OpenSim regions up, actives down with summer heat

The total land area of OpenSim’s public grids jumped by more than 33,000 region equivalents this month, with the addition of a large new grid to our list. However, the total number of active users was down by nearly 1,500, due to several grids not reporting stats this month. Missing grids included Fire and Ice, The City, and Little Big City.

The big new grid was Simation Grid, with a reported 25,408 region equivalents. OpenSim’s architecture makes it easy for grid owners to launch with plenty of space. Or it could be a stats mistake — the grid’s website says “Standard Region Equivalents: 25408 Km2” — and if it is actually giving the area in square kilometers, than it has 387,693 total regions, which would make it larger than all the other OpenSim grids put together. I couldn’t find any contact information on the grid’s website, and some of the pages seem to be placeholders, so if you’re the owner of Simation Grid and are reading this, and if I got your numbers wrong — please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com and I’ll update this article!

We are now tracking a total of 2,675 public grids, of which 318 are active and 258 published their statistics this month. If you have a stats page that we’re not tracking, please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com — that way, your grid will be mentioned in this report every month, for additional visibility with both search engines and users.

This month, OSgrid was the largest grid by land area, with 33,554 standard region equivalents, while Wolf Territories Grid was the most active, with 6,540 unique logins over the past 30 days.

OpenSim land area for July 2024. (Hypergrid Business data.).

Our stats do not include most of the grids running on DreamGrid, a free easy-to-use version OpenSim, since these tend to be private grids.

OpenSim is a free, open-source, virtual world platform, that’s similar to Second Life and allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds and teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their servers for free using either DreamGrid, the official OpenSim installer for those who are more technically inclined, or any other distribution, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region.

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

Hypergrid Business newsletter is now available

Every month on the 15th — right after the stats report comes out — we will be sending out a newsletter with all the OpenSim news from the previous month. You can subscribe here or fill out the form below.

Get our monthly stats and all other OpenSim news delivered right to your mailbox every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

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. Wolf Territories Grid: 6,540 active users
  2. OSgrid: 5,168 active users
  3. GBG World: 2,333 active users
  4. DigiWorldz: 2,163 active users
  5. Alternate Metaverse: 1,967 active users
  6. Vida Dupla: 1,838 active users
  7. Darkheart’s Playground: 1,718 active users
  8. WaterSplash: 1,521 active users
  9. Trianon World: 1,108 active users
  10. AviWorlds: 1,028 active users
  11. AviVerse AlterEgo: 987 active users
  12. Neverworld: 962 active users
  13. Littlefield: 935 active users
  14. Party Destination Grid: 840 active users
  15. AvatarLife: 837 active users
  16. Moonrose: 825 active users
  17. Astralia: 771 active users
  18. Craft World: 744 active users
  19. Herederos Grid: 582 active users
  20. Virtual Vista Metaverse: 545 active users
  21. Gentle Fire Grid: 537 active users
  22. ZetaWorlds: 524 active users
  23. Groovy Verse: 522 active users
  24. Kitely: 462 active users
  25. Barefoot Dreamers: 438 active users

The biggest change on this list was the addition of Virtual Vista Metaverse, a new grid in our database, which had a strong launch.

Online marketplaces for OpenSim content

There are currently 20,965 product listings in Kitely Market containing 41,073 product variations, 35,835 of which are exportable.

Kitely Market has delivered orders to 628 OpenSim grids to date.

(Data courtesy Kitely.)

As you can see in the above chart, nearly all the growth in Kitely Market has been in content that can be exported to other grids — that is the green area on the graph. The red area, of non-exportable content, has stayed level for the past eight years.

The Kitely Market is the largest collection of legal content available in OpenSim. It is accessible to both hypergrid-enabled and closed, private grids. The instructions for how to configure the Kitely Market for closed grids are here.

Kitely has recently upgraded its version of OpenSim to allow for faster start-up times and better compatibility with scripts imported from Second Life.

New grids

The following grids were added to our database this month: Agartha, AmaziWorld, Casperia Prime, Gridworld, HG Safari Grid, Nosso Lar, Sciattisi Grid, Simation Grid, Steg, and Tenth Dimension.

If you know of any public grid that we’re missing, please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

Suspended grids

The following nine grids were marked suspended this month: Eenhgrid, Hermopolis Chimera, Kantarobasta Grid, Kindred Spirits World, Pseudospace, Rocket World, Royal Grid, Starfleet, and  Tropicana Grid.

If they don’t reappear online again soon, they will be marked as closed in future reports.

Sometimes, a grid changes its login URI or website address — if that’s the case, email me and let me know and I’ll update my database.

Top 40 grids by land area

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 here. A 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.

Do you know of any other grids that are open to the public but that we don’t have in our database? Email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

People think AIs are conscious. What could this mean for bots in OpenSim?

(Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly.)

I’ve been interacting with OpenSim bots — or NPCs — for nearly as long as I’ve been covering OpenSim. Which is about 15 years. (Oh my God, has it really been that long?)

I’ve been hoping that OpenSim writing would become by day job, but, unfortunately, OpenSim never really took off. Instead, I covered cybersecurity and, more recently, generative AI.

But then I saw some reporting about a new studies about AI, and immediately thought — this could really be something in OpenSim.

The study was published this past April in the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness, and it showed that a majority of people – 67% to be exact – attribute some degree of consciousness to ChatGPT. And the more people use these AI systems, the more likely they are to see them as conscious entities.

Then, in May, another study showed that 54% of people, after a conversation with ChatGPT, thought it was a real person.

Now, I’m not saying that OpenSim grid owners should run out and install a bunch of bots on their grids that pretend to be real people, in order to lure in more users. That would be dumb, expensive, a waste of resources, possibly illegal and definitely unethical.

But if users knew that these bots were powered by AI and understood that they’re not real people, they might still enjoy interacting with them and develop attachments to them — just like we get attached to brands, or cartoon animals, or characters in a novel. Or, yes, virtual girlfriends or boyfriends.

In the video below, you can see OpenAI’s recent GPT-4o presentation. Yup, the one where ChatGPT sounds suspiciously like Scarlett Johansson in “Her.” I’ve set it to start at the point in the video where they’re talking to her.

I can see why ScarJo got upset — and why that particular voice is no longer available as an option.

Now, as I write this, the voice chatbot they’re demonstrating isn’t widely available yet. But the text version is — and its the text interface that’s most common in OpenSim anyway.

GPT-4o does cost money. It costs money to send it a question and to get a response. A million tokens worth of questions — or 750,000 words — costs $5, and a million token’s worth of response costs $15.

A page of text is roughly 250 words, so a million tokens is about 3,000 pages. So, for $20, you can get a lot of back-and-forth. But there are also cheaper platforms.

Anthropic’s Claude, for example, which has tested better than ChatGPT in some benchmarks, costs a bit less — $3 for a million input tokens, and $15 for a million output tokens.

But there are also free, open-source platforms that you run on your own servers with comparable performance levels. For example, on the LMSYS Chatbot Arena Leaderboard, OpenAI’s GPT-4o in in first place with a score of 1287, Claude 3.5 Sonnet is close behind with 1272, and the (mostly) open source Llama 3 from Meta is not too far distant, with a score of 1207 — and there are several other open source AI platforms at the top of the charts, including Google’s Gemma, NVIDIA’s Nemotron, Cohere’s Command R+, Alibaba’s Qwen2, and Mistral.

I can easily see an OpenSim hosting provider adding an AI service to their package deals.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly.)

Imagine the potential for creating truly immersive experiences in OpenSim and other virtual environments. If users are predisposed to see AI entities as conscious, we could create non-player characters that feel incredibly real and responsive.

This could revolutionize storytelling, education, and social interactions in virtual spaces.

We could have bots that users can form meaningful relationships with, AI-driven characters that can adapt to individual user preferences, and virtual environments that feel alive and dynamic.

And then there’s the potential for interactive storytelling and games, with quests and narratives that are more engaging than ever before, create virtual assistants that feel like true companions, or even build communities that blur the lines between AI and human participants.

For those using OpenSim for work, there are also applications here for business and education, in the form of AI tutors, AI executive assistants, AI sales agents, and more.

However, as much as I’m thrilled by these possibilities, I can’t help but feel a twinge of concern.

As the study authors point out, there are some risks to AIs that feel real.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly.)

First, there’s the risk of emotional attachment. If users start to view AI entities as conscious beings, they might form deep, potentially unhealthy bonds with these virtual characters. This could lead to a range of issues, from social isolation in the real world to emotional distress if these AI entities are altered or removed.

We’re already seeing that, with people feeling real distress when their virtual girlfriends are turned off.

Then there’s the question of blurred reality. As the line between AI and human interactions becomes less clear, users might struggle to distinguish between the two.

Personally, I’m not too concerned about this one. We’ve had people complaining that other people couldn’t tell fantasy from reality since the days of Don Quixote. Probably even earlier. There were probably cave people sitting around, saying, “Look at the young people with all their cave paintings. They could be out actually hunting, and instead they sit around the cave looking at the paintings.”

Or even earlier, when language was invented. “Look at those young people, sitting around talking about hunting, instead of going out there into the jungle and catching something.”

When movies were first invented, when people started getting “addicted” to television, or video games… we’ve always had moral panics about new media.

The thing is, those moral panics were also, to some extent, justified. Maybe the pulp novels that the printing press gave us didn’t rot our brains. But Mao’s Little Red Book, the Communist Manifesto, that thing that Hitler wrote that I don’t even was aided and abetted by the books they wrote.

