Metaverse Places: First impressions

This is an exploration of a 3D virtual world called Multiverse Places. It is a totally stream of consciousness type of post. Expect neither rhym nor reason. You’ll probably get little of either. You’ll be learning and discovering it along with me as I go. I have no agenda or plan other than to explore and learn. For those not familiar with me, be aware that my bias is that I discovered virtual worlds though Second Life and that this exploration will be compared to the only other world that I know.

Multiverse Places
Based on the videos available from Mundus, it seems to be using the Mundus Engine, which itself seems to use the OGRE 3D platform.

Let the exploration begin!

Sign up is simple. One must verify to log in. When you download the client, the very first time it seems to download the entire world’s textures. I suppose a world is what we would think of as a sim. Takes quite a while, so when you have signed up, and are downloading, go make yourself a cup of coffee.

I am presented with a screen that gives me a choice of worlds to explore I shall start off with

Time Square

First log on, took about 30 seconds to start and I was greeted by a character definition screen. I am standing in what appears to be a New York room with a city scape outside my window.

  • I can edit the name, sex (m/f), skin colour (9 to choose from), face (44), hair-style (12), hair colour (46), upper body (3), top (6), tattoo 1 (25), tattoo 1 site (11), lower body (3), bottoms (6), tattoo 2 (25), tattoo 2 site (8), shoes (7) and room (3).
  • The face seem to have three racial variations, all of them with variations. The female has what is basically the worst makeup jobs in the world, and the males seem to have variations in facial hair.
  • Hair styles are meh…
  • Same with hair colour. The textures are fundamentally the same with colour variations
  • Upper body basically varies from small, medium to large.
  • The tops are limited to 6 choices. And not particularly interesting.
  • The tattoos are images that float above the charcter’s body and doesn’t seem to be part of the body.
  • The bottoms basically match the tops
  • As do the shoes. I don’t see why they bothered to make them separate, as you can’t really mix and match without looking like a dork. Might as well have chosen 6 complete outfits and be done with it.

Once you have created your character, you can play. It starts off with UI instructions. W, A, S, D to walk. Rotating your camera is done via the mouse. Functions are accessed by toolbars. To make objects work, you right click on them and choose the “use” button on the menu.

Everyone seems to be granted a home which you can customise in limited ways. Each place has a television that interestingly enough streams from the web.

You can text chat or voice chat.

Moving around is interesting, it’s obvious that it’s not real 3D rendering but animations loaded from about (I’m guessing) 16 angles.

Most items in your house cannot be customized or interacted wiith, those that can brighten up when you mouse over them

It *is* nice to have a home, and the house is quite lovely. The textures are more or less the equivalent of what we have in SL, but are pre-loaded. There seems to be zero lag so far.

A room in Time Square, of the Multiverse game

A room in Time Square, of the Multiverse game

Camera controls: You cannot cam past items or around them. You can only pan around (with yourself at the center) or zoom in or out.

To turn the television on, right click, it brings up a diague box with an empty favourite’s list. The videos are streamed from youtube. Re-clicking on it does not remember your last played selection.

This is funny: If you search for “Second Life” you get every video in the world that has NOTHING TO DO with Second Life! :). Try searching for “Torley Linden” instead :)

Time to go out and meet people! Leaving my pad means that I click on a door, I have two choices: Violet’s room, or Time Square. I imagine that Violet is a helper, and so why not meet her?

Violet is obviously not home, but as I enter, the first thing I see is her friends board with pictures of other people I can visit, interesting concept. I’m going to Time Square where all the action is.

I’m at Time Square. (See a screen shot here.) There is no action. There is a nice sim, roughly 100 meters in size. It is empty. There is nothing to interact with. I cannot get out. I cannot escape! Drums…. drums in the deep. Help! HELP!

OK, I’m calmer now, let’s look at this place.

It’s pretty, full of massive amounts of video displays. Particle effects. A lot of what appears to be baked in lighting effects. It’s pretty enough but there’s nothing to do. Nobody here. No menus that give me choices. I can’t build.

There is a police station and an army recruiting center. Creepy.

I try out the gestures. Body motions. Dancing. Can’t stop the dancing. I’m all alone and I feel like an idiot. How do I stop dancing? I click the buttons madly hoping to not embarrass myself in front of any potential stranger that might show up. Turns out that the answer is: to stop any animation (including sitting, Walk. Just make sure you adjust your camera angle if you do, unlike in SL it does not auto-reset.

I try to run, I try to jump, crouch, fly. No good. I try to go back home. No way unless you remember where you came from. So not, I’m going to try to remember where I came from so that I can find my home so that I can find Violet’s place so that I can find her friends.

I head over to what looks like a hotel with open doors and I find a night club. Deader than a fundamentalist church on Halloween. I leave and keep looking around for my home place. I finally see the sign: Places. Let’s go back “home”. Click on an elevator, and I’m back at Violet’s place. I sort of feel uncomfortable going into someone’s home unannounced. Seems people here don’t have a lot of privacy (even less than onSL!). I click on Violet’s friend’s board and randomly choose a face. Half do not have rooms (does that mean they are not there or they are not logged on?).

One person has a place. I go there, figuring this is how it’s done.

Apparently, based on his photos, he’s a family man. And he’s not home. So I click on one of his friends, a friendly face. Apparently one of the game designers’. Boy, this guy’s place is probably going to kick butt and show me what’s possible!

Same place, same layout. Different picture, different textures for the apartment.

I’m bored, and I’m leaving. I’m going to explore other “worlds. In order to do so, I must quit, then relog in with user name and password (which is not remembered, by the way). As I do so, I see that it needs to load each world’s textures.

