As goes Grendel’s, so goes the Grid: two out of four sims closing, citing lack of Lab support

In 2008, Philip Linden, at a meeting with significant Second Life content creators in San Franscisco said: “As goes Grendel’s, so goes the Grid.”

Well, as of today, half of Grendel’s has gone – and the reason they are citing is the lack of support that they have received from Linden Lab.

What does that say about the grid?

Inside Grendel's Children store
Inside Grendel's Children store

So what is Grendel’s?
Grendels’ Children is one of the most fascinating places on the grid.  They make avatars … and what amazing avatars!  They range from robots to lions to dragons to koi carp to trees that turn into walking dryads at a tap on a HUD, exotic animals of enormous beauty, mystical creatures as beautiful and as strange as the imagination can create them – and they are, above all, the most enormous fun.

You can get a taste of it on this Designing Worlds programme where we visited Grendel’s or from this beautiful machinima, The Wizard and Ozimal by Pyewacket Bellman.

Being an Ungal in Avaria
Being an Ungal in Avaria

There are two key points about Grendel’s.  Firstly, they make high quality avatars, complete with excellent HUDSs, at incredibly low cost. I bought a set of ten giant dragonflies in a range of lovely colours, which I can fly around in, stretching and flapping beautiful gossamer wings … for only 25 Lindens.  Many of their best-known avatars retail at under 100 Lindens.  They are interested in volume, and selling a large number of avatars to a large number of people but, essentially, they never compromise on quality.

The second point is that they have always offered fun.  The main store is on Avaria Tor, but there were three other sims: Avaria (the original sim), Avaria Kro and Avaria Sav.  These three offered games and places to roam in whatever avatar form you wished.  Grendel’s have also offered a range of fascinating games, ranging from the most amazing interstellar grungeboard track (you can see it here in another Pyewacket machinima) to complex games that offered you mysteries to solve and rewards to gain as you explored strange lost temples in the desert or odd rock formations housing unexpected geysers or, indeed, whatever the Grendel’s team decided would be wicked cool and great fun.

Surfing Space with Grendel's Children!
Surfing Space with Grendel's Children!

And in this way, this brilliant team has been exploring some of the real possibilities for game creation in virtual worlds, while supplying some of the most exciting and original content (and most reasonably priced) on the grid.

And they offer more too – with things like the weekly Show and Tell on Avaria Sav organised by Barney Boomslang and Florenze Kerensky, where some of the greatest creatives in Second Life come and display their most recent creations to be discussed, critiqued and frequently oooohhhed over by their fellows.

Games with Grendel's Children
Games with Grendel's Children

But as of today, Avaria Kro and Avaria Sav have been sold.  There’s no longer room for the interstellar grungeboard track, so it has been dismantled.  The Show and Tells have been moved to Avaria, which will be the new workshop for Grendel’s, but much of the exploration, the gaming, the beauty and the sheer fun has been lost.

Being a dragonfly in Avaria
Being a dragonfly in Avaria

And this isn’t for economic reasons – Grendel’s is still on the grid.  It is down simply and completely to a failure by Linden Lab to give Grendel’s the support they needed – the support that they hoped went along with the $14,400 they were paying annually for server space.

“I can get spam from Cafe Press, but no answers from Linden Lab,” says Flea Bussy, the leader janitor of Grendel’s (and owner of the Avarian sims) wearily.  There is no response to his tickets, and having been told “we’ll call you back” by concierge, there are no replies.  “They don’t care.”

After years of patience with Linden Lab, Flea is disappointed in the failure of the Lab to support what is a thriving business in one of the most important areas of the grid – the development of amazing content.

The land sales have gone through swiftly. As Toady Nakamura, Flea’s co-janitor, says wryly, “You wanna sell a sim, the sim brokers will call you right away, they will email you right away. Not like Lindens.”

Being a snow leopard in Avaria
Being a snow leopard in Avaria

In the last few month, we have seen Rodvik Linden, active on Twitter, responding personally when problems have arisen – such as the problem when the Elves seemed likely to lose some of their sims because of billing problems (with the Lab struggling to accept European payments, rather than the Elves failing to pay), and there have been other interventions by him as well.  But a company like Linden Lab should not be dependent on resolving problems by attracting the CEO’s attention on Twitter.

And, to put it simply, that is usually only a temporary bandaid anyway.

“We took this problem all the way to the CEO,” says Toady, “and it was fixed for 3 days. Then it broke again. We can’t keep going to the top for routine things like ‘we cannot move in our sim’.”

Like many people, the team at Grendel’s have respect for Rod Humble and what he is trying to do.

“I think Mr. Rodvik Linden is great, but I think he has a large pile of Inertial Lindens that will not move underneath him,” says Toady. ” Like old time clipper ships, good captain, shanghai’d crew … ship sinks.”

Being a vulture in Avaria Tor
Being a vulture in Avaria Tor

Is the ship sinking?  If Philip Linden was right, back in 2008, then perhaps it is time to check the bulkheads – and make damn sure that the people detailed to watch out for icebergs aren’t sleeping on the job any more.

