Another Look at Virtual Universe’s Fun and Intuitive Creator Toolset Prototype

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number three on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.


Jeroen Van den Bosch, Virtual Universe’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder, has shared a 3-minute YouTube video about the creator toolset prototype used in VU:

As I have said before, I think this is an innovative and interesting way to create content within a VR experience. You can use tools very similar to those in the VR experience Nature Treks VR to arrange rocks and plant trees, simply by throwing balls into the air. Where the ball lands, you plant a tree or a rock, or release a bluebird!

I got a chance to play with this myself when I had my recent guided tour of Virtual Universe, and it is indeed a fun and intuitive way to create a VR experience!

Advertisements

Virtual Universe: A Look at Their Future Development Plans

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number three on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.

Virtual Universe 28 Apr 2018

Recently,  Jeroen Van den Bosch, VU’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder, wrote an open letter to the community on Medium, giving an extensive overview of the hybrid social VR space/virtual world/MMO, which is due to launch in beta sometime this summer.

It’s interesting reading. The plans that Jeroen and his team have for VU are ambitious! They are currently building the first city in VU, to be called Uruk. This city will have four districts:

1. Residential district: It is anticipated that players will be able to purchase plots of land and create buildings on top of it (in a fashion similar to SimCity). Whenever a new residential district is ready for sale, all its available plots will be put on the city’s auction house for VU tokens. Whoever wins the bid on a plot of land becomes the owner of the said plot, which will be recorded on the blockchain.

2. Entertainment district: VU plans to create high-quality VR arcade-style experiences that are free to play for everyone. Some of these entertainment centres will be created, run and owned by users, who will sell tickets to events (which are essentially smart contracts).

3. Commercial district: Virtual stores selling avatar customization, housing and transportation options will be run by VU and by the users themselves.

4. Financial district: Here will be located the auction house, where users can place items up for bid, or bid on items from other players. The city planner’s office will also be here, where plots of land of new development phases get auctioned to the players. Another point of interest in this district is the job board, where players can browse through the available positions in various virtual businesses throughout the city or look for someone to help with their business. Basically, this is where most of VU’s business will be conducted.

Outside the city will be a wild (and sometimes lawless!) frontier where it is anticipated that players will be able to gather resources which they can then sell:

Outside the city is our highly immersive LivingVR world. Created from the ground up to feel as immersive as possible. Teeming with virtual life, beautiful sceneries and waiting to be explored by you. Let’s say you are exploring further than you have before and suddenly you discover a cave behind a waterfall. Inside it, you find rich copper deposits. You know copper is a desired resource in the city since its an ingredient in many crafting recipes for a wide variety of building blocks. You mine the copper and haul it back to the city. Once there you list your copper on the auction house and collect the cryptocurrency once someone wins the bid on it.

And it is not just resource gathering that can be done in VU, there will be plenty of quests available for you and your friends to experience exciting adventures with plenty of loot to be had!

(This is the part of Virtual Universe which seems the most like a traditional MMO/MMORPG, in my opinion.)

Take a look at the entire proposal. It’s fascinating reading! And, if you haven’t yet, I would urge you to watch the video of my guided tour of Virtual Universe. Unlike Decentraland and some other blockchain-based social VR spaces/virtual worlds, VU is a place you can actually visit and interact with (currently only via appointment via Jeroen, but it is indeed a visitable place!).

You can learn more about Virtual Universe and VU tokens by visiting their website and signing up for email updates, visiting their Github, following VU on TwitterFacebook, Linkedin, and Instagram, or being part of their discussion groups on Telegram and Discord.

Ethernia: This Whole Blockchain-Based MMO Thing Has Gotten COMPLETELY Out of Hand

Sweet minty Jesus, but this whole blockchain-based virtual world/MMO thing has officially gotten out of hand. Check out this truly bizarre video that someone shared with me, for a new blockchain-based MMO called Ethernia:

I can’t tell is if this is meant to be a promotion for an actual product, or a joke (the voiceover is absolutely hyperbolic). I asked on the MMORPG subReddit about this, and apparently all the assets used in this video are from a free collection of Paragon game assets, which can be used in both commercial and non-commercial games.

Anybody know anything at all about this? I can’t find anything online at all about this Ethernia game. The website URL given in the video asks for a username and password, which immediately strikes me a highly suspicious. Someone is pulling my leg, right? This has to be a parody.

UPDATE 1:21 p.m. A sharp-eyed viewer has recognized the large stone monument at the top of the mountain in this video as being none other than Vitalik Buterin, a Russian-Canadian programmer and writer primarily known as a co-founder of Ethereum and as a co-founder of Bitcoin MagazineI’m betting this is a parody, and a very funny one if you actually know enough about cryptocurrencies to get the in-jokes.

The thing is, the person who originally shared this with me seems to think that this is an actual product. He tells me that the website opens on Monday for pre-registration.

Truly bizarre.

