Tivoli Cloud VR: building on High Fidelity

via Tivoli Cloud VR

Hello! We’re building a spatialised metaverse from a volcanic island!

So reads the title of an introductory blog post for an upcoming new VR social environment called Tivoli Cloud VR that reader and friend Thoys Pan nudged me about (I had actually seen and post in passing over the weekend, but Thoy’s nudge prompted me to take a closer look).

Of course, it can seem as if “VR virtual worlds” are popping up all over the place, whether then aim to be spaces as Second Life users might recognise them, or “VR social environments” or hybrid attempts to lean towards the idea of a “metaverse” centred around gaming engines.

However, what makes Tivoli Cloud VR potentially interesting is that it is (at least in part) leveraging High Fidelity’s open-source architecture. The company has also been founded by Caitlyn Meeks, the former Community Manager / chief evangelist at High Fidelity, and Maki Deprez, a former freelance developer at High Fidelity.

As I reported at the time, as a company, High Fidelity somewhat abruptly turned away from developing an open-source, content creation / public space provisioning area with its platform, to focus sole on software / platform development that leans towards more business-based applications (see: High Fidelity changes direction: the reality of VR worlds today (& tomorrow?) – April 2019 – and High Fidelity changes direction (2) – May 2019).

Caitlyn Meeks (l) and Maki Deprez

That change in direction saw the virtual world code for High Fidelity being fully open-sourced for others to take up and run with. It also saw a series of lay-offs in the company, Caitlyn and Maki being two of them.

Nevertheless, both maintained a firm belief in the potential of the platform, so they put their heads together to try to figure out how they might continue with the vision embedded at the heart of High Fidelity: that of building a globe-spanning, fully spatialised virtual world.

We’re building a spatialized metaverse on the architectural foundations first laid by the open-source virtual reality company, High Fidelity. We believe this architecture, and its future progeny, will become the foundation of the spatial networking metaverse we’ve all been waiting for.

In this and future blog posts, we’ll explain why we believe this is the way to go. We’ll talk about the features and functionality we’re adding and changing in our distribution. And we’ll discuss our philosophical differences on important matters like user experience, product design, community support, and commerce.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

This is something of an ambitious goal; High Fidelity raised around US $70 million in inward investment and was – as the blog post notes, headed-up by “known” individuals with a major technology track record, but it couldn’t bring things together; Linden Lab is similarly having issues finding the best placement for Sansar.

However, in reading the Tivoli Cloud VR post, it’s hard not to get the impression that  – finances allowing – Caitlyn and Maki aren’t in a hurry to make a major impression on the marketplace. Rather, they are all too aware of the state of VR take-up (which they charmingly  – and not inaccurately, perhaps – refer to as entering it’s “winter” now the initial over-expectation aspect of the hype-cycle has passed), and so are prepared to work towards VR’s Slope of Enlightenment “springtime” in stages. Thus, this initial blog post might be regarded as planting the public seeds in preparation for a hopeful springtime bloom.

There’s a rich amount of thinking evident in the post, including observations why game engines might not be best suited for metaverse building, and offers an insight into what made working at High Fidelity so engaging. It also explores some of the challenges those trying to build any form of “metaverse” face – as well as being brutally honest about the challenges Tivoli Cloud VR itself faces.

We’re not a big company by any means, we’re just a plucky little startup who wants a metaverse. We haven’t got money to make sexy videos, our shares are currently worth way less than penny stock, we’re not going to have a flashy “initial land offering” on a blockchain. In fact, we’re going to stay away from using the blockchain for now.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

All of which sounds somewhat daunting, but it’s clear Tivoli Cloud VR has more than just moxie and an idea to build on foundations laid by High Fidelity; they have a vision that means that have the support of a bank, and technology services:

We do have is more than enough server resources, donated to us by Amazon, Google and Digital Ocean via the WXR Accelerator and First Republic Bank. What we do have is a ground-breaking open-source metaverse engine, seven years in the making.

– Caitlyn Meeks, discussing the formation of Tivoli Cloud VR

This latter statement points to a potential difference in approach to forming a “metaverse” platform: High Fidelity sought to leverage servers running across multiple hardware environments from high-end servers down to users’ own computers and mobile devices. Tivoli, at least to start with, looks as if it will be focused more on using cloud technology (hence the “Cloud” in the company’s name as well).

It’s too early to focus on the platform itself in terms of pictures, etc., – although I understand that when available, the client will allow access for desktop users as well as VR users. However, providing the company can meet the challenges it has set for itself, it will be interesting to follow their development, and I certainly wish Caitlyn and Maki the best in their endeavours.

Oh, and the volcano reference? That’s related to the fact that Tivoli Cloud VR is headquartered both in San Francisco, California, and in Adeje, on the south-western part of the volcano island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, and well within sight of  Pico del Teide, the island’s volanic peak.

No Violence! the 2Lei 10th edition in Second Life

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Hilany Schofield

November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and since 2010, the day has been marked in Second Life by the collaborative arts group, 2Lei.

They do so by bringing together artists, galleries, event organisers, musicians and speakers in a multi-faceted, art-centric season intended to focus on the levels of physical, sexual and psychological violence that are specifically directed towards women and girls around the globe, and raise awareness of the need to put an end to what is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Layachi Ihnen

Some of the facts surrounding violence against women are horrifying:

  • 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
  • Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
  • Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and often in force / arranged marriages, including in countries such as the United States where between 2000 and 2010, more than 167,000 children — almost all of them girls, some as young 12 — were married in 38 states, mostly to men 18 or older.
  • 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.

In the past, the 2Lei exhibitions for November had tended to be focused on a full region installation at the Linden Endowment for the Arts. However, this year, 2Lei is presenting a range of exhibitions across the grid – something that is allowing a far greater cross-section of artists to participate. In all, seven separate galleries are hosting 2Lei exhibitions, featuring around fifty 2D and 3D artists.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Theda Tammas

Listing all fifty participating artists here would be somewhat tedious for those reading this article. Fortunately, the event is supported by detailed note cards, one of which provides a breakdown of artists by location, and which includes landmarks both to each of the participating galleries and directly to individual art displays.

To further assist getting around, 2Lei provide a teleport HUD that will page you through galleries and artists. Clicking on the HUD when displaying a specific artist / gallery will open the World Map, allowing you to teleport directly to them. Both the HUD and the note card of locations / artists makes visits to exhibits through the various locations exceptionally easy.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Desy Magic

Also provided is a note card listing all of the associated events throughout November and December, which includes music events, special openings of specific exhibitions, plus talks and discussions on the subject of violence against women and girls. These will take place at Black Label Exhibition Corner and urban city as follows (all times SLT):

  • Tuesday, November 19th, 22.00 – 01.00: Meeting with Flavia Solo, author of From Dream to Fear, with Arcantes Moyet and Jos Bookmite.
  • Thursday, November 21st 22.00 – 01.00: Red code and feminicide crime – Word to the lawyer, with Rosanna Zabelin and Ortensia Zahm
  • Monday, November 25th 22.00 – 01.00: – The work of anti-violence centres, a meeting featuring Grazia Rossi with Ortensia Zahm and Kristine Blackadder.

The overall length of the 2019 2Lei No Violence season means that there is plenty of time to visit all of the participating gallery spaces and witnessing the art and / or joining with events. With all things being equal, I hope to return to some of the exhibitions over the duration of season and provide a more detailed look at them.

In the meantime, I do urge people to take the time to appreciate the extraordinary art on offer, and absorb the messages against violence they contain.

2Lei 2019: No Violence! – Glitterprincess Destiny

SLurls and Additional Links