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.
I’m not a Alpha Tester, but I managed to find a screenshot of the Horizon alpha somewhere on the web. It’s unique, couldn’t be reverse searched, and not a promotional shot. (names removed)
Tony Vitillo (a.k.a. SkarredGhost), an Italian man whose blog, The Ghost Howls, often has reviews of products and interesting news reports about the VR industry, posted this image to Twitter, asking:
Is this a screenshot from Facebook Horizon? If it is, it looks a bit simpler than I was expecting…Will it be like this in its first release, or [are the] shaders…going to improve?
Somebody responding to Tony’s tweet posted an image from a closed Facebook group, which appears to confirm that the image is indeed legitimate (I have edited it to blur out the avatar usernames over their heads):
I do not know if somebody broke their NDA to use this image for this group, but it is already out there on Twitter, and the Facebook group is listed as Visible, which means anybody can search for, and find, this particular group. In fact, there are not one but two such groups already, this one and a second one, also Visible, with the following image (which might have been part of Facebook’s original press kit):
Given that there is so little information currently out there about Facebook Horizon, people have weighed in (on both Reddit and Twitter) about these images. Robert Scoble said:
I sure hope it is better than this. Sigh.
And Charlie Fink commented:
I should feel better about this image than I do.
Jossi Sivonen said:
What an anticlimax if so! The gfx (graphic effects) looks way better in this early teaser… (which clearly states that this AIN’T actual VR footage);
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that a tech company’s promotional teaser video did not resemble the final delivered product (hellooooo, Magic Leap?).
And, I must admit, based on the two “leaked” images above, Facebook Horizon does look a tad…underwhelming. (One person on the Twitter thread said that the shaders looked “cheap”.) Robert Scoble’s comment led to the following exchange:
Tony: I mean, I think that I can do this graphic myself in Unity LOL! I’m sure that a billionaire company like Facebook can do better…
David: Can you do graphics like that at [a] constant 72Hz on Quest with 50 people in a fully customized (from inside VR) world?
Tony: VRChat can do that (the world is built in Unity though), Rec Room has better graphics as well. ENGAGE the same. So, if *this* is the final graphics, it is disappointing. But we all know it is going to be better, it’s impossible [that] it is this one when version 1 will be released.
David: Of the apps you mentioned, only Rec Room has true dynamic inside-VR world creation, and its graphics are pretty much on par with this.
So, what do you think? Are you excited about Facebook Horizon? Do you think that, with Facebook’s clout and deep pockets behind it, it will be the first massively popular social VR platform? Or do you think that, like Facebook Spaces, this will also be a failure?
Please feel free to leave a comment below or, as always, you are welcome to join the freewheeling discussions, arguments, and debates about social VR and virtual worlds taking place among the over 400 people who hang out on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the first cross-worlds discussion forum! We’d love to see you there.
AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything,” which is basically just a trendy internet slang term or acronym used to describe an interview that occurs between one user who hosts it and all the other users who want to ask questions.
What makes AMAs so interesting is types of people who are willing to host them. From high-profile celebrities to regular people who’ve had extraordinary life experiences, there’s never any shortage of great AMAs to look up and even participate in yourself.
You can find most of these interview-style threads in the /r/IAmA/ subreddit, which currently has over 18 million subscribers. There’s also the slightly less popular but still extremely active /r/AMA subreddit that has just over 300,000 subscribers. Here, you’ll find a number of posts from people stating who they are and asking users to ask them anything.
So I now take back my earlier harsh, sarcastic assessment of Cryptovoxels. It’s taken off quite nicely, and it appears to be thriving! Just goes to show you how wrong I can sometimes be. Please accept my apologies, Ben.
– There are more than 1,000 people following the Cryptovoxels twitter – There are more than 1,320 parcels minted in the city, with more than 280 distinct owners – Over 1000 parcels have been developed and had signs, text, images, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and .vox models added to them. – There are more than 74,000 edits on the parcels in the city, this includes voxels being placed, features being added and buildings being raised and torn down – There have been more than 134,000 visits to parcels in-world, people that have physically entered the world and explored into parcels – Over 890 of the 1512 streets in Origin City have been revealed through the minting process
So the timing was right for Ben Nolan to do his Reddit AMA. Here are just a few of the things we learned from that Ask Me Anything.
When several people asked Ben to explain what Cryptovoxels is, he replied:
Haha, I wish there was an easy way to explain what Cryptovoxels is, but you really have to red pill it and explore to begin to understand. I would say that in one sentence it’s a “virtual city that is owned by it’s users”. I think this gallery is a good example of what you can build in Cryptovoxels.
