VR indie creators are the best
Bi-weekly update with the latest insights from the Metaverse: news, posts, creations, and communities.
We’re back after the holidays! I hope you were lucky enough to be able to spend some quality time with those closest to you in a safe way. I was very happy to have that opportunity.
Over this past month, things have been very busy. Especially from indie creators. The Cool Creations section is packed, and lots of interesting News as well. We have Rec Room raising a big Series C, WebXR platforms growing rapidly, tooling advancing, and much more.
The sad news is that the VR side of Wave is closing down. This hit hard in the community as it was a beloved project. I just want to reiterate what Lucas Rizzotto had to say:
On the news
Rec Room raises $20M: This is their Series C, bringing the total to $50M. Existing top-notch investors like Sequoia and First Round also participated in this round. They have 10M active users and a record of 35k concurrent users. These are great numbers for a VR native app that is also available on most 2D platforms. They said they have 2M unique VR users in VR. We’ll continue to see bigger and bigger VR applications as time goes by. [Link]
Facebook smart glasses coming out this year: They were announced at Facebook Connect and are poised to release earlier than expected. But these won’t be AR glasses. They will be more of a HUD with cameras like all other glasses that have come out since Google Glass. The main distinction is a more streamlined design from Ray-Ban. With this news came a comment that there are ~6000 people working on XR at Facebook. That’s 6x the people working on Instagram. That further proves their big investment in the sector. And it’s pretty scary. [Link]
Wave deprecates VR functionality: Wave XR has been one of the most creative outlets for VR. Lots of concerts with incredible 3D visuals have happened on the platform, but, due to the small VR market, they’ve moved on to 2D virtual concerts. Now, with Google Poly closing down and their platform depending on it, they’re now also shutting down their VR experiences. It’s very sad to see them go, but the market is just not there. [Link]
Brave adds native IPFS support: It’s finally here. A mainstream browser supporting a decentralized protocol. No need for browser extensions or a complicated setup. Open Brave and go to an IPFS URL and that’s it. It’s a very important milestone and congratulations to both parties for making it happen. [Link]
Twitter’s Bluesky released a review of the decentralized ecosystem: Bluesky is the group inside Twitter that is seeing how Twitter can become decentralized. We haven’t heard much from them since the announcement in late 2019 but they just released an extensive report of the state of the decentralized ecosystem. [Link]
Aardvark, AR in VR, is gaining traction: We talked about Aardvark almost a year ago, but it’s now in early access in Steam. It’s an application that supports 3D widgets. Each widget is made with Web technologies and fetched from a URL. They can be loaded inside SteamVR at any moment. It’s still very much a prototype, but I’m confident that most VR apps should work like this. It makes no sense that most utilities require to stop an application to open another one. They should work seamlessly wherever you may be in VR. [Link]
Building the Webaverse: The team at Webaverse has been creating very interesting tools for quite some time. Now things are starting to come together. It’s a crypto-based platform emulating the Street from Snow Crash. Objects are crypto NFTs, meaning that they can truly belong to someone. There’s also great Discord integration with the platform. This is one of my favourite projects. I believe it has most of the right components and the Discord integration, meeting the community where it is, is killer. I do prefer a Web-based approach where people can link to their own hosted worlds instead of buying parcels and having to move linearly over a fixed world. [Link]
Food for Thought
Roblox CEO advents the coming of the Metaverse: He posted a short article on Wired explaining the metaverse. He outlines the potential on different fronts and also bets that 2021 will be a big year for the metaverse. He predicts that we’ll see bigger and more frequent virtual events. I think it’ll be more of a linear progression. 2020 was a good year, with Fornite and Roblox leading the way and smaller platforms also making strides. I don’t believe we’ll see exponential growth just yet though. [Link]
AI in the Metaverse: a16z posted a short essay on how digital social interactions will evolve with the Metaverse. For them, the key part is generated content. And user-generated content is good, but it’s just a step to be able to build a big universe. They believe AI-generated content will be necessary, and also realistic AI NPCs. I’m not so sure that most of the Metaverse should be created by AIs. It’s unproven terrain, we just can’t know how that might turn out. But my gut feeling is that we will want to participate in the creation of the worlds we want to spend time in. [Link]
A new WebXR modeler: With Blocks being abandoned, having easy to use tools to prototype 3D models is very important. And I’m excited about one made with WebXR. Here we have an ongoing project with a great start. [Link]
Arturo Paracuellos made a WebXR meeting space: This is actually a very polished app. It’s like simplified Hubs for meetings. You can easily create a room with a personal link. It generates an isometric room with floating screens that show your webcam feed. It’s easy to use, so I think it shows a lot of promise. [Link]
WebXR library with lots of helpers: XR.js is a multifaceted library to make it easier to create WebXR applications. It comes with many different utilities from locomotion to UI components. The UI itself doesn’t look very polished, but 3D utilities like this are necessary. Tooling is getting better, but it’s still hard for new people to WebXR to create a compelling experience. [Link]
Ada shows us how to make an AR experience: Ada is back in this newsletter with a stream live-coding an AR application. She’s done 2 streams to complete the project. It’s a simple basketball game that takes us from 0 to a physics game that works in VR and AR. Make sure to check it out. [Link]
Shader editor in WebXR: Makepad is a known shader editor. The noteworthy thing is that it also works in WebXR allowing you to see the shader changes live.[Link]
Museum of the Fossilized Internet: Nice Hubs room that acts as a Museum of important Internet moments. [Link]
Voxel World comes with a new UI and Editor: Dani Gatunes, who you might remember from creating different voxel-based WebXR experiences, has made an important update. It comes with a new UI to easily move between realms, but that UI also acts as an editor. It allows us to create our own voxel-based worlds. It’s becoming one of the most interesting WebXR platforms out there.
Tivoli Cloud VR founders explain platform: At Dutch VR Days, the 3 founders gave a short talk explaining how the platform works. It’s a great demo of very interesting features. Tivoli is pushing forward on what virtual worlds can do. [Link]
Interesting Meetups & Communities
Immersive Web 2021: Today at 6pm GMT there will be a virtual event. The speaker is Ada, from Samsung and Co-chair of the W3C Immersive Web Working Group and Community Group (mentioned in many previous newsletters). Make sure to check it out. [Link]
See you in 2 weeks!