Space Colony Island-4: Explore an 8 Kilometre-by-32 Kilometre O’Neill Cylinder in VRChat, with Curve Gravity!

The O’Neill cylinder (also called an O’Neill colony) is a space settlement concept proposed by American physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space… An O’Neill cylinder would consist of two counter-rotating cylinders. The cylinders would rotate in opposite directions in order to cancel out any gyroscopic effects that would otherwise make it difficult to keep them aimed toward the Sun. Each would be 5 miles (8.0 km) in diameter and 20 miles (32 km) long, connected at each end by a rod via a bearing system. Their rotation would provide artificial gravity.

“O’Neill cylinder”, Wikipedia article

There’s a new world in VRChat which is attracting a lot of attention! It’s straight out of a science fiction novel: an O’Neill cylinder that is 8 kilometres in diameter and 32 kilometres long, and it features curve gravity, where you can actually run around in a full circle to land up where you started!

(VRChat is not the first social VR platform to feature such a build; I have visited an similar O’Neill cylinder with curve gravity in NeosVR, writing about it here.)

Here’s the original announcement by its creator on Twitter, with the English translation below it, courtesy of the DeepL translator:

The world “Space Colony “Island-4” has been released! It is an enclosed space colony with a diameter of 8km x length of 32km. Please enjoy the huge scale of this cylindrical world!

Space Colony Island-4 is currently one of the most popular worlds in VRChat, so it’s on the VRChat home screen. Here’s a link to the webpage for the world (this page requires a VRChat account to sign in).

By the way, did you know that VRChat has just updated its Quick Menu user interface? Here’s a two-minute video with the highlights of the new design:


Thank you to Rainwolf for the heads-up!

How You Can Catch the MetaMovie Project’s Upcoming Show, Alien Rescue, for FREE!

The MetaMovie project is a live virtual reality cinematic adventure, which I have been following since the very beginning (you can read all my old MetaMovie blogposts here). The project first began on the now-shuttered High Fidelity social VR platform, and has since moved to their new home, NeosVR*.

According to the official press release for their latest production, called Alien Rescue:

The MetaMovie presents; Alien Rescue, an innovative project conceived by Jason Moore, in which the user embodies the starring role in a LIVE-performed Virtual Reality cinematic adventure. The project [was] selected by the Venice International Film Festival [which took] place online from September 2nd till 12th, 2020.

The MetaMovie project is an ongoing series of experiments exploring immersive, interactive storytelling inside the virtual reality metaverse. It combines cinema, video games, interactive theater, and role playing activities like D&D to create an entirely new way to experience a story: from the inside. In a MetaMovie you don’t just watch the story, you’re part of it.

As ‘the Hero’ you are the lead player. Your co-stars are played by live actors who lead you on an immersive and cinematic adventure and you have the agency to do or say what you want, and even affect the outcome of the story. Curious, but not exactly a hero? Experience the story as an ‘Eyebot’ without needing to interact with the other characters.

The world of live immersive work is upcoming. The Venice International Film Festival selected three of these projects for this year’s VR Expanded edition. Besides the fact that these experiences offer consumers live entertainment from the comfort of their own home, it also creates job opportunities for actors all over the world. Something that’s more relevant than ever since we’re dealing with COVID-19.

Here’s the two-minute teaser trailer for Alien Rescue!

And here’s the best part: you can take advantage of a special free offer to help iron out the last few bugs in performances of Alien Rescue before ticket sales to the general public! Jason Moore left the following message on the RyanSchultz.com Discord:

I’m Jason, the creator and director of the MetaMovie Presents: Alien Rescue. Alien Rescue is a live immersive asymmetric PCVR/Desktop experience that puts you in the middle of an action packed VR movie where you role play with five live actors. We’ve performed at the Venice Biannale VR festival and won a Special Mention award, and we are gearing up for our public launch in a few months.

Currently we are running preview shows to squash the bugs and I’m here offering free tickets for some upcoming shows! Please come check us out, give us your feedback, and help us bug test!

We run on NeosVR, which is available for free on Steam. The days/times of the shows are:

• Saturday August 28th, 2:00pm ET
• Saturday, September 4th, 2:00pm ET
• Saturday, September 18, 2:00pm ET
• Saturday, October 2nd, 2:00pm ET

Click the link below to go to our website, where you can select the day of the show you want. Then you’ll get taken to Eventbrite and you can use the Discount Codes below to get your free ticket.

Please only take a ticket if you are sure you will use it. Please only take 1 ticket, not multiple tickets. And please note we are still working out the bugs…..

