Linden Lab Enters Into a Partnership with Livestreamer UmiNoKaiju

Remember how I said that Linden Lab needed to develop some more relationships with popular Twitch and YouTube livestreamers to help promote Sansar? (Actually, I said it more than a few times; the link is just to the most recent time I said it in this blog.)

Well, according to the new Sansar community manager, Eliot:

So if you haven’t seen it already, Twitch streamer UmiNoKaiju is doing a partnership with us! She made a video of her customising her avatar, and I bet you will recognise a few of her items ūüėČ

It’s clear from this video that UmiNoKaiju is excited about all the avatar outfit options, and being able to dress up your avatar! UmiNoKaiju has a YouTube channel¬†(with 3,586 subscribers) and a Twitch channel¬†(with 60,080 followers).

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Comparing Events Listings in the Various Virtual Worlds

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Picture by webandi on Pixabay

How do you find out what’s going on in the various social VR spaces/virtual worlds? Often the best way is to consult their upcoming events listings. In this blogpost I am going to link to all the various event schedules that I have been able to locate for each of the major metaverse platfrorms.

 

First, let’s start off with Second Life. The Events listing in the Second Life client (under Search in the Firestorm client) can be a bit overwhelming due to the sheer magnitude of events listed (there’s also a lot of store advertising spam mixed in). You can use the handy drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of the Search window (under the General, Moderate, and Adult checkboxes) to limit your searching to, say, live music events. There’s also an events page on the Second Life website, which doesn’t appear to have as many events listed as you can find using the client. There’s also a Featured Events listing in the Destination Guide, which can direct you the major events happening around the grid.

 

Sansar has an upcoming events calendar within the client software, displayed prominently on the right-hand side of the screen when you first log in. There’s also a Rolodex icon labelled Events in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, which you can click at any time to see the events listings:

Sansar Create Event 3 21 Mar 2018

Sansar also has a dedicated Featured Events page on their website, as well as an Upcoming Events section on the Sansar Atlas page.

 

High Fidelity has an upcoming events page in pinboard, agenda, or calendar month views. Unfortunately, there’s no events listing within their client, on their tablet user interface, so you’ll have to rely on the website to get your information before you go in-world.

(Update: I just discovered that there is an in-world display board of upcoming events in High Fidelity’s Start domain, which you can search for on your tablet UI under the “Go To” icon:

High Fidelity Start 15 Apr 2018.jpg

 

Sinespace¬†has an Events section on their official blog, but it’s not updated very often. You’re better off loading the Sinespace client software and getting information from the Upcoming Events section on the left-hand side of the log in screen:

Sinespace Login Screen 14 APr 2018

There’s also an upcoming events¬†board located near the spawn point at the Sinespace Welcome Centre:

What's On In Sinespace 14 Apr 2018

 

VRChat actually has a VRChat Events website with links to their Discord server and to an online calendar of events. This is a separate Discord server from the very busy main VRChat Discord server, with different channels for each of the regularly scheduled events happening in VRChat, including the popular Endgame talk show. There’s simply no better way to stay abreast of everything that’s happening in VRChat! There’s also an official events calendar on the VRChat website. (Surprisingly, there is no upcoming events listing within the VRChat client, a glaring omission.)

 

AltspaceVR has a Featured Events listing on their website, as well as a listing of upcoming events in their client software.

 

I think that about covers it! Now you know where to get up-to-date information on what’s happening in the various virtual worlds. See you in-world!

My Predictions For The Next Two Years

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Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

I’ve been hanging around virtual worlds of one kind or another for over a decade now. I’ve seen them come and go. Some were spectacular failures that provided lessons for other companies. Others just kind of meander along, not attracting very many users or ever becoming very big (like the multitude of OpenSim-based grids).

What usually happens in today’s hyper-competitive computer applications marketplace, is that one or two players in a particular market segment get big (e.g. Microsoft, MySpace, Facebook, and yes, in its own way, Second Life), and then continue to grow like a juggernaut, based on the network effect, while the smaller players in the marketplace fight each other over the leftovers. The ones who get big are usually, but not always, the early entrants into the field (Second Life is a prime example of that, although there were notable virtual worlds which were founded before it, like ActiveWorlds).

But social VR and virtual worlds are not a zero-sum game. Many consumers are frequent visitors to a number of different metaverse platforms, and many creators build and sell products in various virtual worlds. Right now, success in one VR-capable virtual world (e.g. VRChat) generates interest in other social VR spaces. As they say, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

It’s still not clear where all this is going, but I’m willing to polish my crystal ball and make a few predictions of what will happen over the next two year period, from now until April 2020.

What I predict will happen, over the next two years, is that one of the Big Five computer companies:

  • Alphabet/Google
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook/Oculus*
  • Microsoft

Is either going to launch their own social VR/virtual world/metaverse product, OR is going to buy one of the Big Four metaverse-building companies:

  • High Fidelity
  • Linden Lab (Second Life and Sansar)
  • Sine Wave Entertainment (Sinespace)
  • VRChat

(We’ve already seen this happen with Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR.) We could also see a company buy out a virtual world, just to grab the programming talent, and then shut the world down completely (as Yahoo! did with the promising Cloud Party).

