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 the rest of Decentraland:

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.

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Editorial: My Social VR/Virtual World Predictions for 2019

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? Come join 170 avid users of various metaverse platforms, and discuss social VR and virtual world predictions for 2019! More details here


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Time to peer into that crystal ball and make some predictions!

First: Second Life is going to continue to coast along, baffling the mainstream news media and the general public with its vitality and longevity. It will continue to be a reliable cash cow for Linden Lab as they put a portion of that profit into building Sansar. And I also predict that the ability to change your first and last names in SL will prove very popular—and also very lucrative for Linden Lab! Remember, they’ve got seven years of pent-up demand for this feature. (I have a couple of avatars myself that I’d like to rename.)

Second: An unexpected but potentially ground-breaking development in OpenSim was the announcement of the release of a virtual reality OpenSim viewer to the open source community at the 2018 OpenSim Community Conference. There’s still lots of technical work left to do, but if they can successfully pull this off, it could mean a new era for OpenSim.

Third: I confidently predict that one or more blockchain-based virtual worlds are going to fold. Not Decentraland; there’s too much money tied up in that one to fail. But several cryptocurrency-based virtual worlds are starting to look like trainwrecks of epic proportions (and I’m looking at you, Staramaba Spaces/Materia.One). Somebody still needs to explain to me why people will want to pay to hang out with 3D-scanned replicas of Paris Hilton and Hulk Hogan. The business model makes absolutely no sense to me. Another one that I think is going to struggle in 2019 is Mark Space.

Fourth: I also predict that one or more adult/sex-oriented virtual worlds are going to fail (yes, I’m looking at you, Oasis). I’ve already gone into the reasons why even the best of them are going to find it hard to compete against the entrenched front-runner, Second Life.

Fifth: High Fidelity and Sansar will continue their friendly rivalry as both social VR platforms hold splashy events in the new year. (I’m really sorry I missed the recent preview of Queen Nefertari’s tomb in HiFi, but it looks as though there will be many other such opportunities in 2019.) And High Fidelity will continue to boast of new records in avatar capacity at well-attended events (it certainly helps that they’ve got those venture-capital dollars to spend, to offer monetary enticements for users to pile on for stress testing).

Sixth: the Oculus Quest VR headset will ignite the long-awaited boom in virtual reality that the analysts have been predicting for years. There; I’ve said it! And those social VR platforms which support Oculus Quest users will benefit.

Seventh: Linden Lab’s launch of Sansar on Steam will likely have only a modest impact on overall usage of the platform. I’m truly sorry to have to write this prediction, because I love Sansar, but we’ve got statistics we can check, and they are not looking terribly encouraging at the moment. And where is the “significant ad spend” that was promised at one of the in-world product meetups back in November? Now that they’ve pulled the trigger and launched on Steam, it’s time to promote the hell out of Sansar, using every means at Linden Lab’s disposal. Paying bounties to Twitch livestreamers is not enough.

And Facebook? If they thought 2018 was a bad year, I predict that we’re going to see even more scandals uncovered in 2019 by news organizations such as the New York Times. And more people (like me) will decide that they’ve had enough of being sold to other corporations and data-mined to within an inch of their lives, and jump ship. The public relations people at Facebook are going to face a lot of sleepless nights…

And, still on the same topic, we might yet see the launch of a new social VR platform backed by Facebook, after they decide to ditch the lamentable Facebook Spaces once and for all. Maybe it will be based on Oculus Rooms; maybe it will be something completely different. But despite my negative feelings about the social networking side of Facebook, they still have the hardware (Oculus), the money, and the reach to be a game-changer in social VR. (Just not with Facebook Spaces. At this point, they should just kill the project and start over. Any improvements will be like putting lipstick on a pig.)

Finally, I predict that the RyanSchultz.com blog will head off into new and rather unexpected directions (that is, if the past 12 months’ activity is any indication!). I never expected to cover blockchain-based virtual worlds, or Second Life freebies; they just kind of happened.  Expect more of the same in 2019, as various new topics catch my interest.

Decentraland’s Second Land Auction Has Started

Decentraland 14 Feb 2018

Decentraland has announced that the unsold plots of land left over from their first auction are now up for grabs to the highest bidder, between now and Christmas. The virtual parcels of land are 10 metres by 10 metres square, and called, simply, LAND. In the past, prices for LAND have gone as high as US$120,000 each in frenzied bidding wars, the prices being driven up by eager cryptocurrency speculators hoping to make a profit.

In an announcement posted on Dec. 10th, the company states:

The LAND Auction will run until Sunday, December 25th, 2018.

Ever since the first LAND Auction last December, people have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to claim some of the unsold, unowned LAND remaining in Genesis City. Even with the 34,356 parcels sold last year, there are still over 9,000 up for grabs!

We are extremely excited to kick off this next auction, and want to thank the entire Decentraland community for your continued support and enthusiasm. This is an exciting next step for the platform, and we look forwarding to building something incredible, together.

For additional details, and answers to some of the common questions we’ve received, keep reading!

Where do I access the auction?

The auction will be held right in the Decentraland Marketplace, at market.decentraland.org/auction. It’s also easy to access the auction through our partner’s mobile dApp browsers, like StatusimToken, and Trust!

