As most of you know, the 2015 TWG (There Winter Games) is on, and one of the most anticipated events is Francis7’s “Death Race 3000″. So, without further ado….
Another amazing promo for another amazing event!!
Soon we’re going to be introducing a new, even easier way to try There!
They’re called “Silent Trials”, and they’re designed to let people easily sign up and experience There, with a few limitations.
The good news is that it’s free, you don’t need a PayPal or Stripe account, and your trial can last forever, if you wish.
It’s called a “Silent Trial” because while you’re free to explore the world, ride buggies, play paintball, and to use text chat, or IMs to communicate with “Phoenix Stars” (formerly known as “Island Guides”), you won’t be allowed to communicate with anyone else without moving up to a subscription of some sort.
(The advantage of this is that if a minor accidentally signs up for There, the chances of them running across offensive or unsafe content will be minimized until they realize this is an 18+ World and they should go elsewhere. Of course, the same applies if they didn’t “accidentally” sign up, or if its’ their parent’s or There’s staff which has to discover they’re under 18).
With this in place, there are now three ways to enjoy There:
- Free “Silent” Trial: Enjoy all of There’s Features except for voice chat, text chat, and IM’s, forever. No PayPal or Stripe account required.
- $.50 “Basic” membership: Like a “Silent” trial, but unlock the ability to chat with other members via text, IMs, and World Chat. PayPal account required (Stripe will be supported at a later time). This is exactly like the current $.50 Trial.
- $10/month Subscription: Enjoy all of There’s Features without restriction including Voice Chat and all Commerce features. PayPal or Stripe account required.
Because they’re so inexpensive, there are a couple of limitations on Silent Trials and Basic Memberships, mainly to keep people from “gaming” the There Commerce and Skilling Systems. These membership levels can not:
- Exchange Therebucks (T$) with other members (prevents T$ “money laundering”).
- Use auctions to purchase things from other members (another kind of T$ laundering).
- Join the There Developer Program.
- “Level Up” in the There skill system.
I’m sure we’re going to get some of the same questions we always get with these kinds of things, so let’s try and answer them in advance:
- Q. Why don’t you make There free again like it was before?
- A. When There was free, even with sponsors, and advertising, There lost money, every day. At some times, There lost twice as much money as it made. “Free” is not an option for There. I know some of you are “tired of hearing this”, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
- Q. Why don’t you allow people under 18 in There?
- A. In today’s world, we don’t feel safe allowing people under 18 in There without having a full-time support staff to help protect them from unsafe activities and people. Since There is trying to spend less money, we can’t afford that, so we’ve made the world 18+.
- Q. But don’t teenagers spend most of the money in world?
- A. No. We have data from There’s prior years of operation which proves that teenagers don’t spend “most of the money” in There, or even close to 1/2 of it. Sorry.
- Q. Does having a PayPal or Stripe account really prove you’re over 18?
- A. Of course not, but it makes it just that much more difficult for a minor to use There in a way which is potentially dangerous to them or others. It also means that the minor would have to knowingly violate at least two companies Terms of Service (TOS) to sign up for There.
- Q. What if I think someone is a minor? What should I do?
- A. You should send us a copy of the chat log, or, even better, a screen capture or movie which proves it. It’s very hard for us to moderate someone when all we have to go on is “I think this person is a minor because they act really immature” (for example).
- Q. Does this mean the end of Free There Weekends? (FTWs)
- A. No, but FTW participants without a subscription will be “Silent Trial” members.
- Q. If you’re using a Silent Trial, do emotes work?
- A. Yes! If you’re using a Silent Trial and type ‘lol (for example) your avatar will “Laugh Out Loud”. Similarly, if another member types ‘LOL’, you will see them “Laugh Out Loud”.
- Q. Can I tell if someone is a Silent Trial member?
- A. Yes! There will be a special icon in their name tag which will alert you to their “Silent Trial” status. That way, you know they’re not ignoring you. They can still see emotes, so remember a ‘smile goes a long way!
- Q. Do Silent Trial and Basic members still get Welcome Walkway Awards?
- A. Yes!
Thanks for reading!
Edited to change “Island Guides” to “Phoenix Stars”.
Even though were able to sell only two of the first ten reduced-price Funzones, we’ve gone ahead and reduced the price on over 100 more Zones, effectively immediately.
If you already hold the deed for a zone, the new pricing applies to you, too. We’re sorry, but no, it’s not retroactive.
We’ll be putting the deeds for the un-rented zones up for auction, a few at a time, over the next few weeks. Since some zones will be in high demand, we think this is the best way to decide “who gets it”.
Sooo, keep your eyes open for the Zone you’ve always wanted! With these new prices, you can’t afford to wait, because we’re sure someone else has their eyes on it too!
As an experiment, we’ve repriced some FunZones!
- Mogul Mounds, was 80K, changed to 40K
- Ash Field was 70K, repriced to 35K
- Banded Rock was 70K, repriced to 35K
- Blue Vista was 70K, repriced to 35K
- Boulder Terrace was 70K, repriced to 35K
- Burning Rock was 45K, reduced to 22K
- Camp Stage was 65K, repriced to 32K
- Chasm Stage was 65K, repriced to 32K RENTED!
- Cluckie’s Hideaway was 45K, repriced to 22K
- Dry Wind was 80K, reduced to 40K RENTED!
- Dust Devil was 80K, reduced to 40K RENTED!
- Passae Beach was 33K, now 22K RENTED!
