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OWNING YOUR OWN REGION
Category: Elf Clan News

 

ELF CLAN RELOCATES pt 2

Pt 1 click  here

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE

Our members love the concept of Elf Clan.  Our G-rated, family-friendly, * Honor * Respect * Friendship * Charter concepts are appealing to many.  It is that concept that brought so many people to follow us to Inworldz and eventually set up 54 unique regions.  It is that concept which caused Elf Clan to grow beyond our greatest expectations.

At this time the framework of Elf Clan has changed.  When we were on Second Life we were forced into a small, concentrated land area due to excessive cost.   When we moved to Inworldz, in order to maintain our group's "early adopter" discount status we had to maintain a minimum of 28 regions (which we exceeded considerably).  Both situations required us to be stationed on one central grid and remain "land-locked".  By sheer numbers we achieved affordable lands.

When we first moved to Inworldz, it was the only real viable option.  At that time no other grid outside of Second Life offered group-oriented functions or coalesced inventory (the ability to take unlinked objects to inventory and re-rez them in original form instead of a pile of puzzle pieces).   So the choice was straight-forward.

Today, eight years later, things are different.  OpenSim has grown.   The severe lag once experienced there has improved.  With the appearance of VARs (VARiable land-size regions) sim crossing has become far less an issue.  OpenSim now has group functions and fully-functional inventory, as well as the Hypergrid which connects grids together on a virtual teleport highway.

What this means is that Elf Clan members can now choose from several grids.   We are no longer limited to one, single option.

 

OWNING YOUR OWN REGION
 

Many of our members have never owned a region before, primarily due to the cost.  Even on Inworldz our discount price of $40 a month could be out of the pocketbook range of many.   However... what if you could own a region for $20?   $15?   $10... or less? 

Grids outside of Second Life and Inworldz offer an amazing range of packages designed to meet just about any pocketbook. So you can now pick a grid, choose the price level you can afford, and set up home.   There is no longer need to rent land... when you can own an entire region for a price so low it's difficult to resist.  

As far as hobbies go, owning your own region is now a fairly inexpensive choice. On the other end, our highly-creative power-builders can obtain lands that can meet pretty much any goal you can dream up for around $40 a month.

 

SETTING UP AN OFFICIAL ELF CLAN LAND
Most of our members came to Elf Clan for one reason:  we are a G-rated, family friendly fantasy-themed group.   People like our peaceful, harmonious, beautiful lands and find them a beautiful place to relax, free of the pressures of outside lands.  The core of this is not a grid, nor an area of land... but the Elf Clan Charter, which for years has guided our group. 

So long as a member is willing to implement the concepts of the Elf Clan Charter on their lands... that land can be an "Official Elf Clan Land" no matter where it is based.

This is done by the simple step of contacting one of the names on our  home page and posting a banner (which we will provide you) at the entry point of your land.  The banner bears our group logo and simply reads:  "Elf Clan - G-rated, Family Friendly".

It's a nice banner.  : )

Now about grids, Hypergrid, VARs, OARs, IARs and the rest...

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CHOOSING A GRID

When choosing a grid, please be sure to read the fine print.  Most grids have websites.  We recommend you examine those sites thoroughly.  Some grids have costs in addition to their monthly fees.  Some have "gotchas" which you may find incompatible with your needs.  Some may offer special features that you will very much desire.   Pretty much every grid has its pros and cons. The trick is in the details. Pay attention to the details. 

 
VARIABLE REGIONS
Both Second Life and Inworldz offered single regions measuring 256m x 256m.  Crossing a sim line limits the number of avatars that can ride a physical vehicle and also involves data exchange between the regions that involves a certain amount of time.  "Sim crossing issues" are well-known on single-region grids.

VARs, or Variable Regions, expand the size to whatever the grid allows.  Some grids offer "2x2" regions (512m x 512m, or 4 regions total in size), "4x4" (1024m x 1024m or 16 regions in size) or even huge 6x6 (36 region) VARs. 

