Neos VR, the social VR platform, is celebrating a milestone with the release of its 0.8 build, which brings what the creators call “massive improvements” to usability and social features, and integration with its own cryptocurrency.
Essentially Neos VR is a social platform of another stipe. Instead of creating bespoke worlds and games for its users, Neos VR thinks of itself as more of an ‘operating system for virtual reality’, focusing largely on providing its usersbase with a set of maker tools which lets you to create your own unique worlds one piece at a time without the need of a seperate game engine or coding ability.
Frankly, it represents a massive undertaking, and some of the earliest versions of Neos reflected just how much there was still left to accomplish—not only get savvy content creators through the door, but also average users who were just looking for an interesting social space to explore.
Now, the titular studio behind Neos VR has released what they call “the most important major update to date,” further zeroing in on its biggest drawback: user friendliness. Another important milestone: Neos VR now has its own in-world cryptocurrency, dubbed Neos Credits (NCR), which is currently in its initial coin offering (ICO). More on that below.
Neos VR co-founder and leader designer Tomáš “Frooxius” Mariančík talks more about some of the new features in his latest video. You can also check out the list of some of the major features in the 0.8 update below.
Neos VR 0.8 Update
- World Browser – You can now access a brand new “World Browser” from your dash, which provides cleaner listing of public worlds in Neos, but more importantly also searching. You can search by tags (e.g. “games”, “art”, “educational” or “3D scans”) or author (e.g. “by: Nexulan”) to easily find the experience you’re after. They can also be sorted by publication date, last update or number of visits.
- New Hub – … this hub will completely transform the first user experience in Neos and show what the engine is capable of. It’s by no means finished, we’re still hard at work adding more interactivity and filling it in, so keep tuned.
- Redesigned UI – It’s no secret that coming out of alpha Neos’ UI was very clunky and frustrating to use. Many of its parts have been completely redesigned. The old “logomenu” was replaced by a more modern dash, UI panels have been spruced up with title bars, close buttons and help dialogs and dozens of other elements were tweaked or redesigned to make them easier to use, from world orbs, world switcher to tools.
- Better Usability – To help with the learning curve, Neos also now has basic contextual tutorials, which explain what each button does or how to interact with some elements when you’re around them. Our community has also been busy making awesome tutorials on both the basics and more advanced topics, look for BusinessLawyer’s tutorials if you’d like to learn more.
- You can have friends now – You can add other users to your friends list and see their online status, which worlds they’re in, send them text messages, invites and even arbitrary objects (like a fixed up avatar that you did for them) right within Neos. The friend system also lets you send other people payments and automatically give them permissions in your world.
- Physics-based locomotion – One of the most fun additions was the physical locomotion system. You can now run around, jump, collide with walls, climb (even on other people), fling yourself around or float in Zero-G!
- Undo/Redo – Begone are the days of accidentally moving an object you were carefully positioning for the past few minutes or forgetting to save an original material when trying out a new one.
- Procedural avatar animations – Avatars have also received lots of attention in this release, improving their expressivity and customizability. I’ve added an eye system, which simulates natural eye behavior – looking at objects of interest (other people, hands that are holding things, random environment items), random saccades and expressions.
For a full list, check out the studio’s Steam news post for more.
Besides the studio’s Patreon, which now generates more than $1,600 per month, Neos VR is also seeking financial support through the release of its own in-game economy based on its own Ethereum token called Neos Credits (NCR).
While it hasn’t netted the studio big bucks just yet, it’s sitting at a respectable amount of more than $86,000 going to the further development of the platform, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at for the small team. You can read more about it in the NCR whitepaper here.
It’s still early days, although somewhat like High Fidelity’s blockchain-based economy, Neos VR now lets you trade services and items for the in-world currency, its ICO launching prior to the update earlier this month. In the near future, users will also be able to set up shops for people looking for custom avatars, items, and anything else build-happy users can make on the platform, Mariančík says.
“You can send people NCR through Neos itself via the chat system, with our community members already offering their services and making some first trades,” Mariančík explains. “This is only the beginning for the in-verse economy in Neos though. Rather than going full out we opted for a more gradual integration so we can spend more time on other features that are needed more.”
The next big area to tackle for the studio is undoubtedly performance, Mariančík says.
“Neos is overdue for many different optimizations to decrease CPU, GPU and memory usage, remove stutters, adding tools that let creators build bigger and richer worlds, with more people in them.”
The studio is also preparing to bring support to a number of other devices besides Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows VR headsets; mobile VR support, particularly for Oculus Quest and Oculus Go, are on the 0.9 roadmap, which will need all the performance enhancements it can get to run smoothly. The studio is also at bringing Neos VR to AR platforms such as Magic Leap One, although Mariančík says it’s currently dependent on funding and support.
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