So that’s what I’m most worried about — the potential for exploitation. Bad actors could misuse our tendency to anthropomorphize AI, creating deceptive or manipulative experiences that take advantage of users’ emotional connections and lead them to be more tolerant of evil.

But I don’t think that’s something that we, in OpenSim, have to worry about. Our platform doesn’t have the kind of reach it would take to create a new dictator!

I think the worst that would happen is that people might get so engaged that they spend a few dollars more than they planned to spend.

Kitely upgrades to enhanced version of OpenSim

StorylinkRadio region in Kitely. (Image courtesy David Kariuki)

Kitely, a leading OpenSim grid, has announced a significant upgrade to its virtual world hosting service, implementing an enhanced version of OpenSim 0.9.2.2. This update comes on the heels of a recent system-wide upgrade that doubled world performance.

According to an announcement earlier this week, the new version of OpenSim includes hundreds of proprietary stability and performance improvements developed by the company over the years. One of the most notable enhancements is faster world startup times, which should improve user experience across the grid, and better compatibility with scripts imported from Second Life.

The most significant feature in OpenSim 0.9.2.2 is the transition from XEngine to YEngine for the scripting system. This change brings both benefits and challenges.

Oren Hurvitz

“YEngine is designed to more closely follow the LSL script syntax,” said Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder and VP R&D, in the announcement. “This makes it easier to port scripts that were designed for Second Life into OpenSim.” However, he warned that this change may cause some scripts that worked on XEngine to break, requiring users to fix, replace, or remove affected scripts from their Kitely worlds.

The switch to YEngine has also reset all scripts to their initial state.

“That’s because the state files where OpenSim stores script state have changed their format, and YEngine can’t use state files that were created by XEngine,” Hurvitz said.  As a result, users who have scripts needing configuration after being rezzed will need to reconfigure them.

It’s important to note that the transition to the new script engine requires the system to recompile all scripts in each world. According to Hurvitz, “This happens the first time each world is entered following today’s update. This means that each world will take longer than usual to start the first time anyone enters it after this update.”

However, Hurvitz said that this is a one-time delay, and subsequent entries to the world will be faster due to the scripts already being compiled.

This latest upgrade follows Kitely’s recent system-wide enhancement that doubled world performance, demonstrating the company’s ongoing commitment to improving its service without increasing costs to users.

Kitely, which opened to the public in March 2011, is one of the longest-running and most innovative OpenSim grids. With its unique on-demand region system and the popular Kitely Market, the grid is a significant player in the virtual world ecosystem.

For more information about the script changes and how they might affect users’ worlds, Kitely recommends checking the OpenSimulator wiki entry on YEngine.

OpenSim users hit all-time high despite 3rd Rock closure

OpenSim active users are up by 1,039 this month, reaching a new all-time high of 48,234. The total land area also increased, by 489 standard region equivalents.

However, the total number of registered users on all the public OpenSim grids fell by more than 10,000 since May. The biggest reason for the drop? 3rd Rock Grid is now officially closed, with some of its communities moved to ZetaWorlds. Last month, 3rd Rock Grid reported 13,615 registered users, though it had only 250 actives. 3rd Rock was one of the oldest OpenSim grounds, founded back in 2008, and accumulated a lot of user registrations over the past decade and a half.

Several other grids did not report their stats this month, including CandM World, which was active this month but showed no stats on its stats page. The grid had over 500 actives in May.

We are now tracking a total of 2,663 public grids, of which 309 are active and 253 published their statistics this month. If you have a stats page that we’re not tracking, please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com — that way, your grid will be mentioned in this report every month, for additional visibility with both search engines and users.

This month, OSgrid was the largest grid by land area, with 32,547 standard region equivalents, while Wolf Territories Grid was the most active, with 6,232 unique logins over the past 30 days.

OpenSim land area for June 2024. (Hypergrid Business data.).

Our stats do not include most of the grids running on DreamGrid, a free easy-to-use version OpenSim, since these tend to be private grids.

OpenSim is a free, open-source, virtual world platform, that’s similar to Second Life and allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds and teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their servers for free using either DreamGrid, the official OpenSim installer for those who are more technically inclined, or any other distribution, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region.

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

Hypergrid Business newsletter is now available

Every month on the 15th — right after the stats report comes out — we will be sending out a newsletter with all the OpenSim news from the previous month. You can subscribe here or fill out the form below.