As you can see, two are already gone! Get ’em while they’re…er, hot!
Two more rented! Only eight left!
Through the magic of Stripe, you can now pay for Therebucks or There subscriptions even if you don’t have a PayPal Account.
This also means that many of you who couldn’t pay due to your locale (Egypt, for example) may now be able to pay.
There’s one little hitch – if you’re still running Internet Explorer 7, you won’t see the Stripe options. This is because Stripe uses relatively modern browser features which Internet Explorer 7 lacks (by “modern” I mean “modern like running water in your home” modern – IE 7’s not exactly the latest and greatest itself).
One other hitch – if you want to purchase a developer item using the “Real Money” option you still need to use PayPal. This is because only PayPal offers the cool digital / micropayment options which make small purchases even worthwhile.
We hope you like this new payment option, and, if you know anyone who hasn’t joined There because they needed another option, please let them know!
Recently, we’ve had a spat of “Griefing”, “near-Griefing”, and other annoying events. As annoying as they are to you, they’re a real problem for There because we (SamSyn, Bruce, and I) end up spending time on them.
There are lots of tools in world you can use to avoid Griefers, people you don’t like much, or just people in general:
- You can ignore them, which not only makes it impossible for them to talk to you, it also hides their name (they become “Ignored”), and their clothing.
- You can teleport away from them. Given that you have an entire Virtual World at your disposal, this is always a good option.
- You can buy or rent a neighborhood or neighborhood lot, and exercise as little or as much privacy as you feel like today.
- If someone is shooting you with a paint gun, you can use your Force Field to protect yourself.
- You can turn on “Buddies Only Voice” to ensure you only hear the voices you want (including the ones in your head) (If they’re on your buddy list, that is).
By far, however, the best tools you have are your own maturity. Whatever tools we come up with, Griefers, who apparently have nothing better to do with their time, will come up with a way to get around them.
But what griefer’s can’t do is make you react.
We know that when a Griefer (who has problem run of of flies to pull the wings off of) makes an Avatar with a name that disturbs you, it’s bothersome. Even if you can’t see it (since you cleverly ignored them), it bothers you that others can.
Well, first, remember that just about everyone else will recognize the name as having being created by a Cretin (that’s a fancy word for Griefer). It’s not like someone going to see an avatar name “MichaelWilsonKillsKittens”, and immediately call the SPCA. Seriously. Think about it.
Second, if you do react, all you’ve done is stimulated what is probably a pre-teen who’s been grounded for not cleaning their room into griefing you some more. Like a tick on the butt of a diseased rat chewing on the carcass of a hyena, as long as it gets blood, the griefer will keep sucking. As soon as you cut off it’s food, it dies.
So, don’t react. Of course, you can ask us to ban them, and we’ll be happy to do that, but all that does it get them all excited.
You can also have fun with them. If they make a shirt, say “MichaelWilson’s Drunk”, I’d make one that said “But a least tomorrow I’ll be sober, and you’ll still be a fool“.
We’re all adults here. Most Griefers, aren’t, at least mentally. If you act like an adult, then they’ll get bored, and go back to puzzling out how to tie their shoes.
We’ve had lots of suggestions, which were rejected for handling griefers. Here are a few:
- SamSyn, Bruce, and I will take 8 hour shifts, 7 days a week, to stay in world and instantly pounce on any Griefers who appear. If we did this, we wouldn’t get anything else done.
- Get rid of free trials. This is probably not a good solution.
- “Free Trial” accounts will be restricted to standing silently in Zona until they become premium members. While this would cut down on griefing, and give us another nice statue gardern, it wouldn’t entice new members to join up.
I know this isn’t a pleasant subject, but I think it’s worth bringing up from time to time. With all the bad things going on in the world right now, it seems like people could focus on being nicer to each other, instead of finding new ways to torment ourselves.
Thanks to the There Games Committee and the There Community, we’ve has another amazing There Summer Games.
And, as you can see, this year’s winner is…Pink! Followed, by Peach, and Red.
Head over here for one of the many, many nice sets of pics from the Games closing party.
And, finally thanks to uh, someone on Facebook for the excellent photo at the top of this post. Of course, once I’d gotten it, I couldn’t find it again, so I can’t provide proper attribution. I’m sure someone will be able to help me out (or, report me for copyright violation).
As you know, unlike the “old” There, we no long process credit cards ourselves, but instead use PayPal as our payment processor. We do this because by accepting, or “vaulting”, credit cards, we need to be what’s known as “PCI Compliant“.
Not only did this take considerable manpower, it was also expensive, as we had to pay external organizations to “verify” that we were PCI compliant.
Given all the expense and hassle, it made much more sense for us to use a payment processor like PayPal to handle credit cards for us. Among other things, PayPal (at the time) was one of the few processors who handled subscriptions, and is the only processor which handles micropayments.
Though most people can handle PayPal just fine (after all, they do serve millions of customers quite successfully), some people either can’t use PayPal, or, for their own reasons, don’t want to.
Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ll soon be adding Stripe as a payment option for subscriptions and Therebucks purchases.
(We won’t be supporting Stripe for “Real Money Purchases” of developer items. The reason for this is that Stripe doesn’t support “micropayments” – charging a much smaller fee for small purchases than they normally would. We could use Stripe for this, but their fees (which are typical for the industry) would eat up almost all of the purchase price).
We hope you’re as excited about this as we are, and will be letting you know as we get closer to release.