The Mesh Project Launches a Huge Contest in Second Life to Promote Their Legacy Mesh Bodies, With Prizes Worth Over a Million Linden Dollars in Total!

The Mesh Project (a.k.a TMP) is pulling out all the stops in one of the biggest contests that Second Life has ever seen, in an effort to promote their Legacy mesh body, which I have written about before on this blog.

First, if you purchase their Legacy mesh body (male or female), you will save L$500 during the promotion period (Nov. 15th to Dec. 15th, 2019). Please keep in mind that this brings the price of the Legacy mesh body down to L$4,500, which is still significantly more expensive than competing male and female mesh bodies that have much better designer support, and which support Omega skin and makeup appliers (TMP bodies do not support Omega, although I do believe they now support Bakes on Mesh).

Also, there is a contest which you can enter for free just by entering your avatar name on this website. The rule is one vote per avatar, but if you choose to promote the contest using your Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts, you can earn extra chances to enter this contest.

The contest prizes are as follows:

  • 100 First Place winners will each receive a Classic or Legacy mesh body from TMP, plus 4 gift cards and/or fatpacks randomly chosen from participating sponsors (sponsors are listed below); first place winners have the option to gift the winning body to a friend, or may receive a full refund if they purchased a body during the giveaway period (Nov. 15-Dec. 15);
  • 100 Runner Up winners will receive one gift card or fatpack from participating sponsors.

The sponsors are a veritable Who’s Who of Second Life brand names!

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Editorial: When Holding Back Seems Like the Best Option

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

My original plan was so simple: retire early from my librarian job at the university, devote my resulting free time to learning how to use the Marvelous Designer software proficiently, and embark on a fabulous second career as an avatar fashion designer in Sansar, emulating so many successful brands that I had seen in my time in Second Life.

But, as often happens in life, things have not gone according to plan. My financial advisor at the bank strongly advised me not to retire at age 55, and I have listened to that advice, after seeing how much better my pension would be if I were to stay at my job until I turn 60, for instance (which is the new plan). I will continue to take things year by year, and see how I feel about it all. And 60 is only four years away now.

And watching what has been happening in Sansar this past year, as an increasingly concerned observer, I am not feeling quite as bullish about hitching my wagon to this particular star (particularly after the recent layoffs of approximately half the Linden Lab staff working on Sansar). Simply put, my initial enthusiastic infatuation with Sansar, which has buoyed me over the past three years, is showing signs of fading. And therefore, my original dream of becoming an avatar fashion designer there is looking a little less likely than it did a year ago.

Frankly, I’m in a very good position to take able to take a look at all the social VR platforms out there so far, and I’m just not feeling a tug towards creating content such as avatar clothing (or, for that matter, anything) for any of them. I think I am going to bide my time, continue to watch from the sidelines, and see how things shake out over the next year or two.

I may decide, instead, to pour my off-work hours and energy into learning how to edit digital video well. My producer of the Metaverse Newscast, Andrew William, is still tied up with real-life work projects, which means that future episodes of the show are currently on hold. This might be my opportunity to pick up some new technical skills! (I do have some limited video editing skills that I picked up as part of my paying job, using TechSmith’s Camtasia software to create student tutorials, so I already have a foundation I can build upon.)

The lesson I am learning here is twofold:

  • Don’t be too tied to any one platform; and
  • Don’t be too tied to any one plan.

Be willing to go with the flow and adjust to changing conditions and circumstances. I’m sure that many content creators (and potential content creators) are biding their time as I am, watching and waiting to see what platforms will be worth the investment of their time and money. Nobody wants to have sunk resources into a losing platform.

The vendors might not like it, but waiting to see how things shape up in social VR may be a smart strategy, especially in a time of high uncertainty such as this. Invest in your content design skills using Marvelous Designer, Blender, Avastar, or other programs, test out a few creations on various virtual world marketplaces to see where and if they are popular, and just be patient. Eventually, one or more social VR platforms will have their breakthrough moment, and then you can make your move!

So, what do you think? Am I right or wrong in holding back? Feel free to leave a comment below, or, as always, you are welcome to join the freewheeling discussions and debates about social VR and virtual worlds taking place on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the first cross-worlds discussion forum! We’d love to see you there.