UPDATED: MetaWorld: A Brief Introduction (BUYER BEWARE!)

And, just as soon as I finished that list I just posted, I found another social VR space/MMO hybrid called MetaWorld!

MetaWorld 10 May 2018.png

Actually, re-found it. I had actually signed up for project updates by email and then completely forgotten about it, and the last project update was quite a while ago, way back in August 2017. It looks like their attempt to crowdfund the platform via IndieGoGo has stalled. I’m not sure if this project still exists, although they have slashed prices on their “Pioneer” packages.

According to their website:

MetaWorld invites you to experience a 10,000 square mile, massively scaled open world in virtual reality. Discover endless activities and adventure, inside a persistent, open world simulation, allowing thousands of visitors to participate simultaneously online.

Join us, and pioneer a first of its kind, vast-scale social VR MMO simulation experience.

Aah yes, yet another blockchain-based social VR space:

MetaWorld 2 10 May 2018

If anybody out there has any knowledge about what happened to the MetaWorld project, could they let me know? Thanks.

UPDATE May 12th: Well, I did find some answers in this very informative post to the Oculus subReddit:

Don’t get your hopes up for Metaworld VR. It looks like vaporware.

Updates have been non-existent, emails go unanswered, some have been sent a png and a fake link as “digital downloads”, begging for crowdsource money, and whoever runs their Reddit account just spams review articles, which are likely paid advertising, whenever there is criticism.

Would not send these guys a cent.

It’s worth reading through the whole discussion thread just to find out what happened. The co-founder left the MetaWorld project to found another, smaller social VR space called Community Garden.

And The Road to VR website posted a comprehensive report on the troubled project back in September, and issued a strongly worded Buyer Beware:

MetaWorld is headed into Early Access, which partly excuses it from being an incomplete product, but the inconsistency in messaging around the game’s core mechanics and features ought to leave you worried about the stability of the still unreleased MMO. The game purports to feature a variety of activities including hunting, fishing, camping, snorkeling, sailing, sports, training, RC, drones, and go karts—all well and good—but according to the company, the core gameplay is based around survival. “You’ll have to defend your land against other players as well as opportunistic animals,” the company says.

You won’t find this information conveniently listed on the MetaWorld website though, but rather strewn across various Reddit pages where the creator sporadically posts, oftentimes in cryptic, single-word answers. At the time of this writing, the game’s website only consists of press blurbs gathered from before the IndieGogo campaign was launched and a small marketplace selling the game’s three plot sizes.

…It still isn’t clear how much is truly at stake for landowners or the landless free-to-players at the moment either. Questions like: can animals or other players kill you? If you die, do you lose your items? Can you trade in-game credits back to real cash? Can you craft items, or do you have to buy everything from vendors? The list of unaddressed questions goes on in the game’s largely abandoned discussion board on Steam.

To quell fears around the general lack of communication about the core game mechanics, the studio took to three major VR Reddit pages on Saturday (r/Viver/Oculusr/PSVR), saying that the game won’t only be a wilderness area with cookie-cutter buildings as featured in the promo, but rather a growing framework “we can use […] to create many other worlds. Fantasy, Sci Fi etc.”

“We are building the world as a community, a few square miles at a time,” the company says. “Early pioneers will gather in world and decide on what types of diverse biomes to build. People in the world are discover-able through the UI. We figured out a way to make a huge world that feels alive, rich with things to do. One of our primary goals is to introduce an experience with lots of divergent game play, that you’ll never get bored of.”

For potential customers, HelloVR also had this to say about refunds on the PSVR Reddit page:

“MetaWorld was founded out of passion. Our team doesn’t expect to generate much revenue from the project. Our early access goal is to build a core community that has ownership in the world. Anyone can ask for a refund at anytime by emailing metabot@metaworldvr.com

Anyone can ask, but it remains to be seen if anyone can actually have a refund—something to keep in mind for digital prospectors looking to settle a virtual frontier that might just as likely turn out to be a barren wasteland.

What is clear now, is that MetaWorld is a dead (or nearly-dead) project. Caveat Emptor!

Exclusive Video: A Guided Tour of Virtual Universe with Jeroen Van den Bosch

Virtual Universe 28 Apr 2018
A scene from Virtual Universe, with AI-controlled bluebirds

I have recently blogged twice about the new social VR space/virtual world/MMO hybrid called Virtual Universe, first as an introduction and then looking at the creator toolset.

On Saturday afternoon I was fortunate enough to be given a half-hour guided tour of Virtual Universe (VU), conducted by Jeroen Van den Bosch, VU’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder. Darin the cameraman accompanied us and videotaped our tour so I can share it with you exclusively! (Yes, I have explicit permission to share this video.)

I was amazed by what I saw and experienced in VU, even in its alpha state, and I think you will be too, when you watch this video! I definitely want to be among the first people to try this new platform out when they launch the beta sometime this summer.

