Archive for category There.com

New Trial Plan Available Soon!

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”.

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9 Comments

There Summer Games 2014 – Pink Wins!

TSG 2014

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.

Head on over here for a complete set of Games results for this year, and past years, and of course a detailed scoring for each day of the event.

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).

2 Comments

FTW Updates and more!

Snowy Creek

Snowy Creek

FTW (Free There Weekends) Update

Our first FTW was a great success. Our CCU was “about the same” as during the There Winter Games, which is great considering we had no advertising and very little advance notice. Thanks to SamSyn and Bruce, we also were spared any service overloads or outages.

Going forward, we’ve decided to make FTW’s a monthly affair on the 1st or 2nd weekend of each month. Before we start that, we need to solidify and test the “Avatar Deletion Process” which will purge people who showed up for a FTW (or two), but never subscribed, or, better yet, never logged into the 3D world (we had a lot of those!).

We want to make sure we wash them out of the system so they don’t hog all the good avatar names and fill “New There” up with “zombie” Avatars.

Change to the Low Cost/Free Trial Program

As you all know, you can “Try” There out for 10 days (yes, we snuck that one in on you!) for $.50, which is effectively “Free”, since we give you $.50 worth of Therebucks. We going to be increasing that time over the next few weeks or months to give people more time experience There, hang out, and hopefully get hooked!

Hair!

The software support for Developer Hair rolled out to production over the past few weeks, and SamSyn has been working with some unnamed developers to figure out how hard it is – 3DSMax wise – to actually “make” hair. As we suspected, it’s not trivial at ALL, which isn’t surprising when you think about it: “Hair” has to not only “lie” well over heads and shoulders (in different ways), it also has to “work” with all kinds of different head shapes and sizes.

To quote SamSyn:

“Custom Hair Notes

You will probably notice some hairstyle submissions in the next few days. These are just for test and should not be approved (but please do get review copies and make sure they appear on your head as expected).

If you are a talented 3D designer who thinks they can make a working skute with virtually no help, drop us an email and we will get you on the early list for an updated StyleMaker/Previewer you can play with. You can also just email us skute files you have crafted and we can try them out for you. (hair skutes only for now, please).”

Advertising

I’m sure you’ve all noticed our newly re-animated There Facebook Page, which is a form of advertising. We’d love you all to get in and “Like” that page (Ok, we’re no George Takei but we know more than more than 338 of your Like There!

We’re now going to (gingerly) start flexing our Google Adwords muscles, so you should start seeing ads popping up now and then.

But here’s what blew me away. I was playing around with Google WebMaster Tools, and checking us out, and here’s the traffic we get, with no advertising:

adwords

(Hmm. I’m not sure where that image went…)

That’s 300K impressions in 2 weeks, and 15,000 clicks! That’s not actually bad, at all, for no advertising!

Now, all we have to do is get them to sign up!

That’s all for today!

6 Comments

Global/World Chat

Here are some screenshots of SamSyn’s new “World Chat” feature.

While “World Chats” are by no means anything new, it will be new to There. We think it’s going to be a great way for people to:

  • Find Each Other in World
  • Find Activities in World
  • Get help in the World
  • Keep each other “Company” in World

I was always inspired by Glitch’s “Global Chat” because it was pretty consistently a fun, eclectic, and civil place to hang out. I’m sure There’s will be all those things, and more.

In the images below, the various links to Activities you see are AU-TO-MATIC : The system inserts those as various events/activities happen/occur in world. You can click on the links to be teleported to the event, or learn more about it.

worldchat1

worldChat2

worldchat3

worldChat4

SamSyn is currently testing this in QA, coming soon to a release near you!

20 Comments

Changed my Mind

As many of you know, and most disagree with, I have long held that it is “improper” or “not correct behaviour” for There to remove you from someone’s buddy list when you remove them from yours.

