Helios is now available for Early Access purchase for all who wish to join our little Social VR revolution! Everything made through Early Access purchases will go towards making Helios a viable and robust alternative to what is currently on the market!
Helios is unlike most other social VR platforms on the marketplace, in that it is based on the Unreal game engine (most other social VR platforms use Unity). It is also interesting in that it has attracted a significant number of former Sansar users—in some cases, even porting entire worlds from Sansar over to Helios! I think the attraction for former Sansar users is the way that Helios is catering to world builders, in a way that is similar to the early days of Sansar.
The platform definitely is a creator-centered space, with a small but passionate community of geeks who want to see what they can do, even perhaps push a few boundaries! Here, a group decided to stress-test a free world downloaded from the Unreal Store by dropping hundreds of cheese wheels!
I just heard about a brand new social VR project, a small indie project called Helios, and since this is a blog about social VR, I thought I’d let you all know about it.
Actually, there’s not much to see yet over at the Helios social VR project. No website yet, basically just a Twitter feed and a brand-new Discord server (here’s the invite).
According to the FAQ on their Discord:
What is Helios? Helios is a Social VR game made with Unreal Engine 4 by SubLight Games.
Why are you using Unreal Engine? Unreal Engine will allow Helios to offer a more immersive, interactive, and creator friendly offering than anything currently on the market today.
Will I be able to make my own avatar and use it in game? Yes! Helios is being designed from the ground up to be as creator friendly as possible. Functionality has already been added to allow you to do this.
What stage of development is the game currently in? Helios is currently in a closed Alpha stage. The bare bones are there and new features are being added often.
If you are interested in joining the closed alpha of Helios, you can send a request for a Steam activation code to user Rareden (the lead developer) on their Discord server. Apparently, the developers hold organized community tests once a week on Fridays at 11:00 p.m. EST.
Helios is also unique in that almost all of the other social VR platforms on the market either have a custom game engine (e.g. Sansar) or use Unity (e.g. VRChat). Helios will be based on the Unreal game engine.
So you can get the scoop straight from the people directly involved.
While I think the reasoning for this decision is very sound, the unfortunate fact remains that since Linden Lab is a smaller company with limited resources, feature development will tend to lag behind off-the-shelf engines like Unity and Unreal, which have bigger development teams and lots of users. However, as mentioned in Inara’s notes, backwards compatibility of user-generated content (UGC) is a key issue that needs to be addressed in any successful virtual world. I still think that Sansar is on the right track.