I am deliberately breaking my self-imposed vacation from the blog to announce two daylong events taking place in not one, but twodifferent metaverse platforms this coming Saturday, November 17th! It’s going to be a busy day!
First, Sinespace is celebrating its second anniversary with a full day of events, including a keynote address by Sinespace’s lead developer, Adam Frisby, and a talk by game developer Warren Spector. Here are all the details.
FUTVRE LANDS is an entertainment festival without traditional festival headaches like long lines, heat stroke and sudden downpours. Free and open to the public, it offers the VR-curious an opportunity to venture into social virtual experiences. Anyone can access FUTVRE LANDS via a VR headset, desktop or Google Daydream-enabled Android device. The event lineup includes Oculus Rift VR headset giveaways, the fan-favorite “Last Avatar Standing” trivia game show—where participants earn High Fidelity Coin (HFC) cryptocurrency—and live performances headlined by five-time Grammy nominee Thomas Dolby (“She Blinded Me with Science”).
Today DixieChick led a small group of us on a tour of several Hallowe’en-themed regions in Sinespace. I had had no idea there were so many spooky regions to visit! (All pictures in this blogpost were taken using the in-client Snapshot feature.)
Our first stop was Gothika, a goth club where they hold dances a couple of nights a week:
Our next stop was Castello, the Castle of Agostino, a wonderful medieval castle. The detail in the furnishings and tapestries is incredible:
Today’s Pick of the Day is from Sinespace, it’s a sci-fi urban region called Sudin, created by Adam Frisby. Much like Sansar’s 2077 experience by C3rb3rus, it reminds me of the movie Blade Runner. There’s a suitably ominous, pulsating, futuristic soundtrack.
The glittering effect of the rain on the dark streets is quite realistic!
Next was Siden Asylum, a creepy abandoned asylum, created by Sooden Ren. You definitely could use a flashlight to explore this dark place!
(One complaint I do have about the otherwise excellent Snapshot feature in Sinespace, is that there does not appear to be an option to remove your avatar from the photo! At least in Sansar, you can move your camera away from your avatar to get a different sort of shot. Sinespace needs to add this feature!)
Flooded is a game region, where your goal is to avoid being hit by a green beam from the many alien spaceships in the sky:
After Second Life and OpenSim, the next biggest section of the reader responses were these five newer social VR platforms:
Sansar (149 readers, 8.87%)
High Fidelity (145 readers, 8.63%)
VRChat (101 readers, 6.01%)
Sinespace (83 readers, 4.94%)
AltspaceVR (68 readers, 4.05%)
Not far behind were a few more newer competitors
Rec Room (54 readers, 3.22%)
Somnium Space (53 readers, 3.16%)
Bigscreen (35 readers, 2.09%)
Facebook Spaces (29 readers, 1.73%)
Oculus Rooms (26 readers, 1.55%)
vTime (20 readers, 1.19%)
TheWaveVR (16 readers, 0.95%)
So, I decided to draw up a detailed comparison chart of just these 12 social VR platforms. Note that in this chart, I excluded platforms that did not have VR support (e.g. Second Life, OpenSim-based virtual worlds).
I also did not dwell on technical details, such as the underlying game engine, user creation tools, etc. Instead, I focused on the three things of most interest to consumers:
How you can access the platform;
What options do you have for your avatar;
And whether you can go shopping!
This print on this chart is a little small to show up on the constrained width of this blogpost, so I saved it as a picture to Flickr. Just click on the chart below (or the link above) to see it in Flickr in full size. You can also use the Flickr magnifying glass to get an even closer look!
You can also download this chart from Flickr in any size up to its original size (1656 x 914 pixels).
If you feel I’ve made any mistakes, or left anything out, please leave me a comment below, thanks! I do hope that people who are trying to figure out which social VR spaces to explore will find this comparison chart useful.
After Windows 10 April update, WMR headsets work with Sansar in full scale – meaning all the benefits, including moving your avatar. Tested and confirmed on several systems already.
One thing to be weary is that Sansar works with WMR headsets through SteamVR libraries, so some updates to SteamVR can sometimes break things. But from what I’ve seen, things are mostly stable and work correctly.
Clothing in High Fidelity is doable, but is limited at this time to whichever avatar is was made for, since global clothing options isn’t really a thing.
