Occupy White Walls Will Soon Launch on Steam—But You Can Get a Sneak Peek!

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You’re probably wondering what happened to Occupy White Walls, the fun and funky virtual world for the art curator in you? Well, they had to shut the platform down completely for a period of time while they got ready to relaunch the program on Steam. They’re now very close to that official launch date, but you can get in early if you want to take a sneak peek! Here’s the scoop:

Hello people!

We have some Good news, some bad news and some terrific news.

Let’s start with the bad news; we said we’ll launch OWW in October, but sadly, for the first time in video game history we will be a little late, hopefully in the first week of November. The game is almost ready we just want to polish it a bit further, squash a few tiny bugs and sprinkle some extra pixie dust.

The good news; we are currently holding a secret beta for OWW. Even better; we are GIVING OUT STEAM KEYS on our Discord channel – you can help us with that last drive for polish! But hurry, not many keys left…

To get an early-access software key, join the Occupy White Walls Discord channel and send a private message to Protobear, and he’ll fix you right up! He says:

If you don’t have a key yet, you can easily get one! send me (protobear#0001) a PM here on discord and I’ll send you a key ASAP.

For testing purposes, we ask you to create a new account.

Leveling is currently a bit wonky. For some it goes too fast. This will be fixed in the coming week.

Note: the number of keys they are giving out is limited. Once they’re gone, you’ll have to wait for the official launch date on Steam.

I was able to obtain a key, and this evening I reinstalled the software, setting up a new account. (Unfortunately, OWW was unable to save any of the old galleries that people had created. You do have to start over again from scratch, with a new username and a new email address.)

The collection of artworks you can use to decorate your gallery has been expanded, and now consists of approximately 3,000 works, mainly classics from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., plus the work of about 20 living artists (with plans to add more over time).

In no time at all, I had my first picture framed and mounted!

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If you haven’t tried out Occupy White Walls yet, why not give it a try? It’s great fun!

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UPDATED! Sansar Is Moving to Steam—And Dropping the SandeX

Sansar Steam

Linden Lab just dropped a major announcement tonight!

Titled We’ve come a long way together. We can’t wait for what’s next, here’s an excerpt:

Sansar has come a long way since we started the project. In 2018 we have devoted an enormous amount of effort to improving the end-user experience, and will continue to do so.

Given those improvements, we believe we are quickly approaching the point where we want to start bringing a large number of users onto the platform. This is an important milestone for us and especially our creators. One of the foundational principles of Sansar is that creators must be able to profit from their creations. For us to make that a reality, we need to give our creators a large audience of customers.

The cornerstone of our growth effort will be to put Sansar on Steam. Steam is where more than half of the VR market goes to find software. It also is a huge pool of users who are interested in our space and are likely to have the hardware required to run Sansar. We anticipate being able to get onto Steam by the end of this year. This is a huge step for us and we’re excited to be able introduce Sansar to an even wider audience.

In order to do this, we are obligated to make significant changes to how Sansar works, especially in how the Sansar Dollar and process credit system work. These changes, will also make the credit process for Creators far more consistent and predictable. The first change is that we will be discontinuing the Sandex as of December 4, 2018.

After that date, we will be moving to a fixed conversion rate model. Creators will continue to be able to sell their work for Sansar Dollars on the Store (and soon in experiences!). Eligible creators may convert some or all of their earned Sansar Dollar balance to US dollars at a rate of S$250 to $1, and then request a USD credit to be processed in 30 days. This matches Steam’s payment timeline.

We understand that this may have an impact on the amount of revenue returned to creators compared to the Sandex. However, we believe that in the long run our creators will significantly benefit from having access to the larger Steam user base. In addition, anyone who has created their Sansar account before December 31, 2018 will receive a legacy conversion rate of S$143 to $1 until December 31, 2019, after which the conversion rate for all accounts will be S$250 to $1.

In other words, Linden Lab has decided to drop the economic model pioneered by Second Life and its LindeX exchange. A content creator has reposted this update to the official Second Life user forums, saying:

A must read for any creators with money in their accounts or that sell things on the Marketplace. Since I have over 400 items on there it is going to take a fair amount of work to reprice things. Hopefully everyone still active there will know about this. Please spread the word.

Obviously, Linden Lab is betting the farm that putting Sansar on Steam will lead to an influx of new users with cash to spend. They’ve weighed the pros and cons and they’re willing to put up with the fees that Steam will charge, in exchange for a wider audience.

I simply cannot overstate what a major change in strategy this is. And it is a total surprise to me; I certainly wasn’t expecting it!

While I am still processing this news, what do you think? Please leave a comment on this blogpost with your thoughts and opinions, thanks!

