Anyone who's know me for a few years probably knows that I'm a huge fan of Virtual Worlds. At one point a few years ago I owned a large bit of land in Second Life. The area, known as Brythony was attached to the popular Steampunk Second Life area know as Caledon (shout out to Des). Faerie Magazine even did a feature on us. At that time I even dragged in a bunch of my artist friends to one degree or another. Lots of them joined me in hands on content creation and hanging out - others were gracious enough to let me sell their art for them in this world. (Ash Evans, Amy Brown, Jasmine Beckett-Griffith, Mary Layton, Jane Starr Weils - high fives ya'll. Thanks!)
It was an awesome time. I learned so much about 3D creation, texturing and all the digital arts. And as an artist, as a creative person there still is nothing that compares to me than the feeling of not only creating art - but being able to interact with it. Being able to (almost) live in a painting of my creation, well that is very satisfying.
In Second Life I earned a modest but solid reputation as a builder and a texturer. To this day I can wander any steampunk area in SL and see my art, my textures, my houses and my dirigibles flying proudly in the sky.
Unfortunately Brythony as it was in Second Life came to an end. Second Life went thru one of it's many transitions periods and it was one that my meager budget was not going to survive. See I rented land to tenants - and I sold content in SL. My SL content sales was not enough to cover the nearly $1,000 a month land bill I had. I counted on the tenants to cover the monthly fees and in fact I charged them cost. I never made a profit off of land rentals. Unfortunately during this transition land rentals dried up and I had to make the tough decision to let Brythony go.
But I've always kept a presence in SL and my content there has continued to sell well. I've also kept an eye over the years on "the competition" Open Source projects and competitors looking to do what Second Life does - but better.
I miss 3D content creation. While it is something I enjoy personally, it's also a formative part of my creative process. I think in 3D. Because of this I've missed my land in SL over the years. Many times I've wished I could pop in and work on mocking up a project or an idea so as to explore the concept completely.
I'm happy to say that after exploring all the other options I could find - I've finally settled on something. Kitely.com runs on the OpenSim idea but hosts their servers a little differently. I don't pretend to understand the technical side (if you do it's all on their website) but I will say that so far they've impressed the heck out of me.
The pricing is phenomenal. My $1000.00 a month bill in SL is now $35. For 4 times the amount of land. < That just, that's so unbelievable to me I had to read that sentence a few times myself just to believe it.
Now you might be asking - "Brigid what the fudge? Aren't you working on your book project? What's with the trip down virtual memory lane?" Yes, you have a point but - The reason I went on this little side excursion into Virtual Worlds this week is BECAUSE of the book. See my NaNoWriMo project is set in Brythony - well the Brythony that evolved in my mind, which is rather different from the one that we had originally in Second Life.
I need map.
I'm at the point in my writing process where I really really really need a map. I've tried to just draw the map ya'll and it's not working. Because I KNOW what's possible in virtual worlds I kept longing for that freedom as I was creating. Rolling hills, sparkling streams, moody forests and waves of grasses rippling in the wind! I CAN MAKE IT ALL! MWHAHAHHAHAAAA!
And what author wouldn't want a 3D interactive version of their world? I mean C'MON! It will take a while to make. I know this. Especially since being the psychotic person that I am I will want to hand paint each and every texture so the whole world feels like a Pre-Raphaelite painting. But ya know, whatevs - because at these prices I don't have to feel guilty about how long it will take. And I'll have an interactive Map for my story in the meantime.
A few key points about Kitely. They work differently than Second Life. Every user gets their own FREE island. They also bill for play time just like WoW but unlike Second Life. (They have a free option with 2 hours a month + 4 hour sign up bonus and a FREE ISLAND. Rates are very reasonable rates beyond that - also some areas are free to visit)
Allow me a moment to lecture. I've encountered some belly-aching about pay to play with virtual worlds "Waaaa, Second Life doesn't bill for play time - I can play for free" Yes, you can. Know why? Because they are charging the Second Life land owners for you to play. Which is insane. Because Virtual Worlds like this rely on their user base to create the content, and because the users that create the best and the most content are major land holders, the worlds that work on this Second Life Model are basically penalizing their most valuable customers. I was being charged out the nose to increase SL's value as a product. This didn't fully hit home to me until I saw Kitely's pricing model which I think, while a little complicated to understand at first, is BRILLIANT.
If you want to visit my area in Kitely you can do so here. Remember a free account gets 6 hours to start and a free island. What are you waiting for?