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Jan
17

InWorldz Roadmap for 2014

(This blog is soon to be converted from the InWorldz tech blog to the general InWorldz blog. As such, we’ve chosen to post this general grid news here)

2014 will bring some exciting changes to the InWorldz platform that will improve upon the performance, reliability and features of the virtual world that many of you call home. I’d like to take a bit of time to go over our current development work list and then dig a bit deeper into upcoming features for this year.

We’ll start with large projects currently being worked on or tested. They mostly deal with performance, management, and reliability.

Large projects with completion in the short term

Maestro – Grid Management

(code is 95% complete, beta testing starts within a week)
Mike Chase, Tranquillity Dexler

Maestro is the name of our new region and platform management backend. Our old backend named Zookeeper has done a very good job at allowing us to perform easy updates, configuration changes, and execute parallel commands upon the entire grid whenever we needed to. However, this backend was developed over time based on constantly changing requirements and really needed a complete overhaul.

Enter Maestro, a rewritten grid management system. Maestro will allow us to go well beyond the capabilities of Zookeeper and provide you with faster deployments, better region monitoring, and high availability. Maestro will allow us to collect and keep more detailed information on the performance of regions, and provide more powerful statistical and fault analysis. Developers will be able to easily and remotely look into the inner workings of a running region all the way down to threads and call stacks for powerful debugging. This means bugs that pop up only once in a blue moon, or only when there are 60+ real avatars on a loaded region will be easier to identify and fix.

Maestro has better task management, and access to a more intelligent deployment database. Region deployments will be more intelligent and fully automated to provide a quick response and “best choice” for placement on hardware when someone would like to make a new purchase. Maestro deployment software is aware of the average resource consumption for the given product and will use this data to assess options and provide top performance.

Better task management means that when someone schedules a region restart it will not conflict or override system events like automated rollout restarts or automated region backups. This will ensure better consistency and less problems that arise due to conflicting instructions given to a region at critical points.

With all these features, we have decided that region takedowns will still be a manual process as there are many reasons why someone may be late with a payment here or there. The InWorldz team doesn’t believe in automating and removing the human side from what can be a sensitive and upsetting event. However, temporary takedowns will be easier for support, so if there has been a payment mistake your region will be started back up more quickly.

 

InWorldz Viewer 2.x – Pushing to be the default download
McCabe Maxsted (Adric)

There are a few bugs remaining in the InWorldz v2 viewer (mainly crashers) that are preventing it from becoming the default download when someone creates a new account on InWorldz. We expect within the first quarter of 2014, those crashers will be resolved and the v2 viewer will be the default starting viewer for new avatars. This will better enable all new users to see and utilize mesh functionality.

 

Scenic region partner rezzing
(100% complete, in testing)
Jim Tarber

InWorldz scenic regions are an affordable and attractive choice for land owners that would like to add surrounding land to their existing regions. These regions are meant for light use land and waterways. As part of that goal, InWorldz restricted scenic regions so that they could not be split up and rented out which would cause the servers hosting them to be overloaded and cause poor performance to many other customers on the server. We also prevented anyone but the region owner from creating (rezzing) permanent objects on scenic land.

This restriction has been loosened a bit in our development branch to allow region owners and their partners to rez objects on the region. We hope this change can make them more enjoyable while preserving their original intent and high performance levels.

 

InWorldz “Project Stratus” hybrid asset system
(80% complete, in development)
Tranquillity Dexler

We have created a high performance addition to our asset storage systems that is designed around a hybrid solution utilizing Rackspace Cloud Files in conjunction with our current WHIP asset system to provide better fault tolerance, better recovery in case of failure and cheaper per-gigabyte storage for the company. This will allow InWorldz to continue to scale out in a cost effective manner and provide residents with better fault tolerance now and into the future.

 

Smaller, but no less significant changes coming in the short term:

  • Physics accelerated llCastRay is now available on the beta grid (Matt)
  • llSetKeyframedMotion in development (Matt)
  • Fixes and improvements for many physics functions including llMoveToTarget/region crossing and physical object grab and drag. (Balpien Hammerer)
  • Many fixes for vehicle functions including boat hulls seemingly scraping/bottoming out even in deep channels. (Balpien Hammerer)
  • Vehicle fixes in progress to make more SL vehicle scripts behave closer to how they work in SL. (Balpien Hammerer)

On that last bullet point, I’d like to make a comment. Please, if you notice a problem with vehicle support or anything else on InWorldz that isn’t behaving properly, take the time to check for and/or file a mantis report ( http://inworldz.com/mantis ). There were a few SL airplane scripts that weren’t behaving properly, but because everyone assumed we were working on vehicle fixes, no one reported specific bugs, and we had no idea there were any remaining problems with common scripts. After the issues were reported, they’ve been investigated and a few of them fixed already in under 24 hours.