Maybe it’s ’cause it’s my first time. I’m going to make another coffee.

Off to Fantasy World!

Oh. I have to create a new character. And this one has two models. It’s different than the first. I suppose each sim is created by each user and gives us a choice of AVs to choose from. This world is a giant field. Looking at it later I can see that it announces itself as a demo. Fair enough.

It has a small number of buildings and what appear to be non player characters (computer characters).

An image of MV Fantasy World on Multiverse Places.

An image of MV Fantasy World on Multiverse Places.

By the way, if you scroll past your character to emulate what we think of as Mouselook, and were looking at your character from the side, due to the camera non-adjustment on walk, it’ll really mess with your mind.

OK, this place is as empty as the first. Let’s check out another world. I’m sure I’ll find someone if I look long enough.

Nothing to do here. I’m off. Let us check out the

Dark Horizon Universe

This one’s splash screen gives you some nice sci-fi moody music as it loads and the splash screen informs you that it is in development. Good. Let’s keep that in mind.

This was a first time visitor’s observation of Multverse places. Conclusion: Places has one generally nice sim that is well textured (and that could be reproduced in Second Life) and nice lighting. I don’t see any advantages that Places offers that Second Life doesn’t trump 100 times over.

Again, the character screen. One choice. Remeber: Demo! Let us choose him.

A screen shot of Dark Horizons Universe game using the Multiverse engine

A screen shot of Dark Horizons Universe game using the Multiverse engine

This one seems to be oriented toward gaming. You can choose to adjust various abilities (physique, agility, essence and mental) the team he plays on and his look.

It seems that you can create multiple characters per world (what we think of as a sim).

This one has good music.

When you first get into this word, you are given some help, which I’ve partially quoted here:

Welcome to Dark Horizons Universe – You have arrived at your training center and command base here on Mars.

This world is a demo world for the Dark Horizons Universe which is under early development on the Multiverse platform. Though in a early stage of development, you may chat with other players, complete a limited number of quests, or just go out on a wabbit hunt!!!

Enjoy your stay, and look for monthly updates as development kicks into gear..)

Optional Experience Enhancements
To enable HDR press Alt+C. To enable Shadows press Ctrl+Alt+S.

NOTE: Video Card slower then Nvidia Series 7, or the latest ATI cards should leave these options off.

Movement
Move your character using the arrow keys or the ‘w’ ‘a’ ‘s’ ‘d’ keys.

Move the camera with the mouse. Left button moves the camera without moving your character. Right button moves both. The mouse wheel zooms in and out.

How To Chat
Use the chat window to chat with other players. Press Enter to activate the edit box. Press Enter again to send your chat message to others.

What Next?
Click on the close button below to continue your introduction to the Dark Horizons Universe.

One thing that is great about this sim, that I think the other’s didn’t really demonstrate, is how LARGE sims can be here. Too bad I’ve been killed by a Non Player Character and I can’t resurrect. Guess I’ll have to leave that screen shot out.

Lunar Quest
Luna Quest seems to shine a much better light on places. It appears to be a fully working quest game. The game starts out with a movie, a strong visual theme. The characters (a physicist) can interact, there’s a small degree of control over your movement. The annoucements over the “intercom” are really funny! :)

Lunar Quest is the best of the sims I’ve seen, and if one enjoys playing a quest game by themselves, I’m sure it’s be a lot of fun. It is well textured, well done and empty. My respect to the creators, but I cannot stand the emptiness of these worlds.

you can choose a male or female character, of 4 races. Each one of them just exuding with geek appeal!

Lunar Quest: you can choose a male or female character, of 4 races. Each one of them just exuding with geek appeal!

Other places

I’ve tried to connect to a couple others, and could not to do server issues.

Conclusion:

Strong points: One can apparently vary the look of their world much more significantly that we can in Second Life. Also, because textures are downloaded all at once, the lag is much lower, and the fact that it is a non-dyanamic world (meaning you can’t build so everything is pre-set) makes it perform a bit faster and permits for things such as dynamic shadows.

Neutral: The avatars are more or less on par with the default SL avatars. The look for the places that I have seen is neither (overall) superior nor inferior to that of Second Life.

Weak points: The camera is much less flexible, as are pretty much all of the controls. That means that photography is pretty limited. One cannot build or script in this world. Those, for me, are deal killers. There is no commerce that I can see, no way to connect from one sim to another without quitting and relogging in. One cannot change their avatar in general.

While I’m sure that pre-baking an entire sim’s textures can make for pretty sims (and I’ve seen more impressive stuff done in the hands of skilled SL builders), the lack of flexibility to be on par with SL’s pretty much explains it’s lack of population, which of course makes them ghost towns. I’ve literally run into zero people over a 5 hour period.

For the record, the website cites:

Engaging 3D environments. Customizable personal spaces. Immersive gameplay. Welcome to Multiverse Places.

Multiverse Places is a revolutionary 3D virtual world that brings together the best of massively multiplayer online games and social networking sites. The beta release of Multiverse Places enables you to socialize in a visually-stunning Times Square environment through customizable avatars and integrated voice chat. In addition, you can customize your own apartment with images, music, and videos. Like social networking sites, you can learn about a person’s real-world interests and tastes by visiting their place (their apartment). In addition, you can also interact in real-time together.

Pure marketing BS. In no way will does this even come close to be a viable alternative to SL.

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1 Comment

  1. Dizzi Sternberg said,

    November 2, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Why does that song by The Specials come to mind…

    This town, is coming like a ghost town
    All the clubs have been closed down…

    Thanks for exploring Quite, be interesting to see if it expands out like SL did but then the texture download could end up HUGE if the worlds expand, or they could expand but be the same for miles…

    Diz


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