UPDATED! A New Book and a New Website Attempt to Cover the Rapidly-Expanding VR/AR/XR Collaborative Marketplace

May I invite you to join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the world’s first cross-worlds discussion forum? Over 400 people from around the world, representing many different social VR platforms and virtual worlds, meet daily to chat, discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse, and the companies building it. We’d love to have you join us!

(Yes, I know, I KNOW, I am officially on vacation from the blog…but I had another pernicious bout of insomnia, and I’ve been up since 2:00 a.m., sooo…)

I wanted to alert my readers to two new resources I have only just discovered in the past couple of days. Both are different approaches to attempt to organize information about what I like to collectively call YARTVRA: an acronym which I am still, dearly hoping against hope, will eventually catch on in this nascent industry, which stands for Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. (You can see all my blogposts tagged YARTVRA, including this one, here.)

A Rallying Cry: YARTVRA!

First, Charlie Fink, who writes about virtual and augmented reality for Forbes, is publishing an electronic book called Remote Collaboration & Virtual Conferences: The Future of Work. It’s not out yet, but it will be released on June 16th, 2020 (you can pre-order it on Amazon). According to the description of the book on Amazon:

Join Professor Charlie Fink and his Chapman University VRAR340 “XR Landscape” students who, in the Spring of 2020, explored the ascendancy of the video call during the Coronavirus crisis. Ultimately, they reviewed 120 companies, exploring options for conferences, training, education, and remote team collaboration. They made a profile for each platform, creating a comprehensive directory for these online applications. The resulting book, Remote Collaboration, Virtual Conferences, The Future of Work, shows how new tools, including VR and AR, can solve the problem of being together when we have to stay apart.

Now, the problem with a book (even an electronic book) is that it only provides a snapshot of a rapidly-moving and evolving industry, and as such, it will very quickly become out of date.

A website is much easier to keep up-to-date, which is the idea behind a brand new website which I first learned about from the Educators in VR Facebook group, called XR Collaboration: A Global Resource Guide.

Image from the XR Collaboration Website

According to the website’s About page:

The Global Resource Guide to XR Collaboration is an interactive and comprehensive online tool that helps companies utilize XR collaboration and remote work tools for businesses.  The resource guide will serve as a central repository of detailed information about XR collaboration products and platforms and include an easy-to-use interactive tool for matching to specific business needs, a feature that will be available by the end of this month. All of this will be free to use and free to share.

A key feature of the XR Collaboration website is an interactive directory, where you can filter a listing of 64 YARTVRA platforms by:

  • the number of collaborators the platform supports (2 to 50+);
  • the VR/AR hardware brand names the platform supports;
  • the type of collaboration the platform supports (this is similar to my Venn diagram, Social VR Platforms Organized by Primary Purpose);
  • the operating systems the platform supports (e.g. Android, iOS, PC/Windows, Steam, WebXR, etc.);
  • the platform’s features (e.g. desktop sharing, avatars, etc.);
  • the industries the platform is intended to serve (which I think would overlap a bit with the type of collaboration, above).

Now, I must caution you that this is very much still a directory under construction! Clicking on any of the logos takes you to an undefined URL, at least so far. (UPDATE June 19th: Apparently, I was mistaken. This does work; I was just confused by the URLs that appeared at the bottom of my Chrome browser when I hovered over the links in this directory.)

Also, just a quick, cursory spot check of some of the websites for some of these XR collaboration companies pulls up a few errors (for example, Project Chimera by Pagoni VR is listed here as serving the arts and entertainment industry, when it really should be categorized under education). But it is still early days, and I assume these sorts of errors will be corrected as the directory is fleshed out. (By the way, there is a form for companies to fill out to request consideration for entry into this directory. I do see a number of platforms missing. And, if you’re going to include arts and entertainment platforms in this directory, you may as well throw Sansar on there…but I suspect that they want to focus more on the corporate market.)

Hmmm, I wonder if the team of VR/AR/AR experts behind this intriguing project needs a social-VR-obsessed librarian to help keep things organized? This would be a dream job for me, even if it were volunteer! I mean, this is essentially what I have already been doing informally on this blog for the past 2-3/4 years, even though my comprehensive list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds needs a serious reorganization and recategorization as it has grown to over 150 entries (hence my “Herding Cats” series of blogposts).

There’s also an introductory PDF guide to XR collaboration tools available if you provide your name, email address, and primary industry (all the better to create a mailing list, my dear! as the Big Bad Wolf used to say to Little Red Riding Hood).

Anyway, I think this website has the potential to be a very valuable resource, and I wanted to let people know about it (even if I am officially on a vacation from the blog!). If you want to follow the XR Collaboration project on social media, here are the links: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

O.K. now I am going to go back to bed and try to get some much-needed sleep…

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

UPDATED! VRChat Maps Discord Server: A Directory for Finding Cool Worlds to Explore in VRChat

Stair Hall in VRChat: A procedurally-generated maze of staircases.
Can you reach the prize in the glass cabinet, tantalizingly out of reach?

With over 50,000 user-created worlds, there is just so much to see in VRChat. However, there is no in-world directory, and you have to rely on using keyword search to find worlds to explore, which admittedly is not ideal. What’s really needed is some sort of directory broken down by category (something I am surprised has not been added to VRChat yet).

However, VRChat user CatRazor has created a very useful Discord server called VRChat Maps, which is described as follows:

CatRazor here, I made this place to sort out the maps of VRChat into categories in case someone is looking for something specific. These maps are personally picked out by me, I believe these maps are worth a visit and you will not regret it!

#adventure-maps – Maps with an objective, such as escape rooms, boss battles and etc.

#club-and-dance-maps – Dance to your heart’s content!

#exploration-maps – Maps where you can enjoy beautiful sights and seek out secrets.

#festive-maps – Maps to celebrate the holidays!

#game-maps – PVP/Game maps.

#hang-out-maps – Usually small maps where you can enjoy conversations with friends.

#horror-maps – As the name entails, not for the faint of heart.

#sleep-maps – Good places for sleepy time, make sure you use a private world for these to not be woken up.

#unique-concept-maps – Maps designed to show off cool mechanics.

For example, here is the entry for the Stair Hall world, found in the #unique-concept-maps channel. Basically, it’s a snapshot of the entry under the Worlds menu:

The world itself, Stair Hall, is a maddening maze of procedurally-generated staircases leading up and down as far as the eye can see, with your goal being to reach an elusive prize in a glass cabinet.

The only problem with this directory of cool places to visit is that it is in Discord, outside your VR headset! So you’ll have to go back and forth in order to use it. Either that, or use the VRChat Maps Discord first, in order to draw up a list of some interesting places to see, noting down the keywords to search under Worlds, then go in-world to explore.

Other ways to find cool worlds to explore are to check out the #world-showcase channel on the VRChat Community Discord, or the #favorite-worlds channel on the VRChat Events Discord. There’s also a Showcase forum on the VRCat user discussion forums for people to share worlds.

Happy exploring!

UPDATE Nov. 12th: A commenter on the VRChat subReddit told me about The World of VRChat, a website directory for VRChat worlds that I did not know about before. The website is in Japanese, but if you turn on Google auto-translate, it works well. Thank you, Warhorse07!