Installing opensimulator and subsequently connecting to a grid on Mac OSX – Part Two (my experiences)
Note: This is a long series, and is continued from part one. Be sure you read that first 😉
Let’s look at option 1, foregoing running your own server, leaving that all up to someone else, and paying them rent (also known as tier payments).
Since it is free and opensource, most anyone can download and install the OpenSim server for free, granted you are able to do so and maintain it as well.
On many of the grids, a user can buy, rent, of get for free some speck of virtual land. Add to this the idea said person isn’t savvy enough to do their own install, or for other reasons won’t be running a full sim all by themselves. Fair enough, but I won’t be going into renting prims, houses, smaller parcels, megaregions or even multiple sims, let’s just simply say a person is looking to rent one standard full size sim (aka private islands or regions).
A full sim is basically 256 by 256 square meters in size (65536sqm, height is practically infinite) and supports 15,000 primitive objects for your buildings etc. I will take this one step further and say you rent the sim for a year. If there is an annual rate, I will use that. If there are only weekly or monthly rates, I will multiply that until it makes a year (such as 12 x monthly rate or 365 x daily rate = 1 full year)
There are other factors to consider, but for now, I’ll keep this very simple and not include estate covenants, maturity ratings, or any of that stuff.
Popular grids and monthly tier with any setup fees are listed like so:
The first number (100) is your monthly tier for renting, using, maintaining the land including any hidden extra fees (such as prerequisite membership fees), the second number (10) is your one-time setup fee if such a fee exists.
Second Life: $301/$1000 (educator discount available till Jan 2011)
OSgrid: N/A (available land is generally 100% FREE)
The New World Grid: 30 euro (about $41) /20 euro (about $27) [ Note: FREE land also exists..)
Reaction Grid: $150/$505 (educator discount available..)
Your Alternate Life: 37.50 euro / 37.50 euro (about $51)
With paid hosting, indeed as with any grid service, open or closed, there are caveats which may or may not matter to you. This is the “other stuff” or factors to consider before paying a grid to host your region. My list is by no means extensive, and many grids have alternative pricing or options which go beyond the scope of this post 😉
Hosting a sim means giving control of your assets to another person; You trust the operators to keep your data safe, upgrade it, backup, and maintain all for you.
Also, putting your stuff on someone else’s machine and network means they control who gets to access its lower levels.
Generally, a grid operator isn’t going to let you console into their hardware to copy the database or customize the server to your liking. You play by whatever boundaries and limits they feel like imposing.
If they go offline, out of business, or suddenly your sim gets wiped from memory, well say goodbye to your stuff, perhaps with your money.
That said, even if all goes well and peachy, many grids are “closed” systems.. which means only people with accounts on said grid will be able to reach you there.
Will your friends bother creating a login on another grid just to reach your regions, which may be disconnected from their favorite service? If it isn’t one they already frequent, their avatar appearance is going to be default in every way (i.e., a ruth or cloud) and any inventory will be likely empty until they populate it or make changes themselves..
Many grids may not have any sort of hypergrid/intergrid connections, communications or policies, which could prevent them (programmaticaly via code, or legally via DMCA or other issues) from transferring 3rd person creations to your grid or sim, whether or not they have legit permission.
If all your freinds are savvy builders, texture makers and scripters, then that’s not much an issue, but if not, will the learning curve and challenges of it overwhelm them? Who knows..
Is your content Adult-oriented? Are you a nonproft or educational? Into Role-Playing? Have a virtual business, services, or entertainment you wish to gain real-world income from?
Some grids have in-world money systems, some use website payments such as PayPal, while others prohibit you from using any money exchanges.
Certain communities or groups may exist in great number on some grids, while being limited (or non-existent) on others.
These and other factors may influence your decision when choosing where (or if..) you host your sim on a grid.
Of course, for the casual player who just wants to login and have fun interacting and exploring, well, none of these concerns may be important!
(continued in part three..)