Yup a city building game is a good description of what it is. Cryptovoxels is free to play, but if you want to build a gallery, you have to buy the land which costs $30-$300 dollars depending on what and where and how much land you want. You are then the owner of that land, and if you don’t want it in the future you can sell it to someone else. A bit like owning a domain, but you don’t have to pay for renewals.
Ben also explained some of the technical details of the project:
It’s written in Babylon.js (version 3.3) for the frontend, and node.js for the backend. All the data is stored in Postgres and the land ownership is recorded on the Ethereum blockchain.
Ben is already generating profit from his enterprise, enough to make working on Cryptovoxels his full-time job:
Parcels sell for 0.2 to 1.0 ether (ETH), so about $36 to $180 USD at current prices. I’ve made enough to work full time on it since June, and at the moment it’s going well enough for me to hire someone else to work with me… I work full time probably 50 hours a week on CV.
He’s even fielded several offers of venture capital for his project!
I’ve been contacted by 3 or 4 VC firms, and they were really cool to talk to and seemed to believe in the vision for CV – but even though it’s a bit stressful trying to scale the company just from sales, I think keeping CV privately owned means that I have a greater chance of building the vision of a distributed, user owned metaverse. I am a bit sad though, that I won’t get to get bought out by Hooli and wait out my vesting period sitting on the roof with big head drinking beers.
He also shared his thoughts about other virtual worlds, such as Second Life:
And (of course!) I asked Ben what he thought about Decentraland (DCL for short), the other blockchain-based virtual world project that is now so close to a public launch:
I really like Decentraland, I wish them lots of luck with their private beta and I’m keen to try it out once the public beta arrives. Their Unity client looks really nice and the nice lighting and shadows was a big inspiration for the Babylon 4 upgraded I was trying (and failed) to do. My hope is that once they are in public beta, we can find a way for users to teleport from CV to DCL and back again.
I also asked him two other questions:
What one thing do you think is Cryptovoxel’s biggest success to date?
What’s your biggest regret with the project? What do you wish you could do over?
The biggest success so far is all the awesome builds by community members. One of my fears was that CV would get bought up by investors who had no desire to build in the world and were just waiting for gains on their tokens. That still happens of course, but over 70% of the sold parcels have been built on, and the art galleries, museums and exhibitions are what make exploring Origin City so addictive and an easy way to consume time.
I wish I had double checked my maths when I first created the voxel-positioning code. It looks fine in the Cryptovoxels client, but now that we have 3 or 4 (Unity, Janus, Substrata) clients consuming Origin City [the name of CV’s main city], the little hacks I made to make things look good on the web, those hacks make creating a conforming client really painful for third parties.
I would encourage you to go over to Reddit and read through the AMA in full. Here’s a link. Thank you to Ben for hosting this and answering so many questions! More virtual world CEOs need to host AMAs like this.
Also, at some point in the near future, I do plan to write up a more detailed blogpost comparing and contrasting the two biggest blockchain-based virtual world projects to date, Cryptovoxels and Decentraland. This will be largely based on an excellent article that Jin from the RyanSchultz.com Discord server has recently put together. Thanks, Jin!
WARNING! Do not blame me if this blogpost takes you down the Reddit rabbit hole and you find yourself five hours later, wondering what the hell happened to your day! You have been warned 😉
Since quitting Facebook, Reddit (a.k.a. “the front page of the internet”) has become one of my favourite places to visit. No matter how obscure the interest, there is a subReddit (i.e. a Reddit community) for you! I thought I would share some of my favourite subReddits with you.
First up are the virtual reality subReddits I read and post to:
r/SocialVR: Devoted to all aspects of social VR, this is a tiny subReddit with only 200 members that could really use a little more love (I seem to be only one posting there lately!).
r/virtualreality: A place to discuss anything and everything related to virtual reality.
r/AntiFacebook: “A community for posting articles about the problems of Facebook: its disrespect for privacy, widespread censorship, manipulation of users, and overall threat it poses to the freedom of the web and social relationships.”
r/apple: A million-member community talking about all things Apple.
r/humor: “Humor is the place for things that bring a wry smile to your face.”
r/Instagramreality: This one is both funny and sad: pictures of people caught out using filters. “Social media is a breeding ground for Facetune and Photoshop, It’s unbelievable how some people get away with it while others don’t!”
r/memes: Almost 6 million people sharing memes. “Memes! A way of describing cultural information being shared. An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”