Get our monthly stats and all other OpenSim news delivered right to your mailbox every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

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. Wolf Territories Grid: 6,232 active users
  2. OSgrid: 5,186 active users
  3. GBG World: 2,239 active users
  4. DigiWorldz: 2,156 active users
  5. Alternate Metaverse: 2,025 active users
  6. Vida Dupla: 1,750 active users
  7. Darkheart’s Playground: 1,694 active users
  8. WaterSplash: 1,650 active users
  9. Neverworld: 1,101 active users
  10. AviWorlds: 1,068 active users
  11. Trianon World: 1,023 active users
  12. Moonrose: 936 active users
  13. AvatarLife: 930 active users
  14. Littlefield: 899 active users
  15. Party Destination Grid: 839 active users
  16. Astralia: 836 active users
  17. Craft World: 791 active users
  18. Virtualife: 666 active users
  19. Virtualife: 664 active users
  20. Kitely: 627 active users
  21. ZetaWorlds: 596 active users
  22. Eureka World: 583 active users
  23. Groovy Verse: 514 active users
  24. Herederos Grid: 511 active users
  25. Virtual Vista Metaverse: 507 active users

The biggest change on this list was the addition of Virtual Vista Metaverse, a new grid in our database, which had a strong launch.

Online marketplaces for OpenSim content

There are currently 20,793 product listings in Kitely Market containing 40,862 product variations, 35,648 of which are exportable.

Kitely Market has delivered orders to 624 OpenSim grids to date.

(Data courtesy Kitely.)

As you can see in the above chart, nearly all the growth in Kitely Market has been in content that can be exported to other grids — that is the green area on the graph. The red area, of non-exportable content, has stayed level for the past eight years.

The Kitely Market is the largest collection of legal content available in OpenSim. It is accessible to both hypergrid-enabled and closed, private grids. The instructions for how to configure the Kitely Market for closed grids are here.

Kitely has recently doubled the performance of its regions while keeping prices the same.

New grids

The following grids were added to our database this month: Lady’s Dreamworld and Virtual Vista Metaverse.

If you know of any public grid that we’re missing, please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

Suspended grids

The following 18 grids were marked as suspended this month: Admeja, Bernicia, BigOne, Bubble Grid, EducaSim, Eleutherias, Golden Palace Gaming, KittyBlue, Mystic Bermuda, Pleasant Retreat, Resurgence, Royal Grid, Starfleet, The Crying Grid, Tropicana Grid, Twilight, Uzuri Virtual, and VR Playground.

If they don’t reappear online again soon, they will be marked as closed in future reports.

Sometimes, a grid changes its login URI or website address — if that’s the case, email me and let me know and I’ll update my database.

Top 40 grids by land area

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 here. A 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.

Do you know of any other grids that are open to the public but that we don’t have in our database? Email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

Kitely doubles region performance, keeps prices the same

Kitely Welcome Center. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Kitely, a leading OpenSim grid, has announced a significant upgrade to its virtual world hosting service, doubling the performance of all Kitely regions without increasing prices. The company has achieved this by adopting the latest Amazon server technology, the M7i generation, while maintaining its existing pricing structure.

Ilan Tochner

“This upgrade enables your worlds to handle more scripts and avatar activity without experiencing server lag,” said Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner.

According to our most recent stats report, Kitely is currently the third-largest OpenSim grid by land area and one of the 20 most popular by traffic numbers.

The grid’s prices start at $15 a month for a 15,000-prim region with up to ten simultaneous visitors, and go up to $150 per month for a 64-region land area with up to 180,000 prims and up to 80 simultaneous visitors. But for people just starting out, Hypergrid Business recommends their $ 20-a-month plan, which has four contiguous regions, 60,000 prims, and a capacity of 40 visitors.

Kitely has always been committed to using powerful servers, hosting a limited number of regions on each server, and employing a modified version of OpenSim with proprietary high-performance assets and inventory systems, the company said in its announcement yesterday. The company’s servers are hosted in an Amazon Web Services data center in California, which offers high-speed connectivity to the Internet.

“This latest upgrade reinforces our commitment to providing a premium experience to our OpenSim customers,” Tochner said.

Kitely, which opened its doors to the public in March 2011, is one of the longest-running OpenSim grids. It is unique in that it offers on-demand regions — the regions are only active when people are visiting them, and go to sleep when they are empty, allowing the company to keep costs low while offering high performance on regions when they’re active.

“We have a great reputation for customer support, reliability, and high-performance virtual world hosting,” said Tochner. “Kitely is also the home of Kitely Market, the premier marketplace for buying and selling virtual items across the hypergrid.”

Classic metaverse books on sale now at Amazon

I don’t personally agree with the dystopian visions of the metaverse as presented by sci-fi writers. But if you want to understand where the inspiration for platforms like Second Life — and OpenSim — comes from, these books are a must-read.

Plus, they might give us some tips about what to avoid as we move closer to a fully immersive future. I’ve also got one last bonus book on this list, at the bottom of this post. Not about the metaverse but a must-have sci-fi classic — and as relevant today as it ever was, if not more so.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The paperback is normally $19 but it’s $9.50 today. The hard cover is also on sale, down from $28 to $21.