So can you have clothing in High Fidelity? Yes, and not just attachments either. Apparently Ryan forgot that Menithal’s robes are completely separate, that items made in Marvelous [Designer] do work here, or that I had a greeter uniform before all greeters got one…
To which I would reply: Yes, technically you can make clothing for your custom avatar in HiFi (if you have the skills), but there is still no default, dressable avatar for which you can buy clothing from the marketplace, like you already can in both Sinespace and Sansar. Note that I am making a specific distinction between actual avatar clothing that conforms to your body and the simpler avatar attachments (such as hats and wings) currently offered at the in-world stores in High Fidelity.
Second Update: It turns out that Windows Mixed Reality headsets will work with any SteamVR-compatible virtual world. High Fidelity users report they can use their Windows MR headsets to navigate very well in HiFi.
For a while, there were some big names adopting the project in droves. Nearly every major tech company had some involvement — or at least one employee contributing — to OpenSim at some point. IBM had an entire team of OpenSim developers and was running internal conferences using the project. During my involvement, the OpenSim software was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. In the years since, it’s found its way into many surprising places, from NASA to university courses.
It’s gratifying to see OpenSim still soldiering on 12 years later, in great part through the efforts of the educators who’ve embraced it, and through worlds like OSGrid, which maintains a small but dedicated user community, along with a host of other enterprises, projects and grids using the software.
And while OpenSim didn’t become the breakout success we hoped it would, I learned a lot from it, about building virtual world platforms — and what they need.
He stresses the importance of notreinventing the wheel:
Virtual worlds shouldn’t reinvent the wheel
This is true of Second Life and OpenSim, and numerous other virtual worlds and MMOs — attempting to build key features and functionality by creating them from scratch, when better options already exist.
At the time, the list of free or cheap 3D engines could be counted on one hand — Torque, Ogre3D, Irrlicht, etc. But today, we have dozens of fantastic high-end options, including Unity, Unreal, Lumberyard, CryEngine, and Unigine. If you were willing to shell out real cash, Unreal, CryEngine, id Tech and others have been available throughout.
Building your own graphics engine from scratch, however, is a dumb idea. It’s an insanely complex bit of software. Throw in a few thousand graphics cards and chips, various drivers, and you’ve got the recipe for a monumental headache on compatibility and support, let alone trying to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in 3D features. Trying to build your own is just going to result in you wasting a ton of talent reinventing the wheel.
Sinespace is built on top of the Unity engine, which allows it to leverage the usage of such cool, Unity-based tools such as Archimatix. Contrast this with Linden Lab’s Sansar, where Linden Lab has decided to develop their own engine. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches (for example, Sinespace has to scramble to fix bugs introduced by regular Unity updates, something that Linden Lab doesn’t need to worry about as much, since they control everything in-house).
Adam also talks about the importance of addressing non-Windows and mobile users:
Virtual worlds must be accessible — immediately
Even among gamers, the percentage of people willing to downland and install a client, then endure a time-consuming, multi-step login process, is vanishingly small. For the same reason, web and mobile access matter too. We know from our own efforts that if you want someone to download or install something, half of the people who sign up, won’t.
Today’s consumers don’t use desktops either – the web today is mobile, and I find myself using my phone more and more, switching only to my desktop to get work done. You need to be where the users are – and that, in my opinion, means friction- free and device-agnostic experiences.
I note that Sinespace is now available not only on the desktop (with versions for Windows, MacOS, and LINUX), but also for users in VR headsets (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality). They’re also currently testing viewers for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Sinespace even has a viewer that runs completely within a web browser (I’ve tested it and it works fairly well). And they are working on a client for OpenVR viewers for both Windows and Mac, too! I would have to say that, at this point, Sinespace is ahead of the competition in terms of mobile device and multiple platform support. They’ve got all the bases covered!
Offering lots of options for people to access your virtual world (particularly those which don’t involve downloading a client) gives you an advantage in an increasingly crowded market of metaverse products. And if you don’t believe that mobile-accessible virtual worlds are important, you really do need to check out both IMVU and Avakin Life. Both are very popular with children and teenagers, most of whom are on smartphones—and these children and teenagers are future adult consumers! Companies need to be paying attention to this segment of the market.