Meta opens the virtual world Horizon Worlds, meditation, boat ride, battle royale together

More than a month after the Facebook Connect 2021 conference , Meta finally took the first step to make Metaverse a reality-opening up the VR social platform Horizon Worlds , users can experience it directly for free, and no invitation is required.

However, there are still prerequisites. First, users in the United States and Canada must be 18 years old and above, and secondly, they must be equipped with an "Oculus Quest 2" VR headset .

▲ Oculus Quest 2.

Horizon Worlds released a beta version in September 2019. Initially, this was a sandbox game similar to "Minecraft"; now, it has expanded into a social platform where users can socialize with up to 20 people at the same time.

Meta's own definition of Horizon Worlds is an ever-expanding virtual experience universe designed and constructed by the entire community:

an ever-expanding universe of virtual experiences designed and built by the entire community.

In other words, it is an early, small-scale version of the meta-universe imagined by Zuckerberg, combining Roblox and the oasis of Ready Player One.

▲ Your image in Horizon Worlds. Picture from: Meta

When you enter Horizon Worlds, you need to create an avatar to represent yourself and also to interact with other users. Interestingly, it has a head and upper body, but no legs.

Then, you will enter Plaza, the central gathering place of Horizon Worlds, and enter user-built custom worlds and games from here. There are thousands of custom worlds waiting for you. The following are more popular:

Pixel Plummet, a retro arcade-style battle royale game with the theme of steam waves; Wand & Broom, take your reliable wand, ride your magic broom, soar over the city, explore alone or with friends; Mark's Riverboat, take a three-tier river boat with your friends to enjoy a relaxing river trip.

▲ Mark's Riverboat. Picture from: Meta

Meta also officially launched Arena Clash, which is a team-based 3v3 laser tag game. It seems that Horizon Worlds will rely heavily on games to attract users.

▲ Arena Clash. Picture from: Meta

During the past internal testing period, testers regularly held comedy events, movie nights, and meditation exercises in Horizon Worlds. They also produced exquisite virtual objects, such as a replica of the ghost bus Ecto-1 from "Ghostbusters".

▲ Meditation practice. Picture from: VR Trailers & Clips

When new users are transferred from Plaza to different worlds, they will meet their human guides. These guides are advanced users trained by Meta staff who are responsible for guiding directions and imparting rules of behavior to maintain the health of the community.

In addition to following the "tourist mode", you can also pick up tools and create your own world and projects from scratch, so let's start by creating 3D objects.

▲ Creation tools. Picture from: VR Trailers & Clips

It’s not that difficult to make them move, because Meta provides the basic code, which they call a "script block". The function is similar to the PS layer. By linking together according to the rules, you can attach behaviors to objects and create complex Interactions, such as a bullet that pops when the trigger is pressed, a ball that bounces when it touches a surface, and a leaderboard that automatically updates after the game is over.

▲ Script block. Picture from: CNET

Vivek Sharma, vice president of Horizon, said that Meta employees have been making script blocks at the request of testers, and the company plans to release a free library in the future.

But VR environments like Horizon Worlds face the same security risks as other social media. After all, everyone hides behind the avatar, interacting casually with people they don’t know.

Earlier this month, a tester announced in the official Horizon group that she was harassed by strangers in Horizon Worlds. "Internet harassment has added another layer to VR. When I was harassed, there were other People support this kind of behavior, which makes me feel isolated." CNET has reported that harassment such as explicit jokes and hate speech is not uncommon on VR platforms.

▲ Safety function. Picture from: VR Trailers & Clips

And Meta said that the tester did not use the built-in security features of Horizon Worlds, which allows users to enter the "personal safe zone", mute, block or report people who have bad behavior, the relevant information will be recorded by the headset and sent to Manual review. They will make improvements based on this situation to make the "blocking function" easier to find.

Currently, no matter creators, human guides or players, there is no way to make money in Horizon Worlds. Meta plans to combine it with Horizon Venues (a standalone experience for holding large-scale events in VR) and Horizon Workrooms (VR work collaboration software).

▲ Picture from: the verge

Before the monetization of Horizon Worlds, Meta hopes to attract users through the "user-created custom world experience". According to Vivek Sharma:

The act of creation itself is part of the appeal of Horizon Worlds, and creation is a product.

We can see the shadow of many platforms in Horizon Worlds, which also means that it faces fierce competition, especially meta-universe manufacturers such as Epic Games (Fortnite developers) and Roblox, which also rely heavily on user-created content.

▲ Picture from: the verge

Inspiring creators is indispensable. In October of this year, Meta announced a $10 million creator fund . The funds will be divided into three categories next year: provide bonuses for the top three in "Custom World"; provide creators with advanced crash courses; and for those who are interested The developers of "Creating a Theme-Specific Horizon Experience" provide funding.

But Meta seems to have not given enough. Compared with its profit of more than 10 billion U.S. dollars in the second quarter of this year, the 10 million U.S. dollars invested by the fund is just a drop in the bucket. If Horizon Worlds is to become the future online social mode, there are still many challenges.

▲ Reference materials:
1.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02kCEurWkqU
2.https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/9/22825139/meta-horizon-worlds-access-open-metaverse
3.https://gizmodo.com/facebook-takes-a-first-step-toward-making-the-metaverse-1848188942
4.https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/metas-biggest-metaverse-app-horizon-worlds-opens-to-the-public/#ftag=CAD590a51e

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