How do I participate?

Simply create a wallet with MetaMask, Mist, or use a Trezor hard wallet, and ensure that you have sufficient funds in either MANA or one of our partner project’s ERC20 tokens.

You can also use a variety of mobile wallets, like Coinbase WalletTrust Wallet, and imToken!

We have two video tutorials showing how to log in, manage your tokens, select the parcels you want to buy, and complete your transaction! Check them out here:

Can I bid for multiple parcels at once?

Yes! In fact, the second auction is a wonderful opportunity to secure an estate, or expand your current holdings to include some of the adjacent unowned space.

Contiguous estates make it possible to host larger, more complicated scenes and experiences. You will be able to purchase up to 20 parcels per transaction.

When will I receive the parcels I buy in the auction?

Once the transaction for your purchase has been processed, you will receive your LAND immediately. The transaction must still be mined by the Ethereum network which may take several minutes, as with any normal LAND transfer on the Decentraland Marketplace.

Virtual land will be sold in the fashion of a Dutch auction:

How is the price for each parcel determined?

We are using a Dutch auction, in which all available parcels are started at the same price of 200,000 MANA. This price is continuously and progressively lowered, until a final price of 1,000 MANA is reached on the last day of the auction. You can read more about how the price is set, and the rate at which it’s lowered in this blogpost.

Only two days into the auction, there’s still lots of LAND available to bid on, as prices are still pretty high (currently, 48,479 MANA each, which works out to US$2,613). Bids can be placed using Decentraland’s own cryptocurrency, MANA, or any of the following ERC20-compliant tokens:

  • Maker (MKR)
  • Dai (DAI)
  • Binance Coin (BNB)
  • Kyber Network (KNC)
  • Zilliqa (ZIL)
  • Riplo Credit Network (RCN)
  • Aelf (ELF)
  • Status (SNT)

(Don’t ask me to explain any of this to you; it’s all just gobblegook acronyms to me!)

As I have warned before, do all your homework before investing a single cent in any cryptocurrency and any blockchain-based virtual world. Caveat Emptor!

Editorial: Lessons Decentraland Can Learn from the 15-Year History of Second Life

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? More details here


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Carl Fravel (whom I first met in Sansar, but who has since moved on to become a sort of unofficial ambassador for Decentraland), responded to me when I commented on the Cryptovoxels Discord this week that the creators behind Decentraland have not really paid attention to the history of Second Life, and the problems and scandals that SL has encountered in its 15-year history.

He asked me to give him some more details, which he has promised to pass on to the founders of Decentraland. Instead of a direct message to Carl, I decided to make this blogpost, in case other people were interested in my opinions. As you know, I have written extensively, and with a critical eye, about the Decentraland project in the past.

So, what can the folks building Decentraland learn from Second Life?

First, casinos. Linden Lab shut down the casinos in Second Life in 2007 after an FBI investigation into gambling in SL. I have already written about this on my blog:

I posted a comment to the busy Decentraland Reddit channel, reminding them that the FBI investigated gambling in Second Life, which had led to them shutting down online gambling a decade ago, and asking if anyone had stopped to think about whether the U.S. federal government would step in to stop Americans from gambling using cryptocurrency in Decentraland’s Vegas City district. That Reddit post was taken down by the moderators less than an hour after I posted it. I can only assume I was censored because they didn’t want to spook investors in their platform. I’m not impressed.

Now, Decentraland may be able to skirt around this by setting up in a jurisdiction where online gambling is allowed. However, you can bet that the FBI will get involved again if it is found that American citizens are gambling in Decentraland. They’re probably going to have to set up some sort of system to block users from certain countries; have the developers (and the people who contributed virtual land to the Vegas City district) stopped to consider this?

Second, “banks” and get-rich-quick schemes. Linden Lab was forced to ban “banks” in Second Life after reports of scammers making off with people’s investments (for more details, see number 10 on this list). Originally, Linden Lab’s excuse was: hey, we just host the software, and residents should avoid deals that sound too good to be true. But then, they were essentially forced to implement a ban after a story appeared in the MIT Technology Review. And, if Decentraland does not take steps to ban financial get-rich-quick schemes on its platform, it is likely that scammers with lofty promises will also descend upon it and set up shop. The world of blockchain/cryptocurrency is full of stories of people taking advantage of other people’s greed and ignorance. Remember what happened with BitConnect?

Third, ageplay. Linden Lab was forced to confront a public relations disaster when the news media reported that pedophiles were using the platform to engage in sexual roleplay with child avatars (see number 4 on this list for more details). The resulting scandal led Linden Lab to enact and enforce a strict ageplay ban.

To this day, when “Second Life” is mentioned, sexual roleplay tends to be the first thing that the general public thinks of; Second Life’s reputation has been pretty much tainted by that association ever since. Decentraland needs to think about this before a scandal hits, and set up similar bans, and a means of enforcing them.

Fourth, intellectual property and copyright issues. I have already written about this at length here and here. Go read those blogposts. I suggest that Decentraland put a report mechanism in place, as well as a procedure for dealing with DMCA filings. It will happen.

This is just a start. I suggest that the Decentraland founders and investors read through my list of the top 20 controversies in Second Life, and see what else they can learn from it.

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1