There has been so much going on with online virtual worlds these days, it seems there’s something new to read about, experience and evaluate everyday. I can barely keep up with all the new, for-profit worlds that continue to sprout. But word of Kitely definitely caught my eye. Kitely is the new toy, running on the latest version of Open Sim, created by an Israeli start-up that just released their not-quite-ready-for-prime time beta product last week.
You start Kitely from their web site, where anyone with a Facebook account (they’re going for automatic set up based on existing identifies, smart move) can create and enter their own virtual world – and then invite as many friends as they want by simply sharing a url. So, I tried it. On the Kitely site, I pressed the big, blue button that says “Log In With Facebook” and from there, “Create World”. Kitely downloads a small plug-in that basically launches your Second Life viewer (or Imprudence, or whatever you have set to your default). On a Mac, the log in was a bit tricky as the password is in the wrong field and must be painstakingly typed in the correct field – oh, and use Chrome or Firefox if you’re on a Mac – but, hey, it’s beta, I’m sure they’ll work this stuff out.
Anyway, once those hassles were dealt with — poof! There I was. Standing on my brand spankin’ new virtual world: Heyden Island.
Amazing. These Kitely virtual worlds are created on the fly. The whole thing runs on the Amazon cloud so new instances of Open Sim (and thus, new regions) are created as they are needed. You can either create a new world or upload an OpenSim Archive (or OAR), created elsewhere, and make that your world. Once you’ve created a world and landed there as an avatar, any modifications you make to that avatar are kept as you enter anyone else’s world. That’s because all of the Kitely sims are on the same grid. Unfortunately, you can not teleport from one region to another and hypergriding is not yet a part of the Kitely product, so you are limited to their grid.
Right now there is no money changing hands with this product, though the path to monetizing it is pretty clear. The creators of Kitely say there will be no set up fees and visitors to any one’s world are not charged. Instead, if you create a world, you use “points” (I got 50 points just for going through the set up process). So, once the product is out of beta, they will set up a charge-for-use structure. And that seems like an excellent plan for people who just want a virtual world meeting place every now and then, and don’t want to pay the heavy overhead of renting/owning and maintaining land in Second Life or Open Sim.
So – more information? You can follow Kitely on Twitter, read two very good fulsome write-ups by Marla Korolov on HyperGrid Business here and here, read about it in New World Notes, and follow along with the ToolsJammers as they explore Kitely.