Now, there’s no guarantee that any of the Big Four companies WANT to be bought out by the Big Five. Perhaps instead of a buyout, a strategic partnership deal will be inked. But I bet you anything that it’s tempting for the bigger companies to buy their way into the evolving metaverse marketplace, rather than design something from scratch.

I also predict that a LOT of the new virtual world/social VR startups we see popping up are going to fail over the next two years. There’s a lot of virtual-reality-related (and especially blockchain-related) hype taking place, and some people are investing in startups that are risky. Some smaller companies have jumped into grand virtual world-building projects without realizing the sheer magnitude of the work involved in creating a fully-featured, viable metaverse. I’m afraid that some investors are going to get burned.

I also predict that Sinespace and VRChat are going to pull ahead in terms of features, simply because they decided to build on top of the popular Unity game engine, and they can use all the cool Unity development tools that are popping up. By comparison, feature development on Sansar will be slower as they continue work in-house on their own engine.

And finally, I expect that¬†Second Life’s 15th anniversary celebrations¬†will entice some former users to dust off their old accounts and revisit the platform to see what’s new. It may well herald a renaissance for SL! At the very least, it will help stave off a slow decline in SL’s user concurrency figures.

*Sorry, but as I have said before, Facebook Spaces is not a palatable social VR/virtual world product. It can’t even come close to competing against what High Fidelity, Second Life, Sinespace and VRChat are currently doing. But I bet you anything that Facebook has other plans up their sleeve. They can still try to leverage off their 2-billion-plus¬†Facebook network (not to mention 800 million Instagram users) to become a potential major disruptor in the evolving metaverse marketplace. I’m not counting them out yet!

Second Life Town Hall Events with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, April 20th

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, whom I have slowly gotten to know over countless Sanar Atlas Hopping events over the past year, is a pretty cool guy. He’s had to juggle a lot of balls in the past few years, leading Linden Lab as they continue to support, develop and expand Second Life’s features while building a next-generation VR-capable metaverse platform with Sansar. It’s not an easy job. Sometimes, no matter what he does, he just can’t win.

The following announcement was just published to the Featured News section on the Second Life website:

As part of our year-long 15th anniversary celebration, we’re making numerous appearances inworld to talk about Second Life and the Second Life roadmap directly with our communities! These  ongoing meetups and events will provide opportunities for you to interact with and ask questions to Linden Lab executives and staffers.

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To kick things off, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg will be holding two ‚ÄúTown Hall‚ÄĚ chat sessions on April 20th at 9:30 a.m. (SLT/Pacific) and 1 p.m. (SLT/Pacific). Ebbe will be sharing his vision for Second Life in 2018 and beyond, as well as taking questions from the community. Got a question for Ebbe? Post it in the Community Forum thread ‚ÄúA Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg‚ÄĚ in advance of next week‚Äôs meeting. Questions will be selected from submissions for as many as can be answered in the time frame. To join either meetup, head over to¬†one¬†of¬†these¬†Town Hall Regions in Second Life on April 20.

So, you have one week to submit your questions for Ebbe to the linked-to forum thread above!

Use of VRChat and Sansar in China

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Shanghai, China. Photo by Li Yang on Unsplash

Wuhao, a Chinese user on the official Sansar Discord channel, has shared some information about the current state of VR gaming and social VR in China. He said:

I have feedback from Chinese market. At present several thousands of young Chinese are playing VRChat because of the advertising effect from bilibili, a video sharing website popular with young Chinese. VRChat Chinese community have became the largest virtual world community over Second Life Chinese community based on a view to active QQ Groups (Chinese Discord). The movie Ready Player One is also very popular with young Chinese. But Chinese still have common unstable network problem causing slow loading or uploading in Sansar, and even can’t download the client.

He posted an image of a problem that many Chinese seem to face when trying to use Sansar:

Sansar Installer Failed 12 Apr 2018.png

He also said, in answer to a question as to whether or not VRChat is easier to access:

VRChat should be easier to access in China because it’s a game in Steam.

(I wonder when Linden Lab will release Sansar on Steam?) He added:

VR players are still not mainstream gamers. But more and more Chinese VR [gamers] are buying HTC Vive which has better support than Oculus Rift in China. For me, I only use Steam VR and [the] Oculus Store.

In response to my question about how he is able to run and use Sansar in China, he said:

I use [a] VPN. So I don’t have problem to enjoy Sansar. But many of my Chinese friends and even some Creators in SL who want to develop Sansar really have a common network problem for Sansar.

When asked if he has any information on how common Windows Mixed Reality headsets are in China, he commented:

Not sure. Based on my life in China, I haven’t seen a real AR/Mixed Reality headset product yet and also haven’t experienced one. But it’s no problem to experience VR here even in a small city.

Thank you for sharing your perspective with us, Wuhao!