Bi-weekly update with the latest insights from the Metaverse: news, posts, creations and communities.
Hey! I’m still trying to get used to this newsletter thing. My main objective is to give you quick insights into the latest news in the Metaverse and XR space to save you time. And maybe discover a couple of new things or perspectives you wouldn’t have otherwise.
This past fortnight has been really interesting in XR news and a bit hard to keep up. Check out my selection of the main things that have happened!
On the news
Half Life Alyx and other AAA VR games announced and launched: The awaited and long-rumored Half Life VR is coming March 2020. It’s a a major milestone for VR gaming and has gotten the community extremely excited. Many Half Life fans are disappointed that it’s made specifically for VR, but we can only hope that it will help sell more HMDs. Many interactions are only possible in VR, and Half Life Alyx was developed from the beginning with this in mind. It joins Medal of Honor, also coming in 2020, and the recently released Asgard’s Wrath and Stormland as AAA games pushing VR as a major gaming platform. [Link]
Atmos XR, the open-source Web based HMD, pivots away from XR: Sad news that Atmos is pivoting away from XR. They were building an open-source headset that would boot to WebXR. It was a very interesting initiative that would help push the boundaries of the open Metaverse forward, but understandably, due to the small VR market, they have to pivot. They are releasing all the progress they’ve made, so we might see the community pick it up, similar to Leap Motion’s North Star. [Link]
Oculus Link is now available: And it seems to be working great with ~$10 cables. I don’t see a reason why most users wouldn’t use Quest for everything over Rift S, or even HTC Cosmos and Valve Index. PC specific headsets are expensive and are only useful to high-end gamers who want the best of the best. For most VR users, the reduced friction of Quest is the way to go. And most Quest users might not even have a VR-ready PC, and for those who do, a $10 cable gives them more than enough to enjoy Rift games. [Link]
Tivoli forks High Fidelity: While High Fidelity decided to stop pursuing the Metaverse as Philip Rosedale, CEO, believe it’s not economically viable to do so for time being. Caitlyn Meeks and Maki Deprez, ex Hi-Fi folks, have decided to take the open sourced Hi-Fi code and fork it. We still don’t need what direction they’re going to take it in, but a lot of great work was done at High Fidelity to build a federated metaverse with great audio that could handle +400 concurrent users. Can’t wait to learn more! [Link]
Lots of updates from Sinespace: Another social VR platform that has been around for a while celebrate their 3rd anniversary. It’s a very powerful platform from a technical viewpoint and it’s getting better and better. Adam Frisby, CTO, announced important improvements to scripting speed, avatars and, more the more interesting voxel terrain editing. And it’s a proper voxel implementation where you can even do water. Most social VR spaces, including Sinespace, have to answer the question “Why use it?”, but it’s good to see different companies solve important technical issues. [Link]
Beat Saber now belongs to Facebook: Now this was a sudden surprise. It’s worth noting that Beat Saber is a kind of game that Oculus wouldn’t have funded and now they’re buying Beat Games. I’m not a fan of this decision. I don’t want Facebook to control the VR market, that terrifies my. I believe we need to aim for an open community that fosters creativity from many parties, specially indie teams. Beat Games were the best example of that culture. I’m glad they found success which they totally deserve though. [Link]
Food for thought
No one company can build the Metaverse: Avaer from Exokit starts a thread criticising ICO projects aiming to build the metaverse. His main argument is that the definition of metaverse implies that it can’t be built by a single organization, so those who say they’re doing it are n’t being truthful. I think the quote “A successful metaverse means you are the last person to get rich.” is interesting as well. I’m sure there can be good business models for those who contribute tools to the metaverse, but if you’re main objective is to earn as much money as possible, that won’t be aligned with the definition of an open metaverse. [Link]
Is the Metaverse an unreachable utopia?: James Baicoianu from JanusVR suggests that we may never reach the Metaverse as each player has a distinct vision for it. The metaverse implies a general platform for everyone, but if each organization creates different siloes, we’ll never reach “the 1 platform” like we have with the Web. I don’t think this will be the case. We already have the Internet and the Web as examples of massive networks shared by most of the world. And there are existing standards bodies that keep on developing them. The metaverse might end up being an upgrade to those networks. [Link]
Urbit: Another identity contender that’s worth checking out. They are far from ready for prime time. 2020 seems to be the year when they open up. Currently it’s only possible to install their software and set up your identity. The approach is interesting though, and it’s one I’ve been pushing for years. All our digital interactions stem from ourselves as individuals, from our identity. That means that our identity can become our personal operating system and all other applications run on top of it. I am concerned about the limit on unique Urbit identities though. As with land limited VR worlds, I think we have technology that allows us to avoid these limits, so why set them? [Link]
Pygmalion's Spectacles, VR’s first appearance in Sci-Fi. I discovered this short book while researching for a blog post. It’s written by Stanley Grauman Weinbaum and it’s only about 30 pages long. It was published in 1935, so it counts as the first appearance of VR in Sci-Fi. The book is about a pair of glasses that trick your senses to believe they’re in a different world. Sound familiar? Enter the first virtual world and enjoy while the main character questions himself of what it means to be real. Definitely worth a read. [Link]
See you in 2 weeks!