Nowadays, the term “metaverse” is present every day in numerous articles, news, and conversations everywhere. This permanent presence in our lives has created hype around the metaverse that arouses interest and curiosity. Coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, the metaverse refers to a virtual space where you can live immersive digital experiences by means of technologies like augmented and virtual reality, as known as AR and VR respectively.
When it comes to creating amazing experiences for attending events in the metaverse, platform choice is key to preventing users from being let down by a bad experience. The platform must offer a set of capabilities that allows good event hosting, interactive participation, a sense of shared presence, etc. Until recently, selecting the platform that granted us access to the Metaverse was a straightforward decision. Especially if we are looking for a reliable environment with the necessary tools for creating large-scale events and coworking spaces.
AltspaceVR was undoubtedly the optimal choice for hosting virtual events as it fulfilled all the aforementioned requirements and offered additional features that set it apart. One standout feature was the option to create worlds in Unity, a popular game development engine. This capability provided users with infinite possibilities for crafting and customizing virtual environments, making AltspaceVR a highly versatile platform.
By allowing users to create worlds in Unity, AltspaceVR expanded the potential for immersive and engaging event experiences. Event organizers had the freedom to design and build their own unique virtual spaces, tailored to their specific needs and preferences. This flexibility allowed for a wide range of event themes and atmospheres, whether it be a futuristic conference hall, a serene natural landscape, or a fantastical realm limited only by imagination.
The combination of AltspaceVR’s event-focused features, including interactive presentation tools and integrated event management, along with the ability to create custom worlds in Unity, made it an ideal choice for hosting virtual events. It provided a comprehensive platform that not only facilitated social interactions but also empowered event organizers to curate memorable and immersive experiences for their attendees.
However, the closure of AltspaceVR prior to the launch of Microsoft Mesh caught many of us off guard, creating a significant gap between the two platforms and forcing us to seek an alternative.
Fortunately, despite the shutdown of AltSpaceVR in March 2023, Spatial.io have come to the rescue, offering a platform that allows remote collaboration using virtual workspaces. And the best news is that because they both let us use the same technology to create virtual worlds, that is Unity, you can seamlessly migrate the worlds you have already made using Unity for AltspaceVR to Spatial.io.
We were in just that situation, we had invested a considerable amount of work developing our virtual word in AltSpaceVR and to rewrite it completely for another platform would have been inconceivable. So Spatial has been our lifeline, thanks to it we have been able to continue developing our existing work over it without starting from scratch.
When we moved to Spatial initially, I must acknowledge that it appeared somewhat incomplete. Now, after some time working with Spatial, I have to admit that it is a robust metaverse platform, it has shown remarkable stability at the same time it has introduced essential enhancements such as quests, vehicles, and customizable avatars.
Let’s dive into the key features of Spatial:
For event creation and management, Spatial provides us with:
- Empty Frame, to establish areas where we can upload custom images or videos at any time.
- Project Surface, a designated area for screen sharing.
- Host Tools, for managing and moderating our worlds and the users who access them.
All this without the need to regenerate the world again.
Spaces and Space Templates
Spatial offers developers templates for world creation, but the real potential lies in the ability to design custom spaces or space templates using Unity and the “Spatial Creator Toolkit.”
The primary distinction between the two options is that a “Space” is a pre-existing world ready to run upon uploading, while “Space templates” are intended for reusability, allowing us to create multiple spaces from a single template without the need to leave the platform. Additionally, we can generate a new template from an already existing space.
Undoubtedly, one of Spatial’s standout features is its avatars, which integrate with Ready Player Me, the leading platform for avatar interoperability. This enables users to utilize their own avatars across multiple platforms and even integrate them into their own applications using Spatial’s SDK.
Spatial goes a step further by enabling users to create and upload their own avatars into their worlds. There are two types of avatars available: those designed exclusively for use within a user’s ecosystem of worlds and those that can be used in any world within Spatial.
Naturally, there are limitations to avatars in Spatial:
- World Avatars, designed for use within a user’s ecosystem of worlds, have a maximum of 200,000 polygons, textures up to 4096×4096, a diameter of 25 meters, up to 100 draw calls, and must possess humanoid characteristics. These features are permissive enough to allow for a wide variety of avatars.
- Universal Avatars, usable in any world within Spatial, have additional restrictions, including a maximum of 22,500 polygons, textures up to 1024×1024, a diameter of 2.5 meters, only 4 draw calls, and must also be humanoid in form. Despite these limitations, “Global Avatars” still offer extensive possibilities for avatar creation.
Quests and Rewards
Spatial’s latest updates have introduced the ability to create quests and rewards within the platform, allowing users to incorporate gamification elements into their worlds.
