There’s a long history of virtual worlds living on the web. Second Life comes to mind, as do many of the MMORPGs that have taken over the lives of millions. Facebook Spaces and AltSpace VR have also shown us how well-suited VR is for creating shared social spaces. You can really get the feeling of spending time with other people, unlike using something like Skype, which just feels like a fancy telephone call.
It seems Facebook, the owners of Oculus, are now ready to take it to the next level. It’s called Facebook Horizon and is set to become available in 2020.
The first thing everyone should know is that are some casualties here. Facebook Space and Oculus Rooms will be shutting down on October 25 2019 to make room for the Horizon release. Presumably, the people and resources for those services will be routed to Horizons. It also would not be a big surprise that a lot of the technology developed for those less ambitious products will also be in Horizons. Spaces in particular is well-liked and a pretty cool experience. So hopes for Horizons should be high.
You can apply to be part of the Beta here, but selection is not guaranteed as this Beta is closed. We don’t know if there will be an open beta, but with the release happening next year that might not be on the development roadmap.
Around the World
From what has been shown, it seems that user in Horizons embody legless avatars with full hand tracking. Based on the videos, it seems you can sit or stand and avatars soom around like ghosts, without touching the ground. Apart from being a fresh stylistic choice, it neatly gets around the fact that your real legs are pretty useless in Horizons.
The platform seems to be built around the idea of different worlds. There’s a central town hub which looks like a sort of public space. There will probably be plenty to do here, but hop through one of the “telepods” and you’ll go to one of the various worlds. Worlds are created using building tools that are meant for users. So like Second Life, most of the content will eventually be user-created.
Facebook have also emphasized a safety aspect and various tools to ensure people have a good experience. Including designated guides to show newcomers around. We’ve signed up for Beta access and you better believe there will be a hands on report, unless there’s an NDA no one knows about.