Virtual Universe: How Good VR Design Helps You Avoid Feeling Queasy

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number two on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.


VRsickness.png

Ciaran Foley, the CEO of Ukledo and Immersive Entertainment, Inc. a Southern California virtual reality software company which is developing a new virtual world/MMO hybrid platform called Virtual Universe (VU), has written an interesting article about the various ways which VR software developers can avoid users experiencing motion sickness and nausea while using their programs.

In summary, those five ways are:

  • Using high-quality VR headsets;
  • Developing haptic feedback systems;
  • Developing a “virtual nose”: Researchers at Purdue University have suggested the mere act of including a virtual nose to the VR headset display can significantly reduce the effects of nausea by 13.5% (small but still significant);
  • Keeping things steady by tethering the player to a single spot;
  • Focusing on the environmental design of a VR platform.

Ciaran writes:

There is a slight learning curve to the mechanisms and feel of VR, and it is something that participants of VR will have to have patience with, monitoring their own tolerance, levels of use and ideal comfort settings. Those growing up with VR will adopt it far more easily, much like what we are seeing with Gen-Z having grown up with cell phones. VR has the potential to be just as common as gaming consoles, and people who spend a lot of time around these types of devices will also find it much easier to adapt to VR hardware.

Using what we and the industry as a whole have learned about optimal VR, our VU — Virtual Universe aims to improve on existing models and technologies without detracting from the experience. Instead of restricting core functionality like free movement as in other titles — which can be less immersive and perhaps a bit restrictive — visual tricks will be implemented such as playing with perspectives and field of view to give the environment a smoother feel, improving comfort for the player and helping them keep their lunch in the real world.

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Another Look at Virtual Universe’s Fun and Intuitive Creator Toolset Prototype

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number three on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.


Jeroen Van den Bosch, Virtual Universe’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder, has shared a 3-minute YouTube video about the creator toolset prototype used in VU:

As I have said before, I think this is an innovative and interesting way to create content within a VR experience. You can use tools very similar to those in the VR experience Nature Treks VR to arrange rocks and plant trees, simply by throwing balls into the air. Where the ball lands, you plant a tree or a rock, or release a bluebird!

I got a chance to play with this myself when I had my recent guided tour of Virtual Universe, and it is indeed a fun and intuitive way to create a VR experience!

Virtual Universe: A Look at Their Future Development Plans

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number three on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.

Virtual Universe 28 Apr 2018

Recently,  Jeroen Van den Bosch, VU’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder, wrote an open letter to the community on Medium, giving an extensive overview of the hybrid social VR space/virtual world/MMO, which is due to launch in beta sometime this summer.

It’s interesting reading. The plans that Jeroen and his team have for VU are ambitious! They are currently building the first city in VU, to be called Uruk. This city will have four districts:

1. Residential district: It is anticipated that players will be able to purchase plots of land and create buildings on top of it (in a fashion similar to SimCity). Whenever a new residential district is ready for sale, all its available plots will be put on the city’s auction house for VU tokens. Whoever wins the bid on a plot of land becomes the owner of the said plot, which will be recorded on the blockchain.

2. Entertainment district: VU plans to create high-quality VR arcade-style experiences that are free to play for everyone. Some of these entertainment centres will be created, run and owned by users, who will sell tickets to events (which are essentially smart contracts).

3. Commercial district: Virtual stores selling avatar customization, housing and transportation options will be run by VU and by the users themselves.

4. Financial district: Here will be located the auction house, where users can place items up for bid, or bid on items from other players. The city planner’s office will also be here, where plots of land of new development phases get auctioned to the players. Another point of interest in this district is the job board, where players can browse through the available positions in various virtual businesses throughout the city or look for someone to help with their business. Basically, this is where most of VU’s business will be conducted.

Outside the city will be a wild (and sometimes lawless!) frontier where it is anticipated that players will be able to gather resources which they can then sell:

Outside the city is our highly immersive LivingVR world. Created from the ground up to feel as immersive as possible. Teeming with virtual life, beautiful sceneries and waiting to be explored by you. Let’s say you are exploring further than you have before and suddenly you discover a cave behind a waterfall. Inside it, you find rich copper deposits. You know copper is a desired resource in the city since its an ingredient in many crafting recipes for a wide variety of building blocks. You mine the copper and haul it back to the city. Once there you list your copper on the auction house and collect the cryptocurrency once someone wins the bid on it.

And it is not just resource gathering that can be done in VU, there will be plenty of quests available for you and your friends to experience exciting adventures with plenty of loot to be had!

(This is the part of Virtual Universe which seems the most like a traditional MMO/MMORPG, in my opinion.)

Take a look at the entire proposal. It’s fascinating reading! And, if you haven’t yet, I would urge you to watch the video of my guided tour of Virtual Universe. Unlike Decentraland and some other blockchain-based social VR spaces/virtual worlds, VU is a place you can actually visit and interact with (currently only via appointment via Jeroen, but it is indeed a visitable place!).