Thus, if Jack buddies Jill, and Jill buddies Jack back, they’re on each other’s buddy lists. And when Jack logs in, Jill can see it, and vice versa. Next week (not that this EVER happens in There), Jill decides she doesn’t want to be Jack’s buddy, and removes him from her buddy list. However, Jill’s still on Jack’s buddy list, so Jack still sees when Jill logs in (presumably because she’s fooling around with Jack’s best friend, _Jack).

Many people – maybe every one but me – felt that we should not automatically remove Jill from Jack’s buddy list, because this was changing Jack’s list without his permission.

But, I changed my mind. I was wrong.

In an upcoming release, if you remove someone from your buddy list, and you’re on their list, you’ll be silently removed from their buddy list. (There may be a slight delay in you actually disappearing off their list, but they’ll instantly stop getting messages about your logins, logouts, etc).

So Jill and _Jack can be happy, and Jack will too, since he won’t know about them.

Mmmmmmm….pie.

P.S. Thanks to itechgear (I thought it was “Itchgear” for a second 🙂 ) for the image.

34 Comments

Do Not Abandon…

We’ve been getting reports of people creating events and then abandoning them. If you create and event, and don’t attend it, it’s not only unfair to the attendees, it’s also unfair to other people that may wish to use the Zone.

In many ways, it’s actually worse than inviting all your friends over for a party and then not bothering to show up. At least if you do this in real life, your guests can raid your refrigerator.

In the Old There, Customer Support could help enforce this since we had more C/S.

As you know, we don’t have as much C/S coverage as we did before, but this is still an offense. Not to mention just plain rude. Doing it for a 4 or 8 hour event is beyond rude.

Yes, it’s an offense to reserve an zone for an event, and then either not show, or show up and then abandon the event.

SamSyn is going to work on an automated way to enforce this, but in the meantime, please don’t do it. If you feel like someone has abandoned an event you can report it to feedback@thereinc.com. Please remember to include photos or video showing the event has been abandoned.

(We have records of who was in the zone when, so we can verify any claims of abandonment).

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Clarification: If you own the Zone, then if you want to schedule 8 hour events and never come (or come, and leave), then have fun. It’s your Zone so you can do what you want with it.

, , , , ,

33 Comments

Alpine Glow

Here’s picture and a little update.

* We have a new copy of ThereIM we’ll be linking too. This one doesn’t require you to change that target, and should make it much easier to new members or returnees. You can get it here. Remember, I said that one of our tasks was to get this building again — and the There Client — so that’s checked off.

*IMPORTANT*
You must quit ThereIM before doing the install. Just exiting it isn’t enough – you must right click on it’s icon on the right side of the task bar and choose “Quit”. If you don’t, the install will only be half-baked, and havoc will ensue.
*IMPORTANT*

*IMPORTANT*
There have been some problems reported with this release. This is why we needed to do this.

USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. OR, PREFERABLY, DON’T USE AT ALL.
*IMPORTANT*

*IMPORTANT*
If you’re using this release and having SegVios, then try this:

1. Find the ThereIM icon in your task bar (at the bottom of the screen)
2. Right click on it.
3. Pick “Exit”
4. From your computer, delete the folder “C:\Program Files\Makena Technologies”
5. Re-install ThereIM

Thanks to all those who helped us with this tip.
*IMPORTANT*

There shouldn’t be any noticeable changes in this version. I was the last one who worked on it, and, as I recall, we had already shipped everything I’d done, so don’t expect anything like cats in ThereIM or anything.

* I’m very happy to announce that Mackie will be re-joining us on a part-time basis to help answer questions and develop the policy for “I-can’t-remember-my-password-or-my-email-or-my-secret-answer’, and implementing it. After some testing today we discovered that you can not send a tissue sample for DNA sequencing through the fax machine, so that’s out.

* Please think carefully before sending us an email claiming that all of your things are gone or you don’t have your T$. In every case so far that we’ve investigated, we’ve found that the member(s) had given or traded away all of their stuff shortly before There closed.

