Atlas Hopping, Episode 32!

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Today we visited the following three experiences:

I noticed a few new touches to the Aech’s Garage experience: audio commentary by Aech on each of the 1980s items in the garage, and the automated mechanical arms on a conveyor track, passing a barrel back and forth at the ceiling near the windows!

And Alfy’s experience is huge, with a city and a separate beach where dolphins are frolicking! Very nicely done!

Here’s Drax livestream of today’s Atlas Hopping:

And here’s Strawberry’s livestream:

Once again, it was a lot of fun!

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The Rise and Fall of Internet Communities: Lessons for Social VR Spaces and Virtual Worlds

One of the subReddits I follow is called Data is Beautiful, where a user named splittyoassintwo (?!) posted the following chart which interested me:

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This picture is a bit too small to read properly, so here’s a link to the original.

I had a good laugh at the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of Google+ (green line). That is EXACTLY how I remembered it, too. Google did their best to destroy something that was initially wonderful, popular and heavily used, through their sheer ineptitude.

This diagram illustrates something I have always thought about Internet communities, which I feel also applies to social VR spaces/virtual worlds. And that is: you might be on top now, but there’s no guarantee that you’re gonna stay there. Second Life has actually had an extraordinarily long run as the most popular virtual world, and still has a significant number of people logging in regularly (according to this recent article in The Atlantic, 600,000 users). But that number has been slowly declining over time. And a number of newer virtual worlds (among them, Sansar by the same company as Second Life) are working hard towards snatching that crown in the era of virtual reality.

VRChat is currently the most popular social VR platform, largely due to the livestreamers on YouTube and Twitch who have profiled the platform. But their user concurrency numbers are still pretty low compared to Second Life, and have gone down from their peak in January of this year.

Moral of the story: you never know what’s going to happen.

VRChat Pick of the Day: The Basement

Today’s VRChat Pick of the Day is called The Basement, created by atari. (You can find it by searching under the Worlds tab for “basement”.) It is very similar to the recently published Sansar experience Aech’s Basement, in that they are both Eighties-era suburban basements inspired by the novel/movie Ready Player One, so it gives me an opportunity to directly compare and contrast the two experiences. (If you’re interested, here’s my blogpost on Aech’s Basement.)

For example, I can post a link to Aech’s Basement via their Sansar Atlas listing (like I have in the paragraph above), while VRChat doesn’t have a similar feature (at least, as far as I am aware). Point to Sansar.

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The overall lighting in a Sansar experience, especially with the Global Illumination feature turned on,  is much better than in a VRChat instance. The lighting in The Basement is overly harsh, and it makes all the objects look flat and a little unrealistic. Point for Sansar.

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There happen to be mirrors in both experiences. Aech’s Basement in Sansar is a “fake” mirror, made using what I believe to be a stereographic image, but The Basement in VRChat is an actual working mirror. Point for VRChat. This is a very nice feature to have!

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Waving at my avatar in the mirror of The Basement

Also, you can actually sit down in the chairs in The Basement. You still can’t sit down in Sansar! Point for VRChat.

You can pick up and look at certain objects in both experiences, like game cartridges. Tie.

As for interactivity, both experiences feature interactive elements. In Aech’s Basement, you can trigger an audio account by Aech about many of the 1980s items you see in the basement. In The Basement, you can pick up and put the Atari cartridge into the console for a neat effect, and you can then teleport to special room where you can pick up a neat avatar, that looks like a cartoon version of Marty McFly from the Back to the Future movie series! Tie again.

So overall, the two experiences come out about the same. Aesthetically, I do find Aech’s Basement more visually appealing, though.

Note: I am using the built-in snapshot feature in SteamVR to take these in-world shots of VRChat. This apparently works for all SteamVR apps. I have no idea why they are all tilted like this! I thought I held my head up straight when I took the pictures, but I guess I didn’t (or perhaps I need to compensate for the tilt). Sorry!

Sansar Pick of the Day: Ludus, Sansar’s First Library

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Boden Linden has created an experience called Ludus, which is a large library building in a parklike setting, with a gently burbling stream. As you approach the building you hear someone talking. I assume this experience is called Ludus after the planet in the OASIS in Ready Player One where the public schools are located.

You enter the library, and there on each side are several rows of school desks facing a large screen on which a philosophy professor from Yale, Shelly Kagan, is giving a lecture about death.

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In the centre is a teleporter with a book floating above it. When you step on it, it takes you to an upper floor of the library, where the book stacks are.

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There’s not really much to do here except watch and listen to Dr. Kagan’s lecture. It would be nice to have some actual books you could pull off the shelf and read! But this is indeed the first library in Sansar. (I did manage to find the Ready Player One key that transports you to Aech’s Basement in yesterday’s Sansar Top 5 key hunt.)