When I was 27, I took one of those three-week Trafalgar bus trips on an excursion across Western Europe: England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria…I’m sure some of you have done it too.
While I got to see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, sadly I did not get an opportunity to go see a place I had always dreamed of visiting: the sprawling, ornate Palace of Versailles, once home to the Kings and Queens of France and the royal court.
If, like me, you always wanted to wander the halls and galleries of Versailles as a tourist, you will welcome a brand new release from Google Arts & Culture, titled VersaillesVR: The Palace Is Yours:
You can teleport around various rooms and halls in the famous palace, including the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Opera House. A handy map of the palace on your left wrist lets you jump from one room to another in an instant! And no crowds; you get the entire palace to yourself!
I have only one complaint with this wonderful program. Oddly, there are no snap or smooth turns available to reorient yourself using your hand controllers! You will need to physically turn yourself around at times, which means that you can get tangled up in your VR headset cable, or have your back to your tracking stations! It’s a bit irritating. But other than that, I am overjoyed with this new app! You can spend hours exploring.
And the best part? It’s totally free!
VersaillesVR is available now as a free download from Steam, and it works with the Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift VR headsets only. The experience requires a Windows 10 PC with 20GB of available storage and at least a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU. VersaillesVR is available in French, English, or Chinese.
Le château de Versailles est à vous de découvrir! The Palace of Versailles is yours to discover!
Australian YouTuber Brad Laurie (a.k.a BlockchainBrad) has just published another in-depth interview with Somnium Space CEO and virtual world entrepreneur Artur Sychov, who has decided to embrace blockchain technology for his social VR platform. Brad’s YouTube channel focuses on various blockchain projects, and the 80-minute conversation is obviously mostly about blockchain, but it’s still quite understandable by crypto newbies like me!
The interview is quite wide-ranging, and Brad asks Artur about comparisons between Somnium Space and Second Life (still the most popular and economically successful virtual world) and Decentraland (another blockchain-based virtual world which is still in closed beta). Artur says that Linden Lab’s founding CEO, Philip Rosedale, has helped advise him on Somnium Space.
Also, unlike Decentraland, Somnium Space will be the second VR-capable blockchain-based virtual world to launch (after Cryptovoxels). Decentraland does not support virtual reality, and is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future. And the graphics in Somnium Space will definitely be a step up from the voxel-based graphics of Cryptovoxels! I am quite looking forward to seeing what Somnium Space 2.0 looks like when it launches in October or November of this year.
Brad asks Artur about Somnium Space’s “Live Forever” feature, of which I have been skeptical in the past on this blog. Artur explains that Somnium Space will offer to record everything you do and say in VR on your parcel of virtual land, and then apply AI to it. Artur says that if you die, you can then have this second version of you that your children and grandchildren can visit. He states that AI is progressing so quickly that within 10 to 15 years, it will be difficult to determine what is really you and what is AI. Upon questioning from Brad, he admits that nobody else has tried to do this before. (And I am still skeptical that this will work. The amount of data storage to save everything your avatar says and does over days, weeks, months and years will be quite substantial, and will likely become overwhelming to work with.)
Somnium Space is holding an Initial Land Offering (ILO) starting October 6th and running until October 13th, where 4,500 parcels of virtual land will be auctioned off in partnership with OpenSea. (Bidders will have to have a Ethereum cryptocurrency wallet like MetaMask.)
In every other social VR platform and virtual world to date, you are not allowed to transfer your avatar and purchases to other people as part of the platform’s terms of service (although Second Life does allow you to leave your avatar and its inventory to another person via your will). Artur talks about how the use of blockchain in Somnium Space will allow users who are banned from Somnium Space to resell everything they own to other people who can use it, at whatever prices the market will bear. This is quite a novel idea for a virtual world!
Brad also asks about the cryptocurrency to be used in Somnium Space, and Artur replies that they are working on finalizing the details on it. He states that they will comply with any current and future governmental rules and regulations on cryptocurrencies, trying to stay ahead of the curve.
Artur says that Somnium Space currently has a dozen software developers at work on the platform, with extensive in-house expertise on virtual reality and blockchain. And Somnium Space will soon release a version of the client for Oculus Quest wireless VR headset users.
You can follow Somnium Space on Discord, Twitter, Telegram or Instagram. Artur Sychov also hosts an Open Mic event every Saturday at 22:00 CEST (Central European Standard Time) in the Somnium Space amphitheater, for users to learn more about latest development news and to have their questions answered by the CEO himself.
One of my favourite things to do when I am feeling tired, depressed, and stressed out—still, after all these years!—is to open up Firestorm and go randomly exploring in Second Life. I almost always find something to surprise and delight me, and to take my mind off my real life troubles.
Today, I loaded up one of my alts (very aptly named Autumn Winter!) and I did a search under Places for “autumn”. I discovered this masterfully landscaped autumn morning forest, on a sim called Angelhaven, with many meandering trails under red and golden leaves:
Near the shoreline is a lovely rustic pub with a balcony overlooking the sea. The new age music stream was so soothing that I immediately began to relax and unwind!
Autumn Winter is wearing:
Mesh Head: Giselle Bento head by Altamura (no longer available for free; this was an Altamura gift from Christmas 2017 at the eBENTO event, and you had to join the Altamura group for L$50 to get it).
Mesh Body: Jenny Bento body by Altamura (this was a free gift from the 2017 Women Only Hunt, and on this version, you can remove the head and replace it with any other mesh head, as I did here. Note that the Jenny free mesh body is now available at the Freebie Megastore at London City (more information here), but you cannot remove the head on the newer free version.
Dress and Leather Jacket: Calixta outfit from Gaall (I picked this outfit up for free when the store had a free gift card offer recently; unfortunately that offer is now over)
Boots: Paola boots with fall leaves pattern (a brand new Fabulously Free in SL group gift from Baby Monkey; the group is free to join)
Hair: Hurrah hair by Ade (a free gift from the recently concluded 2019 Hair Fair)
TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$50 (the cost to join the Altamura group)
This is by far the busiest time of year for this university librarian, who is fielding many requests for library training from various classes of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as serving on several committees.
Over the next four weeks, I will be pulling a lot of overtime (including evenings and weekends) at work. That means that I will have very little time left over to blog about news and events in social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse. Almost all of my blogging is done in the evenings and on the weekends, but I do expect that I will be pretty much exhausted when I get home from work over the next few weeks.
Please do not expect my usual daily pace of blog postings in October! I hope that you understand. And if you want to support my work here, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter. But even if you decide not to support my work financially, please accept my deepest thanks for being one of my readers. It means the world to me!