UPDATED! Adventures in VR: Oculus Home, Somnium Space, Sinespace

This morning I decided to spend a little time in my Oculus Rift visiting three social VR platforms that I have not spent a lot of time in recently: Oculus Home, Somnium Space, and Sinespace.

Oculus Home

I was genuinely curious about Oculus Home after David Hall posted his video to YouTube, so I made sure to spend some time exploring it and learning about its new features. Basically, you can design your own home (even import your own content now), create multiple homes, and visit other people’s homes. You can set any of your homes to private, friends only, or public.

The software is still a little bit buggy. Multiple times I tried to favourite other people’s homes which I liked and wanted to be able revisit later, but it would not save my choices. Moving around is a bit cumbersome at first, but you can change the default teleport to walk and the default snap turning to smooth turning, so once I was able to fiddle with the settings a bit I felt a little more comfortable. I also encountered a few sticking points in the tutorials, which also could use a bit of tweaking.

Another problem is finding places to explore. There is a Recommended list of homes under Places in the pop-up menu, but it’s rather short (perhaps not many people have set their homes to public yet). Oculus Home is not really set up yet to allow you to easily browse other people’s experiences as you already can in Sansar with the Sansar Atlas, which is sortable in various ways (most popular, recently created, etc.).

And, in what I call “the VRChat/Rec Room problem”, there appear to be a lot of children and immature adults on the platform. Yes, there is asshattery, tomfoolery, and trolling already! It’s hardly surprising, really. After all, anyone who owns an Oculus Rift VR headset has access to Oculus Home.

However, I cannot deny that the experiences I visited were beautifully rendered, especially at the highest graphics settings in the options. I am eager to see where Facebook/Oculus takes this.

Somnium Space

I always have the same problem whenecer I try to start Somnium Space: I can’t remember the automatically-generated password! So I had to go through the whole rigamarole of resetting my password. This time I made sure to check the “remember password” option!

Unlike most other social VR platforms, Somnium Space appears to be one large landmass (mostly empty at this point). There’s a few places to explore, like a seaside town, a working bowling alley, and a shopping mall, but not a lot else yet.

There’s a very handy snapshot feature in Somnium Space which I used to take some in-world photos, but unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you what directory it is saving them to on your hard drive! After hunting around fruitlessly for fifteen minutes, I simply gave up.

There are also teleporters which tell you that can actually use them to teleport from Somnium Space to High Fidelity, JanusVR, and AltspaceVR, but they don’t work. Or at least, I couldn’t figure out how to work them. I gave up on that too.

Somnium Space really could use someone to provide better user documentation of features like the camera and the teleporters. Other than that, they’re off to a promising start, having raised over US$60,000 in their recent IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign.

Also, I decided today to set up a new category on my blog just for Somnium Space.

Sinespace

When I first tried Sinespace in VR last May, it was seriously buggy. I am sorry to report that the situation has not improved any. To enable VR mode in Sinespace, you have to download a special beta OpenVR client, install it, open it, make sure you enable OpenVR in the user settings and then restart the client software. (A bit fussy, in my opinion, compared to the seamless switching between desktop mode and VR mode in competing platforms like Sansar and High Fidelity.)

I found the level of jitteriness to be so severe that I had to take off my VR headset after only a couple of minutes before I got sick. In addition to that, whenever I teleported anywhere, I landed up facing the opposite direction from where I started. The user interface menus are positioned too close to your eyes. At one point, I was looking at the backside of the Explore menu! I could go on, but you get the idea: this is simply not ready for prime time yet. I was actually very disappointed.

UPDATE 9:03 p.m.: Well, I asked on the official Somnium Space Discord server, and someone told me where to find the snaphots I had taken (they were saved to the C:/Users/[username]/Documents/Somnium Space/Tablet Camera folder):

My avatar in Somnium Space
The teleporter I couldn’t get to work 🙁
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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!

Somnium Space Raises Over US$40,000 in Their Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign (and Announces an Official Partnership with Pimax)

Somnium Space has now raised 400% of their original US$10,000 fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo:

Somnium Space Indiegogo 1 5 Jan 2018.jpg

When I checked this morning, 189 backers have raised US$40,296, which works out to $212 per supporter—impressive! According to their latest update to investors, dated January 4th, 2019:

Hello people of Somnium!

What a ride. The more you – our supporters, buy land, or teleports, or anything we offer we are amazed and grateful! We work really hard to deliver you the BEST VR experience available! Now let’s dive into new things!

First glance at [the] more detailed Map!

Oh yes! You asked for it, you begged for it, you threatened us and our team! Now the time has come to start revealing our new map which is coming in Feb 2019. Have a look and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

One image on their Indiegogo page caught my eye. It would appear that the VR headset maker Pimax is now an official partner of Somnium Space (although I could not find Pimax listed on the Partners section of their official website):

Sominium Space Partners 2 5 Jan 2018

As far as I am aware, this would make Somnium Space the first virtual world to partner up with the Pimax headset, which is supposed to start shipping to consumers in February 2019.

Pimax
The Pimax Virtual Reality Headset

And there’s also a not-so-subtle hint in the company’s latest investor update:

P.S.: We are working hard to deliver one of the coolest perks you can ever imagine. Something exclusive, something, which you will not be able to find anywhere else. We hope we will be able to finalize and announce it soon. One hint: if you are planning to buy a very high resolution VR headset – wait few days 😉 If it works out well – you will not regret it!

Here’s a tip, guys: if you’re gonna talk about something that’s not yet official and “Top Secret”, you better check all the media you post to your own Indiegogo page. Just sayin’ 😉

Somnium Space is planning a major update to their client in early 2019. Here’s a preview:

You can follow Somnium Space as it evolves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram.

Somnium Space Launches a New Crowdfunding Initiative on Indiegogo

Did you know that you can become a patron of this blog, and help support my reporting on news and events in social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse? Here’s how.


Somnium Space 27 Nov 2018.png

Somnium Space is looking for new investors!

The virtual world Somnium Space has already raised £112,048 in funding through the U.K.-based crowdfunding website for VR projects called SeedingVR. And now, they have launched a new fund-raising campaign on the popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo:

Somnium Space IndieGogo 27 Nov 2018

Among the perks available to contributors are live guided tours of Somnium Space, T-shirts, parcels of virtual land and the opportunity to have your name “engraved” on the Somnium Space headquarters building.

So far, they report that they have raised 72% of their initial US$10,000 goal in only 36 hours! If you want to contribute, here’s their Indiegogo page.