Two More Blockchain-Based Virtual Worlds: Terra Virtua and The Deep

The following comparison chart from the Virtual Universe white paper caught my eye:

Virtual Universe Key Differentiators Chart 17 Apr 2018

I had already heard of (and was very familiar with) Decentraland, Rec Room, Sansar and VRChat, but what were Terra Virtua and The Deep? So, I went and did a little investigating…

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Terra Virtua bills itself, “the first fully immersive, blockchain-driven VR entertainment platform.” According to their vision statement:

Terra Virtua is a unique virtual platform, focusing entirely on immersive VR entertainment, built around a strong community and social connection.

Supported by developers, run by industry leaders and secured by blockchain, Terra Virtua is the platform for the next generation and dimension in entertainment and engagement.

Terra Virtua will have its own robust, secure blockchain based economy. Zones, in-game items, skins, upgrades and unique experiences can be bought and sold within Terra Virtua, driven by our token, the Terra Virtua TERRA (TVT). TVT owners will be a vital part of the ecosystem, kickstarting the Terra Virtua economy.

There’s the requisite slick promotional video, full of all the appropriate buzzwords:

Here’s their white paper. At first glance, the project reminds me a little bit of VIBE Hub. They’re looking at a Netflix-type subscription model.

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And The Deep (whose tagline is, “Build your unique eternal crypto town”—?!??) sure sounds a heck of a lot like Decentraland. According to their white paper:

The ​Deep ​(DEEP) ​– ​is ​an ​eternal ​virtual ​world ​based ​on ​DPoS ​tokens ​to ​create ​a ​decentralized, immersive ​world ​that ​is ​part ​game ​and ​part ​social ​platform. ​An ​immutable ​world ​where ​each experience ​builds ​on ​previous ​experiences.

And there’s this little nugget from their website FAQ:

Why is The Deep eternal?

The Deep will last forever thanks to decentralization based on DPOS technology and specially designed Deep five-level protocol. We do not depend on anyone or anything else for our world. Ruled by the democratic use of consensus, The Deep can grow and change according to the will of its users.

The Deep is planning an alpha launch sometime in the summer of this year.

The blockchain-based virtual worlds marketplace is now officially overcrowded! They are multiplying like rabbits!

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UPDATED: Another Blockchain-Based Virtual World: Virtual Universe (VU)

Virtual Universe (VU) is yet another blockchain-based VR-capable virtual world, that bills itself as “An epic, story-driven, open world adventure in LivingVR™ powered by Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain”.

And yes, in case you were wondering, they define “LivingVR™” as “An experience in Virtual Reality that is more immersive, engaging and alive.” (Oh, really?)

Somebody dropped this promotional trailer into the RyanSchultz.com Google+ community:

According to their website, they plan on a private beta launch in July 2018, and a public beta launch in January 2019.

It sounds more like an MMORPG/MMO than a virtual world, according to this excerpt from their whitepaper:

This multiplayer game allows users to connect with their friends and embark on emotionally-engaging grand adventures in a living world that is persistent, social and rewarding. The adventure has multiple story arcs that surprise and delight players for the life of the game.

A user can choose to simply experience the adventure, or they can help create it. Becoming part of VU is rewarding and easy for gamers and non-gamers alike. Whether the user is inside the game or not, the universe and storyline continues moving forward.

VU is part game, part social network, and part social creation platform, blending elements of Minecraft, Second Life and Simcity with innovative artificial-intelligence technologies that drive engagement.

As I have said before, I’m not investing in any blockchain-based virtual worlds unless I can actually visit them. VU is another social VR space/virtual world to keep an eye on in future, as it develops. This particular segment of the marketplace is getting very crowded.

UPDATE May 30th: I have written quite a few blogposts about Virtual Universe since this first item was written. Here is a link to all my Virtual Universe (VU) blogposts.

What Is It About Second Life and Other Virtual Worlds That Incites So Much Drama?

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Following the many online communities that have sprung up around various virtual worlds over the past decade (especially Second Life), I often find myself wondering about what it is about them that seems to bring out such a high level of conflict and drama.

