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Epic Misadventures in the Metaverse

In the mid 90s I went to see a stand up comic in a theatre renowned for its hauntings due to the death of a stand up comic on stage. “Oooh’, said the living stand up “I hope I don’t die on stage.” To which someone heckled: “you die on stage every night.” Ba-dum-tish! But seriously, this week’s news has been hogged by the strange death knells of Meta’s metaverse future. Remember those Ray-Ban Stories in the back of the drawer? They’re landfill now, babies, bin ‘em. Ray-Ban and Meta have a new glasses thing happening and it still ain’t the metaverse….

metaverse city


“The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.”


I cannot resist a They Live quote when it presents itself in such an obvious way. I’m always the one pointing with my mouth open wondering why no one gets the joke. So this week’s Meta thing where Emperor Techboi talks for a bit and everyone jizzes has a highlight. They’re not quite doing metaverse or AI right now, no, instead they are doing SUNGLASSES. Again, a They Live trope if ever I saw one. Lex Fridman had a chat with Mark Zuckerberg via Quest 3 (please someone buy his hardware),and they melded minds on all those guy topics in Silicon Valley: challenges, opportunities and other SWOT analyses; then, avatars, identity, and the mind-blowing "meta codec" that's set to revolutionise our virtual experiences (it’s Sunglasses that monitor your web usage and prepare useful ads you might be interested in) all whilst in Quest 3“9 minutes into Lex / Mark metaverse podcast I forgot I was watching avatars,” wrote some acolyte coder. The uncanny valley didn’t give anything away? You weren’t weirded out at all? My god, the idiots really are winning.


Epic Fail


It’s sad, so sad whenever I read about friends and industry peeps from my industry getting laid off. But here’s the thing: if you’re gonna ramp up, you gotta ramp down. You don’t just keep ramping up, that’s not how business works. Presumably that’s one memo Tim Sweeney didn’t get on his meteoric rise to being Dad of the metaverse because these layoffs are completely unnecessary. This news has naturally sent shockwaves through the metaverse. Ambitious metaverse dreams that involve swallowing up every outsource team is gonna hurt the bank balance when it’s desperately clear that your products are not spiking. Harmonix, Sketchfab, and Quixel, failed to set the metaverse ablaze. Fortnite Creative and Core hasn’t yet met expectations. So it’s time for a trim, but that trim is seldom at the top—trust me, no one's gonna fall on their sword in any game tech ivory tower. My take on this is that the whole of the games industry is on life-support. Decisions made by DAU and schlocky crap that looks good on a press release and down at GDC does not a good industry make. You’re on notice until you start getting creative.


Pivoting Towards Nothing Much


The UK's Improbable, known for creating massive online worlds, made an improbable comeback after slashing its losses by a jaw-dropping 85%! How did they do it? By shifting gears and providing tools and services to other Metaverse-hungry developers. Partnering with tech titan Tencent, they birthed EdenOS, a platform aiming to simplify the creation and monetization of Metaverse content. However, no one is using it. So let’s not get excited. The folks who should see it have barely had a peep, and this is all a bit cloak and dagger. I expect it will stall due to respect for the games industry or whatever but I don’t see this winning formula making waves in a sea of failure.


The Little Games That Can


A new report predicts that the Metaverse blockchain games market will grow at a whopping 35% CAGR from 2021 to 2027, eventually hitting a mind-boggling $12 billion. This is ACE! I can’t bear any more sad news. In fact I just want to read good news for the rest of today. Games like Binemon, CyberTrade, and maybe Axie Infinity (this game is crap IMO) are leading the charge, letting players collect, trade, and battle with digital creatures. Oh god these are not good examples. I still maintain that Mystic Games and Fumb Games are the most exciting game studios to rise out of the actual game development space, and thank the universe they did! Look at the state of the web2 industry right now. But this is not just a game; it's a financial revolution within the Metaverse so get ready for action.


Computer Says No


Remember when the term "Metaverse" was all the rage? I do. Let me pull up a sandbag because I was there. I was that soldier. Google Trends data tells us those days are over. Interest in the term has plummeted by 71% since its peak in October 2021. The initial buzz followed Facebook's transformation into Meta and their grand Metaverse vision. But as scepticism grew about Facebook's “intentions”, the hype faded. Even related terms like "NFT" and "VR" saw decreased interest. Jeeeeeeez. As someone still very much in the thick of it, I have seen a definite upturn in metaverse “stuff” lately, and I talked about it when I sat down with the London Speaker Bureau recently. The trough of disillusionment is very real, but I think we’re on the way back up. Don’t you feel it too?


Loud Speakers


Melissa Malzkuhn, a Deaf activist and storyteller, is on a mission to create a Deaf club in the metaverse. Her vision? A space where Deaf individuals can socialise and communicate seamlessly in sign language. The metaverse offers a myriad of accessibility and inclusion, unlike the real world where Deaf communities often face barriers. Melissa's using motion capture tech and 3D animation to craft expressive avatars fluent in sign language. It's a groundbreaking proposal for a more inclusive virtual world. This is an incredible time to be alive, don’t you think? This story just makes my Marvin the Paranoid Android heart that bit fuller. It made my week! That’s enough metaverse for this week. I’m doing some old fashioned printing techniques for you luddites who want the physical version of my book.


DO SOMETHING LESS BORING...

In celebration of OpenAI bursting through their 2021 barrier for ChatGPT I thought I’d explore some simple AI tools you can use to raise your game:

  1. Fabric - Creators! Never lose that cool content again. Fabric is here to organise you.

  2. Strut - Turn rough notes into something less rough.

  3. Glimpse - Gives you the Tl;dr on any website.

Mori - Figure out your family tree in seconds.

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