yesterday's announcement from M. Linden improved very little the scenario of what I call the Openspace Crisis. The new Homestead sims, functionally equivalent to the current openspaces, will still cost 125 USD, even if that will be in July '09 after 6 month at an intermediate price of 95 USD. They will have new limitations, though, like a 20 avies limit and probably scripting limits as well. So, we can say that their functionality will be reduced respect to the current openspaces.
The new openspaces, the actual new product being released, will be little more than backdrop sims. They will be priced at 75 USD, like the current openspaces but very little will be possible there. A limit of 750 prims and 10 avies will make it impossible to use them for any serious activity. So, even if they are intended to host sea and forests, sea races, naval battles and drum circle dances will be probably too much for them.
Neither product addresses the issues many themed communities have risen, pointing out the potentially killing impact the new prices can have to thier regions. Homesteads still are going to cost 66% more than the old openspaces and the new openspace will not allow many activities characterizing the communities.
I must therefore stick to my concerns and be afraid that so many beauty is in jeopardy and will be probably lost. Capt. Hotspur O'Tool 's blog very clearly addresses some of his concerns about the dangers themed communities have to face.
I live on a plot on a regular sim of the estate of Winterfell. I am not going to be personally impacted by the costs in the short run, but I still have become very sad about the last weeks events because I am afraid that many regions will collapse and the people making them will disband.
Yet earlier today I listened to a chat between Miss Serra and Miss Hypatia and they made me look at the issue also from a different point of view. Miss Hypatia mentioned a group of people who lost their game on line and migrated partly in SL, partly in There and partly in IMVU. That made me think.
Communities are made of people. That is the key assets, not prims, not square meters. We all love out experience in SL because of the interactions with other human beings. If it was just to dress funny or wear pointed ears or pilot a plane or make guns fire, I am sure there are hundreds of games out there with better graphics, better performances and less crashes.
It is the people we value. It is the feelings we exchange, the interests we share that keep us hooked to the game.
And the people does not have to disband. Even if they are dissatisfied by the platform they do not have to be dissatisfied one another. Any community will survive as long as the members stick together. And if the community is together, should we face a worst case scenario, the world can be recreated. Elsewhere if necessary. I love SL and I do not want it to go away, but SL is a platform that allow us to get together and share a dream. But a layer above the basic infrastruture, the added value is all made by the people sharing that dream. And why that should not be portable. There are other platforms out there. It will require work, it will require flexibility, it will require changing some habits, but I am sure it can be done. It has been done already.
Sure, we may miss sailing and firing guns, playing drums or dancing, building or doing business as we know them now. But they will come back soon. The technology is evolving and despite the noise in mainstream press about virtual world being no longer fashionable, more and more start-ups are entering the game.
The experience is not going to die, it is just changing, evolving, coming to age. SL may be remembered as the Netscape of the virtual worlds ten years from now, but we can be sure than we will have a firefox by then.
Isn't it a fascinating idea to think about a Caledon or a Winterfell with colonies in more than one virtual world? or an Elf Circle, or a Sailing Community ... and all the others one may care for. Spread among many worlds, where they experience different sides of what the technology is offering and yet part of a single commutity.
Maybe a dream but I think I play with that dream for a while :)
P.S. I suggested the Queene to create a social network page with NING to have community page for the Faeria exiles, and she did : http://faeria.ning.com :)