Quest for the Metaverse…

With the emergence of the VR technologies, many companies have pretended to build what could become the Metaverse. Having run after that Metaverse dream myself for years, it became a bit confusing to figure where I was to invest my time face to all those pretenders.

In order to be able to analyze the situation, I decided that I had to understand with more clarity what I was truly expecting from the Metaverse. So I return to the definition of what is a metaverse.

The metaverse is a virtual extension of our universe. But how much similar it should be from the reality?
To answer that questions, I made the list of the basic concepts of a human living in the real world in order to define what are the fundamental requirements for an extension of this reality in the virtual.

It starts with our presence in this physical world. The two first requirements are quite basic: We are in a physical world, and we are a being inside of it.

We are seeing, living, experiencing everything from inside that being who is inside the physical world. This is the immersive character of the reality.

As being in that physical world, we are able to communicate with the other beings. It could be verbal, gestural or by writing. This is another fundamental thing of the existence in the reality.

As a being, we can also interact with the physical world. We can walk on it, we can manipulate the objects around us.

As a being, we can also modify the physical world. We can build a house using the element present in the world, we can sculpt a stone, we can melt metal to create objects.

All those things are fundamental in the reality, and I think this would be expected to be also present in a metaverse.
As the metaverse is embedded in the reality, I would also expect to have a communication channel between the reality and the metaverse (also between different metaverses). This is I think important as it will be the extension of the reality.

The last important requirement for a metaverse is the ability to make commercial activities in it, which implies a certain level of security related to the content. You might think that a metaverse can exist without an economic system, this is probably true, but the ability to exchange goods is an important stimulator in our reality and this is also true in the virtual reality.

The fundamental requirements of a metaverse are then the following:

  1. The presence of a physical universe. (The world)
  2. Be represented in that universe. (The body, the avatar)
  3. See the world from inside. (The immersion)
  4. Interact with other peoples. (In-world communications)
  5. External communication system (Inter-world communications)
  6. Interact dynamically with the universe. (Walk, collide, use in-world objects dynamically in presence of other peoples)
  7. Modify dynamically the universe. (Create/Edit dynamically in presence of other peoples)
  8. The presence of an economic system. (Protected goods and Market place)

All together, those requirements reflect what is the real world. This is why I think they must be also present in a metaverse.

Starting from this, I decided to see if the existing metaverse pretenders honor or not all those requirements. Here is the current status:

Metaverse Evaluation Grid

 

The conclusion of this evaluation:

Facebook Spaces” and “VTime” doesn’t match the definition of the metaverse. They are certainly “Social – VR” products, but not candidates for the metaverse.

Second Life” and “OpenSim” match the definition of the metaverse, despite the fact that they have a primitive level of immersion. ¬†Those systems might not reach the VR level for a while because of their architecture limitation. (But it might happen one day. Ctrl-Alt-Studio Viewer has already plug Oculus on it and Black Dragon viewer has already reached some better frame rates.)

Sansar” is failing the test because of their design based on pre-compiled experiences. Because of this, it’s not possible to modify dynamically the physical world in real-time in presence of other people. You can’t rez anything. Sansar is then a bit disqualified as a candidate for the metaverse. “Sansar” is something else. A place where you can do “Social-VR”, play games, it could be used as a showroom.

High Fidelity” is so far well aligned to become a metaverse. But it has still some unaddressed requirements that are still in development. An economic system is still to come. ( I think it is in development ) A solution to make possible the inter-world communications would need to be addressed. (This is probably easy to solve.)

So where is the metaverse?
There are the two candidates to the metaverse among those products. It will depend if you are ready to invest your time in VR or not:

  • If you aren’t aiming to be in VR, then “Second Life” / “OpenSim” is definitely the good option.
  • But if you want to jump into VR, then “High Fidelity” is, for now, the place to invest your time.

 

I might have forgotten some other players in the industry. If you have doubts, you can use that grid to make the evaluation. And if you found another one that is qualified to be a candidate for the metaverse, let me know.