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Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Late Night Snacks

In Tiki Tidbits on August 24, 2011 at 12:03 am

I logged into ThereIM to check how much more of my buddy list had filled in, and was pleased to see one name appear as a green dot:

Snacks

What would the world be without Snacks? The combination of Miracle Pictures and Snacks means all is right with the There world to me.

Avie Suicide

In Coffee Fueled Rants, Uncategorized on August 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

Unfortunately the 50 or so people who I emailed, called, poked and prodded to rejoin There are adamant that I return to There (since some only rejoined to see me and to see the little clubhouse and our Sky PAZ again)

So instead of leaving completely I am stuck going in and paying the clubhouse rent, setting it up, and then rarely logging on again once it is set up.

I am also still being used as There_Helper since people remember me from the “good old days” as one of those pesky Thereians who was always willing to help with a problem if I could. I am referring them to:

feedback@thereinc.com

You Can Never Go Home Again

In Coffee Fueled Rants, RAGE QUIT ARRRGH! on August 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

It is true, you can never go home again, and after much thought and the small taste of  There Drama I have had this week, I have decided that I would prefer There to be a wonderful place of great memories to me.

This blog has been discontinued as a There Fansite.

The world of  There,  exists only in my memory.

There Video Spotlight: Chagall

In There Video on August 18, 2011 at 10:48 am

Chagall has always been one of my favorite There Video/ Machinima  makers in There. One of the greatest things about There was the wide variety of ways in which the world would bring out the creativity of the people. Besides the obvious Developer’s Program, where people made all the lovely things that we decorated with and wore, There were the videos. Before Youtube existed, we had various sites all around the internet that hosted our videos. Karille still maintains a video archive to this day.

Chagall has a Video Channel: GotCHA!  on Youtube, so be sure and check out more of her great films!

There Welfare Recipients and The Scarlet Letter of Beta

In Coffee Fueled Rants on August 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Well, a fire storm has ignited over at MW’s Blog. Avman7 was down most of the morning. The 3D world is not up yet, but all is right with my world. I am sitting on my arse collecting my There Welfare Check, eating old Pizza and watching Miracle Picture reruns on my television.

Ok so people thought I was a bit harsh and hard on MW in my last post. Let me say openly that I do actually appreciate his efforts to bring back There.com but It also does not mean that I give up my right to be critical. If I get a bad burger at McDonald’s I complain. That is just me.

Personally, I wish MW would put a paypal button on his blog and just let us all PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

Or maybe a tip  jar.

In any case it caused a stir and maybe from this point out it will be off our chests, out of our system, and out there for all to see.

Personally, it is not the “free” part that worried me it was an honor thing. I wanted to know if any later “offers” from the company were to be looked at with some caution, as they would not hold up over time.

There was a special place to me and I, along with many others went through a lot together over the years. I hope to finally write some of those into some “There History” posts in this blog.

I had more friends on my buddy list who were not part of  Beta that were just people I met and helped over the first 3 or 4 years of  There, and many of them always told me they would not have stayed had they not met me first to help them get used to a Virtual World.

I hope to see many of them again….in There.

Snarks and Sneetches and Men With No Britches

In Chihuahua Emporium Rag on August 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

As I read Michael Wilson’s blog over the past few months, one nagging impression remained:

The guy is a jerk.

That having been said, he is the CEO of  There.com and I was willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, after-all, I do not always come off as the shining beacon of nice in text format either. And like Michael Wilson, my reputation in the virtual world precedes me, and is largely untrue. Unfortunately, most of what I have heard about Michael Wilson has been confirmed over the past several months, reaching its apex yesterday over something that should have been a relatively simple clarification to a billing question.

Despite being a Thereian for 7 years, I  never met the man in “virtual person” or otherwise. Never spoke to him, and have only recently had any email exchanges with him. (which were not pleasant).   He has a tendency to knee-jerk react to the most simple request and for me, came off as more than just a little paranoid.

 I am not a schmoozer. Just not my style. Although men like Michael Wilson seem to delight in them and work quite hard to surround themselves with them. The ratio of schmoozing to non-schmoozing comments on his blog is quite high. Ego-stroking seems to be the norm. It is also apparent from his blog and his interactions via the comments, that he has no respect for anyone that does not readily bow down to him as a king  of There and accept their role as peasant.  He responds to most everyone as if they are a cretin (unless he has received the correct amount of ass-kissing from said person) and despite his having been on the internet as long as he has, he seems to have the impression that no one but himself has any expertise in any profession or skill other than pulling toe jam out from between our toes and eating it.

