29 August 2013

"Self-defeating, if not horribly unproductive"

(For reasons that will be obvious, this post, even more so than most on this blog, is explicitly my own personal opinion and not that of the Firestorm team as a whole.)

For a while now, the Firestorm default grid selection hasn't included InWorldz. The reasons for this are varied, but center on a series of changes IW made to their server software that had the effect of rendering it incompatible with Firestorm, as well as pretty much every other viewer that will run with Second Life or a stock OpenSim grid. Those bugs have been there for more than a year now. When we heard about them, we went to the IW folks and asked if we could help resolve them. We never heard back, so we assumed they weren't interested. That assumption was reinforced when we heard that the IW team had forked Firestorm for an IW-branded viewer.

Because of that, some folks had reached the conclusion that we weren't pro-IW, or even IW-friendly. I can see why; OTOH, I hope they can see why we thought they weren't exactly Firestorm-friendly, either.

There's another reason that some of us, I especially, aren't exactly fond of the InWorldz team. Their lead viewer developer - who, I'm told, gets paid something for the work - is McCabe Maxsted, formerly of Imprudence. At least at one point in the past, McCabe was on record as claiming that Phoenix was nothing more than a griefer viewer because of its Emerald heritage, and because some of the same people were involved in the project.

He made this accusation on an interview show with Paisley Beebe, with me in the audience. (I was there because of a preceding segment, where my good SL and RL friend Axi Kurmin was being interviewed about something or other.) This was nine days after the launch of Phoenix and shortly after the banning of Emerald. Essentially, he said that people shouldn't trust Phoenix, and should use Imprudence, because of its open nature and embrace of "free software". (My opinion of soi-disant "free software" is another rant.)

Needless to say, this offended most of the team.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when the subject of an InWorldz Viewer release that was pretty thoroughly broken came up on the IW forum. The general consensus was that it was best to roll back a release, but then the discussion turned to Firestorm and how we were supposedly anti-IW. Cinder Roxley posted what was really happening to the forum, and that got things out into the open, and hopefully resolved. But there's one loose thread, yet...

McCabe posted:
I've said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here: I have no interest in any kind of viewer wars, viewer blaming, or anything of that nature, and at best I'd call that kind of rhetoric self-defeating, if not horribly unproductive. We all care about the virtual world platform, and want to make it the best place possible for people. People should focus on that, instead.
I'm happy to hear that. Now, how about apologizing for that slam you laid on the team for the world to see?

The Firestorm team is fully committed to supporting OpenSim grids into the future. We want to be the go-to viewer for OpenSim, as well as Second Life. That includes InWorldz. We'll be happy to make sure Firestorm works as well on IW as it does everywhere else, as long as the IW grid isn't gratuitously incompatible with OpenSim as a whole (or even if it is and the incompatibility doesn't require a pile of code to handle). I hope that IW does what it takes so there's no technical need for a separate viewer for their grid. I've been asked to bring one of my products, the Tonya's PASS skin management system for petite avatars, to IW. I'm considering it; one of the things getting in the way right now is that I have to run a specific viewer for IW. If that changes, I'd be a lot more inclined to do it.

The ball's in your court, IW.


  1. Tonya,

    If you take a look at the responses from the InWorldz staff and ownership on that same forum thread, you'll see that we're well beyond playing any kind of blame game. The inflammatory statements that were made in that particular thread were made by a resident of InWorldz and corrected by myself and others.

    We have a vested interest in making sure that everything can play nicely together as much as possible even though we're forked off from SL and OpenSim. Most of the bugs that prevented firestorm from working on our grid were general v2/3 compatibility issues that have been worked out over the past few months.

    We want to see the metaverse in general grow and attract more people. We believe venturing into virtual worlds can be wonderful and life enhancing experience. TPVs and their specific visions are super important to the future of innovation in virtual worlds, Firestorm included.

    Only McCabe knows what his motivations were at the time for saying what he did, and during that period there were a lot of very high running emotions. What I can tell you though as of right now, August 2013, the InWorldz ownership and staff holds the Firestorm team and TPV developers in the highest regard. We want to do what we can to make sure ideas, fixes, and implementations flow smoothly.

    - Tranquillity of InWorldz

    1. Thank you, Tranquility. I guess I should re-emphasize that the comments from you and Jim and even McCabe in that thread were quite positive, and inasmuch as that reflects IW's positions, then it's all to the good.

      My point, though, is that there's some history of bad blood from McCabe toward the Firestorm team, and that is at least part of the reason that we haven't worked as closely together as we otherwise might have. I, for one, would like to see some acknowledgement from McCabe that we're not all a bunch of griefers and content thieves. To the best of my knowledge, McCabe has never retracted what he said, and that's why the comment I quoted rang a bit hollow for me.

  2. I always regretted that interview, and not saying something after. It was a last-minute off the cuff comment I made about one particular set of commits by one particular person from Phoenix's early days I was personally worried about, and naturally rather than focusing on the hour I spent trying to get people behind our larger goals with Imprudence, Paisley chose to run with that ridiculous scaremongering headline instead. I was pretty mad, and wrote a long rant about it in private, but chose not to post it publicly as I didn't want to get caught up in any more of that kind of drama than I already had, and figured the best thing to do would be just to let the whole thing slide into obscurity. That was clearly a mistake, and an obvious lack of foresight, on my part. I'm sorry about that.

    So, I don't know if it helps at all, but that's the backstory behind that. As far as bad blood goes, I didn't really realize there was any, to be honest. At the time, I remember that there was still a lot of skepticism about who or who wasn't going to be participating in Phoenix, considering how the previous maintainers had behaved. I was glad to see you guys rise above that, and from my point of view, any distrust in the community evaporated pretty quickly. It's why I felt fine lurking in your guys' IRC channel for the longest time, and hopefully why Tank still feels fine being in ours. It's also why I figured Firestorm's team lead
    felt welcome when he came to our Imprudence meetings, or emailed with us. I know we always considered him welcome, at least.

    As I sad, it's a regret. My genuine opinion really is what I posted on the InWorldz forums. I don't think any kind of us vs. them theatrics, or the like, helps anyone, and I have no desire to participate in it (outside of trying to keep it in the minority). It's a value I'm glad InWorldz shares, and that's part of what drew me to the grid, initially, besides the bevy of what I consider to be some really great people. As Tranq mentioned above, I think we all share a common love for the metaverse and want to see this platform succeed. I hope we can all focus on that instead.

    1. Thank you, McCabe.

      I think we've more than shown over the last three years that we deserve the trust of the user community. My experience of three years ago (that interview, and the interaction we had a month and a bit later about some code from Imprudence) had left me thinking you didn't trust us to be different from Emerald. I'm happy to see you've changed your opinion.

      I agree it's time we put all this behind us and work toward making the metaverse better for everyone.

  3. Useful insight and hopeful soon Inworldz will be listed as well on Firestorm!