November 17th Events in Sinespace and High Fidelity

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I am deliberately breaking my self-imposed vacation from the blog to announce two daylong events taking place in not one, but two different 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.

And over at High Fidelity, there is the FUTVRE LANDS Virtual Reality Festival taking place. According to the press release:

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”).

Full details on the festival can be found here.

(Aaand, I’m going back on vacation... )

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What Adam Frisby Has Learned From Working on OpenSim

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Adam Frisby

Adam Frisby, a co-founder of OpenSim and the Chief Product Officer of Sine Wave Entertainment (the creators of the virtual world Sinespace), has written a very insightful article for the Hypergrid Business website.

Titled What I learned about virtual worlds by helping found OpenSim, Adam talks at length about some of the lessons he learned from building virtual worlds over the past 12 years, particularly his experience with OpenSim:

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 not reinventing 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.

This is a very good article about virtual worlds from an industry veteran who is doing some innovative things in virtual worlds. I’d encourage you to go over to Hypergrid Business and read it in full!

An UploadVR Journalist Covers Sinespace

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David Jagneaux of the UploadVR website has written a very complimentary article about Sinespace and how it might become “the Second Life of VR”:

We recently got the chance to talk with Adam Frisby, co-founder and Chief Product Officer for Sinespace, about their VR app and the name that it’s made for itself. The UK-based company quietly launched in 2017 and has since gone on to be immediately generate revenue for not only the company itself, but for users as well. He’s describing Sinespace as a “virtual world platform built for developers” and it shows.

They’re currently sitting at approximately 10,000 monthly active users across all Unity-enabled devices (that means PC, Mac, Linux, browsers, and viewing capabilities on mobile) with about 10% of those users being in VR, primarily Rift and Vive. Sinespace is mostly a third-person experience, but if you’re in VR, the view shifts to first-person.

That isn’t a lot of VR users right now, but it still puts them just below VRChat and Rec Room in terms of sheer reach and size. Considering they’ve barely made a peep in North America and aren’t even on Steam yet, that’s pretty impressive.

That figure of “10,000 monthly active users” sounds suspiciously high (maybe that’s the figure for the total number of Sinespace accounts created so far?).

David writes how Sinespace, like Second Life before it, is focusing on how creators can earn money from their work:

All of the content you see inside of Sinespace is more than likely created by a user. On top of that, all of that content that developers spend hours making isn’t locked to just Sinespace. It can be used in engines like Unreal and Unity as well — they don’t force people to sign any exclusivity agreements or rights waivers to the content. They’ve just got a straight-forward 70/30 split on all revenue with 70% going to creators and only 30% going to Sinespace, the company also makes money by selling in-game currency (Gold) to users. But the real meat of it all is the internal user-to-user economy.

Currently there are over 2,500 virtual goods for sale that range from clothing and animations for characters all the way up to vehicles and entire buildings. This is how Second Life started cultivating its economy and Sinespace is following a similar path. According to company representatives, the top creators are already earning hundreds of dollars per month in sales and that’s expected to continue growing as the user base expands.

2,500 is still smaller than the over 12,000 items already listed for sale in the Sansar Store, but it’s still impressive for a newer virtual world platform. (High Fidelity has nowhere near that number of items for sale in its High Fidelity Marketplace, as far as I can tell.)

It’s a good article and I would encourage you to go over to the UploadVR website and read it. The article also talks about the avatar facial driver software I had blogged about earlier, which I still think is a really cool feature!

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UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: Adam Frisby has gotten right back to me about the accuracy of the 10,000 monthly active users figure, saying:

Hey the user count is actually accurate — it’s the 30 days to June 15th… It’s been growing all year.

…[A] lot of that is just first time visitors (we get a lot of them); but the core user group is growing as well.

Sinespace to Integrate Archimatix Building Tool

Earlier I had speculated about the possibility of Sinespace using a Unity development tool called ProBuilder. It turns out things are much further along than that! Adam Frisby told me today in the official Sinespace Discord channel:

Unity bought it [ProBuilder] and released it for free, it’s part of the Unity editor, but we are looking into an in-client integration as well

But that’s not the only Unity tool that Sinespace is looking to integrate with its virtual world platform. Take a look at this very impressive promotional video for a tool called Archimatix (it’s a Vimeo link which I cannot embed in this blog). Adam says that models you upload to the world using Archimatix will be editable by end-users inside the client.

Here’s an animated GIF showing you just how flexible building can be with Archimatix! It’s like Second Life in-world prim building on steroids!!

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Now, check out these clips of Adam using Archimatix within Sinespace!

Apparently, this feature is expected for the April release of Sinespace! Things are definitely getting interesting in Sinespace.