Well, I decided to try AltspaceVR again today. Blog readers will recall that I had to suspend visits to this social VR platform because it kept hanging my computer. They fixed that problem, so I can now add AltspaceVR back to the list of virtual worlds I visit (and report on) regularly.
Some things haven’t changed: the dreadful cartoony avatars, and the campfire meeting spot. In addition to the campfire, you can also visit a new gathering place, called The Origin.
So, what else is new in AltspaceVR? Well, for one thing, you can now set a (friends-only) home location, choosing one of twelve predesigned homes. Here’s a picture of the winter lodge I selected:
It also looks like Altspace is gearing up for commerce. I came across a sprawling mall, filled with row after row of empty stores, all ready for vendors to move in:
The website Engadget reports that AltspaceVR is now offering users building tools to create custom virtual worlds:
Microsoft’s AltspaceVR differs drastically from other social networks by letting you share the same (virtual) space with your friends. Now, it’s giving you more places to hang out with custom building kits. You start with a virtual hangout based on the popular “Campfire” and “Alien Planet” spaces, then customize it by grabbing assets from a curated library of flora, structures and shapes. You can then host muliplayer social games within your space and even add custom 3D design and sound.
“This is step one of a greater plan to make sure our community can help build AltspaceVR with us,” said Microsoft’s AltspaceVR group on its blog. “Today our community will have basic kits that they can use to build their environment.”
There’s more information on this new feature here. From the article, it sounds as though AltspaceVR is providing all the components for building your own world. It will be interesting to see if they will allow creators to design and sell items for consumers to use in building their own spaces in the future (the empty shopping mall hints at that possibility).
You create and name your “world” using the AltspaceVR website first, but when I got back into my VR headset, it wasn’t clear exactly how to get to the world I just created. The instruction page says, “Once in-world, activate your dashboard by clicking on the Space Editor”, which I couldn’t find. They’re going to have to improve the documentation to make this feature a little more user-friendly, if you ask me.