Drax Takes On Decentraland

Honestly, Draxtor Despres has got to be one of the hardest-working people in the metaverse! He tirelessly churns out videos in both Second Life and Sansar, including The Drax Files: World Makers series of profiles of Second Life creators, the popular Atlas Hopping in Sansar series, and a long-running podcast called The Drax Files Radio Hour (co-hosted with Jo Yardley). His most recent work is the Love Made in Second Life series, profiling real-life couples who originally met in SL (here’s a link to episode one).

In the most recent Drax Files Radio Hour show, titled So What About Decentraland? Drax conducts a telephone interview with Nicolas Earnshaw from the Decentraland product team, and he certainly does not shy away from some tough questions! (You can almost hear Nicolas squirm at times.) It’s a rather refreshing change from some of the recent mainstream press coverage of Decentraland, which has tended to rely on things such as this highly-misleading promotional video:

Among other pointed questions, he asks Nicolas how much money Decentraland has made so far (something Nicolas struggles to answer), and how Decentraland plans to move from hosting and controlling their platform on their own servers to a distributed, self-governing structure in the future. (I personally have my doubts that this will happen as seamlessly as predicted. To date, no virtual world has attempted to transfer operating control in this fashion.)

Here’s a link to the 50-minute podcast if you are interested. (Because this is a telephone interview, the sound quality is a bit poor at times.)

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CBC Radio Covers Decentraland

Decentraland is still getting the kind of mainstream press coverage that most other virtual worlds would kill for. The latest news organization to cover the blockchain-based virtual world, which is expected to launch later this year, is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the CBC.

CBC Radio’s Day 6 program reported on the Decentraland project in a report titled Welcome to Decentraland, where investors spend real-world dollars flipping virtual real estate. (In addition to the article text, there is audio of the ten-minute news report available at the above link.)

The report, which includes a warning that investors could lose their entire investment, profiles one virtual land speculator who estimates his holdings are currently worth US$150,000.

Exploring NeosVR: An Overlooked Gem in Social VR

It’s unusual for me to write as much as I have about a social VR platform such as NeosVR without actually visiting it (I can’t remember if I visited it when it first launched or not. I think I did. An occupational hazard of doing this sort of work is that, after a while, all the virtual worlds I covered tend to blend together and I have to stop and ask myself: did I see or do that in Sansar or in Sinespace, or somewhere else?)

Regardless, I decided it was time for me to strap on my Oculus Rift headset and pay a visit to NeosVR.

My first visit was late yesterday evening, only for about 20 minutes. NeosVR starts you off (very sensibly) with a set of five tutorial videos which explain how to use the menus and controls, among other things. The first thing that you need to know about NeosVR is that it is not designed so that you can just pick it up and use it without training. There is a learning curve associated with NeosVR, and it is a fairly steep one, especially if you want to take full advantage of all the commands at your fingertips (and most of them are incorporated in your hand controllers.).

Fortunately, when I arrived at the main hub, there were a couple of experienced avatars present who helped me learn the basic movements, how to select and visit an experience from a display, and how to choose an avatar from the many default selections. One of them pulled out a camera and took a picture of me, which you can see below:

Another thing you need to know about NeosVR is that it is essentially a single-person development team, Tomas Mariancik (Frooxius), as opposed to a whole company of developers. One-person development teams have the distinct advantage of being nimble in adding new features and fixing problems, but that very flexibility can sometimes make for a confusing user experience. For example, my two guides last night were debating which of two different ways to teach me how to save this photo to my hard drive—the “old way” and the “new way”. I understand that the client software is updated daily. This means that something that once was true can change from one version to the next. Documenting the quickly-changing world of NeosVR must be a nightmare of a challenge!

So, after last night’s excursion, I decided to go back in this morning and delve a little deeper into NeosVR. I went back to the futuristic main hub, designed to look like a staellite of Earth, where there was an atlas of experiences to visit:

The first one I picked was sort of a demonstration of the graphics abilities of NeosVR, and it was quite impressive (a mere photo hardly does it justice):

Then I visited a Van Gogh art exhibit, with a 3-dimensional recreation of one of his paintings. Again, the level of graphics was impressive:

I would strongly encourage you to come visit and explore NeosVR. Tomas Mariancik has created a wonderful and innovative space for developers to build VR experiences, and all the other social VR platforms should be taking notes. This project compares very favourably in terms of features with better-known platforms such as Sansar, High Fidelity, Sinespace and VRChat (with the latter probably being the one product to which NeosVR will be most often compared). NeosVR is an overlooked gem, and I plan to visit it much more often in future to see how it evolves.

(Note: I have confirmed from chatting with the developer on Reddit that you do not need to purchase Neos Credits, their in-world cryptocurrency, to use and enjoy NeosVR.)

NeosVR Has Released an Impressive-Looking Update

I haven’t written about NeosVR for quite some time. NeosVR has just released a major update to its social VR platform, and I must admit that it looks pretty good!

One new thing I have noticed is that they are doing an ICO (initial coin offering) on a new in-world cryptocurrency called Neos Credits. However, you don’t need to purchase cryptocurrency to participate.

NeosVR is available to download for free from Steam. They also have a Patreon page for the project. You can also follow the project on Twitter, YouTube, and Discord. There’s also a white paper.

The developer, Tomas Mariancik (a.k.a. Frooxius), has released a ton of YouTube videos on his progress. NeosVR seems to have come a long way already in a short time! Definitely, this is one product to keep an eye on.