 

Up and coming projects for 2014

Large planned projects - 

InWorldz InShape – open beta testing and launch
(Q1 2014)
Tranquillity Dexler

The holiday season, problems with google groups, and grid work that needed to be completed held up InShape ( http://www.inworldz.com/inshape/ ) over the holidays. I am pleased to say that I have my backlog just about caught up and will be resuming InShape testing in an open beta format sometime in Q1, 2014. We had a lot of positive feedback from people that really love this project and I even used it to run the ACS Relay for Life track live in 2013! Once the open beta has completed, and we have the rest of the bugs worked out, we will begin our weekly workout sessions and will invite residents to use the InShape technology to invent their own exercise machines and routines.

 

Project Thoosa Phase 2 & 3
(estimate Q2-3 2014)
Tranquillity Dexler, others as needed

Project Thoosa phase 2 will change the storage and loading mechanism for all region data. Utilizing high throughput services, InWorldz enhancements, and efficient data formats, we expect region restart times to drop by an order of magnitude. Phase 2 will also remove single points of failure from the InWorldz backend stack and utilize highly available storage systems to place and retrieve region data.

Project Thoosa phase 3 remains a hush hush project, but combined with phase 1, and 2, and a few other InWorldz projects, it will push the boundaries and offer services that have never before been seen in virtual worlds.

 

Full analysis and debugging for region crossing and teleport issues due to client side interaction
(estimate Q1 2014)
Jim Tarber

We won’t quit until we crack this one all the way open. With the vast majority of server to server issues fixed for teleports, avatar, and vehicle crossing, we have come to the point where we’re looking closely and debugging the interaction between the viewer and the servers during crossing failures. Jim has stepped up to go the full gamut on this one and we will not quit until we fully understand all the failure modes (including internet issues) and do our best to mitigate, mask, or fix crossing problems. We are pissed, and we are not going to take it anymore. Crossing issues that arise from viewer/server interactions will be beat to a pulp.

 

Website makeover and support work
(estimate Q3/4 2014)
Kingpin (Web team)
The InWorldz website will be revamped to provide more functionality, easier registration, and will come with a brand new look. The backend code will be reworked to provide more efficient development and updates.

 

Noteworthy projects in 2014 with deadlines not yet set:

  1. Avatar-as-a-prim
  2. Export permission implementation
  3. Inter-region communications enhancements and fixes
  4. Object name registry

 

Business Development projects

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come
(All of 2014, but especially starting Q3)
The entire InWorldz team and YOU!

InWorldz will be devoting a large amount of resources to promotion this year. We feel that the world needs to know more about virtual worlds and virtual environments and how they can really add to the fun and quality of life. We want to attract new residents who may not have any idea about virtual worlds, and that may need some extra help before they finally “get it”. We want them to explore InWorldz and get a taste for compelling virtual world environments.

In conjunction with promotion, InWorldz will be focusing on retention through several formats. Starting with an overhaul of the registration process, getting information on what the user is interested in and guiding them directly to that point, whether it’s creating, socializing, or RP’ing. We’ll be working with active communities to provide a compelling area that targets the user’s end experience and gets them started in whatever they want to explore.

Along with InWorldz backed advertising campaigns and retention plans, we want people to read all about what types of things you’re working on in InWorldz, and what you enjoy doing here. Through your blogs and social media, you offer people an important window into the workings of a virtual world. You will help us to answer the whys and the hows for people that might be curious but don’t fully understand the concept.

InWorldz NEEDS you to write, to blog, to shoot video, and to share with the world what it means to be a resident here. We need you to show them the possibilities of the platform, and how it helps you to make some of your dreams come true. As a resident, your words and demonstration will be compelling. They will believe what you have to say more easily than they will believe us.

 

Thank you everyone. Have a great 2014 and see you InWorldz!

23 comments

3 pings

  1. Cyall says:

    Several bits of good news in this for me. ^_^ It’s really good to hear you’re working hard to find the causes of region crossing and teleport issues, and I’m glad to hear about Projects Thoosa and Stratus too.

    llSetKeyframedMotion will also be fun. All through my virtual life I’ve found potential uses for keyframe motion systems from birds and butterflies to ferryboats on a fixed path. (I was quite surprised SL didn’t have it when I joined. ;) It will be nice to put those ideas to use.