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25 comments

  1. This is something that I’ve preached about to anyone that would hear me for the last 4+ years.
    Ever since the linden’s ended the “ambassador” programs, and they essentially left their world for their RL offices, the world has gone downhill. Business is about one thing, and one thing only “customer service” if you want to make money, you respect and want to keep your customer’s happy and paying their small fee every month/year/whatever to keep your company running. The instant that LL decided to end customer service in world, and refused to even visit their creation, i knew this was going downhill…
    a bit of a history lesson for computer geeks, Philip Rosedale was the one that created Realplayer G2, and if you don’t remember those headaches…..
    he also was with AOL during the big explosion in users during the late 90′s when it was regarded and derided as “America Offline” cause you’d dial at 4:00pm and hope to get on by 10pm….
    Mr Rosedale has never really had a huge success in dealing with customers, if he were smart, the next CEO he promotes to the board will be from a company that deals with nothing BUT customer service

  2. Beautiful post about some very sad news. Thank you for all the information and your insight. At least this is not a total loss, like some other prominent places in Second Life.

  3. It doesn’t surprise me a bit. The Linden$ have always just released cool stuff, rather than fix what the last cool stuff broke. Years ago they’d have a weekly update on Tuesday, and a weekly Rollback on Wednesday… I haven’t seen much improvement in my 6 yrs in SL.

  4. @Coral Gausman – essentially, I think, it’s lots of little things coming together. Sims freezing, Flea unable to log on in Version 3, etc.

    One example – Grendel’s dropped out of the Destination Guide for a while, and then went back in with a photo that the Grendel’s team hate. They’ve been asking for that photo to be changed since April, with no success.

    Not a dealbreaker in itself, but one more ongoing niggle that ends with hands thrown up in despair. Famously, it’s individual straws that do for the camel (and I believe Grendel’s makes camels … not sure if they spit in your eye, but their lama certainly does).

  5. To me, the significance is not just in the importance Grendel’s has as a paying customer, now downsizing. It’s the knock-on effect on all the people who’ve found Grendel’s when relatively new, tried on the most amazing avatars and then explored them in the Avaria sims, maybe tried some of the games … and been hooked to Second Life. Places like this should be nurtured and cherished by the Lab, not left to hang in the wind.

    As when a large company downsizes, there’s a knock-on effect in lots of smaller companies.

    We are seeing many reasons why brilliant destination sites are closing. In some cases it’s finance pure and simple. In other cases, it’s because the owners decide to invest money elsewhere in technology (and that’s a tough one for the Lab to counter – “No, no, keep your homestead! It’ll be much cooler than a new cellphone!”).

    But with something like this, when it’s a question of poor support, plain and simple, the Lab should be working their butts off to keep the customer happy.

  6. This makes me sad, even though I knew nothing at all about Grendel’s Children, and did not know all the stuff they have been doing. Why did I not know about it? Certainly Prim Perfect tried to tell me!

    The thing that amazes me is that there is SO MUCH being done on the grid. When I leave my sim and go exploring (all too rarely) I just see the most amazing things and, as a builder, I am left in awe at the creativity of other people, and also feeling a bit overwhelmed — because there isn’t enough time to find it all, or even to read Prim Perfect or “study” the destination guide, and to build my own stuff.

    But I am sorry about Grendel’s — and about Dark Life, and RELIC and other places I never even heard of that have come and gone, without my even knowing they existed.

  7. How sad. Grendels was one of the first places that I visited that really turned me on to the magic of Second Life. I bought a huge dragon vintage 2007 that still delights me. I certainly understand their feelings about contributing so much to this world and being disregarded. I have coordinated a very popular classical & art music series in SL since 2007 and frequently feel totally anonymous in dealing with the Lindens. Music Island also was dropped once from the destination guide when they deleted “classical music” as a music genre. After I complained the listing was returned under a catchall genre of “live music” that is very uninformative. There are scores of genres of American pop music but they had to delete “classical”? Why?

  8. along the lines of the rezzable sims leaving. I miss Black Swan and Greenies home. I hope grendels continues to stay in SL. I don’t think the place could stand losing yet another remarkable place!

  9. Truly Sad. Grendel’s is a great place and one of the first that helped me enjoy SL. But I think this will probably help them make more money. Long live Grendel’s!

  10. This is really sad news. It’s heart breaking to see this happen.

    I agree I hope the Grendel’s store continues in Second Life for many more years to come. This year SL has lost alot of well known sims and locations in Second Life which is not good at all.

    On the other side of the scale Second Life there are many new places opening up which is always good to see. However It can never replace the historical places that have been around since the early days of SL.

  11. This is just so very sad and Damn frustrating. Everyone feels so helpless in cases like this…. If petitions worked, we could deluge LL with names!!

  12. And this is the week when Mesh went live, grid-wide. Yet the slowest Viewer, by a huge ratio, is the official Linden Lab Viewer needed to show Mesh. There are maybe parts of the operation which are getting things right, and other parts of Linden Lab which aren’t.

    I have tried Mesh. It’s a step past Sculpts, and if you can make Sculpts you can use the same tools to make Mesh. But if I had to choose between Mesh and the shocking system performance (IM chat, frame rates, sim crossing, all plagued by problems as peak concurrency seems to decline), I’d give up Mesh.

    Oddly, the fastest Mesh Viewer I’ve tried, with frame rates I haven’t seen since maybe 2009, is a backport of Mesh to Snowglobe. It isn’t Mesh that’s suddenly dragging the system down.

  13. I’ll miss Grendel’s, always a delightful surprise when I visted it. But then I have pretty left the SL grid. Too many disappointments with cold hearted Lindens. I do hope Grendels Children will migrate to other worldz.

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