Somnium Space Acquires Community Garden, Announces Refund Program for MetaWorld Investors

Somnium Space.Community Garden

Today Somnium Space announced that Carleton DiLeo (co-founder of MetaWorld and creator of Community Garden) has joined Somnium Space as a Principal Developer. According to their press release:

After the recent successful crowd-invest campaign Somnium Space has been continuing to rapidly add features and grow its VR metaverse. With a successful launch on Steam, more than 3,500 new members have joined Somnium community in the past 3 weeks. With Carleton [DiLeo] on board, Somnium Space will be able to realize its potential much quicker by further strengthening its development team with highly skilled professionals such as Carleton.

Both companies believe in an imminent future of social interactions happening inside Virtual Reality. Combining creative minds from both companies, Somnium Space will be bringing even more innovative features to its online persistent VR universe soon.

“Today, we are shaping landscape of Virtual Reality for many decades ahead. Every decision we do about types of social interactions or certain technical aspects of VR world will impact future generations of players and virtual citizens.” said Artur Sychov, Founder of Somnium Space. “We want to make decisions which will create an unbelievable environment for people to foster their creativity, therefore we are quickly building the best possible team to realize that vision”

“I am thrilled to become part of Somnium Space team and bring to life the ideas I had with Community Garden on a much larger scale.” said Carleton DiLeo. “I strongly believe the future of VR is in shared worlds that players feel connected to. Community Garden’s vision and Somnium Space’s approach are the perfect match, and just what the VR community needs.”

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Somnium Space has been approached by a number of players who have bought various game packages in non-released MetaWorld VR app. Numerous delays, missed deadlines and the recent removal of MetaWorld page from Steam have left users unhappy and questioning the future of the project. Many MetaWorld users have reported difficulty getting refunds on Reddit. At Somnium Space, we are committed to keeping the VR community a healthy and trusted place for people and we have zero tolerance for questionable practices. Therefore, Somnium Space is announcing a refund and exchange program for MetaWorld users. If you have purchased early access or land from MetaWorld, you can exchange that land for a small land parcel in Somnium Space or get a full refund for your purchase. Users who have purchased game package from Meta World before 31.10.2018 are eligible for a refund or exchange.

If you want a refund, please email metaworld@somniumspace.com with a subject line “Refund”. Please attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. In case you would like to exchange your deed to a land in Somnium, please use subject line “Exchange” and attach your deed and proof of financial transaction. PLEASE NOTE: even after receiving a refund from Somnium Space, your deed is still valid in case MetaWorld will be released. For more information and questions, please join the Somnium Space official Discord channel.

Disclaimer: Since it is unknown exactly how many users have purchased game packages from MetaWorld, Somnium Space leaves a right to stop refund process at any time. Nevertheless, we are prepared to refund as many hundreds of players as we possibly can.

Well, this looks like a win-win all around! Congratulations to the team at Somnium Space and to Carleton DiLeo. This is also good news for people who paid for MetaWorld, a platform that has been moribund for quite some time now.

I have updated my List of Social VR/Virtual Worlds accordingly.

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UPDATED: A Comparison Chart of Twelve Popular Social VR Platforms

bigfive

From my recent blog reader poll results, I got the following results on who has created user accounts on which social VR spaces:

The “Big Five” social VR platforms

After Second Life and OpenSim, the next biggest section of the reader responses were these five newer social VR platforms:

  • Sansar (149 readers, 8.87%)
  • High Fidelity (145 readers, 8.63%)
  • VRChat (101 readers, 6.01%)
  • Sinespace (83 readers, 4.94%)
  • AltspaceVR (68 readers, 4.05%)

Not far behind were a few more newer competitors

  • Rec Room (54 readers, 3.22%)
  • Somnium Space (53 readers, 3.16%)
  • Bigscreen (35 readers, 2.09%)
  • Facebook Spaces (29 readers, 1.73%)
  • Oculus Rooms (26 readers, 1.55%)
  • vTime (20 readers, 1.19%)
  • TheWaveVR (16 readers, 0.95%)

So, I decided to draw up a detailed comparison chart of just these 12 social VR platforms. Note that in this chart, I excluded platforms that did not have VR support (e.g. Second Life, OpenSim-based virtual worlds).

I also did not dwell on technical details, such as the underlying game engine, user creation tools, etc. Instead, I focused on the three things of most interest to consumers:

  • How you can access the platform;
  • What options do you have for your avatar;
  • And whether you can go shopping!

This print on this chart is a little small to show up on the constrained width of this blogpost, so I saved it as a picture to Flickr. Just click on the chart below (or the link above) to see it in Flickr in full size. You can also use the Flickr magnifying glass to get an even closer look!

Social VR Platform Comparison Chart 22 Oct 2018

You can also download this chart from Flickr in any size up to its original size (1656 x 914 pixels).

If you feel I’ve made any mistakes, or left anything out, please leave me a comment below, thanks! I do hope that people who are trying to figure out which social VR spaces to explore will find this comparison chart useful.

UPDATE Oct. 23rd: Someone on the Virtual Reality subReddit has helpfully pointed out this thread on the official Sansar website’s Feature Requests section, where it would appear that Sansar does now work with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Sansar user Vassay wrote in July 2018:

After Windows 10 April update, WMR headsets work with Sansar in full scale – meaning all the benefits, including moving your avatar. Tested and confirmed on several systems already.

