I am the founder of the virtual civilization Second Life, populated by one million active users, and am now CEO and co-founder of High Fidelity — which has just released a real-time spatial audio API for apps, games, and websites. If you want to check it out, I’d love to hear what you think: highfidelity.com/api
High Fidelity’s Spatial Audio was initially built for our VR platform — we have been obsessive about audio quality from day one, spending our resources lowering latency and nailing spatialization.
Ask me about immersive spatial audio, VR, virtual worlds and spaces, avatars, and … anything.
Today, on a bitterly cold, -20°C winter day up here in the frosty Canadian prairie hinterlands (which felt more like -30°C when you factored in the wind chill from a strong wind), I was able to spend a convivial hour sitting around a campfire on a warm, tropical desert island, chatting with Caitlyn Meeks of Tivoli Cloud VR and a few other avatars (including a personable, OpenAI-controlled toaster named Toastgenie Craftsby, who every so often would spit out some toast, or even a delicious rain of hot waffles, during our delightful, wide-ranging conversation!).
Tivoli Cloud VR, a successor platform to the now-shuttered original High Fidelity social VR platform created by Philip Rosedale’s company of the same name (and based on HiFi’s open-source software code), has had a few new developments since the last time I visited, back in September! Among them is the full integration of Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me avatar creation system, as demonstrated in this two-minute YouTube video by Tivoli Cloud ambassador and well-known social VR personality XaosPrincess:
Using Ready Player Me, it is possible to create endlessly customizable human avatars—and Caitlyn tells me that you don’t even need to start from a selfie! You can just jump right into the program (as shown in the video above) and start creating your perfect virtual representation!
Here’s a thirty-minute interview with Timmu Tõke, the co-founder and CEO of Wolf3D (the creators of Ready Player Me), where he talks with Cristian-Emanuel Anton, the co-founder and CEO of MeetinVR, about VR avatars, meetings in virtual reality, and the metaverse. (MeetinVR is yet another social VR platform using Wolf3D’s avatar system to create their own head-and-torso-with-hands avatars!)
I suspect that we will see other platforms join Mozilla Hubs, MeetinVR, and Tivoli Cloud VR in using Ready Player Me avatars! Such corporate partnerships bode well for the future of the metaverse we will all live, work, and play in.
As my blog becomes more and more popular over time, I often receive questions from my readers about social VR and virtual worlds. In many cases, I think the questions—and my answers!—are worth sharing, so I have decided to start up a brand new category of blogposts, tagged “Ask Ryan“. Every so often, I will post a query and attempt to provide the best, most comprehensive answer I can.
Hi Ryan, I came across your website while researching Zoom alternatives. I don’t own a VR headset (although I would very much like to) and neither do many of my friends. I think we all agree that while Zoom is serviceable as far as work meetings are concerned, it’s a terrible option for social hangouts. In my mind, the issue of proximity is key. At a real party, multiple conversations can take place simultaneously. People are able to focus on one speaker by using proximity. The use of avatars seems like a pretty obvious fix. The question is: which app/software is doing this best already? Most of my friends aren’t gamers or techie types, so they would probably be turned off by anything in a highly stylized graphic environment. They also don’t own VR headsets and ease of use is critical. I’d like to just be able to text then a link or ask them to download a free app on their phone to make it work. I’ve been searching high and low for the ideal app that meets these criteria but just can’t seem to find it. What would you recommend? Thanks for your help!
Glad you asked, Gavin!
One non-VR platform you should definitely look at is the new High Fidelity*, which is a two-dimensional flat-screen app with three-dimensional audio that is perfect for your needs! You and your friends will probably have to use headphones or earbuds to really appreciate the spatial audio, which I’m sure you already have. The sound also falls off as you move away from the speaker, allowing you to break off into small groups and have many smaller conversations taking place at once. Here is their website, where you can learn more about the product.
There are certainly many other virtual worlds you have a non-VR mode which could use for socializing, such as Second Life, Sinespace, VirBELA, etc., but they are not as quick and easy to use as these three platforms I have mentioned. Second Life, in particular, has a notoriously steep learning curve compared to the simplicity of Jel, Mozilla Hubs, and the new High Fidelity.
*not to be confused with the now-shuttered social VR platform High Fidelity, which required a high-end virtual reality headset connected to a Windows PC with a good graphics card
…I was invited to experience a special world built by someone I know well from the RyanSchultz.com Discord, 1029Chris, who had spent two weeks creating an amazing bird sanctuary with animated ducks, who milled about, and responded eagerly when I selected food items from a nearby picnic table to feed them! It was wonderfully done, and I hope to return soon for another visit.
Chris’s world is called the Udon Bird Sanctuary, if you are searching for it in VRChat. A visit is highly recommended, especially if you are feeling stressed out!
But 1029Chris is active in so many more virtual worlds than VRChat! She has decided to bring her signature duck and opossum avatars into as many virtual worlds and online games as she can. Here are some pictures which Chris kindly shared with me:
But Chris doesn’t just do still pictures! She also does machinima (that is, videos which are recorded in virtual worlds and games):
1029Chris is only one of many people I know who delight in bringing their avatars from one virtual world to another. All of them possess skills I wish I had!