The Great Pug in VRChat, the Most Popular Pub in Social VR, Hits the 10 Million Visit Mark

Not all social VR spaces are struggling to attract users. Some have been surprisingly successful, and here is a good example. Bryan Bortz (a.k.a. OwlBoy) has just announced that the virtual pub he created in VRChat, The Great Pug, has now received 10 million visits!

The Great Pug just rolled over to 10 Million visits according to the VRChat API. Thanks to everyone who has visited, made friends, and supported The Pug over the years. Thank you to everyone who has helped me learn and improve during this journey.

The Great Pug

According to Bryan’s Patreon page:

The Great Pug is the most popular hangout spot in the metaverse. It’s a pub where people meet, hang out, chat, perform, show off, and role play. The Great Pug is dynamic with regular updates and improvements. It plays host to large annual parties on St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Along with other parties throughout the year. Custom decorations are put up for each event and taken down shortly after. Musical performances happen regularly in select instances. 

My focus with The Great Pug is the social space it provides. I want it to be a place you visit for the other people you find there.

I hope to have OwlBoy as a guest on an upcoming episode of the Metaverse Newscast. I’m sure he has many wonderful stories to tell as the keeper of the most visited pub in the metaverse! Congratulations on reaching this milestone!


VRChat Announces the Quest Creator Program

I admit it: I’m a gadget freak. When the first Amazon Kindle was announced in Canada, I bought one. When the first Apple iPad was launched, I bought one. And when the Oculus Quest is finally officially released, I will be buying one.

I predict that the Oculus Quest will be phenomenally popular, and help to finally usher in the long-awaited consumer VR market everyone has been forecasting for years (and getting wrong). I also predict that any social VR platform that supports the Oculus Quest will get a boost as well. So far, for the top 12 most popular social VR platforms, it looks like this:

Will There Be a Version for the Oculus Quest?

YesNo? (Status Uncertain or Rumoured)
– Bigscreen
– Rec Room
– Somnium Space
– VRChat
– vTime XR
– Sansar
– TheWaveVR
– AltspaceVR
– Facebook Spaces*
– High Fidelity
– Oculus Home*
– Oculus Rooms*
– Sinespace

*Obviously, there’s going to be something from Facebook/Oculus, but whether it will be a rebranding or extension of Facebook Spaces, Oculus Home, or Oculus Rooms, or something completely different, no one knows. And Facebook is keeping that a closely guarded secret for now.

While both High Fidelity and Sinespace have said that they will be supporting the Oculus Quest, I have as yet heard no official announcement from either of them. The same goes for AltspaceVR.

Today, VRChat launched their Quest Creator Program. And for the first time, we get some clear indications of what features will and won’t be allowed for VRChat worlds and avatars intended for Quest users.

It will be a dual-publishing model: publish once for PC users (i.e. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets), and publish a second time for Quest standalone headset users. If a creator publishes only for the Quest, their world(s) will only be visitable by users in the Quest. If the creator publishes only for the PC, Quest users will be unable to visit. Here’s a Venn diagram for those of you who like Venn diagrams:

Worlds published for both PC and Quest will have a cross-platform icon (the central symbol in the image above) in the VRChat Worlds Atlas. Users from both platforms can meet in cross-platform worlds. Quest-only worlds won’t show up for PC users, and vice versa. PC-only avatars will not display to Quest users (a default avatar will display instead).

Here’s some information from a newly-published guide to VRChat Quest Content Optimization:

While building worlds, you should try to keep polygon count low. You want to leave room for the user’s avatars as well. We recommend that you budget approximately 50,000 triangles for your world in total.

The same general rules apply for avatars that apply for worlds. Keep in mind that you may have 10 or more users in the same room, so you’ll want to budget your triangle usage pretty heavily. We recommend that you aim for 5,000 triangles for your avatar.

This will be a challenge for avatar authors that prefer to import characters from various platforms rather than create an avatar themselves. Decimation down to this level can be destructive, and you may need to look into techniques like retopologizing geometry to keep your polygon count low.

Quest worlds cannot use custom shaders or post-processing, and regular shaders and audio sources will be limited. Quest avatars also cannot make use of features such as dynamic bones, cloth, cameras, lights, and audio sources. Particles and shaders will be limited.

We can expect that similar restrictions will be in place for other social VR platforms for them to work on the reduced processing power and memory of the standalone Oculus Quest headset.

Oh, and in an interesting twist, Quest developers will soon be able to use the Oculus Go as a sort of testbed for their work. However, this is only an interim measure to allow for testing, and VRChat has no plans to actually release a version of VRChat for the Oculus Go:

Exciting times ahead!!

UPDATED! The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat: Hidden Adult Content

Banner vector created by katemangostar –

You might remember that a while back, I wrote a speculative blogpost about what would happen if one of the more popular social VR platforms were to break from the pack and allow adult/sexual content—only to discover (based on a user tip) that one of them (High Fidelity) already, very quietly, was.

Well, very shortly after writing and updating that particular blogpost, I was informed that a second popular social VR platform, VRChat, also has quietly allowed adult/NSFW content to be served from private worlds, something of which I was also unaware. (Please note that this is not a criticism of VRChat, or High Fidelity for that matter; my personal opinion is that adult content, when properly managed and carefully restricted to consenting users aged 18+, can indeed drive usage of, and business to, certain platforms. It’s one of the things that is currently contributing to Second Life’s longevity, for example.)

My anonymous source tells me:

As someone who plays a lot of VRChat, VRChat for sure allows adult content. They won’t tell you that though. Adult content must be kept to Invite Only or Invite+ worlds, it’s not allowed in public. But the adult worlds are out there.

