OpenSim Virtual World Provider Kitely Plans to Run a Grid Based on High Fidelity’s Open-Source Code, Even as HiFi Pivots Away from the Consumer Market

Maria Korolov of the Hypergrid Business website reports, in an article on High Fidelity’s pivot away from consumers towards the business market, that OpenSim provider Kitely is planning to launch a new grid based on High Fidelity’s open-source software:

Those communities that have already begun planning a migration to High Fidelity may be out of luck. Kitely, for example, has long had a strategy of being a multi-platform company, with High Fidelity part of their long-term road map. How will Rosedale’s news affect their plans?

It won’t, said Ilan Tochner, Kitely’s co-founder and CEO… “Our service doesn’t use High Fidelity’s grid services, we use our own proprietary systems for that,” he told Hypergrid Business. “So, as long as High Fidelity Inc remains committed to continue open sourcing their platform codebase we see no reason to switch to using something else.”

That will change if they decide to stop open development, he added. “Then we’ll evaluate whether High Fidelity remains a viable option moving forward,” he said. “We’re building our proprietary services with that contingency in mind.”

In response to a comment questioning this strategy, Ilan replied:

The High Fidelity open-source project has a lot of potential. We don’t judge it based on the default UI High Fidelity offers or how well High Fidelity Inc. managed a VR-focused consumer service while the demand for such a service was close to non-existent. [The] UI can be improved, we’re pursuing a different target demographic, and our company manages customer relations differently than High Fidelity Inc. does.

We still believe in the High Fidelity open-source project because it handles many of the hard engineering challenges that must be overcome to provide a good distributed multi-user VR experience. OpenSim is a lot more mature and includes many crucial components that are required for providing consumer virtual worlds. Most of those components are still missing from High Fidelity, but High Fidelity already has many VR-related capabilities that OpenSim currently lacks.

That said, most of the proprietary components we’re developing for our High Fidelity-based offering aren’t High Fidelity specific and could be used with our OpenSim-based Organizations offering as well. In other words, most of our R&D is invested in developing differentiating features for our own services and not on building platform-specific functionality for any of the virtual world options we provide.

You might not be aware that Kitely has already contributed a fair bit of code to the open-source High Fidelity project, which anybody can contribute to. There is a possiblity that Kitely may choose to branch off from the existing open-source code at some point in the future, especially if HiFi decides to go in a direction that doesn’t meet their needs.

Kitely is not the only company looking at providing services based on High Fidelity’s code. In March 2019, former High Fidelity staff member Caitlyn Meeks founded Tivoli Cloud VR, a company focused on providing supplemental services for virtual worlds based on the High Fidelity software, in response to High Fidelity’s recent announcements (here and here).

Thank you to Theanine for the news tip!

Advertisements

Kitely: A Brief Introduction

kitely.png

Kitely is another OpenSim-based virtual world that I haven’t visited in quite a while. According to its Company Overview:

Kitely is the biggest commercial provider of OpenSim regions, hosting more than 17,000 regions (as of January 2018). Kitely is considered to have the most user-friendly administration tools in the entire OpenSim hosting industry.

Work on Kitely began in 2008, with the vision of enabling people to use virtual worlds as an on-demand utility. It took the company more than two years of intensive development until it was ready to start its public beta in March 2011. Kitely is now the leading provider of affordable high-performance OpenSim hosting solutions.

As of today (July 4th, 2018), Kitely has 103,725 registered users and 17,549 sims or regions, according to the statistics on their login screen. They seem to have a healthy marketplace, with thousands of items for sale. Kitely has their own currency, called Kitely Credits, which you can use to buy things.

The one thing that drives me crazy about Kitely is that many unvisited sims are stored offline, and you quite often get the following message when you try to teleport from one place to another in-world:

Kitely 4 July 2018.png

Basically, you have to wait until the sim you want to visit is restarted, and then you are teleported to it automatically. The delay is usually less than a minute, though sometimes it takes longer. But I still do find it annoying, especially after years of being able to teleport instantly to other locations on other virtual world platforms like Second Life. The tagline for Kitely is “Virtual Worlds on Demand”. and they aren’t kidding about the “on demand” part!

Kitely is an interesting take on OpenSim, and they have a small but active community. You can find out more about Kitely from their website, their Facebook page, or their Google+ community.

Kitely 2 4 July 2018.png
The Kitely Welcome Center