UPDATE Oct. 30th: Landon McDowell, Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer for Sansar, did answer a few questions in the official Sansar Discord channel. When asked if LL was going to remove Sansar Store transaction fees, he said:

Yes, the intent is to remove the store transaction fees in conjunction with this… The process credit fees will not be change[d].

When asked why they are implementing a 30-day delay in processing US$ credits, Landon answered:

The problem is that Steam operates on a 30-60 day window. If we keep it at a few days, we will be floating credit for 1-2 months. That’s an uncomfortable financial situation to be in.

And, this push sure sounds a lot like the “consumer launch” of Sansar I predicted back in April. And I note with dismay that there are still many things on my list that haven’t been implemented yet, that I would still like to see in place before this push to Steam and a much larger potential audience.

Interesting times, indeed. Stay tuned for more coverage as all this rolls out!

Inara Pey Blogs the Sansar October Release Preview: Improving the New User Experience

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I had fallen out of the habit of reblogging Inara Pey’s excellent summaries of the weekly Sansar product meetings. In her most recent post, I note with interest:

NEW USER EXPERIENCE UPDATE

Starting with the October release, new users will be taken to an experience on logging-in to Sansar for the first time, and have a default avatar. The experience will be one of those currently populated with other people, the idea being to get new users interaction with other users as quickly as possible.

Which experience a new user is sent to will depend on a number of factors: whether it is public; how many are already in it (to avoid sending new users to an experience nearing its capacity and the possibility they may be re-directed to an empty instance); and those experiences that present a heavy  / long load time will also be avoided.

I think this is a wonderful idea! There are a number of other new features coming in the next release, which you can read in full detail over on her blog. Thanks, Inara!

(Note that the “October” release may be pushed back to early November.)

Somnium Space Acquires Community Garden, Announces Refund Program for MetaWorld Investors

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Today Somnium Space announced that Carleton DiLeo (co-founder of MetaWorld and creator of Community Garden) has joined Somnium Space as a Principal Developer. According to their press release:

After the recent successful crowd-invest campaign Somnium Space has been continuing to rapidly add features and grow its VR metaverse. With a successful launch on Steam, more than 3,500 new members have joined Somnium community in the past 3 weeks. With Carleton [DiLeo] on board, Somnium Space will be able to realize its potential much quicker by further strengthening its development team with highly skilled professionals such as Carleton.

Both companies believe in an imminent future of social interactions happening inside Virtual Reality. Combining creative minds from both companies, Somnium Space will be bringing even more innovative features to its online persistent VR universe soon.

“Today, we are shaping landscape of Virtual Reality for many decades ahead. Every decision we do about types of social interactions or certain technical aspects of VR world will impact future generations of players and virtual citizens.” said Artur Sychov, Founder of Somnium Space. “We want to make decisions which will create an unbelievable environment for people to foster their creativity, therefore we are quickly building the best possible team to realize that vision”

“I am thrilled to become part of Somnium Space team and bring to life the ideas I had with Community Garden on a much larger scale.” said Carleton DiLeo. “I strongly believe the future of VR is in shared worlds that players feel connected to. Community Garden’s vision and Somnium Space’s approach are the perfect match, and just what the VR community needs.”

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Somnium Space has been approached by a number of players who have bought various game packages in non-released MetaWorld VR app. Numerous delays, missed deadlines and the recent removal of MetaWorld page from Steam have left users unhappy and questioning the future of the project. Many MetaWorld users have reported difficulty getting refunds on Reddit. At Somnium Space, we are committed to keeping the VR community a healthy and trusted place for people and we have zero tolerance for questionable practices. Therefore, Somnium Space is announcing a refund and exchange program for MetaWorld users. If you have purchased early access or land from MetaWorld, you can exchange that land for a small land parcel in Somnium Space or get a full refund for your purchase. Users who have purchased game package from Meta World before 31.10.2018 are eligible for a refund or exchange.

If you want a refund, please email metaworld@somniumspace.com with a subject line “Refund”. Please attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. In case you would like to exchange your deed to a land in Somnium, please use subject line “Exchange” and attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. PLEASE NOTE: even after receiving a refund from Somnium Space, your deed is still valid in case MetaWorld will be released. For more information and questions, please join the Somnium Space official Discord channel.

Disclaimer: Since it is unknown exactly how many users have purchased game packages from MetaWorld, Somnium Space leaves a right to stop refund process at any time. Nevertheless, we are prepared to refund as many hundreds of players as we possibly can.

Well, this looks like a win-win all around! Congratulations to the team at Somnium Space and to Carleton DiLeo. This is also good news for people who paid for MetaWorld, a platform that has been moribund for quite some time now.

I have updated my List of Social VR/Virtual Worlds accordingly.