High Fidelity Pick of the Day: FUTVRE LANDS

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Thomas Dolby performing She Blinded Me With Science at the FUTVRE LANDS virtual reality festival in High Fidelity.

I’ve spent the whole afternoon at the festival (both in and out of my Oculus Rift VR headset) and I have been BLOWN. AWAY. by what I have seen and heard today!

Technical glitches aside, this festival (with well over 200 avatars attending both in San Francisco and from all around the globe) has been a remarkable achievement!

Congratulations to High Fidelity CEO Philip Rosedale and his team.

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CNN Business Takes a Look at Social VR with Visits to AltspaceVR and High Fidelity

CNN Business teamed up with BEME News to produce a nine-minute segment on avatars in virtual reality, visiting both AltspaceVR and High Fidelity:

How realistic virtual reality experiences impact your mind

Widespread adoption of virtual reality may depend on bringing people together in familiar ways like going to a party, seeing a band, or networking at a conference without leaving your couch. How real do VR connections feel?

Here’s the complete video segment on YouTube:

I like how this segment includes the part where the reporter steps into the Doob scanner to create a photorealistic avatar of herself. I would love to be able to do that, but alas, I live too far away from any of the locations that currently offer this service.

And then, I love the part where Philip Rosedale leads the reporter to a mirror within High Fidelity so she can see what she looks like…absolutely wonderful! (By the way, does Philip do anything else lately besides public relations for social VR in general and HiFi in particular? He’s popping up everywhere lately! Does the man sleep?!??)

And I still chuckle whenever I see tarted-up AltspaceVR avatars (such as Katie Kelly’s avatar in this video), which look way better than the limited default options offered to the regular customers! AltspaceVR avatars are still totally unappealing compared to what other social VR platforms can offer such as Sansar and High Fidelity. When is Altspace going to get off their butts and fix that? They’ve got all that Microsoft money to work with, for Pete’s sake! Do something!!

Anyway, my carping at AltspaceVR’s dreadfully cartoony avatars aside, it’s a great video. The reporter’s sense of awe and wonder were genuine, and quite infectious! This video segment will introduce social VR and its possibilities to a whole new audience. Well done, CNN and BEME!

UPDATED: High Fidelity Sets Another Avatar Region Capacity Record: 426 Avatars!

Yesterday, High Fidelity had another one of their monthly stress tests of the platform. (They moved it to a Saturday to encourage more people to show up.)

They were able to bring together 426 avatars in a single domain (The Spot). They also had a Best Avatar Contest, and here is a picture of the contest entries:

HiFi Custom Avatar Contest 7 Oct 2018

Here’s a snapshot from High Fidelity, showing CEO Philip Rosedale addressing the crowd:

HiFi Load Test 7 Oct 2018.PNG

Frankly, I am having a bad weekend. The urologist has put me on a heavy-duty course of industrial-strength antibiotics post-surgery, and it is wreaking havoc with my body.

But I’m glad I did pop in just to experience the madness. I’m still really impressed at how well the High Fidelity platform can stand up to the stress of over 400 avatars in a single domain! Congratulations to Philip and his team.

UPDATE Oct. 9th: Here’s a one-and-a-half-hour video of the event, which gives a good sense of what an event with over 400 avatars present looks and feels like! If you don’t watch the whole thing, be sure to skip ahead to the 42:20 minute mark, where you can see the Ganesha blue elephant god avatar, which was my personal favourite of all the contest entries and the grand prize winner! The Ganesha avatar took two weeks of work in Maya and Substance Painter to create, and it features extremely well-done rigging, including flapping elephant ears and trunk movement!

Editorial: Putting Items On the High Fidelity Marketplace—Why Is It So Complicated?

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Why is it so complicated to get an item into the High Fidelity Marketplace? (Image by geralt on Pixabay)

Compared to the thousands of items already for sale on the Sansar Store (14,875 at last count), the High Fidelity Marketplace still looks rather empty in comparison (by my count, less than 600 items). High Fidelity is trying its hardest to encourage content creators to upload more items to its Marketplace. In fact, HiFi is issuing an HFC (in-world currency) bonus for any items uploaded to the Marketplace before Oct. 1st, 2018:

For every item you submit to the Marketplace before October 1, 2018, that is approved for sale, you will receive a bonus of 2,000 High Fidelity Coin (HFC).

