The Unreal-Based Social VR Platform Helios Launches in Early Access on Steam

I decided it was time to pay a return visit to the social VR platform called Helios, created by SubLight Games. The game is now available via Steam for US$9.99 under their Early Access program, for tethered PCVR headesets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index, and the company recently announced via Twitter:

Helios is now available for Early Access purchase for all who wish to join our little Social VR revolution! Everything made through Early Access purchases will go towards making Helios a viable and robust alternative to what is currently on the market!

Helios is unlike most other social VR platforms on the marketplace, in that it is based on the Unreal game engine (most other social VR platforms use Unity). It is also interesting in that it has attracted a significant number of former Sansar users—in some cases, even porting entire worlds from Sansar over to Helios! I think the attraction for former Sansar users is the way that Helios is catering to world builders, in a way that is similar to the early days of Sansar.

I immediately recognized C3rb3rus’ 2077 sci-fi world, which was ported over from Sansar to Helios!

The platform definitely is a creator-centered space, with a small but passionate community of geeks who want to see what they can do, even perhaps push a few boundaries! Here, a group decided to stress-test a free world downloaded from the Unreal Store by dropping hundreds of cheese wheels!

Cheese wheels!
An aerial view of the cheese wheel testing

The Community section on the Helios Steam page offers up some examples of worlds that have been created:

Here’s an early access trailer, showing you some of the features of the platform. I was particularly surprised at the modular avatar support (i.e. dressable avatars)!

For further information about Helios, you can visit their website, join their Discord, or follow them on social media: Twitter and YouTube. SubLight Games also has a Patreon; if you feel like throwing some coin their way, I’m sure they’d appreciate it!

Helios Welcomes New Users from Sansar, and the First User-Created Worlds

Helios, a new social VR platform by SubLight Games that I first wrote about last month, appears to be attracting interest from Sansar users. According to a post made to their official blog today:

I’ll say it again. This has been an amazing week. We have had the first (and second) player created worlds. A record breaking eight concurrent players participating in the weekly Discord Community Test. Daily impromptu player hangouts also reaching up to eight participants. Players helping players make maps. Players helping players make avatars. Rareden was also able to get the Documentation page (work in progress) set up. At the request of a community member, we also added a third person camera to desktop mode. More functionality to come.

The Sansar community has planted its flag firmly in Helios this week as most of our recent Discord members are Sansar alumni. They are bringing with them a passion for creation that is truly remarkable. In fact, both player-created worlds added to Helios this week were from recently joined members.

The newly-created worlds are by Zod and C3rb3rus (who appears to have recreated his Sansar world Cerb’s Lounge within Helios, complete with flying dragon!).

Cerb’s Lounge, recreated in Helios

While the company has handed out 120 early-access Steam keys, going forward they are changing how they are handing out keys:

We’ve handed out over 120 Steam keys. With this in mind and after a good deal of internal debate, we have decided to move to a referral system when handing out keys. This is to make sure that Alpha participants are going to be active members of the community, whether that be showing up at organized tests or bringing their own content into Helios. If you don’t know someone already in the Alpha and still want a key, feel free to ask for one in the request-a-steam-key channel in the Helios Discord. Once we re-open our Alpha to the general public, keys will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis. It is entirely possible that hanging out in the Discord and being an active member of the community will get you a key before that.

If you are interested in following Helios as they grow, you can visit their website and their Steam page, or follow them on YouTube or Twitter. They also have a Discord server, as well as a Patreon page.

Helios: A Brief Introduction

I just heard about a brand new social VR project, a small indie project called Helios, and since this is a blog about social VR, I thought I’d let you all know about it.

Actually, there’s not much to see yet over at the Helios social VR project. No website yet, basically just a Twitter feed and a brand-new Discord server (here’s the invite).

According to the FAQ on their Discord:

What is Helios?
Helios is a Social VR game made with Unreal Engine 4 by SubLight Games.

Why are you using Unreal Engine?
Unreal Engine will allow Helios to offer a more immersive, interactive, and creator friendly offering than anything currently on the market today.

Will I be able to make my own avatar and use it in game?
Yes! Helios is being designed from the ground up to be as creator friendly as possible. Functionality has already been added to allow you to do this.

What stage of development is the game currently in?
Helios is currently in a closed Alpha stage. The bare bones are there and new features are being added often.

If you are interested in joining the closed alpha of Helios, you can send a request for a Steam activation code to user Rareden (the lead developer) on their Discord server. Apparently, the developers hold organized community tests once a week on Fridays at 11:00 p.m. EST.

Helios is also unique in that almost all of the other social VR platforms on the market either have a custom game engine (e.g. Sansar) or use Unity (e.g. VRChat). Helios will be based on the Unreal game engine.

Here’s a 46-second video pulled from their Twitter feed, showing off one of the imported avatars. Here’s a still from that video:

It’s quite a complicated-looking avatar, with feathers and all, which is quite intriguing! And (of course) I have added Helios to my ever-growing list of social VR/virtual worlds.