I became an Opensimworld member five years ago, and in all that time I have seen Satyr Aeon manage his Opensimworld social platform keeping controversies and drama in check when he could. Over the years there have been ups and downs of opensim and he has seen all the battles that came with it.
Satyr has also been a creator of multiple opensim enhancements the Satyr Farm my favorite. I thought you would enjoy getting to know him a little better so thought it would be an excellent idea to ask a few questions:
MM Where did you learn your coding skills?
SA Hi Marianna, thanks for doing this Q&A. Well, I’ve worked as a web developer before and picked up a variety of programming skills. SL scripting is one of my favorite hobbies.
MM Opensimworld (OSW) has been a great asset to Opensim enabling grids and regions to be found easily and visited, thank you for this. It is a genius idea, linking grids using beacons. Please share with us what inspired you.
SA I started with SecondLife around 2014, and found building very addictive, but was frustrated at how constrained SL is. When a friend mentioned Opensim, I jumped on the hypergrid and never looked back.
It was a struggle to find regions to visit in Opensim at that time. There were a few region directories but most regions were either offline or empty. I knew there were people out there somewhere, but it was very hard to know where to find them. Initially I planned to make a web-based directory that did not require beacons, however I realized that there is no way in Opensim to inquire the number of users in a simulator. Therefore I had to make a beacon system, which would also function as a teleporter, so that people have an incentive to use it. I posted about it in some grid forums, and it turns out some people did rez it in their regions. From there it seems to have spread through people using the teleporters and word-of-mouth.
MM When laying out the website OSW what features are the most important to you and why? What new features would you like to add?
SA OSW is primarily a region directory, however over the years it evolved as a way for people to have a permanent page for their region where they post their news etc. The most important goal is to let people find each other online and enjoy a more social experience in Opensim. Photos are also very important as a way for region owners to showcase their work making beautiful screenshots.
I am adding new features from time to time, such as the chat, instant notifications, the farm directory etc. Depending on how they are used I will evolve and keep the best parts over time.
MM We encounter different dramas at OSW fighting grids and residents. Some like to see their rant public, others don’t. How do you keep it balanced there when it becomes toxic? What rules are most important at Opensimworld?
SA The most important thing is to respect each other even if people disagree. Inevitably some drama will occur, so I had to reduce its exposure in the homepage. I definitely do not like banning people from OSW, and I prefer to ask them to change their comments or tone. Surprisingly it most often works!
I think a lot of people who come to Opensim carry this overdramatic culture of SecondLife. I think that Opensim, being a very small community, can do much better and in many ways it already is.
MM What are the future plans of OSW?
SA The future of OSW will depend on the future of Opensim itself. Right now OSW is still a very small community (~5000 monthly users). I have some ideas for new features but no plans yet, so nothing to announce at the moment.
MM What do you think Opensim is going to look like in 10 years? Will it still exist?
SA That is difficult to tell. The development of Opensim is not very well organized and it is advancing slowly. The interest seems to be slowly dropping for years and even during the pandemic it did not pick up. Opensim was also sidelined by a lot of investment that was made in VR related projects in previous years, like High-fidelity, even though those projects ended up in disappointment. A lot of progress is hampered by the legacy of the SL viewer and SL compatibility, which is off-putting for developers who want to work on the project.
Opensim ‘s fate seems to be tied to the SL viewer at this point, so it seems like it might exist for quite a long time in the future.
MM If you could change one thing about Opensim what would that be?
SA There are a lot of things that could have been different in the development of Opensim. I think the major issue is the fragmentation to different versions that are used by proprietary grids which do not always contribute back to the main branch of opensim, and even if they do, it is adding features that are redundant. If I had to change one thing, it would be to change the opensim license to a copyleft license such as GPLv3 in order to re-unify the project code.
MM The Satyr farm has brought so many people pleasure, including me, it is pure magic to have a real garden in opensim, the plants actually grow. What scripts were created to achieve this?
SA A friend of mine mentioned that he only went back to SL to feed his animals, so he gave me the idea to start a farm system. Given the constraints of Opensim I could not just copy the functionality of SL farm systems, since asset permissions can’t be guaranteed. On the other hand, I could make use of OSSL functions which allow the farm scripts to be very lightweight, so people can have huge farms.
I had to travel the hypergrid to find assets for plants and animals and I also had to create a lot of them, cutting out models that are available online. I made the first farm packages myself, but then later on Unregi Resident joined and helped to revamp the whole system making it much easier to upgrade, adapt and extend the farm. Overall it has been a very fun project to build (especially because I grew up as a farmboy), and I’ve seen people create amazing custom farms with so many different themes. The base scripts were purposefully made open-ended since people use the farm for different purposes.
MM Do you have ideas for other scripted interactive activities for opensim communities?
SA Usually ideas come up whenever I encounter something I need. I have built an NPC scripting system (ActiveNpcs) for live interactions with NPCs, which I would like to revamp and extend in the future. I am also building a feature-packed but lightweight animation controller (SFposer) that tries to cover the most needed features of other sitters.
MM What has been the biggest hurdle for you as a coder in opensim?
SA There are different versions of opensim running, which means that the newest scripting features can’t be used in public scripts. OTOH, opensim offers a better version of SL scripting, without memory constraints etc.
MM Have you ever given any thought to creating a RL social media platform? We have seen the controversy at Twitter, what would the ideal platform consist of?
SA I have created other online communities in the past. Social media is a very tough space which is dominated by a few companies which give everyone a megaphone, so everyone is shouting. There is no ideal platform, but I think there is space for smaller platforms that allow decent and respectful interactions. That cannot happen in world-wide centralized platforms, so I believe we will see a lot of de-centralization and fragmentation, a sort of reversal of trends.
MM You recently added a Chat channel to OSW thank you, are there lots of users of the new channel?
SA The chat is really meant to be a replacement for our Discord community. Discord is nice and useful as a communication tool, but it is also centralized which creates privacy issues, and will inevitably become like other commercial media when they decide to make money.
There is not a lot of activity in the chat right now, but I do see people asking questions and getting answers. It is just a complement to the website for now.
MM What features do you love about your virtual home? Please tell us about your region.
SA I love architecture and I like building historic regions, such as Rome and also using ancient themes like in the Opensimworld region. My home region is quite chaotic as I build and test out different themes. What I like is that I can give out parcels to friends who build their own homes. This makes a lot of them return so the region is less lonely and boring.
MM What is your favorite pastime in Opensim?
SA Building and improving my builds. I like to visit high-quality builds to get inspiration. Also, scripting things and adding interactivity is magical.
MM If there was one thing about you that you would like us to know what would that be?
SA That OSW and other projects are still fun hobbies for me!
MM What would you like the community to know that I have not asked?
SA That we need more people in Opensim! Tell your SL friends to come over, get new people involved, and help newbies get started.
Thank you Satyr, I agree we need more great people in opensim!
If you have a region please add an Opensimworld beacon found here hg.osgrid.org:80:OpenSimWorld while here please pick up the other great items Satyr offers like his farm!
Mari entered OpenSim in 2015 as a resident of a grid in Canada, called to manage their magazine as an Editor, thereby meeting her future partner Reyn Softly.
Fred Beckhusen's DreamGrid