Kitely: KCs now virtual currency; web messaging added

The last few weeks have seen Kitely roll out further features to enhance their on-demand virtual world service.

Today, June 10th, the company has announced that Kitely Credits have become a full virtual currency and that web messaging is now a part of the Kitely service.

Kitely Credits as currency

You can now use your Kitely Credits (KC) in-world. This finally makes it possible to sell goods and pay for goods and services in-world. Your current KC balance is shown in your Viewer  – although note that some Viewers may show the balance as “L$” rather than “KC”. Additionally, all of your KC transactions will appear in the History tab on your Kitely account web page, and some transactions can be clicked to get more information such as the name of the item that you bought or sold.

Note that KCs cannot be purchased through the Viewer. This is because the BUY button is hard-coded for the purchase of Linden Dollars. Please continue to use the website to purchase your Kitely Credits.

This is just the first step in Kitely developing KCs, and further features will be added in the coming weeks, including the ability to earn them through charging people to access your world and the ability to pay your monthly payment plan using KCs. Anti-fraud mechanisms will also be rolled out, which will allow in-world ATMs to be created and used (although Kitely recommend ATMs are not implemented by users until the anti-fraud controls are in place).

Web Messaging

The web messaging capability enables Kitely users to contact one another through the website. Wherever a user’s name appears in the website (i.e. on the history page for a world, in the Public Worlds list, etc., you can right-click on the name to display a pop-up menu, which will contain an option to Send Message. Click on this to open a message pad.

Simply type your message into the pad and click on Send. The recipient will get your message the next time they log-in to Kitely, if they are not already logged-in. If they are logged-in at the time you send the message, they will receive it as an Instant Message in-world.

Updates to Group Policy

There have also been a few changes to the Kitely Group Policy:

  • It now costs 100 KC to create a group.
  • Users can join a maximum of 100 groups (note that some viewer may only display a maximum of 42 Groups, but the limit is 100)
  • You must add at least one other member to a group when creating it in addition to yourself. Any group with less than two members will be automatically deleted two days after creation

Note that existing groups were grandfathered in: they didn’t incur the new charge of 100 KC, and have not been deleted if they have only one member.

Finally, there have been a number of additional improvements and tweaks – including the Kitely plugin now supporting the Teapot browser.

In May, the company added the ability to intelligently replace world contents and an automatic disconnect for idle users.

Replace World

The replace world function allows the contents of an existing world to be updated with a new OAR file, retaining some of the settings associated with the world, rather than overwriting them. In particular, the world’s URL remains the same and all Facebook likes and Twitter tweets associated with it are kept. In addition:

  • All of the settings in the Manage World dialogue, e.g. the world’s description and its access controls.
  • Where possible, all parcel settings will be retained. This is handled by the OAR upload process comparing parcel names in the world with those in the OAR file; where the names are the same, the existing settings for the parcel are retained, rather than being replaced by settings in the OAR file. This affects the parcel’s flags (e.g., “No Build”), and the parcel’s permissions: which group it belongs to; which users can enter it; etc.

The Replace World feature is located in the Files tab of the Manage World dialogue (previously called Edit World – note that the Export World feature has also been moved to this tab).

Disconnect idle users

The disconnect idle users helps to ensure you do not remain unduly connected to Kitely (and using either time or Kitely Credits) when real life takes you away from your computer for extended periods and you haven’t logged out. This feature can be used to both ensure you are logged out from Kitely should this happen, and can be used to remove avatars that have been “parked” (i.e. left unattended for extended periods) on your worlds.

Idle avatars can be disconnected automatically after 30 minutes of inactivity in one of two ways:

  • To ensure your own avatar is automatically disconnected: go to your account settings page and ensure Disconnect from worlds when idle is checked (under the General section)
  • To ensure other avatars are automatically disconnected from your own worlds: go to Manage World, then click on the Access tab and make sure Disconnect idle visitors is checked
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SL9B: Design a time capsule

A tradition of SLB celebrations is that of a time capsule, wherein residents are invited to try to create a capsule that represents something significant from the year or which was inspired by the year’s theme. For example, SL4B’s capsule had flexis, SL5B’s used glow while SL6B’s capsule was a meteorite chunk for its space theme.

The 2003 time capsule at SL1B, June 2004. (secondlife.wiki.com)

This year we’re sending out an open invitation to residents to propose their ideas for the SL9B time capsule. If you’re interested, here’s a summary of the guidelines:

  • Keep your design relatively low-prim; some older designs reached up to 96 prims, and we need to keep things relatively modest
  • Keep the size manageable; the SL3B vault was 6m cubed, and we’d like to consider that at the top end of the scale; while designs that go over this limit on one side or two won’t be disqualified, we don’t have room for  the Death Star…
  • Please make sure your submission is FULL PERMS. We may have to make modifications to it  – such as adding the actual contents!
  • If the capsule is designed to open, please supply a “closed” and an “open” version – no need to script it opening – we can help with that, just so long as we have versions that present the illusion of opening it
  • If you wish to keep a copy of your design, please make sure you do so before passing the original over; it may not be possible to return it to you after the fact – although in a worst case, we’ll do our best
  • Feel free to design your own pedestal or display case for your capsule – particularly if it is small enough to warrant a pedestal / display case of its own
  • Some particle activity is OK, but again, please keep it manageable: no huge firework displays with the capsule opens or anything
  • Be creative and remember that this year’s theme is “Community” if you want to go in that direction.

