UPDATED! Adventures in VR: Oculus Home, Somnium Space, Sinespace

This morning I decided to spend a little time in my Oculus Rift visiting three social VR platforms that I have not spent a lot of time in recently: Oculus Home, Somnium Space, and Sinespace.

Oculus Home

I was genuinely curious about Oculus Home after David Hall posted his video to YouTube, so I made sure to spend some time exploring it and learning about its new features. Basically, you can design your own home (even import your own content now), create multiple homes, and visit other people’s homes. You can set any of your homes to private, friends only, or public.

The software is still a little bit buggy. Multiple times I tried to favourite other people’s homes which I liked and wanted to be able revisit later, but it would not save my choices. Moving around is a bit cumbersome at first, but you can change the default teleport to walk and the default snap turning to smooth turning, so once I was able to fiddle with the settings a bit I felt a little more comfortable. I also encountered a few sticking points in the tutorials, which also could use a bit of tweaking.

Another problem is finding places to explore. There is a Recommended list of homes under Places in the pop-up menu, but it’s rather short (perhaps not many people have set their homes to public yet). Oculus Home is not really set up yet to allow you to easily browse other people’s experiences as you already can in Sansar with the Sansar Atlas, which is sortable in various ways (most popular, recently created, etc.).

And, in what I call “the VRChat/Rec Room problem”, there appear to be a lot of children and immature adults on the platform. Yes, there is asshattery, tomfoolery, and trolling already! It’s hardly surprising, really. After all, anyone who owns an Oculus Rift VR headset has access to Oculus Home.

However, I cannot deny that the experiences I visited were beautifully rendered, especially at the highest graphics settings in the options. I am eager to see where Facebook/Oculus takes this.

Somnium Space

I always have the same problem whenecer I try to start Somnium Space: I can’t remember the automatically-generated password! So I had to go through the whole rigamarole of resetting my password. This time I made sure to check the “remember password” option!

Unlike most other social VR platforms, Somnium Space appears to be one large landmass (mostly empty at this point). There’s a few places to explore, like a seaside town, a working bowling alley, and a shopping mall, but not a lot else yet.

There’s a very handy snapshot feature in Somnium Space which I used to take some in-world photos, but unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you what directory it is saving them to on your hard drive! After hunting around fruitlessly for fifteen minutes, I simply gave up.

There are also teleporters which tell you that can actually use them to teleport from Somnium Space to High Fidelity, JanusVR, and AltspaceVR, but they don’t work. Or at least, I couldn’t figure out how to work them. I gave up on that too.

Somnium Space really could use someone to provide better user documentation of features like the camera and the teleporters. Other than that, they’re off to a promising start, having raised over US$60,000 in their recent IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign.

Also, I decided today to set up a new category on my blog just for Somnium Space.

Sinespace

When I first tried Sinespace in VR last May, it was seriously buggy. I am sorry to report that the situation has not improved any. To enable VR mode in Sinespace, you have to download a special beta OpenVR client, install it, open it, make sure you enable OpenVR in the user settings and then restart the client software. (A bit fussy, in my opinion, compared to the seamless switching between desktop mode and VR mode in competing platforms like Sansar and High Fidelity.)

I found the level of jitteriness to be so severe that I had to take off my VR headset after only a couple of minutes before I got sick. In addition to that, whenever I teleported anywhere, I landed up facing the opposite direction from where I started. The user interface menus are positioned too close to your eyes. At one point, I was looking at the backside of the Explore menu! I could go on, but you get the idea: this is simply not ready for prime time yet. I was actually very disappointed.

UPDATE 9:03 p.m.: Well, I asked on the official Somnium Space Discord server, and someone told me where to find the snaphots I had taken (they were saved to the C:/Users/[username]/Documents/Somnium Space/Tablet Camera folder):

My avatar in Somnium Space
The teleporter I couldn’t get to work 🙁
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Somnium Space Raises Over US$40,000 in Their Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign (and Announces an Official Partnership with Pimax)

Somnium Space has now raised 400% of their original US$10,000 fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo:

Somnium Space Indiegogo 1 5 Jan 2018.jpg

When I checked this morning, 189 backers have raised US$40,296, which works out to $212 per supporter—impressive! According to their latest update to investors, dated January 4th, 2019:

Hello people of Somnium!

What a ride. The more you – our supporters, buy land, or teleports, or anything we offer we are amazed and grateful! We work really hard to deliver you the BEST VR experience available! Now let’s dive into new things!

First glance at [the] more detailed Map!

Oh yes! You asked for it, you begged for it, you threatened us and our team! Now the time has come to start revealing our new map which is coming in Feb 2019. Have a look and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

One image on their Indiegogo page caught my eye. It would appear that the VR headset maker Pimax is now an official partner of Somnium Space (although I could not find Pimax listed on the Partners section of their official website):

Sominium Space Partners 2 5 Jan 2018

As far as I am aware, this would make Somnium Space the first virtual world to partner up with the Pimax headset, which is supposed to start shipping to consumers in February 2019.