  2. Judy Dressler says:

    quoting : “We are pissed, and we are not going to take it anymore. Crossing issues that arise from viewer/server interactions will be beat to a pulp.

    hahaha! Am so happy to read you are as pissed as us, users and merchants with crumbling sales.

    The good crossings ball has returned to “another grid” atm.

    2014 is year for YW to take that ball back.
    And keep it for good !
    :-)

  3. Yichard says:

    Cheers everybody, managers and developpers!

    I second that llSetKeyframedMotion has a lot of fantastic uses.
    Inworldz is just starting the virtual activities!!

  4. Bim Rasmuson says:

    In Re: In conjunction with promotion, InWorldz will be focusing on retention through several formats. Starting with an overhaul of the registration process, getting information on what the user is interested in and guiding them directly to that point, whether it’s creating, socializing, or RP’ing. We’ll be working with active communities to provide a compelling area that targets the user’s end experience and gets them started in whatever they want to explore.

    I would like to be involved in this venture for the Roleplay Community!!! We definitely need a Roleplay HUB so ALL residents can see the offerings for their roleplay needs.

    1. Birch says:

      I think that is a fantastic idea – I, for one have always loved RP and would love to be part of that also. *grins*

      1. Londyn SoulStar says:

        I would love to be included in on the Family RP community as well. That would be awsome! I’d definitely be okay with a hub to my estate!

  5. Snoots Dwagon says:

    All sounds good. Despite the time that’s passed, we are really still in pioneering stage. But when we think back on the changes that have occurred even since 2010… Inworldz is really beaming.

    The biggest problem I (personally) see right now is getting the viewer up to snuff. I love what V2 can do. It s features and layout are pretty awesome. Now if the lag and crashing can be gotten under control (and I noticed that was mentioned above as within reach)… wooohooo! I honestly think that once you’ve eliminated the major causes of crashing and can get textures / etc to load without bogging down the rest of the system… Inworldz will be truly “ready for prime time”. It’s already pretty amazing, despite various potholes.

    Enjoyable read on the region crossings. Maked us chuckle. :D

    You know we’re behind you all 110%. Still posting on Mantis when we find something, still trying to accumulate details to help you debug and fix. Inworldz people aren’t just VR users, we’re adventurers who were willing to take a chance on a “new grid”… and that risk has paid off. Is it perfect? No, never will be. Is it lots better than granny grid? Ohhhhh yeah. :D

  6. Jeri Rahja says:

    I am a firm believer of business development – for the growth of IWZ – and implementing towards the style we have developed with the grid to date. Maintaining the adult attitude – the enjoyment of art and culture – where not only does one come to get away from his or her RL but can come and cultivate and develop their many pleasures that can be obtained in the virtual world. With maintaining a High standard that we have achieved over the past 4 yrs.

  7. Taffy Riddler says:

    Scenic Region would be wonderful for sea battles.
    The only problem is we can’t rezz a cannon ball.
    A sea Battle with no Cannon balls flying is nothing.

    It would be so cool/nice if the Scenic sims had Temp Rezz with Auto delete in 1 min.
    Then we could get those cannon balls flying to blowing up ships.

    (we wear sails, not the cannons, due to the fact as a gunner needs to click them too)

  8. Balpien Hammerer says:

    Taffy wrote:
    It would be so cool/nice if the Scenic sims had Temp Rezz with Auto delete in 1 min. Then we could get those cannon balls flying to blowing up ships.

    That works today, right now in scenic regions. It requires the scenic region owner to permit object creation. If object creation is turned off in any kind of region, full or scenic, no objects temp or nontemp can be rezzed there.

    1. Taffy Riddler says:

      Sorry, but nothing can rezz in a Scenic sims, we have tried and tried and tried and tried and tried……and Tired. Unless everyone who wants to get a shot off Marries the Sim Owner ever minute nothing rezzes. I would also be a very slow sea battle with, “Hold on I want to shot, I have to marry the sim own.” (with) “Hurry up marry and get Divorced, I want to get a shot off too”.

    2. LittleBlackDuck says:

      @Balpien: This is not the case. Presently only the owner of a scenic can rez, regardless of the settings.

      Permit object creation ticked for everyone has no effect on scenics.

      Verified with a support ticket+response.

      1. Elenia says:

        Ok, let me correctly state what I just discussed with Tranq on the phone as I’ve had this question a few times myself now. Btw, LBD, ignore that answer in support, as we now have correct info!

        You can not rez any physical object onto a Scenic sim. However, if you have a gun attached to your avatar let’s say, you can shoot people! The key to this is to ensure the item you’re shooting (ie, bullet, cannonball, whatever projectile) is created as a temporary item within the actual physical weapon or item that holds it. Then the scripter makes sure that it gets rezzed that way.