So for those who want lots of land, sailing oceans or flying area, these super-regions can be a very pleasant surprise.  No sim crossing issues (unless you manage to move across the entire VAR), and lots of room for landscaping, forests, streams and lakes.  If you're a person who likes to spread out your creations, a VAR can provide you a vast sandbox.

Be aware that regardless of the size of a VAR, in most instances it is still controlled by one server (ask the grid company for specifics of server provision).  Just because a VAR measures 8x8 and allows a million prims doesn't mean the server can actually handle whatever you throw at it.  You still need to be conscious of texture use, scripts and other issues, the same as you would with a single region.  The main difference is you have far more land now available to you.

THAT SAID... if you use good, low-lag (or zero-lag) scripts, watch your texture placement and build sensibly, you can do some rather remarkable things on your VAR.  

For example...

On our Elf Clan Home lands we decided on a 5x5 VAR (25 regions in area).  The majority of that is sailable ocean with the occasional island or landmark.  IN THE MIDDLE of this incredible-size area we have our three historic regions:
   ELVENGLEN-- the orignal home of Elf Clan on Second Life.
   ELVENMYST-- our second home land when we re-structured on that grid... and later our primary activity center on Inworldz.
   ELVENSONG-- The home of Elf Clan on Inwordz. And in high-sky  ElvenSong...
   REPLICANT CITY-- The huge science-fiction-themed, highly-interactive multi-museum that was enjoyed by many a visitor on Inworldz.

These are three of the most building-intensive, power-scripted regions in all of Elf Clan... and we managed to put all of them on a single, lag-free VAR on our own server. 

Mind you, most of the scripting on these regions was custom-written and intentionally low-or-zero-lag.  Build smart and your VAR will be happy.

So this gives you an idea of what can be done on a VAR-enabled grid.  The creative freedoms you'll experience and the vast open-travel can be incredible.  Imagine building the worlds largest virtual roller coaster... or a train system that travels 36 regions... or the greatest forest/lake area you can imagine with your home right in the middle.  

Handled correctly and sensibly, VARs are one of the greatest features of OpenSim-based grids.

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NOT A BUILDER?  
Is building not your thing? You have two choices:  the markets (which contain many items that cater to the Hypergrid)... or FREEBIES.  You see, freebies are all over the place.  You can create an entire world based on just freebies.  If you visit somewhere, right click on an object and it says COPY... you can copy it.  That's all part of the fun.  Pick freebies up, set them out.  It's like Legos on steroids.  What's more, if you don't have an OAR already (a pre-built entire VAR), there are FREE OARS on the Internet, ready to download and upload to your preferred grid.  Instant world!

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WHAT GRIDS ARE RECOMMENDED FOR OUR MEMBERS?

Just because we have decided to home on OSgrid doesn't mean all of Elf Clan needs to do so.  You can do so if you wish, but there are other options, depending on your personal needs.  

We already listed three recommended grids in the first part of this set of articles.   Which you choose is completely up to you and your needs.  What we can do is provide a little insight based on our years of creating lands and groups.

 

THAT'S WHERE MY FRIENDS ARE

Considering the nature of the Hypergrid (being able to port anywhere and chat with anyone, anywhere), "because that's where most of my friends are" isn't necessarily the best reason for choosing a grid.  We encourge our members to consider ALL areas of importance (price, prims, services, ease of use, etc) when chosing where they are going to make their virtual home-- possibly for years to come.

 

OAR AND IAR FILES
OAR files are complete copies of your region/VAR... including land, objects, scripts, the whole works.  It is basically a "data photograph" of what you build.  Such files can be made and saved to your own hard drive for absolute security of your work in case any individual grid winds up no longer existent.  So you will want to inquire as to the grid's specific OAR policies.  Are they made for you or do you create them?  Are the oar files kept on their servers or available for you to download to your own computer.  Are there fees involved in creating OAR files?  These are very important questions to ascertain before "buying a home".

