Decentraland Launches Their Drag-and-Drop Scene Editor with a Contest

Up until recently, the only way to build an experience in the much-hyped, blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland was to use their rather non-user-friendly command-line SDK. Note that Decentraland is still in closed alpha; numerous developers have been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to get in and try Decentraland out. (Me among them.)

Well, Decentraland has now announced a new, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor to create scenes, called the Builder, and to promote it, they are having a contest. Prizes include MANA (their in-game cryptocurrency) and LAND (parcels of virtual land on which you can publish your creations for other avatars to visit).

There’s obviously been a lot of thought and effort put into this new scene builder. You start off by selecting what size of LAND parcel you want to work with, anywhere from 1 to 32 parcels. You can select and change the default ground texture, and place items on the ground from a side menu of objects: trees, ponds, fences and paving stones, fire pits and furniture, even an extensive array of Chinese Year of the Pig themed items such as gates and statues. You simply save your created scene under your email address to automatically enter it in the contest. Simple!

But there are some puzzling and creativity-limiting choices made with the builder, too. Let’s compare it to the basic prim-building tools used in Second Life. In SL, you use the basic building blocks (cubes, spheres, pyramids, cylinders, etc.) to craft an item and texture it from scratch, which is something you can’t do with Decentraland’s builder. If none of the provided premade trees meets your fancy, you’re out of luck; you cannot modify any of the objects in any way, other than to move them around on your LAND or rotate them. (You also cannot resize objects.) I find this lack of basic building blocks to work from puzzling.

Another example: there are no wall, roof, door and window pieces with which to build a house for yourself. All you’ve got to choose from are a few small booths and sheds. It seems strange to me that they would provide all these building blocks, but omit what I would consider a basic kind of building block for people who are interested in making their first homestead. To put it another way, it’s a rather weird assortment of LEGO pieces you have to build from! Another drawback of the builder is that there is no way to import a mesh object to a scene you are building. If it doesn’t already exist in the included inventory, sorry, but you’re out of luck. You’re better off sticking with the SDK.

My overall impression is that the new Decentraland builder tool has gone so far in the opposite direction from their difficult-to-use SDK, to make it so easy to use, that it has exactly the opposite problem, too: it’s overly simplistic and limited in use, and therefore unlikely to satisfy those people who have already spent their hard-earned MANA on expensive parcels of LAND. I find myself still wanting something in between the two provided solutions, the Builder and the SDK.

Anyway, if you’re interested in entering the contest, here are the details:

Decentraland is giving away a total of 900K MANA and 50 different parcels of LAND to people who create truly inspiring scenes with the Builder. That’s over $50,000 USD worth of prizes!

We’ve broken down the grand prizes as follows:

  • 1st place: 200000 MANA
  • 2nd place: 150000 MANA
  • 3rd place: 100000 MANA
  • 4th place: 50000 MANA
  • 5th place: 25000 MANA

Each of the top five finalists will also be given some premium LAND in locations yet to be announced!

The rest of the forty five creators will be awarded 7500 MANA and parcels of LAND.

Good luck! You might win a serious cash prize and some land to boot!

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UPDATED! Avatar Cosplay Contest at High Fidelity: You Could Win Up to US$10,000 or an All-Expenses-Paid Trip to Silicon Valley Comic Con!

Wow. High Fidelity is really throwing the money around to promote their social VR platform! They have announced an Avatar Cosplay Contest, with some seriously impressive cash prizes:

On Saturday, March 16th, between 10 am – 2 pm PDT, we will be holding an ‘Avatar Cosplay Contest’ at Multi-Con VR. The theme for this contest is Characters in Anime + Animation.

Create your favourite characters from animated TV and movies for the 3D metaverse. Then wear them up the runway! The winner will be selected by the community.

Enter your avatar inspired by characters from Anime + Animation for a chance to win huge cash prizes. Get inspired by your favourites — No-Face, a classic princess, or even Big Chungus. Cosplay is encouraged and rewarded! The winner is voted by attendees.

1st Place US$10,000*
2nd Place US$5,000*
3rd Place US$1,000*
Every Avatar in the Contest US$300*

There will be a Grand Prize Winner after all 3 Multi-Con Cosplay Contests that will win an all-expenses-paid trip for 2 to San Francisco to attend Silicon Valley Comic Con!

Rules:
– Entries must be inspired by a character from animation
– All work must be original or ‘fair use’ of other works, including parody
– Entries must not violate other’s intellectual property
– Users cannot have web or text entities as part of their costumes
– Avatar’s longest dimension should not exceed 2 meters
– Users cannot use particles as part of their outfit

Contestants are encouraged but not required to use our flow script technology which gives clothes, hair and other attachments movement. Avatars can be humanoid or non-humanoid. Avatars can be photo-real or stylized.

* all cash prizes paid in High Fidelity Coin (HFC)

I have confirmed with High Fidelity staff that these prizes are in US dollars, paid in High Fidelity Coin (HFC; the exchange rate is fixed at 100 HFC = US$1.00). The HFC can be exchanged into US dollars through the Bank of High Fidelity.

These are extraordinarily generous prizes, especially the awarding of US$300 in HFC to anybody who is selected to participate in the contest! (Yes, that was confirmed, too.)