Pimax
The Pimax Virtual Reality Headset

And there’s also a not-so-subtle hint in the company’s latest investor update:

P.S.: We are working hard to deliver one of the coolest perks you can ever imagine. Something exclusive, something, which you will not be able to find anywhere else. We hope we will be able to finalize and announce it soon. One hint: if you are planning to buy a very high resolution VR headset – wait few days 😉 If it works out well – you will not regret it!

Here’s a tip, guys: if you’re gonna talk about something that’s not yet official and “Top Secret”, you better check all the media you post to your own Indiegogo page. Just sayin’ 😉

Somnium Space is planning a major update to their client in early 2019. Here’s a preview:

You can follow Somnium Space as it evolves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram.

Somnium Space Launches a New Crowdfunding Initiative on Indiegogo

Did you know that you can become a patron of this blog, and help support my reporting on news and events in social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse? Here’s how.


Somnium Space 27 Nov 2018.png

Somnium Space is looking for new investors!

The virtual world Somnium Space has already raised £112,048 in funding through the U.K.-based crowdfunding website for VR projects called SeedingVR. And now, they have launched a new fund-raising campaign on the popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo:

Somnium Space IndieGogo 27 Nov 2018

Among the perks available to contributors are live guided tours of Somnium Space, T-shirts, parcels of virtual land and the opportunity to have your name “engraved” on the Somnium Space headquarters building.

So far, they report that they have raised 72% of their initial US$10,000 goal in only 36 hours! If you want to contribute, here’s their Indiegogo page.

Somnium Space Acquires Community Garden, Announces Refund Program for MetaWorld Investors

Somnium Space.Community Garden

Today Somnium Space announced that Carleton DiLeo (co-founder of MetaWorld and creator of Community Garden) has joined Somnium Space as a Principal Developer. According to their press release:

After the recent successful crowd-invest campaign Somnium Space has been continuing to rapidly add features and grow its VR metaverse. With a successful launch on Steam, more than 3,500 new members have joined Somnium community in the past 3 weeks. With Carleton [DiLeo] on board, Somnium Space will be able to realize its potential much quicker by further strengthening its development team with highly skilled professionals such as Carleton.

Both companies believe in an imminent future of social interactions happening inside Virtual Reality. Combining creative minds from both companies, Somnium Space will be bringing even more innovative features to its online persistent VR universe soon.

“Today, we are shaping landscape of Virtual Reality for many decades ahead. Every decision we do about types of social interactions or certain technical aspects of VR world will impact future generations of players and virtual citizens.” said Artur Sychov, Founder of Somnium Space. “We want to make decisions which will create an unbelievable environment for people to foster their creativity, therefore we are quickly building the best possible team to realize that vision”

“I am thrilled to become part of Somnium Space team and bring to life the ideas I had with Community Garden on a much larger scale.” said Carleton DiLeo. “I strongly believe the future of VR is in shared worlds that players feel connected to. Community Garden’s vision and Somnium Space’s approach are the perfect match, and just what the VR community needs.”

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Somnium Space has been approached by a number of players who have bought various game packages in non-released MetaWorld VR app. Numerous delays, missed deadlines and the recent removal of MetaWorld page from Steam have left users unhappy and questioning the future of the project. Many MetaWorld users have reported difficulty getting refunds on Reddit. At Somnium Space, we are committed to keeping the VR community a healthy and trusted place for people and we have zero tolerance for questionable practices. Therefore, Somnium Space is announcing a refund and exchange program for MetaWorld users. If you have purchased early access or land from MetaWorld, you can exchange that land for a small land parcel in Somnium Space or get a full refund for your purchase. Users who have purchased game package from Meta World before 31.10.2018 are eligible for a refund or exchange.

If you want a refund, please email metaworld@somniumspace.com with a subject line “Refund”. Please attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. In case you would like to exchange your deed to a land in Somnium, please use subject line “Exchange” and attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. PLEASE NOTE: even after receiving a refund from Somnium Space, your deed is still valid in case MetaWorld will be released. For more information and questions, please join the Somnium Space official Discord channel.

Disclaimer: Since it is unknown exactly how many users have purchased game packages from MetaWorld, Somnium Space leaves a right to stop refund process at any time. Nevertheless, we are prepared to refund as many hundreds of players as we possibly can.

Well, this looks like a win-win all around! Congratulations to the team at Somnium Space and to Carleton DiLeo. This is also good news for people who paid for MetaWorld, a platform that has been moribund for quite some time now.

I have updated my List of Social VR/Virtual Worlds accordingly.