So yea,  good with bad, yin and yang, I try to do that right? (deep breath)

He has done a good job via his blog in keeping people up to date with everything they were/are doing to get the There world up and running. (And I am not denying that this is a monumental task, not to mention a big fat pain in the ass.)  He is quite good at a power point presentation. So he makes up for some of his lack in social skills with his ability to identify and relate information in a concise and understandable way, albeit with a definite tyrannical flair.  He really missed his calling as an office manager.   He does have a sense of humor, a bit too heavy on sardonic wit than is my taste, and an overuse of  sarcasm.  “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit”  or so they say. (ahem)  He reminds me of many of the people I knew in my dark cafe days whose mouths would run quite a distance away from their brains when given enough liquid encouragement.

In any case, I made the mistake (OH NOES!) of asking the Lord High Executioner  for a simple clarification about the state of the Life Time Memberships of  Beta testers, since some rumors were already going around in ThereIM chat. Also I wished to begin to plan out my personal costs for There.com once it was up and running.  Apparently this hit a raw nerve, because suddenly a post appeared on his blog about it and then….LET THE DRAMA BEGIN!

The post itself starts out with a completely demeaning title, and then goes on to make sure that anyone who DARES to ask about their lifetime account are just ungrateful pissants to be deservedly chastised. The comment section only furthers this as MW “circles his little brown noser’s wagons” and encourages others to get out their cyber pitchforks, tar and feathers, for all those who dare to “bite the hand that feeds them”

Oh…really?

Who exactly will be paying the bills here?

So is There a SERVICE  which we shall pay for, or is it a GIFT?

Who is the servant? The one paying the bills or the one receiving said payment?

Most, if not all of the people I have spoken with who were Beta Testers for There who have signed up again, have no intention of not paying to play. In fact, like myself, they reactivated with the intention of contributing cash (even though they are not obligated to) to help keep it afloat. Kind of a strange reaction by Mr. Wilson to treat his “Free for Life” people who returned as if they were some sort of scourge that he reluctantly has to deal with. The folks I know who reactivated come not with cash that is forced out of their pockets, but with the idea that they are contributing money out of pure LOVE of  There.com. Most of these people are the same ones who make up some of the best and brightest of the Developer Program, who have spent tons of cash over the years for their Funzones, homes, Paz, Neighborhoods, etc. And they fully expect to come back and do that all over again.

The fact that Mr. Wilson derides and chides them in his blog for asking for clarification of their accounts reeks of  bad business practice at the core. Welcome back…to There!

signed,

A “There Welfare Recipient”

Heart, Soul, and Left Kidney

In Deep Thoughts on August 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

The Empty Chair

One of the hardest things for me, and many others who populated the world of  There, is overcoming the nagging feeling of doubt. There were many who gave generously of their time, money and more importantly, their emotions to make There work. For the love of this funny little cartoon virtual world, They endured frustration, grief, bugs, blue screens, company indifference and sometimes outright ridicule and contempt.

There is a part of me that wants to throw myself into it to make it work, to make it succeed in much the same way I did in October 2003 when we came out of Open Beta and said hello to the world.

I want to believe it is a new beginning for all of us. I want to believe we can identify and set aside what went wrong and concentrate on what went very right. I want to believe that any old drama is forgotten, and along with a fresh clean avatar, we are going to all have clean slates.

But every day my doubts about it grow as I see people fall into the same old habits, and the things I fear the most recurring manifest themselves.  It really is like trying to fall in love with the same person again. The problem is that person brings back with them many of the same attributes that made you leave them in the first place, and although they may have changed, as people do, they have not changed….enough.

Tiki Tidbits Vol.1 No.1 Of There Reckoning

In Tiki Tidbits on August 16, 2011 at 12:57 am


Tiki Tidbits was my “Gossip Column” on a little newspaper I wrote for called The Caldera Sun Times back in the heyday of  There.com and I hope to revive it here. I would run around the various islands of There, take pictures and see what was going on with all the various circles of friends. I was always enthralled by how many small circles of people there are and how the community is kind of a huge set of concentric rings.

It is really kind of odd to me to be in any kind of chat client again, I have not really used any of them in some time. I use Twitter and Facebook, but I just have not sat around and chatted with people in a very long time. It is funny how just knowing that the There World might come back has awakened my desire to socialize in Real Time again.

