Traveling Between Social VR Platforms: Does VR Market Success Depend Upon a Seamless, Interconnected Metaverse?

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One of the people I follow on Twitter is Ben Lang, who is the co-founder and executive editor of the popular virtual reality news website Road to VR. Yesterday, he posted:

I’m starting to think that VR won’t have its consumer mainstream moment (smartphone levels of adoption) until a comprehensive metaverse emerges that interconnects and makes *all* VR content social to some extent. Stuff like this awesome immersive music video is really freaking cool, but would be 100 times richer if discoverable through something a simple as a ‘VR hyperlink’, as well as easily being able to bring a friend along to experience it. Telling a friend ‘hey there’s this cool new thing, come check it out with me’, and then asking them to download an app and then coordinating a time to get online together to invite each other and then *finally* seeing the thing for 10 mins isn’t tenable for smaller experiences.

The immersive music video he refers to is a new free VR experience on Steam called Sheaf – Together EP, and it’s truly a wonderful, relaxing experience, which I can recommend highly:

Ben is making the point that it shouldn’t be so difficult to share VR experiences such as this with friends. And a seamless, interconnected metaverse would probably give a huge boost to the consumer VR market.

Another Twitter user called Matrixscene responded to Ben, with a link to a two-part report on how a metaverse working group did a field test for traversing disparate virtual worlds to see how they interconnect with each other.

Part 1 of the report gives several examples of links or portals between social VR experiences, for example:

  • Portal links in JanusVR
  • Links in Cryptovoxels to other WebVR sites

Part 2 of the report details a “field trip” the author and several other people undertook to see how well they could navigate between various virtual worlds. The places visited included:

The author, Jin (Madjin) writes:

We were communicating over Discord’s voice chat the entire time. Anarchy Arcade served as the most premium base reality we ventured to on this trip for several main reasons:
– Shortcuts were easy to launch
– Universally compatible
– Optimized heavily in the background

So, as you can see, the first tentative steps in cross-linking virtual worlds have already been taken. However, the work of creating a much more comprehensive and seamless metaverse to benefit VR consumers still faces many significant hurdles—including a patent filed by IBM in 2008 that appears to cover teleporting avatars between disparate virtual worlds.

How soon do you think it will be until we get a truly seamless VR metaverse? Or do you think it will never happen? As always, you are invited to join the ongoing conversations on this and many other topics on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the first cross-worlds discussion group!

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Results of the Second RyanSchultz.com Reader Poll: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In?

Image created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

The reader poll I posted one week ago has now closed, and I can now share the results with you.

But before I do that, I want to show you my blog viewer statistics. Notice the HUGE spike in viewers for three consecutive days? Almost all of that traffic was to the original blogpost! I’ve never seen anything like it.

At first, I was excited. And then, I got suspicious. While that particular blogpost eventually got 5,456 views (making it my most-viewed blogpost of all time!), the actual number of votes in my poll did not see a corresponding spike (only 220 votes in total were cast).

I had deliberately designed my poll so that repeat voters were blocked by website cookie and IP address, so obviously, either I was getting a lot of repeat voters, or a lot of visitors were not submitting their vote. And that huge spike in traffic was from locations all over the world, but there were many viewers from a lot of countries that to date had not been frequent visitors before: Turkey, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Colombia. I suspect that my poll was hit by a swarm of bots.

It would appear that SOMEONE was trying to sway (or spoil) my poll. The surge in traffic to that particular blogpost ended almost as abruptly as it had begun. The question is: why would anyone bother?

Anyway, time to announce the results of my poll. A total of 220 votes were received:

POLL RESULTS: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In?

  1. Sansar (43 votes)
  2. Second Life (38)
  3. OpenSim/Halcyon grids (23)
  4. Somnium Space (16)
  5. VRChat (15)
  6. High Fidelity (14)
  7. NeosVR (10)
  8. Occupy White Walls (8)
  9. Cryptovoxels (7)
  10. Sinespace (7)
  11. Engage (6)
  12. AltspaceVR (5)
  13. TheWaveVR (4)
  14. Anyland (2)
  15. Mozilla Hubs (2)
  16. Oculus Rooms (2)
  17. vTime XR (2)

The following platforms all got one vote each:

  • Active Worlds
  • Bigscreen
  • Hyperfair VR
  • JanusVR
  • 3DX Chat

And there were two unique write-in ballots*:

  • Anarchy Arcade: “It’s social not like chat, but by exploring people’s collections.”
  • Pix-Life (I have absolutely no idea what this is, and Google was no help. Does anybody know what this is?)

*Note to OpenSim/Halcyon fans: YOU DO NOT READ INSTRUCTIONS!!!! I simply added all your OpenSim write-ins to the OpenSim total above. Next time, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION. Your particular OpenSim/Halcyon grid is not a special, unique snowflake. Thank you.

Now, I am not going to read too much into these poll results. If anything, they are more a picture of my current blog readership (which tends to skew heavily towards Sansar and Second Life users). And I’m not going to kid myself: I’m sure a few platforms urged their users to vote in this poll. This is far from a scientific survey. I was a little surprised that Second Life did not get first place in my poll, though.

