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:


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.

UPDATED: 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.

UPDATE May 30th: I have written quite a few blogposts about Virtual Universe since this first item was written. Here is a link to all my Virtual Universe (VU) blogposts.