You can learn more about Virtual Universe and VU tokens by visiting their website and signing up for email updates, visiting their Github, following VU on TwitterFacebook, Linkedin, and Instagram, or being part of their discussion groups on Telegram and Discord.

Exclusive Video: A Guided Tour of Virtual Universe with Jeroen Van den Bosch

Virtual Universe 28 Apr 2018
A scene from Virtual Universe, with AI-controlled bluebirds

I have recently blogged twice about the new social VR space/virtual world/MMO hybrid called Virtual Universe, first as an introduction and then looking at the creator toolset.

On Saturday afternoon I was fortunate enough to be given a half-hour guided tour of Virtual Universe (VU), conducted by Jeroen Van den Bosch, VU’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder. Darin the cameraman accompanied us and videotaped our tour so I can share it with you exclusively! (Yes, I have explicit permission to share this video.)

I was amazed by what I saw and experienced in VU, even in its alpha state, and I think you will be too, when you watch this video! I definitely want to be among the first people to try this new platform out when they launch the beta sometime this summer.

The people building VU are the same ones who created the popular Grand Canyon VR Experience. The overall graphics quality of VU is, in my opinion, second only to Sansar (and that’s still high praise). The virtual water is among the best and most realistic I have ever seen in any virtual world. The AI-controlled animals—rabbits, birds, lizards, even individual INSECTS!—is astoundingly lifelike. You can use tools similar to those in the VR experience Nature Treks VR to arrange rocks and plant trees. The transitions when you teleport from one experience to another reminded me of the sci-fi movie The Matrix. I could go on and on, but I think I will just post the 30-minute video and let you judge for yourself (you can click on the icon in the bottom right-hand corner to make the video larger):

You’ll notice that the current iteration of VU is intended for room-scale VR. There is currently no way to play this game by sitting in a chair—you need to be able to physically turn your body in the direction where you want to go! As someone who habitually uses VR in a seated position in a rather cramped space, this took some getting used to, but you quickly become accustomed to it. You can walk (at a slow pace), or you can pull up a personal hovercraft that takes you places faster.

In their whitepaper, VU is described as “part game, part social network, and part social creation platform, blending elements of Minecraft, Second Life and Simcity with innovative artificial-intelligence technologies that drive engagement”, and that is an excellent description of what it tries to be. It’s an intriguing mix of virtual world and MMO/MMORPG where you can collect wood, chop it up, and start a fire, feed worms to the bluebirds, or just explore your surroundings and interact with other users.

It still has lots of rough spots, which is normal for alpha software, but Virtual Universe is a social VR platform/MMO well worth keeping an eye on. I came away feeling excited about the possibilities and looking forward to taking part in their future beta release.

Indeed, the future is going to be very interesting!

A First Look at the Creator Toolset in Virtual Universe

I recently wrote about a new blockchain-based virtual world called Virtual Universe (VU for short). In a recent blogpost, VU Chief Creative Officer and co-founder Jeroen Van den Bosch gives us a sneak peek of the creator toolset prototype:

I find it very interesting that you can easily add AI-enabled wildlife like birds to your VU experience. A rather intriguing approach, to do all the VR worldbuilding within VR! (The in-world object positioning tools do remind me of those in the Scene Editor in Sansar.)

VU is selling cryptocurrency tokens for use in their virtual world. Note that it says in bold letters right across the top of their website:

VU TOKENS ARE NOT FOR SALE TO CHINA, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SINGAPORE AND CANADA.

Obviously, they don’t wish to run afoul of cryptocurrency regulations in those four countries. As I said before, I would strongly caution potential investors in VU to investigate extremely carefully before they leap on board this project. Cool product demo videos are one thing; an actual visitable, viable social VR space/virtual world is another.

Another Blockchain-Based Virtual World: Virtual Universe (VU)

Virtual Universe (VU) is yet another blockchain-based VR-capable virtual world, that bills itself as “An epic, story-driven, open world adventure in LivingVR™ powered by Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain”.

And yes, in case you were wondering, they define “LivingVR™” as “An experience in Virtual Reality that is more immersive, engaging and alive.” (Oh, really?)

Somebody dropped this promotional trailer into the RyanSchultz.com Google+ community:

According to their website, they plan on a private beta launch in July 2018, and a public beta launch in January 2019.

It sounds more like an MMORPG/MMO than a virtual world, according to this excerpt from their whitepaper:

This multiplayer game allows users to connect with their friends and embark on emotionally-engaging grand adventures in a living world that is persistent, social and rewarding. The adventure has multiple story arcs that surprise and delight players for the life of the game.

A user can choose to simply experience the adventure, or they can help create it. Becoming part of VU is rewarding and easy for gamers and non-gamers alike. Whether the user is inside the game or not, the universe and storyline continues moving forward.

VU is part game, part social network, and part social creation platform, blending elements of Minecraft, Second Life and Simcity with innovative artificial-intelligence technologies that drive engagement.

As I have said before, I’m not investing in any blockchain-based virtual worlds unless I can actually visit them. VU is another social VR space/virtual world to keep an eye on in future, as it develops. This particular segment of the marketplace is getting very crowded.