The closing date for submissions is midnight on the 15th June. To submit a design, or to ask any questions on the matter, please contact the Keeper of the Capsule, Will Webb. Note that previous capsules can be seen upon request for those who require a little inspiration or guidance in developing a design.

And just to help, a quick word from our spooksperson, the Prim Reaper:

About SL9B

SL9B is being organised by residents, for residents – there is no direct involvement from Linden Lab. Along with the festivities there will be fundraising for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, a charity supported by Dream Seeker Estates.

Related Links

Second Life 2.0

There’s been something of an ongoing discussion over the ever-excellent Metareality concerning the viability / attractiveness of a “new” Second Life – that is, a platform wherein Linden Lab starts over to present something new and overcomes the shortcomings of the SL grid as we know it today.

It’s an interesting – and entirely hypothetical – discussion point. Just how viable would a new Second Life be (if we assume the money was there to develop such a beast), both in terms of Linden Lab’s development of the platform and in people’s acceptance and use of it?

Well, some of the benefits that might come from such a product would be technical; doubtless things like the creaking mass of the asset server infrastructure could be addressed and made a lot more robust / scalable. Potentially the region / sim code could be completely overhauled to both improve stability and remove much of the “band aid” code that has, due to the nature of the platform, had to be applied to deal with various issues and bugs over the years rather than LL being able to dig deep and resolve them at source.

A new Second Life grid could also, I assume, be better geared towards handling the likes of mesh and other capabilities. Similarly, the Viewer could be revamped – and while this may draw boos and hisses – be kept closed, or perhaps licensed, to better control the growth of features and to ensure Viewer and server code remain better integrated.

There might also be the opportunity to directly address issues of accessibility through other means – tablets, web pages and mobile devices.

Would an “SL 2.0” allow the mobile / tablet markets to be better leveraged? (image: Lumiya for Second Life running on a Samsung Galaxy S2)

Social aspects might also be better integrated into the platform as well, for those who wish to use them. These are no to everyone’s cup-of tea, but that’s no reason to exclude such extensions / capabilities.

All of this could be massively to the good; but what about those of us already engaged in Second Life? Are we likely to leap onto the bandwagon of a “new” Second Life? Some undoubtedly would; but many of us probably wouldn’t for much the same reason as we don’t take a deep plunge into existing SL alternatives: we have an awful lot of what amounts to personal investment in our inventories, and if we can’t take it with us, the likelihood is, we aren’t going to go – not unless forced out of SL itself (which might easily see us giving LL the one-fingered salute and disappearing somewhere else entirely).

Of course, losing the current user base (or a good proportion thereof) might be seen as part and parcel of the risks involved in developing an updated platform – after all, with 16K-a-day sign-ups for the current platform, there is opportunity for LL to address initial retention head-on and harness a good percentage of that 16K and so not actually miss those of us who stay behind.

On the other hand, offering a migratory path from “SL 1.0” to “SL 2.0” would obviously be one way of alleviating issues around existing users, allowing LL to retain them and their loyalty while also avoiding initial issues of growing a new user base.

SL 2.0: The potential for better avatars?

However, offering such a path might itself create issues. One of the biggest potential benefits in an “SL 2.0” would be the ability to incorporate the infamous “avatar 2.0”, which has been the subject of speculation on-and-off since around mid-2007. This is something that is unlikely to happen within Second Life as it is because of a myriad of dependencies means a dramatic overhaul of the avatar could break things. As such, developing a new avatar form for “SL 2.0” could end up breaking compatibility with “SL 1.0” and render migration either problematic or (worse case) pointless.

Perhaps the biggest issue with any “SL 2.0” though, is not technical, but physical (so to speak). At the end of the day – and as Qarl comments in a recent Metareality podcast – a lot of issues relating to SL are actually centred on the relationship between users and Linden Lab itself. These take a variety of forms, some are justified (such as people feeling the company could be more forthcoming within consistent and more open communications and dialogue with the user base), others are completely unjustified (such as claims that LL are out to “kill” aspects of Second Life or that they act “maliciously” towards users).

Regardless of how justified or otherwise claims and arguments about LL are, the fact is that whatever the platform LL provides, the issues and arguments will likely continue. As such, there is a risk that any “new” SL could be taken to be “same s***, different shovel” by both sides of the relationship; users will continue to bemoan LL and LL will continue to feel they are in an uphill battle facing the same criticisms and complaints they face at the moment. This in turn could lead to both sides asking the question, “Why even bother?”

Over all of this, however, lies the biggest question of all: what, exactly, would LL achieve by taking such a route? It’s unlikely that “SL 2.0” would achieve any grater success than the current Second Life has achieved or has the potential to achieve, allowing for all the new capabilities being developed. Thus, any new variant of the platform is liable to end up occupying precisely the same niche as the current product, with more-or-less the same attractiveness to users and possibly the same grumbles and gripes – and this renders any idea of an SL 2.0 developed by LL pretty much moot. Far better that they focus efforts on improving and enhancing the current platform and in maintaining / increasing its relevancy.

Nevertheless, the idea is still an interesting discussion-point – well, for me, at least!