Note that this is only the first of three Multi-Con VR events hosted by High Fidelity. The other two are Fantasy + Sci-Fi Universes (to be held on April 27th) and Comic Book Universes (to be held on June 8th).

Here is the contest application form for the event on March 16th. Good luck!

UPDATE Feb. 23rd: I have been told that March 13th is the deadline for submissions to this contest.

UPDATE March 5th: The deadline for the contest has been moved up to March 8th at midnight Pacific time. More contest details and a list of frequently-asked questions are here.

UPDATED! High Fidelity Pick of the Day: Beyond is a Monumental, Epic VR Masterpiece

Nozaj
Noz’aj’s User Icon on YouTube

Ever since I first got my Oculus Rift VR headset in January 2017, I have spent almost two years visiting just about every virtual reality experience imaginable—everything from games such as Obduction, to meditation apps such as Nature Treks VR, to social VR platforms such as Sansar. I have had some truly awe-inspiring (even spine-tingling!) moments in virtual reality, which have absolutely demonstrated the powerful creative potential of the technology. Many of them I have written about in my blog.

At yesterday’s well-attended FUTVRE LANDS Festival in High Fidelity, they had a Favorite Domain Contest. Seven HiFi domains (regions) were entered into the contest, and voters had to use the new Vote app on the user interface tablet to visit all seven domains before casting a vote for their favourite. All seven were interesting and fun to visit, but one stood out for me.

In fact, I will go so far as to make this statment: Beyond, which was the winning entry in the contest, is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in a VR headset. I was completely and utterly blown away by what Beyond’s creator, Noz’aj, had done within High Fidelity.

Yes, this is a rave review. It’s the best thing I have seen in VR all year (and I have seen a lot).

The only thing that even comes close to Noz’aj’s achievement in its epic and mysterious content, its monumental scale, and its use of atmosphere-enhancing soundscapes is Cyan’s puzzle game Obduction, which I absolutely adored playing. If you are a fan of Cyan and its games (Myst, Riven, etc.), you simply must drop what you’re doing, and come and experience Beyond. Seriously, it’s just that good.

I am so impressed, and I so much want you to experience this masterpiece for yourself, that I am not even going to post any pictures of Beyond! All I am going to do is point you to the very brief teaser trailer that Noz’aj has posted to YouTube, which gives a hint of the flavour of the experience:

The domains entered into the Favorite Domain Contest will only be available until November 25th, 2018, so I very strongly urge you to pay a visit to Beyond and fully explore this epic, monumental experience before it’s gone. You will not regret it!

Here’s a link to Beyond.

UPDATE Nov. 19th: I have encountered a few problems trying to get back into Beyond in the past 24 hours (perhaps it’s just taking a very long time for the domain to load), but Noz’aj tells me:

Hi Ryan. Thank you for the kind words on your blog. As far as I can tell, my domain is still up. I host it on Digital Ocean. There is also an instance being hosted by High Fidelity which you can get to through the FUTVRE LANDS domain.

So it would appear that the link I have posted above is to a permanent version of Beyond, while the copy hosted directly by High Fidelity is the one which will be taken down on November 25th.

Noz’aj adds:

My original instance will be staying up and over time it will be expanded.

I have lots of ideas, I’m just not sure if there are enough hours in the day to get it done :wink:

I can’t wait to see what Noz’aj does next!

Also, a hint: if you follow the path all the way through to the very end, you will eventually land up back in the spaceship where you started. Set aside at least an hour to explore every nook and cranny of Beyond.

Mozilla Hubs and Sketchfab Announce a Design Challenge: Create Your Own Clubhouse!

Mozilla Hubs 30 Oct 2018.png

Sketchfab and Mozilla Hubs are teaming up for a contest: design your own clubhouse! (Apparently, this is a trend in virtual world contests…)

Welcome to our new community contest! Once again we’ve joined up with the Mozilla crew to build virtual worlds. This time we’re exploring their new Hubs platform and populating it with new spaces and props.

The theme is ‘Clubhouse’ – this can be anything from a treehouse to a speakeasy, a space station to a super-secret gathering space at the bottom of the ocean. You’ll be challenged to design both the space as well as props for it so that other people can use them on Mozilla Hubs.

About Mozilla Hubs

Hubs is Mozilla’s new social 3D platform. It lets you meet friends, ‘voice talk’ to them, and decorate the space with any kind of content, including YouTube videos, images and, of course, Sketchfab models – just by visiting a link.

Give it a try now! Visit this room on Hubs, open a second window with downloadable Sketchfab models and just copy and paste the page URL for in any downloadable Sketchfab model to add it to your space.

The prizes are pretty sweet, too:

1st Place

  • $1,000 Amazon Gift Card
  • Oculus Go – If Amazon supports shipping in country ($200 gift card if not)
  • 1 year of Sketchfab PRO

2nd Place

  • $750 Amazon Gift Card
  • Oculus Go – If Amazon supports shipping in country ($200 gift card if not)
  • 6 months of Sketchfab PRO

3rd Place

  • $350 Amazon Gift Card
  • Oculus Go – If Amazon supports shipping in country ($200 gift card if not)
  • 3 months of Sketchfab PRO

10 Honorable Mentions

  • $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • 1 month of Sketchfab PRO

The contest deadline is Tuesday, November 27th, 2018. The complete list of contest details and rules can be found here.