Yesterday, Andrew William and I paid a visit to Tivoli Cloud VR, the new, open source social VR platform based on the code from the old High Fidelity platform. Caitlyn Meeks and Maki Deprez, the friendly, geeky team who are the heart and soul of Tivoli, kindly gave us a bit of a guided tour, and showed off a few new worlds and a few new features.
We met up at the Squirrel Nut Café, where they hold a Tea Time meetup every Saturday.
Among the worlds Caitlyn took us to were Nostalgia, a wintertime Bavarian market with gently falling snow, created by Skimi, who brought over many of his models from Second Life:
Our next stop was Madder’s meeting place and art gallery, set in a futuristic cityscape environment (all of which actually runs quite well on a Raspberry Pi processor, with no less than six avatars wandering around!). Caitlyn informed me that all the art I saw on the walls was automatically framed and positioned, instead of each piece being placed by hand, using the scripting abilities of Tivoli.
We wrapped up our brief tour with a visit to a new project that Tivoli is working on with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: a working lecture hall that boasts a fully-fledged, shareable virtual computer that can be used by the presenter to present slideshows and videos, but also to run other programs such as games!
This virtual computer runs on Linux and is called a Tivoli Shared Desktop, and Caitlyn informs me that they are working on a custom desktop environment, to make it even easier to use from VR as a more general-purpose virtual computer. The Tivoli Shared Desktop and this virtual lecture hall were created for a cognitive science course that is part of the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU, that will be delivered both in-world and via Twitch, which some students will be using to view the lectures and interact with the instructor.
Caitlyn and I spoke about the importance of having an open source virtual world which is not controlled by Facebook/Oculus, especially in light of the announcement last week that a Facebook account will now be required for all Oculus VR devices. We discussed the ramifications of such a move, plus the fact that Facebook Horizon avatars would be linked to people’s real-life profiles (and the impact that could have on role play communities, for example).
Caitlyn told me that she saw it as Tivoli’s mission “to protect the future of VR from Facebook”, a sentiment which I support wholeheartedly. (Then she apologized to me if her statement sounded arrogant, which it wasn’t at all! If anything, I think it’s a confident, positive, and bold vision for the future. We need all the non-Facebook VR hardware and software we can get!)
One of their goals is to provide a really high-quality virtual reality experience, and her and Maki have been hard at work revising the original HiFi codebase to that end.
She told me that the Tivoli Cloud VR platform is growing slowly but steadily through word of mouth, and they have had an recent influx of Japanese users. In fact, one day recently they came across one Japanese user in VR who had actually fallen asleep in his headset! (Shades of VRChat! Or, as Caitlyn said, “Achievement unlocked!”)
Oh, and I forgot to mention that all TIvoli automatically users get one free gigabyte of file storage space for their own projects. I plan to move the avatar that I had created using the Virtually You app for the old High Fidelity—the files for which someone kindly saved for me—into my personal storage space. I’m looking forward to replacing the standard-issue, photorealistic Matthew avatar you see in these pictures with one that looks a lot more like me in real life!
I find it extremely cheering that Tivoli Cloud is rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the old High Fidelity platform, and I very much look forward to seeing it grow and develop over time. Caitlyn and Maki and their team are already off to a great start!
All pictures in this blogpost courtesy of Andrew William—thanks, Andrew!