————+————-

KNOWN ISSUES KNOWN BY ME:

1. Michael Wilson (from here on out known as MW) Knows about, and is checking into, the problems with your body set. This includes the lack of custom body size, skin color, and other physical attributes.  I know this is one of the most commented on issues that people are having from chats I have joined over the last week. They are aware of it, and are checking into it. It may be that you will not be completely customized til you get in world.

2. Some different client versians and hacks are being used by some people and are not authorized. Any use of these are not supportable, so if you have issues with them do not contact support about them. I realize that many people, such as myself, save every version of things they download, and I even have the original first Beta for the ThereIM client I ever downloaded, which was sometime in 2004, but it would be wise to keep to the client that is provided when you ressurect your avatar, as this is the only one that is currently supported by those who work for There Inc.

3. The Golden Tickets that appeared in your inventory are meant to be used by you to reclaim your level up gifts as your original level up gifts are not migrating. If you do reclaim, keep in mind that you will most likely not have the old ones in your inventory so if you liked the ones you had, choose the same award again. I have been assured both by Samsyn via email, and MW via his blog that this is not an exploit, so go get it! Its FREE FREE FREE.

4. Some people are having difficulty ressurecting their old avatars, and get the message that There.com is no longer sending out invitations. I am not sure if MW is aware of this problem. I have also heard of many people who have not been able to get the password reset mail, as well as the clue question being unanswerable.

I am sure there are more that I will think of but this draft has been up all day and I should just post the dang thing!

What a Wonderful World

In Deep Thoughts on August 15, 2011 at 4:50 am

After spending so much time on the negative aspects of There.com, I thought It only fair that I also talk about the good in it, and the stuff that brings me back.

I was born as an avatar of There in Zephyr, this was back in the days when your “birth” was random, and to be honest, I hope they bring that back. It encouraged people to get out and explore the new world they find themselves in, and the whole idea of Noobie Islands is so last decade.

I recall my avie eyes opening on a world so beautiful, the bright sun glinting off yellow sand, large balloons floating in the air, and then BLAMMO I got hit by a buggy! Welcome to There! It was marvelous, even as my body slid, arms flailing across the sand a large hoverboat mysteriously appeared and it landed with its protective circle around me, the pilot hurriedly explained how to get on it, and as soon as I did, off we flew into the sky! A knight is shining armor on a big blue flying boat.

So, yea, what was right about the World….

THE COMMUNITY

The community of  There has always been the best part of  There. People I have met in There have become my life long friends in RL and I am not the exception, but the rule. For many people There was social media before social media was “cool” so to speak. Before There became “free to play”, (which I really designate as the beginning of the dark days of There) There was a deep sense of connection in the community of users. Most were kind, and even the griefers (for the most part) were not cruel, per se, but more cantankerous and mischievous. Later the griefers were more the usual trolls, idiots and infantile flaming cretins that have been around the net since it was held together with duct tape and bailing wire, and the “noobie islands” were especially filled with their ilk. But wait I was talking about the good things in There, wasn’t I? I guess you have to include what went wrong with what was at first, very right to get the full picture.

In the beginning before “the rules that punish all for the few” were enacted, it was possible to spend your days finding and helping new people, giving them a little money, a few articles of clothing to get them started, loan them a buggy or a board. But then in a (mostly vain) effort to control exploitation the ability to be “nice” was taken away, and the community lost a way in which we bonded with one another. ‘sad

Before fixed zone ownership, There was filled with many wonderful and creative events hosted by various users. This too, was a great way to meet people. With the advent of ownership of zones, the Zone Owners began to use them to exclude others from using them and in the end many were empty and dead. I hope that when the World comes back, Event Zones (especially stages and bars) will not be owned by people but be available for hourly “rent” (at a reasonable rate)  to prevent them from becoming dead zones again, and return them to the wonderful days of trivia games, fashion shows, lectures, poetry readings and concerts.

EXPLORATION AND ARTWORK

The artwork of There is amazingly detailed for the “cartoon aesthetics” that it is created in. There are so many large and small and intriguing secret spots in just the Three original islands, that it can take you months to fully explore them.  Add to that the continual creativity of the community through the developer program and the world was changing all the time and was always fresh and new if you took the time to look around. This too, however had a down side when excessive use of “no drop” zones to “protect” the aesthetics of There became so prevalent that exploring became so frustrating that people tended to just be summoned to places, rather than using a vehicle to find them.

AMAZING WORLD PHYSICS

I could go on for days about the fun of playing with the physics of the world of There, but suffice it to say, the Vehicle physics alone are some of the best in any game ever, and it was a source of endless joy just driving around in a buggy that “felt real”. The physics of the world itself is fun to discover, and is pure genius. The ways in which the community built and created things that used the physics of the world was always surprising and joyful.