God knows, I have (accidentally or on purpose) stirred up drama myself at times. The last time it happened was back in January, when I got angry when Linden Lab asked me to take down the pictures I had taken of their Aech’s Garage experience in Sansar. In a diva fit, I even stopped blogging for several weeks.

Looking back, I’m not proud of how I reacted then, even if everything turned out okay in the end. (Better than okay, in fact. I used that incident as an impetus to rebrand and refocus my blog, and it has really made a big difference in my overall perspective on, and writing about, social VR spaces, virtual worlds and the metaverse. I’ve gotten a lot of positive personal feedback on the change, too.)

The continued popularity of websites such as SLSecrets, where a seemingly endless succession of avatars can talk smack about each other, never fails to amaze me (yes, I know it’s wrong, but I visit it revery so often anyway). Discussion forums such the official Second Life forums and the long-running, venerable SLUniverse are infamous for the dust-ups which can occur there. Why does this happen?

First, some people seem to think that they can hide behind an avatar, and act out, lash out, or sow dissension. A very recent example: one of my female alts was listening to the music and dancing at Muddy’s Music Café, and I decided to move her from one position to another on the dancefloor where it was less crowded.  Immediately, someone IMed me, “LOL nobody’s paying any attention to YOU bitch ROTFLMAO!”

And I thought to myself, “Why did he even bother saying that to me? Did he think I was drawing unnecessary attention to myself?” He just said that to fuck with my mind, and he (partially, temporarily) succeeded. Some people are just toxic, and best avoided.

Of course, such continued negative and antisocial behaviour can lead to a lot of repercussions, everything from to being blocked, to a kick from a sim, to a full ban from Second Life. (I do actually have one SL avatar who is notable for being banned from the Emerald sim, home to the White Armory and Silvan Moon Designs. I’m afraid that I don’t actually remember what I did to deserve the swift kick and ban by one of the sim owners, but I’m pretty sure it was something they didn’t like. It might have had something to do with bagpipes ;-P )

Another area of conflict is in what people consider to be the underlying behavioural rules of the virtual world. For example, some people prefer to strictly separate real life from Second Life (or whatever virtual world they are using). Others don’t. When these two types of people mix, conflict and drama are almost inevitable. That’s because they are playing by different ground rules.

And finally, it’s not just virtual worlds that incite drama. It’s EVERYWHERE online. Facebook. Reddit. You name the place, and there’s drama and conflict.

So, what to do about it in virtual worlds? Well, having proper, explicit community standards and policies in place (preferably written down in the Terms of Service you agreed to when you first joined) helps. Being able to enforce those policies through provided in-world tools such as mute, block, kick, and ban helps too. I should probably define these four terms:

  • Mute: Turn off an avatar’s sound so you cannot hear them.
  • Block: Turn off an avatar’s appearance so you cannot see them.
  • Kick: Being able to remove an avatar from an experience/domain/region.
  • Ban: Being able to permanently keep an avatar from visiting an experience/domain/region (at worst, the entire virtual world platform).

Current social VR spaces/virtual worlds have different levels of implementation of these tools. For example, you can mute, but not block, an avatar in Sansar.

So, how do you choose to deal with the inevitable conflict, drama, and poor behaviour that seem to happen in virtual worlds? What tips and tricks have you found to work? Sound off in the comments!

Linden Lab Enters Into a Partnership with Livestreamer UmiNoKaiju

Remember how I said that Linden Lab needed to develop some more relationships with popular Twitch and YouTube livestreamers to help promote Sansar? (Actually, I said it more than a few times; the link is just to the most recent time I said it in this blog.)

Well, according to the new Sansar community manager, Eliot:

So if you haven’t seen it already, Twitch streamer UmiNoKaiju is doing a partnership with us! She made a video of her customising her avatar, and I bet you will recognise a few of her items 😉

It’s clear from this video that UmiNoKaiju is excited about all the avatar outfit options, and being able to dress up your avatar! UmiNoKaiju has a YouTube channel (with 3,586 subscribers) and a Twitch channel (with 60,080 followers).