IAR files are copies of your inventory.  These too can be saved to your hard drive.  Similar questions should be asked about IAR policy; some grids offer IAR... some don't.  

Note that on most grids there are exceptions to what can be saved.  If you have created an item yourself, or if you own items that are FULL PERM and TRANSPORTABLE (can be moved between grids), those items can be saved to your local hard drive.  On some grids full perm items are considered your property and can be backed up to your hard drive.  If the grid you are on suddenly ceases to exist, you merely find a new grid and upload your OAR and IAR files.  Your lands and avatar (theoretically) can continue from where you left off.  (Understand of course, nothing is perfect, nor guaranteed.)

If however an item has restrictions (nomod, nocopy, notrans or no transport)... it will be excluded from OAR and IAR files.  That means if the grid crashes... those items will not be able to be restored from your backups.

Inworldz had no OAR or IAR capabilityElf Clan members would do well to remember that experience.

Most items found on OSgrid are free and quite often full-perm.   If you decide to shop at a market on another grid, be aware of the PERMISSIONS before purchasing the object, then make your decision to purchase according to whatever limitations you are willing to accept.  

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THE DIFFERENT GRIDS
We will very briefly discuss here the primary strengths of the three  grids we fully examined.  We cannot discuss Inworldz / successor as there is (at this time) no official structure yet announced for that grid, it is not to be connected to the Hypergrid, nor does it offer OAR, IAR or VAR ability.  We also do not here include grids that charge fees for services normally included free on most other grids, as such charges can significantly increase your monthly costs.

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OSGRID
SUMMARY: Total control.  Prices range from free* to reasonable.

This is considered the "center" of OpenSim activity.  It is the "generic" OpenSim grid which offers a rather nice option:  you can host your land yourself, either on your home computer-- or via a server-provider.  You can have full, 100% control over every aspect of your lands.  This is somewhat for the do-it-yourselfers.

OSgrid is pretty much raw OpenSim code without the specialized DEV work provided by high-tech grids. There can be quite a bit of effort involved in setting up your own server if you decide to go that route.  If you use a server-provider that hassle is largely eliminated.  Home-based self-servers are FREE aside from the cost of electricity.  Server-providers charge a fee for server space and service.  So you can check around and decide which you prefer, depending on your techinical skills and pocketbook.  

Lots of "freebies" on OSgrid (and the Hypergrid for that matter).  You can build an entire world just out of freebies.

Due to the "free" nature of the grid, OSgrid offers full unlimited OAR and IAR processes.

* Be aware that nothing is actually "free".  OSgrid does have overhead, and regular funding drives are held to pay for such.   All members of OSgrid are encouraged to give as generously as they can in order to keep the primary asset servers online... and even improve the quality of those servers over time. 

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DIGIWORLDZ
SUMMARY:  Lots of LAND for your money. Social grid with privacy options.

DigiWorldz offers up to 6x6 VARs that can be connected side-to-side, allowing groups to create entire continents should they choose.  Plenty of air and water space for those who enjoy vehicle travel.

DigiWorldz has a market system and a strong social center.  It offers a wide variety of packages by separting land and prim purchase.  Decide on the type of land you want, then add to that "prim paks" to meet the total number of prims you will likely use.  If you don't need a lot of prims one of their low-price land packages may suit your taste. 

DigiWorldz offers both the least-expensive and highest-end  land packages-- depending on your needs.  If you want super-cheap first-owner land, this is a good option.  Larger, more prim-packed lands are available, depending on your pocketbook.  DigiWorlds offers low-pricing packages that make regions available to those who could never before own their own lands.

Both DigiWorldz and Kitely are very user-friendly and have excellent tech support. 

With any grid, count the land size desired along with your total prim count needs to calculate the cost per month of owning your own region, and then purchase what you need.  You can always expand later if required.

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KITELY
SUMMARY:  Lots of PRIMS for the money.  Total privacy by design, social if desired.