AVATAR INTERACTION AND VOICE INTERFACE

The voice interface with the avatar is still to this day the best voice program in any virtual world. The avatars of  There were created with a deep understanding of what truly makes an avatar feel “real” to the user, and is a testament to the core of what There truly is: Avatar Centric Communication.

There and Back Again

In Deep Thoughts on August 15, 2011 at 12:11 am

First, a disclaimer: Anything I say on this blog is my personal opinion, and may or may not be the complete story, but only the part of the elephant I am privy to see. It is my habit of writing out things to clear my mind and organize my thoughts, and at this point, as There reopens, a part of me wants to throw myself into it with whole heart, mind and my left kidney (to quote Francis_7 ) to assist to make it what it once was at its apex, and another part of me is certain that there is just too much to overcome, and I should step back and away….far away.

For those who do not know that much about There.com, I reference you to  There’s Wiki Page  but one of my favorite resources for how There got started is Jeffrey Ventrella and even more specifically the chapter in his book “Virtual Body Language” about the Birth of There . For what is currently going on with the Re-Open, the CEO, Michael Wilson has a blog  “I am So There” with frequent updates (at least as of this writing) about how that restart is going.

The history of  There.com has been a tumultuous one, with the greater part of that turmoil originating from personal and office politics within the company at various times, and conflicts in the vision of what There should be, could be, as well as many other problems that plague start-ups, including the ever present: Cash Flow Problems. I will speak in depth about what I identified as the most perplexing problems in There in future posts here, but want to identify just a few that have more to do with the Community aspect than the internal office conflicts. To me, these issues must be resolved this time around, or There is destined to fail on its attempt to “rise from the ashes”.

1. COMMUNICATION

The best communication we ever had in There between the users and the creators of There was at the beginning, during Beta, when Will Harvey and Jeffrey Ventrella were still at the company. Will was the person who held the original vision of There together, and when the great schism occured in about 2004, and Will left the company, the vision noticeably changed. There were some efforts made for around a year after that to revamp open communication lines that had been frayed or outright severed, but in truth, it never was the same.

I will probably speak most about this failure on this blog, and what I believe could remedy it and keep it from happening again. Service and communication are of the utmost importance in the high tech world, and good communication sometimes is the only thing that sets one company apart from another.

2. BUSINESS MODEL IDEOLOGY

There’s Business model was always a puzzle to me. At times it seemed authoritarian, at other times completely laissez-faire. I came to believe there were conflicting opinions on how the company should be run, and this would change almost daily depending on who had the upper-hand in office politics. This had a great effect on the people who populated the world of  There, and to me at least the overwhelming and sometimes suffocating controls put in place to try to moderate behavior was also stifling to creativity, and the lack of personal freedom caused many people to leave There for other Virtual Worlds which were more open and relaxed and allowed those creative juices to flow. It is a hard balance to achieve, my hope is that this time around There will swing the pendulum more to the Freedom side and less to the control side.

Again, this was a pet peeve of mine and you will probably hear me speak of in again as we see how the World will evolve this time around. I will probably go into more specifics about controls that were inordinately severe and ridiculous and the lack of any tools given to the community at large to police themselves, and too much control at the top that did little other than to feel almost tyrannical at times.

3. ELITISM AND CLIQUISHNESS 

Elitism is a pet peeve of mine, and I suppose in some ways I am probably a bit over-sensitive to it, since I was the clumsy kid always picked last for children’s games. Ah, adulthood, it truly is just a continual state of recovery from childhood at times.  In any case there is, in the microcosm of worlds online a great tendency to concentrate the monster of elitism to horrifying extremes, since there are those whose egos and self esteem seem to be completely transformed by the “big fish in a small pond” syndrome of virtual worlds.  There was a great deal of ass kissing and brown nosing in There, and the creation of Top Down and not Bottom Up power that was the MAB did nothing to help matters. The  MAB just reinforced the prevailing cliquishness that had evolved and I once did a survey on my own and the majority of users I polled could not name one thing that ever came out of any MAB meeting that contributed to their enjoyment of There. The Elitism did a lot to put the Developers in a bubble far removed from what was actually happening in the world they were creating, and it was sad to me that they rarely mingled and visited with people outside their elite circle.

For now these three concerns are out there, and I shall talk more on each one eventually I am sure. They are the most pressing and worrisome to me, and my hope is that they will be addressed with sincerity once the world comes back online.