This book won all the sci-fi awards and helped create the cyberpunk genre — and paved the way for how we think about the universe.

It’s a bit of a dystopian vision of the future but one well worth revisiting, especially today, when that future seems to be coming ever closer.

From the publisher:

Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer is a science fiction masterpiece—a classic that ranks as one of the twentieth century’s most potent visions of the future.

Neuromancer was the first fully-realized glimpse of humankind’s digital future—a shocking vision that has challenged our assumptions about technology and ourselves, reinvented the way we speak and think, and forever altered the landscape of our imaginations.

Get the book on sale here.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

And speaking of dystopian metaverse futures, this book started it all. And, today, it’s 44% off — just $10.70 for the paperback. And the deluxe hardcover edition is also 44% off, down to $22.60.

Myself, I prefer his book The Diamond Age. But that one, too, is on sale today — down 36% to $12.79.

But back to Snow Crash.

From the publisher:

Hiro lives in a Los Angeles where franchises line the freeway as far as the eye can see. The only relief from the sea of logos is within the autonomous city-states, where law-abiding citizens don’t dare leave their mansions.

Hiro delivers pizza to the mansions for a living, defending his pies from marauders when necessary with a matched set of samurai swords. His home is a shared 20 X 30 U-Stor-It. He spends most of his time goggled in to the Metaverse, where his avatar is legendary.

But in the club known as The Black Sun, his fellow hackers are being felled by a weird new drug called Snow Crash that reduces them to nothing more than a jittering cloud of bad digital karma (and IRL, a vegetative state).

Investigating the Infocalypse leads Hiro all the way back to the beginning of language itself, with roots in an ancient Sumerian priesthood. He’ll be joined by Y.T., a fearless teenaged skateboard courier. Together, they must race to stop a shadowy virtual villain hell-bent on world domination.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This paperback is 59% off, for a total price of just $7.35.

It’s an love poem to 1980s video games crossed with a Willy Wonka-style competition about who gets to run the metaverse.

I’ve got several beefs with this book — and others of the genre. First of all, a lot of stuff happens inside the game that shouldn’t. Just shut down the server, guys. Or terminate the user account.

Second, a scavenger hunt is a very poor way indeed to do corporate succession planning.

Finally, why does one poorly-run company dominate the metaverse? In the real world, competition pops up almost instantly. Yes, Google dominates the search engine space — for now, at least — but it certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on websites in general. And Second Life might be a big elephant in the social gaming area, but it’s got a lot of competitors — both big commercial players like Robox and Minecraft and all the MMOs and all the VR chat games, and open source stuff like OpenSim.

If you read this book, and the other cyberpunk novels on this list, treat them the way they were intended — as cautionary tales — and not as how-to manuals! Please!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Another classic of my childhood, and that of many other people. It isn’t set so much in a virtual world, but in an immersive game. But how real is that game, exactly?

Now the hardcover edition is available for just $10.49, down from $15.99.

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game―adapted to film in 2013 starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford―is the classic Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction novel of a young boy’s recruitment into the midst of an interstellar war.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers.

A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut―young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders.

This is the first book of the six-book Ender Sextet series. The other books are all on sale today as well, as is Ender’s Shadow, the first of five books in the Shadow Saga series.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

This one isn’t so a book about the metaverse specifically — it’s more about AI. Which, these days, is increasingly becoming a closely intertwined topic as AI is used to build the worlds, script interactions, and animate in-world characters.

And, as I watched the OpenAI and Google AI announcements this week, I could see that their chatbots are getting pretty darn realistic.

Philip K. Dick predicted all this back in 1968. That was before I was born. That was before the moon landing. Lyndon B. Johnson was still president and the Beatles were still together. Philip K. Dick predicted a lot of weird things. He was a pretty weird writer. I’m constantly surprised by how many of his stories got made into big-budget films.

Get the book on sale here.

Have you read these books? Do you own them?

Oh, and I almost forgot — I’ve also written books about the metaverse, though not quite as dystopian as these.

And they’re not just on sale — they’re free. I’ve written over a dozen more in the same universe, which I’ll be publishing soon, so this is your chance to catch up on the story so far.

The Krim World series

All OpenSim stats drop on grid outages

The total land area in OpenSim fell this month by over 3,000 standard region equivalents, the total number of registered users fell by just over 1,000, and the number of active monthly users dropped by 425 compared to this time last month.

The region loss was due to the fact that Discovery Grid did not report its region totals this month. In April, the grid reported 5,178 standard region equivalents.