- Quests: When we talk about quests, we mean a series of tasks that lead to a specific goal or objective. Quests provide a way to create intriguing stories or adventures for users. The objectives of quests can vary, from discovering treasure to defeating powerful enemies. Along the way, users encounter obstacles that test their skills, courage, and determination as they strive to achieve their goals.
- Rewards: In the case of rewards, players who complete a quest can be rewarded with badges that will appear on their profile.
Spatial’s new feature allows us to create vehicles for players to use in our worlds, taking our creations to the next level in terms of gameplay and interaction.
We can upload any 3D-generated vehicle, including land vehicles with four wheels. The vehicles leverage Unity’s physics, providing gameplay and accuracy that enable us to create exciting experiences such as races, tours, or explorations in a unique way.
To add additional functionality to our worlds beyond what the Spatial Content Creator offers, we can now use Unity Visual Scripting, which is available in the latest updates. While it’s a limited version compared to the full version of Unity, it still allows us to create our own actions, such as avatar exchange, and provides ample room for customization.
Although Visual Scripting in Spatial is a limited version, we have access to over 15,000 nodes from the main modules of the Unity Framework, as well as special nodes created by the Spatial team with pre-implemented functionalities to facilitate the creation of experiences on their platform.
How does the limitation of Visual Scripting in Spatial affect us? Primarily, it affects the creation of custom nodes or the use of plugins downloaded from the Unity Store, in addition to more than 5,000 nodes from the modules that may interfere with the correct functioning of Spatial.
A special mention deserves the “economy” function recently launched by Spatial. Spatial offers a diverse range of features designed to monetize your Creator Toolkit creations. We’ll delve into key concepts related to items and monetization, empowering you to unleash the full potential of your creative endeavors.
In the realm of Spatial, a World represents an ecosystem that brings together Spatial Spaces, Items, Badges, and Currency. Think of it as a way to seamlessly “group” your Spatial creations, establishing a shared economy among all assets within the same World. The possibilities are immense when you realize that all the elements belonging to a World contribute to a cohesive and interconnected experience.
To streamline the management of your Worlds, Spatial Studio provides a centralized platform where you can easily see and oversee all your creations. This powerful tool empowers you to shape and mold your Worlds, enabling you to craft massive, intertwined experiences. By combining Worlds with Items, Currency, and other Economy features, you can unlock unparalleled immersive adventures for your users.
Items play a crucial role in the monetization of your creations. They allow you to distribute your Creator Toolkit creations directly into users’ backpacks, sparking excitement and interaction. Imagine rewarding users with custom avatars or unique artifacts for completing quests or spending time in your captivating Spaces. As the Spatial Marketplace prepares to launch, you’ll have the opportunity to sell your items and unlock their commercial potential. Furthermore, item trading or crafting mechanisms will enhance the complexity of your virtual economy, adding depth and intrigue.
To fully grasp the potential of items in Spatial, it’s essential to be aware of some key concepts:
- Association with a World: Every item is associated with a World, driving discovery and encouraging users to explore your Spaces. The ability to utilize items obtained from one Space in other Spaces within your World further enhances interactivity and engagement.
- Item Scopes: Items possess two distinct scopes — Universal and World. Universal items can be utilized across all Spatial Spaces, promoting versatility, while World-scoped items can only be used within the specific World where they were acquired, fostering exclusivity and unique experiences.
In Spatial, each World has the ability to establish its own currency, localized to that specific World and all the Spaces within it. World currency plays a vital role in shaping the user experience, as it can be awarded as rewards for completing tasks within the virtual environment.
When a World incorporates currency and offers items for sale, these elements are prominently displayed in the user interface. Users can effortlessly access the Shop button, which showcases their world currency balance. Navigating through the Shop menu, users can explore and select from a comprehensive list of items available for purchase within their World, further enhancing engagement and immersion.
Spatial is a powerful platform that offers numerous possibilities for creating immersive and interactive worlds. With features such as avatar integration, quest and reward systems, and the ability to create custom functionality through Unity Visual Scripting, Spatial provides a solid foundation for creating engaging experiences for users. As the technology behind Spatial continues to evolve and improve, it has the potential to become a major player in the metaverse space, competing with established platforms like Microsoft Mesh.
From the Metaverse Engineering team at Telefónica, we would like to showcase some of the worlds we have published on Spatial.io:
- Discover all that Telefónica brought to MWC23. Follow all the presentations live or enjoy our demos in an immersive way. It’s a new way of following the events!
Telefónica Innovation Hub
- A new virtual space for co-creation, tailored to the capabilities of the future. We are committed to creating an alternative channel of collaboration that allows our employees, customers, and partners to experience and develop new projects in the metaverse.