Drax Takes On Decentraland

Honestly, Draxtor Despres has got to be one of the hardest-working people in the metaverse! He tirelessly churns out videos in both Second Life and Sansar, including The Drax Files: World Makers series of profiles of Second Life creators, the popular Atlas Hopping in Sansar series, and a long-running podcast called The Drax Files Radio Hour (co-hosted with Jo Yardley). His most recent work is the Love Made in Second Life series, profiling real-life couples who originally met in SL (here’s a link to episode one).

In the most recent Drax Files Radio Hour show, titled So What About Decentraland? Drax conducts a telephone interview with Nicolas Earnshaw from the Decentraland product team, and he certainly does not shy away from some tough questions! (You can almost hear Nicolas squirm at times.) It’s a rather refreshing change from some of the recent mainstream press coverage of Decentraland, which has tended to rely on things such as this highly-misleading promotional video:

Among other pointed questions, he asks Nicolas how much money Decentraland has made so far (something Nicolas struggles to answer), and how Decentraland plans to move from hosting and controlling their platform on their own servers to a distributed, self-governing structure in the future. (I personally have my doubts that this will happen as seamlessly as predicted. To date, no virtual world has attempted to transfer operating control in this fashion.)

Here’s a link to the 50-minute podcast if you are interested. (Because this is a telephone interview, the sound quality is a bit poor at times.)

Advertisements

CBC Radio Covers Decentraland

Decentraland is still getting the kind of mainstream press coverage that most other virtual worlds would kill for. The latest news organization to cover the blockchain-based virtual world, which is expected to launch later this year, is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the CBC.

CBC Radio’s Day 6 program reported on the Decentraland project in a report titled Welcome to Decentraland, where investors spend real-world dollars flipping virtual real estate. (In addition to the article text, there is audio of the ten-minute news report available at the above link.)

The report, which includes a warning that investors could lose their entire investment, profiles one virtual land speculator who estimates his holdings are currently worth US$150,000.

A Fresh Look at Decentraland: Larger Parcels and a Drag-and-Drop Scene Editor Are Coming

On this blog, I have often been highly critical (even downright sarcastic) about the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland. I still think that their real estate is vastly overpriced, but I do have to say, of all the blockchain-based virtual world products out there, Decentraland seems to be the closest to actual fruition—and, on top of that, they’re doing some interesting things!

First, they’ve completely redesigned their website and it looks really good! They definitely are aiming for a certain blocky, cartoony aesthetic, not hyper-realistic, but certainly still attractive to many people:

Also, Decentraland is actively surveying its userbase on a number of issues through their community polling tool Agora, including increasing the size of LAND parcels from 10 m by 10 m (100 square metres) to 16 m by 16 m (256 square metres). It looks like this change will be approved by an overwhelming margin. It’s refreshing to see a virtual world which is so willing to consider making adjustments to benefit its users (especially before the actual product launch).

Finally, Decentraland has announced that a drag-and-drop scene building tool will be available this spring. In order to promote it, they are holding a contest:

In the last Project Update, we shared that we’re working on the new and easy-to-use Builder. Our vision for Builder is to provide a way for all users, regardless of their technical backgrounds, to create immersive content to host on their LAND. In anticipation of the new scene builder (and to celebrate its upcoming launch), we are excited to introduce Decentraland’s Creator Contest! Our goal is to encourage and reward creative scenes put together by community members using the scene builder.

After the Builder is launched, the Creator Contest will officially begin – giving you two weeks to put your imagination to use in putting together your most immersive and beautiful (or bizarre) scenes.

Every single scene that is submitted through the Creator Contest will be rewarded with 100 MANA, even if it isn’t selected by the judge panel as one of the finalists. The most creative scenes will be hand-picked by a panel of five expert judges. A total of 50 scenes will be deployed, and featured within Genesis City. From those 50 scenes, five will be selected as finalists and their creators will receive some premium LAND and a purse of MANA. The remaining 45 featured parcels will also be rewarded with LAND and additional MANA!

At the current exchange rates, 100 MANA works out to about US$3.50, so while it’s not a lot of money, many people may enter this contest just to get a starter purse of in-game currency. It’s great marketing!

As time goes on, and I see just how dedicated the Decentraland team is to their vision of a decentralized, blockchain-based virtual world, my initial cynicism is starting to wane. Not completely, mind you. But it is fascinating to watch as the project evolves over time. Hopefully, sometime this year, I will get an opportunity to walk around in-world!

A Decentraland Update: Designs for the Plazas Are Looking Promising

The DCLPlazas blog reports:

In recent months we have learnt that each plaza throughout Decentraland (shown in green on the Decentraland map) will take on a theme of its own. We have already had the pleasure of seeing the impressive Medieval Plaza and the Vegas Plaza designs, and today we get to view the next completed plaza design to add to that list, by unearthing the Decentraland Forest Plaza.

Once again, the design has been intricately crafted by Fabian Orrego (who has created the previous 2 scenes) who seems to have mastered the art of getting the best results from low-poly scenes and models.

Plazas are the green 200m-by-200m squares on this map of Decentraland. Their purpose is to act as central gathering areas and avatar spawning zones, and they are public property which is not for sale, unlike the rest of Decentraland’s virtual real estate:

dcl-map-with-unsold-parcels

Here’s a link which allows you to look at a 3D model of the Forest plaza on Sketchfab (or you can just use the embedded image below):


Now. I have to admit that I do rather like the low-poly design aesthetic of this. The creator, Fabio Orrego, is a Colombian engineer and videogame artist with Xunulu Studios.

Here’s a look at an earlier plaza design, the Medieval Plaza, which is in much the same vein:


I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the news coming out of Decentraland lately. I still think that their land is wildly overpriced, but all that investment seems to have lit a fire under the company and its user community. I can’t wait to see what Decentraland will look like when it finally does launch (they have an invitation-only alpha at the moment).

For the lastest in Decentraland news, you can check out the DCLPlazas blog and the project’s Twitter, GitHub, Reddit, and Facebook. You can also join the official Decentraland Discord server and, of course, there is also the Decentraland blog and their official documentation website.