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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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JoJa Dhara

Sometimes being non technical is usefull to have the overall overview in what is happening. A great welcome to Cyn!

Adeon Writer

I'm really starting to run out of reasons to not get involved with this world.

Just gotta finish up that avatar...

Nalates Urriah

This will be interesting. The CP people are hands on now. They have a majority of enthusiastic and involved users. I suspect many of them have been around since early on. But, as time passes more people will be there that are not familiar with what is going on. More will be less patient and understand little of the CP history or process.

The CP people may be able to deal with the changing user base. But, I suspect it will be very much like the STORM-1716 - Mesh Deformer for tailoring mesh clothing JIRA entry. It starts off well. Then over time degrades. What starts as a cooperative process degenerates to a series of ad hominem attacks as people become frustrated.

I see this happening any place where more low-information people arrive with entitlement mentalities. They don’t seem to have the patience or willingness to learn what is going on and simply demand what they want, often becoming abusive when they can’t have it. That will of course eventually force CP people to change how they handle and react to users.

Hopefully that is a ways off for CP…

Phadrus Karu

I can’t help but wonder if community outreach efforts by Cloud Party so early in its development phase places them in danger of falling into the same strategic trap which consumed Blue Mars.

As you may recall, Blue Mars allocated a sizable amount of funds towards user retention at a time when what was desperately needed were improvements to the various content creations tools; particularly in the area of ready-made functions in the flowgraph editor for those new to LUA. Object persistence and in-world editing limitations were also dire issues that went unaddressed.

Instead, Avatar Reality divided their limited capital by simultaneously developing the city building toolset alongside attracting new users. It cannot be emphasized enough that hiring a marketing director, two community coordinators and a community manager when even simple rudimentary tools to create interactivity were lacking was a waste of precious resources.

New sign-ups to Blue Mars quickly discovered the virtual world that boasted “revolutionary levels of interactivity” offered nothing on the scale of what was promised. What greeted them was a barren wasteland populated by static objects and thus, visitors left as quickly as they arrived. The future for Blue Mars as a whole was a forgone conclusion.

I know nothing of Cyn Skyberg but the very fact that her role has yet to be precisely defined even after signing her on gives me pause. If I had to hazard a guess, I would have to say her most valuable asset at the moment is her previous experience with the Second Life community.

My understanding based on the numerous occasions with which I spoke with Lilly Thompson was that no one on the Cloud Party programming team has actually used Second Life. With any luck, the new “Director of Community and Communications” will be able to impart some invaluable knowledge on how best to anticipate the needs of Second Life content creators. For this is who Cloud Party’s primary developer base will consist of – just as it was for Blue Mars.

Ezra

@Phadrus

"I can’t help but wonder if community outreach efforts by Cloud Party so early in its development phase places them in danger of falling into the same strategic trap which consumed Blue Mars."

I don't see the parallel. Cloud Party's biggest issues are fast becoming its lack of social and community tools. A lot of issues people had with Blue Mars, they don't have with Cloud Party.

The biggest issues Second Life users took with Cloud Party at first were the lack of login options other than Facebook, the lack of a primitive building tool, the lack of music streams, the lack of a marketplace and purchasable currency that could also be cashed out. The Cloud Party devs have addressed all of those and more (but has had to temporarily disable cash out for some reason).

The social and community tools are still very much lacking. There's no radius based chat (whisper, say, shout). There's no groups and so no sub-communities with specific interests and purposes, collective ownership of land, isolated chat, notices and hierarchies. The few social tools Cloud Party does have like friend lists leave a lot to be desired; like more prominent and fleshed out profiles connected to things like people search.

The tools for developers have been above and beyond great from the start and have only gotten better. Things like island prices have satisfied and been little complained about, and while they're far from getting Cloud Coin as fluid as L$, progress continues to be made there as well. I'll bet though absolutely no one is heaping praise on how good socializing and community building is in Cloud Party. It's almost non-existent.

That's why I think this Cyn hire is absolutely perfect for what Cloud Party needs right now. As far as the parallel to Blue Mars goes, its had a lot of issues but finance and the abundance of community organizers wasn't one. If Blue Mars went bankrupt because it was hosting 2-3 Q&As and meetings a day, I'd agree, but as far as I know its community team was one of the better things about it and what stifled it was other issues pointed out here and in many other postings.


@Natales

While the Cloud Party guys, sans Cyn now, are all just developers, they come from an MMO background and I think it shows in how well they've handled flare ups so far.

Also, where you see "low-information people arrive with entitlement mentalities", I hope the Cloud Party devs continue to see overly excited potential customers uninterested in the details that will if cordially guided to temper expectations. Seeing customers the latter way has been crucial to Linden Lab's success despite a few combative instances like what's happened with the deformer.

pixeleen mistral

Hammie,

Can you get Cyn to share the the Cloud Party concurrent user stats?
That would make my SFO Virtual World Tiger Beat experience complete.