In addition, several grids did not report their stats this month, including Kater and Friends, ProxyNet, Caribou Grid, and Resurgence. Each of these grids has reported hundreds of active users earlier this year. If the grid has moved, please let me know at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

The numerical losses were not due to 3rd Rock Grid’s closure yesterday, since that grid still showed up as active for the past four weeks and did report its stats. Its loss will show up in next month’s stats report.

The total land area on OpenSim’s public grids reached the equivalent of 135,700 standard regions this month, down from last month’s all-time high — and still several times bigger that the total land area of Second Life.

The biggest gainer in terms of land area was OSgrid, which gained 1,160 new standard region equivalents, maintaining its status as the largest public grid in OpenSim. It was followed in growth numbers by ZetaWorlds with 1,024 new regions and Wolf Territories Grid with 384 new regions.

At the same time, the number of active users dropped to 47,195.

Wolf Territories Grid retained their first-place position by traffic numbers.

I’m now tracking a total of 2,661 OpenSim grids, of which 307 were active, and 249 published their statistics this month. If you have a stats page that we’re not tracking, please email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com — that way, your grid will be mentioned in this report every month, for additional visibility with both search engines and users.

The following grids were added to our database this month: 3World, BachmansWorld One, Bridger, CyberDataStorm, and Dark Heaven.

Also, I’m no longer sending out a monthly email blast reminding OpenSim grid owners to send me news and updates for this report. If you have news, please email me before the tenth of the month if you want a short item included in this monthly wrap-up. For longer news, feel free to send me press releases at any time.

OpenSim land area for May 2024. (Hypergrid Business data.).

Our stats do not include many of the grids running on DreamGrid which is a distribution of OpenSim since these tend to be private grids.

OpenSim is a free open-source, virtual world platform, that’s similar to Second Life and allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds and teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their servers for free using either DreamGrid, the official OpenSim installer for those who are more technically inclined, or any other distribution, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region.

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

Hypergrid Business newsletter is now available

Every month on the 15th — right after the stats report comes out — we will be sending out a newsletter with all the OpenSim news from the previous month. You can subscribe here or fill out the form below.

Get our monthly stats and all other OpenSim news delivered right to your mailbox every month.

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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. Wolf Territories Grid: 5,904 active users
  2. OSgrid: 5,263 active users
  3. GBG World: 2,174 active users
  4. DigiWorldz: 2,125 active users
  5. Alternate Metaverse: 2,001 active users
  6. Darkheart’s Playground: 1,462 active users
  7. WaterSplash: 1,419 active users
  8. Vida Dupla: 1,222 active users
  9. Moonrose: 1,149 active users
  10. AviWorlds: 1,105 active users
  11. Neverworld: 1,086 active users
  12. Trianon World: 1,014 active users
  13. Littlefield: 993 active users
  14. Craft World: 965 active users
  15. AvatarLife: 940 active users
  16. Party Destination Grid: 845 active users
  17. Astralia: 773 active users
  18. Virtualife: 750 active users
  19. Kitely: 655 active users
  20. German World Grid: 623 active users
  21. ZetaWorlds: 618 active users
  22. Herederos Grid: 588 active users
  23. CandM World: 563 active users
  24. Groovy Verse: 505 active users
  25. Eureka World: 490 active users

Top 40 grids by land area

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 here. A 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.

Do you know of any other grids that are open to the public but that we don’t have in our database? Email me at maria@hypergridbusiness.com.

3rd Rock Grid residents find new homes on ZetaWorlds

Today was the last day of 3rd Rock Grid, one of the oldest grids in OpenSim.

Empty welcome region on 3rd Rock Grid. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

The grid announced that it was closing back in March, and, since then, many of the former residents have found their way to other grids, with ZetaWorlds being a popular destination.

Start at Sirocco, which is slated to by the administrative hub of the new 3rd Rock Grid expat community once its done. There is already land available for rent, starting at $2.50 a month for a 10,000-prim Second Life-sized region.

Check out the 3rd Wind Community website for more information, including land prices, an events calendar, and a membership form.

The community rented a dedicated servers from ZetaWorlds and, as a non-profit, can offer very low land prices, said Alia Soulstar, a founder of the 3rd Wind Community.

There are also arts and education areas and other public lands, she told Hypergrid Business, with a total land area of more than 800 standard region equivalents.

“We had a month-long series of community meetings where we invited the owners of a handful of grids to come and talk,” Soulstar said. “Then we had a long discussion and choose this grid. A lot of the choice was based around the flexibility of having a dedicated server to design our own community around. The general feeling was that we wanted to stay together as a family, so we made the collective decision to move here.”

Land office on the Sirocco region of ZetaWorlds, with 3rd Wind Community founders Alia Soulstar and Ellemir Maven. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

She recommends that people start on the Sirocco region of ZetaWorlds, where they can find out about land ownership and get other administrative information.

Teleport to hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Sirocco.