        So ensure you do what Balp suggested above, and ensure that the projectile itself within the physical item is set to temporary. That should work fine and the devs have been testing this like mad and have found it to be holding true.

        1. Siwan says:

          This is the first I’ve known about that limitation of the scenic sims (only the owner or partner can rez); I’ve been considering buying one and sharing it with another financially challenged friend whose sim is one distant from mine in order to join them (after we become slightly less financially challenged), but since we can’t divide it into the two parcels we had planned, this obviously won’t work for us. My region will have to remain an island unto itself.

          I understand the reasoning behind not being able to parcel/rent out scenic sims in order to conserve resources, but that also limits alts of the owner from rezzing items (such as boats) for the main avatar.

          And as to Taffy’s solution, I agree, that is a crazy solution. What if you’re already partnered to someone? You’d have to get divorced, remarried to someone else, divorced, and remarried to your partner each time you want to rez something that’s in the other avatar’s inventory. My partner and I split temporarily a while back, and I found out the hard way that unpartnering is considerably more expensive in IW than on that … ahem, “granny grid.” Definitely not a feasible way to allow others to rez things temporarily on your sim. :(

          1. admin says:

            The reason for the limitation is to prevent the problems that happen if people start renting out scenic sims. We saw what happened to homesteads and how overburdened and laggy those servers became when a low cost/low power sim was allowed to be jammed full of renters.

            So to solve the problem we had to remove all incentive for scenics to be rented out. This preserves the performance of scenic regions for everyone.

  9. Londyn SoulStar says:

    Will the private eye (other avatars can not see or chat with avatars on this parcel) be a part of the viewer upgrade? I love that option in SL and as a sim owner, would love to have that option in IW as well.

  10. Anyraya Braveheart says:

    Thank you for keeping us posted on current and future developments. It is so very appreciated!
    I have three comments at this point:
    - As a land owner, I agree with Londyn. I am very often asked if we have the option to be invisible to other sim visitors/renters…
    - Something I most disliked is the fact as we miss the IMs when we TP… it automatically goes to the email box with about 5 minutes delay. I hate that people feel I’m ignoring them while I just can’t reply right away.
    - Lastly and I won’t be alone, this “child agent update” thing when we TP is a real pain in the neck…
    Anyway, apart from these things, I love and support the grid as much as I can and it’s always a pleasure to share this with new residents…
    Keep up this excellent work
    We all love you, hugsss

    1. Siwan says:

      Anyraya Braveheart said:

      “- Something I most disliked is the fact as we miss the IMs when we TP… it automatically goes to the email box with about 5 minutes delay. I hate that people feel I’m ignoring them while I just can’t reply right away.”

      I never realized that IMs sent during a TP wouldn’t be received inworld. (I don’t even bother to check my e-mail for InWorldz messages since they all come through with the same subject and sender line, and I get too many millions of notices from groups like Find It In InWorldz, which I use in place of the search engine that only returns out-of-date results. Until the e-mail notices and search functions are fixed, I don’t want to disable notices from FIIIW, as many people have suggested to me. I would hope that the founders would put these two very basic functions that are simply a given on that other grid on the top of their priority list if they are serious about being competitive. And the excuse that it’s the merchant’s fault for not taking out a Classified ad doesn’t help potential customers. It is a disadvantage to me as a customer to receive only results from people who pay for classifieds; I would like all the results. And some people buy classified ads and then close up shop and forget to discontinue their ads. The search engine is fairly useless to me.)

      Anyraya’s concern would also be important to add to the list.

      I agree, I support IW’s efforts 100%, and I would like to see this grid become more successful than its predecessors, and I am always happy to promote it, but I can’t deny these shortcomings. I think fixing these bugs before focusing on big innovations would be important.

      Another untapped market: There is a huge and very active merfolk community on the other grid, whereas there seems to be hardly any coordinated mer presence in IW. Yes, someone came and created a group for the Safe Waters Foundation, but the group has been completely inactive since I joined IW, and some of the big creators for merfolk have long come and gone from IW. The addition of whatever script code is still lacking in order to create an AO that allows merfolk to control their vertical movements with more accuracy below the water (without turning on the “fly” feature, which makes accuracy of entering tunnels, doorways, etc., almost impossible), as well as being able to skim the surface at will without popping out of the water would be vital to attracting merfolk (back) to IW. I think that before promoting IW, adding this capability that has existed since at least 2008 on the “granny grid” would help to recruit some merfolk into IW and maximize the use and enjoyment of public and scenic water sims both above and below the water.

      Thanks, Elenia, Tranq, Jim, Balpien, McCabe, and Kingpin (and any developers I’ve missed or don’t know about) for being so responsive to our feedback!

  11. Fayre Scribe says:

    I love IW. It has given me the opportunity to meet many new wonderful friends and to grow my business in a way that the other grid did not due to cost and prim restrictions. I enjoy the creation process and listening to RPers about their needs and try to meet those needs as best I can. But I’m no techy. Mostly I just put prims together and make them pretty. I don’ t understand all the geek speak (smiles), so forgive me if I’m repeating what’s already been said. I would really LOVE IW to prosper, to see the great creators who left come back, and see new people join us on a daily basis and keep the economy growing. So I really feel that promoting IW before so many basic things taken for granted on another grid are fixed would be a mistake. We need to be as competitive as possible, even better, to bring people over and hold them.

    These are things I would like to see working before putting out the word:

    1. I would love to see the water support proper swimming AOs for the mer so we can bring whole mer communities over like we have fantasy and medieval.

    2. I’d like to not go through the floor every time I TP and have to TP a second time to land “on” the floor. This is new which is scary because I thought we were moving forward, not backward. But….maybe it’s just a temporary glitch due to something else. I dunno.

    3. I have a classified ad. In the viewers I have used (and I admit them to be older viewers as my PC is old and can’t handle the new ones). When I bring up a search, up comes the company logo, subject line and copy. If I click on another company after that, the logo and subject line comes up, but the copy always remains that of the first one. It kind of defeats having an ad if the copy can’t be read.

    4. PLEASE….emails with identifying factors. I don’t even read my emails because there are too many from “InWorldz”. I don’t have time to click and open each one to see who sent them. This is wasted time I could be creating. I do check messages on the website so I know which to look for while I’m clicking them off on log in. (wouldn’t it be great if we could delete messages right on the website so we don’t log into 100s popping up and crashing us?) I don’t see why notices (that are “mostly” advertising) need to go to email. I think it should be just private IMs. If it’s a must, then private IMs until at least the identifying factor is in place. Just my two cents.

    I know that seems like a lot of complaining. But I complain with love that IW will surpass its predecessors, thrive and prosper. (is that like “live long and prosper”? :) )

  12. Fayre Scribe says:

    Oops… one more.

    Regarding Scenic sims. As my friend Siwan said, if two people want to be able to rez on a scenic sim, they must be partnered. Siwan and I have discussed in the future making the water sim between us a scenic one day and she would do the waterways and me the land. But (and forgive me Siwan lol) I don’t want to partner her to do that. Isn’t there some way the sim owner can give permissions for certain people to rez on the land so the project can be shared? Yes, I know the renting of parcels is a problem. What if permissions were limited? Like you could allow 1 or 2 additional people to rez. Sort of how you put in names of avies who are banned. Just a thought.

  13. magikesh tumim says:

    I would like to see inWorldz embrace the smaller device market i.e. netbooks, tablets and larger smartphone. With the understanding that some features maybe limited, there is a large group who are using these devices while on the go. Many of us would just like be able to log in while at lunch or running around. Also with your InShape project many could take inWorldz to the gym with them!

  14. Strand Starsider says:

    We (meaning IWZ) is always in catch up mode to SL…so we are playing the game according to SL rules (referencing what the user expections).
    I would advocate changing comparison(s) by innovating, the result of which gives us the advantage… for example here are a few ideas.
    1) regions that are 4,6, 8x’s the size of current regions, same prim count, just larger. Large enough have more of a video game experience. With no border crossing issues, so you can shoot your cannons, have a war or fly your plane(s), etc.
    2) increased tool set for building… how about a mirror function or auto align to different centers and edges
    3) how about an multiple window inventory system for organizing inventories and grouping items
    4) how about a world class tool kit of objects, scripts, physic’s scripts, templates, textures and tools. You get the kit when you join and it has everything you need to get started building and establishes a market place of people that are paid to teach/improve the new users skill set.
    5) How about a drag and drop texture uploader?
    6) how about tying in the IWZ chat system with skype, or other commercial im so we can easily and simply talk to our friends in world while we are in RL
    7) how about weaving pictures, group chats, invitations etc directly into Facebook and twitter so the rest of the world can see whats goin on in this virtual world… the apis are there, and well documented.
    Nothing against the treadmill interface or the objects viewable on the web, all good stuff and very cool… but I would argue that innovations for the existing and loyal user base would result in a better competitive market position and increased revenues.
    Cheers…

  15. Dylan Argyros says:

    “As a resident, your words and demonstration will be compelling. They will believe what you have to say more easily than they will believe us” We would be pleased to help.

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