Phadrus Karu

“I don't see the parallel. Cloud Party's biggest issues are fast becoming its lack of social and community tools. A lot of issues people had with Blue Mars, they don't have with Cloud Party.”

The primary technical issues that crippled Blue Mars are not the same obstacles faced by Cloud Party. That much is true. Nevertheless, some overlap is evident when comparing the two.

“The biggest issues Second Life users took with Cloud Party at first were the lack of login options other than Facebook, the lack of a primitive building tool, the lack of music streams, the lack of a marketplace and purchasable currency that could also be cashed out. The Cloud Party devs have addressed all of those and more (but has had to temporarily disable cash out for some reason).

The social and community tools are still very much lacking. There's no radius based chat (whisper, say, shout). There's no groups and so no sub-communities with specific interests and purposes, collective ownership of land, isolated chat, notices and hierarchies. The few social tools Cloud Party does have like friend lists leave a lot to be desired; like more prominent and fleshed out profiles connected to things like people search.”

Insofar as I’m aware, Blue Mars lacked on virtually all the above save streaming. Currently, communication and contact management are horrid on both Blue Mars and Cloud Party. It killed me that I couldn’t position or stretch the IM windows in CP for instance (which I believe has since been corrected, at least for local chat). If there was anything either could and should have emulated, it would be the SL V1 viewer style contact/IM dock.

"The tools for developers have been above and beyond great from the start and have only gotten better."

The content creation tools in Cloud Party have indeed been a breath of fresh air. The F-15 as seen in BotGirl’s first CP video was one of my first uploads to the platform and can still be viewed at: https://a.cloudparty.com/loc/2087/69.5,148.0,-20.6,1.8

Ironically, the original account that performed the upload was closed due to my refusal to provide Facebook with nothing else other than my SL pseudonym.

“I'll bet though absolutely no one is heaping praise on how good socializing and community building is in Cloud Party. It's almost non-existent.

That's why I think this Cyn hire is absolutely perfect for what Cloud Party needs right now. As far as the parallel to Blue Mars goes, its had a lot of issues but finance and the abundance of community organizers wasn't one.”

Respectfully, I disagree.

The community director, Glenn, received income that amounted to more than twice that which most on the team were being paid and his impact on improving the platform as a whole was virtually negligible. Jasmine of marketing and her community coordinator counterpart (whose name I cannot recall) were roles that came too soon for Blue Mars as evidenced by the meager effect they had individually on the growth of the virtual world at large (not enough stuff for people to do) - poor investments all the same. Don’t even get me started on the ineffectual CEO, Jim Sink.

The real grunt work of community building and retention was shouldered by Josie Blue (her Blue Mars alias). Unfortunately, repeated sessions of bowling, golfing, word association and Tic-Tac-Toe games she hosted will only get you so far (again, not enough variety in terms of interactive objects).

Henk Rogers and Kazuyuki Hashimoto would have done better to hire more programmers in order to alleviate the dire issues preventing Blue Mars from becoming a truly persistent and interactive world.

The crux of my point is this:

At this early stage for CP, priority should be focused on the following in order:

Severe technical issues -> developers -> end user experience -> community

Keep the content creators happy and all other auxiliary goals will be more easily met. At present, the demand for features to more easily facilitate vehicle operation is high and in my biased opinion, that should take precedence over maintaining concurrency rates for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Cloud Party to succeed. It is in everyone’s best interest – even for those with no desire to log into the platform.

Marketing and community management are critically important functions in any long-term business strategy to be certain. I simply happen to believe that until more fully interactive environments (as opposed to showcases) are made available to peak the interest of new users, promotional efforts may come to naught if large numbers of residents leave disappointed.

Ezra

"The crux of my point is this:

At this early stage for CP, priority should be focused on the following in order:

Severe technical issues -> developers -> end user experience -> community"

I agree, and were it however many months ago NWN first blogged about Cloud Party I'd label Cloud Party "early stage" in all those areas too.

But, as things are today there aren't any severe technical issues. Developers will always want more but what exists now is far beyond what's being used to full potential, and can't be used to full potential without community. UX/UI concerns like the ones Iris and Hamlet brought up have been addressed.

What hasn't been address nearly at all though is the lack of community building, and hires and tools to assist with it. This is the only area I'd label "early stage". The best advance we had in recent months were custom chat channels, which still leaves Cloud Party's social tools somewhere pre-MUDs.

We've had user-initiated dev meetings and classes, and I'd like if those kept going, but it'd also be great if there were official meetings.

I think any focus towards community hires like Cyn and hopefully focus on developing community tools would be great. If you think not because those other areas might lose any focus, I guess we disagree but I don't see how so given the lightning pace those areas are developed in comparison to the social aspects Cloud Party is lacking that any virtual world needs.

Going from 5 developers and 0 community persons to 5 and 1 shouldn't be cause for concern on priority shifts, but maybe should be cause for hope that the nigh-total neglect of community building is on its way out.

news

This year a part of Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference is also in Cloud Party.

Check the blog:
http://blog.cloudparty.com/2013/07/23/vwbpe-this-week/

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