“We are still under construction so haven’t made a landmark map yet, but will have that up in a few days,” she said.

People also gather on the beach on the Peapod region and Risa on the Anubis region.

Peapod region on ZetaWorlds. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Teleport to hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Peapod.

But the most popular location is Infinity region’s Starfleet Infinity area, home to bars, dance places, space stations, and starships.

Departures on the Starfleet area of the Infinity region on ZetaWorlds. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Teleport to hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Infinity.

Still on the Infinity region. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Teleport to hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Anubis and hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Infinity.

There are also music venues on the Khamsin region, she said, with live performances four to five times per week.

Hal 9000 simulator on the Khamsin region of ZetaWorlds. (Snapshot by Maria Korolov.)

Teleport to hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Khamsin.

For those who haven’t yet transfered their regions or avatar inventories, there is still time, said Soulstar. ” 3rd Rock Grid created OARs of all the regions there and will hold them in cloud storage for a year so they can be reclaimed, and a number of IARs for active users, too. And we are able to load OARs and IARs for recovery, so all is not lost if you find yourself locked out.”

ZetaWorlds will upload the OAR region export files and IAR inventory files for users, she said, and the 3rd Wind Community will help with the process.

The OARs will be “kept for the foreseable future,” 3rd Rock Grid board member Tara Dockery, also known as Thoria Millgrove in-world, said yesterday. “We will provide those OARs to the registered owners upon request.”

Her own region, Peapod, is already on ZetaWorlds, along with its events, Dockery told Hypergrid Business.

You can read more about the transition to ZetaWorlds at Thirza Ember’s Hypergrid Safari blog.

Virtual curating frees artist

A virtual art gallery built to scale with imported artwork. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

One of my interests is the relationship between the real world and the virtual. If the virtual can inspire or inform the real, it then transcends its technical isolation.

Curating an art exhibition is just such an opportunity. In the physical realm, curating is labor intensive, so decisions on placement carry considerable overhead. On the other hand, virtual simulation can be quite rapid and efficient, conditions that support flexible outcomes.

In real life, my profession is that of photographer. Photographers typically aren’t involved in the planning of an exhibition. We basically record what is, not what’s yet to come. But is there a practical way to use photography of the artwork to then rapidly create a virtual gallery and curate an exhibition that will exist in physical reality?

When Rafael Perea de La Cabada came to me for archival quality photography of his art in advance of an upcoming exhibition, our conversation turned to the challenges for him to curate the show. He wanted to explore various ideas but was feeling restricted by the physicality of moving artwork from his studio to the distant exhibition location, and then into various trial-and-error positions in the gallery. I proposed the creation of a virtual environment for rapid creation of a space that we could walk through, virtually, in which to curate his show quickly and creatively. The application for doing this was OpenSim.

In OpenSim, a simple box can be quickly stretched and resized to make a floor, wall, picture frame or a ‘canvas’ on which to apply the JPEG photographic image of an artwork. Photographic images of sculpture can be post-processed to have transparency around the art, preserved by saving to the PNG format (sculptural art photographed against a solid color background or black is fairly easy to separate from the background).

Lights are also available to simulate general illumination. Build times vary with the size of an exhibition, but a virtual gallery with all the essential details can be created in a handful hours, and curating the show can begin immediately as artwork images are uploaded.

Perea had previously engaged me to photograph his artwork with archival protocols. This meant high-resolution captures, flat, even lighting with suppression of ambient light contamination, and the inclusion of captures that included a color chart for setting white balance in post-production. While these are ideal images for all purposes, a virtual gallery could just as well be populated with basic clean phone photography. After all, the virtual gallery is created to facilitate curating a show, not making the final presentation.

Note: Depending on the number of artwork images and their native resolution, you may be able to handle file transfers via email, but if not, then a free account with Dropbox will have plenty of capacity to handle all the transfers.

To make virtual curating work, every artwork photo needs to be documented with real-world measurements. This is because the virtual gallery and contents will be built to scale, which is actually easier than it sounds. Artists typically already know the dimensions of their work. I put those dimensions into the filenames of the artwork images when I prepared them. This kept the dimensions intrinsically associated with each artwork. The artwork sizes were provided to me with the dimensions as inches. Since the viewer for OpenSim used metric I made conversions.

From file naming to texture mapping to collection building. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

To build any gallery, it’s first necessary to acquire some reference material. For the Perea project, I knew the gallery would be the Ann Foxworthy Gallery at Allan Hancock College. Google searching produced a number of images, and the gallery director also supplied digital images and overall dimensions.

This gallery has a number of wall angles, but as with the art, I built the gallery to scale so all the components readily fit together. I also added some optional details (such as the track lighting). Note that the ceiling is best if it’s a single object (linked multiple objects if necessary) that can be moved aside, to provide easy placement access for the art.

