I am the founder of the virtual civilization Second Life, populated by one million active users, and am now CEO and co-founder of High Fidelity — which has just released a real-time spatial audio API for apps, games, and websites. If you want to check it out, I’d love to hear what you think: highfidelity.com/api
High Fidelity’s Spatial Audio was initially built for our VR platform — we have been obsessive about audio quality from day one, spending our resources lowering latency and nailing spatialization.
Ask me about immersive spatial audio, VR, virtual worlds and spaces, avatars, and … anything.
Today, on a bitterly cold, -20°C winter day up here in the frosty Canadian prairie hinterlands (which felt more like -30°C when you factored in the wind chill from a strong wind), I was able to spend a convivial hour sitting around a campfire on a warm, tropical desert island, chatting with Caitlyn Meeks of Tivoli Cloud VR and a few other avatars (including a personable, OpenAI-controlled toaster named Toastgenie Craftsby, who every so often would spit out some toast, or even a delicious rain of hot waffles, during our delightful, wide-ranging conversation!).
Tivoli Cloud VR, a successor platform to the now-shuttered original High Fidelity social VR platform created by Philip Rosedale’s company of the same name (and based on HiFi’s open-source software code), has had a few new developments since the last time I visited, back in September! Among them is the full integration of Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me avatar creation system, as demonstrated in this two-minute YouTube video by Tivoli Cloud ambassador and well-known social VR personality XaosPrincess:
Using Ready Player Me, it is possible to create endlessly customizable human avatars—and Caitlyn tells me that you don’t even need to start from a selfie! You can just jump right into the program (as shown in the video above) and start creating your perfect virtual representation!
Here’s a thirty-minute interview with Timmu Tõke, the co-founder and CEO of Wolf3D (the creators of Ready Player Me), where he talks with Cristian-Emanuel Anton, the co-founder and CEO of MeetinVR, about VR avatars, meetings in virtual reality, and the metaverse. (MeetinVR is yet another social VR platform using Wolf3D’s avatar system to create their own head-and-torso-with-hands avatars!)
I suspect that we will see other platforms join Mozilla Hubs, MeetinVR, and Tivoli Cloud VR in using Ready Player Me avatars! Such corporate partnerships bode well for the future of the metaverse we will all live, work, and play in.
Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 460 people participating from every single social VR platform and virtual world! More details here.
I deactivated my Facebook, as I often do. It made my Oculus Quest 100% unusable. Not “hard to use” or “unpleasant to use.” Unusable.
My Oculus Quest didn’t degrade gracefully after I deactivated my Facebook account. Instead, the home app went into an ANR loop. When the Quest came back up after I hard rebooted it, the home app loaded, but blocked me using anything until it could connect to my Facebook account again.
So true and so sad. I can’t believe VR tech (which is getting better) is dominated by one company whose track record clearly suggests they will cause harm to those who would use these devices. What a bad situation.
And I replied:
This is why we need to promote and support open source social VR solutions such as Tivoli Cloud VR and Vircadia (based on your HiFi code). Thank you for your part in building that universe of possibility, Philip.
And it’s true; Philip Rosedale’s decision to make the original High Fidelity social VR platform software code available for other developers to build upon has already led to two separate, distributed open-source successors to HiFi, both of which I have written about before on this blog: Tivoli Cloud VR and Vircadia (which I would strongly encourage you to check out, if you haven’t already done so). I have recently had a guided tour of both platforms, and both look very promising!
And, of course, there are numerous examples of other, non-Facebook social VR platforms which people should explore (NeosVR, Sansar, and Sinespace* are three I highly recommend you try).
Facebook already has too much power and control over the current and future development of social virtual reality, unnecessarily forcing users of its Oculus VR devices to create accounts on its Facebook social network (so that their personal data can be further strip-mined and sold to corporations and campaigns for profit).
We need to actively promote and support metaverse alternatives to the Facebook ecosystem, which do NOT track our every click, like, relationship, glance, and gesture.
*Full disclosure: I am an embedded reporter for Sinespace, writing sponsored blogposts about the people, news and events on that virtual world/social VR platform.
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!