Microsoft just announced new tools to make it easier for users to build and share their own virtual spaces.
In a virtual Town Hall today, AltspaceVR unveiled a suite of tools that will allow anyone to build customizable VR spaces. The two new world-building kits are based on Altspace’s most popular environments: Campfire and Alien World /Origin but Microsoft says they’re aiming to release more kits soon, as well as allwing for more customization options.
“This is step one of a greater plan to make sure our community can help build AltspaceVR with us,” says Katie Kelly, Head of Engagement for AltspaceVR. “The experience is fun and easy no matter what level you’re at. We’re so excited to see the new worlds our users build in reality.”
After you choose one of the kits you can add assets from the curated library of shapes, structures and flora to build custom worlds and virtual hangouts. Once you’re done, simply save your version of that world and it’s then ready to share with whomever you like via a link.
Updates also include the ability to create labels and text to guide your guests through your creations, host multiplayer social games in VR, plus import and showcase in-world photography snaps. Most interesting from a social VR perspective, however, is the functionality to link these custom spaces by adding teleporters that take you straight to common spaces or your friends’ worlds. Creating your own virtual network of connected spaces certainly opens up some interesting possibilities.
- Also, considering what a big part Spatial Sound plays in Microsoft’s Mixed Reality hardware, it’s not surprising to see them baking the ability to experiment with custom sound as well as 3D design in these toolkits.
To start building, login or create an AltspaceVR account, then:
- Select << Worlds >> on your menu.
- Select << Create >> to start on a new World. Or continue to edit a World you built.
- Give your World a name, a profile picture, and choose a starting environment. Templates include: Base Worlds and SDK Playground Worlds. Virtual spaces for both newbies and creative developers to build custom Worlds.
- Once in-world, click on << Spawner >> to activate your dashboard
Kelly promises to keep an eye on user’s creations and to feature the best ones on @AltspaceVR Twitter and Facebook, emphasizing their focus on building a tight-knit community rather than monetizing the platform at this stage. She adds that they’re particularly keen to have users create spaces with “structure, design, and purpose.”
As part of its efforts to make Mixed Reality content cross-platform Microsoft has kept all AltspaceVR places and experiences accessible not only in Virtual Reality (AltspaceVR is compatible with most headsets including Daydream, HTC VIVE, Oculus and Samsung Gear VR, as well as all the Windows Mixed Reality HMDs) but also via Desktop or Mobile app.
Overall, it feels like an announcement firmly in step with the company’s broader Mixed Reality strategy, keeping its eye firmly on the long-term prize and building the infrastructure that will allow for scaling and adaptation, depending on how the technology develops and what consumers demand. It will be interesting to see not only how engaged the existing community gets with these new tools, but if they manage to entice some new users to the platform as more people buy their first HMDs and look for content and experiences. Watch this space.
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