* We know that many of you don’t as you expect in ThereIM, and SamSyn has a nice logical explanation:

A mystery in three parts.

—–

Your skin color is just one part of your avatar’s “Lookset” (which also includes the shape of your body, it’s default hair, lip shape, etc.) It does NOT include your clothing. That’s stored in an ‘outfit,’ which is a different adventure story (with a happy ending).

When your OLD avatar on the old There.com service was first created, you picked an initial skin color for it. This is your “Original Skin Color.” You liked it well enough, but you probably didn’t have many choices.

Over the course of time, you might have visited a Spa and changed your skin color to something else (Caramel being the most popular color, back from the days when clothing had to be ‘married’ to a particular skin color). Eventually, you had a skin color on the day we had to shut the service down. Let’s call that the “Closing Color”

Now the clock jumps forward 17 months or so.

Recently you have created your NEW avatar (with the same name as your old avatar, but really it’s a completely new avatar on a completely new There.com service). When you did that, you used the “avie picker” at http://www.there.com which allowed you to pick a new skin color (and if you picked nothing, it defaulted probably to “Vanilla”). But you had to pick SOMETHING, so let’s call that the “Picker Skin Color”

The Picker Skin Color didn’t last very long. By the time we re-created your avatar on the NEW There.com, its skin color had already been changed back to the “Original Skin Color” (note: not the “Closing Skin Color”). So your first moment of surprise came from your first ThereIM login where you realized that your “Picker Skin Color” was not actually used (likewise, the Picker Gender was ignored, since your new Avatar is created with a matching gender to your old Avatar.)

But your second surprise was that ThereIM displayed your “Original Skin Color” and not the “Closing Skin Color” you probably expected it to.

So where is your “Closing Skin Color?”

It’s in a lookset!

Part of the data migration process is to migrate all the looksets you created for your old avatar. Each lookset can have a different skin color (and/or body shape). When you leave the spa, and ‘save changes,’ this data is always stored in one of your looksets (which one, is hard for us to say) And because it’s hard for us to know which one you were using on closing day, we don’t try to put one on for you automatically, and just leave you in your “Original” lookset.

Once you get your avatar back into the 3D world, and can visit a Spa, you will see these looksets, and have the ability to change which one your avatar is “sporting”

And THEN your avatar can come close to looking like its “Closing” self.

VAST AMOUNTS OF TESTING (TWO analyses 🙂 have given us a warm and fuzzy feeling that your looksets are likely have the proper data in them. But ThereIM just gives you no access.

And, of course, once you can get to a Spa, you can completely configure yourself as you like, skin color and all. Nothing about your lookset is “permanent”

SO WILL YOU LOOK 100% IDENTICAL AT THAT TIME?

Well… The code DID continue to evolve over the last year, as we added DirectX9, support for some dramatic new textured face technology, and large numbers of bug fixes (though not the bug YOU wanted fixed, of course, we saved that one for when you returned. To give you a sense of home). It’s possible that some of these changes impact lookset appearance. (No, you won’t suddenly have a textured face, that’s a shiny new feature to be exposed at some future date, or never, as you see fit. We will NOT force you to have a textured face)

But we DID find some value-checking bugs, whose repair might have made some of the more ‘extreme’ body configurations that people were making with UNLICENSED THIRD PARTY ADD-ONS, less extreme. Plus there was a silly bug that made the Spa sliders behave oddly (not sticking where you put them, being unable to be set in what appeared to be completely legal ways) and that might have some effect as well.

So there might be some differences, is all we’re saying. We can’t state otherwise. Plus your memory isn’t perfect either, so there! But your skin color isn’t one of them. That code has not changed in many years. So if you had a lookset with a particular color in it on closing day, your new copy of that lookset on your new avatar (once you have a chance to put it on) should present the same skin color as it did on closing day.

OK, so there weren’t REALLY three parts, in case you were counting.