So, what do you think of the poll results? Please feel free to leave a comment below, thank you!

Cryptovoxels: Taking a Second Look

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Cryptovoxels Logo
Cryptovoxels Logo

I’ll admit it. I was harsh. And sarcastic.

When I first took a look at Cryptovoxels, I thought that the idea would never fly:

It’s an interesting project, and I’m sure that it’s been fun to work on. But honestly, compared to what most of the other metaverse platforms are offering, Cryptovoxels doesn’t stand a chance.

But, this week, after aggressively cross-promoting my new Discord on various other Discord servers of which I was a member, the developer, Ben Nolan, contacted me and invited me to come back and join the chat in the Cryptovoxels Discord. I was expecting to be crucified for what I had written earlier, but everybody was very friendly, and we had a great, wide-ranging discussion.

You can now visit Cryptovoxels within your WebVR-compatible web browser. Cryptovoxels also supports the Oculus Go, Gear VR, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets.

One thing I noticed right way is that Cryptovoxels is no longer a monochrome-only world: you can now have colour!

Cryptovoxels 1 24 Nov 2018.png

Cryptovoxels 2 24 Nov 2018.png

Cryptovoxels 3 24 Nov 2018.png

It would appear that Cryptovoxels already has a small but very committed community of builders, people who are enjoying the creative aspects of the platform and who are working with Ben to expand it further. There are already six distinct neighbourhoods, as well as a map which allows you to teleport from location to another.

Cryptovoxels is also working on experimental portals to other social VR/virtual worlds! I visited an in-world portal that teleported me into JanusVR, for example.

Some of Cryptovoxel’s users are frustrated Decentraland investors and developers who are still waiting to receive invitations to join their closed alpha (I signed up too, and I’m still waiting.) One thing that Cryptovoxels definitely has going for it, is that it is among the very few blockchain-based virtual worlds where you can actually build something right now, publish it, and receive visitors! When this will happen in Decentraland is open to speculation.

Set-up instructions are pretty easy: it’s essentially prim-building, just like the old days in Second Life!

Building parcels is done completely in the browser, you don’t have to use your coding skills, just click to play blocks and build your parcel.

  1. Purchase a parcel from opensea
  2. Make sure you have metamask unlocked and then click sign in above
  3. Go to your parcel from the parcel list and click the refresh ↻ button
  4. Make sure the owner is your wallet address
  5. Click visit
  6. Press tab to bring up the menu, go to the blocks tab, and select a block
  7. You should now be able to click and shift click to start building

You can follow Cryptovoxels on TwitterDiscord, and Reddit, or just visit their website.

So I now take back my earlier harsh, sarcastic assessment of Cryptovoxels. It’s taken off quite nicely, and it appears to be thriving! Just goes to show you how wrong I can sometimes be. Please accept my apologies, Ben.

Cryptovoxels 4 24 Nov 2018
Nyan Cat House in Cryptovoxels

UPDATED: Cryptovoxels, A Brief Introduction

What? What’s that you say??

You say you’ve got Ethereum burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re actively searching for a monochrome, voxel-based virtual world that supports both virtual reality and is on the blockchain? Well, have I got an offer for you! Take a gander at the sexy monochrome website of Cryptovoxels!!

Cryptovoxels 5 July 2018

But wait, there’s more! There’s a YouTube video showing you just how visually exciting the virtual world of Cryptovoxels really can be!!

C’mon, admit it! Doesn’t that make you want to immediately break open your wallet and part with some hard-earned cryptocurrency to buy your very own monochrome, voxel world? (Hey, c’mon!! It’s way better than Decentraland! You can actually visit it!!)

*sigh* Blockchain-based VR has officially jumped the shark.

UPDATE July 8th: I chatted very briefly today with the developer of Cryptovoxels via Twitter, and I know he’s disappointed that I’ve judged his platform so harshly. It’s an interesting project, and I’m sure that it’s been fun to work on. But honestly, compared to what most of the other metaverse platforms are offering, Cryptovoxels doesn’t stand a chance. I did a quick calculation, and in order to buy a piece of land to build my voxels on, it would cost me at least 0.1 Ethereum, which works out to CDN$64.00:

eth.png

Sorry, but I’m not buying, and I don’t think that many other people will choose to invest either. There’s just too many other platforms out there that offer a lot more, for less money. Sansar is offering up to three 4 km by 4 km experiences, for FREE, and you can build in colour! Sinespace is offering one region, which can be up to 32 km by 32 km, for FREE, and you can also build things in colour! Both platforms also allow you to create more than just blocks! You can import mesh objects of just about any complexity you desire.

And if you compare it with Minecraft, a similar voxel-building virtual world, well, that’s only CDN$35.00, half the price of the cheapest plot of Cryptovoxels land, and with much more functionality.

And frankly, I am getting totally fed up with all this blockchain-based virtual reality nonsense. People are putting blockchain into projects where it is a solution hunting around for a problem to solve. I am so sick of the blockchain hype already!

Maybe I’m wrong; maybe Cryptovoxels will be successful. But I doubt it, based on what I have seen so far, and comparing it with other products already on the marketplace. Your mileage may vary.