Discount Codes:
• Saturday, August 28th, 2:00pm ET Sidekick2808
• Saturday, September 4th, 2:00pm ET Sidekick0409
• Saturday, September 18th, 2:00pm ET Sidekick1809
• Saturday, October 2nd, 2:00pm ET Sidekick0210

Copy your discount code, then go here: https://www.themetamovie.com/tickets/

Thank you for your support and helping us test Alien Rescue!

If you are interested in learning more about the MetaMovie project, please visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow the project on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


*If you’re interested, I interviewed Jason Moore about the MetaMovie project, back when it was still on High Fidelity, in the following episode of season one of my show, the Metaverse Newscast:

UPDATED! Using NeosVR to Teach Courses at the University of Sydney

Hamish MacDougall is a professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, who has been keen to use the innovative social VR platform NeosVR as part of his teaching. Hamish has a long history of working in virtual reality, as noted in this 2017 profile of him and his work:

Hamish McDougall looks like a physical embodiment of the cyberpunk dream. Sporting a long black ponytail with a sleek undercut, and black clothing, he looks like a character ripped directly from an 80s sci-fi epic, set in a post industrial dystopia. McDougall runs the Virtual Reality Openlab, a sprawling tech lab designed to build experiments in the virtual world…

For the last four years, the lab has operated under the Sydney Human Factors Research group, an organization within the Psychology department. Although it has a wide field of study, it looks primarily at the Vestibular system, which is a sensory complex in the inner ear that is in charge of your sense of spatial orientation and balance…

So far the biggest ‘deliverable’ to come from the human factors lab’s four years of existence is their work developing a virtual reality therapy system for patients of vestibular disorders, who suffer limited inner ear functions. This means that they not only have issues balancing, but can also suffer dizziness and unease sitting still. As Hamish points out, among all persons with sensory impairments, those with vestibular disorders may be the most inhibited in terms of their daily life.

While the system invented by the team doesn’t cure vestibular disease, it does allow patients to improve their balance and mobility. In the first 20 patients to use the program, feedback received from the patients showed that 100% of patients that had used the program had seen some improvement from the using of the program.

Since 2017, Hamish is one of many educators around the world who has embraced NeosVR as a teaching platform, using it to conduct a class on Virtual Reality Therapy in virtual reality last year during the coronavirus pandemic:

Virtual spiders and skyscrapers are among the tools being used to teach University of Sydney students during the COVID-19 shutdown, as a virtual reality laboratory in the School of Psychology has been transformed into a classroom for learning about a range of physical and psychological conditions.

Typically used for research and selective teaching on virtual reality therapies for conditions including phobias, PTSD, pain, and eating disorders, the lab is now being used solely to teach these therapies to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“Given in-person face-to-face teaching has been suspended, I decided to lend VR headsets to my students so they can continue to ‘attend’ my seminar series on Virtual Reality Therapy,” Associate Professor Hamish MacDougall said.

The Virtual Reality Therapy class took students to the World Trade Center bombing as part of their discussion about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Image source: the Sydney Human Factors Research Lab

Associate Professor MacDougall, who directs the University’s Sydney Human Factors Research Group, begins each lesson with a student-led literature discussion. Students then discuss the immersive stimuli that virtually surrounds them.

In a lesson on phobias, for example, students handled virtual spiders and looked down from the roofs of tall buildings. In a lesson on eating disorders, students could adjust the body-mass index for their own avatar (digital character) and track their eye movements to reveal preferences for healthy and unhealthy foods.

But the School of Psychology is not the only group at the University of Sydney working with NeosVR! The School of Geosciences is using the social VR platform to build a virtual campus:

The virtual world…is being built in NEOS VR. It is made of a collection of 3D assets, some I created many years ago in Sketchup, others bought on various market places (cgtrader, Sketchfab etc), and others build and programmed directly in NEOS. Most 3D rock samples and 3D outcrops comes from various authors and were downloaded from Sketchfab.com…

The fully functional geological compass was designed in NEOS and programmed using NEOS’ LogiX visual scripting language. While building virtual worlds in NEOS, I often receive the unsolicited help of many curious NEOS’ users. TinBin was kind enough to fetch his friend H3BO3 and LeonClement who helped with the programing of my virtual compass. My colleague A/Prof Hamish McDougall (School of Psychology at the University of Sydney) added the dynamic ocean to my etopo models, and VRxist improved the display the earthquake dataset. GearBell explained to me how to optimize my world for fast download. I am also grateful to Tomas Mariancik (aka Frooxius), head developer and creator of NEOS VR, for his availability and willingness to help me and other newbies getting started with NEOS.

The Virtual Campus of the School of Geoscience at the University of Sydney in NeosVR (image source)

You can view several videos of their ongoing work in NeosVR on this webpage.

People like Hamish MacDougall are effective ambassadors for the use of social VR platforms like NeosVR! I look forward to seeing where the University of Sydney goes from here in their innovative use of virtual reality in teaching.

UPDATE August 13th, 2021: I had a text chat with Hamish via Discord, and I quote part of what he told me here:

Re. the class in Virtual Reality Therapy – yes that was taught in Neos. We started in the lab with headsets connected to a dozen powerful desktop PCs but after the first few weeks all face-to-face teaching at the University was discontinued due to the pandemic. We hastily handed out Quests and basic instructions for connecting from home. Without any preparation I though this had little chance of success but worth a shot. I would have been happy if just one Psychology student could connect and was amazed when they all did!

This advanced seminar series (10 x 2 hours) for Psychology Honours students covered VR Therapy for Phobias, PTSD, OCD, Eating Disorders, Autism, Problem Gambling, Substance Abuse, Dementia, Stroke, and Pain so it made a lot of sense to do it in VR so the students could experience all the applications. Neos (and its neuro-diverse community) also provided the opportunity to invite people with lived experience to tell and show the students all about their conditions, so I think this was quite compelling. For example, the guest for Autism passed around items from her collection of stim toys and took us to one of her safe places. The guest for Stroke demonstrated the avatar we had prepared with yoked arm movements (where the arm on the parallelized side appears to follow the arm on the healthy side). The chap saved a copy to his inventory and came back a few weeks later saying that using it had really helped with his recovery!

Anyway, Neos is amazing for education and research – the ‘killer app’ for academics in my opinion…We have demonstrated hundreds of VR applications without the skills and time that would be required in Unity or Unreal.

Thanks, Hamish!

It’s Time to Upgrade My Home Computer: Anybody Have Any Good Recommendations on What to Buy for the Best VR Experience?

I’ve got my eye on this little number by Acer, which is currently in stock, although I’m wondering if I should upgrade the RAM from 16GB to 32GB…

*sigh*

I’ve held it off as long as I can, but it’s time to face facts: it’s time to upgrade the four-year-old desktop computer I use at home. I bought it in December of 2016, based on the computer specifications at the time for my trusty Oculus Rift, and it still met the minimum specifications when I upgraded my Rift to a Valve Index earlier this year.

But the Vive Facial Tracker that I eagerly bought makes my Intel Core i5-6600 CPU running at 3.30GHz cry, so it now sits sadly in its little box on my computer desk. The final straw was when I kept crashing while in NeosVR today (sans facial tracker) while Joris Weijdom was giving me a guided tour of the interesting, postmodernist immersive theatre work projects he is involved with at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. After several successive embarrassing crashes, we had to resort to using video chat on Discord!

So yes, it’s time (at least, if I want to continue using NeosVR, which I do). The recommended specs for the Valve Index are brief (and no, I am not aiming for the minimum; I want whatever I buy to last me for at least three years):

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 10, SteamOS, Linux
  • Processor: Dual Core with Hyper-Threading
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD RX480
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Additional Notes: Available DisplayPort (Version1.2) and USB (2.0+) Port required

Recommended

  • Processor: Quad Core+
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or better
  • Additional Notes: Available USB (3.0+) Port required for Headset Pass-Through Camera

Fortunately, I already have a computer store picked out (the same place I bought my last PC from, a suitably übergeeky place where all the salespeople can comfortably and confidently sling computer acronyms with the best of them. The shortage of computer chips caused by the current boom in cryptocurrency mining might cause some problems, though; most of the higher-end gaming machines I have my eye on are back ordered, according to my preferred store’s website. I’ll probably drive across town tomorrow and see what they have in stock that meets the recommended PC requirements for my Valve Index. There’s not really a rush; the only platform I am having problems with right now is NeosVR.

But I decided to write this blogpost and ask you, my readers: what Windows PC specs do you recommend for a higher-end virtual reality setup?

If you have any recommendations (or links to helpful resources to help me draw up my shopping list), please leave a comment on this blogpost, drop me a line via the Contact Me page, or ping me on the RyanSchultz.com Discord (or any of the other social VR/virtual worlds Discord servers we might have in common). Thanks!