The gallery with the ceiling moved for easy access to the art. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

There is, of course, a learning curve to working in a virtual 3D environment, and this deters many people, including artists, from using software like OpenSim. Yet of all the 3D tools I’ve used, including Maya, Modo, SketchUp, ZBrush and 3D Studio, OpenSim is the fastest and most user friendly.

The trade-off is the ultimate visual quality. High-end applications like Maya are used for cinema quality CGI. OpenSim is not, by itself, capable of that level of visual realism.

ut our purpose was to curate an art exhibition virtually, which only the artist and a handful of other people would see. For that kind of project, OpenSim fills the bill, as you can see below in sample images.

The real gallery curated from the virtual gallery as reference. (Image courtesy Lawrence Pierce.)

For the Perea exhibition, he had a preliminary set of ideas as to how the art would be arranged. Once the virtual gallery was assembled, and the photos of his artwork were uploaded and attached to “canvases” sized to the dimensions of each piece, I moved each artwork into the initially proposed locations on the walls. Then we could begin to try various ideas. This process was so fast, we could often sit on the phone while I made the changes and forwarded screenshots via email.

Alternatively, Perea could have run his own OpenSim viewer and seen the changes I made, or make his own changes. There’s a lot of flexibility here, but in this case he focused more on direction and had me running the controls.

Perea commented more than once that this process was a great relief.

To give the virtual project an added sense of completion, I exported 360-degree panoramic views, making it possible to create a virtual tour. Recent Firestorm and Second Life viewers have a 360-degree snapshot feature.

Nine key positions were effective in providing a walk-through experience. The 360-degree panoramic views were also valuable for sharing and collaborating with other stakeholders, such as the gallery director. And to move back into the realm of the physical world, a photographic 360-degree virtual tour was made on-site. This preserves the exhibition, immersively and in perpetuity.

Tours were made with 3DVista, a commercial application for virtual tour production.

Curating an art exhibition takes careful planning. Much of that process is conceptual, but the actual installation of art requires considerable physical work. Using a 3D environment like OpenSim presents the opportunity for a gallery director, curator, or the artist to previsualize an exhibition immersively, at scale and relatively quickly. This then makes possible the highly effective exploration of curating options, before labor intensive and essentially permanent installation decisions are implemented.

Link to the 360-degree OpenSim virtual tour. Click on art to open info panel.

Link to the 360-degree photographic virtual tour. Again, click on art to open info panel.

International singers gather on Alternate Metaverse Grid for first annual International Day

International Day on Alternate Metaverse Grid. (Image courtesy Alternate Metaverse Grid.)

Alternate Metaverse Grid celebrated its first annual International Day on Thursday, March 7: Celebrating International Diversity on OpenSim.

Grid co-owner Cataplexia Numbers said she was looking of a way to bring together the residents of various countries that are members of the Alternate Metaverse Grid and have them not only get to know each other better but to also interact on a united level, celebrating the music of various countries together. To celebrate the various differences within a multi-cultural grid as opposed to having those differences as a means of dividing.

“It is my hope that this catches on to the other grids as well and that it is celebrated yearly on all grids,” Numbers said in a statement. “I have noticed a significant amount of change in the open-ness of ALL musical events lately, becoming more populated by a more mixed international crowd, and this makes me feel we are making a beautiful change here!”

Invitations went out translated into nine languages. A very large and inclusive food court and personalized stages for each performer were built by the incredible Ted Junior and Doc Mercury of AMV Special Projects build team.

International Day on Alternate Metaverse Grid. (Image courtesy Alternate Metaverse Grid.)

The event was extremely well attended with people from grids all over OpenSim — and countries all over the world. There was an average of 48 people in attendance at any given time and as some left, others came.

A new international singer from all over the world performed every 30 minutes. There was also a large international food court, and freebies showcasing many flavors and gifts from around the world.

The gifts and food court will remain open for some time as people just keep coming in for the gifts, Numbers said.

The hypergrid address is alternatemetaverse.com:8002:AMV International.

You can watch a video of the event here.

Performers included Portugal’s Joao Frazao, Brazil’s Khiron Ametza, Scotland’s Clan Escotia, Indonesia’s Putri and Icky & Sum from the U.K, Nikita Andersen and Zeno Stark from Italy. US performers included Dave King and Cataplexia Numbers. Zoree Jupiter represented Portugal and the U.S., Mavenn Live represented Canada and the U.S., and Ian Kitsilano represented Canada and the UK.

Ted Junior and Doc Mercury created and designed the whole event venue inside the building scenes and the stage scenes were also created by Ted Junior alone and put into a rezzer for each live performance.
Jimmy Olsen created the International Day banner that can be seen in the video link — or by visiting the region in person.
Cataplexia Numbers took the pictures and Sofee Supermarine filmed the video.