The people building VU are the same ones who created the popular Grand Canyon VR Experience. The overall graphics quality of VU is, in my opinion, second only to Sansar (and that’s still high praise). The virtual water is among the best and most realistic I have ever seen in any virtual world. The AI-controlled animals—rabbits, birds, lizards, even individual INSECTS!—is astoundingly lifelike. You can use tools similar to those in the VR experience Nature Treks VR to arrange rocks and plant trees. The transitions when you teleport from one experience to another reminded me of the sci-fi movie The Matrix. I could go on and on, but I think I will just post the 30-minute video and let you judge for yourself (you can click on the icon in the bottom right-hand corner to make the video larger):

You’ll notice that the current iteration of VU is intended for room-scale VR. There is currently no way to play this game by sitting in a chair—you need to be able to physically turn your body in the direction where you want to go! As someone who habitually uses VR in a seated position in a rather cramped space, this took some getting used to, but you quickly become accustomed to it. You can walk (at a slow pace), or you can pull up a personal hovercraft that takes you places faster.

In their whitepaper, VU is described as “part game, part social network, and part social creation platform, blending elements of Minecraft, Second Life and Simcity with innovative artificial-intelligence technologies that drive engagement”, and that is an excellent description of what it tries to be. It’s an intriguing mix of virtual world and MMO/MMORPG where you can collect wood, chop it up, and start a fire, feed worms to the bluebirds, or just explore your surroundings and interact with other users.

It still has lots of rough spots, which is normal for alpha software, but Virtual Universe is a social VR platform/MMO well worth keeping an eye on. I came away feeling excited about the possibilities and looking forward to taking part in their future beta release.

Indeed, the future is going to be very interesting!

A First Look at the Creator Toolset in Virtual Universe

I recently wrote about a new blockchain-based virtual world called Virtual Universe (VU for short). In a recent blogpost, VU Chief Creative Officer and co-founder Jeroen Van den Bosch gives us a sneak peek of the creator toolset prototype:

I find it very interesting that you can easily add AI-enabled wildlife like birds to your VU experience. A rather intriguing approach, to do all the VR worldbuilding within VR! (The in-world object positioning tools do remind me of those in the Scene Editor in Sansar.)

VU is selling cryptocurrency tokens for use in their virtual world. Note that it says in bold letters right across the top of their website:

VU TOKENS ARE NOT FOR SALE TO CHINA, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SINGAPORE AND CANADA.

Obviously, they don’t wish to run afoul of cryptocurrency regulations in those four countries. As I said before, I would strongly caution potential investors in VU to investigate extremely carefully before they leap on board this project. Cool product demo videos are one thing; an actual visitable, viable social VR space/virtual world is another.

Two More Blockchain-Based Virtual Worlds: Terra Virtua and The Deep

The following comparison chart from the Virtual Universe white paper caught my eye:

Virtual Universe Key Differentiators Chart 17 Apr 2018

I had already heard of (and was very familiar with) Decentraland, Rec Room, Sansar and VRChat, but what were Terra Virtua and The Deep? So, I went and did a little investigating…

terravirtua-logo-720x405_feature

Terra Virtua bills itself, “the first fully immersive, blockchain-driven VR entertainment platform.” According to their vision statement:

Terra Virtua is a unique virtual platform, focusing entirely on immersive VR entertainment, built around a strong community and social connection.

Supported by developers, run by industry leaders and secured by blockchain, Terra Virtua is the platform for the next generation and dimension in entertainment and engagement.

Terra Virtua will have its own robust, secure blockchain based economy. Zones, in-game items, skins, upgrades and unique experiences can be bought and sold within Terra Virtua, driven by our token, the Terra Virtua TERRA (TVT). TVT owners will be a vital part of the ecosystem, kickstarting the Terra Virtua economy.

There’s the requisite slick promotional video, full of all the appropriate buzzwords:

Here’s their white paper. At first glance, the project reminds me a little bit of VIBE Hub. They’re looking at a Netflix-type subscription model.

deep-logo.png

And The Deep (whose tagline is, “Build your unique eternal crypto town”—?!??) sure sounds a heck of a lot like Decentraland. According to their white paper:

The ​Deep ​(DEEP) ​– ​is ​an ​eternal ​virtual ​world ​based ​on ​DPoS ​tokens ​to ​create ​a ​decentralized, immersive ​world ​that ​is ​part ​game ​and ​part ​social ​platform. ​An ​immutable ​world ​where ​each experience ​builds ​on ​previous ​experiences.

And there’s this little nugget from their website FAQ:

Why is The Deep eternal?

The Deep will last forever thanks to decentralization based on DPOS technology and specially designed Deep five-level protocol. We do not depend on anyone or anything else for our world. Ruled by the democratic use of consensus, The Deep can grow and change according to the will of its users.

The Deep is planning an alpha launch sometime in the summer of this year.

The blockchain-based virtual worlds marketplace is now officially overcrowded! They are multiplying like rabbits!