* Dan is working on the bug which prevents IE8/Windows users from registering. Evidently lots of people have had that problem (with IE handling of certain types of XML/HTML documents), so we’re not alone. He might have found a solution, so that should be resolved soon.

* 3rd party add ins: If it’s something like the hair patch, which may have someone else’s content in it, Do NOT Use It. Those assets belong to someone else, and if you use them, you’re stealing. If it’s something like JSCompass, etc, use it at your own risk! We can’t support you if something goes wrong, and if you report a problem, the first thing we’ll ask you to do is uninstall any third party extensions.

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist over this, just think: How could we possibly support someone else’s code?

That’s it for now. I may add updates later.

I purposely made this picture lighter because I don’t know what WordPress does to them, but they look FINE on my computer and wayyyyy to dark on the blog.

374 Comments

Clubs Poll

Here’s the promised poll on Clubs. This is the first time I’ve done a poll here so please be patient.

Some notes:

  • We really don’t want to just restore all the old clubs. Not only would we have the same mess we had before, we’d end up with lots of “Zombie” clubs with no real members (since they hadn’t come back to There, or will never come back.
  • Restoring a Club when it’s Leader(s) aren’t present is also problematic. We probably shouldn’t have even included that as an option.
  • We’ll do our best to figure out how to keep Club Houses tied to their Clubs. This of course means we’ll have to reserve all previously rented Club Houses for some period of time to give the Club a chance to come back.

The popularity of a given choice may not determine the outcome if we run into some horrible snag or business problem with the most popular result. We think you’d all agree with this: It it’s going to take 12 man-years to implement the Club Restoration system EveryOne Wants, it doesn’t make sense from a practical or business standpoint.

239 Comments

Update for 06/16/2011

Here’s an update:

  • We moved more machines out of the “cage” (our ISP) into the Cloud. More money saved!
  • We moved There.com (the web site) to the Cloud (and had some bumps on the way)
  • Put all the new registration code on the QA service
  • Built the “Legacy Avatars Table” which is where we get the clues about your old avatar when you reclaim it.

The upshot is that we still think we’ll make the end of the month for ThereIM, but it will be tight.

Now, for some questions to think about – I’ll put up a little poll later to get your answers. Do NOT indunate the blog with answers please at this time.

As you know we’ve got the process working which will restore your possessions, ignores, and buddies, and, later, virtual property such as houses, PAZs, hoods, lots, etc.

The problem comes with things like Clubs. As you know, we had thousands of clubs, most of them inactive, or with one member (or less).

When we restore you to There, we could restore all your clubs, but we’re not sure that’s the right thing to do:

  • It’s very likely your Club mates won’t be back (yet), so you will find your club kind of lonely
  • People may decide to start new clubs with the members who have returned, plus any new members, which will make the old club even more obsolete.
  • If you’re not the leader of the club, it doesn’t matter how many of your old club mates show up, without the club leader, you’re going to have all kinds of problems. And it’s not possible for us to arbitrarily relinquish club ownership to the member(s) who have returned – you can imagine what kinds of problems that would cause.

So our choices will be (again, please don’t answer yet):

  1. Don’t restore any clubs. Get a fresh start all around
  2. Restore ONLY the Clubs you are the leader of. No additional members will be added to the Club, you’ll have to re-recruit.
  3. Restore ONLY the Clubs you are the leader of, and the members who are also already re-enrolled in There.
  4. Try to restore all Clubs as they were before, except those which were empty or composed entirely of members who have not returned.

The same issue(s) exist for League Rankings. What sense will it be for your to be the #1 Paintballer (well, I guess I should say “#2”, since I am by definition #1) when everyone else below you hasn’t returned (and won’t?). Worse yet, how would it be to be #3, know you’ll never get to #2 because #2 will never come back? The idea of letting people re-compete for standings seems to be fair, on the surface at least.

Please think about these issues, and I’ll put up a WordPress survey later today.

121 Comments

An important upgrade for There.com

Here it is.

We’re going whole hog with this one.

108 Comments