interested in seeing if we could really pull it together, and lo and behold, we had a live world. I had the time and dedication to devote to it, so we started looking at what could be used, worked on, where it really was in grand scheme of things, and by February 2009 we started our testing, and by April 2009 we actually allowed residents to come in and take a look for themselves. We got our first paying customer that same month, talk about our celebration, we were amazed!

Q. What are your goals and aims for InWorldz?
A. First and foremost, to become a viable platform that is comparable to SL. Then move on to advancing that platform. This will include things that we've spoken about as far as physics, meshes, and so on. These are all things we'd like to tackle later on to improve the platform.

Q. InWorldz is based on the Opensim platform. Are you happy with this choice of platform?
A. OpenSim has alot of potential in the fact it's not so far along it can't be revamped to our tastes. So in that regard, yes. We have done many tweaks over time with the opensim code. Most of which are geared towards making it a more reliable and usable platform. The basics are all there for the most part and we've been able to use the hooks provided to add missing functionality.

We have added a new system for profiles and other user data, revamped some of the permissions system, and rewrote the entire script event engine This was done because the current code as it stood was unable to reliably process scripts on the very region you stand on. We did some profiling, took a look at where the code was having issues, and fixed those issues to make the script engine run more like SL's.

We're concentrating on core services such as the script engine, assets etc. to make this a solid platform for growth.

Q. What is your stance on content theft, copybots, etc?
A. Copyright material needs to be protected. That's a clear cut situation for us, as we're content creators ourselves. We can't, however, police every upload, so we've made it clear, if DMCAs are filed, we will happily abide by them and remove the content from the world. We ask every resident who uploads here to abide by the wishes of the original content creator, or they will see themselves being banned from our world.

Thus far I've not run into anything that is blatant, but if I see something, I have no issues questioning the resident about the item(s). And residents will regularly ask me if "such and such is ok" to bring here, I routinely tell them, if in doubt, ask the creator first.

Q. I see you have your own viewer for InWorldz, in addition to the Hippo Viewer. Who designed your Viewer for you?
A. Legion Hienrichs: I did the viewer work. The information is freely available, so I basically did some text changes and added a few things a lot of other talented people created. Prim Backup, the permissions in the new 1.23 viewer, Worn Folder, etc. I am happy with this now, but it's as far as I can take it. We need someone with C++ skills to take this on. I am not a programmer.

Q. What avatar choices are available to a new resident?
A. A new resident only has the default (Ruth) avatar at present. they can change its sex, modify its shape, create hair, eyes, skin, shape and clothes for it, but there are no premade ones at present. A choice of premade avatars is something that has been sitting on my long list of to-do's for a while now, but when we did the web rework a couple months back, it fell further down my list. So at this point, choices are not available, but it is definitely slated to be available within the next 6 months.

Q. InWoldz has its own currency, the I'z. Is this currency convertible out, as well as in, and if not, do you have any plans to operate an exchange?
A. Yes, we have an ATM in SL and InWorldz where you can convert from I'z to L$ then back again. We have no operating exchange as of yet, but it is in our plans to provide one as the world grows.

Q. How many Regions does InWorldz currently have? How many residents?
A. We have a 25 region mainland, and then about 15 private isles outside of that... our current resident count is 620+, what we actually see as being logged in is around 1.5% to 2% of that during peak hours.

Q. How many staff does InWorldz have, apart from the Proprietors? What are your hours of operation?
A. You're looking at us! Other than our mentors who are a huge help and the residents who go out of their way to help new people. As for hours of operation, we have the US Daylight hours covered, then it goes to at least 10pm EST from there.

Q. Is InWorldz funded solely by the proprietors, or do you have external sources of funding?
A. Originally, was completely funded by the Proprietors, while Legion was a big part of that to get us going. As for external sources, we've discussed it, with no firm decisions on that yet. Our business plan is solid though as we're self-sustaining already

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. I would like to add that we have to give a huge thank you to our current residents. Without them, we would not have gotten as far as we have, and they deserve a nice mention for putting up with all our bugs over the last 8-9 months.

Good luck guys.