In an effort to get some discussion rolling, Philip Rosedale recently posted his musings on the subject to the HiFi discussion forums:

With HFC now being exchangeable for USD at the bank, we’re thinking about how best to help get the marketplace started and lots of people putting up new things for sale. How best should we go about doing that? Any ideas?

Pay HFC for commissioned items, like we’d often been doing on the worklist?

Buy one copy of everything everyone puts up?

Get HF employees to put up some amazing stuff that can then be freely modified?

??

I must confess, that I really don’t see the point of having High Fidelity buy one copy of everything that everybody puts up for sale on the Marketplace. What purpose does that serve? High Fidelity should be encouraging its users to buy items from each other, rather than buying up items themselves!!

It would appear that there are still some impediments and bottlenecks in the whole process of putting an item up for sale in the High Fidelity Marketplace. Some users have complained that the whole procedure is quite awkward.

Even worse, it would appear that every single item has to be reviewed by High Fidelity before it can be approved for sale. One would-be seller received the following response to his uploaded item:

“Unfortunately we do not feel this submission is up to quality standards on the Marketplace and have decided not to approve it at this time. We encourage you to continue improving on this submission and greatly appreciate the work you have put in.”

If High Fidelity is actually going to screen each and every item for quality, they’re going to create a huge bottleneck that will negatively impact the Marketplace. This is one of the fatal mistakes that Blue Mars made. Tell me this: how many staff is High Fidelity going to throw at this quality assurance task? What are the standards to be used for assessing the “quality” of items? Will there be an appeal process for rejected items? This opens up a huge can of worms.

Another person in that same discussion thread stated:

I’ll just bring up my concerns I’ve had for awhile in addition to people from Second Life who I’ve worked with, who have held back due to the security concerns.

I get the knowledge of some people will always be high and as a result will mean their knowledge on how to work around securities will be a never ending battle, but now that the push for wearables has been made, no one bothered to think of the consequences, and as a result, I’ve had a few of my own items copied without full concern. Were they certified, marketplace items? No, but the fact that the same even applies to them degrades my trust and the contacts I’ve met on the topic of putting things into the marketplace.

Now there’s this:

How can anyone put something up when most issues regarding the marketplace, regarding the security for it, and the issues with even the PoP have not been addressed?

Heck, I’ll go even as far as to address the other elephant in the room: as Richardus has pointed out, the approval process is slow, and now suddenly there’s a desire to push people to fix or upload new items, and at that, with a price tag. A consequence I hope someone has predicted are ones who did submit something for approval early only to not have it approved until after the date. If that happens, and word spreads, the trust in the system will only worsen.

These are all excellent points that need to be addressed by High Fidelity, and quickly.

As mentioned above, Proof of Provenance (PoP) is yet another area of concern with the Marketplace. There was a great deal of controversy when this was first proposed, but the document referring to it has since been taken down from HiFi’s website. It’s really not clear to me what the status of this initiative is. Is High Fidelity is still planning to conduct PoP verification services for items listed on its Marketplace? If they are, then what fee will they charge for this service? Everybody seems to have questions, and nobody seems to have any answers.

The online instructions for uploading your content to the High Fidelity Marketplace are split up into several sections, each of which is fairly technical in nature. Take a look for yourself:

Here’s a sample screenshot of a section from the Add Your Item page, complete with instructions on how to edit your .JSON files (yes, you need to know how to edit code!):

Add Your Item 21 Sept 2018.png

I can certainly understand why some people feel that the whole process is daunting, confusing, and cumbersome.

The overall impression I get here is that there are still significant obstacles standing in the way of content creators who want to place their items up for sale in the High Fidelity Marketplace and earn money from them. Why on earth aren’t Philip Rosedale and his team taking a page from Linden Lab, where they have already set up not one, but two highly successful online stores: the Second Life Marketplace, and the Sansar Store?