Kitely offers up to 4x4 private worlds that are hidden in every way from surrounding lands, "worlds within the world".    Kitely is best known for KITELY MARKET, a large, highly-professional shopping system akin to SL Marketplace. Many items can be taken to whatever grid you wish (check the permissions before purchase).  Kitely owners are very friendly and support is excellent.

Kitely offers three simple plans that are easy to choose from.   All of these plans are low-cost.  In order to accomplish that, your region "turns on" only when you or someone else enters the region.   A short period of "log in" time (usually ranging from 40 seconds to 2 minutes) is required, during which you wait for your region to load.  This is not an excessively long time; Kitely members soon get used to this unique process.

Each Kitely region is a "world unto itself".  You can teleport to other Kitely "worlds" and vice versa, but cannot be connected side-by-side to other worlds.  This is great for those who want absolute privacy, as each Kitely world is physically invisible to those around it -- even by camera.   See the Kitely website and read thoroughly regarding this arrangement.  

Kitely offers strong and functional website-based tools for its members that allow you to create your own OAR files, download them to your hard drive, and manage your region without entering the world itself.  Kitely does not offer IAR ability.  

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3rd ROCK GRID

SUMMARY:  Balanced price structure.

The most observable thing about this grid is its age (going on 10 years now) and its balanced price / land / prim structure.  It is moderate in all directions, both land and prims increasing as one's pocketbook allows. 

Friendly tech support, a solid-feeling foundation and long time in the business makes this a worthy choice.  Members will want to ask them about their OAR and IAR policies before settling in and make sure grid policy meets your needs.  Tech support proved to be very friendly and helpful in establishing our group on their grid, going beyond "established procedure" to assist us with a special need. 

 

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ALL GRIDS, EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THE ABOVE

Whenever looking for a new home on a virtual world grid, there are two primary ways to go:

1) Follow the suggestions of your friends.  Hey, it worked for them...
2) Research and examine the grid you're considering to see if it meets your needs and pocketbook.

If you choose to research, here are some suggestions:
* Register with the grid, go in, check it out.  See what you think about it from first impressions.   Spend a few hours (or days) exploring and getting used to it.  There's no rush to buy-in.
* Read the website.   Each grid has a website that tells about what it offers.  Read it as thoroughly as you can.
* Read between the lines, read the fine print.   Pay as much attention to what they don't say as to what they say.
* If you have any questions, CONTACT the grid owners, file a support ticket, or go in-world and speak with the users.
* Ask the major questions:
    * Do they offer a money-back guarantee if you set up and don't like it? (Not essential, but many grids do.)
    * Do they allow OAR backup?  Is there a charge for such?
    * Do they allow IAR backup?
    * How is the grid itself backed up?   To local servers or to external servers?  How often?
    * How many people are involved in managing the grid?
    * Is the grid connected to the hypergrid or is it a "closed grid"?
    * What happens to the grid if something happens to the owner?  (Yes, we know these are the "tough questions".  They're also quite valid questions.  This is a business.  You are "investing" in this business.  As a customer you have a right to know how your assets are protected in case of unexpected catastrophe.)

    ... etc etc.   You may wish to write down a list of questions to ask.

Remember:  you're not just handing them a little bit of money and "let's see what happens".  You will likely be paying this company a regular fee, every month, for a very long time.   Your investment will add up over time... so make a wise choice.

 

THE GOOD NEWS...
...is that Elf Clan has a home.  The other good news is that you can choose to join us... pretty much anywhere.   

You can be an official Elf Clan landholder... or not, as you wish.  The question to ask:  do you love the concept of Elf Clan and wish to remain a part of that concept?  Everywhere the Elf Clan banner is seen, people will know these lands are open to visitors, G-rated, family-friendly, and real life is left at the door.   Elf Clan is where people come to get away from real life, to relax, to enjoy friends and community. 

You will not harm Elf Clan if you decide to not be an official land.  You can help Elf Clan grow in popularity and reputation by hosting beautiful, official Elf Clan lands.  The choice is entirely yours.

Our very best wishes to all.

 

-- The Eldar of Elf Clan

 

 

 

 

 

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