One thing to be weary is that Sansar works with WMR headsets through SteamVR libraries, so some updates to SteamVR can sometimes break things. But from what I’ve seen, things are mostly stable and work correctly.

Happy VR to all 😉

Also, there is an interesting comment on the discussion thread about this chart over on the High Fidelity user forums:

Clothing in High Fidelity is doable, but is limited at this time to whichever avatar is was made for, since global clothing options isn’t really a thing.

So can you have clothing in High Fidelity? Yes, and not just attachments either. Apparently Ryan forgot that Menithal’s robes are completely separate, that items made in Marvelous [Designer] do work here, or that I had a greeter uniform before all greeters got one…

Menithal in Clothing.jpeg

To which I would reply: Yes, technically you can make clothing for your custom avatar in HiFi (if you have the skills), but there is still no default, dressable avatar for which you can buy clothing from the marketplace, like you already can in both Sinespace and Sansar. Note that I am making a specific distinction between actual avatar clothing that conforms to your body and the simpler avatar attachments (such as hats and wings) currently offered at the in-world stores in High Fidelity.

Second Update: It turns out that Windows Mixed Reality headsets will work with any SteamVR-compatible virtual world. High Fidelity users report they can use their Windows MR headsets to navigate very well in HiFi.

Somnium Space News—and the Most Outrageous Social VR Company Promise Yet!

Well, I decided to start blogging again, although I doubt I will be keeping up the same fast rate of blog-posting that I used to do!

For my return to regular blogging, the first social VR space I want to talk about is Somnium Space, which I first profiled in early May.

First, Somnium Space has announced that they are joining the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance (VRBA), which I had written about earlier:

Somnium Space will join VRBA founders High Fidelity and JanusVR in the effort to create a universal digital identity platform, built on the blockchain, beyond the control of any corporate entity, bridging virtual worlds and the real one.

As a VRBA member, Somnium Space will host a node of the High Fidelity blockchain. Somnium Space will recognize identities created in High Fidelity and JanusVR, and assets created in JanusVR or High Fidelity will be transferable to Somnium Space. Users of all three services will be able to control what information they share and how they present themselves within each experience.

Second, Somnium Space has also launched a crowdfunding initiative on the new U.K.-based crowdfunding website for VR projects called SeedingVR. If you decide to donate, Somnium Space will give you free land:

Somium Space 22 June 2018

Third, Somnium Space is also proudly trumpeting the fact that someone (an executive of the company) bought the first Tesla in virtual reality:

Frankly, I don’t see what the advantage of purchasing the car in a VR headset was. There was nothing special that virtual reality added to the transaction; it could just as easily been done using a regular computer screen and keyboard, instead of having to awkwardly punch keys on a virtual recreation of a keyboard within a VR headset.

But it was something else on the SeedingVR announcement that really caught my eye:

Somnium Space Key Monetization Areas 22 June 2018.png

What? WHAT?!??

Live Forever Mode 22 June 2018.png

So, I went to the Somnium Space website and sure enough, it was there too!

Live Forever 22 June 2018

Yes, that’s right. For a monthly fee, Somnium Space promises to record everything you do and say on your property, in order to (and I quote)  “bring you entirely back to life using AI”. This has got to be the single most outrageous promise I have ever heard from any social VR/virtual world/metaverse company!

Now, this is gonna be quite the feat! I still cannot quite believe that someone on the executive team at Somnium Space had the chutzpah to actually come up with this little gem, let alone announce this!

Sorry, not buying it. The people behind Somnium Space can’t even get the “Sign In” button on their website working (or offer me a way to automatically retrieve/reset my forgotten user password from my first visit), and they’re already gonna promise me eternal life?!??

Broken Sign In 22 June 2018.png

I had believed that the ridiculous boasting and promise-making made by some of the metaverse-building companies were already at their highest level, but this one really takes the cake!

Somnium Space: A Brief Introduction

SomniumSpace.png

Theanine gave me a heads up on Twitter about a new social VR space called Somnium Space, so I went over to their website to download the beta software and try it out. (I think “Somnium Space” is a very strange choice for the name of a virtual world; it sounds like a sleeping pill!)

In the email message I received once I signed up, it stated that Somnium Space was in open beta:

Somium Space 1 6 May 2018.png

According to their website, they plan to offer support for all the major platforms: Android App, Daydream, GearVR, Desktop VR (Vive and Oculus), and a PC Client. Right now there’s just a VR client for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Setting up your avatar is pretty straightforward. It’s basically the same as the Oculus Home avatar, just a head and shoulders, which you can tint any colour you want:

Somnium Space Avatar 6 May 2018.png

I did have a chance to wander around a bit in their first city, called Waypoint. There’s a cinema, a shopping mall (more of a mock-up than a true retail setting), and a working bowling alley. There were helpful signs posted at the spawn point, that explained how to use the Vive and Rift Controller buttons to move around and turn.

I had difficulty getting some good screen shots, because there didn’t seem to be a snapshot feature in the VR client software, and there didn’t seem to be any desktop mode yet. So I had to hold up my VR headset in one hand, and grab a screenshot with SnagIt with the other from what I could see in my VR headset reflected on my monitor! Here’s the Arcade Hall where the bowling alley is located.

Somnium Space Arcade Hall.png

As I have said before, the social VR space is getting very, very crowded! Here’s another product to keep an eye on.