UPDATE Feb. 21st, 2020: I just wanted to clarify that I talked about this as version “2.0”, but in reality, the official launch of version 2.0 of Somnium Space was pushed back to February 20th, 2020. So I have updated this blogpost to put “2.0” in quotes throughout.
I got a tip that the updated client for Somnium Space “2.0” (the newest version of the social VR platform) was now available for download from their website, so I decided to pay a visit today. (Somnium Space is also available via Steam, but I don’t know if you can get the newest client from there yet. I assume that you can. UPDATE Oct 6th: I have now confirmed from Artur Sychov that you cannot get the newest client from Steam yet. It should be available within the next month on Steam.)
There’s a separate launcher program, from which you select either a PC (flat-screen) client, or the VR client. Unfortunately, I could not get the PC client to work for me (or perhaps I accidentally skipped a tutorial), but I was able to successfully use the VR client with my Oculus Quest headset.
Like Decentraland and Cryptovoxels (two competing blockchain-based virtual world platforms), Somnium Space is laid out as one large contiguous landscape. Decentraland deliberately constrains how far you can see into your surroundings, but in Somnium Space, you can actually see the distant mountains on the misty horizon! There’s a truly vast sense of space. It just feels bigger. And yes, I can confirm that you can walk (or teleport) all the way to those distant mountains and back!
I faced a similar problem that I did when I first visited Somnium Space and reported on it back in May 2018: it was difficult for me to get good pictures to share with you on my blog!
I had difficulty getting some good screen shots, because there didn’t seem to be a snapshot feature in the VR client software… So I had to hold up my VR headset in one hand, and grab a screenshot with SnagIt with the other from what I could see in my VR headset reflected on my monitor!
There’s a lovely, landscaped park-like area not far from the spawn point with lightposts and park benches, complete with the sound of chirping birds to add atmosphere:
Off to one side is a lakeside café, next to large floating island attached to what appears to be a zip line or tether of some kind! The in-world water is quite well-done and looks realistic. The soundscape work is effective too; you can hear the waves lapping against the shore as you stand on the café pier, looking out at the scenery.
It’s only natural to want to compare Somnium Space with two other blockchain-based virtual world projects, Decentraland and Cyptovoxels. As you can see from these pictures, Somnium Space is easily the most realistic-looking blockchain-based virtual world to launch to date. The flat, voxel-based landscape of Cryptovoxels and the lowpoly, almost Minecraftesque aethestic of Decentraland cannot begin to compete against this! Given that Decentraland does not support virtual reality, and is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future, I am also wondering how many investors who spent small fortunes on Decentraland’s LAND parcels must be feeling at present.
My visit was on the eve of the one-week land auction taking place in Somnium Space from Oct. 6th to 13th, 2019. In an earlier blogpost I had written:
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.)
Lands available for purchase have a clearly visible green neon border, making it easy to see what parcels are for sale as you explore the new, expanded landscape. Here’s a map of the parcels that are up for grabs to the highest bidder (the red ones were already claimed in a previous crowdfunding event):
I came away from my visit feeling quite impressed at the progress that has been made in Somnium Space. And I am quite looking forward to seeing how the platform develops over time, as landowners begin constructing buildings and putting their personal stamp on the place.
If you are interested in this social VR platform, you can follow Somnium Space on Discord, Twitter, Telegram or Instagram. Somnium Space is available via Steam and downloadable from their website (the client software is free).