Editorial: It’s Time to Reorganize My Comprehensive List of Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds

Classifying Social VR/AR and Virtual Worlds:
“One of these things is not like the others…”

My comprehensive list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds is starting to get rather unwieldy, with almost 130 separate entries! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that it would grow to this size, after only two and half years of blogging!

So I am going to have to spend some time pondering how best to break down this list by category. In effect, what I am trying to do is establish some sort of taxonomy of social VR/virtual worlds, hardly a task for the faint of heart! So, it’s probably going to take quite a bit of time to do this, and I will probably do it in stages.

The first and easiest breakdown would be to form three groups as follows:

  1. virtual worlds which do not support virtual reality and augmented reality (e.g. Second Life);
  2. social VR and other virtual reality platforms (e.g. Sansar);
  3. social AR and other augmented reality platforms (e.g. Avatar Chat for the Magic Leap One headset).

According to a recent report from The Information which was widely re-reported by many mainstream tech media news publications, Apple’s plans for an augmented reality headset (something similar to the Oculus Quest) have been pushed back to 2022, and they don’t expect to release a real pair of AR glasses until 2023. It’s going to take significantly longer for new and improved augmented reality goodies to reach consumers, but we can expect that trickle to turn into a flood of products by the middle of the next decade. How that will impact existing VR products and platforms is unknown. Nobody can say for sure how VR and AR will co-exist as consumer products.

Virtual reality is much better established, but still facing a bit of an uphill struggle to attract more end-user consumers. As I have said before:

So, it would appear that those social VR platforms that do have in-world economies can’t attract large numbers of users, and the ones that don’t have in-world economies might be popular, but obviously can’t keep running indefinitely without a means of generating profit. It seems like a Catch 22, a rather hopeless situation at this present point in time.

Add to this the fact that the 900-lb. gorilla in the room, Facebook, is planning to launch their own social VR platform in 2020, and you’ve got a situation that must be keeping the CEOs of these various companies up at night, pacing the floor, wondering how, when and where it all went wrong.

The bitter truth is this: most of those 130 products on my list are NOT going to survive, thrive, and grow into profitable companies. A lot of companies rushed into the marketplace and built these platforms with stars in their eyes, but building a platform is only the first hurdle in the race. You also have to know how to promote your product, which means you have to have a clear understanding of what market need it is meant to address—something which some companies have thus far neglected to address. The adage “build it and they will come”, as major metaverse companies such as High Fidelity and Linden Lab have come to realize to their chagrin, is simply not going to work on its own. Even mighty Facebook has stumbled in previous social VR attempts, such as the godawful dud of Facebook Spaces.

I look at failures to launch, such as MATERIA.ONE (formerly Staramba Spaces), which had such a ludicrous concept to begin with: virtual worlds linked to celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan. I for one was hardly surprised when they suspended project development. I have even heard that some of the people who invested in their cryptocurrency now want to file a lawsuit. This example is typical of many of the blockchain/cryptocurrency-based virtual world projects that I have seen so far, where greedy investors leaped in before doing their homework, expecting instant profits. Caveat emptor!

Those companies that choose to focus on a niche audience (e.g. ENGAGE in education), and those companies which have small, nimble development teams (e.g. NeosVR), are going to fare better than the big boys in this interim period. Every company is going to have a Plan B to get them through the leaner-than-expected next few years.

And, in the meantime, I will reorganize my list to make it more useful for my readers. Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks!

Dimension10: A Brief Introduction

Dimenison10 is similar to products I have reviewed earlier such as InsiteVR and The Wild, in that their purpose is to experience a three-dimenstional model in a virtual meeting space for collaborative design meetings. (This appears to be a growth area for social VR.)

Dimension10 supports models created using the following software:

  • AutoCAD
  • Catia
  • Revit
  • Maya
  • Solidworks
  • 3ds Max
  • Navisworks
  • Catia
  • Rhino3D
  • Sketchup

Dimension10 is a Norwegian company with an impressive list of case studies on how its software has been used on projects throughout Europe. They also offer quite a few tutorial videos for their product on their website. The product appears to support both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

You can sign up for their newsletter on their website. You can also follow the company on Facebook and LinkedIn. (They also have a YouTube channel, but many of their videos are in Norwegian! The tutorial videos have English subtitles, however.)