I’ve seen some interesting art galleries. Also, I’ve seen some really interesting stuff since VRChat allows for custom shaders. A friend of mine made a deformation shader where the mesh would deform to your touch. You can guess what he used it for.

But yeah, VRChat totally allows that stuff, they just pretend it doesn’t exist, but they also don’t do anything about it even when they know it exists. I think it’s a brand thing. They don’t want to become the VR sex place.

Here is a screen capture of one of the rotating messages which appear in the VRChat client as your chosen world is loading:

Please note the curious and very specific wording, differentiating between not-safe-for-work content “in Public worlds (Public, Friends+)” and “streamed or shared from Private worlds (Invite, Invite+, Friends)”.

Invite and Invite+ worlds were introduced back in February 2018:

Invite – Very private. Owner can accept invite requests and send invites. Occupants get notifications that others want into the instance.
Invite+ – Somewhat private. Owner and any occupants can accept invite requests.

Here’s a link to a brief tutorial on Reddit on how to generate invitation links to private worlds in VRChat. So it’s possible to share a private invitation to a world with only those people you want to come in.

Now, I’m not really sure how to parse this strangely-worded ban on streaming and sharing adult content (isn’t that something that has to happen anyway, even if you’ve been invited to a private world?), but it seems to me that, as VRChat is about to gain a whole whack of new users with its impending launch on the Oculus Quest, that Facebook/Oculus is probably going to be taking a really, really hard look at this (if they haven’t already done so).

Also, I have (sadly, but perhaps not too surprisingly) not been invited to view any adult/sexual content in VRChat, so I cannot confirm what my anonymous sources have told me personally.

I’m already somewhat unpopular among a few VRChat users for even daring to bring up intellectual content and copyright issues on the platform before, and that’s probably yet another thing that may get a bit of a shake-up with the upcoming move to the Oculus Quest. (Not to beat a dead horse. But yeah, I am. And I am now going to let that matter rest in peace, before I sound like the grumpy old man that I am rapidly becoming…**Ryan takes another swig of Geritol, yells at the kids to get off his lawn**)

My understanding is that Facebook/Oculus is going to be much more stringent with its curation of content available to users of the Quest ecosystem, at least compared to the relatively open Early Access program for the Rift. What this actually means when the Oculus Quest officially launches and VRChat is made available as an app on the Quest is still somewhat open to speculation. (For that matter, the same applies to High Fidelity, although I have been unable to 100% confirm that it will launch on the Quest. No official announcement has yet been made.)

However, and before I get accused of being a VRChat basher by publicizing this hidden adult content, I will refer you to a quote I made when I was accused of bashing Sansar by criticizing its launch on Steam:

I want to stress that this is only one person’s opinion, not an official Sansar spokesperson’s point of view. I still remain a strong Sansar supporter, but I would be neglecting my duties as an independent social VR/virtual worlds blogger if I simply posted nothing but “good news” about Sansar, as some people want me to do.

And the exact same sentiment applies to VRChat as to Sansar. I like VRChat, I enjoy VRChat, and I have made some great friends and had some wonderful experiences there, but I am not simply going to be a cheerleader for the platform; I want to be able to report both the good and not-so-good sides of all the social VR platforms and virtual worlds I write about in this blog.

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment below, thanks!

UPDATE 5:49 p.m.: Well, this just gets even more confusing. I’ve received a link to the VRChat Community Guidelines, which clearly state:

Inappropriate Content

– Live streaming, advertising or publicly sharing content that is sexually explicit in nature or simulates sex acts is not permitted. Doing so may result in moderation action being taken against your account up to (but not limited to) banning of the offending user account depending on the severity of the act in question.
– Pornography & nudity is not allowed.

So, you can technically visit and see adult content in private worlds if you were invited (as shown in the very careful wording of the screen capture above), but pornography and nudity are against the VRChat Community Guidelines, so if the company actually finds out what you’re doing, they can shut you down. Note that this stance differs markedly from that of High Fidelity, which shifts the onus of responsibility entirely onto those who host their own content on their own servers.

VRChat and Rec Room Will Be Coming to the Oculus Quest This Spring

VRChat has just announced via Twitter that they will be one of the social VR platforms that the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone VR headset will support:

Image Sent Out in Today’s Tweet

In my earlier blogpost discussing which social VR platforms the Quest would support, there was a bit of debate as to whether or not it would be even possible to pare down the VRChat experience so that it would run acceptably on the Oculus Quest. It would appear that the company has successfully been able to accomplish this difficult feat.

It’s not clear whether VRChat will be one of the applications available at the official launch of the Quest, or sometime later. (We still don’t know when the Quest will be launched, other than “Spring 2019”.) It’s also not exactly clear what technical compromises will have to be made to the full-blown VRChat experience currently available to people using the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

But wait, there’s more news! VRChat is not the only social VR platform to make an Oculus Quest-related announcement today!

UploadVR reports today that Against Gravity’s Rec Room social VR app will also be available for the Quest. Again, it’s not clear whether the platform will be available on the official launch date of the Oculus Quest, or sometime later. They add:

We’ve long thought of Rec Room as one of VR’s most important apps. On top of playing together, players can also customize rooms to their own look and then share them with others to provide new types of experiences. In January, we reported that the game had reached over one million players.

Against Gravity also confirmed to UploadVR that the Quest version of the game will support cross-play. this is a key feature for Rec Room, allowing those with an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows VR headset and even a PSVR to meet up online. Adding Quest to that mix should help expand the player base.

So, both the number one (VRChat) and number two (Rec Room) most popular social VR platforms will be available for the Oculus Quest. This will open up a large new potential audience for both platforms. The question remains, though: how well will both virtual worlds stand up to the flood of new users? Interesting times ahead!