Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Openspaces Debacle... my take

I have listened in Concierge chat, read a lot of blogs and comments to the original blog from Jack Linden, and discussed this whole debacle about the Openspaces with several people. I have my take on it.

I am not sure about these statements about conspiracy regarding the manipulation of "land" prices, the naysayers predicting financial peril of Linden Labs (they have to make $50 more per person quick), or the doomsayers saying Philip is dying so they need to devote processor capacity to his life-sustaining machinery (OK, I didn't hear that last one but I am sure it's out there). If the folks at Linden Labs were clever enough to start a conspiracy, we would have more stability, more groups, and fewer bugs because they would be smart enough to fix those too.

Consider this to be a sort of Occam's Razor--all other things being equal, the simplest answer is the best. I believe that Jack Linden is entirely telling the truth about their problems with Openspaces. The description of their resource allocations (4 open sims per core in a quad core PC) is true, and I believe that people have "misused" the openspaces--simply because they can.

I put "misused" in quotes because I believe Linden Labs poorly managed customer expectations about these sims' performance. They should have driven into their Concierge customers' heads that these were the Yugo of sims and never allowed them to believe they were still going to be driving Tauruses when they moved to them. I also believe they should have limited the opening of these sims with clear instructions to the comsumers about what they should expect and been CLEAR and detailed about what "light residential" meant, over and over and over and then some more.

I believe, as a result, that they bought themselves a customer service nightmare with these Openspaces, and that is what this price increase is all about. I am envisioning this scenario: sim owner Joe is accustomed to access to personal Concierge phone service and calls whenever his regular sims are not working. Now he has Openspaces. He has just lost his butt on the land prices because of the change in regular sim entry costs, so he thinks this is another means of making money. He rents an Openspace to every Ruth and Philip who has $100 a month and a dream of having their own sim. They move in, put down butterfly rezzers and sparkly things and sploders and have parties every night at peak hours with 40 avatars. They have never owned a whole sim and now they can! They don't get fps, physics, any of that. They just know they wanted to have fun on their own little sim, maybe run a little business or start up a club. So they get a ton of lag and unreliability and the other three poor saps also sharing that core get stuck too.

Joe's residents IM him constantly about performance. In Joe's mind, he doesn't delineate between the sims he pays $295 a month for and the sims he pays $75 a month for. All he cares is that LL's sims aren't performing to his expectations. He calls up Concierge. The Linden on the other end goes patiently through a set of diagnostics and then explains for the 10th time that day the truth about Openspaces, which is they are not meant to hold 80 avatars or 120 scripts or whatever. The call takes 30 minutes and Linden Labs uses up half the tier the made on that sim right there in that phone call. The customer hangs up, mad that Linden's idea of "light residential" and his idea don't coincide. The Linden hangs up, and they are down half the tier they got on that sim this month.

What it amounts to is that Linden Labs put out a product that is unprofitable and not working for them. They are raising the price. That's business. It was bad business and now they are righting it--the best way they can. They are giving two months notice. They were honest about their error. They are saying they are reading people's suggestions, struggling for some compromise (and I really think they are because they can see people are unhappy). And they will suffer for this when some customers flee and find alternative virtual spaces.

That's my take on this. Linden Labs screwed up. Occam's Razor. That simple.


radarm said...

Yay! A common sense post on the issue. THANK YOU!

I don't believe that the truth is at all far from this scenario. But the people who want to see evil intent on the part of LL will never believe that there's actually performance issues on loaded openspace sims.

I hope more people start calming down and rationally analyzing this issue. Better yet, I hope LL comes up with some decent policy fix and everyone stops grumbling and moves on. Because right now the other metaversions are NOT ready for these people. If their expectations are this high in SL, imagine what'll happen when they encounter the hiccups of the opensim based ones, all of which are half-baked at best right now.

Shel said...

Harper - Your analysis seems very likely true.

I wonder, though, why LL didn't build throttles into the sims to ensure that they aren't used too heavily for their capacities, limits on the number of prims and scripts and so forth.

Harper Beresford said...

Shel, I brought that up with someone who might have a little more insight and it was explained that those throttles need code, coding takes time, so on. So... I agree. But then for 75 bucks, is it worth it?

Harper Beresford said...

And radar, you said what I was thinking or what I wrote before I edited. I think LL will come up with something.

I hear about the exodus but I saw 64000 on today... we'll see.

Mister Crap said...

Yes, they did a lousy job of documenting the limitations.

That was one of the things I pondered when I posted about my own company's take on virtual hosting... they buried the language on both limitations and violations.

But at least they had specific courses of action on violation listed.

caLLie cLine said...

hey harper, i find your post well written and your scenario probable, but i don't think so, this is why...

if all these people with ALL these sims were having ALL these problems, and having to call concierge, then it would seem that getting thru to them would be more difficult.

in the last 4 months, you don't even have to wait anymore, you call, they answer, done.

if openspaces were causing SO many issue, i doubt i would have gotten thru.

if they did not want people to put 3750 prims on them (which is hardly "lite") they should not have sold them with the ability to do so.

my take is that, they marketed them as "lite" (w/o clear instructions or enforcement to what that was) and when they saw that many were using them for "biz", they saw an opportunity to "stick it to them". after all, one could more easily argue that "biz" is not "residential" but some sl bizzies are very "lite" and get zero to a few traffic... so technically they can fall into "lite"...

BUT... it's much easier to say those who use for "biz" were the "abusers" cuz you know how we are ALL so rich off our "bizzies" in SL... lmao.

if someone has a little "shop" where they make their little cute things that maybe helps them get a bit of the money for their tier on an open sim, BIG DEAL.

it's always easy to got after the "biz" angle... and they said people could RENT them... (reference dee linden's chat log) and anyway, i don't know why they do what they do, and i don't think they are bad people at all... i just think they don't often think of how their actions effect many of us who though we "agreed" when we signed up, put up with constant issues of very poor performance all over the grid with ALL sorts of issues.

anyway, great post and those are my 2 cents... maybe i should have used them to buy a gumball instead?

lol, love ya,


Harper Beresford said...

I actually think they had performance issues and could have cared less if someone was having a business on them. They didn't care if they stuck it to anyone. Frankly, if people are making money here, LL makes money because a lot of it goes back into their pockets in exchanges, re-spending, and tier. Again, the whole conspiracy thing is laughable to me.

Also, we have to acknowledge that sim use is not just measured by the number of prims on the sim. There is more to it than that. There are scripts, what kind of prims, etc.

As for the phone calls, I used that as an example. They may have put another person on Concierge. When I transferred my sim, I didn't recognize the name of the Linden I spoke to (though she was helpful). You also have to figure that the number of tickets went up and I didn't address that in my blog. That was probably a very telling metric to them. Plus if it caused down time, etc., then you have all sorts of technical problems.

So I respectfully disagree with you, Callie. Linden Labs screwed up. They aren't smart enough to stick it to their residents intentionally. As a friend said, figure this all not as Occam's Razor, but as Hanlon's Razor: "Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice."