The MetaMovie Project is Moving from High Fidelity to NeosVR

You might remember that in episode 7 of the Metaverse Newscast we interviewed Jason Moore about his MetaMovie project, creating immersive, interactive entertainment experiences in virtual reality. The project had a successful Kickstarter campaign, reaching its goal of US$10,000.

Jason has announced that, after he has completed work on his current production, The Heist, he will be moving the MetaMovie project from High Fidelity to the indie social VR platform NeosVR:

Hi Ryan, my plan is to keep The Heist on High Fidelity and run it several more times this summer and by September put it down for good. I’ll keep the domain up and running and might consider some one-time performances, but yeah, for my next MetaMovie, Alien Rescue, I’m 95% sure I’m going to NeosVR. I like their powerful engine and the vibe is more artist and creator focused than VRChat, and while I like Sansar, I am most intrigued by the possibilities in NeosVR. Just need to have one more in-depth conversation with the guys over there to make sure I have accounted for all the tech issues. I’m super excited about Alien Rescue and can’t wait to put YOU through it! It’s going to be special.

…after speaking more with Mr. MegaTronic at NeosVR (I think he’s on the team, handling marketing stuff), I learned they are implementing a plan to offer hosted domains for members at Patreon and Pro levels, which is great and seals it for me: Alien Rescue will be on NeosVR. He also explained their vision for the future (feature parity with other platforms, and then even more). I think NeosVR is a social VR platform to watch. I describe it as the Vimeo to VRChat’s YouTube: more aimed at content creators BUT also cool and inviting and welcoming to the user base… They are designing a powerful engine and creating a warm and friendly environment. According to Chris McBride, only NeosVR can give him the tools to make the types of avatars I require for Alien Rescue (my goal is to help Chris create some of the most original and interesting avatars in the metaverse!).

Poster for Alien Rescue, the Next MetaMovie Project

This is a win-win situation for both parties: NeosVR can nimbly meet any special requests for features needed by MetaMovie, and MetaMovie will no doubt bring in more users to NeosVR and showcase the platform. Congratulations to both Jason Moore and his MetaMovie players and to Tomáš Mariančík and his team at NeosVR! I’m quite looking forward to seeing their next production in their new home.

UPDATE 8:57 a.m.: Jason further explains the reasoning behind his decision to change platforms:

NeosVR is an exciting new platform that has a lot to offer. The engine itself is incredibly powerful and we feel it offers us the most options for building complex, beautiful virtual worlds. Their approach to avatar design is also really progressive. On Alien Rescue we are really pushing the envelope of avatar design – wild, weird and wooly alien creatures – and my avatar designer, Chris McBride, has said he feels that only NeosVR has the toolset to accomplish what we are trying to do. Alien Rescue will be three to four times as complex as The Heist, and we need a close relationship with the platform’s development team if we are going to pull this off. The entire team at NeosVR is highly skilled, incredibly friendly, and they get things done. Finally, the vibe in NeosVR is just right: they are focused on giving content creators the tools they need to do amazing stuff, but non-builders are just as welcomed and the atmosphere, as I think you’ve noticed yourself, is fun, playful, and welcoming. I have learned so much from running the first two MetaMovies in High Fidelity, and for the last 3 years or so have benefitted greatly from their platform and community. I will keep my New New York domain up and running and public in High Fidelity, and I am certainly not abandoning that platform. I really hope that the new direction they are going in – which isn’t really a good fit for my project – will allow them to find some financial footing so they can continue their great work, and if and when they return to a more social VR direction, I will absolutely run another MetaMovie there. But for where this project is going, I need a social VR platform with great tools, a responsive dev team, and a growing user base of friendly and cool people. That’s NeosVR in a nutshell and I am thrilled to be taking the project there.

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NeosVR on Twitch: Cheerful Chaos Reigns

I’m going to say this again: NeosVR is a social VR platform to watch.

NeosVR recently started a series of Twitch livestream broadcasts where Nexulan plays the role of genial host, gently herding a group of avatars from place to place within NeosVR to demonstrate various cool experiences and features. Tomáš Mariančík (a.k.a. Frooxius), the extremely talented software developer who is building NeosVR, comes along for the ride. They’re doing this to gain followers on Twitch and promote awareness of their social VR platform.

Nexulan

Among the amazing things demonstrated on the most recent livestream were:

  • a working grappling hook to allow an avatar using it to swing from place to place like Batman or Spiderman;
  • a planet launcher that launches custom-designed mini planets into space, where the planets have gravity and you can actually run around the entire circumference of the planet (including being upside down at the “south pole” from the perspective of other users);
  • an actual milkable cow—you pull on the udder and the milk fills a pail!

The livestreams really show off the capabilities of the platform. There’s a wonderful sense of cheerful chaos (even anarchy at times) in these videos. It looks like fun, and it makes me want to explore NeosVR more!

If you’re interested, you can download the software for free from Steam. They also have an active Patreon page, where they are pulling in almost $2,000 a month in donations from supporters!

I leave you with a relatively recent 4-minute promotional video for NeosVR, narrated by the lead developer Frooxius. I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth watching to get an overview of the project if you’re new to it:

If you are interested in following the development of this project, you can follow NeosVR on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, or you can join their Discord server.

Results of the Second RyanSchultz.com Reader Poll: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In?

Image created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

The reader poll I posted one week ago has now closed, and I can now share the results with you.

But before I do that, I want to show you my blog viewer statistics. Notice the HUGE spike in viewers for three consecutive days? Almost all of that traffic was to the original blogpost! I’ve never seen anything like it.

At first, I was excited. And then, I got suspicious. While that particular blogpost eventually got 5,456 views (making it my most-viewed blogpost of all time!), the actual number of votes in my poll did not see a corresponding spike (only 220 votes in total were cast).

I had deliberately designed my poll so that repeat voters were blocked by website cookie and IP address, so obviously, either I was getting a lot of repeat voters, or a lot of visitors were not submitting their vote. And that huge spike in traffic was from locations all over the world, but there were many viewers from a lot of countries that to date had not been frequent visitors before: Turkey, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Colombia. I suspect that my poll was hit by a swarm of bots.

It would appear that SOMEONE was trying to sway (or spoil) my poll. The surge in traffic to that particular blogpost ended almost as abruptly as it had begun. The question is: why would anyone bother?

Anyway, time to announce the results of my poll. A total of 220 votes were received:

POLL RESULTS: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In?

  1. Sansar (43 votes)
  2. Second Life (38)
  3. OpenSim/Halcyon grids (23)
  4. Somnium Space (16)
  5. VRChat (15)
  6. High Fidelity (14)
  7. NeosVR (10)
  8. Occupy White Walls (8)
  9. Cryptovoxels (7)
  10. Sinespace (7)
  11. Engage (6)
  12. AltspaceVR (5)
  13. TheWaveVR (4)
  14. Anyland (2)
  15. Mozilla Hubs (2)
  16. Oculus Rooms (2)
  17. vTime XR (2)

The following platforms all got one vote each:

  • Active Worlds
  • Bigscreen
  • Hyperfair VR
  • JanusVR
  • 3DX Chat

And there were two unique write-in ballots*:

  • Anarchy Arcade: “It’s social not like chat, but by exploring people’s collections.”
  • Pix-Life (I have absolutely no idea what this is, and Google was no help. Does anybody know what this is?)

*Note to OpenSim/Halcyon fans: YOU DO NOT READ INSTRUCTIONS!!!! I simply added all your OpenSim write-ins to the OpenSim total above. Next time, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION. Your particular OpenSim/Halcyon grid is not a special, unique snowflake. Thank you.

Now, I am not going to read too much into these poll results. If anything, they are more a picture of my current blog readership (which tends to skew heavily towards Sansar and Second Life users). And I’m not going to kid myself: I’m sure a few platforms urged their users to vote in this poll. This is far from a scientific survey. I was a little surprised that Second Life did not get first place in my poll, though.

So, what do you think of the poll results? Please feel free to leave a comment below, thank you!

Exploring NeosVR: An Overlooked Gem in Social VR

It’s unusual for me to write as much as I have about a social VR platform such as NeosVR without actually visiting it (I can’t remember if I visited it when it first launched or not. I think I did. An occupational hazard of doing this sort of work is that, after a while, all the virtual worlds I covered tend to blend together and I have to stop and ask myself: did I see or do that in Sansar or in Sinespace, or somewhere else?)

Regardless, I decided it was time for me to strap on my Oculus Rift headset and pay a visit to NeosVR.

My first visit was late yesterday evening, only for about 20 minutes. NeosVR starts you off (very sensibly) with a set of five tutorial videos which explain how to use the menus and controls, among other things. The first thing that you need to know about NeosVR is that it is not designed so that you can just pick it up and use it without training. There is a learning curve associated with NeosVR, and it is a fairly steep one, especially if you want to take full advantage of all the commands at your fingertips (and most of them are incorporated in your hand controllers.).

Fortunately, when I arrived at the main hub, there were a couple of experienced avatars present who helped me learn the basic movements, how to select and visit an experience from a display, and how to choose an avatar from the many default selections. One of them pulled out a camera and took a picture of me, which you can see below:

Another thing you need to know about NeosVR is that it is essentially a single-person development team, Tomas Mariancik (Frooxius), as opposed to a whole company of developers. One-person development teams have the distinct advantage of being nimble in adding new features and fixing problems, but that very flexibility can sometimes make for a confusing user experience. For example, my two guides last night were debating which of two different ways to teach me how to save this photo to my hard drive—the “old way” and the “new way”. I understand that the client software is updated daily. This means that something that once was true can change from one version to the next. Documenting the quickly-changing world of NeosVR must be a nightmare of a challenge!

So, after last night’s excursion, I decided to go back in this morning and delve a little deeper into NeosVR. I went back to the futuristic main hub, designed to look like a staellite of Earth, where there was an atlas of experiences to visit:

The first one I picked was sort of a demonstration of the graphics abilities of NeosVR, and it was quite impressive (a mere photo hardly does it justice):

Then I visited a Van Gogh art exhibit, with a 3-dimensional recreation of one of his paintings. Again, the level of graphics was impressive:

I would strongly encourage you to come visit and explore NeosVR. Tomas Mariancik has created a wonderful and innovative space for developers to build VR experiences, and all the other social VR platforms should be taking notes. This project compares very favourably in terms of features with better-known platforms such as Sansar, High Fidelity, Sinespace and VRChat (with the latter probably being the one product to which NeosVR will be most often compared). NeosVR is an overlooked gem, and I plan to visit it much more often in future to see how it evolves.

(Note: I have confirmed from chatting with the developer on Reddit that you do not need to purchase Neos Credits, their in-world cryptocurrency, to use and enjoy NeosVR.)